Blog Archive

Things are looking pretty grim. A despicable race of alien beings has planted a doomsday device called “The Cosmic Fuse” deep inside the Earth’s core. Rather than wait for a team of semi-washed up actors lead by Hillary Swank to ride a drill train through the center of the Earth we’ve enlisted the help of Verticus, the world’s first (so far as I know) free-falling superhero.

Verticus is a new “endless faller” headed to the App Store courtesy of Moonshark, Controlled Chaos Media (creators of Texting of the Bread), and Stan Lee. Yes, that’s Stan – The Man – Lee. The comic book legend has created a special story and superhero for his first iOS outing, as well as supplying his own voice as the player’s mission commander. Commence geeking out. I was able to have a chat with Moonshark’s CEO, Matt Kozlov, and he filled me in on the whole world-saving affair.

The titular do-gooder must fall his way through the Earth’s atmosphere, past cities and their streets, and beyond its very center in order to reach and diffuse the alien invaders’ bomb. Then he has to make it through to the other side. This isn’t a mere dodge-em-up, however. The fledgling hero will have both offensive and defensive abilities to aid him in his task, as well as a number of upgrades to earn and unlock through multiple playthroughs. So there’s obviously plenty of incentive for multiple replays, what with the upgrades and new suits to earn. It’s also possible (though not necessary) for players to purchase in-game cash to speed up their development if they so desire.

Verticus is slated for a release sometime this fall (we all see what you did there, Moonshark). If you’re too excited to sit idly by and wait for the action to commence, you can also check out the game’s official Facebook page for more details. Oh, and you can enter to win one of a few pieces of official Verticus artwork signed by Stan Lee while you’re there, too. Wait, what?

When Street Fighter x Tekken was quietly announced at E3 this year, many were relieved. It had been rumored for a while, but it was there, in the flesh (or silicon) and it was real. Demos started at PAX earlier this month. And we just got our hands on a build. Take a look at the video below to see what to expect.

Full details are still to come. But from the build we can get a sense of what characters we will be able to play, though others are likely to unlock as you progress in the game. In our early look it seems like the controls are pretty well done. As expected as the controls for Street Fighter IV also from Capcom were exceptional for a touch screen button masher like this.

Global multiplayer system will be included in the game. We were unable to test that in our version, though. It could add considerable interest to the game if it works well.

Look for Street Fighter x Tekken later this year, perhaps sooner, perhaps later. If we had to guess, from this build we would say sooner. But Capcom are being particularly cagey about this game. We hope to know more soon.

Real Racing 3 Demoed At Apple Event

Two games were demoed at the Apple Event Wednesday. Real Racing 3 was the one that really showed off the device. Talking to Rob Murray after the event he noted that the A6 processor in the iPhone 5 allowed them to turn up the effects even more than they already had to make everything in the game look even more realistic.

Real Racing 3 will be out before the end of the year and include interesting new features like time-shifted multiplayer via Game Center, working side mirrors, and visual effects like we’ve never seen on a portable device. These are console-quality graphics we are talking about. Take a look at the following, first screen shot of Real Racing 3 (click for full size 1136×640 screen).

I can not wait to get my hands on this one.

Marvel have announced a new episodic touch combat game for iPhone and iPad, Avengers Initiative. In this first episode, to be released Thursday, you play the Hulk. As the Hulk, you are tasked with defeating a large group of evil super-powered villians who have escaped from a top secret holding facility in an event known as The Pulse.

The Pulse was first introduced in the Facebook Marvel game, Avengers Alliance. Both that game and the iOS game are interconnected with a system called Marvel XP. This allows players to unlock in-game items and level up between the two games.

The gameplay itself takes some big cues from Infinity Blade, if you are familiar with that, the game plays in a similar way. The game functions by using touch and swipe mechanics to fight various foes in the game. You will face a series of enemies in different locations as you progress through the story. The game has full retina graphics and looks great on both the iPad and iPhone. Take a look out our fifteen minute walkthrough below of the beginning of the game to get an idea of the art style and gameplay.

Future episodes will hopefully follow quickly with the first one expected before the end of the year. In later episodes you will have the opportunity to play other members of the Avengers.

Marvel’s Avengers Initiative will be released this Thursday, worldwide, for $6.99. It is not a free to play game. In-app purchase will be available to help power up and create custom uniforms for the Hulk, but will not be required to complete the game.

VS. Racing 2 Hands-On Preview

The sequel to popular top down arcade racer VS. Racing is set for release soon and we got our hands on a preview build to see exactly what to expect in the full release.

VS. Racing 2 looks set to build on the success of its predecessor rather than revolutionize the genre but that’s nothing to complain about given how much fun the title is.

The top down racer has always lent itself to short bursts of fun and VS. Racing 2 is no different. A series of 36 different tracks ensures there’s plenty to do with it only ever taking a few minutes to complete a track. Controlling the car is conducted through a virtual steering wheel on the side of the screen. There’s an option to change this to tilt based controls but there’s really no need. The virtual steering wheel does a fine job of offering responsive controls that can be relatively easily mastered. Although, one tip worth pointing out, stick to using your thumb to steer rather than another finger. It’s geared towards thumb steering and it’s much more intuitive that way.

