Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since June 5, 2010
I'm Carter Dotson, freelance writer based out of Chicago. I've been a fan of portable gaming since the days of the black-and-white Game Boy, but now mobile gaming consumes my life. Along with writing about mobile gaming. Which is why you see all these posts below. Also, check out The Portable Podcast, every Tuesday here on 148Apps.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 8th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Team Chaos has released a big update for their “hatch-three” puzzle game, Dragon Academy. The “Path of the Elder Dragon” expansion brings 48 new levels inspired by ancient Greece in this new episode, with 24 new main campaign levels. As well, new items called Magic Vines and Magic Creep will add new dynamics to puzzle-solving. Finally, because this is a game about dragons, there can’t be an update without a new one: Bloo the Dragon is what Team Chaos claims is “the most adorable thing we’ve ever created.”
Uber Entertainment has announced that their mobile tower defense crossed with Clash of Clans game, Toy Rush, is finally launching worldwide on Thursday, May 15. The game has been in a soft-launch phase for a few months now, but now everyone will soon get to build their devious defenses and use cards to try and take down other players’ strategic turrets and traps.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 7th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Bulkypix and Tree Fortress Games’ Bardbarian, a multi-genre RPG, is on sale for free on the App Store. Now players can take their musical axe-lute and use the power of music to fend off the bad guys without paying any up-front fees.
As well there are new characters, which are all cameos from other indie games: the eponymous protagonists from Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, Shellrazer, and Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Nobody suspects a thing!
Wargaming has one of the biggest games on the planet right now, and it’s one you might not have played: World of Tanks. This free-to-play tank warfare game has had over a million concurrent players on PC, and it’s starting extend its tendrils out beyond the PC to include mobile. World of Tanks: Blitz takes the formula of putting tank-driving players on to the battlefield, with the objective of capturing points or wiping out the other team, in small maps with fast-paced gameplay. The game is in a soft-launch phase in Europe, including Denmark. So, I whipped up some frikadeller and rugbrød for this It Came From Canada: Denmark Edition!
Blitz is an apt subtitle for this, since it puts players into the game pretty much immediately. Once players register with either Game Center or a Wargaming.net account, the tutorial starts. This lets players get an idea of the movement, aiming, and firing controls, before players are set off into their first real battles.
The tutorial actually does a great job at briskly setting up the game and showing how the mechanics work: a single joystick controls movement, with buttons for turning in place and arrows around the tank indicating where it will move to.
Though players do start off playing in real battles, this doesn’t mean that the learning is over. As players progress, the game introduces ammo buying, tank upgrading, and more. It just does so in a way that is spread out over time, and doesn’t overwhelm players with information all at once. Importantly, it lets players actually play and learn for themselves.
Even playing with non-US players via both wi-fi and LTE the game has performed exceptionally well, with latency having little effect. While the game does manage to put players into games with more experienced and better-equipped opponents, I didn’t feel helpless. The game does require some intelligence built-in since there’s not really any voice chatting, and with such a diverse international audience playing, having just a text chat option might be better anyway.
There’s no actual energy mechanic, but tanks can’t be used until a battle ends – though players do have multiple tanks. Credits (the soft currency) can be spent on more ammunition, and gold (the hard currency) can be spent to buy different kinds of ammunition, additional tank slots, and more along with premium accounts, which grant more experience and credits for certain amounts of time. How well this model works on mobile as far as money-making remains to be seen. There are at least enough credits handed out to keep ammo supplied, but just how ‘free’ this game will be remains to be seen. As well, will the more casual market be willing to jump into such a gamer’s game, even if it’s fast-paced? These are interesting questions I’m curious to see the answers to when the game is eventually released worldwide.
Chunky Comic Reader, the comic reader we gave five stars to when it released, is now at version 2.0 and free. There’s support for additional cloud storage services, shortcuts, and other fixes in this update, with Pro users able to use auto-crop and upload comics to a built-in web server.
All previous users of Chunky Comic Reader should get the Pro update for free, otherwise it’s now a $2.99 in-app purchase.
Shadowrun Returns has gotten a big update and its biggest sale yet. Version 1.2.6, just released, overhauls the combat (including auto-heal) and UI for a better experience. Save options are now much closer to what they are on the PC, with the ability to save during a turn and when in the PDA. A variety of other bugs and tweaks are here as well.
Shadowrun Returns is also on sale for $4.99 – its biggest sale from its $9.99 price on iPad.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 5th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Is Real Racing not real enough for you? How about a game where you can drive cars, buses, and trucks in accordance with local statutes to try and get your license? Then that’s what School Driving 3D will offer for you. Stop at train crossings! Wait for pedestrians! Safely overtake other cars! Use your blinker and obey all the rules! Awwwwwwwww yyyyyyyyeeeeahhhhh.
