Anyone afraid that throwing Transformers into the Angry Birds mix would result in a Michael Bay-level of childhood pillaging can rest easy. While Rovio’s famous fowls may be a 21st century staple, Angry Birds: Transformers wears its affection for the 80s on its sleeve. But is mere retro reverence enough to justify this crossover? We find out in this edition of It Came From Canada!
The opening video reveals how the classic birds we all know and love have transformed into birds disguised as robots in disguise. But aside from establishing the story, the lavish animated intro’s attention to Saturday morning detail, right down to VHS scan lines, might be the best part of the game.
Fortunately the gameplay itself, while about as simple as a typical Transformers episode, is also about as action-packed. Plus the animation isn’t as cheap. Angry Birds: Transformers eschews the physics puzzles the series is known for in favor of something resembling an on-rails shooter. As avian Optimus Prime or beaked Bumblebee constantly run from left to right, and players tap to shoot down Decepticon pigs in the background. Targeting weak points on fortresses to squish enemies more efficiently is about as close as the game gets to traditional Angry Birds strategies. Of course, since this is a Transformers game, players will also occasionally need to change their robots into vehicles to speed past collapsing columns.
As players blast more pigs they’ll open up more parts of the map, unlocking new characters with unique weapons like lasers or missiles. However, we weren’t able to access special Jenga levels since we didn’t have the codes. Between battles players can also upgrade characters to increase their strength and durability. Doing so gives players a close-up look at the bird bots themselves, and their colorful boxy models amusingly marry the aesthetics of both franchises while still maintaining what separately makes them iconic. And even better, there are barely any hints of ugly, cluttered ‘Bayformers’ in their designs.
Apart, Angry Birds and Transformers have already made all the money in the world. So we can’t imagine what they can do together – especially with Skylanders-style toy integration. Expect Angry Birds: Transformers to transform and roll out everywhere soon.
The game is a fun kingdom builder with 30 upgradeable building types, around 100 game achievements, and upgradable heroes. Spread your influence far and wide as you defeat monsters and conquer new lands.
You can pick up the Majesty Bundle for $3.99 on the App Store.
Drone: Shadow Strike, by Reliance Games, is a new flying combat simulator where you become the special ops drone operator. The game offers four campaigns with over twenty missions and 270 challenges. You will guide your choice of seven drones through enemy fire to take out the target.
“Drone: Shadow Strike is the perfect fusion of action and simulations,” said Manish Agarwal, CEO of Reliance Entertainment Digital. “While a few military games have short drone segments, this is the first time a full title explores this type of strategic aerial combat. Players can play to their own combative styles across missions while they defend, escort allies, ensure survival and immerse into real warfare. The controls were designed with a focus on extreme precision.”
You will be able to pick up Drone: Shadow Strike this October on the App Store for free.
Nintendo characters on the App Store? Have they really gotten that desperate? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. While it may be strange and novel seeing Pikachu and company running around on an Apple product, the fact is the Pokémon Company has always had some degree of autonomy from its Mario masters. And now they’ve used that independence to bring the wildly popular Pokémon Trading Card Game to the iPad. We catch ‘em all in this edition of It Came From Canada!
If the smash success of Hearthstone has taught us anything it’s that card games work great on the iPad, and Pokémon Trading Card Game Online is no different. Dealing with digital decks is just so much more convenient than laying out physical spaces, shuffling cards, and keeping track of various pieces. Plus, having a computer present to teach and reinforce the rules is a lot more reliable than leaving it up to human error.
However, this really is just a straightforward virtual translation of the Black and White starter editions of the actual trading card game. Battle animations aren’t flashy and graphics are kind of flat in general; they’re not even as stylish as the beloved anime. Meanwhile, online is used for simple stat-tracking and basic multiplayer matches. Players should also make sure to register an account, because otherwise they’ll be forced to sit through the lengthy tutorial each time they launch the game.
But modest production values aside, there’s a reason why this game has been so popular for so long, and it’s not just marketing. It simply does a great job at capturing what’s fun about Pokémon RPGs in card game form. Arranging teams of monsters, evolving starters you’ve grown particularly fond of, and strategically unleashing powerful elemental attacks is just as satisfying here as it is on the screen of a Nintendo handheld.
Since Pokémon is a worldwide phenomenon, expect Pokémon Trading Card Game Online to launch everywhere soon. And while it’s not totally fair to use it as a litmus test for Nintendo’s future on the App Store, it’s at least interesting to think about.
Android users will no longer have all the pyramid building fun to themselves, as Kairosoft has finally gotten around to releasing The Pyraplex on iOS.