VS. Racing 2‘s focus is very much on speed and fun here with impressive drifts achievable in hardly any time at all. Action gets pretty challenging in later stages but consistently enjoyable. A series of upgradeables and new cars to buy ensure the learning curve is pretty smooth and satisfying.

The real stand out feature here, however, is the Race A Friend mode. It’s this that I suspect will keep players coming back for more. Supplementing the local multiplayer, players can challenge friends from any location, providing they have their email address. Players take it in turns to beat their opponent’s fastest time. A ghost car demonstrates where the competition lays at all times, providing some memorable thrills and spills. It’s great fun to play and I can see this being the ideal mode to dive into throughout the day. The preview build I checked out didn’t include Game Center integration but that’s set to be included in the full release, so I’m hopeful that this will boost multiplayer play dramatically.

VS. Racing 2 is shaping up to be a highly enjoyable top down racer. Its arcade spirit won’t beguile more serious racing fans but everyone else should be excited. The asynchronous multiplayer should cement its popularity all the more.

VS. Racing 2 is set for release in the near future. We’ll be sure to let you know when it hits the App Store.

AppAddict has the first gameplay trailer for the interesting looking new game from Illusion Labs up. Blast-A-Way is expected to be released later this month.

Even just from the short teaser clip, you can tell the game certainly has that unique character and appeal that we’ve come to expect from an Illusion Labs title. The game has been in the works for over a year and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on the game when it finally launches at the end of the month.

via: AppAddict source: Vimeo

Projectbook, from Theory.io in an information and task manager that takes the whole app genre to the next level. Since applications like this have been around, they have all followed the same aging model of folders filled with items. While you can organize data in folders and lists in Projectbook, the true genius of this app is how it organizes things automatically for you. Using some amazing natural language processing, developed by obvious geniuses, it pulls the relevant keywords from a document and then interconnects all of your data.

This is presented in two different ways. First, keywords are automatically underlined in the documents. Clicking on them will show any documents related to that keyword. Each document also has a “Similar Notes” link that will show you documents that are related to the overall content of that document.

And the Natural Language Text Processing isn’t just looking for nouns, it’s much smarter than that. It looks for context and relationships as well. So, for instance, pull in a web clip about the Porche 911 and it will link to another document you have about the BMW M3.

The result of this amazing text processing is you are organized without actually needing to organize things yourself. You can just dump everything into Projectbook and it will self-organize based on the content. And in practice, it works surprisingly well. You can always fall back to search, if necessary.

Projectbook can pull in data in a variety of ways – typed in, you email it to the app, clip web pages, or you can even pull from an Instapaper or Pocket account. Once data is in it is completely searchable. Including Word documents and PDF documents. And one key plus is that data is on your iPad, no Internet connection is needed to get to it.

While those are some of the key features of Projectbook, there are many other features that round out this app.

• Full featured sketch mode
• Organize by Folders, Tags, or Dates
• Combine text, images, sketches, and audio together on any page
• Create hierarchical outlines with bullets or checkboxes
• Create to-dos quickly by entering as a sequential list, rather than in dialogs
• Email to-dos directly to your to-do list, with attachments
• Create to-dos with natural words, like “Buy tickets 2 weeks from Tuesday”
• Assign to-dos to others and track completion
• Fully GTD compliant to-do system
• Live search bar
• No subscription needed

Projectbook releases today for the iPad. An iPhone version along with a Mac desktop version are in the works and should be released in the coming weeks. Once they are released, all version will seamlessly sync, automatically. We’ll have a full review of the iPad version in the coming days.

$4.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-08-01 :: Category: Productivity

Freemium social games are all well and good, but a number of them are decidedly lacking in certain places. Namely in action. That’s probably why it’s so easy to take notice when companies like Pangalore announce a game like Knightly Adventure.

Knightly Adventure is indeed a social game, and it does indeed possess a bunch of typical fantasy RPG elements; stuff like medieval kingdoms, quests, hostile monsters, colorful storybook-like graphics, and so on. But while it adheres to many freemium norms, it also attempts to deviate in that one key area. Amidst all the kingdom building, character customizing, friend gathering, and so on is a much more interactive action RPG approach to the quests. With the option of choosing between four character classes (swordsman, wizard, bowman, or knight) available to further sweeten the deal.

This free-to-play cross-platform (mobile, tablet, or Facebook) super-hyphenated fantasy adventure will be setting up shop in the App Store sometime next month. Presumably and preferably soon.

I do love a good SHMUP, and a classic old-school style SHMUP with hand-painted visuals appeals to me even more. It probably appeals to a lot of people, actually, which might have something to do with why publisher Lace Mamba Global and developer Firepixels is bringing Solar Wings to the App Store.

Players will get to blow up all manner of fancy-looking enemy ships as they fight their way through five different worlds. Each with a collection of tough/large bosses and vessels. Power-ups are on hand, naturally, as well as a total of three selectable characters with their own personal ships, although the third character needs to be unlocked before they can be used. And it’s all depicted in that colorful hand-painted style I mentioned. Sounds tasty, right?