School Driving 3D‘s only unrealistic aspect? It’s free, unlike real driving school.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 5th, 2014 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Sensorly, in participation with Phone Scoop, has released their new speed testing app to see how fast your phone is. While a speed testing app is nothing new, this app is also part of PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks project. Speed tests will serve as crowdsourced data to go alongside PCMag’s dedicated tests.
To access it, go to No Save Mode. Access the level select by tapping S-E-G-A on the SEGA logo in that order, then tapping and holding with two fingers on the title screen. Go to the Sound Test, and play tracks 01,09,09,02,01,01,02,04 to unlock debug mode. Then, play 03,03,03,0B,10,10,10,04 in order to unlock Proto Palace, which is accessible by playing the Hidden Palace Zone from the level select. You only get one life and the level eventually warps out as it is incomplete, but now you can explore this beta level for yourself — and with the advanced exploration abilities of Tails and Knuckles. We also have hands-on video of how to enter the code and unlock the level below.
With news of a new game, Jupiter Jump, in the works, Noodlecake Games has made Super Stickman Golf 2 available for free. Available “for a limited time” as of Friday, May 2, players can play dozens of courses both by themselves and with friends in either live or asynchronous online modes in this hit 2D golf game.
Infuse version 2.3 is now available. This video app from Firecore (known for their Apple TV jailbreaking work) now has UPnP and DLNA streaming for easily watching video from a media server on iPhone or iPad from XBMC, Plex, and other similar utilties. As well, handy gesture-based controls for playback are now available, along with a variety of other tweaks meant to make the experience better. See the whole list here.
You can download the latest version of Infuse for free right now.
Doodle God creator Joybits have announced their latest game, Doodle Creatures. This takes the formula of Doodle God, where players must combine disparate elements to form new ones, and puts a genetic manipulation spin on it as players are now trying to combine creatures to form new ones. Joybits promises that there will be more elements to combine than in previous Doodle games.
Expect Doodle Creatures on the week of May 5. Until then, check out the trailer below.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 2nd, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
With Star Wars Day this weekend on May 4th, Star Wars Pinball has gone free as part of the festivities. The Empire Strikes Back table is available for free as well. Additional tables are available as in-app purchases, including the new Heroes Within tables recently released. Other tables are available on sale for $0.99, down from their $1.99 price. May the extra ball be with you!
Previously, the game only ran upscaled on the iPad – now iPad owners get native Retina Display support and no windowing. The game is still free of in-app purchases, but has been updated for all users with added sound and animations, and a rebuilt scoring system.
You can download the now-universal Blowfish Meets Meteor for $2.99.
Bush League is, on its surface, a curious game: it’s essentially a baseball take on Puzzle Quest, featuring crude parodies of famous players and figures around the sport, using performance-enhancing drugs that serve as the game’s special powers. But it’s the creator of the game that is particularly noteworthy. Dirk Hayhurst is a former baseball player who’s become an author of several best-selling books about his life in baseball and some of the things that fans don’t necessarily see about the culture. He’s also become a provocative analyst, and was part of the post-game show on TBS for the 2013 MLB playoffs. And now he’s a game developer, and he took the time to talk to me about this baseball parody he’s helped to create.
The genesis of Bush League came about when Hayhurst noticed that “There’s no good baseball game out there that kind of trolls baseball. You have all these scandals every year, but you never to seem to have a game that has all these players and all the drama they get into. And it’s such a big thing right now in Major League Baseball to get caught using steroids, right? I thought, why can’t we just make a game where you have to use steroids to win, and just troll the entire industry? I’m kind of like a black sheep of the baseball world anyways, and I always have kind of shown the other side of it, I thought, this is a great premise for a video game. Let’s make Candy Crush with steroids.”
The hook to Bush League is in the way that it tries to parody baseball. Famous players and other figures around the sport both past and present are the opponents that populate the game, and their personalities and dialogue make light of things that, say, MLB: The Show or RBI Baseball 14 would never touch.
Hayhurst’s unafraid to make fun of situations that he was involved in. There’s one character, Purcey Tweeps, who parodies David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. Hayhurst criticized Price’s performance after a playoff game he lost, and Price insulted Hayhurst’s playing career and said “SAVE IT NERDS.”. Purcey in the game makes reference to social media and to the nerds comment. Everything is a bit crude and over-the-top, but meant to, as Hayhurst says, “troll baseball” and “[service] that idea that baseball takes itself too seriously and needs a good mocking every now and then just to keep things even.”
