Open-ended, world-building sandbox games are spawning at an increasingly rapid pace on iOS of late, with each offering a slightly different twist on Minecraft's addictive mix of exploration, scavenging, building, and crafting. While Terraria builds off of the Minecraft vibe in some interesting and adventurous ways, Junk Jack X copies it a bit too blatantly. Lack of originality aside, that's not entirely a bad thing. Translating many of the familiar-looking gameplay and visual elements to 2D works fairly well, offering moments of fun for patient players with collection obsessions.
Sometimes licensed games leave you scratching your head in confusion at their bizarre muddling of a beloved pop culture franchise. Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM Pocket adapts a popular trading card game based on the Yu-Gi-Oh manga and anime series into an entirely different trading card game, just barely managing to string together something moderately enjoyable in the process. Battling wits with virtual and real opponents is both fun and challenging, but there’s not enough depth to keep you interested for long.
If you enjoyed the popular turn-based strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown as much as we did, developer Firaxis has a surprise in store for you. Based on a press release issued yesterday, Mac players will be able to jump into the upcoming "Enemy Within" expansion on the same day as their PC counterparts. Even better, we do't even have to wait that long as the release date is set a mere two months from now on November 12.
Frantic action games occupy a weird space on iOS, offering right-to-the-point entertainment that's ideal for portable games while often lacking the precise controls such games demand, due to the missing physical buttons. Soul Grinder stands out by doing something uncommon: It offers an experience that not only fits its platform in terms of length and straightforward design, but also by featuring a control scheme that provides just the proper amount of control for an App Store action affair.
Our first monthly recap looks back at the games we reviewed during the month of August, with a total of 24 iOS and Mac games presented here in bite-sized, to-the-point encapsulations. And if you want to read more, simply click the link on each slide to read the full, scored critique and find the link to purchase each game. August was headlined by intriguing Mac adventures like BioShock Infinite and Gone Home, while iOS highlights included Asphalt 8: Airborne, Rymdkapsel, and Plants vs. Zombies 2, but there's plenty more fresh gaming action found within.
We've had to wait six months since the new SimCity first made its appearance on Windows systems, but as of today, EA's update of the popular city simulator has at last made it to the Mac. (Just like old times, eh?) The long delay was apparently intended to "ensure a great experience" for Mac players, but judging from early reports, those great experiences aren't necessarily happening.
Must. Dig. Deeper. With its cool retro 2D aesthetic and exhaustive range of open-ended adventuring pursuits to follow, Terraria is a habit-forming romp through massive 16-bit-inspired worlds filled with secrets to explore, crazy stuff to build, and an absurd level of components to collect and build with. Minecraft fans, take note: This is a similarly addictive and creative experience, albeit one viewed through the lens of the Super Nintendo era of gaming. Far from a straight port from the previous PC and console releases, this portable version of the indie hit packs (almost) all of the wonder and depth of the original, alongside a few really excellent tweaks that make playing on iOS a real treat.
On home consoles, Madden NFL 25 celebrates the series' titular anniversary with yet another quality entry built around a strong, refined core. Irritatingly, on iPhone and iPad, the game of the same name is by and large a nightmare of free-to-play roadblocks, initially limiting access to most of the on-field plays, charging in-game coins for some of those that are available, and requiring slowly-replenishing energy to even play the game. But the saddest part is that such limitations surround what's ultimately not a very good representation of the sport.
Apartment living isn’t always the easiest thing. Between bills, managing limited physical space, and juggling a social life, ambition, and sanity, one’s existence in a hundreds-square-foot box is tough enough to maintain alone. Now imagine looking after 10, 20, or even 50 residents, all with their own faults and goals – not to mention keeping up with the maintenance and improvement of the building they live in. This is the task Dream House Days asks of you in assuming the role of apartment manager.
Flipping the script from Hutch Games' earlier Smash Cops entries, Smash Bandits spotlights the raucous fun of the getaway, tasking you with creating as much chaos as possible for the TV cameras while evading destruction via aggressive police cruisers. What begins with knocking over orange cones and slamming into cop cars soon turns into commanding a speedboat or briefly manning a tank as this free-to-play affair shows more of its open-city offering. And while the freemium design does limit the action a bit, it thankfully doesn't ruin the fun.