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November 21, 2020
Ava Airborne (Free) by PlayStack Ltd and Laser Dog Games is an infinite flyer full of traditional gliders and unorthodox contraptions, collectibles, dangers, and just a lot of cute fun. If you love games like Tiny Wings and Alto's Odyssey, then Ava Airborne is another fine addition to the collection.
I, like many others, have always dreamed of flying. And no, I don't mean by a plane either, but actual flying. The type that you only dream about, but it's one of those things you've been wanting since you were a child. While it's still on my bucket list one day, I doubt it's happening anytime soon because of other things — being an adult is hard. Fortunately, there's video games, and Ava Airborne is one that brings your dreams of flight to virtual reality. It's also partly made by Laser Dog, who brought us fantastic games like Hopiko. So I have high expectations for Ava Airborne, and they've been met.
Visually, Ava Airborne is gorgeous. The game features a minimalistic aesthetic that's rather beautiful, and everything is rendered in a 2D style. Ava Airborne has a unique and oneiric dreamscape environment that's full of interesting contraptions and obstacles. The protagonist is a little girl with stick-like limbs who just wants to fly, like the rest of us. The color palette is a fantastic mix of soft pastels, bold and vibrant hues, and muted shades, so everything is appealing to the eyes. The backdrops are blurred out slightly, but still have serene scenes that are peaceful to look at. Animations are buttery smooth and fluid, so there's no lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The game also has an upbeat and quirky soundtrack that's delightful to listen to, and the sound effects are excellent.
Since Ava Airborne is an infinite flyer-style game, there's only one game mode, and the goal is to cover as much air as you can. You start out with the basic glider, but as you fly and earn miles, you rank up and have the ability to purchase new contraptions. These contraptions change how you fly, and even allow you to move through the air faster. Some also change the music and visuals. However, you can only unlock a new contraption by ranking up, and having enough sweets (in-game currency) for it.
As you play, each contraption can be upgraded as well. Doing this makes them more effective, since they all have their own unique multipliers when it comes to earning experience to rank up as well as sweets gained. So as you level up, make sure to save up those sweets and get as many contraptions as you can to play around with.
Ava also has some flying companions that are able to help her out during her flights. You can unlock new companions and collectibles along the journey by obtaining them from flights, free gifts, or by ranking up. The companions can save Ava from crashes and other dangers, while collectibles give you cool trails and other fun stuff.
Controls in Ava Airborne are simple and intuitive. Just long press on the screen to glide (or tap to do it in spurts) and release to fall. It's all about timing when it comes to soaring through the air and avoiding the obstacles like explosive balloons and lasers.
One thing I'm not fond of with other infinite style games is the fact that when you hit something, it's usually game over from there. However, Ava Airborne does things a bit differently. If you hit something, you have an opportunity to recover by rapidly tapping both sides of the screen to recompose yourself and keep flying. However, the number of taps increases after each hit, so it does have diminishing returns.
There are also trampolines on the ground and cannons in the air that you can fall into and it helps you recover as well. Ava Airborne is rather forgiving when it comes to mistakes, making this a much more relaxed-feeling game.
After each flight, you get experience points based on how well you do. To obtain sweets, you must pop balloons while flying, as they seem to like hiding in them. The final amount can change depending on the contraption you have equipped. You can also double the amount of sweets you've earned by watching an optional video ad.
Since Ava Airborne is a free game, there are ads, as I just mentioned. But they're all optional, and non-intrusive.
Ava Airborne is a unique endless flyer that has a lot of style and personality. The visuals are cute, endearing, and just delightful on Retina screens. The music is fun and eccentric, and the sound effects are nice, especially when popping balloons. The controls are simple enough for anyone, and the gameplay is simple but challenging. Even if you aren't a fan of most endless games, this one is worth checking out because it's done so well.
There's a lot of good stuff in Ava Airborne, so it's hard to find anything bad about it. Though the only thing I can think of is the rapid tapping to recover is a killer on my wrists, but I think that will vary for everyone.
For a free game, Ava Airborne is pretty good. I love the fun visuals, the sound is awesome, and the gameplay is challenging but keeps you coming back for more. I'm a fan of endless games that do things differently from the rest, and Ava Airborne is one of them. The game is great for a free title, and even though there are ads, they're completely optional, which is nice. This is definitely one of those games I'll be coming back to whenever I have a spare moment throughout the day.
Ava Airborne is available on the App Store as a universal download for free. There are in-app purchases.
