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Ninja Chops It Up Game: Chopping Around The World with a Broken Sword for Eternity - Infinity Swift Mania & No Blood
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This Week at 148Apps: May 25-29,2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 1st, 2015

May Days at 148Apps

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. 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. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.


Cartoon Survivor

An auto-runner about a dodo bird getting tossed into a reality TV show where it has to run a gauntlet of cavemen, dinosaurs, angry Mayans, lava, and more - all with a stick of dynamite strapped to its back? Sure, Cartoon Survivor, I’ll bite. Aside from being the kind of reality show that nobody would willingly sign up for, Cartoon Survivor is a pretty solid auto-runner. Tilting the device will move the dodo back-and-forth along the “road,” while tapping the screen jumps and tapping and holding will glide. You can also tap the Boost icon for a temporary speed increase but let’s not get too carried away. --Rob Rich


Cooking Mama Let's Cook!

Mama is back, again, with Papa in tow. This time she’s got a new free-to-play game that’s… well it exists.Cooking Mama Let’s Cook! is classic Mama for the most part. You get to select from a small assortment of dishes, and perform all sorts of gesture-based actions on the touch screen to try and complete various steps of each recipe. If you fail to pull a single step off perfectly it’s going to torpedo your chances at a three-star rating, but you can always start fro scratch. Or spend a precious continue token (I don’t know what their actual name is) to try a failed task again.--Rob Rich


Kapu Fishing

It turns out that foxes love to jump in boats, sail off, and go fishing. At least that’s what Kapu Fishing tells us, and it proves to be an adorable and simple game that should captivate your little ones for a while. With controls that are ideally suited for toddlers, it won’t take long for them to figure things out and have fun. As the app explains through some simple gestures, casting a line is a simple matter of dragging your finger across the screen. How far the line goes depends on how far you drag your finger. It’s the kind of intuitive thinking that’ll be ideal for educating your kids through. Once the lure hits the water, gentle taps cause it to come nearer to you. --Jennifer Allen


Brickies

Brick-busting Arkanoid style games are nothing new, yet Brickies feels more fresh than most. Offering a few new tricks up its sleeve goes a long way to enticing you into carrying on playing.The key change to Brickies is how missing a shot doesn’t mean game over. Instead, it deactivates the ball, leaving it useless until you bounce it back again with one of your paddles. You have two paddles - one on either side of the screen - which respond in the same manner throughout. The focus is less on keeping your ball in play, and more on getting things done quickly, with each level offering a fairly tight time limit on things.--Jennifer Allen


Sword of Xolan

I often look forward to seeing larger games released for iOS, both because I wish more people would take the platform seriously (as they should) and because being able to play something like Knights of the Old Republic on my phone is just really, really cool. But that doesn’t mean that shorter, more bite-sized games can’t also shine. And Sword of Xolan is definitely a tiny shiner. That sounded a lot better in my head. Sword of Xolan follows a similar structure to other mobile platformers from developers like Ravenous Games. It’s broken up into two different modes - Adventure and Challenge - with the former itself being broken up into three acts. And each act is made up of several platforming levels and a final boss fight. You can simply blitz through everything in a rush to the end, but stages are really meant to be replayed. --Rob Rich


Mr. Muscle

Don’t let the impressive beach body or the far more impressive mustache fool you; Mr. Muscle is actually a featherweight. As a game, I mean. There’s nothing particularly feathery about the buff fellow holding goodness nows how many pounds of metal above his head.Seriously though, I have to give credit to Flow Studio for Mr. Muscle’s presentation. If nothing else, it sports a very enjoyable and clean-looking art style. It’s also complimented by a simple but pleasant music loop that sound almost vaudevillian in nature. Fitting given the striped swimming trunks and massive handlebar mustache, I think. --Rob Rich


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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:


AndroidRundown


Sunburn!