In the tradition of their other popular games, The Pyraplex allows players to organize workers, build wonders, and foster trade between peoples. You will need workers to quarry stone and sell crafts at your bazaar in order to gain the resources necessary to build a monument to capture the admiration of the Pyramid Association.
Check out The Pyraplex on the App Store for $4.99.
In Record Keeper, players take on the role of an Apprentice that jumps into paintings that take them to famous scenes from previous games in the series. The battle system is similar to that found in Final Fantasy: All The Bravest, with players getting to fight alongside Cloud Strife, Zidane Tribal, Luneth, and more.
Meanwhile, the word-battling RPG World Wide Words features the same art style as Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, with players given the task of typing out words to perform attacks against monsters and fast typing rewarded with more powerful attacks.
Nothing has been announced regarding the release of either of these games outside of Japan, but both can be found on the Japanese App Store now and are free to download.
Every single week, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
Previously a browser-based game, Cursed Treasure 2 is a reasonably enjoyable Tower Defense title. There’s a catch though – it’s not overly original, mostly incorporating elements we’ve seen elsewhere. For a change, you play the bad guys attempting to stop the good guys from retrieving the treasure from your castle. Each level offers a series of positions for you to place your towers and attempt to wipe out the ensuing hordes. Different colored terrain offers up different types of tower and you can’t mix and match. Besides restricting you to certain places amongst the landscape, Cursed Treasure 2 also restricts the types of tower you can use. There are only three, although they can all expand into more powerful forms over time. –Jennifer Allen
The snappy, spicy nights of Fall are well on their way, which makes this as good a time as any to play a game like Leaf on the Wind by Pangea Software. This colorful physics/puzzle game involves piles of leaves dancing on the wind – the kind of thing that makes people think of pumpkin spice lattes, apple-picking, and of course, decorative gourd season. However, while Leaf on the Wind‘s graphics are pretty and calming, its gameplay makes the blood race a little bit. In fact, it’s a tricky game – a little too tricky in parts – leading to some needless frustration. –Nadia Oxford
Goblin Sword is an action platformer set firmly in the medieval fantasy genre. You will control the blue-haired protagonist as he double-jumps and hacks his way through forests, caves, and castles, slaying beasts and collecting gems. The game features a ton of stages, though each level is quite short – you’ll easily beat most in under 2 minutes, making them excellent bite-sized servings. Goblin Sword has a colorful, cartoonishly retro aesthetic, and the music matches the visuals nicely – if you aren’t sick of the pixel revolution in gaming (and you shouldn’t be, because it’s great), you’ll find a lot to love about its look and feel. The controls are fairly tight, and I never felt as though the controls were at fault when I accidentally walked into a spike pit or got hit by an enemy. –Andrew Fisher
It’s only human nature that we all face a certain point in our lives when we just want to punch something. Anything. That’s where video games come in; they’ve always presented a healthy outlet to safely unload all of that frustration. Laboratory’s The Strongest is one of the best recent examples of note when it comes to channeling all the good that can come from indulging the thralls of mindless aggression into a gauntlet of cerebral challenges. –George Fagundes
Astropolo is a creative new app with a space travel theme that allows children to help astronaut Polo travel from Earth to planet Tropy. Astropolo includes eight mini-games that children will find fun and unique. Adults will appreciate these activities for their educational benefits as they strengthen areas such as fine motor and problem-solving skills. Although these games are intuitive to play once understood, written directions will need to be read in order to be followed – be it by the user or an adult working alongside the child. A short video of the gameplay of each of these sections is also included that children can follow, even if they are not up to fully reading the description – a really nice touch that also may give a few hints on the best way to play these mini-games. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
There was a time the stylus was a sign of having arrived. Why? This was before smartphones, when Palm and WinMo battled to win the PDA market. True capacitive touchscreens as we know them were not on the scene yet, and a good stylus was more important than having fingers. Then, in 2007, a lot of that changed. As screens get bigger, brighter and more responsive, styli have made a comeback. As tablets and smartphone (and everything in between) become more comprehensive means of data entry, and creatives use digital tools to output thought, having tools that mimic traditional modes of data entry is especially invaluable. This is where tools like the TruGlide Pro Stylus are potentially worth their weight in gold. –Tre Lawrence
You’re device battery is probably not bad. Wait… hold the rocks for a hot second. I understand that y’all smart-device newbies think it’s bad, but trust me: power management has come a long way. There is still so much more that can be done, yes, but if the amount of OEM batteries I have carried over time is an indication of the progress we have made (three down to zero), I think we can gently tap ourselves on the back. It wasn’t too long ago that I foreswore devices with non-user serviceable batteries; my last two devices actually had/have sealed batteries. Go figure… having a device that lasts 24 hours on one charge might not be that futuristic after all. Still, being prepared is the name of today’s mobile game, and this is why external batteries seem to be the most talked about mobile accessories. Finding device-specific cases that double as external power sources is also an option, and the enCharge Power Jacket Case looks like the tool many a user could get used to… as a semi-permanent tool or ad-hoc solution. –Tre Lawrence
Will Empire Run be different enough to stand out from all the other endless runners out there? Endless runners need to pack some great content to be noticeable in the Google Play Store. Either that or they must have a great theme or graphical appeal to have a chance to be downloaded. Because there are lots of endless runners out there. Perhaps to much – but that is for another rainy day. The endless runner Empire Run is a game that does things right: it has a very nice graphical style and offers some nice gameplay tweaks, in its attempt not to be overlooked by the public. –Wesley Akkerman
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played Angry Birds Transformers (and discovered the best pause screen in a mobile game), found 24 amazing iOS puzzlers, figured out how to downgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 7, made a gamebook, reviewed Anomaly Defenders, and reviewed the new Super Smash Bros game. Read all of this, and more, right here.
