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The Week In review: Total War Battles, Xenoblade Chronicles, Fez and More...

Brad Cummings
United States
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The Week In Review


Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week:

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Total War Battles: Shogun
The bread and butter of iOS development is the indie scene but it is great when a major studio puts out an app that fits the strategy audience. Total War Battles is a great example of this from Sega. It is a real-time with constraints strategy game where you recruit and direct units against your opponents. The game does initially appear to be lane based game as units will continue to move forward in a specified lane unless directed, but you do have the ability to move units anywhere forward on the board and this requires you to think about the whole strategy, rather than lane by lane. This is a lighter version of the Total War genre, but I found it very enjoyable and fun to play. The game includes a story track with additional missions along the sides. Each mission has different objectives, and I was surprised to find that some of the missions are more of a puzzle game than a battle (one has you figuring out how to build 8 temples without violating any of the building rules). The heart of the game though is its battle system and it does feature local multiplayer.

Graphically the game is a triumph. It has a distinct hand drawn style throughout and the in game animations are excellent. When units of soldiers meet they actually fight one on one. When a soldier dies, you see him stabbed by the enemy. This really increases the appeal of this game and you can see the big publisher polish. You can check it out here.

Sketch Nation Studio
This app is quite interesting, though not as promising as it may initially sound. Sketch Nation Studio allows you to make your own iOS games and then put them up for others to play, either through the app, or if the game is good enough, actually on the app store. The games you can make are limited to a few templates from the endless, score chase genre. These are not genres that always appeal to me but it is a fun experience to build your own graphic assets and then see the game in motion. It reminds me of the old RPG builder days. You can check it out here.

Kingdom Rush
A friend who I respect kept urging me to try Kingdom Rush. I am not a huge fan of the tower defense genre so I was reluctant to start out but eventually I gave in. This game does follow the basics of the tower defense genre but it does so with its own unique style. The art is great and the level design seems more interesting than other tower defense games I have played. There was always something new to do. If you are a fan of the genre or have not tried it before, Kingdom Rush is a good, quality example of tower defense.. You can check it out here.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
I received some great submissions this week and here are two of them. For those that made these drawings, please let us know in the comments below. I do not know your BGG usernames and do not want to give out your actual names. If you want to share your drawing please submit your drawings to, with your BGG username, and you may see them show up here.
From gallery of thequietpunk
From gallery of thequietpunk


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Apples to Apples on XBLA
I will be creating a video review of this in the near future, but I wanted to mention it briefly here. Apples to Apples is wildly popular party game and this digital implementation seeks to play off the popularity. The nature of Apples to Apples makes it a strange digital game to play solo and the mode offered by this game is really just a mild distraction. The real meat of this game is multiplayer over xbox live. Playing with strangers or friends is quite enjoyable, and I found that my wife and I can both enjoy sitting down and playing as a team. It is a strange fit in the digital space but it was still enjoyable. There is talk of this coming to other platforms (iOS?) so we may be seeing it again. You can check it out here.

Xenoblade Chronicles
Not often does the Wii get an amazing exclusive but this is one of those times. Much like Baten Kaitos at the end of the Gamecube’s life, Xenoblade Chronicles is an amazing example of JRPGness that is for Wii only. Many critics have lauded this as the best JRPG in a while and though I have just started, I am intrigued. The fighting system reminds me of Final Fantasy 12, though you do have complete control over your character. I will give a further review of this game once I have chance to get more than an hour in. You can check it out here.

I have to admit that before iOS I was generally outside of the indie video game world or even most of the video game world. I have been thrust back in and Fez is the first indie platformer I have experienced. Check out my video review below:

Thought of the Week

This week I was wowed by two games, Fez from an indie developer and Total War Battles from a big publisher. In both video games and board games we have large publishers and small indie publishers. I personally enjoy the mix and like the variety from indie publishers as well as the stability of larger publishers. Some game from big publishers feel like tailored works while playing indie games allows you to discover diamonds in the rough.

My question for this week: how do you feel about indie developer and big developers? What are the advantages to having both types? Do you generally prefer one over the other?

Thank you and have a good weekend,

Note on Purpose of this Column:

Welcome to my weekly columns. After shifting the way we post here on iOS Board Games, I decided that a weekly column like this may be useful. This column, apart from possibly being vain, will allow me to talk about more apps and games than we usually have a chance to cover. This column will also evolve as I receive new ideas and suggestions.

Initially, this column will do the following things:
- Allow me to highlight and comment on games that may not receive a full review for one reason or another. Perhaps because they are on the edges of what we cover or perhaps they are in need of severe technical fixes.

- Be a platform to speak about video games that may be of interest to lovers of digital board games. It will be a space where I can talk briefly about my physical board gaming experiences.

- Lastly, this column will be a place where we can discuss various topics surrounding table top and digital gaming. This will mostly be thoughts about the genre and industry as a whole.

I hope you enjoy reading this weekly and that it provides a small look at the bigger picture. If you have ideas or things that you would like to see in the column, please let me know in the comments below.

Thank you,
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