We’ve waited for a while for Sunburn!, and with good reason; early clips of the gameplay hearkened to something fun and engaging. Now that it’s out, we have the perfect occasion to check it out.Graphically, it’s a fun, retro-feeling trip, with old-school characterizations and purposely stilted animations. It incorporates the use of color effectively, as in the visual representation of the target sun. The backdrop is dark, and the sound effectively carries along the gameplay.--Tre Lawrence


Plancon: Space Conflict

If you’re a fan of Serenity, those lyrics will make sense almost immediately. The criminally short-lived series would probably find a kindred spirit in HeroCraft’s new caper Plancon: Space Conflict. In this one, space exploration is the name of the game, ut with an added twist: invading aliens.The action starts with an in-game tutorial; it is a bit of a slow going, almost ploddingly so, but, as gameplay further on underscored, it is important to understand the basics. The player takes on the persona of an adventurer in a future world where extended space travel is possible and commonplace. The game leads one through the basics of interplanetary travel, which is effected by tapping and double-tapping. There is also the collection of valuable materials, and simple combat. One is also introduced to the commerce system, which is probably the most intricate aspect of the game.--Tre Lawrence

All this, plus Apple Watch reviews of Yellow Pages, Wear Reader, and TripAdvisor.

Sword of Xolan Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on May 26th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SMALL AND SHARP
Sword of Xolan is a wonderful bite-sized platforming adventure.
Read The Full Review »

The Challenges of Kickstarting a Project and why Her Majesty’s Spiffing should be Hilarious

Posted by Jennifer Allen on November 10th, 2014

One of the more exciting gaming developments that has come about thanks to the rise of tablets and the iPad in particular is the resurgence of the adventure game. Touchscreen gaming lends itself perfectly to this kind of experience, and various indie developers are embracing its potential.

One such development studio is that of Belfast-based Billy Goat Entertainment. The studio is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming title, Her Majesty’s Spiffing, which is a quirky space-based adventure. While the campaign is focused on rewarding PC owning pledgers, there are plans for an iOS release. We took the time to learn more from founder, William Barr.


148Apps: How did Billy Goat Entertainment come about? And why the quirky name?
William Barr (WB): The company came about out of necessity seeing as I carelessly decided to leave a job I wasn’t fond of (despite the meagre yet reliable monthly paychecks) and no one else would hire me! As for the name, I’m very much a child of the 90s, a time when every company needed to have some form of anthropomorphic cartoon animal mascot. I’m also incredibly conceited - Billy is of course a common abbreviation of William. These two factors contributed to the choice of name and the fact that we have a Cashmere Goat as our mascot!

This Week at 148Apps: September 29-October 3, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 6th, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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.

Monsu

All too often, endless runners lack some much-needed personality. They can be mechanically sound and still quite satisfying to play, but they rarely feel particularly charming. Monsu aims to buck that trend, even despite the fact it doesn’t really offer much of a story. All you need to know is that you’re attempting to retrieve treasure from thieving villagers. This ties into your reasoning for running wild and bouncing on the heads of spear wielding enemies. You automatically run, with one tap for a single jump and two for a double-jump. Controls are simple yet tight; not once was there a sign of unresponsiveness. --Jennifer Allen


Card Dungeon

Card Dungeon is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the roguelike genre, eschewing lackluster Western fantasy imagery and the trappings of “normal” turn-based dungeon exploration with (of all things) two-dimensional art and cards. The delightful whimsy of Card Hunter, similar in scope to this title, shines through as Play Tap Games expertly marries the addictiveness of a card game with the strategic requirements of a rogue like. The game gets underway as you select from a handful of cards for how your character will perform. Once you’ve chosen them, you can choose a campaign from a wide selection of areas as the adventure begins. The game and the tutorial mode are one in the same as you make your way through your first dungeon floor, tapping on tile after tile to navigate through. The game is turn-based, with you tapping on a directional tile on the dungeon floor to navigate, then selecting cards from the bottom of the screen in order to play different actions. It’s simple enough to understand by just tapping around to get a feel for what’s going on, but difficult enough that it’s hard to master unless you truly pay attention to the varieties of cards you can use for equipment, defense, attacks, and so on. --Brittany Vincent


