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Rob Rich

Reviews Editor with the 148Apps Network since April 29, 2011

A guy who likes to play video games, then tell people about them. Also a fan of the indie development scene.

Connect with Rob via:
Game Center: RobsteinOne
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Twitter: @RobsteinOne
Email :: rob.rich@148apps.com

Today Microsoft has confirmed that Office is on its way to the iPad. In fact, the entire suite (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) is available now for free, with a subscription service available for full functionality.

mswordWord is in many ways the same word processing program that you’re no doubt already familiar with, only retooled for touch screens. Tables, charts, graphics, a table of contents, and all those other useful features are available on your iPad. Charts and other images that have been imported from Excel can be edited from within the app, and text will dynamically adjust around these items as you drag them around the page. Co-op features are also built in, which will allow multiple users to edit a document simultaneously in real-time across a number of different devices. No worries about things getting too confusing, though. It’s also possible to display markup so that you can see what edits have been made, have conversations with your fellow users within the margins, and so on.

msexcelExcel carries over all the familiar features from its PC counterpart, along with the obvious changes for a touch-based interface. You can sort through chart layouts quickly and easily, and the app will even make recommendations for you with samples that use your data. Even the keyboard has been adjusted to cater to iPad users, with a customized numeric keyboard that should make data entry a lot easier.

mspowerpointPowerPoint allows you to import and edit your slides and images, includes all those popular transitional effects everybody seems to love, and has added some new functions that are specific to touch screens. First, you can call up a digital laser pointer by tapping and holding your finger on the screen, in order to make it easier to point out specific elements in a presentation. Second, you can add annotations by drawing highlights directly on the screen.

All of the apps in the Office 365 series also share data across multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, PC, etc) using Microsoft’s OneDrive service. The entire collection is available now, for free, and uses the Office Mobile subscription-based model. So you can opt to pay $9.99/month or $99.99/year (family) or between $60.00/user/year and $180/user/year (business) in order to access the complete list of features across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Wadjet Eye Games is pretty much synonymous with point-and-click adventure, which is why it’s great to find out that they’re bringing the Blackwell series to Apple Devices in the near future.

For the unfamiliar, the Blackwell series is all about guiding a spirit medium and her spirit guide as they investigate ghost sightings and attempt to help the lost souls come to terms with their deaths. Of course there’s also plenty of intrigue and hidden agendas to keep the story moving along.

These noir-style adventures, beginning with Blackwell Legacy, should begin appearing on the App Store this summer – with the hope of eventually releasing Wadjet Eye’s entire back-catalogue in the future. No specific pricing information is available yet, but they’ll most likely sell for under $4.99.

bl_shot3

via: Wadjet Eye Games

Virtual Reality was a major theme at GDC this year, but Seebright’s prototype head-mounted display (HMD) stood out to me for one very important reason: it’s not a gadget-filled headset, but rather a frame to hold your iOS device and turn it into an affordable, self-contained VR headset.

The device is still in the preliminary stages, and as such will undoubtedly be seeing some deign tweaks in the future, but what I was able to see during my hands-on demo was quite promising. Using special software, the iOS device will display two separate images at slightly different angles. Once it’s placed into the headset interchangeable mirrors (one for a translucent heads-up display and another for a more solid image meant for gaming) reflect the images back to the user’s eyes and create the 3D image. What’s more, it’s able to use the device’s own motion tracking technology in order to allow users to look around in their virtual environment.

Personally I’m quite interested to see what Seebright does with their prototype in the coming months. The combination of accessibility (due to pricing) and the fact that it use preexisting iOS technology certainly opens it up to all manner of possibilities.

SeebrightHMDPrototype

via: Seebright

It’s not exactly a secret that Peter Molyneux/22cans deity simulator, Godus is coming to iOS. However, we were able to learn about a few more specifics here at GDC.

Godus was really designed with mobile in mind from the beginning, and it shows when watching the game in motion. “My passion has been to reinvent a genre of games I stumbled upon back in the early 90s called Populous,” said Peter Molyneux, “I wanted to reinvent the genre around this beautiful, wonderful, incredible device. What you’ve got here is a god game reinvented for this touch device, and reinvented for the audience.”

godus1What’s more, the game will feature a sort of continuous form of multiplayer – kind of like an MMO. When you play, you’re playing with however many other players/gods are on at that moment (possibly into the tens of millions), all at the same time. And all of their lands are connected as a part of one extremely large and continuous world filled with other islands and other gods.

