If you’ve been keeping up with Square Enix’s mobile releases, you probably have SaGa opinions by now. The series, which had always had a spotty localization record, went dormant in the West for a long time following the 2005 release of Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song on the PlayStation 2. I can only assume the Western release of Romancing SaGa 2 ($17.99) did better than expected, as we’ve received a veritable flood of SaGa releases since. All of those games have seen global releases regardless of their original localization status, meaning that we have just about the entire series available on mobile. And now fate has brought us here, back to Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song ($24.99).
As I’ve said more than a few times in the past, the NEOGEO was generally known for a couple of genres more than anything else. Fighting games, of course. And thanks to Metal Slug and to a lesser extent Shock Troopers, it’s also known for run-and-gun action. It’s just how things shook out given the developer talent and arcade zeitgeist of the era. But since it was mainly arcade hardware, it did have its fair share of shoot-em-ups. When pressed to list the best of the bunch on the console, a few names tend to come up. Blazing Star. Aero Fighters 2. Viewpoint. Twinkle Star Sprites. And this game, Pulstar ($3.99).
The NEOGEO is generally characterized by, with only a few notable exceptions, fighting games and Metal Slug. Within a couple of years of its launch, the vast majority of the output on the console seemed to be mining (quite successfully) a few particular types of games. To be fair, such was the state of arcades by the mid-1990s. If you weren’t making a fighting game, a licensed beat-em-up, a shoot-em-up, or a puzzle game, you were rowing against the current.
Sigono’s OPUS series of games had its debut with OPUS: The Day We Found Earth back in 2015 on iOS and Android. That was eventually ported to PC and Nintendo Switch with its followup game OPUS: Rocket of Whispers following the same pattern. I adored the first game and have played it on every platform. While I do have issues with the gameplay in OPUS: Rocket of Whispers, I still consider it worth experiencing for fans of the first game. When OPUS: Echo of Starsong ($8.99) was announced, I was hoping it would make its way to iOS because it kept looking like a massive step up over the originals in scale and production.
Marvel Snap is a really good card game. On the one hand, you could say that isn’t all that surprising. Ben Brode is one of the minds behind it, and you might remember him as the lead designer of Hearthstone. Four years ago he and some of his colleagues dipped out from Blizzard and set off to do their own thing, and that turned out to be Marvel Snap. The pedigree is there. These folks clearly know how to make a good card game, so of course they went and made another good card game.
In recent years, it feels like the Backbone One has been the de facto controller for playing on iPhone. While on an iPad you have the flexibility and convenience of using any console controller with the iPad set on any surface, it never feels as good when using a traditional controller with a clip and iPhone. Having spent the last week or so using both the Razer Kishi V2 and the Backbone One on my iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 to try out various games and both apps, both controllers offer something over the other, but are held back for different reasons.
It’s been seven years since Aquiris’ outstanding arcade racer Horizon Chase (Free) arrived on the App Store. Since then, the game has been on a tour of its own, hitting a variety of other platforms and constantly adding new content to enjoy. About a month ago, we finally got a sequel when Horizon Chase 2 () roared onto the Apple Arcade service in anticipation of a wider release in 2023. I’ve been playing the wheels off the game since then, and I figured I’d write up a review in case anyone needs a nudge.
Shovel Knight first released a little over eight years ago, and thanks to a bevy of updates and cameos it feels like the character has never really left the spotlight. Still, if we count all of the updates to the main game as simply being part of that game, Shovel Knight Dig is just the third game in the series. This is also the first game in the series to hit mobile, which was roughly the last active platform on the planet without a Shovel Knight game on it. This comes to the platform through Apple Arcade, so if you want to play the game you know what you have to do.
A few months back, Video System’s Aero Fighters 2 ($3.99) arrived on the mobile Arcade Archives. I found it was a good fit for mobile play in my review, and gave it a hearty recommendation. At the time I noted that it probably wouldn’t be long before Aero Fighters 3 ($3.99) rolled in and, well, here we are. Originally released just over a year after the previous game in the series, Aero Fighters 3 is certainly a more confident game than its predecessor, but is it better?