Review By Chris

The one-touch arcade-style games seem to be primed for the iOS. By having fewer controls to clutter your field of vision and a simple pick-up-and-play format, the right indie game often mixes convenience and affordability.

Fotonica is an example of such a game. With a minimalist visual style, reminiscent of the old arcade aesthetics, and a price landing under the $5 mark, Fotonica fits well with its casual peers in the App Store.


Using a one-touch control scheme, you must run non-stop down courses and carefully time your jumps across gaping chasms. You will pick up speed as each course progresses, and there is a considerable difficulty threshold despite its basic mechanics.

If you find yourself in need of practice, you can always switch from the start-to-finish arcade mode to the endless mode. Additionally, you can race a friend on split screen, though I recommend using an iPad for this mode.

The visual style is best enjoyed in motion, so still photographs should be taken with a grain of salt.  There are games that dazzle with rich environments and games that find their strength within elegant minimalism; Fotonica fits into the latter category.


Ookujira: Giant Whale Rampage

Ookujira title

Review by Chris

Now that springtime has arrived in my neck of the woods, with all its sunshine and joy, I figure it’s high time that I shut myself in and do another iOS review. Luckily, a charming little game called Ookujira caught my eye in the App Store.

Ookujira is an arcade game where you play as a giant whale. As said whale, it is your job save the innocent from an alien invasion. You do this by flopping across a seemingly endless city, destroying alien spaceships and crushing buildings. So, I guess you are something of an antihero (granted, a very cute one at that).

Ookujira3You break stuff, you get points. You break more stuff you get more points. As you collect floating diamonds (I know, I know), you can buy more power-ups to help you break things easier or for a longer duration. Obviously, character motivation isn’t a focal point of this game.  Diamonds accumulate with each run you do, and each run ends when your whale does a belly flop on the ground instead of on top of someone’s home. I suppose paved roads are a whale’s kryptonite.

The micro-transactions are ever-present, but are mercifully non-intrusive. I actually did buy an alternate whale, so that I may look fabulous as I etch myself in the nightmares of a generation of digital city-dwellers.

The aesthetics are, as you can see, quite stimulating, with bright colours and arcade music accompanying your mission to monopolize the destruction of civilization against your extra-terrestrial competitors.

See? And you thought I should get some natural sunlight.


AstraBy Chris

Today we’ll be taking a look at Astra, a Greek-flavored platformer. Astra, like most of its kind, keeps the controls to a minimum. Instead, count on the physics and the environment to do the lion’s share of character manipulation. Simplicity, itself.

The game plays smoothly and has a reasonable difficulty curve that leans a little towards the easy side, I’ve found.

astra2As you progress in this series of asteroid obstacle courses, you will be rewarded, based on three categories: time, enemies defeated and stars collected.

The visuals are charming, with enemies that seem to have been peeled right off ancient Greek pottery. The music can get repetitious, but not so much as to break the enjoyment of the game.

astra3Overall, this is a pleasant little morning bus ride game for those tired of tower/vault/city/everything building games that constantly nag for your minimal participation.

Pixel Cup Soccer

PCS1Review by Chris

One of my earliest iOS reviews was for a game called Uppercup Football. Blending turn-based movements and sadistic obstacles with the traditional sport, Uppercup Football was not the puck-up-and-play iOS soccer experience I was expecting (but in a pleasant way, at least).

Pixel Cup Soccer, on the other hand, was precisely what I was expecting from a retro-style casual soccer game. With minimal buttons and immediate gameplay, I found this to be an ideal casual sport game for playing on the go. And now I have to take a scalding-hot shower for using the term “on the go”.

pcs2The game offers a “Cup” mode, a 2-player mode and a “Quick Match” mode to keep you entertained. And you can select from 16 national teams. Gotta say, though, I’m a little sad not to see the old maple leaf represented. I’ll just have to nurse my sadness by playing as Germany.

For those looking for a soccer experience that isn’t a typical FIFA game or as off-the-walls as Uppercup Football, Pixel Cup Soccer is for you.

