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Rob Rich

Editor-in-Chief with the 148Apps Network since April 29, 2011

A resident New Yorker who likes to play video games (and board games these days), then tell people about them. Also a fan of the indie development scene. Owns his own Gravity Gun/Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator.

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

When an elite group of Flyhunters accidentally loses their precious cargo of rare insects on a return trip from Earth, it’s up to the ship’s bumbling janitor, Zak, to recover it. Three guesses as to how that cargo was lost in the first place, eh? But that’s how it goes in Steel Wool Games‘ upcoming Flyhunter: Origins.

The bug-hunting adventure game is being developed by a team of current/former Pixar animators and published by Ripstone Games (Knytt Underground, Stick it to the Man, etc), so it’s definitely got potential. I wasn’t able to play too much of it back at E3 due to hardware issues but what I did manage to mess around with seemed well put together. And it’s definitely got some great character designs and animations going for it.

Keep an eye out for Flyhunter: Origins as it’s due to hit the App Store sometime this summer.

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A few weeks ago I was led into a room to see something new from Fuero Games and The Witcher developers CD Projekt. Something that involved The Witcher. I had hopes and fears much like you’d expect. Would it be a port? A spin-off? Maybe a town-building sim?

Turns out it was The Witcher Battle Arena – a free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game set in the same universe as the popular titles from consoles and PC. It’s also looking pretty freaking great at the moment, to be honest.

The_Witcher_Battle_Arena_Eithne_Dagger_of_Thorns_logoThe Witcher Battle Arena has been designed for mobile from the ground up. It uses a fairly straightforward control system that allows you to tap to move to a specific location, drag the camera around, or tap and hold/drag to guide your hero more directly. Tapping on an opponent will attack, and you can tap on different skill buttons to trigger them.

Most of the expected MOBA bits are present and accounted for as well. Each hero starts at level 1 and will gain experience throughout the match, skills may be upgraded with each level, money earned automatically and by fighting rival heroes can be used to purchase better and better hero-specific gear, and so on. About the only major changes to the basic formula are the lack of endlessly spawning minions on either side and smaller arenas that encourage direct player-on-player interaction. In other words everything has been streamlined so that matches are fast and brutal.

The_Witcher_Battle_Arena_Saskia_Dragonsoul_logoI imagine the whole “free” thing might still be making you a tad nervous but the developers are adamant that The Witcher Battle Arena will not be a pay-to-win game. There are no wait timers, no hard currencies, and absolutely everything from new characters to vanity items can be earned simply by playing.

The Witcher Battle Arena doesn’t have a set release date yet, but it will launch with a decent selection of playable characters (eight in total – Eithne of Brokilon, Ioverth, Letho of Gulet, Zoltan Chivay, Saskia of Aedrin, Philippa Eilhart, The Operator, and a Golem). And it’ll be free, of course.

It seems like it was just last week that we reviewed the Misfit Shine Activity Tracker. Wait a minute, it was last week!

Well if our review has you pondering getting one of these alien watch-looking things for yourself, you might want to take a minute to refresh the web page. Misfit Wearables has just made a new Coca-Cola Red edition available. I dunno about you, but I think the red looks mighty sleek – regardless of the softdrink association.

The new Misfit Shine in Coca-Cola Red is available on the official website now for $99.99.

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via: Our Misfit Shine Review

It was announced recently that there will, in fact, be a Civilization Revolution 2, and that it will be a mobile-only release. Seeing as Civilization Revolution is a great game, and a slightly more streamlined version of the strategy juggernaut actually seems like a really great fit for mobile anyway, this is exciting news.

What’s even more exciting is that it’s every bit as much of a time-devouring black hole as the original.

civrev201The improvements made to mobile hardware over the past couple of years has Civilization Revolution 2 looking good. Almost as good as the original game did on consoles, actually. The interface has also been significantly improved and functions pretty much the same way you’d expect: tap to select a space to move a unit to, tap again to confirm movement, tap to navigate through menues, etc. An interesting addition is the End Turn button that’s actually more of a switch. To help prevent players from accidentally ending their turn prematurely, you actually have to hold the button down and drag it to the left – not unlike shutting down an iPhone or iPad, actually.

