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.
Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan is a children’s storybook that emphasizes the importance of going to bed, dreams, and those magical moments right before being tucked in.
Now Kelly Paniagua, author of the award-winning children’s book, is planning to bring an interactive story app based on the very same bedtime story to the App Store. Very soon, in fact. Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan marks the first in a planned series of ten, and the intention is to release an app shortly after each title goes to print.
The Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan app includes pretty much everything parents would want in an interactive bedtime story: narration, highlighted text to aid with reading along, character voices (supplied by Paniagua’s own daughter as well as her husband, Julian McMahon), animations, and of course some interactive bits. A couple of mini-games have also been included. One involves flying through space collecting ingredients for baking cookies (finishing the game also reveals a recipe for “Galaxy Cookies”), while the other is about finding hidden animals and learning about nocturnal versus diurnal behavior.
What’s most intriguing about Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan is the special Coloring Activity. It’s actually based on Dr. Wayne Dyer’s theory about how what we see, do, and think about right before bed (about 30 minutes or so) can affect both our dreams and our mood when we wake up. Paniagua wanted to know, “What if you implemented this at a developmental age?”
The idea is for children to use their imagination and draw up something right before bed, and an “Idea Generator” is also available if they have trouble thinking of something. What they draw and/or the mood it puts them in (preferably happy) should, in theory, have an impact on their dreams. Drawings can be saved from within the app to your device’s camera roll for easy sharing, too.
Bedtime for Sarah Sullivan is available on the App Store right now for $2.99 (no in-app purchases). If you’re interested in the physical book as well, you can pick it up in stores now for $13.95.
Labor Day is fast approaching, and so are the sales. Lots of sales, by the look of it.
This list is already pretty sizable, and we haven’t even made it to the weekend yet. Naturally that means you can expect there to be plenty more price drops and freebies on the way. We’re talking big games, too. VVVVVV, Rayman Fiesta Run, LEGO Lord of the Rings, and a whole lot more. So why not check back with us from time to time as we update the list throughout the weekend? Worst case scenario: you end up saving money.
Updated 8/29: Several new titles added, including Phantom PI and 100 Rogues.
Updated 8/31: Now with more Bio Inc. and 868-HACK!
Set during World War I, the game puts players in control of several different characters as they endure all sorts of hardships in an attempt to survive. And some of them may not achieve that goal. So you’ve been warned: there will be sadness.
The controls have been reworked for touch screens, naturally. You can check out the video below to see it in action.
There’s been no word on a price yet, but it stands to reason that Valiant Hearts: The Great War will be a premium release when it comes to the App Store on September 4.
Skylanders has always been a bit polarizing among gamers. Some see it as a glorified (and expensive) kids’ toy. Others see it as a somewhat ingenious combination of toys and video games. It’s a bit less of a toss-up with kids, though – kids adore it. And they’re undoubtedly excited about Skylanders Trap Team.
The Skylanders series has been broughttoiOS before, but Trap Team is a first. It isn’t just a port that’s been cut back to fit or a completely different sort of game that uses the license: it’s Skylanders Trap Team. You can swap between characters by switching out figures (including all the characters from previous console-only versions), capture enemies in special Trap Crystals, and otherwise do all that Skylanders-y stuff you’d expect. It’s the same game console players will be experiencing, only on a presumably smaller screen. The touch controls work quite well too, although they aren’t entirely necessary (I’ll explain in a minute).
The portal that’s included with the mobile Trap Team starter set is quite nifty. It uses bluetooth to connect to tablets wirelessly, has a simple but brilliant little notch in the side so that you can prop up your tablet (just about any tablet, no less) while you play, and comes with its own bluetooth controller that easily tucks into the bottom of the portal. Perhaps the most impressive thing about all this is that it’s incredibly easy to pair the portal and the controller with your device. If you’d rather not use the included controller, Trap Team also supports third-party mobile controllers. Or, if you find yourself with a surplus, you can also pair two different controllers and play co-op.
“It just works” has been the mantra for Vicarious Visions as they worked on the hardware for the mobile version, and it’s something they’ve pulled-off extremely well. So long as you have bluetooth enabled on your tablet all you’ll have to do is press and hold a button on the portal and/or controller and they’ll simply connect. Disconnecting them is just as easy of course, and if the controller becomes disconnected at any point during play (either on purpose or because it’s run out of batteries or something) the touch controls will pop up and you can keep playing. And if, for whatever reason, you either don’t have the portal or don’t have access to one you’re still covered. When Trap Team isn’t connected to a portal it’s still possible to play through the game using two special digital-only characters (each with their own levels, stats, and abilities).