I’m going to be straight you with folks. I don’t know much about MOBAs, and I’m certainly no professional. That means I don’t know how well Vainglory, the upcoming multiplayer online battle arena showcased in the most recent Apple keynote, compares to titans like League of Legends or DotA 2 in terms of depth and control. However, in this edition of It Came From Canada – Philippines Edition, what I can say is that it certainly has the ambition to be king of the mobile MOBAs.
Even to someone like me, the specifics of this gigantic genre have become pretty well-known by now. Two teams, in this case with three members each, attempt to destroy their opponents’ home base by making it through lanes full of powerful turrets and endless waves of disposable grunt soldiers. Players choose from a handful of heroes with their own personalities and moves to master – like the sadistic sword wielder Catherine, rambunctious catgirl Koshka, and shambling Monty Python-quoting zombie warrior Krul. Fast melee-focused characters obviously require different strategies compared to slow spellcasters, and forming those plans is where much of the tactical depth comes from.
Fortunately, the game is very accommodating to newcomers. The extensive tutorial goes over basics like what to buy at the shop and why it’s important to not die and give your foes a bonus. It also familiarizes players with the single map and important sites to capture like special monsters that strengthen minions once defeated. It’s a lot to take in, from knowing when to hide in the bushes to the concept of “the jungle,” and that’s before it even gets to character-specific traits. But since this is all the game is, it’s good that there’s a lot to it. Players can also practice at any time and discover how surprisingly nuanced the touch controls are – letting them set waypoints, launch strings of attacks, and tell heroes what spots to avoid.
Vainglory also just looks fantastic thanks to the new “Metal” iOS 8 API. Yeah, the art style still betrays the fact that this entire sub-genre descends from a mod of a Blizzard game, but the details, effects, animations, and smoothness of play actually do resemble a higher-end PC release from a developer of that caliber. Along with giving players new options to explore, unlocking characters from the marketplace also provides something new and pleasant to look at for a match.
Since Vainglory isn’t out in most territories yet, so finding a match was a little difficult. Although once it fully launches soon, that shouldn’t be a problem. Again, I’m not the one who can tell if it will succeed in the highly profitable but contentious MOBA space, but it’s definitely an impressive attempt.
Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Do you love Just Dance but want to be able to play anywhere without having to lug around your console?
Just Dance Now, from Ubisoft Entertainment, transforms the your smartphone into a motion controller for Just Dance and lets you play play Just Dance tracks anywhere.
The game uses Ubi Bluestar to allow an unlimited number of people to play together while watching the same screen. All you have to do is download the app, visit JustDanceNow.com on any internet-connected screen, and your phone will automatically sync to the game. Then just start dancing!
“Ubisoft is dedicated to innovation, and we’re dedicated to making Just Dance accessible to our millions of fans around the world, even in regions where consoles aren’t as prevalent” said Tony Key, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ubisoft. “This separate mobile version of the game not only allows our existing fans to experience the Just Dance they know and love in a different way, it also introduces brand new players to the game.”
The game starts with five tracks, which rotate out daily, and players will be able to subscribe at varying price levels to expand their options.
You can download Just Dance Now for free on the App Store.
With the release of iOS 8 (finally), Apple has made some noticeable changes on the App Store – bundles, videos, and Testflight integration, to name a few. Many of these additions will make things friendlier for App Store shoppers, but how has it been affecting developers? I asked George Ko (Quantum Sheep), Brandon Pollet (F5 Games), and Nadav B (NAFNA) what they thought of Apple’s changes to the developer submission process, and their answers were rather illuminating.