Galaxy Trucker

If you’ve come to Galaxy Trucker looking for a grim, seedy simulation full of illicit stimulants, questionable encounters with alien females in the docking bays of intergalactic refueling depots, and tiny, pine tree-shaped air fresheners then you may be a bit disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re after an iPad adaptation of a 2007 board game classic that has been nominated for multiple awards, then I have much better news for you. Apparently, in the future, interstellar freight hauling vehicles are made out of jumbles of leftover pipes. Yeah, it seems like a weird choice to me, too. Now, pilots of these long-haul junk freighters are competing with one another for the most choice parts in an attempt to cobble together a ship that will withstand the rigors of deep space, pirates, and the occasional meteor shower. Oh, and also still turn a profit while doing so. --Rob Thomas


Nexticy

It’ll take some practice to truly figure out Nexticy but once you do, you’ll realize it’s a very useful tool for those in many different forms of business. Its flexibility is quite impressive. It’s a form building tool. At its simplest, you can use one of many templates to get started. There are templates for all kinds of situations, such as a nutritional log, invoicing, meeting report, quiz, and even a professional resume tool. For many, a great starting point is to use one of these and edit it to your needs rather than start from scratch. This is especially true when bearing in mind that the app could do a better job of explaining things. Experimentation is key here. --Jennifer Allen


BuggyFun

As readers may know, my family really enjoys a good building or math app at our house – very useful for when I need to get my boy tucked in and out of the way so I can perform family business such as dealing with contractors, make other important phone calls, or sometimes just early in the morning when my son wakes prematurely but is not looking to get really active just yet. Although we find applications very helpful at these moments, I do prefer him to work with building toys and other manipulative items during the rest of this free time. We have more natural wood building blocks than I care to admit, but the toys that I feel most overrun by are those that form some kind of tracks and include dozens of smaller pieces needing to be fitted together. I acquired a large amount of Zhu Zhu tracks free with the purchase of robotic hamsters from a woman eager to rid herself of these plastic parts, along with too many fractured Hot Wheels sets as well as the Nano Bug habituate tracks that my son had to have, which he is still working on earning – a day I am not looking forward to. Although I obviously see the value in being able to construct these kinds of toys in many different and creative ways, the reality of all these pieces is at times too much to bear. --Amy Solomon


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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:

AndroidRundown

Cannon Crasha

Man, Cannon Crasha is ‘one of those games’. In a good way! When you like games like Worms and Swords and Soldiers, you will definitly like this instant classic Android game. Go play it. No seriously. This is one of those games. One of those games where the only thing you need to know is that you need to play it. It should be one of those games everybody should talk about, you know, like the time you were in high school, still playing those GBA games. Cannon Crasha is a turn-based-ish, real time strategic-ish game that borrows elements from games like Worms and Sword and Soldiers, covered up in light-humoured conversations and easy to learn controls. --Wesley Akkerman


Antec 4 Port USB Charging Station

I love my gadgets. I’m told that as far as addictions go, it could be much worse, so there is that. With a family that likes to be connected, the most important resource in our home can sometimes be an unoccupied power outlet. With that in mind, and keeping with the drive to keep solutions simple, it’s relatively easily to see why a gadget like the Antec 4-Port USB Charging Station would catch one’s eye. As with most things from Antec, the device looks sleek without being overly flashy, compact and seemingly well constructed. It is in the rough shape of a rectangular cuboid, except that the hard plastic exterior tapers into a curve on the one side of its 5x5x6 inch frame; it isn’t too heavy either at less than 13 ounces, and the sedate finish is only really broken by the USB ports and input slot. There is an LED indicator at the top; the package also comes with AC cable and documentation. --Tre Lawrence


