Our rating: :: MAD AS A HATTER
Help Alice explore a mini-golf version of Wonderland in the quirky Wonder Golf.
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Latest iPhone, iPod touch and iPad App Reviews:
iPhone App: Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 22nd, 2014
Our rating: :: TASTY RECOMMENDATIONS
In need of some new restaurant recommendations? This app will be ideal, with curated reviews of many establishments in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago.
Rob Rich on April 22nd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Zeebox used to be an app about following your favorite TV shows and stars, chatting with like-minded fans, and enjoying the benefits of having a personalized guide to help you discover new shows. Now, well, it’s still all of that. It’s just that now we’re calling it Beamly TV.
Beamly TV is the new name and look for the older app. 24/7 updates for TV shows and actors, chatrooms you can visit to gush about your favorites (and sometimes even chat with the celebrities themselves), and so on.
You can download Beamly TV off the App Store for free.
At their recent Global Gamers’ Day event, Bandai Namco was largely focused on their console and PC offerings for the upcoming year. However mobile still had a small presence, with some upcoming titles revealed by the company – though few were in a playable state at this time.
The biggest announcement might just be Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ coming to mobile later this year. The follow-up to the popular take on Pac-Man, which features dynamic levels that change every time a fruit is collected, will feature new game modes, characters, and level designs to try and survive. But it’s still an eat or get eaten world. Expect this one this fall, though it was not playable at the event. Still, the game’s set up for touch controls already on Windows, so it should be a similar experience.
Outcast Odyssey is another upcoming game, though shown only in trailer form. This one resembles Evilibrium‘s tile-uncovering gameplay, and dungeon-crawling is promised, but few details are known beyond that.
Project Unstoppable (working title) is another game that Namco announced with few details available. Check out the teaser trailer below.
Also on tap for the future from Namco include a game called Soul Calibur: Unbreakable Soul, though no details are available for it at all beyond the name. TNA 2, a head-to-head wrestling game based on the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling organization, is expected later this year.
Additionally, Namco is working with Invictus to bring some casual games to mobile under Namco’s label. Froggy Jump 2, already released, is part of this. Froggy Splash 2, a game similar to Burrito Bison and Jumping Finn Turbo is also in the works. A puzzle-RPG called Jewel Fight is also being created by Invictus for publication by Namco, though this one won’t involve cute frogs but rather warriors battling it out by matching gems by twisting around blocks of four gems, similar to Bejeweled Twist.
While details and playable gameplay were sparse at the event, Namco does appear to have a variety of titles planned, and this may not be all – these titles are under the wing of Namco’s American mobile studios, and other international branches may have their own worldwide releases down the road as well.
Learning is so much more rewarding when it’s also fun. That’s part of the reason why recent educational app, Grammar Pop HD, garnered such a positive review from us last week. The brainchild of Mignon Fogarty, otherwise known as Grammar Girl, we were lucky enough to have a chat with her to find out more on how the game, as well as the persona, came to be.
148Apps: What’s the story behind Grammar Girl? What made you decide to embrace that title?
Much to my surprise, the Grammar Girl podcast took off right away and essentially took over my life. I worked like crazy for about six months trying to do both Grammar Girl and the science writing and editing, since that work paid my bills, and when I finally got my book deal with Macmillan and we formed the partnership to grow the Quick and Dirty Tips network, I was able to switch to Grammar Girl full time.
The name Grammar Girl just popped into my head and I knew it was perfect right away. I believe it works because of the alliteration and because “girl” is a nonthreatening word. People have a lot of anxiety about their writing, and a lot of the grammar advice out there is delivered in a high-brow or condescending way. Being Grammar Girl sends the message that I’m friendly and approachable.
148Apps: How did Grammar Pop come about? What was the inspiration for creating a game like this?
So on a plane on my way to Macmillan for a different meeting, I sketched out the initial idea for how I thought the game might work. They wanted to do it, so we went about investigating ways to make it work. I ended up coding it myself with a tool called Game Salad and working with Margo Goody, an artist at Macmillan.
148Apps: What has the feedback from players been like?
148Apps: What’s next for the Grammar Pop series of games? Are there any plans for new installments or updates?