Surprise! The Rules Have Changed!
With all the changes to the App Store that had been announced back in June when Apple officially revealed iOS 8, it’s not all that shocking to think that there might be a few more boxes to check off when submitting a new app. However, it seems as though there wasn’t a whole lot of forewarning.
According to Pollet, “I didn’t have any real warning about the submission changes. I’m sure the information was out there but I just happened to log into iTunes Connect last week and the entire interface was different.” Nadav had a similar story, and said, “we have been given access to iOS beta 2 as of June 20, yet, as to submission guidelines, I can find no info.”
GAMEVIL has released a new update for Kritika: Wrath of the Pirate King, which includes a whole new character class: the Shadow Mage. The Shadow Mage is focused in close combat and attacks that inflict heavy damage. They can also bind enemies with their shadow magic.
GAMEVIL has also changed up a few other things, such as the daily bonus being 28 Days instead of 7, gold earned by defeating monsters has been doubled, and they have reduced the monster wave time limit.
You can check out the new Shadow Mage for Kritika: Wrath of the Pirate King for free on the App Store.
Possibly teasing toward one of the three stories about “hearts united by the wonderful, but unmerciful ocean” that the game is set to include, the trailer features a man talking about what may have happened to “her” and his lifelong search.
The Sailor’s Dream is set to voyage onto the App Store sometime later this year.
Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Aralon: Sword and Shadow, by Crescent Moon Games, has been compared favorably to Elder Scrolls in its visuals and play style. Recently Crescent Moon released an update to add widescreen and full iPhone 6 support. They have also improved lighting and shadow effects for a more visually pleasing experience.
To celebrate, Crescent Moon Games is offering Aralon: Sword and Shadow for $0.99 for a limited time on the App Store.
I still own an iPhone 4S, and the arrival of iOS 8 and the new iPhone 6 line pains me.
First off, I should explain that I’m not some half-committed neo-Luddite with a knee-jerk fear of new technology. I actually picked up my iPhone 4S on the day it launched – it was shiny, new, and top of the line. It was like basking in the glow of a new relationship, where everything is perfect and you’re so in love. Then, a few months later and through no fault of my own, the person whose family plan I was a part of flaked out and I found myself bereft of service and unable to afford the deposit required to spin my old number off to its own line. My still-relatively young significant other then began its new life as an extra beefy iPod Touch.
I was phoneless for the next couple of years, then eventually acquired a prepaid on a different carrier because it was both cheaper and I wouldn’t be locked to a contract. After enduring months of terrible service (including not being able to get a signal at home, within almost-literal spitting distance of the second-largest city in the state’s downtown area) I finally found out that not only did my old carrier offer prepaid service, but they had just recently allowed the iPhone 4S to be activated on it. I was elated. I could have my phone back again!
But our rekindled romance was short-lived. Once the thrill of having a signal anywhere I went wore off, I immediately began to feel the immense weight of my three years away.
In the interim, Apple had launched and fully iterated the iPhone 5 and and was gearing up to move along to the impending iPhone 6 and the concurrent launch of iOS 8. As I worked my way back into the world of iOS devices, I began to feel increasingly like a relic from a bygone age. Most new apps were not only optimized for iPhone 5 and up, but an increasing number just flat-out wouldn’t run on my old hardware at all. And with each new iOS update, that hardware – already rapidly spiraling towards obsolescence – ran just a little bit worse. Also, my prepaid plan won’t support the 5 series phones at all.
And so, I’ve begun to eyeball the postpaid world once again.
Now mind you, even if I had the money I wouldn’t have been one of those people who obsessively acquires each new phone the second it comes out. I’ve always believed in getting my money’s worth out of a device before moving on. In fact, if I had upgraded a year or so back to, say, a 5s, I could likely be singing a completely different tune at this point. Maybe I wouldn’t yet feel that an upgrade was in order. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Now, after an arduous process that took several hours the other night, my iPhone 4s groans under the strain of running iOS 8. Some features are nice (the integrated Siri song ID via Shazam, the pull-down text message reply from the lock screen) and work more or less as intended. But beyond that, things chug and sputter along slowly and hiccups, glitches, and freezes are far-too frequent. I know some of this is inevitably the bugs that accompany any initial roll-out of new operating systems, but I would be extremely surprised if a fair chunk of it wasn’t due to the fact that I’m running it on a three year old phone that just doesn’t have the muscle to properly support it. And if I thought I was being left behind before with the iPhone 5 app optimization, well it’s about to get even worse.