Keeper Password Manager

At this point, we hope that the need for a good password manager is akin to common sense. We’re regaled with stories of database intrusions daily; it’s smart to protect one’s self with the basics of password security: using different unique password for different websites. Also, passwords should be changed to new unique ones at regular intervals. But, if one even has only a dozen websites to log in to every now and then, those passwords start to blend together; that’s where mobile password keepers shine. Keeper Password Manager looks to be another option in this category, and we got to take it for a spin. First thing to do is to to sign in with a master password. Off the bat, I liked the UI options; who says a productivity app can’t have some personality? It’s possible to change the main color, and while this isn’t life-changing, I feel that one can’t put a price tag on the ability change up looks. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, it was a bumper week for new iOS games, but Pocket Gamer has covered the lot of them. Plus: the best games of September, the most anticipated games for October, and hands-on with The Room 3, Assassin's Creed Identity, and Hitman: Sniper. Read all about at Pocket Gamer.

Phantom Rift - Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Cheats for Traveling Through the Rift

Posted by Nadia Oxford on September 15th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FRIENDLY PHANTOM :: Read Review »

Hello, Wanderers:
Want to see what we thought about exploring the dimension between life and death? Check out our Phantom Rift review!

Phantom Rift from Foursaken Media is a deep adventure/role-playing game that centers around intense battles with enemy monsters. It plays a good deal like Capcom's Mega Man Battle Network, which thrived on the Game Boy Advance, and veterans of that series should be able to sink right into Foursaken's title.

But that doesn't mean surviving the Rift is easy. Here are some tips that will help keep you alive in this strange, dark world.

Starting Out


  • The questions at the beginning of the game seem to influence the magic spells you receive - When you begin playing Phantom Rift, you're asked a brief series of questions about who you are. Do you like fighting with friends, or alone? Do you prefer fighting close-up, or from afar? The way in which you answer these questions seems to impact which spells you start the game with. For instance, if you say you prefer fighting up close, you should start off with an assortment of sword spells.

  • Stuck? Talk to Wispin - Wispin is your guide in the Rift. If you're unsure of what to do next, tap on him to chat. He can help light the way. [Editor's Note: *rimshot*]

  • Use energy sparingly - Early in Phantom Rift, you receive a ring that restores health at the cost of 30 energy. This is a valuable tool, and can mean the difference between life and death. That said, energy is very valuable as it's also used to buy spells, weapons, and armor. Instead of healing yourself with energy-consuming items, try restoring your health in-battle using spells.

Solve the Secret of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse. Chapter 2 Has Been Released!

Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 17th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: STAGGER DOWN MEMORY LANE :: Read Review »

Revolution’s Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse: Episode Two has been released today. The chapter is the conclusion of the point and click adventure story. Broken Sword 5: the Serpent´s Curse is a puzzle game involving a stolen painting and a murderous conspiracy.

Besides Chapter 2, the new update also includes German, Spanish and Italian translation improvements, Shredder Letter bug fix, and other general bug fixes.

Broken Sword 5 – The Serpent’s Curse: Episode Two is an in-app purchase for the price of $5.99

This Week at 148Apps: March 24-28, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 31st, 2014

Apps Are Us


How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. 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. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.


Game of Thrones Ascent

Game of Thrones, both the TV series and the novels that serve as the source material, can be best described as dense. Game of Thrones: Ascent is similarly dense, but may be fun for people who welcome the density. Ascent takes place around the beginning of the series – players control a new noble trying to find their place among the figures that rule Westeros and ascend to the Iron Throne. Players can customize a variety of factors, including their stats – prefer to fight with the sword, or with a forked tongue? Want to rise under the Lannister barrier, or as a Targaryen? Many options, including one’s lineage, are available. --Carter Dotson


Star Wars: Assault Team

I admit that Star Wars: Assault Team did not leave me very excited when I first heard of it, if only because I’m perhaps a bit jaded when it comes to collectible card games and free-to-play RPGs. Well, I went in with an open mind, and found that while the game is certainly simple, it’s not dumbed down. True to form, players collect cards of characters in the Star Wars series, featuring various tiers of cards that can be earned in story missions or bought in card packs purchased with soft or hard currency. Then characters can be upgraded by using item cards and spending more and more soft currency per upgrade to make them stronger for later story missions and when the PVP becomes available. There’s also limited-time promotion missions to help promote coming back on a regular basis. It’s a fairly-familiar formula to say the least. --Carter Dotson


