Okay, okay, so it’s not out worldwide yet. But the fact that it’s out over there means it’s only a matter of time before it’s released everywhere else. And it looks like it might be something worth waiting for, besides.
For starters, it’s selling for ¥2,800, which ends up being about $26.00. So this is definitely a premium release. Based on the tiny screen shots it’s also looking good, possibly with a little bit of extra flair thrown in to the battles. And do my eyes deceive me or does it look like parties will contain more than the series’ usual (and measly) two this time?
We’ll know for certain one way or another once Chaos Rings III is inevitably released in the US.
So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.
Titles that feature the graphical polish of Stoic’s Banner Saga don’t come around every day. Seemingly pulling inspiration from the art style featured prominently in Disney’s animated films such as 1963’s “The Sword in the Stone,” the game tells two parallel storylines of parties venturing into the wilderness and relative unknown, with the simple goal of surviving to see another day. Amazingly, the animated aesthetic doesn’t dull the bite of the compelling storytelling and weighty decisions facing the player. People can die at virtually every juncture; so try not to get too attached to any one character. The action itself plays out through the standard fare of conversational decision trees and third person tactical turn-based combat. Depending upon the abilities of any one character, as well as their prior achievements on the field of battle, they can be upgraded to better meet the steadily increasing challenge brought forth by AI combatants. Any player who is familiar with the tropes of the tactics genre will find that Stoic has stuck very close to the formula, which also reflects well on Banner Saga’s approachability. –Blake Grundman
Before I delve into the particulars it’s worth noting that the download for Skylanders Trap Team is free, but you’ll need to own the Trap Team Starter Pack ($74.99) – and an iPad 3 or up – if you want to play the full game. The price is nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but bear in mind it comes with a wireless Skylanders Portal, one Trap Master and one slightly less fancy Skylander, two Trap Crystals (more on those in a bit), and a wireless controller. The gameplay should be familiar to Skylanders fans. You’ll be wandering around various levels with your characters, fighting against the forces of the evil wizard Kaos, solving some relatively simple puzzles, platforming on occasion, and swapping between Skylanders in order to access special element-specific gates. It’s a bit on the simple side, which is an understandable byproduct of being a game meant for a younger audience, but it’s absolutely overflowing with charm. –Rob Rich
Money management and investing in the markets can be daunting for even some of the more seasoned adults, let alone 20-somethings and those making their first long-term financial decisions. With all the heavy fees and blind trust in traders with sometimes dubious intentions it can seem like the risks far outweigh the potential rewards. Acorns is an ambitious app that aims to gain a following by removing all of the hassle of financial planning; even if that means over-simplifying the process. I will say that Acorns does a lot right. The app looks great and navigating throughout the windows is a joy, even if the initial task of finding where all the windows are can be a bit arduous. The simple graph on the front page gives users a simple summary of how their investment is doing, and a more detailed breakdown can be found by simply swiping to the left. Money can be invested either by direct transfer or by linking a bank account and letting Acorns round up purchases made via credit or debit card. This means on a $5.88 purchase, $0.12 would be siphoned into Acorns. –Joseph Bertolini
Normally, with console versions of Just Dance, you’d use your controller (or Kinect, or motion control, as it were) to dance along to the choreographed dancers on-screen, but with Just Dance Now all you need to do is download the app. Anyone who wants to join in can download it as well, then hop into your game by providing a code that can be found at the app’s official website. What follows is a surprisingly complete experience, with a catalogue of pop songs that’s quite impressive. While many are locked behind a paywall in the form of a VIP Pass, many of the free songs are refreshed each day so you can at least have some semblance of choice. You’ve got songs like “Gangnam Style” and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” and there’s a fun selection of free songs so you don’t have to worry about spending money. –Brittany Vincent
Toonia TwinMatch, as the name may imply, is an interesting new game for children – a matching game of sorts that players old and young will find far more interesting than the typical app based on “memory” or “concentration” where one needs to flip over tiles in order to create pairs. Instead, Toonia TwinMatch is based on traditional Mahjong Solitaire where 144 tiles are laid out as well as stacked in specific ways, with free tiles in need of being paired are those that can be moved without being blocked by other tiles on either the Left or Right and Top. Likewise, top tiles need to be removed to open up tiles on lower levels. Adults may be familiar with the vast options for Mahjong Solitaire as an online computer game or apps for adults. Likewise, instead of traditional Chinese Character tiles, Toonia TwinMatch includes bright, colorful, and stylized fruits and vegetable tiles to match, as well as a helpful light bulb that can be turned on with a tap that will identify free tiles by darkening the ones currently blocked. Pairs will faintly be highlighted as well if a player is slow to make matches, which is a nice touch. –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:
This year, EA shakes things up by only presenting us the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 15 for Android. That’s a fact that you either hate or love, but I must say: I was surprised by that choice. Normally I would start a soccer game review with the words that the game is bigger and better than the version released a year ago. But that is not the case with FIFA 15: Ultimate Team. Instead of making the game, sometimes unnecessary, bigger, Electronic Arts tried to built upon the core of the Ultimate Team mode. You know, the mode where you need to collect cards of players, technical staff, coaches and attributes and build your own team based on the cards you collect. You get those cards by fulfilling certain goals. –Wesley Akkerman
When I saw the screens for Escape Bird, I thought: this looks like the Dark Souls version of Flappy Bird. Was I right? We all know the type of game Flappy Bird was. It was an unfair and unpolished, but somehow hilarious game about a bird, trying to escape whatever through some odd looking pipes, that somehow reminded us all of a Italian plumber. By tapping we made sure the bird didn’t fall or touch anything and by doing good, we all scored higher points. Or not, depending on the (lack of a good) hitbox. –Wesley Akkerman
One of the biggest question a music service has to answer is the one that pertains to content. On this front, Sony Music Unlimited packs a major punch; not shocking, considering we’re talking about, well, Sony here. It boasts more than 30 million songs, which is far from shabby. In reality, it picked up almost every artist I threw at it across genres. I was happy to find entire albums from even obscure artists; it didn’t have ALL, but I think I could be satisfied with the selection. The audio is quite clear (320 kbps High Quality Audio), and no ads to contend with. The ability to access the premium service on the web, multiple mobile platforms, Playstation consoles/handhelds and compatible Sony electronics adds to its allure. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played the new VR game from the guys behind Monument Valley, reviewed Skylanders Trap Team, went hands-on with Chaos Rings III, reported on a pair of clever new business models, and shared some sad news for iOS emulation fans. It’s all here, and more, at Pocket Gamer.