This even carries over into the game’s cross-platform functionality as changes made to your land on the iPad, iPhone, or PC will display in real time on any of the other platforms. “You’re connected to thousands, even millions, of people,” explained Molyneux, “We tried this out on this crazy app called Curiosity, and we connected together hundreds of thousands of people who simultaneously touched on the cube. Well now we’re connecting millions of people together. We did a cube, and now we’re doing this vast planet.”

It’s also been confirmed that Godus will be free to download for iOS, but no specifics have been given on its approach to monetization. The plan is to encourage players to want to spend money, but not force or require them to. “I love free to download. I never want to go back to having to pay money before having an idea if I’ll like something,” stated Molyneux. “What we have to do is get people to want to spend money, rather than need to spend money,” he continued, “I’m inspired by the way that the supermarket, especially American supermarkets, tempt you to spend money. We call it ‘Invest-to-Play’.” Personally I’m rather curious to see how all of this will work in practice.

Godus will be soft-launching in select territories (New Zealand, The Philippines, Sweden, Ireland, and Denmark) within the next few weeks.

While in the midst of all the hectic crazy that is GDC, it was nice to take some time to just hang out with Mark DeNardo (Sound Wizard) and Richard Grillotti (Dream Master) from Pixeljam Games over coffee, and have a chat about their past, present, and future projects. Glorkian Warrior: Trials of Glork was a major topic, naturally.

TOGKeyArt1Their latest App Store release has been featured by Apple and is seeing a fair bit of sales, although the team is understandably looking for more support. “We definitely want to keep supporting and adding to Glorkian Warrior,” said Grillotti, “We have a bunch of ideas for what we want to add, and have been paying a lot of attention to community feedback.” This, of course, includes the consideration of possibly adding tilt controls (a very popular request) in the future. First on their ToDo list is achievements. According to DeNardo, “With mobile games, a lot of the narrative really relies on achievements.” There’s also a distinct possibility that Glorkian Warrior will be getting even more ridiculous weapons in the future, although nothing has been set in stone yet. “I’m pushing for flying fish,” stated DeNardo.

Second, and perhaps even more exciting, is the announcement that Pixeljam is in the process of porting Potatoman Seeks the Troof to iOS. Grillotti notes that “we’re still adjusting the controls,” but the project is already pretty far along. No concrete date could be given for the release, but “soon” was certainly tossed around a lot. The price also hasn’t been locked down yet, but it’s definitely not going to be free. Given Pixeljam’s history, I can only see that as a good thing.

potatoman

via: Our Glorkian Warrior Review

My.com has unveiled Evolution: a hybrid base builder, base defense game, and RPG.

Players have access to both story missions and a player-versus-player mode, and will have to protect their base from hostile forces using a mixture of automated defenses and direct interaction (i.e. tapping on badguys). Combat, on the other hand, has a much larger emphasis on player interaction. Your character will fire automatically but you’ll have to swipe vertically in order to defend and pop out of cover, tap incoming grenades to deactivate them, swap between weapons manually, and activate consumable items like grenades and health packs.

Evolution is set to release in early April, and will be free to play.

evolution

The original Doodle Grub was pretty popular (to put it lightly). Well, Pixowl is getting ready to release a sequel, simply called Grub.

Grub will use a similar series of accelerometer controls, naturally. However it’s also going to include new power-ups, new enemies, new obstacles, and bigger maps that scroll to follow the grub as he crawls along. You can also save and share video replays with your friends to see who’s grubbiest. There’s even the possibility (possibility – it’s not a certainty yet) of simultaneous multiplayer in future updates.

Much like the original, Grub is going to be free-to-play. You can keep an eye out for it in the App Store at the end of April/the beginning of May. Or you could always request access to the beta right here.

grubgdc

World of Tanks is a pretty darn popular game, and soon iPad owners will be able to enjoy the same tank-on-tank action on their iOS tablets.

