Blog Archive

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.

At the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, CEO Tim Cook started with a quick recap of some really impressive numbers. 400 Million App Store user accounts have been created. This is the largest known retail ecosystem. By the end of the month the App Store will expand to over 150 countries and will have 650,000 apps for iOS in the App Store with over 225,000 created specifically for the iPad. We also learned that there have been 365 million iOS devices sold and that 80% of those devices are running iOS 5.

To date, Apple has paid app developers over $5 billion on over 30 billion app downloads. Speaking directly to developers at the WWDC keynote, Tim Cook showed a video showing the changes that apps have made in people’s lives, like accessibility for blind users, anatomy being taught from an iPad in India, Airbnb connecting people and spare rooms, and speech therapy benefits using Toca Boca apps – all solid, heartwarming examples of how iOS app developers are changing the world.

After going over some impressive changes to the MacBook line (I really want that new Retina MacBook, BTW), and Mac OS X Mountain Lion, we got into the main event, the reveal of iOS 6.

Continue reading Apple Unveils iOS 6, Our Thoughts on The Next iOS »

When a super nova threatens a planet full of cats (multiple planets, actually), the self-appointed task of saving them falls on a pair of big-hearted extraterrestrials. The duo will have to hop from world to world, gathering as many kitties as they can before the time limit runs out. Then doing it again, of course. Because CATS, people. Because cats.

The gameplay functions as a sort of weird combination of gravity-based claw machine meets incremental in-game improvements found in titles like Katamari Damacy. The ship’s tractor beam can only pick up the smaller felines at first, but after enough of them are carried off it gains strength and can be used to lift much larger targets. Coins earned through play can be used to buy new ships or upgrade a specific one, while stars acquired through achievement-like progress will unlock new worlds. And there are always special hidden kitties to find and (hopefully) rescue.

The US release of Cats Away should be out sometime around the end of June/beginning of July and $0.99 is all that’s needed to secure this universal iOS cat carrier.

Need for Speed Most Wanted for iOS shows promise of being a great racing game. While EA wouldn’t comment beyond it was developed by EA Australia, I think we can assume that it is running on the Real Racing core. No wonder it’s so fantastic. All the clues were there — including the dangling bumper. The acquisition of Firemint was a damn smart one for EA.

There are no reported features or release date, though I think we can assume it will be around the October timeframe of the console version. The game will have the Autolog feature from the console version, but EA wouldn’t comment on if it would be connect with the console version. It’s assumed that they will both run under Origin – so we can hope there will be some sort of interaction.

Did we mention it’s early in development? We won’t even show you the screen shots they gave us as they were clearly renders and not actual game screens. Touch Arcade did get some video of the game in action – take a look below.

I love race games, and the Need For Speed franchise is one of my favorites. Throw in the best in mobile Real Racing engine and I’ll be tracking this one closely.

[ video source: Touch Arcade ]

Personae Studios has announced that it is bringing a strategic version of Mech Warrior to iOS.

Licensed from Microsoft, of all places, this Mech Warrior game is a bit more strategy than shooter as some of the recent ones have been. It’s a game of resource and time management where your mechs are assigned missions and you must manage their energy and arms to succeed in the tasks.

Targeted at hard core strategy game fans, this Mech Warrior game will hit the App Store later this year.

We sat down with WeMade CEO Kisung Kim at E3 to discuss their push into mobile and tablet gaming and to get a look at the games they are announcing now.

WeMade is a Korean company established in 2000; they are well known in the PC gaming and free to play markets in Asia. With revenues of $120 million in 2011, and 20+ million users in over 200 countries, they are well established indeed. They saw the sea change coming and decided to start developing for mobile and tablets in addition to PCs. That development of small and large gaming projects for iOS and Android began stealthily around two years ago. Their mobile goal is to create games that core gamers will like in addition to social casual titles. These games will be tailored for the mobile experience, yet still have the gameplay that core gamers want.

At E3 they announced a few games and promised to release a total of 20 games for iOS and Android in 2012 alone. With the exception of the first game, all of their announced releases will be free to play. Let’s rundown some of the most interesting looking games they have in the pipeline.

Project Dragon
The first one, by far the most ambitious, is code-named Project Dragon. This Diablo-like 3D, third-person RPG hack and slash is already looking very impressive. It’s a full scale MMO with up to 5,000 users per server. It includes everything you’d expect, including a guild system, crafting, and quests. In a true example of tailoring the experience to mobile, this title has an optional and innovative control scheme that can be used to trigger seven different attacks. No release date is known yet, but expect it in the fall or late summer.

