Thanks in no small part to Bejeweled and Candy Crush, match-three puzzle games have made a curious resurgence in recent years, especially within the mobile market. We’ve seen match-threes dressed up as dungeon crawlers, medical simulations, pet shops, and even a shanty-laden pirate drama. Another Case Solved, the latest such app from Chillingo, tosses a few additional mini-games into the mix and goes the way of the 1940s-era private detective.
John Woo’s reputation as a director and filmmaker was built on graceful action set-pieces and high-stakes melodrama. Unfortunately, his first foray into mobile gaming — Chillingo’s thuddingly titled Bloodstroke — has neither. You play as a private security contractor, codenamed Lotus, whose task is to escort a brilliant, nervous doctor through a series of levels stretching from Hong Kong to Beijing — all while dispatching the roving bands of gangsters, hitmen, and thugs trying to kill him.
In Fear I Trust is the first game of its kind from Chillingo, but it feels a bit like playing through the third or fourth sequel in a horror movie series. That apex point in a cinema franchise tends to be when the production is nicely polished, but the concept begins to feel bland and generic. In Fear I Trust is similarly a well-made but somewhat forgettable thriller. Most of that responsibility belongs to the story, which feels unfocused and scattershot even within the short span of these first two episodes. Without a clear indication of what exactly is going on, it crams in spooky clichés by the bucketful.
For all of its strengths, Fightback is a game that feels tuned to reward in-app purchases more than strategy or skill. Ninja Theory, the studio behind the '80s-tinged brawler, is known for big console projects like last year’s Devil May Cry reboot and 2010’s Enslaved: Journey to the West. Those games were great — underrated, even — which is why Fightback’s shortcomings come as such a surprise.
One-man indie studio Damp Gnat (a.k.a. Reece Millidge) has proven itself a purveyor of experiences that are short, sweet, and sensationally stunning. Last year’s single-screen iPad mini-golf course in Wonderputt made a strong mark, and it’s followed up in the exquisite Icycle: On Thin Ice – a 2D platformer that bears a similarly impeccable sense of design, yet explores altogether different territory. The result is an unforgettable, humor-spiked affair in which you’ll guide a half-naked man on a bicycle through an array of surreal challenges.
In the shadow of the dearly departed Skyview Drive-In Theater, Santa Cruz's weekend flea market was another bit of my youth's paradise. Between all of the horrendous and delicious fried foods, and the empty promises of a vegetable chopper destined to make your life more convenient, the true prize would always lay between plastic, cardboard and twist-ties. Some would call them Hero Rangers, Adventure Turtles, or even Chopper Rats from Pluto, but despite their off-color paint jobs, they often could provide as much enjoyment as their copyrighted cousins. Knock-offs are what make budget-conscious world go round, and the iOS ecosystem is hardly different.
God games typically thrive on giving you the power to mold vast civilizations however you see fit. Unsurprisingly, juggling too many moving parts can sometimes be more stressful than fun. To that extent, Pixel People lets you lord over an adorable pixelated city realm, but it never quite lets go of the reins to give you complete control. For some, this streamlined take on SimCity-style games will be a welcome change of pace.
As with App Store classic Tiny Wings, Knights of the Round Cable utilizes a simple tap-and-hold approach to chase high scores and complete objectives; and despite the breezy setup, the gem-collecting affair proves to be a demanding and engaging experience.
This seems to be the prevailing logic of Chillingo's Contre Jour HD, an iOS game in which your goal is to help a gigantic rolling eyeball creature named Petit across assorted surreal landscapes. It's not a simple process; you'll have to collect glowing lights, modify terrain as needed, avoid traps, and use nearby objects such as stretchy (and nonstretchy) tentacles, air geysers, portals, and slingshots.