App Review: Stupidness 3 Pro

Occasional trick questions in a game that puts itself forward as an IQ test are to be expected. But loading the game with them obliterates any fun factor — and Stupidness 3 Pro is virtually nothing but tricks. It’s meant as a light-hearted nudge at trivia games, but it quickly becomes an exercise in frustration and temper control. Sure you can buy answers (at the cost of “IQ points”), but when you see the answer has nothing to do with the actual question, you’ll only get more frustrated. While you have to acknowledge the creativity that went into designing the puzzles, this is a game that appeals to an incredibly narrow audience. The free version will be more than enough for most.

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App Review: Aiko Island

Aiko Island doesn’t follow the path of virtually every other game in the puzzle field and that alone makes it worthy of notice. While the game itself isn’t revolutionary (it’s a physics-based block popper, where you must eliminate all but the blue blocks onscreen), its inclusion of a branching path system, letting you decide which puzzles to tackle next, is nice. And the multiplayer mode, letting you compete against friends via speed-run results, is a nice solution to the solo gaming silo so many puzzlers fall into. The plot is completely forgettable, but that’s not unusual. On the whole, it’s different enough to be worth of your time.

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Game Review: Tropico 4

Tropico 4 is a lot like Tropico 3 (which was a lot like its predecessors as well) — so if you’re looking for an innovative city-building experience, this isn’t it. There’s a strong argument to be made, though, that if something’s not broken, then there’s no need to fix it. The tweaks to the game, such as the reworked goal system and inclusion of natural disasters, improve on the formula and keep players engaged. The game’s Achilles heel is the Xbox controller, which handles the enormous slew of in-game option choices adequately, but not admirably. Playing the PC version of the game is much smoother.

The game is remarkably deep, but that might actually work against it with people who are new to this genre. It’s intimidating — and even with a good tutorial, it takes a while to get your sea legs. Worse still, the tutorial takes quite a while to work through, and some players will be tempted to skip it, which will ultimately hurt them. However, for those who stick with it (or those who are familiar with the series or genre), it’s a solid addition to the Tropico line of games.

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App Review: HighFlyer Death Defyer(i4)

Blending sky diving with action gaming sounds like a wonderful recipe for success, but HighFlyer Death Defyer (i4) wastes that potential with an overbearing story, terrible controls, and poor pacing. The opening tutorials go on so long that it’s easy to think they’re the actual game — before the story really kicks in with a comic book-style narrative and dangerous obstacles to avoid. It’s the controls that really hurt the game, though. It’s very easy to get lost as you dive and to miss goals — which ultimately means you fail the level and must restart. And that quickly leads to frustration. The game has ambitious goals, but in the end it doesn’t achieve any of them well.

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App Review: Dark Meadow

While there’s no question that Dark Meadow is much too violent and scary for young players, those looking for a good scare and decent action could do a lot worse. Using the same graphics engine as the hit Infinity Blade, the game looks fantastic and features detailed, creepy monsters. What makes the game really stand out, though, is its story. Moreso than most games in the App Store, this game is as much about plot as it is action, with well-written and well-acted voice segments from your largely unseen in-game ally. Better still, the game doesn’t repeat itself in that script.

The game’s not without faults, though. When you die, you’re sent back to the beginning (with your stats and items intact), but if you’ve progressed through several areas, that’s more than a bit frustrating. And the battles are generally the same, and get old after a bit. The concerns are minor, though. Fans of action and horror games both are bound to find plenty to like here.

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App Review: Jaws Revenge

If you’ve played Hungry Shark on your iDevice, you’ve pretty much played Jaws Revenge. While the game is infinitely better than the first game based on the Steven Spielberg film classic, it’s not really breaking any new ground — and the game it chose to mimic wasn’t a great one to begin with. This update is admittedly better than Hungry Shark, but it, too, ultimately gets repetitive — even with the still-haunting John Williams music playing in the background.

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App Review: Monster Warrior

Monster Warrior makes no real effort to break new ground. It’s a proud Fruit Ninja clone, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. FIlled with monsters (that aren’t the least bit scary), it’s a nice seasonal take on the app store standard that doesn’t lose any of the fun factor. Like its inspiration, it’s a game you want to keep playing to beat your previous score. And with four different game modes, there’s plenty to keep you coming back.

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App Review: Find My Friends

The risks that accompany any location tracking app are present in Find My Friends, but to Apple’s credit, the company has taken several steps to mitigate risk. That said, the app is still not a wise choice for children, unless parents want to use the iPod Touch or iPhone as a tracking device for their kids.

The free app allows people to track where their friends are, but uses a permission-based system. No one can track you unless you give your consent first. (Kids, though, might let anyone track them in an effort to build a large cache of online “friends.”) It’s easy to stop broadcasting your location, but given people’s tendencies to sometimes forget simple tasks, it’s inevitable that users will sometimes inadvertently announce where they are when they would rather not. Functionality-wise, it’s not dramatically different than other location sharing services, but it does the job well and includes enough additional features (such as temporary location sharing) and controls that it might be worth checking out — if the user is age appropriate.

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App Review: FIFA Soccer 12

Previous FIFA soccer games in the App Store have been good, but not great. FIFA Soccer 12, though, is absolutely fantastic — and may be one of the best sports games available in the App Store. The entire game, from the controls to the graphics, has been overhauled — and the improvements are vast. The game makes excellent use of the touchscreen without slowing down the pace of the game. The graphics are quite smooth, and there’s even a manager mode, letting you experience soccer from the other side of the sidelines.

The addition of a changing daily challenge will keep core players hooked, but this is a title that even non-soccer fans will embrace. It’s a huge game, taking up over 1 GB of space, but its quality and depth indicate that’s not an unreasonable size.

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App Review: Jelly Defense

Jelly Defense is a perfectly serviceable entry in the tower defense genre, but it doesn’t really add anything that other titles haven’t already. The enemies and defenders are, admittedly, much cuter than in most other games of this ilk, but the gameplay is fairly basic: Waves of enemy troops come marching down the road and you attempt to stop them with a series of defensive weapons. The controls handle well, though, and the game’s overall look is certainly eye-pleasing. It currently carries an introductory price of 99 cents, which is certainly fair, though we’re not sure we’d pay more for the game and still feel as good about it.

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