World of Tanks Blitz isn’t actually a port, but rather a special version of the game built from the ground up for mobile devices. It features 7-on-7 combat, more compact arenas so that players can get to blowing each other up faster, and of course a reworked UI.

There’s no concrete release date for World of Tanks Blitz just yet, but you can sign up for the closed beta on iOS and Android at the official website.

WoT_Blitz_Screens_Combat_Image_05

Mutants: Genetic Gladiators from Kobojo is a monster battling/breeding game that looks like it might make a fair number of waves. It’s sort of like a combination of monster training games like Pokemon and the battle system from games like Final Fantasy VI, with a really nifty art style and some pretty crazy-looking characters.

As your mutants battle they’ll level-up and store up energy that they can use to ‘breed’ with other mutants in order to (potentially) create stronger fighters. It has a lot of player-versus-player elements to it, but there’s also a fair amount on hand for those who’d prefer to avoid fighting other people. There’s a pretty hefty collection aspect to it, with most of the available mutants sporting three or four different forms/skins. That’s all in addition to the planned monthly rare recipe additions and player tournaments.

Mutants: Genetic Gladiators should be coming to the App Store as a universal release in mid-April, for free.

The original Ruzzle was quite the cool little multiplayer word puzzle game. So it stands to reason that a follow-up would be on the way. Hence Ruzzle Adventure: a solo rendition of the familiar Ruzzle formula, with a few changes of course.

Ruzzle Adventure spreads wordly challenges across 100 levels (probably double that once it launches in the US), and lets you see your friends’ progress as you move through the map. Gameplay is also a little more varied this time around, with multiple game modes involving trying to clear special blocks with a limited number of turns, racing against rising water, or just trying to make a lot of words.

At the moment Ruzzle Adventure isn’t available in the States, but once it is it’ll be free to play and universal.

via: Ruzzle Review

Talisman: Prologue was a pretty great adaptation of GamesWorkshop’s rather popular board game, but many seemed to view it as incomplete. I mean it was purely a solo affair, so that sort of makes sense. However, now Nomad Games is getting ready to release Talisman: Digital Edition and appease those who were hoping for a more multiplayer-driven affair.

Talisman: Digital Edition will still let you play against AI if you’d rather keep things solo, but it also offers asynchronous play. In case you’re wondering how that works with spell interrupts, it basically uses a combination of push notifications and a timing window for players who want to try and counter an opponent’s casting. Nomad also has plans for continuous support by adding new cards every few weeks, making new expansions available every few months, and even offering a curated library of user-created content.

You should be able to find Talisman: Digital Edition on the App Store for the iPad at the end of April for $7.99.

via: Talisman: Prologue Review

Ravensberger has been busy! The board game/puzzle designers have been hard at work on several new projects lately.

The item on the list is the SmartPlay, which is an intriguing device that you can use in conjunction with your iOS device in order to make it act as the rule keeper/game master for a physical board game. You just attach your device to the stand so that the camera has a view of the board and the app will keep track of piece movement, dice rolls, rules, and so on. The SmartPlay will be releasing in Europe this September (so probably next year in the US) in conjunction with three games (one of them is a reprint of King Arthur!), and will most likely be adapted to work with older games down the line.

Microminds is a similar idea, only it’s a self-contained game for kids. A bunch of little aliens have crash-landed on Earth and need help with fixing their ship and getting home. Kids will use the game board, cards, and tokens – along with their iOS device’s camera – to find and scan the appropriate elements in order to create new ship components, and hopefully get the lost little guys back to their home planet in the process. Microminds is also due out in Europe this September.

Finally there’s Ravensberger Puzzle, which is a rather large (and ever-growing) collection of digital jigsaw puzzles. You’ll have your own personal collection to play around with, and the app will track your completion percentages and times for you. Lots and lots of puzzles are available across lots and lots of themes, and you can easily change the number of pieces used for a given image using a slider (all the way up to 500, with no duplicate shapes). Ravensberger Puzzle will actually be available as a universal release in the App Store next week on March 27, and will sell for $2.99.

Image Credit: AppGamers

Image Credit: AppGamers

via: Ravensberger

Conquest of Champions is a pretty sweet-looking CCG from Kihon, and it’s making its way to the iPad.