And that’s to say nothing of the new hardware itself. I got to put my hands on it a few days ago and I was pretty impressed. I feel like the size issue has been overstated by a lot of people. Despite being a pretty big guy I have surprisingly small hands, but even the iPhone 6 Plus didn’t feel too gargantuan for me to hold reasonably. And despite the fact that it’s an ounce heavier than my 4s, it actually felt lighter. And then there’s the fact that the regular iPhone 6 actually is lighter, despite being considerably bigger. The recently reported bending controversy doesn’t especially concern me either as I don’t wear super-tight pants. And even if I did, I’d most likely normally stash the phone somewhere else, like a jacket pocket or my messenger bag, rather than forcing it uncomfortably into somewhere it would have problems fitting in the first place.
While I loved (and still do love) my 4S, I just feel that our relationship has run its course. We had some laughs together and created some great memories that I will always cherish, but I think it’s time that we move on and see other people.
OfficeTime, the time tracking app by Productive Monkey, will be getting a version for the Apple Watch soon. The app allows you to track your billable time spent on projects or tasks, and the watch will then then sync with your iPhone, Mac or PC to create reports.
You can check out the coming soon page and sign up for advanced look at OfficeTime for the Apple Watch now.
Through their partnership with vividHDR, accurate three-shot HDR capture is now in the app with five different HDR styles (Natural, Vivid, Dramatic, Black and White, and Faded) available. Users can try out the new feature for free but will get watermarks on their pictures, with an in-app purchase of $1.99 required to remove these watermarks.
Meanwhile, new manual controls allow photographers using the app to adjust exposure levels thanks to new control over Exposure Compensation and the ability to manage ISO sensitivity and shutter speed. Control over color temperature and color tint has also been added, as has slow-motion playback for high frame rate videos for the videographers among you.
ProCamera 8 is available to purchase from the App Store now for $3.99, with watermark-less vividHDR available as an in-app purchase for $1.99.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, The Battle Cats is an incredibly popular character-raising title that has racked up 10 million downloads in Japan and an impressive two million downloads in the first month of its release in Korea.
Another thing you should know about The Battle Cats: it’s now available to download in the US, the UK, and other English-speaking countries for your iPhone and iPad, as well as those Android-powered smartphones and tablets you have lying around.
The Battle Cats isn’t a lighthearted title about chasing balls of wool. You’ve probably already guessed that from its name. It is, in fact, an action-packed affair in which you’re charged with leading a feline army on a rampage.
Your aim, then, is to traverse the globe, using the game’s simple battle system to defeat weird and interesting enemies and raze opposing bases along the way. After each successful bout, you can upgrade your cat warriors using the XP you’ve just earned, and even evolve them into stronger beasts.
There are other ways to strengthen your army, such as collecting treasures. These scattered trinkets come in three rarities (superior, normal, and inferior) and offer varying degrees of might boosts.
Ask the developer of The Battle Cats why its game is so popular, and it’ll tell you that it’s down to three main factors: the number of ‘loveable’ characters there are, the amount of stages that are on offer, and the ease at which you can play.
The Battle Cats is available to download from the App Store [download] and Google Play [download] for free, so you can test it out for yourself and only your time is at stake.
This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.
Tilt to Live: Gauntlet’s Revenge, from by One Man Left Games, is a tilt obstacle course where you control a supply of expendable arrow-people that you guide towards the finish line. It’s sort of like the original Tilt to Live and the sequel, but different.
The game will have Easy, Medium, and Hard modes that decide the length of your health bar, and the traps and enemies are randomized to make each level feel new. Challenge yourself to reach the top of the leaderboards and collect achievements as you work towards unlocking the final boss, the Dot King himself.
Tilt to Live: Gauntlet’s Revenge is coming out in October. Until then, check out these sweet screen shots below.
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It’s the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, both of which hit North America on September 19.
As might be expected by this point, the iPhone 6 is an expensive chunk of technology. You need to talk to it softly, pat it gently, and reassure it as necessary. Here are six tips for taking good care of your new friend.
Also included: Blatant suggestions on what not to do with your phone, regardless of whatever that “fwd: fwd: fwd: READ THIS APPLE FANS!!!” email suggests.
DO: Use a soft, dry cloth. Like most open-face electronics, the iPhone 6 collects fingerprints as efficiently as a 12-year-old collects Pokemon.
DON’T: Use a scouring pad. Or a rock. Or your cat’s fur. Do not spit on your screen and rub it in your shirt. Do not hand your iPhone to your child, for handing anything to a child is the exact opposite of cleaning it.
