Monday, December 16, 2013

Revisiting iOS - Island Of The Lizard King & Marvel Puzzle Quest  


Games: It’s been quite a while since I’ve talked about any iOS games here at the blog because it’s been quite a while since I’ve been excited about any. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put down developers who put their blood, sweat and tears into bringing their iOS dreams to life, but those gems are tough to find in the sea of crap that’s on the app store. 
I did my best to find the good stuff for a while, but it became too much effort for too little return, and I gave up. However, there are a couple of things I’m upbeat on, so I figured I'd dip back into the world of the iPhone for at least one night… 

The first is a brand-new title from one of my all-time favorite iOS developers, Tin Man Games.  I clicked with their stuff immediately since I’m a huge fan of Choose Your Own Adventure, and clearly these guys are too. Their latest title (out now!) is Island Of The Lizard King, originally penned by Ian Livingstone in 1984 as one of his Fighting Fantasy novels - Similar to CYOA, but better-known in the UK than the US.

Although there are other options available on the app store, Tin Man’s production values are great and they put lots of little tweaks in to make the overall experience quite pleasurable.  If you’ve never read a CYOA or FF (quite understandable, since those books were at the height of their popularity quite a while ago) do yourself a favor and check out Lizard King, or any of the others they’ve already published.  I think the Judge Dredd installment has been my favorite so far, but they're all good.

I’ll be going through Lizard King tomorrow for certain.

In other iOS news, if you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you will no doubt have heard me raving about my next pick, Marvel Puzzle Quest.  I just turned in a formal review so look for that soon, but in the meantime, I have no problem recommending this to absolutely anyone.  While I can certainly understand a general aversion to free-to-play games (believe me, I am quite allergic to in-app purchases) this one is the real deal.

Basically, it’s a match-three puzzle game married to characters taken from the Marvel universe, and has a lot in common with the original Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords MPQ is much simpler than that one (and if you’ve never played it, it’s fantastic) but it’s a great fit for the iPhone and I find that the free-to-play implementation is pretty painless when compared to most I’ve seen. In fact, I’ve been playing it for at least an hour or two a day since I picked it up on @rowankaiser’s recommendation, and he wasn’t wrong. 

The gameplay is solid puzzling enhanced with super-powers fueled by matching gems, and there are a number of amenities that keep the action going – the ability to skip matches against opponents who are obviously overpowered, a regenerating character-heal function which is free to use, and lots of side missions outside the campaign which always offer something to do.  

It’s not perfect by any means, but it's had no problem keeping my attention, and I’ve enjoyed it enough to kick in real money -- and for me, that's saying something.  Frankly, I’ve already played it longer than I play most $60.00 retail games, so I don’t feel bad about keeping these devs going at all.

There are a couple of other things that I’ve done my eye on… The Room is a game I’ve heard about forever, but it was only on iPad had until recently.  There’s a new pocket version that I’ll be checking out, and Halfbrick is coming out with a neat-looking title called Colossatron this week… My eye's on that one as well. 

If you've got any current iOS favorites that you can swear by, drop me a line.  It’s definitely more work than one person can handle to find the wheat in all of the app store's chaff, so any and all help is appreciated!



AbleGamers Charity proudly announces the launch of this year’s AbleGamers Holiday Gift Guide for Gamers with Disabilities. This year we have several recommendations on which games were the most accessible and which assistive devices are the best bets to help the disabled gamer in your life, but we also included several items you may want to avoid altogether.
The annual Holiday Gift Guide for Gamers with Disabilities is available before Black Friday every year. You can find this year’s guide at


Trion Worlds has released Arkbreaker, the second installment of downloadable content for its open world shooter, Defiance. The Arkbreaker pack features exclusive content including a new mission line that gives arkhunters the power to call down their own arkfalls, vicious cold fire weapons and a formidable new boss, the Volge Warmaster, that will require teamwork to defeat. Starting today, all gamers will also have free access to new powerups, Spikes and Stims, and both daily and weekly login bonuses. The Defiance team has also reworked all the major storyline missions, making them fully cooperative so that arkhunters will always be able to bring their friends on their adventures.