While Hayhurst financed the development of the game and his name is on it, he didn’t just slap his name on it – he played an active role in development. “I was in charge of the art direction, the music direction… all the powers, I had to nest all the AI development, I had to decide the way it was going to look, the way it was going to feel, I had a say in all of that. At times I frustrated the guy doing the code, but it was a learning experience. And so there were things that I learned taking a shot at making a game that I never would have learned had I pursued a degree.” Hayhurst says he realized his strengths were “the writing, and designing the characters and how the game should feel, and my coder had his strengths, which was taking all these wild ideas I had, parsing them down, teaching me the ropes, and making them work in the actual game.
Hayhurst doesn’t want Bush League to be a static product either: he wants to, over time, update the game to incorporate other notorious events and scandals as characters and powers. He says he would love to tackle other sports in a similar way.
But given that he’s created this media career for himself, is Hayhurst afraid of the blowback that could come from this parody of the sport and its players that he’s created? He says “I don’t think of the church of baseball as some holy sacrament that everyone has to be reverential to, especially guys like me that didn’t have long careers. This kind of stuff deserves to get picked on a little bit, because it’s quite ridiculous when you think about it. I have always done that. And I understand because I’m in the sports entertainment field, I’m criticizing the sports entertainment field. I’m not criticizing these individual players, I’m criticizing the Franken-player that we’ve made out of them by knowing very little about who they are and taking what we know publicly and hyping it up, and turning it into something it isn’t. That is what I’ve always done, and that’s what got me on TBS and ultimately keep it from it at some point, but that’s who I am, and that’s the style that I like to work in.”
Thanks to Dirk Hayhurst for his time. Bush League is available now.
Today on 148Apps’ Twitch channel, we’re featuring a pair of upcoming Crescent Moon Games titles: Gear Jack: Black Hole, which releases on May 1st, and 2-Bit Cowboy, which releases on May 8th. Join myself and Josh Presseisen of Crescent Moon at 4:15pm EDT (3:15pm CDT, 1:15 PM PDT) to see footage of these games and get your questions answered before their official releases.
A new game starring Tony Hawk, famous in gaming circles for the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, is coming to iOS.
Tony Hawk’s Shred Session takes after lane-based runners such as Subway Surfers, having players swiping to do tricks in skatepark levels across two different game modes. Six real-world skaterboarders, including both Tony Hawk and his son Riley, will be available. See more about the game in this hands-on video of Tony Hawk playing the game with Hodappy Bird protagonist Eli Hodapp.
Tony Hawk’s Shred Session is planned for this summer, with a soft launch in the coming weeks.
Republique Episode 2: Metamorphosis is now rolling out now for Season Pass holders, and will be available on May 1 for all users. This chapter of the surveillance-themed stealth-adventure game has players controlling protagonist Hope as she seeks out the librarian of her prison in order to help her in her quest to be free.
Not only is there new story content, with a new guard type, and new abilities, but also three puzzles from the creator of Blueprint 3D are in Episode 2. As well, there’s improved performance on iPhone 4, iPad mini, and iPad 2, a new 3D map, and the next chapter of the documentary is available. The episode will cost $4.99 as an in-app purchase to unlock, with the Season Pass available for $14.99.
Perfect World Entertainment has announced their new MMORPG coming to iOS, Dawn of the Immortals, releasing this summer in North America and Europe. Players will fight through dungeons, teaming up with fellow players to take down their opponents in both PvP and PvE (player vs. environment) arenas. There will be guilds, parties, group chat, and more social features, including cross-platform play with the Android version.
Dawn of the Immortals is planned for this summer, and players who pre-register can get a free mystic pet summoning card when the game releases.
Posted by Carter Dotson on April 30th, 2014 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Noot Mobile for iOS is a new app, described as a “news discovery engine” that’s intended to make finding relevant news on the go simpler. Launch the app and choose from thirteen news categories, including Entertainment, Sports, World News, and more, each with their own subcategories, all aggregating news from numerous sources. Articles can be shared, saved to the front “Saved Articles” section, and sources subscribed to for easy access from the front page. As well, there’s a “Learning Technology” that’s meant to help suggest new topics that match the user’s interest over time.
You can download Noot Mobile off the App Store now for free.
Gameloft has announced some new details for the upcoming Modern Combat 5: Blackout, the latest in their long-running military FPS series. Players will begin in Venice, Italy as protagonist Phoenix, travelling around the globe to Tokyo and other locales. While few other details are known, we do have this concept art, the trailer from E3 2013, and the promise that more will be announced in the coming weeks.
Toyze, the 3D marketplace app by Eligo Games, has signed a licensing agreement with Game Insight to offer fans the chance to own 3D figures from three of their properties: Tribez, Dragon Eternity, and Mirrors of Albion. “Game Insight is one of the most successful players in the international mobile gaming industry and we are thrilled to […]