Game Controls 8.5
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from : Mid Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
Project Highrise ($3.99) by Kalypso is the mobile port of the popular building simulation game that originally came out in 2016 for PC and Mac. It's received plenty of acclaim and is also known as the spiritual successor to SimTower. If you liked games like Tiny Tower, Mega Mall Story, or even The Sims Mobile, then you'll get a kick out of Project Highrise.
Many years ago, Tiny Tower came out and became one of my biggest mobile addictions. It was hard to resist the charm of pixelated people and owning my own skyscraper full of various businesses and tenants, and watching them all live their daily lives. It took me a while to completely kick the habit, but I've been missing the feeling of owning and managing my own digital building ever since then. When news of Project Highrise coming to mobile tablets hit my inbox, I knew that this was something I had to have, even though I haven't played or heard of it before. Now that I have it, I can definitely see myself losing many upcoming hours on this game.
Mega Mall Story
The Sims™ Mobile
EA Swiss Sarl
Visually, Project Highrise is fairly impressive with its 2D rendered graphics and realistic details. The game carries a rather simple and clean minimalistic style to everything, but manages to pack in plenty of detail. The environments you'll be building in are based on real-world settings, and you're able to see the ins-and-outs of each structure, which gives you a nice perspective on architecture. The people in each building are also distinctive and it's easy to tell them apart from each other, and things get lively once the building is bustling with business. Animations are smooth on my iPad mini 4, and I don't have any issues with lag or choppy frame rates. The soundtrack is delightfully upbeat and quirky, making the overall experience fun and charming. Who knew building and managing a skyscraper was so relaxing and not stressful?
There are several ways to play Project Highrise, but the main point is that you are both the architect and developer of the building, so there's a lot of work that needs to be done to become the envy of the city. You can either go into the Sandbox mode for complete freedom over your building, or Scenarios for levels with end goals to complete.
Sandbox mode has three difficulty levels: Beginner, Standard, and Challenging. Beginner starts you off with a lot of money, great economy, and plenty of tenants who are going to pay well for some building space. Standard gives you a good amount of money, solid economy, and tenants are easy to come by but don't pay as much. Challenging has few starting money, solid economy but higher costs and less revenue.
For Scenarios, you start with Downtown, but you can also get the North Side, South Loop, West Loop, and Totally Tokyo expansion packs through in-app purchases. Each scenario has a different objective that you must strive for with your limited resources, which can be a challenge in and of itself.
No matter how you choose to play, Project Highrise contains a ton of content, so be prepared to sink in at least several hours into this game. Controls are simple too, and optimized for tablet touch screens.
Everything in Project Highrise is done through the in-game menu. You can add more floors, stairs, elevators, electric storage, power lines, businesses, apartments, restaurants, and whatever else through a drag-and-drop, paintbrush-like interface. Just pick what you want, and then move it into place with your finger. Things like electric lines and floors can be "painted" on by dragging your finger across the spaces you want them to go.
As you are putting everything into place, you'll see the cost it requires to add that asset to the building. When you want to add things like restaurants or offices, you'll see what kind of business it is, the things they expect from the building, and how much rent they'll be paying you. Sometimes there are requirements, such as offices needing copying or courier services, to help keep them happy. Restaurants tend to like high foot traffic areas, so make sure you know where to place everything to maximize efficiency.
Like other simulation games, construction takes time. You can speed up the process by using the fast-forward button in the top right corner, and then resume normal speed by tapping the play button. You can also pause the game at any time if you need a moment to think and strategize.
Project Highrise is a great tower simulation game, and it's definitely perfect for mobile tablets. This port carries over all of the great things about the original version, but in a more streamlined and optimized format. The visuals are rich and detailed, the music is fun and adds a ton of personality, and the controls are easy to learn. Plus, there are plenty of tutorials to help you get started if you're a complete newbie.
On top of it all, Project Highrise contains a ton of content, hours of gameplay, and you're able to freely make your own dream building. There's unlimited potential with Project Highrise, so it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
If you're not much of a simulation fan to begin with, then Project Highrise probably isn't going to change your mind. You may need to learn how to efficiently play through some trial-and-error, so it's easier to just start over with a new building once you get the hang of things. And while the game does have four expansion packs you can purchase, it's a little annoying that there are more in-app purchases for furnishings and other extras that don't come included.