Chaos & Defense
Next up we have a player vs. player tower defense / castle defense type game. It’s an interesting mix of genres and finished right, it could be a big multiplayer hit.

Each player starts out with their own tower at one end of the play field. You then build defense unit creation towers. (Or are they creep creation towers?) There are four classes, each with 6 different units for a total of 24 upgradable towers/units. Once you have units created, you send them off to attack the castle of your opponent. First one to destroy the other players tower wins.

Initially this seems simple, but combine the complexity of which defense tower to build and what unit type to create and deploy and this could get really interesting. Considering my love for TD games, I’m really looking forward to this one, launching later this month.

Goblin Mobile
The 2D side scrolling fighting game is alive and well. Goblin Mobile is a sort of Final Fight / Double Dragon action game with some RPG elements thrown in. The addition of 4 player co-op quests doesn’t hurt either.

Social Games
In addition to the more core games above, WeMade also debuted some more social games including Vikings Online, Pet Island, Goblin Mobile, and more.

Social title Vikings Online, available in July, is a 3D adventure game where you can not only farm and craft, but you can also go on quests and boss fights with your friends’ characters.

Pet Island is a straigh-up cute island-based farming social game. With a strong teen and female focus, this title will be great for some, but not for me.

Friend Fighter is sort of a blend of core/social. It’s a Street Fighter / Tekken type button masher fighting game, but you have the ability to challenge your friends and fight them, even if they are offline.

Hero Square Online is sort of a social farming game with bits of RPG thrown in. One of the key differences, and one that makes this a bit more social than the usual, is that you can attack your friends’ “farms,” do damage, and even take over their land in the game.

Rhythm Scandal is a four player online rhythm game, which has party game written all over it.

Stay tuned for more details as we get them. WeMade may have come out of nowhere, but it certainly looks like it will be here for a while.

Apple to Unveil iOS 6 and More Today

What could be one of the biggest Apple reveals of the year is about to start and we’ll be there live tweeting the best of the best. We’ll also have a post up with our thoughts on the announcements after the announcement.

What will we see today? The only thing we know for sure is we will see iOS 6. Apple, rather uncharacteristically revealed that with a banner that greets everyone that enters Moscone West today.

If you want to follow along live, we suggest MacRumors and GDGT. They seem to have the most robust live blogs on a regular basis.

Then check back here for our analysis of the announcements later today.

Bring on iOS 6!

After a recent SHMUP release (okay, not so recent. And they pretty much do SHMUPs exclusively), Cave is poised to drop another one on us. Kind of. Bug Princess 2 Black Label is more like a Director’s Cut than a real sequel, but it might just be the be-all-end-all version for series fans to get.

The key story and gameplay elements are exactly the same as the original Bug Princess 2. Make no mistake, however, there’s new stuff to justify the purchase. Even more bullets are included in this version, which is something I would never have considered possible but there it is. Players can also recreate a near arcade-perfect experience by slowing down the action (i.e. simulating processor strain). But by far the most interesting addition is the new Boss Rush Mode. All of the massive bosses from the first and second game are here, and high scores can be posted for bragging rights. There was also mention of an option to save progress, but details are still a little scarce at this point.

Bug Princess 2 Black Label has no definitive release date or price at the moment. Presumably it should be out in the next few months, and most likely sell for anywhere between $5 and $15 using Cave’s previous titles as a guide, but that’s all speculation. It is coming, though. And it’s looking like it’ll be glorious.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-05 :: Category: Games

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-15 :: Category: Games

Fans of Temple Run from Imangi will recognize the mobile game tie-in for the upcoming Pixar movie, Brave. It’s an enhanced version of Temple Run set in the Scottish lands represented in the movie. Instead of playing an Indiana Jones type character, you now play as Merida, the red-haired and firey tempered teenage heorine of the movie.

In addition to the character changes in Temple Run: Brave, you will also find a new gaming mechanic added. Archery has been added to increase the gameplay complexity and provide another way to earn bonuses. In testing it last week, the addition of archery does add complexity to the gameplay yet doesn’t distract from the fun of the original.

While Temple Run is free, Temple Run: Brave will be $0.99. To offset the cost, players of Temple Run: Brave will get 2,500 coins, the in game currency, for power ups and character extras.