Players who purchase the Defiance Arkbreaker DLC will receive exclusive access to:

         A New Story Line – A race against Dark Matter to secure an ark-brain interface with the technologies to summon arkfalls down to earth on command.
         Summon and Enter Arkfalls – The power to call down arkfalls is now in the hands of arkhunters. Once on the ground, individuals or groups can battle their way inside to loot new and advanced weaponry and, of course, face off against the Volge enemies protecting them.
         Cold Fire Weapons – Exclusive use of a line of cold fire sniper rifles, pistols, and assault rifles. An additional 20 new advanced-tech weapons put a new and more powerful spin on old favorites.
         A Seriously Deadly Volge Warmaster – The Volge Warmaster means business. 20 players have seven minutes to vanquish him before he vanishes to earn some of the best loot in Defiance.
         Volge Threads – A new Volge engineer outfit comes with the purchase of Arkbreaker along with increased daily and weekly login bonuses.
Along with the new DLC pack released today, Defiance was updated with a slew of new free content and features, including fully co-op story missions (previously playable only as single-player instances).  All players can now utilizeSpikes, which grant offensive and defensive area buffs, and Stims that boost speed, strength, heal rate or EGO power. Arkhunter inventory has also been given a serious update: favorite items have been added for quick retrieval along with instant breakdown of non-favorite items, giving players the ability to sell or salvage in bulk. Gear comparison has also been greatly improved, making it easier and faster to choose the perfect loadout.

The Arkbreaker pack is available on PlayStation 3 and Windows PC for $9.99 or on Xbox 360 for 800 Microsoft Points. 
Check out the Arkbreaker trailer at:
Download the latest assets for Arkbreaker at:
Defiance is rated M for Mature by the ESRB. For more information about Defiance, please visit


Crimes & Punishments, the latest Sherlock Holmes investigation game scheduled for release on PlayStation®4, PC, Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3 in Q2 2014, can now reveal its new trailer, "Justice and Morality", and is updating the Devblog with a new post!

The clues you uncover and the avenue you wish to pursue - or not - in each of the 7 cases in the game will point to 10 suspects in a single case. Your logical deduction alone will enable you to determine who, in your opinion, the true culprit is. But remember: you could put an innocent victim behind bars if you overlook certain clues or trails! Once you establish the perpetrator of the deed, you must then bear the responsibility of deciding what to do with this information... will you carry out the letter of the law, or will you be guided by your moral compass? Carefully consider the consequences of your actions, because every choice you make will have repercussions later in the game!

Don't forget too that Crimes & Punishments has its own Devblog which is regularly updated by the various Frogwares teams with all the relevant, varied and fascinating info on the game development.Today's post describes the different puzzles, brain-teasers and other specific situations in Crimes & Punishments that will force Sherlock to draw upon his many talents!
Crimes & Punishments will be released on PC, Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®4 in Q2 2014.


A special add-on content pack in support of the Child’s Play charity is now available in Saints Row IV: The Child's Play Pack (a special web site for this DLC is located at Publisher Deep Silver and developer Volition are donating all proceeds from this pack in support of Child's Play. 

Child's Play is a video game industry charity which raises money to support sick children and their families during their stay in hospitals and therapy facilities. Just recently, Child's Play announced that through the generosity of donors worldwide they have raised more than $20 million over its ten year existence.

“The generosity of Deep Silver, Volition and Saints Row IV fans will positively impact the lives of children in our network of hospitals around the world. By providing video games and other forms of play, child life specialists are able to help children cope with pain and fear, and make the holidays a little brighter for sick kids,” says Jamie Dillion, program coordinator at Child’s Play.

The Child's Play Pack in Saints Row IV contains toys that will bring back childhood memories. Players will be able to rampage through the virtual city of Steelport as a Digital Dino or go bananas in the Robochimp Outfit, while the Retro Rocket vehicle lets players soar through the streets of Steelport in classic style.

Saints Row fans can support Child's Play for a limited time by purchasing this add-on for the PC at a price of $2.99 USD / EUR 2.99 / GBP 2.49.

For more information regarding Child's Play, please visit


Before Banksy was selling art in Central Park for 10 bucks a pop, graffiti artist and pop culture icon (and nice dude) Marc Ecko released Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure in 2006 to much fanfare on Xbox, PS2 and PC. With a mind-blowing soundtrack that won Best Video Game Soundtrack from the MTV Video Music awards, fans can nab this bad boy for just $7.49 (half off the regular $14.99 price tag) as Devolver Digital, purveyors of fine indie content, have propped it up on Steam:

Play as Trane, a "toy" graffiti artist with the street smarts, athletic prowess and vision to become an "All City King" - the most reputable of all graffiti artists. Along your quest, uncover the mayor's deep, dark secret and use your fighting talents and high-wire graffiti to expose the city's leader as a corrupt tyrant.