New maps, wonders, special scenarios, and technologies like Modern Warfare and Information Technology are available, as well as two new leaders (JFK and Churchill) that can be unlocked. Multiplayer, however, has been cut out entirely. It seems as though it wasn’t much of a draw on mobile, which means more time and resources for developing the campaign so it’s difficult to get upset over.

If you just can’t wait to get your hands on Civilization Revolution 2, you’re in luck! The game is out this Wednesday, July 2, and will be available for $14.99.

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yantouch Diamond+ “Music + Light” Bluetooth Speaker Hardware Review

The yantouch Diamond+ is a bit of an oddball when it comes to speakers, but it’s not unpleasant.

Read The Full Review »

Word over at Board Game Geek is that Czech Games Edition has recently announced that work on its iPad port of Galaxy Trucker is almost complete. Kind of.

It’s about ready to go now, but the developer would like to spend more time refining the online multiplayer as much as possible – and polish up everything else while they’re at it, of course. It’s hard to find fault with that logic, especially considering that this multiplayer framework will be used in many of their future releases.

Galaxy Trucker will be coming to the iPad in the beginning of September later this year. A digital version of Through the Ages is also planned.

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via: Czech Games Edition source: Board Game Geek

2KGMKT_CIV_REV2_ANNOUNCEMENT_BANNER_1600X300_USCivilization Revolution is a fantastic strategy game, no matter the console it’s on. This speedier version of the Sid Meier powerhouse removes much of the nitty-gritty micromanaging, but it also streamlines the fun. And now 2K Games has announced that they’re getting ready to release a sequel. A mobile-exclusive sequel.

Unlike the original, Civilization Revolution 2 is being designed from the ground up for mobile devices (naturally). It boasts a more touch-friendly interface, all the strategic goodness fans will no doubt expect, and multiple historical figures to act as leaders – including a few newcomers that have never been featured in the series before.

Civilization Revolution 2 will be releasing universally on the App Store at a currently-undisclosed premium price on July 2.

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Alone in the Dark Updated While Nobody was Looking, and the Fixed Controls Make a Big Difference

Posted by on June 20th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

It seems as though Atari managed to sneak an update to Alone in the Dark onto the App Store while nobody was looking. Perhaps under the cover of… darkness?

The new update addresses my (and everyone’s, really) biggest complaint about the game: the controls. The interface has been tweaked to the point that it’s actually possible to play the game properly, make progress, and even (dare I say it?) have fun! Fun in a nostalgic sort of way, of course. It’s still somewhat awkward and clunky to play, certainly, but now it’s due to the game being so old instead of a totally borked control scheme. In fact, it makes so much of a difference that we’ve even updated our review!

The update to Alone in the Dark is live now, and the game will set you back $0.99 if you don’t already own it.

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via: Our Review

As nice as it was to see such a strong representation of mobile games and devices at E3 this year, it also means more work when trying to figure out which were the most noteworthy. Seriously, there was a lot of great stuff on display and picking just a few to highlight wasn’t easy. With that said, here are our notables from E3 2014 in no particular order.

Phonejoy

phonejoy2I stumbled upon the Phonejoy completely by accident, but I’m very glad I did. It’s nice and compact, well-made, and easily attaches to iOS devices of any size and in any orientation. Unfortunately the version that’s available now isn’t MFi, but one is in the works – and you can be sure that once we find out about a release date we’ll be sharing that info with you. Until then, the current Phonejoy model will still work just fine with other games that still support third party controllers like the iCade.