Thanks to Mignon Fogarty for taking the time to answer our questions. To find out more about Grammar Girl, check out the Quick and Dirty Tips website.
Grammar Pop is available now for iPhone and iPad.
(Image of Mignon Fogarty courtesy of Quick and Dirty Tips.com)
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2013-10-10 :: Category: Education
Rob Rich on April 22nd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Disney’s Where’s My Water? series just keeps going and going. This time around, they’ve added the popular Chinese cartoon sheep XYY to the mix in Where’s My Water? Featuring XYY.
It’s not just Where’s My Water? with sheep, though. The game also makes use of all new mechanics for fire and oil in addition to water and all that other stuff, too. Power-ups are included as well, along with collectible statues that can be used to unlock bonus levels.
Where’s My Water? Featuring XYY is available on the App Store for $0.99.
Tre Lawrence on April 22nd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Version 2.0 adds in content from Season 5 of the hit TV series, as well as a new mode, a Perk system, and new characters.
Doctor Who: Legacy is available for free on the App Store.
Made by: Viatek
Price: $14.99 for 2
Hardware/iOS Integration Rating:
Bottom Line: The Strongarm Universal Mount is hindered slightly by its need for incredibly smooth surfaces, but it can still be a very effective stand for iOS devices under the right circumstances.
The Strongarm falls into that special category of hardware I like to call “Simple but Effective.” Really it’s just a couple of suction cups that can pivot around each other, but if you’ve got a flat enough surface handy it can make for a pretty effective stand for your iOS device. With a few caveats.
Using the Strongarm is super-simple: just place the larger end on a smooth, flat surface and push down five times. This creates a vacuum that will keep it solidly in place for quite some time – depending on the angle and the weight of the device at the other end, of course. Then do the same for the smaller end (place on surface and push five times), only use the back of your iOS device instead of a table or wall. And viola! You now have a stand for your iPhone or iPad that can swivel around if you need it. Want to remove your phone or move everything to a new spot? Just push down on one end to disrupt the vacuum and the Strongarm pops right off.
It’s incredibly easy to set up and adjust the Strongarm. And while I initially thought its uses would be limited due to my lack of a car (no handy spot for a GPS), it’s actually worked very well as a desktop stand that allows me to place my iPhone within easy reach while keeping it at a conveniently viewable angle. What? I use it for schedule tracking, a calculator, and lots of other stuff so having it close by without needing to constantly fumble around for it is super-convenient. Don’t judge me!
The problem is the Strongarm requires a very smooth surface to adhere to. The surface of my desk is a bit rough thanks to all the use its been getting, and because of this I can’t get my iPhone to stick to it for longer than a minute or two. However, if I stick it to a coaster and place the coaster on my desk it’ll stay put for days. It’s recommended that users put in an extra pump or two every day or so to make sure the vacuum holds, but overall it’s a very solid connection. When it works. Similarly, while I appreciate being able to adjust angles and such, I feel like it could stand to tilt/pivot just a little bit more. It’s more of an issue when it’s attached to the bottom of a surface (i.e. the underside of a shelf) or something vertical, but it can still be troublesome at times.
Overall I was actually kind of impressed with the Strongarm Universal Mount. Its uses are a bit limited, and it’s a bit to picky about how smooth a surface needs to be for it to stick properly, but it does a good job overall and is very affordable. Plus it looks kind of like an old-timey telephone!
Today on our Twitch channel at 3:15PM CDT (1:15 PM PDT, 4:15PM EDT, 9:15 PM BST), Breakfinity from Phil Hassey will be the featured game. But not only will it be played with commentary, but I and Phil will be competing for high scores live against each other. Watch the embedded viewer below, or click here to watch and chat with us. If you miss the live broadcast, the archive will be embedded below after the show. May the best brick-breaker win!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2014-04-10 :: Category: Games
Need something to watch in the meantime? Catch up on our Wayward Souls preview streams.