Glint

When it comes to gameplay vs. graphics, gameplay is totally where it’s at as far as puzzle games are concerned. Tetris on the original Game Boy has visuals straight out of a late 70s calculator, and yet it’s still a perfect video game. It’s strange then that Glint tries so hard to look so pretty while leaving its gameplay to suffer. The tradeoff succeeds, but is it worth it? In Glint, multicolored circles flood onto the screen and players must clear them before they fill the map completely. To clear circles, players simply swipe their fingers across circles of the same color in one continuous stroke. It doesn’t even matter if the stroke touches other circles along the way. Short swipes are good for fast matches, but longer swipes lead to more points. Players can also purchase power-ups that extend swipe range or clear multiple circles at once. --Jordan Minor


Ravensburger Puzzle

I’m not convinced there’s any game out there that could capture the joy that comes from clicking in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s too tactile in its satisfaction for even the rather excellent Ravensburger Puzzle to achieve. However, Ravensburger Puzzle does also circumvent the issue of having to collect up all the pieces and put them back in the box, so that’s something. Either way, it’s a great app for the jigsaw fiend. Included for the asking price are a bunch of puzzles ready to be tackled, as well as some in-game coins that can be used to buy more. Expect to chip in for a few more images via some in-app purchases but it’s nothing too harsh. With each image, it’s possible to create a jigsaw of between 20 and 500 pieces, covering all skill levels. --Jennifer Allen


The Collectables

A simple to learn strategy game, The Collectables starts out pretty fun. That is until one scratches under the surface and soon learns that it encapsulates much of what’s most infuriating about freemium games. The set up is decent. Players control a bunch of renegade soldiers as they complete a series of missions of similar proportions. These typically involve wandering through stages and shooting the foes in one’s way before collecting or destroying various targets. It’s simple stuff but it works well on the mobile format, given much can be achieved in a short space of time. --Jennifer Allen


Pixel Hunter

I would like to soundly punch in the face the wisenheimer who thought that virtual d-pads were good enough to make precisely controlling platformers a viable option on iOS. Allow me to clarify. I don’t wish harm on the developers of Pixel Hunter over at Lemondo Entertainment; I’m sure they’re all great, hardworking folks. I’m really speaking in general terms of the main frustration that I have with this game and others like it. If old-school platforming is where timing and positioning are the difference between triumphant progression and a frustrating restart is going to be the crux of a game, then it either requires tactile feedback or needs to be extremely forgiving. Unfortunately, Pixel Hunter doesn’t hit the bullseye on either mark. --Rob Thomas


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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:


AndroidRundown

Glyph Quest

Glyph Quest is another in the crowded field of combat puzzlers. Will it cast a spell on you? Glyph Quest boils down to a long series of fights that take place across a map. There are dozens of fights to get though and between fights earned coins can be used at the shop to buy new upgrades and items to help in battle. Glyph Quest has highly focused and enjoyable gameplay. The game takes the form of a battle, like a lot of puzzle games today. Matching elemental symbols results in an attack of that element, the more symbols the stronger the attack. Alternating between elements results in bonus damage if opposite elements are used, but linking opposing elements in the same attack results in a backfire, which damages your mage. A steady stream of abilities and spells are unlocked as the player levels up, enemies are nice and varied and there are plenty of status effects and other quirks to force players to mix up their strategies. For example, goblin mages can hide all the tiles under question marks and spiders can use web attacks that make certain tiles unavailable to use in a combo. --Allan Curtis