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike

cloudbSquare Enix has apparently been developing an iOS game based entirely around that Golden Saucer mini-game from Final Fantasy VII without bothering to tell anyone about it. For shame, Square Enix. But while Final Fantasy VII G-Bike seemed to pop-up out of nowhere, it’s definitely looking like a badass runner/driver/whatever you want to call it. Would that other 3D runners had this game’s sense of style and production values!

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

I’m a Monster Hunter nerd, sure, but the reason Freedom Unite has made the list is because it genuinely impressed me. It looks like a fantastic port, plays very well, and even manages to add a couple of elements that the original PSP release was missing – namely legitimate online play and a lock-on feature. As someone who’s already sunk hundreds of hours into the original Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this one when it officially comes stateside.

The Gamevice

Gamevice-iPadMini.106I’ve yet to get my hands on the final version of the Gamevice, but the “beta” version I was able to play around with last week was definitely cool. It’s uses are sadly limited to only the iPad Mini, but the combination of controller and iOS device make for a great handheld gaming setup. And because the Gamevice is essentially in two separate pieces that attach on either side of the Mini, it should also be pretty easy to tote around. Just in case.

Hitman Sniper

SNIPER_Vista_1401975809Between Hitman Go [GET LINK] and now Hitman Sniper, Square Enix Montreal is definitely a developer worth keeping an eye on. What could have been something as basic as a first-person shooting gallery with a Hitman theme is actually a very clever (and unorthodox) approach to something sort of like a puzzle game. It isn’t just fun to play around with the various interactive elements in each level, either. The constant competition with other players who are close to your rank on the leaderboards also acts as a great incentive to keep aiming (*rimhot*) for the high score.

Just Dance Now

I don’t dance, and there’s about a 99% chance I’ll never play Just Dance Now when it comes out, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by what I saw at Ubisoft’s booth last week. The game is being developed with accessibility as its main focus, which is something I wish more developers took the time to consider. And not only is it being made to work with older iOS devices, it’s also supposed to take it easy on your bandwidth. So it’ll run on your old clunker and won’t double your phone bill if you end up playing over 3G/4G. Seriously, big thumbs-up to Ubisoft for this one.

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Image Source: whatculture

Image Source: whatculture

I can’t name names, I can’t mention developers, and there’s a good chance I can’t talk about genre. But if I’m obscure enough I don’t see the harm in saying that this thing I played that I can’t go into detail about was actually a whole lot of fun and probably the biggest surprise for me personally at the show. I know that’s not much to go on but it’ll all make sense in time. Suffice it to say, when a developer really cares and knows what they’re doing just about anything can be a hit.
[Please note that the game in-question has nothing to do with Futurama. I just like Futurama and needed an image.]

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting mighty tired of all these awful movie sequels and “reboots.” Well, thanks to Bandai Namco’s upcoming Cinemagic, we can finally fight fire with fire! Or, well, we can at least fight bad movies with awesomely bad movies.

Cinemagic is a match-3 puzzle game in which you’ll need to collect various movie-like elements (reels, tickets, etc), which are themselves used to activate special movie cards. These cards will determine things like the actors in your own movie, major plot points, and so on. Once you’ve run out of moves you’ll be treated to a unique synopsis and movie poster for your creation – and if you’re lucky you’ll also have beaten that other movie at the box office and raked in some serious profits.

You’ll be able to get your hands on Cinemagic for free this November.

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Seidio Innocell Plus Combo Hardware Review

The Innocell Plus is a very nice and easy to read battery back-up case for the iPhone 5/5s.

Read The Full Review »

I only found out about the Wikipad recently, but when I did my first thought was “Wow it would be great if this were also available for iOS devices.” And it is! Well, sort of.

Gamevice is a specially-designed control pad that attaches to the iPad Mini, effectively turning it into something like a handheld gaming device. I had the opportunity to play around with it at E3 last week (I’d have said something sooner but I was sworn to secrecy) and I was genuinely impressed. Even though the model I was using wasn’t the finalized product it still worked quite well, and tearing across the highway in San Andreas was as responsive as it could be – seeing as I was using a truck at the time, anyway.