First off, they say that they wanted to put together a cohesive game experience that players could just sit down and enjoy. “We really wanted to put together a game that didn’t have an energy mechanic… or any social pay walls, because we really wanted to deliver a great experience with players… you could buy this game, and if you wanted to just punch through the game in one sitting, ten hours, twelve hours, whatever it takes you, you can do that. You don’t have to wait for status bars to refresh or invite five friends to pass this gate. And we think that the gamers that want this game will really respect that, and I think that the price point supports that.”
Now, the game won’t be without in-app purchases, but Roadhouse claims that “it makes for something that can be used, but it’s all on your ability to play.” This decision to design the game this way may be in part because it won’t be paid everywhere. Roadhouse claims “there are places that cannot support a premium model. Certain territories just won’t buy it. But we believe that, actually, in a number of western countries, there’s actually an aspect of free-to-play fatigue in some cases, and there’s some interest from players to have robust experiences. And we’re trying to deliver one of those. To be frank, I’m really excited at what we’re delivering.” As well, they claim that with the free-to-play version that some markets will get that “both aspects of the experience as well as the manner in which players are allowed to consume and unlock content will be different.”
As well, this sort of “paymium” model, which games like Infinity Blade have used, have paved the way for the acceptability of games that launch with a paid price but also in-app purchases. According to Roadhouse, they claim that “there’s an expectation, for especially those small percentage that are spending lots of money, they want the ability to, at times, push further ahead or circumvent some of the design that’s been put in to place, and to be able to move at a different pace.”
“So fine, we understand that. But I think there’s also a big chunk of gamers, who when we look at the Warhammer 40,000 audience, they are gamers. And we have a lot of people in that are who are interested a full experience, without being limited to playing for six minutes. So we didn’t want to limit it in that way.”
And gamers that pick up the game will likely have a lot to play with over time: the plan is for the game to launch with 50 levels, and for updates down the road to possibly multiply the content of the game by four times what it launched with. And while they are working with Graham McNeill to craft the game’s story and world, they say “we think the title stands alone on its gameplay. And its structure, and its campaign, and its story, even if you didn’t have the Warhammer 40k brand on it, someone who’s never heard of Warhammer 40k is still going to be able to engage with this title, and still have a satisfying and rich experience as they go through a very detailed and rich world and have that experience.”
But ultimately, while Roadhouse is taking a different path for the company with this, they say “We’re not [saying] go kill free to play. It’s absolutely a viable business model, there’s lots of reasons to do it in lots of cases. But in this case we’ve chosen a different path and one we believe is very viable.”
Warhammer 40,000: Carnage is expected to release this May for iOS and Android. Thanks to Roadhouse for their time.
Rocketcat Games joined our Twitch channel late last week to stream Wayward Souls with us. For the first time, see the first boss of the game defeated, and see large chunks of the second area of the game, the Tower, with a couple of the game’s characters. The game releases on April 24.
We’ve shared YouTube videos of some of the highlights, along with a recap of the entire stream, containing information on the process of the game’s development and what players can expect when it releases.
See the first area of the game defeated with Renee the Rogue:
Renee the Rogue running through the Tower, the second area of the game:
As well, Blythe the Warrior makes a lengthy run through the Tower, but can it be successful? As well, check out some of Wayward Souls‘ hats that will be available, including some of the early adopter hats:
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a deceptive game because it can be so easy to get into, but doing well winds up being a bit of a challenge. Well, for those just jumping into the game with its iPad release, here are a few general tips on how to get better at Hearthstone.
If you’re serious about becoming a good player, dedicate yourself to doing so. This is not a standard mobile title, this is a Blizzard-made PC game that’s available on mobile. Yes, it has an easy learning curve to get into, but there’s a steep mountain to climb to be an expert, and part of that is collecting all the great cards that are out there.
So, if you’re going to go from newb to even just being respectable at the game, be prepared to dig in. Get ready to lose often, and to spend a lot of time learning how to play well as much as actually trying to play. Remember: you’re at a disadvantage because there’s plenty of experienced players out there already thanks to the game’s PC beta period, even though there are those folks just jumping in as well. Also remember: this is a free-to-play game. You may want to spend money on booster packs if you want to get better cards.