As someone who hasn't played Project Highrise before but appreciates tower building sims, I am loving the game so far. I'm still just in the shallow end of the game, but I'm enjoying it greatly so far. The visuals are great, the music is delightful, and the controls are optimized for this kind of thing. I can easily see myself picking this up whenever I have some time around the house and just losing myself for a few hours just building my dream tower.
Project Highrise is available on the iPad App Store for just $3.99. There are in-app purchases.
Kalypso Media Group GmbH
Vandals ($3.99) by ARTE Experience is a turn-based stealth puzzle game that's all about promoting gorgeous street art. If you enjoyed games such as Deus Ex GO and Hitman GO, then you will love Vandals.
Life has been fairly busy for me lately, so whenever I have some time to spare I want to just sit down and bust out some games. It takes the pressure off for a while, and it's relaxing, you know? My favorite genre of game is puzzles, as they're stimulating but calming at the same time. When Square Enix released their series of GO games, I fell in love with them right away. There's just something about those minimalistic puzzles and the mix of stealth that are hard to resist. So when I saw Vandals, I felt it was reminiscent of those games, and I had to check it out for myself. I can definitely say that this one does not disappoint.
SQUARE ENIX Ltd
Deus Ex GO
Lara Croft GO
Monument Valley 2
ustwo Games Ltd
Mr Future Ninja
Appsolute Games LLC
Visually, Vandals is truly stunning. The game features a visual style that reminds me of other games like Monument Valley and Mr Future Ninja with somewhat isometric graphics. However, unlike the dreamscape or futuristic settings of those other games, Vandals focuses on realistic and modern environments, based on real world locations. Each area you'll explore in Vandals showcases inspiration from the locales in real life, but they truly shine with the modern graphical style and lighting. Colors in Vandals are a nice mix of dark tones and bright and vibrant neons that provide excellent contrast with each other. Animations are smooth and fluid, so there's no issues of lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The ambient soundtrack is rather atmospheric, and the sound effects are lifelike. Overall, the developers have knocked it out of the park here with the visual and audio design.
Since Vandals is a puzzle game, it's level-based like many before it. There are five chapters, each taking place in a major city from all over the globe. At the moment, Vandals includes Paris, Tokyo, via São Paulo, Berlin, and New York. Each locale has 12 puzzles to solve, and you must clear the previous one before you can progress. There are three stars to earn on each level, though one is technically a "bonus" that you can collect on the stage if you choose to, though it's usually out of the way.
The goal of Vandals is simple and straightforward: sneak around police surveillance and tag walls with your glorious works of spray paint art. However, it becomes harder and harder to do this when security becomes more intricate and trickier to get around.
Each puzzle consists of pathways on the floor that are represented by solid or dashed lines. Dashed lines are only for you to sneak by, and police cannot traverse on these. The dots on the paths indicate one space, and you can only move one space per turn. Just swipe in the direction you want to go. As you move, the police move as well, and the red line represents their eyesight. Don't be caught in the red, because that's when the police catch and arrest you. Your goal is to reach the space with the spray paint icon on it to paint the wall, and then reach the goal space, where you then sneak out of the area like nothing ever happened.
You're equipped with a whistle, which you can use when you need to distract the police. To use it, just tap on the icon in the bottom right corner. You can also pick up empty bottles on certain spaces, which can be thrown to another nearby space to distract the cops. With these two tools, you'll have to plan your moves strategically to spread your art and get out of there.
Again, up to three stars may be earned on a stage. You get a star for being invisible (not ever detected by the cops), another for completing the puzzle in a certain number of moves, and the last one can be collected on the stage itself. You need enough stars to gain access to the other areas, so try to get as many as you can.
The best part about the game is the street art part. Once you get to the walls, you're able to freely draw whatever you want, or you can just tag it with your name that you chose at the start of the game. Your creations get saved on each stage, and a photo gets put into your in-game Black Book. You can share your best artworks with others if you want, which is pretty cool.
In addition to challenging puzzles and the ability to create your own street art, Vandals has a lot of background info on the evolution of street art since the 1960s. As you play, you'll unlock more facts and tidbits from 40 experts, and these are accessible from the Black Book as well.
Vandals is an excellent stealth puzzle that rewards creativity. The visuals are gorgeous to the eyes, and the original music is immersive. Controls are simple enough for anyone to pick up, and the game can be played in either portrait or landscape modes, along with a left or right-handed option. Being able to weave in your own artworks into the game is a nice touch, and it definitely encourages creativity and uniqueness among each player.