Skylanders Trap Team will be available in the App Store as a free download on October 5 for the iPad 3 and 4, iPad Mini Retina, and iPad Air. The Starter Pack (includes the portal, bluetooth controller, unlock for the full game, and two figures) will be available on the same date for $74.99.
2K Games has officially announced that Bioshock is coming to mobile. The announcement is an exciting one, although there’s also this pervading sense of worry – even anger – that some seem to have about it. So I’d like to take a few moments to try and explain why being able to play Bioshock on your iOS device ain’t so bad.
1 – Rapture in Your Pocket
Some people have asked me why I’d even want to buy a graphically inferior version of a game I probably already own for as much (or possibly more) than I could buy a “better” version for, and the answer is simple: portability. Of course it looks better on the systems that have high-end specs and lack a 2GB install cap, but I’m not about to drag my console of choice and a TV around with me everywhere I go.
Being able to play Bioshock on my phone – even if it’s not graphically up to par with the other versions – means I can return to Rapture any time I want. If I’m traveling, waiting in line, have downtime and no PC/console handy, and so on, I can simply pull out my phone and start throwing plasmids around.
2 – No In-App Purchases
This is another concern/assumption I’ve seen a lot of and it makes me sad. There’s this automatic (and severely biased/unfair) notion that mobile games must include in-app purchases. This is simply not true. There are a number of premium games on mobile that don’t offer any sort of in-app purchases, a couple of which have even come from 2K Games.
Mobile ports of big-name, AAA games tell us one very important thing: mobile ports of big-name, AAA games are possible.
Just about anyone who doesn’t immediately write-off mobile as a gaming platform (perhaps they were bitten as a child?) will admit to thinking things like “I wish this was on iPhone/iPad, then I could play it whenever I want!” With each successive port of a big-name game, the more likely we are to see more of them. It doesn’t have to be big AAA games, either. There have already been ports of other less ‘mass-appeal’ favorites like The World Ends With You and Dragon Quest VIII, and in the case of the former the port is even arguably (not really arguably) better than the original.
A Dark Room was something of an enigma when it first appeared on the App Store – it still is in a way. Here’s this text-only game that starts out with nothing but a fire that needs to be stoked in order to keep you warm, that then expands into an unexpectedly large (and depressing) adventure. And now a prequel called The Ensign is on its way to the App Store. Time to get excited!
The Ensign will shed some light on the events that took place before A Dark Room – possibly explaining just what happened to the world to make it so inhospitable – but it’s not the same type of game. A Dark Room had you delegating tasks to other survivors and expanding your base of operations while simultaneously exploring the wasteland. The Ensign will focus much more on the exploration side of things. Perks will be replaced with artifacts that can enhance your abilities, there will be new dungeons that won’t simply funnel you in a single direction, weapons will break if you aren’t careful, and a new (presumably horrible) enemy will stalk you all over the map.
Another key difference is that The Ensign is being designed to be extremely difficult. You will die a lot, but the idea is for you to learn from each death so that you can progress a little further each time. It’s also meant to be highly-replayable, which is good since that’s exactly what you’re going to be doing a lot – because you’ll probably die all the time.
The Ensign is still in beta, but we’ll definitely keep you updated as we learn more about the release date and price.
Popular heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold has been working on their own dungeon crawler for the last couple of years, and the results are a lot more impressive than most would probably expect. No, seriously, this is actually a thing.
Hail to the King: Deathbat is the brainchild of lead singer, M. Shadows. This is no mere town builder or casual-friendly hack-n-slasher, however; it’s meant to be a throwback to a bygone era, when games didn’t coddle their players and the only way to advance was to get better at playing.
According to M. Shadows it’s been quite the experience to take the game from an idea to an almost ready to release product. The game has gone through several iterations for optimization and tweaking, but it’s finally nearing release and it’s looking pretty neat. The visual’s have a very ‘dark fantasy’ feel, and the music is appropriately moody but also carries just a hint of retro charm.
At first glance it looks similar to other action-adventure games like Diablo, but it’s far more ‘Classic’ than that. Players won’t be leveling-up or upgrading skill trees; instead they’ll be gathering and purchasing brutal weapons and unlocking powerful magic spells. In action it feels more like playing an older Castlevania, really. You’ll be dodging traps, timing your attacks against enemies, learning boss patterns, and all that other good stuff.
Perhaps the most promising thing about Hail to the King: Deathbat is that it’s obviously been a labor of love for M. Shadows. I’ve spoken to card-carrying game developers who weren’t as enthusiastic about their work as he is about this game.