Take advantage of the resources that are out there. The benefit to this being a widely established game is that there are a ton of resources out there already. Use them! If you have a question, Google it – someone’s probably answered it! There are sites like the Hearthstone Gamepedia Wiki, Liquidhearth which includes a very handy tier list for the Arena mode and a forum to browse and ask questions in. This guide to the 25 best cards is extremely enlightening because some of them are common. Also, the game is one of the most popular titles on Twitch. Watch and see what people are doing, and learn accordingly!
Don’t be afraid to experiment. It can be easy when starting out to stick with the starting class and to just try and build them out. Don’t do so – there are nine classes in total, and it’s possible that one might be more conducive to your play style than another. So try them out as you unlock them. This is why I say you should be dedicated. You likely won’t get to a position where you are at an optimal level for a long time if you’re committed to being good.
So always be trying out different things, playing as different classes, trying different strategies, and especially forming different decks. I recommend reviewing a deck often: is a card a good idea to have in a deck? Would a new card be better than one already in the deck you’ve made that you’re comfortable with? You won’t know for sure until you try it out for yourself.
Pay attention. Try not to be distracted when you’re playing seriously. You want to know at all times what your strategy is going to be, what cards you’re going to play – and more importantly, not play, as a powerful ability might be better served for later. Mana amounts are more of a suggestion of what you can do, not what you must do. You have some time to make moves, so take advantage of it!
But the other big reason to pay attention is that decks are only 30 cards. While it’s impossible to know what exactly a player has in their deck, if you know they’ve used something already (especially twice), then you know what they can’t do in the future, or can even just have an idea on what they might do, based on their class (this is why you experiment)! Be smart, and you can outwit your opponent.
Play often! You’re not going to get better by not playing. Play regularly – practice against the AI, especially when starting out. But try to complete the missions daily if you’re a serious player: they’re free gold for the taking, and free gold means less real-world money spent on arena entries and booster packs (or just more of them if you’re intent on not paying)! And remember: the things you learn will stick more when you play and do them more. Your account will transfer between different platforms, so you can play wherever you so choose.
So get out there, and get Hearthing those stones for great victory!
Tre Lawrence on April 21st, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our Rating: :: GET CREATIVE! :: Read Review »
Createrria, the interesting app maker within an app from Incuvo, has just received a big update. The update adds leaderboards, parental controls, seasonal content, and more. From the developer’s website:
Createrria, as noted, allows players to use the tools it provides to create and share platform games. We reviewed the game late last year; it is available for free on the App Store.
Spring Into Our App Reviews
The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
Unpossible is another fantastic minimalist arcade survival game in the vein of Super Hexagon and Pivvot, this one adding in the wrinkle of being in first-person. Essentially, the game is the same as any other arcade survival game: don’t hit the obstacles. Simple as that. The obstacles and the way they’re laid out is anything but simple, though. There’s three difficulty modes: Simplicity, Futile, and Ultra. Simplicity starts out very easy, and it can be a bit disheartening at first for the player looking for a challenging experience because it’s fairly easy. However, things really jump up at Futile, where getting the requisite 60 seconds to unlock the next game mode is very difficult. And Ultra difficulty is, in fact, ultra-hard. –Carter Dotson
Hitman GO is one of the odder big-name games that I can remember in recent memory. It takes the core tenets of Hitman, and turns it into a strategic board game. It’s a unique choice with a unique presentation to match, and while it’s certainly odd at first, it comes together beautifully. This is an intelligently-designed, wonderful experience. This is a turn-based affair, where players control Agent 47 along circuit-like boards where he can move one node at a time. He must make it to the exit without being spotted by the enemies on the board, who all move after he does, so they have an advantage, though each enemy has predictable behaviors. Thus, it’s about using their patterns and the limited tools available, like noise makers and disguises, to avoid and even take out the various enemies. –Carter Dotson
