Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June iPhone Review Round-Up

Last month was a crazy month and I missed posting a May iPhone Review Round-Up, so this month I'm going to do quite a few more games than usual. The last published iPhone Review Round-Up was back in April and if you want to check out the rest of them just search iPhone in the search bar on the upper right corner of our website. Every month I do a bunch of reviews for iPhone gaming, many of which are also compatible with other iOS platforms like the iPad. This month I am going to be covering Defender Chronicles II, Majesty, Crow, Wings of Valor, Dungeon Village and Neuroshima Hex. On with the reviews and if you have any questions about any of the games then drop me a comment.

Wings of Valor by Idea Spoon
There are few good aerial combat on the iPhone and Wings of Valor takes a promising stab at the genre. You control a Japanese or American World War II fighter plane and you start small with destroying small outposts on islands to eventually fighting naval ships and enemy aircraft. It definitely isn't an easy game and it get's challenging very quickly, but like the Infinity Blade series the challenge keeps you hooked in the game and demanding your full attention. You start the game on day one, with one island to destroy, but as you progress day after day they add more and more challenges you way. You also get valor points based on how successful you are and you use those to buy new upgrades for plane, like rockets, armor plating, huge bombs or some support from a destroyer.

iPhone Screenshot 3

While Wings of Valor is a challenging game it doesn't punish you all that much for getting blown up. All you lose for your mistakes is a tiny bit of valor. Control wise the game feels fairly good, but on the iPhone it is a bit of challenge since you have a zoomed out view of your plane in order to properly bomb islands and see your surrondings, but since it is on such a small screen it is a bit tough to deal with at times and is likely a bit easier to control on an iPad. Games like this are rare and even with the sometimes difficult controls, the eventual stagnation that comes with familiarity and tough camera view Wings of Valor is a lot of fun. It offers a lot for the low price of $1.99 and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys some good and challenging World War II aerial combat.
App Store:
Price: $1.99

  Violent Score: 3.5 (out of 5) 
Challenging and unique, but controls are a bit tough, it does get repetitive and it's not for casual gamers

Neuroshima Hex by Big Daddy Creations
This board game adaption has been out for quite some time on iPhone, but very recently they added online multiplayer the game. I don't know about you all, but I like playing board games with other people, not by myself, so the game never appealed to me until now. It has always offered a great deal of strategical depth, especially with the numerous factions you can play and the many different considerations that go into every battle. Like you see in the screenshot below, you place your units on a fairly small board and each unit has a initiative, bonus abilities and combat info. You randomly draw three cards every and you chose two of them that you wish to keep and use for that round.

You start each game with a headquarters for each faction, which has twenty hitpoints, and the main point is to take out everyone else's headquarters while protecting your own. Each faction has unique qualities, like one has many ranged units, while others focus on melee units or combat modifiers. The multiplayer can be played with up to four players and it is quite a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys a good board game with strategic depth. The singleplayer has some strong AI and is as good as singleplayer could probably get, especially since there is a hot seat option. Besides all that the game does have a few bugs, like games disappearing when they are nearly finished, but since multiplayer is new the developers are likely working on smoothing it out. Also, did I mention the artwork is quite good? Well it is. Check out the Appstore page if you are curious, plus it is also available for Android. 
Main Website:
Price: $4.99
Violent Score: 4.5 (out of 5) 
Great multiplayer and strong singleplayer is marred by bugs

Majesty by Herocraft
If you see the name Majesty and think of the series of games by Paradox Interactive and 1C for PC then you are on the right track. It does take place in the same world of Ardania from the series, plus it is also very much a re-imagining of Majesty 1 and 2 for the iPhone and iPad. It has a different art style and it is made by a different developer, but you still choose a scenario, build heroes quarters, marketplaces, blacksmiths and everything you would expect if you have ever played either of the original games. Each scenario has you doing an objective on a decent size map, objectives like hunting werewolves or defending a Dwarven city from trolls. You have many heroes under your command, but you don't directly control your heroes. Most of the time you merely encourage them with the promise of gold to go out and explore the map or attack monster spawns. 

iPhone Screenshot 2

As the leader of these tiny folk you build them places to spend their hard earned gold, sleep and learn new abilities. Each hero levels up through combat and unlike the original series when a hero dies they are permanently dead. You can learn a resurrect spell, among many other spells, to bring a hero back, but it costs a lot of money and it must be done immediately after they die. If you love letting lose and watching the A.I. battle it out then you will likely love Majesty, especially since you still a lot to do other than watching your heroes fight. It is definitely toned down from the original PC games, but they actually made the A.I. a bit better and still have a good deal of options for recruiting different hero types. Herocraft did a great job recreating these PC games and making them attractive for fans of the original and newcomers. 
App Store:
Price: $2.99 

Violent Score: 4 (out of 5)
Simple, challenging, bug free, full of content and most importantly fun