How to Charge your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus
DO: Use the provided Lightning cable. Plug it into a USB port, or use the prong extension to plug it into a wall socket. Proceed to twiddle your thumbs for the next hour or so.
DON’T: Use your microwave. Not unless you want to risk killing yourself in an inexplicable quest to own a stinking, molten chunk of plastic, aluminium, and circuitry. Seriously folks, just because a press release is written in Myriad typeface doesn’t mean you should do what it says.
DO: Purchase a protective case for your device; preferably an amusing retro tribute that resembles a Game Boy or an NES control pad. Keep your iPhone in a bag or purse pocket that’s separate from coins, keys, and gremlins.
DON’T: Stick your iPhone 6 in your back pocket, as aluminum and bum-heat don’t mix favorably (the validity of this rumor has yet to be debunked or verified by Snopes, but when is it ever a good idea to keep electronics in your back pocket, anyway? Hint: Never).
How to share your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus
DO: Be generous about letting your friends examine your iPhone 6. Understand their need to do so; touching an object is the most primal way of memorizing its texture, shape, and curves. You should probably stop any attempts to sniff or taste the iPhone, however.
DON’T: Hiss and rear back when your friends reach for your iPhone. Or, if you must do so, at least try and prevent your eyes from flashing yellow and constricting into cat-like slits.
ALSO DON’T: Hand your iPhone 6 to your child. We’ve already discussed why.
DO: Sit your iPhone up at the table, put a bib on it, and offer it a scone.
DON’T: Smear peanut butter between two phones and take a bite.
How to properly show off your iPhone or 6 Plus
DO: Lift up your phone slowly and carefully while humming the “Sunrise” theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Before presentation, review your position with the Earth’s sun so that its rays may catch and glint off the sexy aluminum backing.
Whenever a shiny new gadget comes out, the same question runs through my mind: “Will this become an indispensable part of my tech arsenal, or will it be a glorious waste of money?” Things rarely seem to fall in between – either they change everything, or they change nothing.
Sure the idea of the Apple Watch is intriguing, but as I started my research into the device, the first hurdle I ran into was held in the first image I saw of it; the thing is huge and ugly, with a huge and ugly price tag to match.
I have a lot of mobile devices: my iPad, my phone, and my Shine fitness tracker. Investing in something that boils all of those things down into a single fashion accessory might sound appealing at first but the reality is that, as a part of my daily wardrobe, it just doesn’t fit. In order to be able to have a functional touchscreen, the smallest possible face for the Apple Watch is 38mm. That’s kind of large for someone like me who has small wrists. Sure, it would let me reenact scenes from Dick Tracy (and that’s cool enough to merit serious consideration), but with its metallic 90s style Casio band and massive face it just looks plain silly. If Apple wants to not only become a part of my lifestyle but a part of my appearance, they are just going to have to try harder. Yes, I know they offer other bands, but the current iconic design is neither formal nor cool, and that just won’t do.
In truth, though, I haven’t worn a watch for several years now. With so many devices that keep time already taking up valuable room in my pockets, I haven’t felt the need to wear one. Once again the point would be to minimize the amount of stuff I carry, and in that regard the Apple Watch is intriguing – especially as more apps become available for it.
But appearance aside, the biggest hurdle for getting excited about the new Apple Watch is that price. At $349, it’s unreasonable as a substitute for a bunch of tech gear I already own. Also, considering it needs to paired with an iPhone, which I do not presently own, the Apple Watch would be useless to me unless I bought one of those, too.
At the moment, the Apple Watch really doesn’t offer anything truly new to justify itself. Perhaps after the watch is released and a few generations pass I’ll find it a more worthwhile investment. By then the price may drop and my old gear will be out of date and in need of an upgrade anyway. Until then, I think my Dick Tracy impressions will just have to continue to rely on my good old (free) imagination.
Three powerhouses, DeNA, Disney, and Lucasfilm, have joined together to develop the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Defense. The tower defense game is rooted in the Star Wars universe and lets the player choose their allegiance between the light and the dark side.
The game will have four different factions, 100 battle scenarios in locations such as Hoth, Tatooine, and Endor, and over 30 different iconic Star Wars characters for you to control. Destroy wave after wave of enemies in both single player mode and online social events where you can earn rewards with rare bonuses. As you play you will be able to level-up your forces and develop your own strategies. Will you focus on forces skills or drive towards more powerful weapons?
There is no set release date as of yet, but it is said that the game will be coming out later this year. You can pre-register on the Star Wars: Galactic Defense website to help unlock bonus content when the game comes out.
Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 25th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
1Password, by AgileBits, has been updated to take full advantage of iOS 8’s new security features and App Extensions. Now, with Touch ID, you can unlock 1Password with just a tap.