Pixar’s Brave hits theaters on June 21st. But you only have to wait a few more days for Temple Run: Brave. It hits the App Store on June 14th.

While not a replacement for Instagram, Facebook Camera is a good first step in this month+ old union of the two companies. Released today, Facebook camera looks to streamline the viewing of photos and the uploading of them.

The app allows you to apply simple filters to images, tag people, upload multiple images at once, and post a note about the group of photos you are uploading to your timeline.

In quickly testing Facebook camera, it’s a very well made app. Much better and more reliable than the main Facebook app for uploading images. Perhaps that is their plan? The only feature I was left missing was the ability to specify an album to upload images into.

Worth checking out if you upload images to Facebook regularly.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-05-24 :: Category: Photography

Not too long ago, Zombie Smash developer Game Doctors was acquired by Zynga. Their next game, merging of Zombie Smash with the Zynga casual game machine, the Zyngification if you will, has been announced, Zombie Swipeout.

The good news? It’s an interesting game. In our few minutes with it earlier this week, it seemed very enjoyable. It borrows heavily from Fruit Ninja yet makes a few interesting twists on the swipe-things-thrown-into-the-air genre. Then there’s the aforementioned Zyngification of the game. You earn coins while playing the game to buy upgrades and progress in the game, yet your progress is limited by your energy level. All of that can, of course, be bypassed by buying in-game goods with cold hard cash.

Wether the game suffers from this paywall method is yet to be seen. Game developers are good, how much and how often you can play are dynamic — so they can change it at any time. Their goal, of course, is to tune it to maximize revenue. To do that, they need to make sure they don’t annoy too many players.

Off my soap box for a bit, the game is actually very well done and I look forward to spending too much time playing it. Unfortunately it’s only out in Canada for another week or so for some final testing. But it will be hitting the rest of the world soon enough. Keep an eye out for it.

TouchArcade App Now Available

For over four years, the crew at TouchArcade have provided a great place to go for iOS game lovers. Earlier this year they unveiled their mobile site and they are now following that up with a wonderfully designed native iOS app. We have been taking it for a spin for the last couple weeks, here’s a quick look.

The Touch Arcade iOS app gives you great mobile access to the TA site content in a very well designed native iOS app. The reviews and news are there for quick access and reading on the go. Also included is a great reference for the past reviews, sortable by category, price, and rating. For the app-crazed, you can also turn on notifications to be notified every time a new post is published.

There’s also mobile access to the forums, the liveliest past of the TouchArcade site.

But by far the best feature is the Hot New Games section. Both in a sidebar of the main screen and in it’s own section, you see the games that people are talking about most on the Touch Arcade forums. A great way to get a quick look at games that may be new to you.

The Touch Arcade app is out now. If you are a mobile game lover, grab it!

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-05-10 :: Category: Entertainment

Mini Motor Racing got a great four and a half stars in our review. And it’s just been updated to be even better with multiplayer support!

Take a killer top down racer with an extensive single player career mode and add in four player multiplayer and you end up with verison 1.5 of Mini Motor Racing. The great arcade racer from The Binary Mill. The multiplayer can be from 2 to 4 racers at a time and can include either your Gamce Center friends or random match-ups.

Not only has verison 1.5 added multiplayer, it’s also added a new circuit to the career mode with four new tracks and 12 new cars. That brings the total to 30 tracks and 18 different vehicles.

If you have the new iPad, the HD verison has been updated to support retina graphics in the game. A great top down racer is now even better. Grab it now if you haven’t tried it already.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-12-08 :: Category: Games
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-12-08 :: Category: Games

Stitcher has always been a great app to go to for audio content. They have now implemented a new feature that allows then to create focus sections on a particular category. The first of these sections to launch will the a 2012 Presidential election that includes audio endorsed by the candidates themselves.

“The majority of Stitcher users listen to news and political content, so creating the Election Center was a natural step for us,” said Noah Shanok, CEO of Stitcher. “There’s an avalanche of coverage during election season and it can be tough to get the best information when you need it. We’re rolling out trending topics on demand, a first in the industry. We see this as part of our mission to further the evolution of radio by making it more relevant and accessible than ever.”

The new Election Center allows you to follow news about your candidate or candidates of choice. It also allows you to focus on particular sources or topics. Using transcription, Stitcher will allow you to search in the transcribed text of the audio features to find mentions of the topics you are interested in.