Wikipad is planning to release two versions of the Gamevice around during the holiday season later this year: one that can act as a battery back-up for the Mini, and one that uses its own power source. Both will be available in white.

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Snail Games’ booth was filled with top hats and goggles last week, but nestled among all the steampunk were a few titles planned for iOS. It was a pretty decent spread, too. One action RPG, one puzzle game, and one strategy game. Personally I was most interested in the action RPG, but I’m kind of a sucker for those things.

Taichi Panda

Taichi Panda is that action RPG, naturally. The game features three playable characters (warrior, rogue, monk – guess which one’s the panda?), loot drops, plenty of fighting, skill trees, and pretty much everything else you’d expect from the genre. The levels seem big enough to satisfy, but are also small enough to gel with a mobile gamer’s play schedule. In other words they’re a good fit for a commute.

There’s no word on when Taichi Panda will be released yet, but it will be free with in-app purchases.

Heroes of Gaia

Then there’s the turn-based strategy game, Heroes of Gaia. This one is all about tactics and managing your armies. You’ll have to choose between one of four distinct races as you explore the world and try to gather resources. You’ll also be squaring off against anyone else who might be looking for those same resources. Armies are customizable and upgradeable, naturally.

Heroes of Gaia also has no release date yet, but will also be free with in-app purchases.

Puzzle Heroes Saga

Finally there’s Puzzle Heroes Saga: a sort of match-3 puzzle game where you match soldiers to send off to battle rather than clearing gems. Every successful match will activate a given unit’s special ability, which will include various attack patterns and effects. What’s interesting is that the enemy will attack constantly, regardless of how long it takes you to make your move. So you not only need to match, you need to match fast.

Puzzle Heroes Saga is TBA, but it will be free with in-app purchases.

snappgrip for iPhone 5 & 5S Hardware Review

The snappgrip is an interesting idea for an iPhone camera peripheral, but a couple of odd quirks hold it back.

Read The Full Review »

The-Sandbox-BannerPixowl has been working tirelessly for quite some time now, what with all the monthly updates to The Sandbox along with several other projects. It doesn’t look like they plan on slowing down anytime soon, either.

Last week, in addition to the news of the Farmer’s update, it was also revealed that The Sandbox is rapidly approaching 2.0 status. This milestone (which should be ready within the next three to four months) will include updated features such as an all new interface, reworked campaigns, and will be in HD just like its PC counterpart. This means it’s going to look better, and give you a bigger place to play in.

The Sandbox EDU was also on display, which will be a premium paid version of the freemium classic that’s been specifically tweaked to function as an educational tool. The plan is for parents, educators, and kids to use it as a way to study things like physics, electricity, hot/cold, and so on. All of the elements will be open from the start, and will be restricted to those that actually have some educational value (i.e. no zombies). The Sandbox EDU should be available in the App Store a little before “back to school” time.

Finally there’s Garfield: Survival of the Fattest, which is due out in September. This one’s sort of like Greedy Grub [GET LINK] but with Garfield characters. You’ll get to complete missions for characters from the comic series, build stuff, collect resources, and even take part in three different mini-games. All in the name of getting the giant orange cat to lose weight. Or rather, to help the giant orange cat avoid losing weight.

Want to earn points by flailing around in front of your friends but don’t have one of those fancy new home consoles or their video peripherals? Well you’re in luck! Ubisoft has announced Just Dance Now for the iPhone.

Just Dance Now uses the accelerometer to track your movements and judge the accuracy of your ability (or lack thereof) to dance. No big screen TV or AAA console required. You will need an internet connection, however. You’ll also need access to a web browser on a nearby computer. But once you get all of that set up you simply have to log in to the “room” created in the web browser and get your various grooves on. In fact, there’s no player limit. Provided there are enough devices and there’s enough bandwidth to go around, you could have games with dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of other players. It’s been designed to go easy on your bandwidth, too. Only a tiny bit of data is required to play, so even if you’re without wifi you can still join in on the fun and not break the bank.