Ignis Castle Adventure

In gaming, one incontrovertible fact is that one can’t — or rather shouldn’t be able to — go wrong with a platform runner. I mean, they are simple and straight to the point. Thus, a lot of times, games like Ignis Castle Adventure have the built-in advantage of familiarity. The playing area is crafted in 2D, with the overall look of an old-age dungeon. The animations are decent enough, with the purposefully monochrome look broken by bright splotches here and there. --Tre Lawrence


Doodle Tank Battle

Doodle Tank Battle brings simple battle to the world of tank conflict. There are two main modes, Campaign and Endless. Using Campaign as the initial play mode, one can use the tutorial to gain familiarity. The playing area is designed to be used in top-down fashion, with the home tank being green, and the red tanks signifying enemy units. The tanks are simple, genial affairs; the terrain differs slightly from level to level, but mostly retain the same design elements. The control layout can be tweaked, but by default there is a liberal joystick on the left, and tapping on the right incites firing. The controls are responsive, and everything on this end is fairly intuitive. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week over at Pocket Gamer you'll find previews of Isolani, Midnight Star, and Noir Syndrome, the top games from the GDC Big Indie Pitch, the most anticipated mobile games for April, tips for beginner Boom Beach players, first impressions of the HTC One M8, and loads more. Go go go.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse - Episode 1 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on February 10th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: STAGGER DOWN MEMORY LANE
Stemming from a successful Kickstarter campaign, the tales of George Stobbart and Paris return to our screens but lack a certain je ne sais quoi.
Read The Full Review »

Broken Sword 5 - the Serpent's Curse: Episode One is Now Available on the App Store

Posted by Rob Rich on February 6th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: STAGGER DOWN MEMORY LANE :: Read Review »

The first episode of Revolution's latest whirlwind adventure game has just hit the app store. Broken Sword 5 - the Serpent's Curse: Episode One sees George Stobbart and Nico Collard joining forces to track down a stolen painting. And to get swept up in all manner of intrigue and ancient plots, of course.

Think you've got what it takes to put all the pieces together and make it out alive? Then put your skills to the test. You can download Broken Sword 5 - the Serpent's Curse right now for $4.99, and episode 2 is set to arrive "shortly" as an in-app purchase.

• The latest in the smash hit multi-million selling Broken Sword series
• Gripping story, engaging puzzles, voiced by a top quality cast
• Highly acclaimed 'slide and tap' interface – simple but hugely powerful
• Context-sensitive help system – access hints to solve even the hardest puzzles
• Full Game Center integration – including in-game achievements

Echo Prime Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on October 24th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BLUR OF ECHOES
Echo Prime is an interesting dungeon crawler-like action game with a few collectible card game elements thrown into the mix.
Read The Full Review »

Imaginext Apptivity Fortress Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 3rd, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad
Our rating: blankstarblankstarblankstarblankstarblankstar :: :: Read Review »

[img id="CharactersOnFortress-300x225.png"]

I am happy to announce that I have been given the chance to review the Imaginext Apptivity Fortress, a castle-themed play set that incorporates an iPad case into the base of this toy, allowing children to use this device to explore a related knight and castle-themed app as a flat, horizontal play surface in landscape mode as well as flipping the iPad case up to a vertical position to interact with this app in portrait mode as well. Truth be told, this is an iPad accessory toy that my husband was very eager to get his hands on after he saw the impressive size of this toy while we were doing a little research before this play set arrived. The look of this play set is large and impressive, with muted grey and brown tones to emulate the stone facade of this castle, which includes a knight figure and two ladders to climb to windows or to the roof of this structure to keep children engaged as a stand-alone toy when the iPad is not in use. Also included with this fortress play set is a flag and a cannon that can be used both as props in creative play as well as a joystick of sorts within a game included within the app of the same name. I like the fact that these pieces can be moved about this castle to multiple areas at which they can be clicked into the base to create action sequences that children can create themselves, moving around their character, these other pieces and possibly other figures from other toys they are already are playing with. Out of the box, there are a few moments of very mild assembly where one snaps a few plastic pieces into the base of this toy to give it more support when in the vertical position as well as widening the play surface for children to enjoy when they use this toy with or without the included iPad. After installing the free of the same name into one’s device, adults will be impressed with the ease of incasing their iPad into the base of this toy that includes Otterbox technology that will protect the screen and body of the iPad from bumps and scratches. Be sure to plug in the speaker cable into the headphone jack and after installing two AA batteries, turn on the power to this play set to hear the sound. Once players have turned on the app and found their way into the main section of this application, an animated scene with excellent narration is played, explaining the set-up to this medieval adventure from the knight’s point of view - the main character one is playing who has built this fortress to protect the gold he discovered which is under constant attack from outside forces. If this set is positioned into landscape mode, with the iPad lying within the case of this toy flat on a table or other surface, players will be able to explore the courtyard of this fortress which includes gold coins one can collect by touring the courtyard.