Election Center is just the first step. Expect to see Stitcher roll out the focus areas to other topics in the near future. But for now, the updated Stitcher with Election Center should be available now. Grab it at the link below.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-08-18 :: Category: News

It was a long wait but you can finally get your hands on it. Long after competitors Rdio, Mog, and Slacker released their iPad apps, nothing from Spotify. But it’s finally here, the Spotify iPad app, and it’s spectacular.

The iPad version of Spotify use the sliding panes interface that is becoming the defacto standard. If you have used Twitter for the iPad, you’ll be familiar with the style. The app is very well done providing easy access to all standard Spotify features. Looks like the wait was worth it.

If you are not familiar with Spotify, it’s an “All you can listen” music service. It gives you access to millions of tracks for a monthly fee of around $10. And much like any music player you can create playlists, repeat tracks, shuffle, etc. The one big feature that really sets Spotify apart from competitors is that you can integrate your music library with Spotify. So if there are tracks you have that they do not have the license to, you can still listen to them, all in the same place. It has, for me, pretty much taken the place of iTunes Music and iTunes Match.

Grab the new Spotify app at the link below. Do you use Spotify? What’s the feature that sets it apart from the others for you?

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-07-14 :: Category: Music

N.O.V.A. 3 Hands-on Preview

The first, and the most important thing to get out of the way is that N.O.V.A. 3 is NOT a freemium title. Gameloft have played the freemium waters, successfully at times, spectacular failures at other times. But let me repeat, N.O.V.A. 3 will not be a freemium title. There will be in-app purchases available for certain things, but they are not required to play or progress through the game. Whew. I know that takes a load off many core gamers minds.

N.O.V.A. 3 starts out with our hero, Kal Wardin, crash landing on Old Earth (in San Francisco no less), to find that the enemy Voltarites have invaded. In this first of 10 levels, you progress quickly, but as you’d expect building the game difficulty as you go. Starting out with just a pistol and gathering other weapons and equipment as you kill enemies and move through the level.

The story of what has happened builds as you move through the first level with very well done, fully voiced storyline played out in cutscenes. One difference noticed between this one and previous ones is that it just feels more natural. Even N.O.V.A. 2, as good as it was, felt way more contrived and scripted. N.O.V.A. 3 flows more naturally and just feels more professional. This installment is also has full retina support, even on the new iPad. That means it’s one gorgeous game.

To sum it up what you can expect in N.O.V.A. 3, it’s the great N.O.V.A. experience we expect, turned up to eleven. Better gameplay, better graphics, better script, and more of everything we have loved in the previous installments. Take a look at this teaser for a peak at what you can expect.

N.O.V.A. 3 also includes a 12 player multiplayer mode. The multiplayer is sure to be great with six different game modes. All of the weapons and vehicles are available in multiplayer.

While we weren’t able to test multiplayer in our preview time, it is a feature that I’m looking forward to as Gameloft has, in the past, done a good job with the multiplayer modes in their games.

N.O.V.A. 3 will be available in May. Check back and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

Take a look at the following video for the first gameplay footage.

Hit the jump for a few more details on N.O.V.A. 3!

Continue reading N.O.V.A. 3 Hands-on Preview »

In some ways the original Shadowrun was a little before my time. Only a little, though. I was actually just too young to appreciate tabletop role playing games when I was eight. But I did appreciate the kick-ass SNES video game spin-off, and I even managed to come back to (and run) the pen and paper original in high school. Like many people I have very fond memories of street samurai and wage mages, so the news that Jordan Weisman (the original creator) plans to bring it back to PC, Mac, and tablets fills me with glee and makes me squeal like an excited school girl. Complete with jumping up and down repeatedly.

As is the apparently very successful trend right now, Harebrained Schemes has taken their idea to the Kickstarter community instead of a publisher. Ordinarily I’d try to rally the troops in an attempt to ensure that they meet their goal but that’s already happened. Like, a while ago. The developer is already at three times their goal to start working on the turn-based, player-driven RPG. That’s not to say that people should stop donating, though. If they can make another 200K or so (reaching 1.75 million) then Physical Adepts will be added. As one of many who have “seen” what physical adepts are capable of, this excites me.