Solar Wings should be sitting pretty on the App Store come Saturday, July 28th. Any SHMUP fans can nab it for a very reasonable $0.99, assuming there’s no accident with the listing like there was for the game’s Desura release.

*Note: Images are from the PC version*

Ever see cameraphone footage of a concert on YouTube and think, “if only there was some way to stitch all this footage together into a smartly-edited cohesive whole?” Vyclone says, “I have a way to do that thing you just said!”

Vyclone is designed to serve as a way to combine multiple videos of an event shot at the same location. When people at the same location shoot a 60 second video at or around the same time using Vyclone, and then upload it, the service combines them into one video. The app tries to intelligently switch between different videos in order to create a quality final product, switching angles at just the right time, and deciding on the best audio track to use for the video. Videos can be shared with just the members of one’s own Vyclone crew, the nearby crowd, or with everyone, with the latter two options making it possible for anyone’s Vyclone footage to be part of a video.

Think that Vyclone is a terrible hack of a director? Then use the Remix option to combine the footage in a customized way, and show Vyclone how it’s really done. Vyclone has just launched and is free to download.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-18 :: Category: Photography

A new gameplay trailer for Mojo Bones’ latest release, The Curse, has been released.

The guys at Mojo Bones, previously famous for cutesy dog-based puzzle game, Tongue Tied! have been busy working away at The Curse since releasing the first teaser trailer in February.

I was fortunate enough to get a hands on preview of The Curse and things are shaping up to look pretty great. 100 puzzles will be available to the player, with a creepy nemesis by the name of Mannequin linking everything together.

Puzzles are a varied bunch. While some puzzles will require players to piece together complex jigsaw pieces, others require careful lateral thinking to slide blocks together or draw a set number of lines to block off certain sections. Word based puzzles also feature with plenty of riddles to confound the old gray matter. The bite sized nature of these puzzles lend themselves perfectly to the iOS format and it’s a great sign of how quickly ‘just one more puzzle’ turns into another half a dozen.

Don’t expect an easy ride, though – there are some real brainteasers within the selection and The Curse should prove quite an enjoyable challenge to puzzle fans.

The Curse is set for release this summer. Expect a full review on 148apps when it hits the App Store.

As someone who’s played lots of iOS games and by extension sampled lots of virtual control schemes, external control attachments such as the iCade intrigue me. Tapping the screen is fine and all, but sometimes having physical buttons to press can make a world of difference. Lots of other people seem to think so, too, which aeis why these kinds of peripherals have a place in the market. It’s all well and good for portable play, but what about when I’m at home? Sure AirPlay allows users to game on their TV, but the iOS device is still the primary control. Which is exactly why we have brilliant entrepreneurs like the folks at Cascadia Games (the creators of Cavorite) creating stuff like the GameDock.

The GameDock will essentially be an iOS console, with all the awesomeness that implies. Users simply have to plug their iPhone or iPad into the dock, which is in-turn connected to the TV via an HDMI cable, and start playing any iCade supported titles on the big small screen. The handy dashboard app allows users to select their desired game via the connected controller, so they don’t even have to get off the couch. And just in case anyone wants to use the GameDock but doesn’t have a TV (or at least one with HDMI inputs), everything can be played right on the connected iOS device.

Cascadia Games’ Kickstarter for this most glorious of add-ons is just past the halfway mark for its $50,000 goal. With 35 days to go, there’s plenty of room for more backers. Come on, you know this is an awesome idea.

When originally announced, we didn’t know if the Tiny Wings release due for today was an update to the original or a whole new app. Turns out Andreas Illiger, the developer of Tiny Wings decided to do both and update the current app as a way to say thanks to the people who purchased the game in the past as well as release a whole new app. A note from Andreas:

Hi Tiny Wings fans! The long-awaited Tiny Wings 2 is finally done! I’ve put a lot of love into creating this major update, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. You’ll be getting a completely new game mode with 15 hand-crafted levels, a whole flock of baby birds, fish, and other surprises! And here’s the best part: Tiny Wings 2 is a free update, as a thank-you to my loyal fans (and because I don’t particularly like in-app purchases). :)
Thanks, and have fun!
              -Andreas Illiger

So let’s talk about what’s new! Of course the first thing you will notice is that the app fully supports Retina devices. It looks amazing — the new detail on the art is lush giving it nice paper/watercolor look. An effect that didn’t really come through well in the non-retina version. In addition to that, we’ll be getting a new version for the iPad with an additional multiplayer mode.

For the small screen version, in addition to the Retina version of the current endless mode, we also get a new “Flight School” mode. In this mode you choose one of four birds to fly through 15 hand-crafted levels. In these levels you race against the other three birds which are computer controlled. A couple additional elements are added to this mode, the flower and water. The flower usually sits at the top of a hill and gives you a nice bounce. The water on the other hand resides in the valleys and really slows you down. You can see a quick demo of the mode here:

For the iPad version, a third mode is added that lets two players race against each other in a split screen mode. There are two different play modes in this multiplayer setup. Take a look at the video below to see how it plays.

One of the great options added for this is automatic handicapping. The computer will automatically delay the winner on the next round based on an average of how much time they have been beating the loser by. This will, hopefully, balance out players skill levels and make it more fun for all.