The Livescribe 3 is a Bluetooth enabled pen with a little infrared camera in the front that tracks what is written and stores that as a sort of digital ink. That ink can then be dictated to an iPad/iPhone with the free Livescribe+ app and a Bluetooth enabled iOS device. What results is nothing short of amazing. Once the writing/drawing/doodle/whatever that has been written on the special notebook and has been transferred to the iOS device, then the real magic starts. Whole pages or just sections can be emailed, transferred to Evernote, turned into calendar events or reminders, etc. And if the handwriting is legible (i.e. better then mine), any written words will also be converted to text for easy searching and emailing. –Jeff Scott
At last, the Trials series hits mobile with Trials Frontier, now available worldwide after its Canadian soft launch! Unfortunately, it’s free-to-play. I don’t say this in the way that some people automatically despair about games going free-to-play. No, after playing Trials Frontier, I think the way that its business model affects the game diminishes what is otherwise a great experience at its core. Developed by RedLynx, creators of the Trials series and of the similar MotoHeroz, this is a level-based stunt biking game. Players ride their motorbike through a level, trying to avoid hazards and navigate the tricky terrain in order to make it to the end in one piece while performing flips along the way because they’re cool. It’s a game that requires patience, as many levels will require restarting from checkpoints (which are thankfully frequent) to make it through – but greater rewards come to those who complete levels faster and in fewer restarts. –Carter Dotson
It’s probably safe to say that Runtastic PRO is the Swiss Army Knife of running apps. It goes one better too, by being more than just for running – covering all manners of different movements from cycling to skiing. As a general one stop shop kind of app, Runtastic PRO has it covered. Runtastic PRO is immediately pretty quick to set up. A clearly laid out screen is there, ready for the beginning of a run or cycle. It’s easily adjusted too, with holding a finger to a number opening up a choice of values. Duration, pace, speed, distance, average pace and speed, as well as elevation and maximum speed can all be given focus here. Heart rate can also be tracked with the relevant equipment to hook up to the app. A map or music player can complete the selection. –Jennifer Allen
As parents of Dino-loving children know, there is a nice selection of books and apps that are dedicated to the combining of dinosaurs and the alphabet – typically including 26 dinosaurs and allowing one to correlate with each letter. Dinosaur Train A to Z is an app of this style, introducing children to many interesting facts about these prehistoric creatures. As the name may imply, this app is based on the hit PBS TV show, Dinosaur Train. Fans of the show will find the highlighted text and included narration familiar and inviting – something I appreciate as I honestly don’t enjoy trying to pronounce the long names that many dinosaurs possess. –Amy Solomon
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Man, skeletons are stupid. The undead kind, not the good kind that is just calmly resting inside of our bodies. I mean, animating a skeleton should be about the most difficult thing in magical world, because there’s absolutely no way they could move on their own – and yet, walking skeletons are the most basic enemy a hero can ever meet. Trial of Bones takes it to the next level by making skeletons the sole enemies. Sturdy and dangerous enemies, at that. I don’t want my life to be ended by a pile of calcium – give me real monsters! Bearing that in mind, Trial of Bones is actually quite good, although it severely lacks content. There’s a short prologue that I frankly can’t remember by now, but the problem at hand is that the main hero is trying to get through a dungeon that is filled with skeletons with the help of his awesome sword, as well as the objects he finds on the way. –Tony Kuzmin
This is a game about a cat. Not just any cat – it’s a game about a flying insect cat that collects flying trash. Fly Catbug Fly is a bit close to Flappy Bird, but it’s closer to the old helicopter game that Flappy Bird was ripped off from. Catbug (of Bravest Warriors fame) flies through the never-ending corridor, bordered by solid matter on top and bottom, and has to evade it, as well as some small “islands” in the middle, while collecting trash. The trash consists of truly random items, ranging from old bottles to what to my twisted mind looked suspiciously like dirty toys, to leprechauns. There are portals scattered around the levels, which take the trash from Catbug, and give some cash in return. After picking enough trash, a hyper mode of sorts kicks in and you lose. At least that’s what happen to me all the time. –Tony Kuzmin
When it comes to kart racing, Sonic is the man. And the hedgehog. Whatever… Sonic is the consummate console competitor, and he and his friends have done well on mobile devices too. Sonic Racing Transformed is yet another opportunity for us all to see how fast our blue bandit has come on Android OS. It is an intense game, and definitely not for the spec faint of heart. There are two modes off the bat, Single player and multi player, with the single optioning into the advertised new World Tour. There is also the Weekly Challenge, which allows players to compete for streaks and prizes. –Tre Lawrence