The project still has a little over two days before it’s finished so we all have time to make our pledges. Virtually all of the game is pure speculation at this point, but I have every confidence in Mr. Weisman and his team. And I could not be looking forward to raiding mega corporations more.

[Via Kickstarter]

Hearing about an adventure/music/rpg is enough to pique my interest, and that’s exactly what Arman Bohn‘s Arranger is setting out to be. However, reading over a few of the more descriptive elements has gotten me more than interested. It’s gotten me downright excited, actually.

“The game is an Adventure/RPG that combines elements from classics like The Legend of Zelda, WarioWare and the original Sierra adventure games,” according to the developer. Now if that doesn’t get people’s attention then I suppose there’s no hope for the world. The mini-game laden adventure is looking pretty fantastic in a simple, retro-esque sort of way. Players will be controlling the tiny musician as they attempt to save the world in a less-then-typical fashion. Rather than direct combat or level-grinding, they’ll be gathering a number of musical instruments in order to craft a tune that will avoid whatever this particular catastrophe entails.

Arranger is still a little ways out, being slated for a Summer 2012 release, but it definitely looks like something to keep an eye on. If the trailer below is any indication, it just might be worth the wait. It’s also apparently going to have some great music.

Ever wonder what to do in case of a zombie outbreak? I know I have. I’ve got the plan all lined up, ready in case of attack. Living in a country where guns aren’t easily accessible limits my options but I have backup ideas, even if they are rather inspired by Dead Rising. Even better, soon there’ll be a way to simulate what would happen during such an outbreak.

Zombie Outbreak Simulator is the app I’m talking about. Previously a website, its aim is to track just what would happen if zombies emerged and started attacking humans.

As it’s a simulation, interaction is quite limited. Like on the website, users can adjust certain parameters then it’s just a matter of watching to see the action unfold. The preview build I checked out seems pretty complete and offers plenty of variables. Civilian numbers can be adjusted between 100 and 4000, with up to 1000 zombies available to unleash. Armed civilians can be assigned, along with police numbers. In both cases, accuracy can also play a vital role in their chance for survival so that can be adjusted. Any fan of zombie films knows that zombies react differently so infection time and speed can also be changed.

Together, this makes a pretty comprehensive spectrum of situations. The red dots representing zombies and green dots of humanity then descend upon the Google Map image, with users able to zoom in a bit further to see some of the action. Only one map was available in the preview build but I’m hopeful that the full release will enable Location Services so that players can check out how things work out in their local area. The website offers similar and it’s fun to see what happens.

No one would expect just watching action unfold to be quite so entertaining, but it is. I’m not sure how long the novelty will last but for now, it’s fun to see how adjusting certain numbers can change things so drastically. Even if, all too often, humanity appears to be doomed in this scenario.

Zombie Outbreak Simulator is set for release next week. We’ll be sure to give it the full review treatment nearer the time.

Lots of independent games get shown off at the Games Developer Conference each year. Some of them are entered in the Independent Games Forum, a special competition for indie games releasing on console, Mac/PC, or iOS. We were able to visit a few of these, listed below, and wanted to tell you all about them.

While our reviewer enjoyed the look of this game, she also said it felt kind of short. When I mentioned this to the developer at the demo kiosk, he agreed. He then went on to show me how they put this game together, with hand built sets and hand-held cameras panning through each level to give it the unique visual style it has. In addition, the planned additional levels look nothing short of brilliant and expansive, so this should be one to keep an eye on.

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-02-23 :: Category: Games

Pugs Luv Beats / Pug Synth
File this one under adorable, right next to hilarious. As a pug owner and fan myself, Pugs Luv Beats took my heart away. Each pug in the game represents a specific beat or musical motif, and adding hats and costumes changes the music and allows the pug to go farther and faster towards its goal. The game may be more about music performance with gaming elements, but it’s still a ton of fun to mess around with. Add the spin-off music app, Pug Synth, and I am sold.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-19 :: Category: Games

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-02-09 :: Category: Music

One thing missing from modern games, say the developers of Fingle, is touching. And not in a weird way, either. Fingle tasks two players to place their fingers onto an iPad at the same time, and solve puzzles by cooperating and, yes, touching fingers. It’s a unique and real-life-inspired game that’s making lots of waves. Imagine taking this to a party where that cute boy or girl you want to meet is hanging out. Oh, yeah.