You can also link 1Password with all of your other supported apps using the App Extensions and never have to remember a long list of passwords. It even works with Safari now, so as you browse the app can automatically fill out login requests for you without having to open 1Password.
You can check out the new, improved 1Password for free on the App Store.
My Dolphin Show is a colorful iPhone, iPad, and Android title from the Netherlands-based outfit Spil Games.
As its name suggests, your aim in My Dolphin Show is to make a splash and wow audiences by putting in the performance of a lifetime in your very own sea life attraction.
Naturally, you play as a dolphin and you must follow your trainer’s instructions as you learn to jump through hoops, bash beach balls, and master a whole array of impressive tricks that will make you an instant hit with the crowd.
Throughout My Dolphin Show, you’ll collect a variety of outfits that allow you to transform into a range of other aquatic animals (like a polar bear or a mermaid). Upgrade these outfits to increase your swimming and jumping abilities, and – ultimately – increase the rewards you earn after each successful show.
We recently sat down with Spil Games to discuss My Dolphin Show in greater detail. Here’s what was said:
What games (if any) served as inspiration for My Dolphin Show?
Kids and their parents are thrilled and entertained for hours at adventure parks. Recreating that experience is the inspiration for My Dolphin Show.
What do you think sets My Dolphin Show apart from the other titles available on the App Store and Google Play?
The game scores an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, so we know kids love it.
I think it gets so many high ratings because its designed specifically for kids. Kids are excited and curious in the world of My Dolphin Show and they have fun there.
The mechanics of the game enable them to express a wide variety of interests like competing and achieving, but also showing off their creative side.
Which part of My Dolphin Show are you personally the most proud of and why?
Kids love a challenge and the amount of tricks they can work at perfecting is endless.
Kids can do everything from scoring goals and making the perfect splash. Parents also like this because it often creates a chance to work together with their kids, making decisions as a team.
Do you plan to extend the life of My Dolphin Show with updates? If so, what content do you have planned?
We have new versions planned for this November and December. These will be set in a theme park and a water park.
Do you plan to release My Dolphin Show on any other mobile or handheld platforms in the future?
Yes, we are considering bringing it to other platforms also, but we first want to focus on finishing w!orld 4 and 5 for iOS and Android.
My Dolphin Show is available for free with in-app purchases. Why did you choose this payment model, and did you consider any other models during development?
Our goal was to reach as many players as possible. Keeping it free is an ideal way to do that.
Grab My Dolphin Show from the App Store [download] or Google Play [download] right now for free.
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After a solid week of use since its debut, here are my personal impressions of how iOS 8 has refined and streamlined the way in which I use my iPad on a daily basis.
Today is Looking Good
The improved Notification Center is by far my favorite feature of iOS 8 on iPad. The now fully-featured Today screen is finally at a place where it should have been years ago: as an integral part of the iOS experience and adding a whole new spectrum of usability to iOS devices.
On an iPad, a device typically chock-full of apps and games, this feature is even more appreciated. From the lock screen I can get an overview of the most pressing news stories (via News Republic), pop culture or meme-inspired articles that are perfect for passing a few minutes (BuzzFeed), a much more attractive weather report (Yahoo! weather), buttons for launching different functions in Evernote, customizable app shortcuts with Launcher, and a shortcut to where I’m up to in the book I’m reading with the Kindle app. It acts as a real hub of activity, allowing me to view my apps at a glance rather than closing and opening each one systematically.
AirDrop between my iPad and my MacBook (running the Yosemite beta) is also a long-awaited feature I’m happy to see added to iOS 8, and is a much more direct way of transferring files between the two. Answering calls on my iPad if my phone is on charge is also a massive plus, meaning I rarely miss those urgent calls from work when my phone is in the other room.
A combination of the new-and-improved Notification Center, the updated Spotlight search, and a rejuvenated Siri will definitely silence some of the critics that previously questioned iOS’ productivity or speed of use, as the home screens have become more of a directory than the be-all-and-end-all of the iOS experience (to me at least).
Better Luck Next Year
I’m still waiting for the Control Center to allow for some customization in the same way that the Notification Center lets you edit widgets (for example, a button to turn off data easily) and take proper steps towards becoming a mini settings menu. Hands-free Siri is a great touch, but until Apple comes up with a way to make it work without the constant use of a charger it’s not particularly helpful unless you’re sitting next to the plug socket.
iOS 8 has taken great steps in moving towards achieving true multi-device connectivity, as well as making the whole interaction process a lot more multi-faceted. As more apps add support for notification widgets, it’ll become even more capable.