Full iCloud syncing is supported so that if you have the small screen and the iPad version your progress will maintain across those devices.

The update to the iPhone / iPod touch version should be showing up at any time. The iPad / HD app is also available.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-18 :: Category: Games

$2.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-07-12 :: Category: Games

Back in January at Macworld Expo we saw the first demo of Neat Cloud and Neat Mobile. Neat have been around for years providing hardware and software that allows archiving and then searching of scanned documents of various kinds. They produce two different scanners and desktop software to help you get documents into your database. The Neat Cloud update brings that database into the cloud and allows scanning and searching from the iPhone and iPad.

Not only can you use your iPhone and iPad to search your Neat data in the cloud while on the go, you can also use these devices to get items into the system. Utilizing the camera on the iPhone is a great way to get business cards, receipts, and other items onto your Neat Cloud while away from home. Take a look at the video from Neat below for more on the Neat system.

We got a few days to try out Neat Cloud, Neat Mobile, and one of the Neat Desk scanners. Here are some initial thoughts.

The Neat scanner is easy to set up. Just install the software and then plug in the power and the USB cable. Throw in a bunch go papers into one of the three custom guides in the scanner — one for documents, one for receipts, and one for business cards — and away you go. The scanning happens just about as fast as you can throw documents at it. Once documents are in they will be recognized and OCR’ed to get the data from them. From there they reside in your inbox in Neat for you to give them a check and file them in a folder that works for you.

You can also use the Neat mobile app to scan documents into your Neat database. In that case the document is sent to the cloud to be recognized and OCR applied. It is then send back down to your mobile device and to your Neat desktop inbox for sorting.

While the Neat Scanner works well if you have stacks of documents to scan in, in quick testing we found the iPhone camera to be produce quicker and higher resolution scans of most one and two page items. Both seem to have their place — the scanner for stacks of documents and the camera for single items and when you are on the go.

Both the scanner and your iPhone captures will not only keep the original images of your document, business cards, receipts, etc., the system will also apply Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on them. The OCR will, if the document type is set right, also grab relevent data from your scans. For example the purchase total and credit card used for a receipt or contact details from a business card. You can then use that data to updated your contacts or use the receipt data at tax time.

All visible text in the document is converted to text for the database too. Because of this you will also be able to search not only metadata about the documents scanned, but also the full content as well. Great for instances where you are looking for documents about a particular subject, but can’t remember more.

In quick testing of the OCR capabilities, everything seemed to work well with just a few recognition mistakes. In most cases the mistake was minor — but some of the more difficult business cards I threw at it did cause it to return oddly converted text. Unfortunately no OCR system is complete scan and forget, they all need to be fine tuned.

Neat Cloud comes at an additional cost over the Neat scanner and software. A personal account costs $5.99/month but you’ll need the Home & Office account at $14.99/month to use the mobile app. The Home & Office account does have the additional bonus of supporting two users, great for a household. In addition there is a higher level, the Business account that allows access by up to 5 users for $24.99/month.

Neat Mobile and Neat Cloud are available immediately. The link to the mobile app is below. To sign up for a Neat Cloud account, head to the Neat Cloud site.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-18 :: Category: Productivity

No one has really figured out the magic formula for publishing traditionally print magazines on tablets. There are two current methods publishers are trying, simple PDF versions wrapped in an app, and content re-formatted and laid out specifically for tablet screens. Neither method is really selling amazingly well and each have their positives and negatives.

While Next Issue is trying to make the best of the tablet formatted versions and releasing them in a new, more consumer-friendly way. Next Issue has combined multiple publications like Time, Sports Illustrated, New Yorker, and Wired and put them all into one single app. Next Issue says that their app will be able to keep most of the interactive features from the standalone apps. And the really nice part, it’s available in one subscription price, all you can read pricing. They even include a big chunk of back issues.

Available in two different subscription models, you can subscribe to just the monthly magazines for $9.99/month for the Basic plan or include the weekly magazines for $14.99/month total, the Premium plan. If you subscribe to multiple of the 40 magazines they offer in the app, the subscription to Next Issue might even save you money.

We got a chance to take a pre-release version of the Next Issue app through it’s paces. What we’ve seen so far, we can highly recommend it for magazine junkies. The current release of Next Issue doesn’t support Apple’s In-App Purchase program. It’s more of an Amazon Kindle model — meaning you have to go to the Next Issue web site to subscribe and manage your subscription, you can’t do it through the app. An inconvenience, yes. Deal-breaker, probably not for most people.

As mentioned earlier, the magazines in Next Issue are basically the same as the stand alone apps, but wrapped in standard navigation and all in one app. Next Issue adds that standard navigation to let you do things like jump to a section and navigate the pages. It’s quick and fairly intuitive.

One of the big plusses to the Next Issue system is that as long as you subscribe you will have access to back issues as well as the current ones. At launch, Next Issue will have the back catalog for all 39 magazines back to the beginning of the year. With the hope that they will be able to continue to add to the back catalog over time.

As you’d expect, you can download issues for offline use. Good for reading while on a flight, or just someplace without a connection. With some good caching options, you can set how many issues you want to keep and Next Issue will automatically remove old issues. Automatic download is also available but will only work when the application is running.