Pako- The Car Chase Simulator

Review by Chris


So let’s talk about Pako!

No, it’s not a Pixar character, but rather a car chase game where you (and your trusty automobile) desperately flee an onslaught of law enforcement while dodging traffic, tanks and various other chunks of civilization.

pako2There are no gas or breaks, just a right turn button and a left turn button. This limited control, mixed with the chaos around you, makes for a lot of short runs, so get ready for a cuss-filled adjustment period after download.

The levels are varied, and the built in sharing (Facebook and Twitter) and recording options (microphone and video recording) makes Pako a game with a decent amount of social media potential.

pako3All in all, the smooth functionality and instant accessibility of the levels in thsi game made for a great causal experience.  I look forward to testing the social media functionality on Grog Boat’s Facebook Page.


Review by Chris

KW 1I wanted to take the time to spotlight a delightful little game for the iOS.

When looking to purchase a simple, quickly engaging puzzle game for the iOS, Kiwanuka is a solid choice. While a casual puzzle game (one that won’t leave you clawing your own eyes out) Kiwanuka is still fun enough to keep you engaged and challenged.

KW 2Your objective as the magic staff-wielder is to lead your people to a traveler who is imprisoned in a tiny pyramid. You can use the power of your magic staff to turn your followers into bridges, in order to maneuver the chasms and deadly platforms that impede your progress. Successfully completing a level frees the little traveler and rewards you with one of the catchiest, trippiest songs that will ever grace your ears.

The best way to describe the aesthetic of this game would be “the book of Exodus on an acid trip”. Granted, a large part of this is based on that sexy-ass music you get from rescuing a traveler.

KW 3

Fallout Shelter

Review by Chris

FOS1With Bethesda’s great gift of a 2015 launch date for Fallout 4, we’re just months away from a November in a brand new wasteland.

Then back to the desktop due to a crash…

Then back to the wasteland, and…

Back to the desktop…

Son of a bitch!

At least that is my prediction of how the experience, but that won’t sway me from scooping this game up on launch. I can deal with a rocky start if it means I get to play a new installation of my favorite RPG series.

Bethesda also released a mobile game called Fallout Shelter, which is based in the Fallout universe. So now I get to experience my regular crashes on the go!

FOS2The gist of the game is that you are the Overseer of your very own vault. You build it, attract dwellers, assign them tasks, pair them to mate, put pregnant women to work because you are that much of an asshole, and watch the children grow up. It’s after about the second or third child comes out that you come to the horrifying realization that you haven’t been keeping track of which parents conceived which children, and the cute game of baby matchmaker turns into a horrifying experience of webbed feet roulette.

Aside from that, you have resource meters for power, water and food, which you must keep adequately filled by allocating able-bodied dwellers to the appropriate rooms. You can also send dwellers out to die-errr “explore” in the wasteland. You can track their progress and their health via menu screen and recall them if you think one more mole rat tussle will bring them down. If any dwellers die, you can always revive them with caps (the in-game currency) or just abandon them with the faintest hope that they landed in a shallow grave. You know, the dignified way of dying in Fallout.

FOS3You can also collect lunch boxes by completing achievements. Lunch boxes offer bonuses, and can also be bought via in-app purchases. Luckily enough, these transactions aren’t put in place to turn the game into a pay-to-play endeavor. The game is fairly well paced.

It’s a decent The Sims-ish fallout game. Like I said before, I experienced some flustering crashes, but I’m confident that if the game continues to grow, they will work out these kinks. It’s free, anyway, so check it out if you are looking for your next Tiny Tower type experience.

Mighty Switch Force: Hose It Down

sf1Review by Chris

Retro sounds, retro visuals and retro puzzles are all on the menu with Mighty Switch Force: Hose it Down, an offshoot of the main Mighty Switch Force series. Since the old school Pipe Dream on my Windows 95 OS, I have always had an affinity for these kinds of puzzle games; they are simple enough to pick up and play, and yet new elements keep a healthy difficulty curve going for days.

sf2Mighty Switch Force: Hose it Down plays out its difficulty well, as it gives the player a drop-dead simple introductory run, and slowly adds new block elements (destructible mud, rotatable stationary blocks and people to rescue) to ramp up the challenge.