Think of it as a sort of hybrid of Magic and Warhammer, with a sprinkling of Hero Academy thrown in for good measure. You’ll be collecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 cards, choosing between three factions, training heroes, and fighting against other players (or solo!) in asynchronous node-capturing strategic combat. Plus it looks pretty freaking awesome in motion.

Conquest of Champions is currently in open beta for the Mac and PC, with a projected App Store release of later this summer.

via: Kihon

SomaSim‘s 1849 is a sim about the California Gold Rush in the same vein as older objective-driven simulations and city builders. It’s also got a surprising amount of puzzle-like elements as you’ll quickly find yourself trying to figure out the best way to make use of the limited space you’re given.

The core idea behind 1849 is balance. You need to mine gold and other precious metals to earn money. You also need food and lodgings for your citizens and workers or else they’ll abandon ship in a heartbeat. But in order to do that, you’ll also have to make sure to provide other amenities such as schools and access to a saloon to keep the citizens of your ever-growing city happy. The catch is that every city (of which there are 20, each with their own overarching goals to complete) has a limit to how far it can expand. So in order to create a successful self-sustaining city you’ll have to pay close attention to where you place what buildings and how many you construct.

SomaSim is aiming for an early May release. A specific price point hasn’t been locked-in yet, but 1849 will be priced at a premium and offer additional content packs in the future.

Tucked away amidst all the rather incredible demos at this year’s Indie Megabooth was an interesting little shooter about robots and their apparent infatuation with frozen dairy products. I’m talking about Robots Love Ice Cream.

Robots Love Ice Cream is all about driving an ice cream truck around spherical worlds and launching the delicious treats at invading robots who are bent on stealing it all. Different types of ice cream will have different effects (standard blaster, rapid fire, spread, etc), and there are a number of different robots to gum up the works as you try to keep the Earth’s citizens (and ice cream!) safe.

Keep an eye on the App Store, because Robots Love Ice Cream should be releasing later this month.

I know Jen Allen just reviewed Perils of Man: Chapter 1, but that was just the first chapter. I was able to sit down and learn quite a bit more about what’s planned for the iPad adventure game, and I have to say it’s looking pretty intriguing.

As was pretty obvious at the end of the first chapter, this story is far from over. In fact, it’s really just the beginning. Perils of Man will have a total of seven chapters before all is said and done, but unlike many other episodic games they won’t be released every few weeks. Instead, all of the chapters will be available at once for a flat fee of $4.99.

The glimpse I was given of the second chapter also revealed an interesting new gameplay mechanic (Spoiler Alert – you have been warned): risk. Long story short, you’ll be able to shift into a first-person perspective and see what objects in the world are inherently dangerous. Then do tuff to make these objects less of a threat, of course. Basically it’s a system that visually quantifies risk.

The remaining chapters of Perils of Man should be available in early April for a grand total of $4.99.

via: Our Review

Granted it’s only been a day, but I’ve already found myself surprised. On the surface Ninja Pizza Girl seems like it might end up being a fairly typical endless runner, but in reality it’s something altogether different.

There’s no “endlessness” to it, but rather a series of 24 levels with branching paths and secret areas. What really stuck out to me, though, is Disparity Games’ different approach to a health bar. Rather than taking damage, Gemma (the main character) will lose some of her self esteem as rival ninjas push her down and laugh at her. Seriously, they actually do that. The more Gemma’s feelings get hurt, the more washed-out the screen will start to look, and if she gets too upset she’ll simply give up.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on Ninja Pizza Girl when it eventually releases at the end of the year – with separate iPhone (estimated at $2.99) and iPad (estimated at $4.99) versions available – but what’s there is looking pretty good. If nothing else, it’s certainly refreshing to see a game that’s willing to explore less typical themes and take a new approach to player “health.”

What I Played on the Road to GDC 2014

Posted by on March 17th, 2014

GDC is upon us, and a number of industry folks are gathering San Francisco in order to take part – myself included. Since it’s about a 6 hour flight from New York I decided to load my phone up before I left with the idea that I’d have a massive selection of games to occupy me. In addition to what I normally have on there I also decided to add games like Brandnew Boy, Out There, and Starbase Orion. But the game that really occupied the majority of my time is one I didn’t expect: Calculords.