Hail to the King: Deathbat should be coming to the App Store soon for $4.99. Additional in-app purchases are available to unlock members of the band as a sort of “easy” mode, but aren’t necessary to progress. Not unless you’re really bad at video games, anyway.
The original Bioshock is pretty much the greatest video game adaptation of an Ayn Rand novel in existence. It’s also a pretty darn awesome game in its own right. And it’s coming to iOS later this summer.
No joke: Bioshock on iOS is a direct port of the classic first-person adventure/shooter. The whole game – all the areas, enemies, dialogue, memorable moments, hidden cats, etc – has been made to work on the iPhone and iPad. There’s even that odd dip in the right-hand staircase in the lighthouse when you find the bathysphere.
The visuals have been scaled-back a bit, of course. Otherwise there’s no way it would clock in at just under Apple’s maximum download size of 2GB. That’s not to say it looks bad, though. There may not be dynamic shadows or fog effects, and the textures may be a lower resolution, but Rapture still the super-creepy underwater dystopia we’ve all come to know and love.
The port supports MFi and other bluetooth controllers, but also sports a set of touch controls that have been optimized for the experience. Naturally a controller is the more comfortable of the two options when it comes to a game like this, but the touch interface is about as accessible as I could’ve hoped for.
Bioshock doesn’t have a concrete release date or price just yet, but it will be available later this Summer as a premium release with no in-app purchases.
Posted by Rob Rich on August 1st, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
A Dark Room may not be much to look at, but behind the simple menus and walls of text is an unexpectedly involved (and super-bleak) adventure. And from now until Monday morning (8/4), it’s totally free.
If you’ve been holding off on checking out A Dark Room for whatever reason, well then now is the time to fix that. Regardless of how off-putting the lack of graphics may or may not be, it’s a free download. And “as grandpa Alfonse always said, ‘anything free is worth saving up for.'”
You can (and should) grab A Dark Room off the App Store now for free.
Posted by Rob Rich on August 1st, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which has just officially released in theaters. So much so that Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon has even been given a price drop to celebrate its release.
So before you rush out to see Rocket and Co. save the galaxy, now you can download the game to keep you occupied while you wait in line at the theater. You won’t even need to have an internet connection to play it. It’s almost like they planned this…
Anyway you can download Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon from the App Store now for $1.99.
Posted by Rob Rich on July 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
We knew it was coming. And yet, despite the warnings it’s still taken up by surprise. Sharknado: The Video Game is here, and there isn’t anything anybody can do about it.
Lets go through a couple of key points, shall we?
The game’s hero, “Fin” (*rimshot*), runs through the streets of Manhattan cutting down flying sharks (technically they’re not flying, but whatever, they’re in the air) with a sword. He’ll also ride another shark into the very center of the sharknado in order to kill it – by which I mean the tornado with sharks in it – with a chainsaw.
Now my eye won’t stop twitching for some reason.
Anyway, Sharknado: The Video Game is available on the App Store right now, for $2.99. You’ve been warned.
Mobile apps and games have always had their share of problems, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. Exposure, pricing, cloning, advertising, cloning clones, freemium monetization, etc – there are a ton of little (and big) things to worry about every time you put something up on the App Store. Heck, simply getting noticed by review sites in the first place can be a monumental task.
The unfortunate reality is that there are no guarantees. Sometimes legitimately great apps and games will fade into obscurity before they even had a chance. It can be disheartening. It can be downright frustrating, even. Another unfortunate reality is that there are people out there who would use a developer’s desperation and frustration to make a quick buck.
A lot of big things are happening with Slingbox in the near future. I mean a lot of big things. The little black boxes that allow you to watch TV (your TV, streamed from your own cable box) on your computer and mobile devices – from anywhere in the world – are getting an upgrade.
Starting July 20, the Slingbox 350 will be replaced by the Slingbox M1. It’s basically a redesigned version of the 350 with integrated wifi, internal IR emitters (in addition to an external one that can be hooked up), and a price tag of $149 – the cheapest any Slingbox has ever been at retail.
Then there’s the Sling TV, which will be a repackaged version of the Slingbox 500. It includes HDMI and Component in and out, can attach to a hard drive to display files to your TV, and comes with its own remote unlike the M1.
On the software side of things, the firmware will be receiving an update in August that will add a guide interface similar to the iOSapps. You’ll be able to filter content, view scores for any number of sports games right from the menu, transmit from your Slingbox to a Roku/Apple TV/etc, and even use your iOS device as a remote if need be. The Mac/PC Slingplayer apps are making a comeback as well. The web browser versions are being chucked in favor of dedicated software you’ll be able to install and run on your computer.
