Or more accurately: the Whenever-I-Have-Enough-Interesting-Things-To-Say iOS Roundup. But that’s way too long.

What I’m Playing

Sky Force 2014

Man, this game is fantastic. The stages are short enough that you can play in quick bursts when you have a spare moment, but long enough to be interesting. The best part of the game is that each stage has 4 medals you can earn: kill 70% of the enemies, kill 100% of the enemies, rescue all humans, and don’t take a hit. Achieving all 4 medals on a stage will unlock a harder version of that stage, where you can again earn 4 more medals. Achieving all 4 medals again will unlock an even harder version of that stage, and since I’m not that good at the game I don’t know what happens if you get all 4 medals on that version of the stage.

I take back my previous statement, actually. The best part of the game is that the IAPs will ease the grind of earning stars to buy ship upgrades, but having a fully upgraded ship won’t really help you gain medals. Perfect. Get this game.

Arcane Soul

This is a nice throwback to early side-scrolling action games, complete with a charmingly terrible English translation. The gameplay is pretty simple: hack enemies to death with a combination of your sword and your magical abilities. My biggest issue with the game is that the difficulty tends to ramp up pretty crazily around the middle of act 2, forcing you to either grind on previous stages or just buy more gold so you can get better equipment. That’s admittedly a pretty big issue, but if you don’t mind an occasional grind, you’ll find a lot to like about this game.

Tip: If you’re going to eschew the IAPs for this game, you’ll get more bang for your buck by buying ability upgrades instead of equipment upgrades.

Spellfall

This is one of the better Puzzle & Dragons clones I’ve played. Instead of dragging one orb around to make big combos, you instead touch two orbs (which can be any distance apart) and they switch places. It’s an interesting twist on the standard match-3 formula and with some clever orb movement, you can still make big cascades, as this game calls them.

As you travel through the game world defeating enemies, you can buy new weapons and armor in the shop. Each piece of equipment has slots to equip runes, which are charged up by matching orbs of the appropriate color. When a rune is fully charged, you can unleash the rune’s power to do something useful like poisoning the enemy, healing yourself, increasing your stats, etc. It’s a cool system on paper, but it feels like runes take a bit too long to charge. At least the game is forgiving. If you lose all of your HP, you lose all of your runes’ charge, but you don’t lose any game progress. In addition, as long as you aren’t actually in a battle, you can wait and your HP will slowly (and I mean slowly) recharge.

I like the game so far, but we’ll see if it has enough staying power. I get a free epic-level item if I play every day for 20 straight days, so we’ll see.

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