Just Dance Now will be available on the App Store “soon” for free.

Gameloft has been busy (isn’t Gameloft always busy, though?) lately. Several upcoming titles were on display at the popular iOS developer’s booth last week, including the Totally 80s endless racer Asphalt Overdrive (a spin-off of the popular racing series), “web-runner” Spider-Man Unlimited, and puzzle RPG Dungeon Gems. Not a bad spread, really.

Dungeon Gems

DungeonGems_E3_screen_02DungeonGems_E3_screen_01Dungeon Gems is all about building up a formidable fighting force, then clearing colored gems to activate their abilities and clear out dungeons full of enemies. Characters can be collected and upgraded, and tend to conform to one of five different elements (fire, earth, water, light, and dark).

What’s interesting about Dungeon Gems, aside from the fact that it looks pretty darn impressive when compared to similar titles on iOS, is that you don’t actually have to match gems to fight enemies. Simply tapping on a single gem will trigger an attack, and you may connect multiple colors in one go – so long as you have enough Action Points (special points that refill as you defeat enemies) available.

Dungeon Gems will be available on the App Store later this month.

Spider-Man Unlimited

SMU_WallClimbingSMU_RunningJumpingFightingOl’ web-head is also going to be putting in an appearance once Spider-Man Unlimited is released.

This self-proclaimed “web-runner” pits Spidey against The Sinister Six. Actually, it pits dozens of Spidey’s against dozens of villains from a bunch of different dimensions. Each of the 20+ Spider-Men will sport their own look and slightly different stats/abilities, and can be collected and fused CCG-style.

Spider-Man Unlimited isn’t due out until later this summer, but it’s definitely looking pretty good. And the supply of characters from alternate universes means we can expect lots of other characters to eventually pop-up.

Asphalt Overdrive

AsphaltOverdrive_Screenshot4AsphaltOverdrive_Screenshot3Finally, there’s Asphalt Overdrive: a sort of spin-off of the Asphalt series that in no way is an official sequel so put down those torches and pitchforks!

Asphalt Overdrive is a lane-based endless racer that tasks you with going as far and as fast as you can while trying to outrun the police and avoid crashing into anything heavier than your own (licensed) car. It’s also super-80s, with lots of neon and bright colors, eerily familiar vehicles (Kit?), and a distinct Outrun sort of feel.

Asphalt Overdrive will be releasing later this summer.

Halfbrick makes some pretty great games. Games like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. In fact, I’m betting there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already played many (if not all) of their games. But if you haven’t, now is the best possible time to fix that.

At the moment, just about every single game in Halfbrick’s library is on sale for free. This includes the aforementioned Fruit Ninja, Fruit Ninja HD, Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots, Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots HD, Fish Out of Water!, Colossatron: Massive World Threat, Age of Zombies, and Monster Dash.

Whew!

So if any or even all of those titles sound interesting, get yourself to the App Store and start downloading!

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via: Our Fruit Ninja HD Review

When I first saw that teaser trailer for 11bit Studios’ This War of Mine, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Now that I’ve had a little hands-on time with the game (it was the PC version as the iOS build isn’t showable yet, but I’ve been told it’s pretty much 1-to-1) I have a much better idea of what to expect – and it wasn’t this.

I don’t mean that in a bad way, though. Far from it, in fact. From what I’ve seen and played, This War of Mine is a bit more like a micromanaging sim during the day – in which you’ll be issuing commands for searching for supplies and crafting items to the unfortunate souls forced to hole-up in a dilapidated building – and a kind of 2D stealth game at night – in which you’ll want to carefully sneak through (hopefully) abandoned buildings as your chosen survivor scavenges for supplies. It’s very, very bleak. It’s also very, very interesting. There’s no shortage of tough calls to make when it comes to divvying up supplies, especially once you start to gather more and more survivors.