From this courtyard, one can play three different arcade-styled games such as flying a dragon to collect gold while avoiding obstacles, battling another player or by one's self in which is a fight against another character. There is also an area where one can defend one’s gold against trolls. These sections contain swordplay, sword throwing and shooting fire balls from the dragon to defend against obstacles. I appreciate that the implied violence is very light, as the trolls or other characters sound only moderately hurt on an “ouch” level when hit to keep these games light and family-friendly. [img id="Dragon-300x225.png"]

I am also really impressed with the panoramic view seen of the kingdom while flying the dragon as one tries to collect coins, creating a look of vast space to enjoy - especially nice with the limited space of the iPad as the knight takes up a percentage of this footprint as he moves around the screen. I have the same fond feelings for the courtyard scene as the knight explores, here moving in every direction as he surveys the castle grounds, including the natural beauty of lush green grass, other greenery and bodies of water to cross with the aid of stepping stones which create an immersive courtyard that I can believe exists within this application. Do be aware that even without the purchase of the play set, children can play with this app for free, using the digital squire character to play the games found in the courtyard section of this app, holding down two fingers onto the screen instead of a plastic figure.

His abilities are not that of the knight, but it is nice to have the option of choosing characters as well as testing some of what this app has to offer before purchasing the play set. Those who have purchased the play set will also enjoy having the squire as a characters to play as as well, giving this app some variety as children work towards unlocking other characters to choose from. [img id="Fortress-300x225.png"]