The following monthly magazines are included in the basic plan ($9.99/month): All You, Allure, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit, Brides, Car and Driver, Coastal Living, Conde Nast Traveler, Cooking Light, Elle, Esquire, Essence, Fitness, Fortune, Glamour, Golf, Golf Digest, GQ, Health, InStyle, Money, Parents, People En Espanol, People Style Watch, Popular Mechanics, Real Simple, Self, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated Kids, Sunset, This Old House, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired

The Premier subscription adds the following weekly magazines: Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, and Time for an additional $5.00 per month.

The Next Issue app launches on iOS today. You can get a 30 day free trial subscription at the Next Issue web site.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-09 :: Category: News

Fishing Joy 2 Hands-On Preview

The original Fishing Joy has proven to be hugely successful across Asia since its release in the second half of 2010, but that popularity hasn’t translated very well to the Western world. With the release of Fishing Joy 2 later this week, we got a chance to check it out and see if this edition will tempt more of the world this time round.

Fishing Joy 2 isn’t actually anything like a fishing sim, despite the name. Instead, it’s a glorified shoot em up aimed at the casual market. Players are presented with an underwater scene with an array of different sea creatures floating around. A tap of the screen unleashes a tirade of bullets and, well, that’s about it.

There’s variety in the form of different weapons that can be used, each with different powers and strengths, but it’s a subtle change that doesn’t really change the basic structure of what’s expected of the player.

Fish are valued differently according to their size with the player given coins for each capture. A multiplier affects how many coins are gained with these pieces leading to gaining levels. It’s a simple enough mechanic with levelling up leading to new scenes to shoot amongst.

Ultimately though, there’s little point to Fishing Joy 2. It’s very pretty to look at and cute in its own way, but there’s seemingly no real draw to returning to it. I found myself playing it till I ran out of coins (which means no more bullets until a refresh or in-app purchase) then leaving disinterested. Lack of structure sometimes doesn’t matter but in the case of Fishing Joy 2, the addition of challenges would have benefited it greatly. As it stands, the action is never-ending but also lacking a strong purpose other than to pass the time.

Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how casual gamers across the world react to such a laid back game when Fishing Joy 2 comes out July 12th.

Starting about a week ago, Andreas Illiger, the creator of Tiny Wings started tweeting some rather obtuse notes on his timeline. Odd posts like “There will be no new game by me any time soon. But there will be something new from me…” Then today, came a countdown and then a link to a YouTube video.

At the end of the very well done teaser video was the payoff — Tiny Wing 2.0, coming to the App Store on July 12th. The follow up to the amazingly refreshing Tiny Wings will be released next week.

At this point we aren’t really sure if it’s version 2.0 of Tiny Wings or a whole new app. But either way, we are really looking forward to this one. Stay tuned!

[via: Touch Arcade]

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-18 :: Category: Games

Poker has kind of taken the country by storm over the past several years. It’s made its way into all manner of media, obviously including video games. So what makes this particular digital rendition of card-based gambling worth checking out? Quite a lot, it turns out.

All of the expected options are available in World Series of Poker, such as Texas Hold ‘Em and even Omaha Poker, but there’s a slew of more social-oriented features that are actually pretty awesome. Every player has an account that automatically tracks virtually every aspect of their games; thus helping them to better understand their own play style through statistics as well as allowing them to show off their skills with a number of different trophies such as special tournament rings.

It’s easy to tell what a player needs to work on (i.e. too much folding, not enough folding, etc.) at a glance, but what’s also cool is that really good players can gain access to a special league of games that are only available to others that have earned the same honor. In other words, seriously good poker players won’t have to worry about finding themselves in a game full of casual players. It’s also easy to find, invite, and join games that are already in progress. Each game is represented with a table, and players have only to tap an open seat to invite a buddy or two. And it’s just as easy to join a game.

I wasn’t able to procure any pricing information, but World Series of Poker will be available on the App Store “soon.”

A lot of people enjoy Scrabble. Like a lot. But while the current official iOS rendition is doing okay, it’s been in need of a little tweaking for a while. Well the time for tweaking is nigh.

The list of changes includes a much-improved user interface that not only looks nice but makes setting up matches and finding friends a lot easier. In fact, it makes the act of setting up a game into about as painless a process as I’ve seen yet. The chat features have also been updated, and even include some pretty wacky emoticons. There’s also a rather handy new feature that will allow players to see what other words they might have made with their letters after (emphasis on after) their turn is submitted, which should help to even out the playing field a little for the less spell-savvy while still keeping things fair during multiplayer matches.

However, the most exciting change by far has got to be the cross-platform integration. The Facebook rendition is already available, but once the iOS and Android updates are ready to roll out players will be able to get their spell on across all three platforms. This means PC/Mac users can play against iOS/Android users, and that one user’s account can span multiple devices. So one could play a few rounds on their mobile device, then come home and continue the game on the computer via Facebook. Effectively, just about anyone will be able to play Scrabble with just about anyone else just about anywhere.

Scrabble is already available and is free, but these changes won’t hit until sometime this summer. Do any of these changes have you current players excited? Then chime in below!


FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-15 :: Category: Games

I’m not what anyone would consider a soccer fan, but that doesn’t keep me from appreciating all of the cool stuff players can expect to find in EA’s upcoming FIFA 13. This is, of course, in addition to the expected bullet-points such as improved graphics and such.

FIFA 13 is indeed a great looking game. Player animations are incredibly smooth and their likenesses are captured eerily well considering this is an iOS game. Although they do have that creepy blank look that so many real world based character models tend to have. A bunch of smaller details will no doubt cause salivary glands to work overtime as well, including balls sporting the proper logos and all the tiny graphics typically found on a player’s jersey. And all of these fine details can be enjoyed up close and personal thanks to the game’s instant replay feature.

It doesn’t stop with tie visuals though. For the first time ever EA Sports Football Club will make its way into an iOS title. Even better, preexisting accounts will be carried over, so nobody will have to start from scratch on their iOS device. Of course my personal favorite addition is the way special skill shots and moves can be controlled via a second virtual stick on the right-hand side of the screen. Simply tap and drag in a given pattern or direction and the controlled player will start with the fancy footwork.

No information is available yet on pricing, but football (football, football) enthusiasts can expect to find FIFA 13 in the App Store sometime this fall.

Fieldrunners was one of the original breakout iOS gaming hits. First released in 2008, this game checked all the right boxes and really helped herald the iPhone’s potential as a gaming device. As time passed, the folks at Subatomic Studios continued to update the game, released an iPad version, and even a version on the Playstation Network. A lot of amazing things happened for Subatomic Studios along the way. But where was their follow up game? Years passed and nothing.

Then we got word in January that they had a new game in the works and found out shortly later that Fieldrunners 2 was that game. Now, nearly 4 years after the original was released, we have a preview of Fieldrunners 2. We’ve had the opportunity to play with the pre-release build for a week, and honestly, we’re blown away. It’s everything we loved in Fieldrunners, but turned up to 11. The preview below is taken from the pre-release app, but the final version will be out later this week.

One of the first thing you will notice with Fieldrunners 2 is that it improves on just about everything in the game. The graphics are better, the sound is better, and the variations in gameplay are greater. They have left in the familiar gameplay, the included puzzle levels, and completely new map types. Let’s start out with something that will look familiar to Fieldrunners fans.

Grasslands – Here’s a level that will remind you of the original Fieldrunners. But you’ll quickly notice the video improvements in this full retina version. Not only are the animations crisper, they are also much smoother.

Fieldrunners has a load of new levels, and not only the open / pathless tower defense style of the original Fieldrunners. There are also path levels where the creeps will loop over and back on top of the path, adding some interesting strategy to the level. Here’s an example video of a set path level, known as Tangled Turnpike in Fieldrunners 2.

When progressing through the game, you will at times unlock special puzzle levels. These levels go beyond the normal tower defense and require that in addition to guarding your base, you also have to complete the puzzle. Here’s an example of a puzzle level where you must place your limited towers in locations that will guide the creeps between one or multiple towers.

As you can see, the king of tower defense has returned. Fieldrunners 2 will be out later this week. It’s one to look forward to. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

It’s always nice to see something a little different in a market saturated with a bunch of “Me, Too” freemium titles. Chillingo‘s Zooniverse is one such deviation for a couple of different reasons, not just because of the unobtrusive tutorial. Seriously, it’s incredible how many developers think interrupting the player with pop-up boxes is “good.” *deep breaths*

While Zooniverse is about running a zoo first and foremost, it’s also about keeping the customers happy. These core customer demographics are divided into three main categories: men, women, and children. Each group has its own preferences when it comes to facilities and adorable critters to ogle, so it’s important to find a balance that caters to everyone. Making more people happy means more money, and more money means being able to expand the zoo with more enclosures, animals, and just space in general.

A great deal of critters ranging from woodland to aquatic, and even prehistoric and outright impossible, can be housed in the many available enclosures. Once an animal is settled in, be it through a purchase or breeding, players have to make sure to keep it well fed. Starvation won’t result in horrible complex-forming consequences, but it will cause the creatures to stop earning cash. So, you know, don’t be a jerk and keep them well-fed.

The burning question of what happens with a mouse is bred with a hippo (a Hippopotamouse) will finally be answered for free later this summer.

When the squirrel god – god of squirrels? I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics of this particular theology. No pun intended – sees a lone bushy-tailed critter dragging itself through the desert, he bestows it with a special acorn that creates a rather large tree. This tree becomes an oasis and eventual home to other wayward squirrels; constantly growing to make room for even more denizens. It’s similar to Tiny Tower, no doubt, but Chillingo‘s Happy Squirrels is much more than a simple re-skinning of a familiar concept.

As the tree grows and floors are added, players are able to choose what rooms they would like to create from a total of 25 different options. These rooms can earn nuts, the game’s main form of currency, at different rates and with different caps on how much they can hold. Each chamber can also be upgraded up to five times, with each iteration able to earn even more, faster. These munchies can be used to purchase new rooms and otherwise expand the tree. Potions, the other form of “kinda” currency, are needed to speed things up if players don’t feel like waiting X-number of hours for construction to finish. Or they can be exchanged for more nuts. Whatever the situation demands.

