MacLife

Monster Legacy Review

Replace trainers with keepers and Poké Balls for monster traps and you’ve got Monster Legacy, a game that offers a glimpse of what a free-to-play Pokémon could play like if Nintendo ever took its popular franchise mobile. This means fighting alongside a team of monsters, training them to evolve, and even completing missions for rare items. But before you dismiss this game for another creature-catching clone, Monster Legacy mixes in various clever elements and modes that make it more than just another Pokémon wannabe.

Your mission as the prophesied keeper is to catch and tame monsters to help defend the kingdom of Arborea from incoming doom. The story may not be anything special, but it provides a premise for collecting monsters of various elemental types and training them in battle. With more than 100 monsters to find—all boasting creative names and designs—you’ll definitely find favorites and learn to utilize their skills and unique stats to your advantage. Upon reaching a certain level, some even evolve into stronger versions of themselves, offering more reasons to keep on training them.

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Each level you explore has three objectives to complete that either involve battling creatures or retrieving something for a person in the world. Accomplishing each task grants you experience, money, and additional items you can use during your adventure. To add to their replayability, levels can always be revisited to train your lower-leveled monsters, or to complete any objectives you couldn’t clear because you lacked a certain item.  

Monster traps and potions all come with a price tag, so if you run out of in-game currency, you may need to spend some real money to get more. Of course, you don’t need to buy anything to enjoy the game, but having to restart a level, grind for a few hours, or wait for your team’s health to recover can put a damper on your playtime if you decide not to pay.

In addition to simply questing, the game also includes a building mode that lets you expand your monster ranch and build resource structures, which produce potions or traps over time. The experience you gain from completing main game objectives also opens up new buildings to further maximize your ranch’s profits, adding an enjoyable extra wrinkle to the experience.

The bottom line. Despite some freemium hassles, Monster Legacy is as charming as many of the monsters you’ll meet. Its various aspects all work together to create an inviting adventure you’ll want to keep playing.

Review Synopsis

Company: 

Outplay Entertainment

Contact: 

Price: 

Free

Requirements: 

iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later

Positives: 

Over 100 colorful and creative monsters to catch and train. Objectives are rewarding to complete. Ranch mode adds a creative building element to your adventure.

Negatives: 

Freemium elements can put a stop to your adventure if you don’t want to pay. Grinding for experience can get repetitive.

Score: 
4 Great

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Star Horizon Review

As a clear effort to emulate big-budget console shooters like Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox, Star Horizon is perhaps most notable for how true it stays to its vision. It's a game that takes very little influence from the usual iOS design trends, thankfully eschewing common devices like virtual sticks, tilt steering, or in-app purchases. As a result, it’s a mostly successful homage that shines particularly in its presentation.

Star Horizon serves as a showpiece for the iOS platform, with impressive graphics and cinematic angles as your starfighter weaves and bobs through obstacles. Flight feels smooth and responsive with only slight touches, and it’s easy to get accustomed to steering with precision and flicking to barrel roll. The firing commands boil down to three simple virtual buttons, which feel perfectly positioned and spaced to fire off rapidly when needed, but never accidentally. And the handful of ship upgrades are noticeably more powerful, so earning them feels like an apt reward for past accomplishments. Aiming is given an assist that can feel overgenerous, and with the action being on rails, it can sometimes be difficult to predict your flight path and steer away from obstacles—but overall, the controls feel fine-tuned to near-perfection.

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Those expertly engineered controls are unfortunately in service of a bland, forgettable space drama. You’re a hotshot pilot with a healthy disrespect for authority, working for a space federation embroiled in a lengthy battle against—stop us if you’ve heard this one—a plucky band of rebels. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the voice acting is almost universally awful, and the frequent attempts at humor fall flat.

In a clever twist, though, it uses the paint-by-numbers plot to give you meaningful choices. At several points in the story, you’ll be asked to make a decision—and given only five seconds to decide. These have a meaningful impact on both the narrative progression and the stages, since a scenario or your mission could change completely. And to its credit, being able to choose between factions in the conflict proves the old wisdom that neither side has its hands entirely clean.

The stages with dueling scenarios offer up a little more longevity, which is welcome as a straight run of the campaign can be completed fairly quickly. But as a short, sweet throwback to the action-packed shooters that clearly inspired it, Star Horizon is a success.

The bottom line. Star Horizon is a tightly responsive, beautiful action shooter throwback with only a few issues—namely the bland story and short playtime—holding it back from being a mobile classic.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Company: 

Tabasco Interactive

Price: 

$3.99

Requirements: 

iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later

Positives: 

Fine-tuned controls that feel natural and smooth. Choices have an impact on gameplay. Ship upgrades feel noticeably more powerful, giving them real purpose.

Negatives: 

Bland, generic story with dreadful voice acting. Too short-lived in a single playthrough.

Score: 
3.5 Good

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