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.
Take note: Hitman Sniper is notContract 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.
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
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).
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.
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 Unitewas 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.
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.
Rather 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.
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.
It’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.
Of 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
The 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.
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.
Gameloft has just released a new (and final) teaser trailer for Modern Combat 5: Blackout, made special for next week’s E3. It’s not big on exposition but it looks pretty and involves a whole lot of shooting and being shot at. Check it out below, then agonize over having to wait for its release!
The Overkill games have been pretty darn popular, so a third official release (not counting Overkill Mafia because it’s not really a part of the main series) isn’t too much of a shock. What is a bit of a shock is the fact that Craneballs is dropping the first-person perspective in favor of an all-new third-person approach.
A new perspective isn’t the only big change, either. It’s also going to be a cover shooter with interactive cutscenes and “a greater level of variability.” With ten environments, 50+ levels, and all those guns it certainly seems possible.
Overkill 3 will be releasing in the Summer/Fall of this year and will be free-to-play.
First bits of game info:
* Change to TPS to showcase the character and armor/gun upgrades directly in the game
* Boss battles – against drones, robots & vehicles
* Machine gun nest missions for pure “letting of steam”
* Night missions – they look great thanks to Unity with its lighting possibilites
* Plenty of guns and sophisticated gun upgrading (not entirely unexpected from an Overkill title)
Posted by Rob Rich on June 6th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The shadowy world of LIMBO is an incredibly dangerous place. Although that doesn’t mean you should avoid a visit, seeing as it’s about as disturbing as it is critically-acclaimed. And it’s currently on sale for $1.99.
If you’ve never helped this featureless young boy brave death traps and giant spiders while in search of his sister – or even if you have but would like to do it on the go – now’s as good a time as any to give it a look. And remember: death is just a setback.
The official word has just been given over at Capcom Unity: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is officially coming to the US App store. And it’s coming soon!
Unlike Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting, Freedom Unite is a fully-fledged adventure. You’ll be tracking and hunting monsters through a variety of environments, gathering materials to create your own items, collecting parts to craft better weapons and armor – everything that made the series a major success overseas is here.
There’s still no word on price, but if the Japanese App Store listing is any indication it seems safe to assume Monster Hunter Freedom Unite will go for around $15.
During Apple’s WWDC keynote today, it was announced that Touch ID (that fingerprint sensor) will allow for third party developer support. Which basically means that we can expect a lot more apps and maybe even games that make use of the extra sensor.
It’s an interesting prospect when you think about it. If nothing else, those weird fingerprint scanning moments in games might actually scan fingerprints!
That’s right, for a limited time you can partake in all the bridge building (and inevitable collapsing) fun for just $0.99. $1.98 if you want to get technical about buying both games. Might be worth a look, seeing as both games have been fairlywell-received.
The rather popular point-and-click adventure game that is Secret Files Tunguska is making its way to iOS, courtesy of FISHLABS and Deel Silver.
The game is loosely based around actual events involving the Tunguska event in 1908. You’ll be in control of Nina, a mechanic searching for her father who quickly gets swept up in all sorts of global conspiracy craziness. It also features some lovely visuals, as well as a supposed 12+ hours of adventuring.
Secret Files Tunguska will be available towards the end of June for $4.99.
Posted by Rob Rich on May 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
One of the Playstation 2′s biggest Japanese RPGs, Dragon Quest VIII, has just been made available on the US App Store.
Everything from the PS2 version is here, reworked for iOS. So it’s essentially the same game you’ve probably played (or at least heard of) way back when, only it’s all been shrunk down to fit on your iPhone and iPad. And the controls have been reworked for touch screens, naturally.
You can download Dragon Quest VIII right now for $19.99, and the game features absolutely no in-app purchases of any kind – you get the whole thing right from the start.
Are you going to be in Los Angeles for E3 on June 10th? Do you have a game you’re working on that you’d like to show off to a bunch of industry professionals in a fun environment? Interested in free food and booze? Then come meet us at The Big Indie Pitch!
On Tuesday, June 10th, from 5pm to 8pm, writerly folks from all over the mobile games industry (Pocket Gamer, 148Apps, Cult of Mac, etc) will be getting together to look at indie games, give feedback on indie games, and dole out some very excellent prizes to a select few indie games. It’s all happening at Bottle Rock in LA and, thanks to our sponsors (ZQGame, GREE, Samsung US), tickets to the Big Indie Pitch are totally free. All you have to do is head over to PocketGamer.biz and register.
Just think about it; all that networking and all those eyes on your game, all for free. But if you want in you’ll need to act fast. Registration for the Big Indie Pitch ends May 30th (tomorrow)!
Posted by Rob Rich on May 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The second game in the Infinity Blade series is currently free, so if for some odd reason you still don’t own it you’ve pretty much run out of excuses.
Infinity Blade II follows Siris as he attempts to free The Worker of Secrets and, hopefully, save the world. It also introduced players to two new weapon styles (dual wielding and two-handed), ClashMobs, and a more cohesive plot (see previous).
Really there’s no reason not to grab Infinity Blade II now while it’s free. I guess not unless you already own it, anyway.