This War Of Mine will be out later this year. No price has been announced yet, but it definitely has the look and feel of a premium release.

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Square Enix’s booth was full of Final Fantasy type stuff this year, but it wasn’t all about the MMO or the Disney crossover series. The RPG giant was also showing off a couple of mobile titles: the greatly-anticipated Final Fantasy Agito, and the “where the heck did this come from?”Final Fantasy VII G-Bike.

Final Fantasy Agito

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Final Fantasy Agito is a pretty great-looking title that’s already out in Japan, but now it’s been confirmed for a US release as well.

In Final Fantasy Agito you’ll be able to create your own custom character, take down various enemies for experience (naturally), craft better weapons, and team up with other Agito players to battle massive bosses. Sounds cool, no?

There’s no official date set for a release, but Final Fantasy Agito will be coming to the US App Store for free and feature in-app purchases.

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike was a total, although not unwelcome, surprise. Remember that mini-game from the Gold Saucer that involved riding around on Cloud’s motorcycle while swiping at enemies? Well this is that but ratcheted up to a ridiculous degree.

G-Bike takes the core concept, heaps on a health dose of modern production values, dresses up the visuals significantly, and adds RPG elements like character customization. And it just looks sweet.

No release date has been announced yet, but it will be available as a free download with in-app purchases.

One of the more surprising iOS surprises to come out of E3 last week was the seemingly out of nowhere online action RPG Soul Guardians: Age of Midgard.

I’ve seen my fair share of action RPGs on the App Store before, but Soul Guardians displays a cool mix of colorful style and ridiculously over-the-top attack animations that really stand out. You’ll be able to collect monster cards, which can then be used as upgradeable special attacks. Seriously, there’s a ton of action to shove in your face, and you’ll be able to share it all with your friends or random strangers through online co-op.

Soul Guardians: Age of Midgard should be coming to the App Store within the next couple of weeks for free.

Last week I had a chance to sit down and take a look at a couple of new titles fro Glu coming later this summer: Hercules: The Official Game and Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores. But are either of them worth keeping an eye out for?

I’m thinking yes.

Hercules: The Official Game

Hercules: The Official Game is based on the upcoming film starring Duane “The Rock” Johnson and follows the demigod’s quest to complete his legendary Twelve Labors. It’s a task that appears to boil down to a bunch of one-on-one dueling, similar to titles like Infinity Blade. The game’s environments are meant to be reminiscent of the film (so beware spoilers I guess?), while the gameplay will feature lots of weapons and equipment to collect.

Hercules: The Official Game should be released in late July for free, and will be available shortly before the movie is officially released.

Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores

On the other end of the action spectrum we have Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores. To an extent it’s a lot like Deer Hunter 2014 with dinosaurs, but that’s absolutely a good thing. Deer Hunter was surprisingly great, and being able to enjoy the same style of gameplay in a world of ancient animals and goofy/futuristic weapons (think along the lines of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter) only looks like it’ll make for an even more entertaining formula.

Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores will hopefully be hitting the App Store for free in late July.

Take note: Hitman Sniper is not Contract Killer with a glossy shine. I was actually quite surprised to find out it’s more like a high score-chasing puzzle game that just so happens to involve bullets.

Each level (2 locations are planned for release, with more expected at a later date) has a primary target that you’ll need to take out in order to complete – but simply offing your mark right away won’t net you much. To really rack-up a high score and get your name somewhere respectable on the leaderboards you’ll need to build up combos by offing guards that are wandering around the environment. But this is no gallery shooter; you’ll be able to shoot out railings guards are leaning on, create distractions by shooting alarmed cars, and interact with the environment in all sorts of ridiculous ways.

There are also upgradeable weapons, of course, as well as a Rival system that pits you against the player immediately above you on the leaderboards so you’ll have a reasonable score to try and top every time you play. Everyplay support is also included, which means you’ll be able to save your most spectacular setups and combos to show off to all your friends.