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-01-12 :: Category: Games

Ridiculous Fishing
Developer Vlambeer (Super Crate Box) teamed up with Zach Gage (Bit Pilot) and artist Greg Wohlwend (Solipskier) to create this funky game where the goal is to avoid fish on the way down, and hook as many as possible on the way up, then shoot them all out of the sky. Yeah, it’s wacky. But super fun to play, of course. The couple of minutes I had to check it out made me glad I’d been able to stop by and play this all-star creation.

I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to be emotionally invested in a game that looks like this, but the music and the loneliness of that poor star affected me in a fairly intense way. From Steph Thiron, the developer behind indie-darling Eliss, Faraway is a one-touch controlled, procedurally created game that puts players in the role of a lonely star in an empty universe, holding out hope that its quest will have meaning, in the end. Fantastic score, simple, elegant graphics define this one, and I can’t wait to play the whole thing.

This one caught my eye as I walked by its kiosk at GDC. I was attracted to the clean lines, the happy little faces, and the puzzle look right from the start. Created by Powerhead Games, ASYNC Corp starts off a simple brain teaser, asking players to switch out and connect colored squares to create larger and larger rectangles. The conceit of the shipping center is a good one, and helps get the game idea across to the player fairly quickly.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-06-28 :: Category: Games

Waking Mars
What’s left to be said about this beautiful game from the makers of award-winning Spider, The Secret of Bryce Manor? Quite a bit, apparently, as I stood and talked with the lead art designer for the game. He made sure I knew that he created the concepts behind the art, but the actual paintings were done by “real artists.” Whatever, dude, the game is gorgeous. Also? this is the first time I’ve heard the term “action-gardening adventure.”

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-03-01 :: Category: Games

Beat Sneak Bandit – Winner of Best Mobile Game
Rhythm games are super fun. Stealth games are, too. Put them together, and you’ve got Beat Sneak Bandit, from Simogo. Our reviewer dug this one, so I gave it a quick try at the conference. Whoo, boy it IS fun. The artwork is stylish and cute, and the music is, obviously, beat heavy and catchy. Tapping to the beat to move my little guy to the clocks in the level was enjoyable and had me feeling pretty talented, two great ways to keep me playing a game.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-02-16 :: Category: Games

Two other games that I did NOT have a chance to play (I didn’t see them on the expo floor, really) are English Country Tune and Storyteller, the winner of the Nuovo prize. For more details on all the games entered into the contest, including the finalists and winners, see the main page here.

We had the chance to sit down with Adam Saltsman last week at GDC to ostensibly talk about The Hunger Games, the upcoming movie tie in game from Semi Secret Software`, the folks that brought us indie darling and commercial hit, Canabalt as well as Gravity Hook.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Lucky for us, Adam may be the nicest crazy-smart person around. He seemed genuinely upset that he wasn’t able to talk The Hunger Games (maybe next week, he promised us), but also equally enthusiastic about the game he’s currently developing with Greg Wohlwend, the developer behind Solipskier, another critical darling of the iOS gaming scene.

Currently named Hundreds, the game app is a mathematical, physics, puzzle…er…thing. It’s beautifully designed with lots of red and white, with levels chosen by swiping a finger across a matrix of white dots.

Once inside the chosen level, the player must figure out how to grow the number circles to add up to 100, without touching each other, obstacles, or more vicious extra pieces. Each level is a mini-education in itself, as Saltsman spends an inordinate amount of time creating each level so that it can be figured out without a tutorial or instructions. This has got to be difficult, especially when we’re talking about the hundred levels or so included in the game.

We played a few levels with Adam looking over our shoulder, and I remain impressed with the advanced level design and brilliant unspoken, unwritten pedagogy built into each one. Saltsman showed us his notebook full of illustrations and written notes about the levels to be included in Hundreds–this is a man who is at the top of his design game, and it shows.

While we learned nothing about The Hunger Games app on our visit, we came away with a new appreciation for game design and this genuine, kind human being with a notebook full of awesome and a new baby. Thanks again, Adam, for a lovely chat.

Even with all the praise the Infinity Blade series has gotten since its introduction, there’s usually one major complaint people have: there’s no freedom of movement. A rather silly gripe seeing as open-world style exploration isn’t the point (plus it would be ridiculously taxing on the hardware with those graphics), but it’s still probably the most common one seen in user reviews and the like. Infinity Blade: Dungeons has no such movement restrictions. It’s also a fairly major departure from the gameplay series fans are used to.