While there's a lot of good going on in Vandals, I think that the animation speed can be a bit slow and tedious at times. This is especially true when transitioning to the spray painting screen on a level you've already done, going through menus or stages, or if you need to retry a stage because of failures. I wish that there was a way to speed up some of the animations, or even skip them. Maybe the developers can consider that in a future update.
Vandals is definitely a new puzzle favorite of mine. I love these types of games, and Vandals is challenging while looking and sounding amazing. Controls are simple, and you can play the game in whatever position is most comfortable for you. I just hope to see faster menu and scene transitions, because it does get annoying after a while. Still, Vandals is an excellent turn-based stealth puzzler that encourages you to get a little artsy.
Vandals is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $3.99.
Woodways ($2.99) by Stav Goldstein is a sliding puzzle game that features cute and endearing woodland creatures that you'll fall in love with instantly. If you enjoyed games such as Fliplomacy and Threes!, then you'll get a kick out of Woodways.
Life has been super busy for me lately, so whenever I have a spare moment in the day, I like to just whip out my phone and play some games. It takes my mind off of reality for a bit and calms me down. One of my favorite genres of games to relax with are puzzles, so when I saw Woodways on the App Store, I knew I had to have it. Plus, how can I resist adorable critters? I got my hands on the game, and so far it's pretty good.
In terms of visuals, Woodways has a fairly simple but cartoony aesthetic, which adds personality and life to the game. Everything is rendered in 2D as well, but carries a pseudo-3D look due to shadows and the top-down perspective. Woodways takes place across several different environments, from the lush woodlands to frozen tundras to sandy beaches. The textures for each setting are subtle, but enough to tell each area apart from each other. The color palette also has a nice mix of bright and vibrant hues to more muted, earthy tones, so it all ends up being a rather nice visual package. The game soundtrack is rather whimsical and cheerful, so it's hard to not smile while playing the game. Overall, the developer did an excellent job with the visual and audio design of Woodways, considering that it's their first release on the App Store.
Like many other puzzle games, Woodways is level-based. At the moment, there are three main areas for players to go through, and each one contains a handful of stages. In total, there are over 50 puzzles to solve, and they get increasingly more difficult as you go. However, it's never so overwhelming because it's more gradual, so it's friendly enough for everyone in the family. But as each animal is introduced, they have their own unique attributes and ways of interacting with the environment. Because of this, you have to think carefully to solve the puzzles at hand. The goal is to get all animals into the purple portals.
Controls in Woodways are easy and intuitive. To move, just swipe your finger in the direction you want to go in. The key element with Woodways is that you control all of the animals on the stage at once. So when you swipe, all of them move one space. If you want to undo your last move, just double tap anywhere on the screen. A button in the top left corner lets you reset the puzzle.
As mentioned earlier, there are three animals, and each one has a special trait. The fox is balanced, and lightweight enough to step on a cracked square without breaking it, but cannot swim so must avoid water. The duck is able to swim, as well as be on land, even cracked terrain. The buffalo is rather heavy, so he'll fall right through cracked spaces and cannot swim. With these properties in mind, players must think carefully about the stage layout before moving.
In addition to the cracked floors and water surrounding each stage, there are other game mechanics that you'll need to pay attention to. Rocks can prevent an animal from moving, so this is useful for shifting the position of animals around to better fit the portals they need to reach. There will also be slippery ice and teleportation pads as you advance in the game.
Fortunately, Woodways does not have stars to earn, time limits, or restricted moves, so you can play and enjoy the game at your own pace. If you fail for whatever reason, the game just undoes your last move for you, kind of like a checkpoint. But you can continue to undo your moves or just reset for convenience.
Woodways is a cute and delightful puzzle game that's friendly enough for everyone in the family. The cartoonish graphics are adorable, the music is charming, and the controls are easy enough for everyone. The gameplay is not entirely new, but it follows a tried-and-true formula that's hard to get wrong. Controlling all of the animals at once keeps the game challenging, and truly makes you utilize your head when solving the puzzles. And of course, being able to play and enjoy the game at your own pace without stress is a great thing.
There's a lot of good going on in Woodways. However, the art style may not appeal to everyone. And while the animations are smooth, the animals look a bit stiff as they move and slide, which I thought was a bit odd. It makes them feel like cardboard cutouts, and doesn't look as lively as it should be. But these are just small details that don't affect the gameplay, so if it doesn't bother you, you're golden.
