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Back To Bed Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on August 28th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: STYLISH BUT LIMITED
It looks gorgeous, but Back to Bed is actually a fairly simple and uneventful puzzle game.
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Learning More About 'Sensuous & Spiritual' Luxuria Superbia

Posted by Jennifer Allen on November 4th, 2013

Occasionally it feels a little too easy to be cynical. To mutter about how the App Store is full of Match-3 puzzle games, freemium city builders, and Angry Birds clones. Luxuria Superbia is a reminder that this really isn't the case. At least not if one searches for more original offerings.

The game is described as a 'musical journey from the sensuous to the spiritual' with its thematic elements being distinctly erotic in nature. At least, that is, depending on one's perspective of what unfolds. There's a heck of a lot more to its interpretation than that.

Fascinated by such originality, I took the time to ask the game's developers, Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn, a few questions on the subject.

148Apps: How did the idea for Luxuria Superbia come about?
Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn (AH & MS): The initial idea came to us during a roundtable session led by Brenda Romero on the subject of sex in videogames at the Game Developers Conference. While most of the discussion focused on issues of depiction, we started thinking about it differently: instead of showing naked bodies in the act, we wanted to model the interaction with a game mechanic on the experience of pleasure. And even this early, back in 2008, we already thought of flowers as a visual inspiration.

This idea was something we developed and expanded upon during a long research and prototyping project codenamed Cncntrc. This linked the sensations of the body with the rational and spiritual experiences of early science and mythology. We were especially looking at Geo-centric models of the universe and their links with religion (as the planets in our solar system are named after Roman Gods). We were very fond of this connection between heaven and earth, between sensual pleasure and mystic ecstasy. But the subject matter became so big — we were literally trying to make a game about everything — that it became impossible to capture all of it in a single game.

So we decided to make multiple games based on this research. Luxuria Superbia is the first one. As a first game, we wanted it to be simple and easy to enjoy. So that we would have a solid basis to expand upon later.

148Apps: Did anything else inspire you? Such as a film or game, or other form of media?
AH & MS: Luxuria Superbia is structured a bit like tunnel shooter games, of which Rez is a stand-out title that we love. But instead of antagonism and destruction, we wanted to focus on love and creation. It's funny how similar mechanics can mean such different things when tweaked a little.

Keita Takahashi's Noby Noby Boy encouraged us to embrace a whimsical and joyful play experience. And Erik Loyer's Strange Rain influenced the flow of the game.

Not exactly an inspiration, but Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey kept popping up in our reference material. The symmetry of the cinematography, the tubes and hallways, the sentient invisible being inside of the computer and the surreal cosmic ending all seem to have their links with our little game.

Discovering the paintings by Aimei Ozaki really helped us decide on the visuals. And the work of Georgia O'Keeffe supported our desire to fuse human sensuality with the shapes of flowers.

And then there's architecture. Cathedrals like Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and the Borobudur temple in Indonesia were the source of our desire to deal with a journey from the sensual to the spiritual. The intricate design of the domes of Islamic mosques stimulated the use of circular symmetry in the game. The interior of some German rococo churches, like the Wieskirche in Steinbaden, inspired the blank versus color dynamic. And the central hub in the game was modeled after Marie-Antoinette's Temple of Love in Versailles.

Other than that, we really love some kitschy movies with charming innuendo like Barbarella, Zardoz and Flash Gordon. A lot of the humor in the game was inspired by those.

148Apps: It's quite the departure from your other games. Was this deliberate? Do you have a particular genre preference?
AH & MS: We're too restless to want to fit into any one genre. With our previous games we have indeed explored the narrative side of games much more. But for us the creation of an environment and atmosphere is always more important.

Since the original idea for Luxuria Superbia came to us so long ago, it is not meant to be a deliberate departure as such. But the way we approached the design was very much inspired by the intentions for our future creative production as laid out in our Beautiful Art Program. The main idea being that we want to try harder to connect to our audience, to give more people access to the joy and beauty we see in our games.

The fact that we have leaned toward the dark side in our previous work with games about death and loss of innocence and so on, is actually a coincidence. We are interested in many topics and have in fact already made a very joyful game with The Endless Forest. With Luxuria Superbia, we wanted to share our love for life, the joy and beauty that we find in existence. So pleasure became the "story" that we wanted to explore in this one.

148Apps: Is there a way of completing it? Or is it solely about the experience?
AH & MS: Oh yes! The delight you bring to each flower (or tunnel or level) in the game is expressed in a three ring rating and collected in a column in the garden (the central hub of the game). So to complete the game, one would collect all three rings for all twelve flowers and complete each column.

But the game does not push you too hard to achieve this. The focus of play is very much on the journey and not on the destination.

148Apps: What do you hope that players will gain from playing the game?
AH & MS: Joy and an experience of beauty. These are not trivial matters to us. They are all-important. Deep joy is more important than knowledge. Beauty is more important than truth. The experience of beauty and joy makes us better, kinder, gentler people.

From my brief time with it so far Luxuria Superbia sounds bewitching, mostly because it is. It's like precious little already out there and very imaginative. Set for release later this week, we'll be sure to keep an eye on it.

Thanks to Auriea and Michael for answering my questions.

Isometric Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 22nd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BOX ART
Isometric is a neat tool for creating geometric patterns but its use is somewhat limited.
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Poetics Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 17th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FOCUSED ARTISTRY
With a structured focus on making word-based art easier to create, Poetics does the job well.
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Stampsy Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 16th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ARTISTIC CREATIONS
A great coffee table app, Stampsy makes it possible, and simple, for creative minds to conjure up pages of content full of stunning visuals and information.
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Puzzle Restorer Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on February 19th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CHALLENGING ART
Restore pieces of art by filling in the gaps. It sounds so easy but it makes for a challenging puzzle game.
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Spell Rift Review

By Eli Cymet on October 31st, 2012
The puzzle pros at Kieffer Bros. send players on a search for the Well of Words in a meticulously crafted experience that captures the curiosity and wonder of language.
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Concepts Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Angela LaFollette on October 18th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: DRAW FORTH
Concepts is a free drawing app designed to make precision drafting and sketching simpler thanks to its intuitive interface and easy-to-use toolbar.
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Mech Guardian Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on April 30th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: GORGEOUS GARBAGE
Protect the Earth's oceans from self-aware refuse. As a self-aware garbage can. Hard to resist, right?
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Samurai Bloodshow: les vagues blanches, les nuages rouges Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on September 6th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: AN HONORABLE WARRIOR
It's a bit pricey, especially the in-app stuff, but Samurai Bloodshow is a great strategic defense game.
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Gesundheit! Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on August 9th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: IRRESISTIBLY ADORABLE
Gesundheit! is a fun little puzzle game, but the storybook visuals are what make it a real gem.
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Vizati Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Chantelle Joy Duxbury on October 11th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BEAUTIFUL & FUN
Vizati is an interesting puzzle game with beautiful graphics and wonderful music, a must have for fans of the genre.
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32 x 32

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Benjamin Foster on August 10th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: UNIQUE
32 x 32 is a simple and elegant drawing tool that allows even the artistically impaired to create a mini- masterpiece.
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Mecho Wars

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By David McKenzie on July 27th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: MAGNIFICO
Like Advanced Wars, but on the iPhone. If you like turn based strategy, you should really look at picking this one up. It's straight up turn based strategy goodness.
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Jackson Pollock

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Christine Morris on March 11th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: RECOMMENDED
This application brings art to your iPhone. It's a version of the Jackson Pollock web application, and it's fun to be able to paint like the master! You will find yourself showing people this application ...and
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