Perhaps it was because I slept for most of the flight and didn’t have the time to play everything. Maybe I wanted something to get my brain moving again after I was done napping. Or maybe it’s just excellent and I wanted to keep playing it. Whatever the reason, I played Calculords significantly more than anything else on this trip. It kept me entertained, woke me up (all that math!), and it’s just, well, fun.

This is, of course, not to say that my other picks were bad in any way. Quite the contrary, really. But Calculords really is something special. I might be a tad biased because I have a soft sport for card games, though.

image

“In war, not everyone is a soldier.”

This tagline doubles as the driving theme behind 11 Bit Studios’ (the folks behind the Anomaly series) upcoming This War of Mine. It’s not a strategy game or a shooter, but instead it’s a game about survival. Players are in charge of a small group of civilians trapped in a militarized zone that used to be their home. Under the cover of darkness they’ll be able to carefully explore the ruins of their city looking for supplies and weapons, while during the day they’ll get to use what they find to upgrade their shelter and tend to their survivors.

“While designing a new game, we came across an article that described how one man survived in a besieged city,” said lead designer Michal Drozdowski in a press release. “We learned about his hardships and the horror of that experience. We decided to work around this idea and make something real, something that moves people and make them think for a second.”

This War of Mine is “coming soon” to mobile devices. A playable demo will also be available at GDC, so keep an eye on 148Apps for our impressions in the coming weeks.

source: 11 Bit Studios

Jenga Just Might Be Apple’s Free App of the Week – is Free for a Limited Time, Regardless

Posted by on March 12th, 2014
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Do you enjoy playing stressful “steady hand” games like Jenga but hate all the setup and cleanup involved? Well this is your lucky day. Or maybe week. NaturalMotion’s Jenga and Jenga HD are currently on sale for absolutely free.

We thought it was a pretty cool digital adaptation of the physical game. Our own Blake Grundman praised it, saying, “Going against the notion that it was impossible, NaturalMotion games has accomplished the feat of shrinking Jenga to fit into your pocket.”

You can download Jenga off of the App Store in its many forms right now for free.

jenga1jenga2

via: Our Review

9to5Mac has gotten the low-down on Rovio’s newest Angry Birds title, Angry Birds Epic. And it seems as though it’s not the sort of game we were expecting.

Rather than giving players something akin to Angry Birds in a medieval/fantasy setting, Angry Birds Epic is going to be a turn-based RPG with a crafting system of sorts. Color me intrigued. No, seriously, it sounds far more interesting than yet-another physics puzzle game.

Angry Birds Epic will be “soft launching” in Canada and Australia soon.

Image Credit: 9to5Mac

Image Credit: 9to5Mac

source: 9to5Mac

The Verge reports that the newest update for iOS 7, which would be 7.1, has gone live.

Version 7.1 isn’t necessarily a major change, but it does adjust and fix a few things that will most likely affect some users over others. First and foremost is a fix for the “reboot” issue that many have been having with the newest iOS devices (i.e. the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad Mini Retina). CarPlay has also been included, which will allow users to connect their device to their car and access various features such as music and text messages through Siri. So long as they drive a newer Volvo, Ferrari, or Mercedes-Benz anyway.

Other improvements include tweaked interface designs when dialing or powering off a device, better search functionality in iTunes Radio, and the ability to hold the Home button down as you talk to Siri to keep her from cutting you off in mid-sentence. Just make sure to clear off some space before you download it; it’s a biggun’.

The iOS 7.1 update is available now.

ios7update1ios7update2

source: The Verge

Supernauts is a pretty spiffy looking hybrid of Minecraft and Clash of Clans that we were able to get an early peek at last year. It’s still a bit of a ways off from a worldwide release, but if you’re hankerin’ to get a leg up on your eventual competition you should head over to Pocket Gamer and check out the new Supernauts Hub that just went live.

What can you do in the Hub? Well you can check out a bunch of exclusives, guides, and news items for one. And if that’s not enough, you can also add your own content. Get help from the community when you have questions, share your work (assuming you’re already playing Supernauts, you lucky duck), publish your own walkthroughs, etc.

