iOS

Build and battle deadly machines in C.A.T.S.: Crash Arena Test Stars

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

Cats are often cuddly and adorable, but C.A.T.S.—that is, Crash Arena Test Stars—is destructive and intense. And yet it still stars cute, cartoonish felines.

fft cats screen Macworld

Each ride has its own unique shape and combination of components. Good luck out there.

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iOS

MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 isn't worth big-league time or money

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

Baseball has been a lot more exciting for me since the Cubs won the World Series. I was there outside Wrigley Field last November when they won it all, surrounded by raucous revelers, and then I attended the home opener to see the championship flag unveiled. It’s energized me, and now I’m even watching more games on TV than I have over the past few years. It’s been a nice shot in the arm for my flagging MLB fandom.

Likewise, that old itch to play baseball video games has returned, although I no longer have the kind of free time that allowed me to pour hours into MVP Baseball in college. So I was certainly intrigued when I saw Glu’s MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 pop up in the App Store, promising all of the official teams and players with a streamlined, on-the-go sensibility. However, this freemium affair is just too dull, repetitive, and obnoxiously monetized to satisfy.

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iOS

Bit City lets you mold a metropolis from your iPhone

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

If the original Tiny Tower was NimbleBit’s homage to the classic SimTower, then the new Bit City is clearly its take on the better-known SimCity. In both cases, the mobile “tribute” offers a significantly streamlined version of the same core premise, and this time around, you’ll gradually build up your city simply by tapping menus and amassing coins. 

fft bitcity largecity NimbleBit

Bit by bit, you’ll bring your city to life.

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iOS

WarFriends seems friendly enough, but it's loaded with paid perks

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

There’s something slightly unsettling about the name “WarFriends”—like, warfare isn’t a thing you do with pals for kicks. And this is very much a game about killing people, even if doused in a cartoonish, big-headed style. The title itself just sends a slight chill down my spine; it feels ill-considered.

And yet the actual game itself is absolutely inviting from the start: WarFriends is lightweight but decently strategic, and it’s tactical without being complex or overbearing. This is an entertaining combat game that you can play in three-minute spurts, which makes it perfect for mobile. Yet WarFriends is also a game in which spending real money brings immediate and significant benefits, and it doesn’t do much to hide that obvious advantage.

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iOS

Sky Dancer soars at first, although the sensation is short-lived

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money). 

Helplessly falling through the clouds at a rapid pace towards the dirt? Terrifying. Controlled falling, on the other hand? Potentially exhilarating. And that’s the kind of sensation that Sky Dancer taps into, blending a familiar behind-the-back endless runner approach with the less-familiar feeling of dropping large distances to platforms below. 

It’s a neat hook that helps set this mobile experience apart from the mostly done-to-death runner genre, pumping a bit of fresh excitement in between the sprints. But is it enough to keep things interesting over the long haul, or is Sky Dancer just a dashing diversion that wears out its solid welcome?

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iOS

Disney Magic Kingdoms swaps the magic for monotony

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

I have a four-year-old son who happily flips out every time we see a Walt Disney World commercial on TV, so I’ve spent the last year grimacing at the thought of how much money we’ll have to shell out to bring him there. It’s mind-numbing, but I know it’ll be worth it.

Truth be told, you could probably spend as much money seeking happiness within Disney Magic Kingdoms, Gameloft’s free-to-play park-builder based on the theme park, but I sincerely doubt you’ll find it here. Magic Kingdoms has a cavalcade of classic characters and an eye-catching cartoonish look, but it’s built on an obnoxious formula: not only is it slow and boring, but pumping in money also doesn’t do nearly enough to help that.

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iOS

Hot Wheels: Race Off has its charms, even if it's a slog

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

I recently experienced a new benchmark for feeling old: once you start buying your child the very same toys that you enjoyed as a kid. That’s happened with Hot Wheels, and now my home is lined with endless orange track and dozens of little cars to accidentally step on. At least the cars are much, much cheaper than the mass of Thomas trains he now barely acknowledges.

fft hotwheels race Hutch Games

Can you stay upright and speeding ahead long enough to reach the finish line?

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