To enter the fortress portion of this app, flip the iPad into a vertical position, as doing so, one will get to visit inside the castle as this app will take users to this section of the app automatically. Do explore all that there is to touch or move such as books, chandeliers or other objects as well as the king and a few other characters. One can also choose a photo from a camera roll to be included as a painting in this castle as well as open and close windows which will show the view from the camera of the iPad - a nice touch, bringing the children’s world into this application. While walking around, one may venture into the knight’s room where one will be able to put back together a suit of armor broken apart with the tap of a finger. Also, from here, access a game that the included character, the knight, can play, fighting against trolls who are intent on stealing one’s gold. I enjoy how the background of this arcade game includes what the camera of the iPad sees as its backdrop, allowing these trolls to look as though they are storming through my office - a nice touch. To play, either use the included cannon as a joystick, shooting at these trolls with the tap of a button - nicely set up for both left and right handers - as well as tapping these trolls directly on the screen or even touching a troll and tapping a button to fire, giving children a variety of ways to control this arcade-styled game. It is worth noting that other doors in the fortress are locked until one collects or earns enough gold coins to gain access to these rooms, playing as other characters such as a troll, archer or wizard. If desired, one could also simply buy gold coins as in-app purchases or buy additional plastic characters which, like the knight, will unlock these games. Also available in the Treasure Room is the option to buy a better sword or single-use potions - elements my son will have to earn if he is interested in these added details. From what I can tell, the price points of a magic potion for 500 coins or a new character for 10,000 pieces of gold seem pretty standard compared to other games. However, I do think it will take a child around my son’s age and experience quite a long time to be able to unlock the characters and areas that take up such prominent space in the castle as this time spent collecting gold is longer than needed to properly motivate - perhaps to the level of possible frustration. For the price tag of this Imaginext Apptivity Fortress, I would love to see the amount of gold coins dropped from 10,000 to 5,000 or even 3,000 to truly encourage children to keep playing, giving them the option of other players as well as time frame that is more realistic. Because I have not had the time to unlock any of these other players, it is difficult for me to speak to these added areas of this app. However, from what I have read, the activity and game play seem very similar to the games the knight plays, but with the use of a different mode of flying such as riding an eagle, dodo bird or magic cloud instead of a dragon. The weapons thrown are changed a bit as well, making me wonder if these additional characters may be anti climatic to some if too much time or money is spent acquiring them. This is the first time my son has actually had access to any game where earning or purchasing gold coins or the equivalent has been a part of game such as this, successfully avoiding my son’s time being spend on arcade-type games since I prefer him to spend his screen time on educational apps instead. Because of this, I don’t know why I was so surprised at how poorly he performed at these activities, especially the tasks that needed him to use both hands at once to both fire as well as to move his character or joystick. Although I have no love lost for arcade-type shooting games, there is something to be said for being proficient in these types of games for the same socially driven reasons that I was given tennis lessons as a child. As much as I do not want my son to be spending his time sitting on our sofa playing arcade games - a slippery slope to be sure, I also want him to be comfortable spending time with his friends if they as a group choose to play action-based games, such as at our local library, where they allow neighborhood kids to play Wii games together, and it is noticeable how the children from unplugged families feel left out as they try unsuccessfully to keep up with the other kids. Although the limited controls of this play set are not to be compared to those from Wii, Playstation or the like, this is a nice introduction to playing these kinds of games while still rooted in a traditional play set - a toy my son asked to keep playing with after he was finished with the included app. As a garage sale frequenter, I find it sad how children my boy’s age sell their old toys such as wood train tracks or building blocks - toys that a boy of five years should still be able to derive pleasure from, but in these situations it is obvious that these kids got turned on to video games at an early age, and now true toys for them are a thing of the past. For a child like this, the simple games and activities from the Imaginext Apptivity Forest may not be satisfying enough as the game play may be a bit subdued compared to others, lacking some of the speed or fire power many games that we avoid include. However, for families like mine who want to keep their children playing with toys as long as possible - yet giving them a taste of arcade-like games, this may be an interesting choice. I do think that with the use of the thoughtfully produced animated opening and excellent narration, Fisher-Price has created an immersive experience that a creative child can play - with or without the iPad installed, and I would love to see more of these video clips used in other cutscenes as well. The case within the iPad feels protective and secure, and installation of the iPad is quite simple indeed. We highly recommend this toy and related app to other families looking for a companion toy for the iPad. It would also be nice if physical support of some kind could be included, such as a decorated cardboard box to take the place of the iPad when not installed to protect the screen protector from damage when children are playing with this toy as well. I would also like to see the ads for other toys and accessories moved to a parents’-only section as I hate giving my son fodder for toy-begging of any kind. Even with this note, I am quite interested to see if other Apptivity play sets will be released in the future, although I in no way would expect an iPad-related toy to take the place of classic toys that children are already playing with.

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Bloody Epic Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on February 6th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: A GLORIOUS MESS
Graphic cartoon violence isn't the only thing this runner has to offer.
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Hollywood Monsters Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on December 10th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: ZANY ADVENTURE GAMING
Hollywood Monsters is a fairly enjoyable adventure game but one that suffers for its controls and bizarre puzzles.
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Reversion: The Escape Review

By Jennifer Allen on October 31st, 2012
Starting out a little too slowly for comfort, Reversion: The Escape might be the beginning of some great adventure gaming. As it stands, it all feels a little too by the numbers.
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He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on October 25th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!
Thirty years after Mattel dominated TVs and toy chests with all manner of hokey and impossible men and monsters, The Most Powerful Man in the Universe is getting his video game dues.
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