You’ve got two days left (through May 30th), so there isn’t much time to dawdle. If you’re interested in pitching your game to a bunch of awesome folks, or maybe just want to win $10,000 worth of promotion on the Steel Media network, then head on over to PocketGamer.biz and register!
Like most gamers, you’ve probably heard about Watch_Dogs coming out yesterday. What you may not have heard about is that the game has received a companion app titled Watch_Dogs Companion: ctOS Mobile, and that it allows iOS users to directly affect console and PC users’ games by taking over control of the police. Personally I think that sounds awesome. James and Peter from AppSpy apparently did, too. At least they thought it was awesome enough to record themselves playing it for your amusement.
You can check out the Watch_Dogs Companion: ctOS Mobile video from AppSpy below, with the app available as a free download.
The short explanation is that Nintendo’s case was mostly built around the emulator linking directly to websites that would allow users to download ROM files, and this latest release circumvents that by linking to Google instead. Tricksy Hobbitses…
Posted by Rob Rich on May 27th, 2014 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Oh wow, Habbo takes me back. I remember messing around with it back when Runescape was still on my radar. In fact, Habbo (then known as Habbo Hotel) has actually been around longer than Runescape. Yeesh I feel old.
And now it’s available for the iPad.
What is Habbo? It’s essentially a pixelated virtual world/hangout/social network for teenagers. Users can explore various rooms, customize their avatar with lots of accessories and effects, take part in daily events, and more. But don’t worry, parents, it’s also got live moderators who are available 24/7.
You can now download Habbo for your iPad for free.
Seems like we can’t have a holiday without a bunch of iOS games going on sale. Well you might as well take advantage, right?
That’s why you’re currently looking at a list of Memorial Day Weekend sales – most likely looking for that one big game you’ve just been waiting and waiting to see go on sale. So have a look! If you don’t see what you’re looking for, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find something else to tickle your fancy. And who knows? The list will be getting updated throughout the holiday weekend, so that thing you’re hoping to see just might make an appearance.
4/25 – A few more games have joined the list, including an over-caffeinated box and one very lost astronaut. Also Blek!
4/26 – Throw another right games on the pile – including more than a few RPGs from Kemco.
Asphalt 8 is having a 40% off sale on all its U.S. cars in Class D and Class A, along with three special cup races: the Captain’s Cup (win an in-game 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8), the General’s Cup (win 1 million credits), and the Memorial Day Cup (win the car and up to 1 million credits). World at Arms, meanwhile, is offering the chance to win several different holiday-themed items (Lexington Minuteman, Paul Revere Statue, Washington Monument) during Operation Memorial Day. Finally, Despicable Me: Minion Rush‘s Memorial Day event gives players the chance to win a special Fireman costume.
All of these events are live now, and are only available for the next three days. Better act fast!
For a limited time you can jump into the shoes (scrubs?) of the infamous Dr. Lord Evilstein as he captures princesses and fends off do-gooding heroes. You’ll get to set up traps, summon minions, collect screams, and slaughter goodguys by the dozens – all for a buck. That’s a reasonable price to pay for eventual world domination, right?
Whether or not your intentions are good or ill, you can download Castle Doombad right now for $0.99.
Posted by Rob Rich on May 23rd, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Lately it seems like at least once per week some fairly big name games just sort of spring up on the App Store overnight. Although I suppose this week it was actually two. Looks like we can add 505 Games’ doodle adventure Drawn to Life to that list now.
Back when it was first released for the DS the game attracted a lot of attention due to the way it allowed players to draw their own content. Characters, weapons, vehicles, etc – a significant number of objects could be edited or created entirely from scratch. And now you can do it all on your iPhone or iPad. I shudder to think of some of the screen shots people will inevitably end up sharing…
Anyhow, you can grab Drawn to Life off the App Store right now for $4.99. Keep it PG.
Posted by Rob Rich on May 22nd, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Infinity Blade III has received still one more massive content update (they’re up to what, like 3 now?). This one is called “Blade Masters” and features – you guessed it – a couple of nasty new Deathless to deal with.
The Collector is a connoisseur of weapons who travels the world in search of the best. If you can defeat him you’ll earn a rare weapon, but fail and he’ll take yours from you! Ryth (from the second game) also makes a return and has something of an axe to grind. No pun intended.
In addition to the new baddies, Solar Trans weapons (kind of like lightsabers that are powerd by the sun) are also making a comeback, and now you can explore an entirely new path through the stronghold at Larioth using Isa. Of course there are even more goodies in this update, but I don’t want to spoil everything, do I? On top of all that, they’ve also reduced the price for a limited time.
You can download Infinity Blade III now for $2.99, with the Blade Masters update available for free to those who already own the game.
Yesterday we mentioned that Space Hulk had received an update that added a new cross-platform co-op mode. Well we’ve also just figured out (thanks to the questions posed by 148Apps commenter Delnit) that it also supports cross-platform game saves. This means that you can carry over your campaign and multiplayer progress from your Mac/PC to your iPad and vice-versa, ensuring that you’ll always be ready to sacrifice a squad of genetically engineered supersoldiers in the name of The Emperor.