Both the Slingbox M1 and Sling TV will roll out on July 20, with the apps updating soon after.
It feels like we just had a big iOS game sale. Actually, we did just have a big iOS game sale. And yet here we are again, with almost 20 different games suffering from a severe case of Pricedropicitis. Or something like that.
We’re not entirely sure why so many games (and so many notable ones at that) have suddenly gone on sale but here they are, on sale, ready for you to snap them up.
Seriously, there are some really great titles on this list. If you’ve been on the fence about downloading games like Threes! or Eliss Infinity, now’s the time to fix that.
Threes! - price returned to $1.99, was on sale for $0.99
Posted by Rob Rich on July 9th, 2014 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Magic fans rejoice! Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers has officially released for the iPad!
This new digital installment of one of the world’s most popular collectible card games touts an improved tutorial that makes it easier than ever for new players to learn the ropes, epic battles against a number of Planeswalkers, multiplayer, card collecting, and more. This year’s release is also placing a heavy emphasis on deck management by allowing you to organize and customize numerous decks like never before.
You can download Magic 2015 right now for free; it’ll run on the iPad 2 and up.
Just when you thought it was safe to… I dunno, go outside during a tornado? A tornado full of sharks? Why would anyone do that? How is such a scenario even physically possible? Anyway, ‘Sharknado’ is getting an iOS game, simply titled Sharknado: The Video Game.
Developed by Other Ocean and published by Majesco, Sharknado: The Video Game will be a sort of endless runner in which you’ll assume the role of Fin (*golfclap*), who I assume is the film’s protagonist, as he races through Manhattan trying to put an end to the whole tornados with sharks in them thing.
No price or release date information has been given yet, but Sharknado: The Video Game should be available on the App Store later this summer.
- Run through the streets of Manhattan wielding a broadsword
– Bounce off of the backs of tiger sharks to reach higher ground
– Feed buckets of fish to angry sharks to avoid dying
– Surf New York’s flooded avenues, avoiding hammerhead stampedes
– Collect official Sharknado trading cards
– Fly into the heart of the sharknado clutching tightly to a chainsaw
While you wait for the grill to heat up, or just waiting for the fireworks to start, you’ll probably want something to keep you occupied. Fortunately a lot of iOS developers have decided to put their stuff on sale for this Fourth of July weekend.
Really it’d be a shame to let such prices go to waste, right?
7/3 – It didn’t take long for a lot more games to jump on-board. We’ve got some stuff from 2K, Sid Meier, and more and it’s still just the first day!
7/4 – Now things are really starting to get moving. Arcade classics, popular favorites – even Autumn Dynasty is getting in on the action.
7/4 Part II – The flood has slowed down a little but a healthy selection of games has been added, including Siegecraft and Tennis in the Face.
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is a surprisingly intricate game – well, surprising if you’re unfamiliar with the series, anyway – and as such there’s no shame in getting a little help. Which is exactly why we’re here! We’ve put together a handy guide for hunters who are just starting out, full of all sorts of useful knowledge that will hopefully keep you all alive out there.
So suit up, grab your gear, and get ready to lay the smack down on to very large critters!
So You Want to be a Hunter?
The first step to getting anywhere in Monster Hunter is figuring out what type of weapon (or weapons) will work for you. There are quite a lot to choose from – 11, in fact – and each one is different. The best way to try them all out is at the Training School.
– In order to access the Training School you’ll need to first speak to the village chief (the elderly woman by the fire). To find her, just head up/North from your home. Once that’s finished you can find the Training School on the opposite side of the Guild Hall.
– Select the Beginner School, read through the basic Hunter Info, then you’ll be able to select Weapon Usage.
– Weapon Usage will allow you to try out every single category of weapon in the game. You’ll be given a temporary set of equipment, and an item box full of handy items at the start. The weapons you use are decent, and the tasks are simple – just enough to give you a sense of how the weapon functions.
– The distinctions between each of the 11 weapon classes are too numerous to go into in a beginner’s guide, but an important thing to remember is that there are two main groups: Melee and Ranged. Both groups utilize completely different types of armor, so make sure to keep that in mind when crafting new gear. Continue reading Monster Hunter Freedom Unite – Tips, Tricks, Cheats, and Strategies for New Hunters »
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.
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 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.
I 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Civilization 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.
Posted by Rob Rich 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.