What really sets Happy Squirrels apart is its level of interactivity. At any time the iOS device can be jostled or titled in order to make the tree’s occupants jump or slide around, respectively. A number of other cosmetic interactive touches such as doorbells to ring, as well as a couple of acorn-earning mini-games, make it feel like there’s always something to do while waiting for the workers to finish their tasks.

Happy Squirrles will be setting up shop for free sometime this summer.

Scientists seem to love locking up tiny animals and experimenting on them. At least in video game fiction. The fortunate thing about this is that it makes for plenty of opportunities to create a game based around escaping the evil scientific facility. In this particular instance it’s the driving factor behind Chillingo and Kiz Studios’ new maze chase iOS title, Critter Escape!.

As is to be expected, players will have to guide a “so ugly it’s cute” critter through level after level of increasingly perplexing mazes full of enemies, obstacles, power-ups, and challenges. Simply completing a stage should be simple enough no matter the player’s gaming prowess, but getting the coveted three star rating will require some fairly significant skills. Especially in the latter half of the game’s 120 levels. This requires not only making it to the exit, but also grabbing the crystal hidden somewhere in the maze, as well as completing a specific challenge such as finishing without being seen or under a certain time limit.

Critter Escape! isn’t just “another” maze chase game, however. While it defaults to a line-drawing control scheme (other options are available, including a virtual stick), it’s a very smart line-drawing controls scheme that automatically finds its way around obstacles. It also features a wealth of customization options that can be cosmetic (i.e. a funny hat) or both cosmetic and game-changing (i.e. a ninja suit that makes it easier to avoid guards). There’s also plenty of hidden content (bonus levels, etc) to encourage repeat play.

Keep an eye out for on-the-lamb potato monsters at the end of the summer, when Critter Escape! will be available to the masses for $0.99.


I first got a glimpse of Joe Danger on iOS at PAX Prime in Seattle last year. While it was early in the development stage and very rough, it had promise. When Sean Murray from Hello Games contacted me, wanting to show something off at E3 this year, I was pretty sure what that was.

Joe Danger for iOS is a casual, trials-racing, puzzle game that feels like a cross between Excitebike from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Angry Birds, and Dance Dance Revolution. I mean that in the best way possible – what you get out of this unholy union is a unique and supremely fun game. I got a chance to play through the first few levels at E3 and thoroughly enjoyed what I saw.

Joe Danger was released in 2009 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as a downloadable title. As soon as Hello Games’s founder Sean Murray (a former Criterion and Electronic Arts employee) got his first iOS device, he wanted to port Joe Danger to Apple’s new device. What started out as a fun experiment quickly became the pet project of the whole team. They took the core arcade game mechanic of Joe Danger and pretty much re-wrote it to better fit the touch interface. In doing so, they came up with the puzzle and timing aspects that define the iOS version.

Joe Danger is an exciting character to have on iOS, and the game is looking better and better each time I see it – it’s hard to wait for the final version. Joe Danger for iOS will be released later this year, and we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s out. It’s definitely one to watch for.

I’m not being sarcastic when I say that I wish more browser-based games made their way onto iOS. A lot of them are fantastic, but due to various software/hardware constraints they typically don’t function on handheld Apple devices. It’s a shame, really. But what isn’t a shame is that another browser MMO is coming to iOS. And it’s going to be playable across all (read: iOS, Android, HTML 5) platforms.

Dragon Eternity affords players many of the luxuries they expect in their MMOs; more than 1,000 quests, loot drops, 200+ crafting recipes, mounts, powerful bosses, crafting professions, pets, over 500 monsters to fight, custom character development, and five different PvP modes. So yeah, there’s a lot on offer here. The beta version is already sporting over a million registered users, so I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be one of those Massively Multiplayer Ghost Towns that some of these games tend to be when they first launch.

It’s still in open beta via the browser version, but once Dragon Eternity is complete it will be available for iOS (most likely iPad) and Android devices as well. It’s also going to be free-to-play so there’s no need to start saving up for the eventual release.

At events like the WWDC keynote from earlier this month, Apple is fond of throwing up a slide touting how many new features a product has. At WWDC, we saw that iOS 6 has 200 new features. But the event itself is limited and not all of those features can be listed and even fewer can be talked about in the keynote itself. We took the list presented at the keynote and listed the ones not talked about and present a hefty does of informed speculation about what the new features mean.

 

Game Center Features

 

Game Groups – This one is really unknown right now. But I read one thing into it, gaming clans. At least that’s what I hope it is. The ability to create Game Center based clans, that can persist between games, would be fantastic.
Game Center Friends from Facebook – You can find Game Center friends from your Facebook friends. When a Game Center user signs up their Facebook account in iOS 6, it links their Game Center account allowing you to find each other.
Game Center Challenges – When you hit a high score, it will now be easier to challenge your friends to beat that score.
Game Center in-app experience – More of Game Center will be exposed directly in the game, no need to go to the Game Center app to perform some functions.