Infinity Blade: Dungeons takes place thousands of years before the events in the first game, with players taking control of a weaponsmith on a quest to forge the legendary sword that’s at the center of it all. At its core, it’s a dungeon crawler. No more tapping from point-to-point and watching cutscenes and no more one-on-one bouts. Enemies can and will swarm and the player character can and will destroy them mightily with plenty of fast-paced combat and AOE (area of effect) strikes. And of course, being a weaponsmith means there will also be crafting. No word yet on what that would entail, specifically, but it’s going to be in there.

Infinity Blade: Dungeons is due out later this year (no specific date or price, naturally). It’s looking like it’ll be available across most iOS platforms, but will look its best on the iPad 2 as expected.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-12-09 :: Category: Games

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-01 :: Category: Games

Enter The SandBox Preview

Holy crap. No, seriously, holy crap. Pixowl Inc, in collaboration with Bulkypix, are poised to unleash something major on the App Store. It might look like a simple toy at first, but make no mistake: The SandBox is packing some seriously intense concepts behind that cute facade.

When The SandBox first caught my attention, I thought it looked like a nifty little pixelated world-building game. In a way, it kind of is. However, I was thoroughly unprepared for just how many different aspects of this created world could be manipulated. Water will flow down hills, erode stone into sand, turn dirt into fertile soil, evaporate in extreme heat and freeze in extreme cold. Flowers and trees can grow. Weather will develop based largely on the environment. Players can even make rudimentary circuits to do anything from heating to creating light.

The SandBox is still very much in beta at the moment, but that’s no reason not to get excited. What’s already implemented is pretty amazing, actually. A lot of specifics are still up in the air, such as the final number of “story” levels (currently around 20), price and release date. It’s kind of a shame because this is all so cool, but then again it’s probably best not to rush things. Although the super-curious or anxious can try to get in to the beta. No guarantees, though. Regardless, be sure to keep an eye out for The SandBox whenever it does hit the App Store.

I make no secret of the fact that I am seriously addicted to Ticket to Ride on iOS. Of all the designer board games currently rushing to the App Store, none is as polished in presentation and gameplay as TtR. Unbelievably, the translation from analogue to digital is seamless.

Yet, something has been missing from the iPhone version of the game, Ticket to Ride Pocket.

Until now, that is.

Version 1.1 has just be released to the App Store and it contains what many fans (including me) have been waiting for: Multi Mode. Is Multi Mode true online play or something more akin to Words With Friends-style asynchronous play? From my experience, the answer is both.

Multi Mode is designed primarily to be played in asynchronous mode, with players taking turns at their whim over the course of hours, days, or even weeks. However, my experience has shown that many online players prefer to simply play their game online in real time, and Multi Mode easily accommodates that choice. So, it’s the best of both worlds: head-to-head play when time permits, and asynchronous play for when it doesn’t.

In fact, the straight-up multiplayer version of the game is preferable, as turns in Ticket to Ride can be very short indeed. While I don’t want to imply that there are no strategic choices to be made in the game (quite the opposite, actually), the time it takes to play a turn is miniscule compared to a turn in Scrabble or Words with Friends. Asynchronous play is a welcome addition, but you may find yourself playing more than one game in real time.

If you’ve never heard of Ticket to Ride (gasp!) or never played TtR Pocket, I urge you to take a moment and read our glowing review of the game when it was released. Then, take the plunge and start building your railroad empire. I’ll meet you online. My Gamecenter user name is Skinnerbox. Challenge me to a game anytime!

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-11-16 :: Category: Games

The darkness is coming. It won’t give up. Ever. The only option is to run. Dodge obstacles, plan ahead and only resort to direct conflict when there’s absolutely no other choice. But most importantly: Never. Stop. Running.

InterWave Studios, in collaboration with EVENT Interactive, is bringing one of the best indie runners this side of Canabalt to iOS. rComplex is a beautifully stylized runner with a story. One that will only fully reveal itself to those with the fortitude and reflexes to brave all seven of the world’s environments. Players control a nameless “running man” as he jumps, ducks, dodges and sprints from his seemingly omniscient pursuer.

Aside from looking super-awesome (no, really, look at those screens!) it also offers up a bit more variety than a standard runner. Each level involves running of a sort, certainly, but some use close-quarters to up the tension while others utilize lane-changing motorcycle chases. Plus there’s that story I mentioned that can be uncovered through a combination of progress and item/secret discovery.