As a puzzle fan, I'm liking Woodways so far. It's full of quirky little animals and the gameplay is challenging. The music is fun to listen to as you play too, and the sound effects are nice. The controls work out nicely and with nothing to stress out over, Woodways provides a great and relaxing puzzle experience. I just wish that the animals were a bit more lively as they move, because they look a bit stiff at the moment.
Woodways is avaialable on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $2.99.
Game Controls 9
AZ Rockets (Free) by Itatake is a challenging arcade game that tests your reflexive skills. If you enjoyed recent games like Lichtspeer and Highwind, then you'll like AZ Rockets in your collection.
Life has been fairly stressful for me lately, unfortunately. So whenever I have some downtime, I just want to sit down and relax with some games on my phone or tablet. As much as I like puzzle games, sometimes even those can stress me out a bit. When that happens, I turn to other games, such as arcade games, to take my mind off of my troubles. When I saw info on AZ Rockets hit my inbox, I was curious, since it seemed to combine words and arcade games into one. AZ Rockets is also built in the spirit of the developers previous title, 99 Rockets, so if you were a fan of that, then this game should appeal to you too.
Noodlecake Studios Inc
Selva Interactive Sociedad Anonima
Visually, AZ Rockets is beautifully simplistic. If you like minimally designed games, then AZ Rockets was made for you. The game features simple color backgrounds and straight or curvy white lines that contrast nicely with the backdrops. The shape of the rockets are distinctive, and there are nice particle effects going on when the rockets hit their target. The typography in AZ Rockets is easy-to-read, despite being a mix of script and sans-serif fonts. The colors for backgrounds are a fantastic mix of soft pastels and bold hues that don't overdo things. Animations are smooth and fluid with no lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The ambient soundtrack is atmospheric, immersive, and rather soothing to listen to. Overall, AZ Rockets is a great minimalistic visual and audio package.
Even though AZ Rockets is an arcade style game, it's still level-based. Each stage gives players a limited number of rockets to start with, and they travel along the white lines on the screen. Letters, or groups of letters, are scattered about, and the goal is to hit each letter target with a rocket. They spell out words, which reveal themselves at the end, though it's not hard to figure out if you're a fast reader. However, you only have a limited amount of time for each level, and while you can get more rockets if you miss, you'll have to wait for them to cycle through, which means wasted time. AZ Rockets is about speed and precision — every rocket counts.
The controls in AZ Rockets are simple and intuitive. The rockets come in on the line automatically, with no effort from you. However, you need to fire them when they're at the right trajectory from the line to hit the targets, and this is done by tapping the screen. This is where geometry comes in, as you must tap at the right time for the rocket to be flung off of the line at the right angle to get the target. While it sounds easy, it's definitely challenging, especially on later levels with more curves and loops to worry about. While you do get more rockets if you miss, the clock doesn't stop and the other rockets must cycle through the track before coming back around.
If you played 99 Rockets before, then AZ Rockets should be instantly familiar to you. However, the difference is that while you have unlimited rockets here (99 Rockets only gave you, well, 99 rockets), you have to be quick on your toes because of the timer.
AZ Rockets is a free download, so anyone can get the game and play. However, it does have occasional ads, but you can get rid of them through a premium upgrade in-app purchase. This also gets you extra features, like more rocket shapes and starting from your last reached level instead of from the beginning.
While AZ Rockets looks like a simple game on the surface, it's actually much more challenging than you'd ever think it was. The minimalistic aesthetic is pleasant on the eyes, and the sound design is delightful. The controls are simple and allow for the game to be played with one hand, but you do need to be on top of your aiming. This is definitely a challenge, and great for those who want a quick little game whenever they have a moment.
As great as AZ Rockets is, I can see this getting a bit frustrating for some people. It's definitely not for those who are impatient, like to rush through things, and have bad aim when it comes to trajectories. I also feel that sometimes there just isn't enough time on some stages, making it feel almost impossible to beat since you're screwed over if you even miss just one target. This leads to frustration, as mentioned, which is never a good thing. i think that the difficulty level on some stages should be adjusted to be a bit more forgiving, but still keep the challenge in the game. You know, balancing tweaks.
I'm always up for a challenge, so AZ Rockets is a gem in my mobile game collection. I enjoy the minimalism behind it all, and the music is great to listen to. Controls are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, but this is truly a game that takes time and practice to fully master. I just hope to see some balancing tweaks made in the future so it's a bit less frustrating. Otherwise, this is a great little gem to test your skills.
AZ Rockets is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for free. There are in-app purchases.
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