You can check out Pocket Gamer’s Supernauts Community Hub here.

SupernautsLaunch

Funcom has recently announced LEGO Minifigures Online: an online (naturally) adventure featuring the quite popular LEGO collectibles.

LEGO Minifigures Online looks to be a combination of the LEGO adventure-style games you’re no doubt already familiar with, along with the ability to collect and even improve a bunch of different characters. Finding stars earns you more bags, more bags means more figures, and more figures means more abilities. Plus it seems like a pretty solid reason to keep playing.

You’ll be able to get your hands on LEGO Minifigures Online later this summer. Although if you’re going to be in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 18 – Thursday, March 20 (i.e. during GDC), you can also try to swing by The Westin San Francisco Hotel for a live demo, or possibly some hands-on time.

source: LEGO Minifigures Online

Pocket Gamer.biz reports that the Big Indie Pitch will be returning to GDC this year. Several developers get to speed-pitch their projects to a whole lot of game journalists; even including some 148Apps folks!

The Big Indie Pitch will be taking place on Thursday, March 20, from 12pm – 4pm (PDT). If you’re interested in attending and are a member of the gaming press, a developer, or just want to come and watch, you can sign up at the Eventbrite page.

In addition, you can check out the Pocket Gamer GDC Party taking place on Monday, March 17, from 8pm – 12am (PDT) if you’re so inclined.

source: Pocket Gamer.biz

BroApp is, in essence, an app for terrible boyfriends. Its brogramming allows guys to setup a series of automated text messages to send to their (hopefully soon-to-be ex) girlfriends while they hang out with the bros.

I don’t even bro where to start. Personally I don’t think it’s very broductive for any relationship, and it’s definitely not broactive. But if you’re desperately in need of an automated text app because you’re having trouble following the proper relationship brotocols, you can keep an eye on this site to see when BroApp will be available for iOS.

But do you even bro, Bro?

Pocket Gamer reports that, in a recent video on Bloomberg TV, Tony Hawk has confirmed that another game in the iconic is bound for iOS.

There’s not much else to go on, really. It’s going to involve skateboarding, and Pocket Gamer mentions that the mogul seems pretty “enthusiastic about the project,” but that’s pretty much it. Although it’s a little odd that he thinks there hasn’t been a Tony Hawk game on mobile yet, given that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 has been available since 2010 (and hasn’t been updated in years). Maybe what he really means is that it’ll be the first game in the series that was developed specifically for mobile?

Regardless, a new game is coming and we’ll be keeping an eye out for more details.

Screen shot from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

Screen shot from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

source: Pocket Gamer
Out There Review

Out There Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Out There is quite an interesting interstellar adventure, but the sheer level of randomness might turn off some players.

Read The Full Review »

scroogeAh, the Great App Store Pricing Debate. For years people have been arguing over the cost of mobile games. What constitutes “too much?” Where’s the line when it comes to free-to-play monetization techniques? Should developers have deep discounts and temporary giveaways? Should consumers simply expect everything to go on sale and wait accordingly?

The recent Dungeon Keeper debacle is a good example of this. Gamers and critics alike have railed against it for using various monetization techniques and associating itself with the classic PC strategy series, and many point to it as an unpleasant indication of where the video game industry (especially mobile) is headed. It’s an issue that’s almost as complicated as the initial Freemium vs. Premium debate; so let’s take a closer look at everything and try to make sense of it all.


Continue reading Pricing Games on the App Store – Premium isn’t Dead, Freemium is Here to Stay, and it’s Everybody’s Fault »

148Apps and Android Rundown (both via Steel Media) are holding a 2014 reader survey for the week, and taking a couple of minuted to answer some basic questions will give you a shot at winning an iPad Mini! Just go here and fill out the necessary info.

You can also check out the terms and conditions here if you’re so inclined. If you’re interested in entering I’d suggest hopping to it sooner rather than later as the survey will only be going until March 4, 2014. Telling us we’re awesome isn’t a requirement of course, but we love compliments all the same.

steelmediasurvey

source: Survey Monkey
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