Hitman Sniper will be coming out this Fall for free.

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The E3 show floor was awash with games, as you’d expect, but there were also a fair number of iOS controllers on display. Three in particular stood out, including a couple of big names as well as a third entry that seemed to come out of nowhere. Curious to know more? Well then read on!

SteelSeries Stratus XL

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Imagine a much larger console-style rendition of the Stratus with pressure-sensitive left and right bumpers, a decent heft, comfy fit, a Quick Pair button that makes pairing with an iOS device much easier, and rubber on the analog sticks for a better grip. That’s the Stratus XL.

This new full-sized controller ships with (and uses) two AA batteries and holds a charge for up to 40 hours of start/stop play, and will auto sleep after two minutes of inactivity just in case you forget to shut it off. It also features the same compatibility list as the original Stratus.

The Stratus XL should be available for purchase in September or October of this year. No concrete price has been announced yet, but I’ve been told it will sell for less than the classic model ($79.99).

Razer Junglecat

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Then there’s the Junglecat from Razer.

What makes the Junglecat interesting is the way it’s been designed to act as both an iPhone case and a controller. The control portion actually slides out from the side, turning it into something that’s about the size of most handheld gaming devices. Once you’re finished with it you just slide it back and go back to using your phone as usual. It was designed with to be a more convenient portable solution to iOS gaming controllers, and it definitely shows.

The Junglecat is available in white or black for $99.99.

PhoneJoy

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The PhoneJoy was tucked away in a corner towards the back of the expo hall, but I’m glad I had the chance to check it out because it’s actually pretty neat.

It’s certainly similar to the MOGA Ace Power Gamepad in the way it expands and cradles an iPhone, but make no mistake: this is a totally different beast. When collapsed, the Phonejoy takes up very little room – maybe about the size of a wallet – and can easily fit into a pocket, yet it can expand far enough to house a tablet in portrait orientation. Oh, yeah, it can be used with tablets. It also connects to iOS devices via bluetooth.

There are three packages available for the Phonejoy: Basic for $69.90, which is just the controller and a one year warranty; Advanced for $79.90, which includes the controller and warranty, a soft pouch, and a set of specially-designed adapters that will allow you to plug in headphones (because it covers the iPhone’s jack) and act as a backup power source; and the Pro Gamer for $89.90, which includes all of the above plus a tablet kickstand and travel case.

The announcement that Capcom’s Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was made just over a week ago, but even so I couldn’t help but be surprised to find it on display at their E3 booth. Even if it was tucked away in a quiet, forgotten corner.

I jumped in after someone left a quest partway through, just to see how it all works. And I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t set the bar for touch controls or anything, but the interface works pretty darn well. Moving is done with a virtual stick on the left side of the screen, swiping the screen moves the camera while tapping resets it behind the character, and a series of virtual buttons and sliders on the right allow you to attack/block/dodge roll with relative ease. It took some getting used to as this control scheme is more in-line with the classic system from the original that relied on attacking with the right analog stick, but overall it worked quite well. making the button for harvesting, climbing, and so on contextual was also a good call.

The verdict is still out until we get the chance to review Monster Hunter Freedom Unite later this summer, but so far it’s looking like a very respectable port of one of Japan’s most popular series.

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Rising Generals from Innogames is an empire-builder that’s doing things a little different. Sure it’s got base building and soldier training, raids and defensive scrambles, but the approach to some of these elements are downright refreshing.

First is the way that, unlike some of those games with clashing clans, you’ll only lose a unit if it’s actually destroyed. So if you spend hours building up an awesome army and use them in a battle, you won’t necessarily have to agonize over whether or not you want to actually use everything. Second and most significant is the way in which the wait timers work.

Rising_Generals_TroopsRather than forcing you to pick an option for resource production (for example) and wait minutes, hours, or days for it to complete, you pick what you want and it completes right away, then it goes on a cooldown. In other words if you want to build a new structure or something, you can build it immediately and then wait for your construction option to recharge before you build again. Time will tell what the iOS gamers think of such a method, but I personally think it’s pretty fantastic.