Crow by Sunside Inc. 
An iPhone game that provides a compelling narrative with choices is really damn rare, especially one that has some striking visuals, smart designs and a lot of quality. You control a crow that is being influenced by the forces of good and evil. You are taken through a linear campaign that has you fighting a boss, but before you fight a boss you are given an area to explore, find story info in and find crystals, which you use to upgrade your crow's powers. You can cast spells and all of your upgrades revolve around your spells, defense or regenerative abilities. The areas you explore are very impressive for an iPhone and make you interested in exploring each area, it also helps that Crow has an excellent soundtrack. 

iPhone Screenshot 4 

The combat portions of Crow are linear and on rails, meaning you can control a little bit of your Crow's movement, but not where you are going. In these segments you mostly have to deal with obstacles and enemies trying to kill you, but there are also a specific number of crystals to find in every area. Each open area of the game has challenge levels on top of the boss fights, which are a nice change of pace from the more combat orientated boss fights. The boss fights are pretty fun and they also do a great job of making you think about the story. Each "boss" is presented differently by the two influencing powers in the game and each time you defeat a boss you have the choice to spare it or kill it. The game isn't all that long, about five hours, so it isn't difficult to see both endings and both paths. Crow suffers from some not so great controls, but I honestly don't know if they can do any better on a small touch screen like the iPhone. Likely this game would be the best on the iPad if you have the choice. In the end it is one of the best games I've played on the iPhone and I would love to see more story orientated games like it in the future. I am especially fond of Crow because of how much it cares about your choice and acknowledges your choices throughout each new area.
Price: $0.99 *Limited Time Only*

Violent Score: 4.5 (out of 5)
Beautiful soundtrack, great graphics, decent controls and an interesting story make the Crow more than worth the low price of admission

Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia by Gimka Entertainment
There are so many fantasy tower defense games out there, especially for the iPhone/iPad, but Defender Chronicles has always been a bit different than the rest. In this one you fight your way through a campaign map with your chosen hero and level them up along the way, while simultaneously earning powerful equipment and unlocking new challenges, abilities, champions and building types. Graphically the game is also a bit different than most run of the mill tower defense games, mainly since it is presented in a 2d vertical side view. Defender Chronicles really differentiates itself from the rest with it's strategic options, many difficulties and the way each hero makes a level feel different. 

iPhone Screenshot 2

If you are a fan of the first Defender Chronicles you probably already own this game, but for everyone else you may need some serious convincing before throwing down $2.99. Each hero in this game is a different type. There is the grizzled melee based general, two wizard types and a rogue. Each hero has unique achievements that unlock new abilities and they each have different skills, but they all share a skills for Infantry, Bowmen and Mage commanders, which determine the strength of each of those types. This game does feel like a tower defense game, but all of the little things that make it unique really make it feel better than most and make it addictive, challenging and enjoyable. 
Price: $2.99

Violent Score: 3.5 (out of 5)
Recommended to any fans of Tower Defense, but not to those looking for something wholly unique or innovative

Dungeon Village
by Kairosoft Co. 
Kairosoft has been making addictive simulation games ever since their first huge success on the iPhone, Game Dev Story, but now they are tackling RPG's and trying to branch away from their normal mechanics. Back in April I wrote about their previous release, Epic Astro Story, and didn't like it all that much. Thankfully they took the good ideas from Epic Astro Story and implemented them into Dungeon Village. Like the majority of Kairosoft's games you have buildings that you place around a town, each of which have appeal and quality that determine how often adventurers visit them. Speaking of adventurers your town will eventually be flooded with them and they come in all kinds of classes, like mercenary, knight, carpenter, priest, mage, ninja and many others. Each class has it's own unique bonuses and some of the less powerful combat ones, like carpenter, trade combat bonuses for beneficial bonuses for your town. 

Each adventurer that comes into your town has a satisfaction gauge and once you get them to around 40-60, out of 100, they will make a permanent home in your town and you will receive taxes from them every year. There is a lot going on in Dungeon Village, whether it's sending adventurers out to defeat a dragon or explore a swamp, or managing your building placement and statistics, or developing new weapons, items and buildings with the cauldron system. I appreciate how involved they make the player and I'm thrilled to see Kairosoft trying something different than their more city based games like Mega Mall Story or Hot Springs Story, but I really wish they strayed farther from their normal mechanics. In the end they made something that fans can appreciate and find excitement in, especially with the combat system and fantasy setting, but if you are still looking for something as exciting and challenging as Game Dev Story then you should probably skip this one. It also doesn't help that Dungeon Village is four dollars, but that is the standard price of all Kairosoft games. Like all of their games there are plenty of options for replaying the game, but this one has far fewer attractions for starting over than previous games. Despite all the negativity I did enjoy this game quite a lot and it does fill that Kairosoft fix. 
Price: $3.99

Violent Score: 3.5 (out of 5)
There are things to enjoy in Dungeon Village, but be warned, it doesn't offer a whole lot new despite the new setting

That is it for this month's iPhone Review Round-Up. If you have any questions about any of the games feel free to leave some comments or message us on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for checking this all out and before I leave I have a tip for anyone who purchasing iPhone apps on a regular basis. Use the free AppShopper application to add any game or app to your wishlist. If it drops or increases in price it will notify you and it is one of the best ways to save some money. Check it out here

-Written by Sean Cargle


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