As you struggle to save a neighborhood from an oppressive government, one question stands out: What if graffiti could change the world? Risk your life battling city authorities and rival graffiti gangs - mere obstacles in your attempt to get your tag up. And in this city, not just any tag will do. You have to "Get IN, Get UP and Get OUT".

For more information about Devolver Digital, please visit


New features for the upcoming Van Helsing II

Remember that Ocarina I reviewed a few posts ago? Here's a video of a cosplayer in the woods who knows how to actually play one...

What next?

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2 comments: to “ Revisiting iOS - Island Of The Lizard King & Marvel Puzzle Quest

  • Jeroen


    Hey Brad,

    always appreciate your posts and (podcast) contributions, though I feel that you are more and more serving a niche public lately. WiiU (who above 12 years old and not a hardcore gamer owns one of those?!) and now IOS games, again?

    Why not give your (Brad Gallaway!) take/reviews on PS3 games, like BEYOND: TWO SOULS, RAYMAN: LEGENDS
    BROTHERS, GUACAMELEE! or even GTA5? Your public will grow and I would say those are much more "relevant" or "real world" games, serving a much wider audience. I mean you are not reviewing or posting for solely yourself right?

    Now again, I do very much appreciate your opinions, and that is exactly why I rather see you covering titles that are not so far out, but more real world. I mean, I don't own a WiiU, and I would say an average gamer (or your target gamer) doesn't neither. I know I don't. And I am your public, no? Also, I prefer playing interesting titles on the big screen, not on my (Android) smartphone.

    Or write something about PS4, how you like that machine, PS+ and some games for that platform. I do NOT wanna tell you how to do your job, but lately you are going more and more into a very dark and lonely dungeon of the gaming world, at least for me. Stay relevant and come back to the PS3/PS4 world.

    I also feel the same about the podcasts actually, now that I think about it. Video game music, lot's of Pokemon, a sex show, a listener created show, GC at the movies, I mean where's the focus? Why not Bioshock: Infinite, GTA5?
    The podcasts are becomming a bit o a mess. No offense. Perhaps you guys should think of letting Richard doing the "normal" podcasts, and Sinan doing the more explorative podcasts.

    I feel that since Tim left, somehow you guys lost some focus. Dylan did a great job, but the 2 hosts thing, I dunno. I guess I would rather see Richard becoming the new host. He is smart, neutral, doesn't make (not so-) funny remarks all the time, and is just a great and focussed talker. I guess my main point is, go back to basic. I would assume that the main public is appreciative, and so am I. But lately I am more appreciative of you guys' intentions than the actual show. Same goes for your blog.

    Or is there something I don't understand? Happy holidays Brad and (yes, still) looking forward to the big End-of-Year-Show on Gamecritics. Hope you guys talk games, a lot.

    Jay from the Netherlands. (we're still here!!!;-)


    Hey Jay!

    Sorry for the late response! Anyway, to answer your comments...

    I've pretty much spent my entire criticism career on checking out niche games and small games that other people don't give the time of day to. This is nothing new for me at all, and if you look back in my history, you'll see that I'm not the kind of gamer who only plays the AAA titles.

    That said, I did review Guacamelee, and we've discussed Beyond and Rayman on the podcast a couple of times.

    As far as reviewing or posting for myself, of course I am! I do it because I love it and because I think I have something to share with others. I guess the audience I'm shooting for are people who are interested in different kinds of experiences, or who are open to games other than the big, mainstream blockbusters.

    That's pretty much what I've always covered, and that's where I'm coming from. I write about whatever catches my attention and keeps my interest, and I'm definitely not chasing after page views or a bigger audience. If people want to read what I say that's great, if not, that's fine too.

    Maybe you just like different kinds of games than I do?
    That's totally fine, and it takes all kinds… I still cover the same stuff I've always covered, and I plan to keep on doing that.

    Hopefully you'll find it interesting, but if not, that's okay. We can still be friends. :-)