You’ll be able to decide for yourself when Rising Generals releases later this summer.

Rising_Generals_Battle

GameInsight’s X-Mercs: Invasion and The Running Shadow are both coming along rather nicely. They’re still a ways off, but it was nice to get some hands-on time with the two titles yesterday and I came away mostly impressed.

X-Mercs: Invasion

GI_XMercsInvasion_screenshot04It’s difficult not to draw comparisons between X-Mercs and a certain other strategy game that involves aliens, and after messing around with the game a bit it’s actually more difficult to avoid it. The game wears its inspiration on its sleeve, there’s no doubt about that. However it does show promise.

Players act as a neutral party in the middle of a war between opposing factions. They’ll be taking on missions for both sides, as well as unlocking more missions and more regions to fight in as they level-up their profile. Multiple soldier classes are available (Sniper, Scout, and Heavy Trooper), tech trees can be researches, all sorts of weapons and armors can be manufactured, and alongside the 200+ missions it will also be possible (and encouraged) to raid other player’s bases.

GI_XMercsInvasion_screenshot02Of course a few things are different, aside from the color palette. The initial squad of three can be upgraded to four or five, for a price. Wounded soldiers heal in real-time, with cooldown timers and everything. However the most interesting twist is how it’s possible to turn deceased soldiers into cyborgs – complete with a special skill tree and everything. If nothing else, it might lessen the pain of loss.

We’ll be sure to have a full review of X-Mercs: Invasion once it’s available later this summer.

The Running Shadow

GI_TheRunningShadow_Android_Screenshot_004The Running Shadow is a very different beast. Rather than being a strategy game, it’s actually a runner (not endless) with some RPG elements and character customization.

What truly struck me about it was the use of special parkour tricks and stealth kills (yes, stealth kills in a runner). Occasionally the main character will encounter special “pads” on the ground that will trigger a timed swiping QTE, which will see him nimbly leap over obstacles and run along walls if performed correctly. And if he manages to get close enough to an enemy that doesn’t see him coming, a similar mini-game will trigger. If nothing else, it’s nice to see a runner doing something a little different.

We’ll also have a full review of The Running Shadow when it releases this summer.

It feels like forever ago when I first had the chance to play MECH (it was called M3CH back then). Despite being pre-alpha, I was actually quite impressed. It’s since been announced that the multiplayer mech combat/shooter has been picked up by Chillingo, and honestly I couldn’t be happier. I really liked what I played over a year ago, and from what I can see it’s only gotten better.

There’s still some work to be done, of course, but the game has come a long way. The interface is a lot cleaner, there seems to be more map variety (and better looking maps), and you’ll have a dozen different giant robots and weapons to choose from when you jump online to shame your friends in online combat with up to eight players.

MECH will be coming to the App Store later this summer.

MECH_4

The Dark Ages are come to Plants Vs. Zombies 2!

At E3 yesterday, EA and PopCap announced all-new content coming to the ever-popular tactical gardening game. Fan favorites like the Sun-shroom and Hypno-shroom are making a return, along with a new plant called the Sun Bean that makes any zombie that eats it toss out sun energy when struck. The Dark Ages update also includes a bunch of new medieval zombies like the Knight and a tricky Jester that actually chucks seeds back at your plants.

The Dark Ages update for Plants vs. Zombies 2 will be available later this summer.

PvZDarkAgesPart1_Level

World of Tanks Blitz has been a long time coming, but the wait is almost over. At E3 yesterday, Wargaming.net announced the iPad exclusive’s official worldwide release date: June 26.

So in another two weeks, we’ll all be able to blow each other up using a rather sizable collection of slow-moving death machines. No more waiting. And no more being jealous of Denmark!

WoT_Blitz_Screens_Combat_E3_2014_Pack_Image_05

via: Hands-On Impressions
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