The premise is simple: you are a firefighter who must map out the route of water by manipulating the block environments within the burning buildings in order to put out the fire and save any civilians. There are rewarding graphics (shown below) but don’t expect a great and enthralling plot replete with intrigue and drama; this is a pipe puzzle game, after all.

sf3High energy, simple yet rewarding gameplay and decent music all make Mighty Switch Force: Hose it Down a solid recommend for a casual gaming experience.

Zen Koi

ZK1Review by Chris

Ohhh, the Zen games. For those who are uninitiated with this genre, Zen games are relatively simplistic games which often mix modern graphics with old-school game mechanics. Substituting difficulty with atmosphere, the Zen game is something that you can usually do when you just want to relax. It’s like hand washing dishes.

Or am I weird for enjoying hand washing dishes?

ZK2Either way, there’s a pretty decent Zen game out now called… really? Zen Koi? As if “Zen” wasn’t said enough already in this review? Fine, we’re doing Zen Koi.

In Zen Koi you play as a fish in a small koi pond. Your objective is to eat other organisms, level up the attributes of your fish (HEY! RPG ELEMENTS!) and grow your pond. You can collect other types of fish and, of course, speed things along via microtransactions.

Given the causal nature of this game, the microtransactions aren’t intrusive, and if you can relax to this game, you may even be willing to drop some coin.

ZK3For me, Zen games haven’t really had a relaxing effect, so my perspective is tinted with indifference. But if you’re looking for a simple Zen game with some leveling and collecting elements to hook you in (ahaaa! fishing pun!) then Zen Koi is a solid choice.

P.S. Zen Zen Zen Zen Zen Zen Zen!

Does Not Commute


By Chris

Snagging a decent game on the App Store is like hunting Bigfoot whilst blindfolded. Combing through games that could be easily called shovelware (if shovelware wasn’t basically the standard for most of these snoozefests) looking for something even moderately enticing turns what should be blissful game browsing into a grueling chore.

Thankfully enough, it didn’t take long for me to find Does Not Commute. This quirky commuting sim is currently kicking my ass in all the best ways, and I’m glad to have it on my device. As it was free-to-play with a premium option, I approached Does Not Commute with the confidence a modern day musician without Auto-Tune, however the atmosphere and to-the-point gameplay, as well as the modest price, eased my concerns and made the full purchase of the game all the easier.

dnc2In Does Not Commute, you plan the routes of a plethora of drivers as they rush to make appointments, skip work, transfer obscene amounts of money they earned though their snake oil businesses, and so on. You have a certain time limit to guide these characters though the neighbourhood one at a time (each run-through is layered on top of the previous ones, giving you more to dodge with each iteration) until you are spirited to the next section of the city. Crashes, hilarious though they may be, cause your somehow indestructible car to move slower, and you can retry a failed route for a dedication of one second from your overall remaining time. You can mercifully prolong your time limit by picking up tokens which are placed throughout the map, usually in painfully inconvenient locations. This all adds up to a game with a decent balance of skill and strategy required for completion, but which avoids being device-chuckingly frustrating.

Each character has a unique back-story which is quirky enough to keep the mood light, even if you are causing thousands of dollars in personal property damage. Each level even has a replay function that lets you get several perspectives of your total commute. It may help you plan for the next run-through, but will most likely give you a chuckle as you reflect on how terrible you are (in every conceivable way) at this game.

dnc3Recommended? Yes. I’m still looking for a life-stealing masterpiece for the iOS, but games like Does Not Commute make for decent enough yellow bricks on the road to the Emerald City.

Yes, that was a sloppily-placed Wizard of Oz metaphor, but so what? It’s Sunday, and I’ll be damned if I have to finish strong on the weekend.