This is a combined review of 3 exciting games, we will be reviewing 8 Ball Pool, Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD & ABOVE – Insanely Addictive

8 Ball Pool

If you’re in the market for a free online pool game, 8 Ball Pool has you covered. Instead of offering every kind of pool under the sun, the game maintains a steely focus and delivers exactly what it sets out to deliver: a simple, well-made online game of standard 8 ball pool.

Probably the most off-putting thing about 8 Ball Pool is that you have to be online to play. There’s no single-player mode or computer opponents, so every match you play is against a real-life person, and takes place in real time. If one player leaves the game, they have a handful of seconds to come back, or else they forfeit and lose the match.

Beyond that, it’s a pretty basic pool game. You and an opponent throw in a handful of chips and square off against each other. The control mechanics are simple and intuitive, and set up so you’ll never take a shot on accident. As you line up your shots, onscreen guides show you where your cue ball will go, and give an idea which direction your target ball will roll.

Each player has a reasonable amount of time to take a shot, but not so much that you’ll start getting antsy when it’s not your turn– unless, of course, the player is a pro and is wiping the table with you. Some minor flourishes are included, like a chat mechanism that lets you send common phrases like “Good game,” “Nice shot,” and “Oops.” In our experience, almost no one took advantage of that feature, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

As you play, you gain experience points and level up. Reaching certain levels opens new venues. This just means the pool tables are lined by different decorative wood and the entry fees– and potential rewards– are greater.

At various regular times you’re awarded free chips, or you can purchase them in batches using real money. You can also purchase single-use power-ups that extend your aim guides, or increase your maximum spin and overall power. This is somewhat unfortunate, because power-ups make the game a little less fair. They’re not helpful enough that using them secures a win, but they do give an edge to people willing to open their wallets.

Overall, 8 Ball Pool is a solid game well worth picking up for pool fans. Some people might be disappointed that it doesn’t offer more types of pool games, but we like the tight focus. We wish it had a single-player mode, and we could do without the power-ups, but overall 8 Ball Pool is a winner.

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD

Movies and television usually caricaturize lawyers as leeches, sharks, and the scum of the earth. But video games have at least one hero on the bench: Phoenix Wright, the ace defense lawyer who fought for all that’s right across three games on the Nintendo DS. Now those games are available in a single high-definition collection for iOS. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy HD is an upstanding citizen in some regards, but it still commits some sins that will make you want to condemn it to a last ride on Old Sparky.

All the titles wrapped up in Ace Attorney Trilogy HD are adventure-style games that were initially released on the Game Boy Advance (in Japan) and the Nintendo DS. The games, titled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, all involve the exploits of the young defense attorney named Phoenix Wright (and occasionally involve his mentor, Mia Fey).

Each game in the Phoenix Wright series is divided into several cases wherein Phoenix must defend clients that are seemingly guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt. The stakes are high: A “Guilty” verdict usually ends with the client being put to death (not on screen). Phoenix needs every edge he can get to prove his clients’ innocence, which includes investigating crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, cross-examining them in court, and gathering up every shred of evidence available to him.

Phoenix’s journey for justice isn’t easy. He’s up against merciless prosecutors, including his complicated ex-friend, Miles Edgeworth. Also, the judge is kind of a dolt.

The Phoenix Wright games are famously text-heavy. If you don’t like a lot of story and dialogue in your games, Wright is not right for you. Even though you’re allowed to investigate crime scenes and present evidence in court, the in-game action mostly comes down to linear pixel-hunts and presenting the correct piece of evidence at the right time. If you play Phoenix Wright, you play it for its story and characters.

Fortunately, the Phoenix Wright games consistently offer strong casts and great writing. The clients, witnesses, and lawyers are all borderline hilarious—but at the same time, there can be some pretty dark moments that are sobering regardless of the fact they’re being delivered by faux cowboys and women who carry parasols into court.

The Phoenix Wright titles absolutely hold up as great adventure games, and the iOS trilogy bundles all three hard-to-find games into one extremely convenient package. Problem is, the port itself is disappointingly shoddy. The new high-definition graphics are nice, but for some inexplicable reason, there’s no way to control text speed. This proves to be an agonizing oversight when you explore crime scenes and wind up stumbling on the same evidence over and over.

There are also spelling errors that weren’t present in the original games, as well as a few bugs. The on-screen cursor may occasionally vanish when you’re trying to examine a crime scene, for instance, so have fun with that. Moreover, there’s no iPhone 5 support, so if you plan to go to court on a 5, expect black bars at the sides of the screen.

The collection itself still offers a couple of great ideas, including the ability to buy each game individually or as a whole package. You can also skip to specific court days and investigation days, so fans can zero in on their favorite moments and re-experience them.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney HD Trilogy gets a recommendation for its convenience and affordable price. However, since there’s little polish applied to its presentation, it also gets a boot to the head.

ABOVE – Insanely Addictive Review

Imagine what your day would be like if you had to get to work using a series of floating platforms. This is what the protagonist of ABOVE has to deal with. We assume he is going to work, since he is carrying his briefcase and looks sharp sporting a tie. After playing ABOVE, you’ll appreciate taking the bus to work even more.

ABOVE is a simple game. You control the timing of your character’s jumps and ascend the levels for as long as possible. After reaching a certain height, your character will not survive a fall and it’s game over. You’re then given a score, and challenged to beat it.

Timing is everything in ABOVE. The character will run at his own pace, so it’s up to you to tap and charge the jump meter to determine how high he will hop. While you’re scaling the heavens, you will come across some special platforms. Gold platforms will toss you higher, and gray ones will fall a few seconds after you land on them. Things get even more interesting when the platforms begin moving.

There are three levels to choose from: Metropolis (Easy), Tea Farm (Medium), and Outer Space (Hard). Once you’ve completed a run, you can upload your score to Facebook or Twitter.

ABOVE is a breath of fresh air in the “survival platformer” genre. The game is rendered in a slick anime style that puts to shame anything with “doodle” in the title. Just because this genre of game is simple doesn’t mean the graphics must reflect that.

Each level has gorgeous environments that make the game that much harder, because you want to stop and sight-see. The depth and scale is spot on as you climb higher into the sky, allowing you to see more landmarks. The are so many subtle visual details in ABOVE that really make the game a treat to play over and over.

Each level also includes catchy techno tracks that fit perfectly with each environment. The presentation is stunning and worthy of high praise.

Axolot, the creators of ABOVE, have even included a list of in-game achievements. After you’ve completed every achievement on the list, you can unlock a secret. You’ll have to hit the platforms to find out what it is– sorry, no spoilers here. As good as the game is, in the future we’d still like to see the addition of new characters, levels, and direct iPod music support.

ABOVE is an addictive game that will certainly make you say “Ok, one more time” before putting it down. We’re looking forward to future updates, and hopefully a higher-res iPad version as well.

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