There’s no official price announcement yet, but rComplex is due out at the end of February. All things considered, I don’t think I mind having to wait another month to get some hands-on time. I’m fairly certain it’ll be worth it.

It’s a series that may not be as insanely popular as other Capcom franchises, but it’s certainly no less loved by its fans. The Ace Attorney series is about to get its fifth title – only in Japan thus far and no confirmed platform, no other details are available at present – but it seems like the developer is also interested in giving the series’ roots some love. Andriasang has reported that they’ve also announced Ace Attorney 123HD, an HD remake of the first three Ace Attorney games (back when they were called Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) for iOS and other platforms.

The original has already been brought to iOS, but it was pretty much a straight port. Once this Turnabout HD is released (sorry, couldn’t resist) anyone who owns this port can upgrade to the HD version. For everyone else, they can download the first two episodes/turnabouts for free then unlock more via in-app purchases. The prospect of digging into HD renditions of some of my favorite Nintendo DS games (all conveniently located in one place no less) has me very, very excited.

There’s no confirmed release date yet, but Capcom says Ace Attorney 123HD should be available “shortly.” Gotta love that intentionally obscure information.

[Via: Andriasang]

OmniPlan for iPad First Look

At Macworld | iWorld this week, OmniGroup leader Ken Case showed off the end cap to the suite of iPad applications his company released right after the iPad was announced. OmniPlan, a popular desktop project management app, is now available for the iPad.

Featuring all of the main features you would need while pouring over project plans in meetings or while on the go, OmniPlan is the mobile cousin to the desktop app of the same name. While the version we saw isn’t finished, it already shows an impressive interface with the familiar gantt chart interface and support for multiple project plans. All of this data syncs back to the desktop version of OmniPlan.

No current release date or price is known, but the price will probably hit around $39.99 if past OmniGroup app pricing is an indication.

Hit the jump for more screenshots and we’ll let you know when this app hits the App Store.

Continue reading OmniPlan for iPad First Look »

The iOS Moffee experience seems to be a bit of a mixed bag, what with the somewhat lackluster response to their dice app and the fun-but-flawed nature of TheColossusAge. Well if early impressions are any indication, the bag is going to get decidedly full of more awesome once they release The Temple of Ogrosh.

In a nutshell, The Temple of Ogrash is meant to be a gamebook set in the Moffee universe. For those without any prior experience with the genre, try to think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure book with major RPG elements such as an inventory system and dice combat. At the moment there isn’t a whole lot of info to go on but I can reiterate some of the tidbits from the press release. The game will include five chapters, each at about 130 pages apiece, for a total of 650 possible pages of gamebooking. There will indeed be an inventory, as well as experience, sleep and hunger systems. Combat will still involve dice rolling like most gamebooks, but will also feature element attacks (fire, ice, poison, etc…) and a ton of possible weapon combinations (1920, plus unique items). Add to all of that the inclusion of multiple enemies, difficulty levels, several heroes and actual animations (ANIMATIONS, guys!) and this is looking like one heck of an awesome thing.

The Temple of Ogrosh is still a ways out. No pricing or release info has been made available yet, but judging by the checklist in the press release it’s roughly around the halfway mark. We’ll do our best to keep everyone up-to-date on this glorious-looking adventure.

Dark Legends are Looming

With not one but two popular MMORPGs under their belt already, one would think that Spacetime Studios might be interested in taking a little break. Nope. DroidGamers have discovered that, rather than simply being content with resounding success they’ve decided it’s time to make yet another one. It’s planned for mobile devices, it’s going to be “… a bit of a departure from the formula that Pocket Legends established,” and its called Dark Legends.

I wish I had more info to share about it, but after checking the initial forum announcement, their official Facebook page and the completely unhelpful teaser site (I know, what else could I expect from a teaser site?) I’ve come up with zip. Well okay, that’s not entirely true. It’s fair to assume that it’ll probably have a somewhat darker theme than either of the developer’s previous titles. It’s also looking like Spacetime will be refining their Massively Multiplayer craft even further, and given the leap in quality from Pocket Legends to Star Legends it’s certainly something to be excited about.

148apps will no doubt be keeping an eye out for further developments. In the meantime, I’d advise being patient. Or possibly keeping busy with one (or both) of those other mobile MMOs while waiting. Patiently.

[Via DroidGamers]


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