Out October 2 is Spirits of Spring, an adventure game that features an anti-bullying, pro-friendship message, and there’s a very important reason why you should be excited. It’s from Minority Media, the makers of Papo & Yo, a great game that focused on the tale of a young Brazilian boy and his abusive, alcoholic father. It’s touching and powerfully done, demonstrating how games can tackle some very serious issues. Spirits of Spring looks set to offer a similar experience, this time focusing on Chiwatin, a Native American hero from northern Canada. The boy is tormented by evil giant crows, until he decides to face them in order to restore the balance of nature.
With Spirits of Spring set to be released on the App Store very soon, we took the time to talk to creative director Ruben Farrus to learn more.
148Apps: What was the inspiration behind making Spirits of Spring? Ruben Farrus (RF): I see video games as a great way to express ourselves and to maturely explore complex human situations within a safe environment. Having experienced bullying as a teenager, and having discussed it with my colleagues at Minority, I realized that many of them went through it as well. And like me, many of them had to deal with dismissal when they first tried to discuss it as teenagers.
So, I started imagining an engaging story based on our experiences with bullying. While I was looking for the right setting for this new game, Ernest Webb, a co-founder at Minority, told me some tales from his hometown, located in the Canadian North. Ernest is a Native Cree, and the legends he shared with me involve these profound characters that live in a snowy world. Soon, I realized that these characters and the challenging environment they survive in would make great metaphors for this story.
So, it’s these elements – interesting characters, a fascinating wintery landscape, and bullying – that became the core of Spirits of Spring.
148Apps: The game is said to not be too preachy or overt about its message. How hard was it to maintain that subtlety? RF: From the beginning, I wanted to create a world and characters that players care about and empathize with. From my experience with our previous empathy game, Papo & Yo, I knew that if we can make players feel emotionally invested in the story and its characters, they can find meaning and value in it for themselves.
Bullying is a complex phenomenon – it’s not black and white – and we are not experts in the subject. So, what matters to us is to offer an experience that can help players of all ages explore bullying from several perspectives – the bully’s, the bullied’s, and the bystander’s – so that they can come out of it feeling more capable of discussing it openly.
148Apps: Do you think indie studios are best equipped for dealing with empathetic games and subjects, or do you think such themes could spread to AAA games? RF: In my experience, it is easier to discuss and explore difficult subjects in a small and open-minded team than it is in a large one. As a result, it is also easier to organize a small group around a common vision, because there are less competing interests.
So, when we come up with a story, we are in a good position to design mechanics that help players empathize with the characters in our games. Many larger developers still work the other way around: creating the mechanics first, then dressing them up in a story, making those games mostly about skill and technical difficulty, with characters that are often disposable.
148Apps: Having looked at addiction with Papo & Yo, and now bullying with Spirits of Spring, what difficult subject do you hope to tackle next? RF: We are currently experimenting with ways to apply our empathy game design model to virtual reality experiences. We will have more news on that down the line.
Thanks to Ruben for taking the time to answer our questions. Spirits of Spring is set for release October 2 and will be priced at $4.99. We’ll be sure to have more on it when it’s out.
Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 24th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Recently, Guided Ways Technologies updated their 2Do task management app. They have rebuilt the entire app to be streamlined and easier to use. With over over 200 new features and improvements, there are so many we can’t list them all, but a few of the the features are:
Calendar Events for iPad: View and manage your Calendar events directly from within 2Do. No need to switch between apps.
List Groups: Create new List Groups for organizing your lists. You can collapse or expand a List group with a simple tap.
Quick Add: Tap and hold on [+] to add one task after another
Extended View: Tap on the priority button next to the task to view multiple lines of text, notes and tags in one go
Pinch Zooming: Pinch your fingers to zoom in or zoom out of your tasks.
With the iOS 8 system, 2Do now also supports Fingerprint Password Protection and Notifications with built-in actions.
Current users will be upgraded for free, but if 2Do is new to you, then you can pick it up on the App Store for $14.99.
DotEmu Games has bundled some of their most popular games together. The publisher has added new features to these retro games to keep them fresh and exciting, and the bundle packs save you a big chunk of change.
The DotEmu Classics – Shmup is $5.99 instead of $9.00, and comes with Raiden Legacy, R-Type, and R-Type II. You can also check out their DotEmu Classics – Adventure pack for the same price and you’ll get Little Big Adventure and Another World. Last but not least, the biggest bundle is their DotEmu Classics – Hits pack. This one is $9.99 instead of $20.00, but you get all of the games from the Shmup and Adventure bundles.
You can check out all the awesome games in these bundles on the App Store now.