 

New Maps App

 

Transit Apps – How this will function is unknown. Apple chose to leave out transit info in their new Maps app and instead look to third party app developers to provide that feature. To what extent that data will be present in the Maps app is a big unknown. At the keynote it was mentioned that Apple would “integrate, promote, and feature” transit apps within the Maps app.
Map Kit – this is the API that developer use to integrate the new Maps into their applications.

 

Camera Changes

 

Lots of interesting changes to the Camera APIs should allow for even greater manual control of the camera from third-party apps.

Control Camera Focus and Exposure – The ability to control the focus and exposure without just point to spots on the screen will go a long way to giving developers the ability to provide full manual controls in their camera apps.
Video Stabilization – Video stabilization was only available in the built-in Camera app. It will now be available to third party apps.
Face Detection API – The face detection feature used in the Camera app will now be available in third party apps as well. Might make for some interesting app usage even outside camera apps.
Read and write image metadata – The metadata of an image contain things like when and where the image was taken and loads of info on what settings were used to capture the image. It also contains info on the photographer and copyright. This new API for developers will allow them to read that metadata and write it back out much more quickly.
HDR Improvements – The HDR mode is an interesting and misunderstood mode in the camera. Any improvements are greatly anticipated.


Continue reading The Rest of the New Features of iOS 6 »

Get Ready to Start Bumpin’ Uglies

Ham in the Fridge, those responsible for the well received if a bit disturbing 5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself), have been up to something. They’ve been lurking in the shadows, left to their own devices, doing something altogether unseemly. They’ve been Bumpin’ Uglies. I’ve recently had the chance to talk a bit with Brett Hummel (Creative Director) and Drew Pearson (Director, Business Development) about their odd little creation and have come away from the discussion feeling more than a little excited. Not that kind of excited.

Bumpin’ Uglies isn’t quite the depiction of debauchery that many would expect given the (awesome) title. Uglies are, in fact, these small lima bean-looking critters who are about as smart as a sack of dirt and can only get around by way of being flung. Players have to guide their ugly through a given level (32 total at the moment), gathering shinys and coins along the way, until they manage to collide with the ugly waiting at the other end. Hence the bumping. This creates a temporary whirlwind of activity, followed by the production of a number of “bumplings” possessing traits from both parent uglies. And some recessive genes, naturally. Coins gathered throughout each level can be used to unlock new level packs (3 available at launch with more to follow), more ugly parts for further customization, and special boosts (4 types available at launch) that can be used to make getting around a bit easier.

Bumpin’ Uglies is slated to release later this summer for free. If it sounds like a game worth playing (and it should), head on over to the Kickstarter page to lend a financial hand. Come on, you know you want to.


Apple on Monday unveiled their all new Maps app, dumping Google as a maps provider and utilizing their own internal assets and apparently some data from Tom Tom. The problem with this is that while the new Maps app is beautiful, it loses some key features that made the previous version far superior.

The one big step forward was the addition of voice enabled turn by turn directions. A great addition and one that will save many people lots of money on third party GPS apps.

The steps backward are odd as some would seem to be small features to implement, but a huge impact for many users.

I, like many, use the Maps app all the time in urban areas. The absence of transit directions built in is a huge loss to me and any other city dweller. Apple have announced that they are looking to app developers to provide Transit Apps, but the integration of those apps remains unknown (under NDA). Having it all in one place just makes sense. Putting this in the hands of third parties will likely lead to just too much instability. For one thing, you’ll likely need a new app/data provider for each city you visit. Under iOS 5 and before, it’s one maps app that covered the world. Via Grist we learn that the new Maps app will have walking directions, but routing for transit will be offloaded to third party apps.

The ability to go to an address on a map and then look at what that location looks like is a very useful feature. Street View as Google named it is a feature that will be missed.

Readability of the maps seems to be degraded a considerably. I can only judge from the posted screens, but the street and business names in the previous version seemed easier on the eyes for straight map reading. In addition, the different road types stood out considerably more than they do under the new Maps app.

One thing to note is that what was shown at the keynote is the first public beta version. It will most certainly be refined over the coming months before final release. Well at least we can hope so.

Everyone’s messed around with building bocks in some form or another at some point in their life. Everyone. It’s kind of a universal thing. Which is a big reason as to why I’m somewhat amazed that very few people have attempted to merge the concept with interactive design. It’s one of those ideas that doesn’t seem obvious until someone comes up with it. And Boldai came up with it.

Blocksworld is, in essence, a set of virtual building blocks. Structures can be cobbled together, tiny people can be crafted, and all manner of impossible creations can appear with a few taps and flicks. But simply creating a thing is only the beginning. Once that mutant frog or towering skyscraper is complete, it can be brought to life or used as an asset in an animated movie or even video game. This is because it’s more than just a sandbox, it’s an incredibly easy to use toolset for creative types.

Any iOS user can open up Blocksworld and create whatever their imagination can come up with. Then they can use it to create their own action movie or turn it into a game, then they can share it with the world on the official website. Or Twitter and Facebook, of course. The tools are rudimentary but the sky is indeed the limit.

Blocksworld is still in beta but is expected to release later this summer. There’s no official word on pricing yet but users will be able to purchase additional content packs (prices also TBD) in order to bolster their creative arsenal.


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