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
The RPG genre is a tough one to peg down on the iPhone. The problem with the genre is that different people want such different things out of it. Some people want long, drawn out Final Fantasy type games while others want something that is a bit more simple. There is just too much flavor for one genre to be fairly condensed into four games, but I have unwavering beliefs and strong opinions. I like my RPG’s full-bodied with rich undertones. I want a hint of vanilla and oak. Give me harsh tannins!
Ok, I got a bit carried away there. Here are my favorite new(ish) RPG’s of the moment. I decided that the genre is too deep to include games that were released before I can remember (which could be yesterday, could be a year ago). All of these apps are ones that are currently on my iPhone, and I am currently enjoying immensely. If I left something off the list and you are offended, I am sorry. That’s all I can offer.
Caligo Chaser – I picked this app up the other day to possibly do a review (which we did right here — Ed.) and immediately gagged a little. The controls seemed uninspired and the graphics seemed pretty weak, but since the game was made by my favorite dev, Com2uS, I decided to march on. As I played, things started to become more bearable, until one day I found myself sitting on my bathroom counter playing while waiting for my water to heat up. At least that’s what I told myself. Living in Phoenix has its perks, and one of them is water that is instantly hot.
Sure, the combat system isn’t the best, the inventory/upgrade menu isn’t the prettiest or the easiest to see, there are some obvious typos (as opposed to my hidden ones), and the story takes a while to get in to, but it all comes together. The final result is a fun RPG that will bring you back to the wonderful days of old school Super Nintendo gaming. Just give it a try and force yourself to play for 30 min, you won’t regret it.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-07 :: Category: Games
Rimelands: Hammer of Thor – Unlike Caligo Chaser which took a while to get into, Rimelands sucks you in right away and doesn’t let go. It has excellent graphics, a fun story, a great upgrade tree, and a surprisingly good control system. I usually don’t like to go on limbs and declare bests of for this and that, but Rimelands has the best control system for an iPhone RPG I’ve ever played. I love it.
If you are so inclined to try it out, expect a blend of Fallout 1+2 and Diablo, with maybe a hint of Baldur’s Gate. Maybe I’m just blown away by Rimeland’s polish, but I think this is truly a game that would do well on any platform.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-09-02 :: Category: Games
The War of Eustrath – I have a personal vendetta against The War of Eustrath, and it is there because I played this game for hours on end and then got stuck on the last boss. Maybe I didn’t level my character up enough throughout, maybe I pumped too much juice into characters who die at the end. For whatever reason, I’m having one heck of a hard time beating Eustrath.
Behind the somewhat generic top-down graphics and crummy dialogue, there is an excellent game here. The dialogue is horrifically bad though, with emotions flying from one scene to the next. The game comes complete with a love triangle, family secrets, god-like conquests, a poor country girl becomes hero side story, mythical beings, death, a bunch of suicide. You’ll find yourself sucked into the games anti-charisma, and by the end, you’ll start having visions of Elijah Wood crying, scene after scene, while he’s trying to get to the top of Orodruin. If nothing else, Eustrath should definitely be described as “epic.”
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-07-29 :: Category: Games
Chaos Rings – If you don’t like Chaos Rings, you definitely don’t like RPG’s. It’s so pretty, has such a good story, and has an amazing combat system that it just begs to be played for hours on end.
From our review, “I do not hesitate to claim that Chaos Rings has the potential to change iDevice gaming as we know it, and for the better. If and when people commit to paying for quality, this game will be that new standard to meet.”
Posted August 16th, 2010 by Brian Hudson Our Rating: :: GRAND ADVENTURE
Chaos Rings is an excellent balance of RPG elements and the pocket device sensibilities. It is a spectacular effort by a major developer to bring console-quality RPG play to the iOS. However, this upscaled effort is not without its blemishes.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted April 20th, 2010 by Ryan Wood Our Rating: :: GAMING GLORY
I do not hesitate to claim that Chaos Rings has the potential to change iDevice gaming as we know it, and for the better. If and when people commit to paying for quality, this game will be that new standard to meet.
Previously, Square Enix has simply ported old games (Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II) or given us smaller, unambitious titles. But back in March, a new iPhone-exclusive game was announced on their Facebook page: Chaos Rings. We’re very interested in this title, because it’ll be Square’s first full-blown attempt at a complete RPG designed exclusively for the iPhone platform. Some details have already been released, but we’ve got some new info, too.
So what do we know so far? Chaos Rings’ plot will revolve around a battle tournament in which five teams of two fight to the death for the ultimate prize: eternal life. Each group features a separate storyline, with all five tying together at the end. As for the technical quality of the game, it’s actually pretty impressive—don’t judge this by the screenshots, look at the trailer! The 3D graphics are shockingly good. Not console-quality good, but definitely a step up from most iPhone games.
As for the battle system, it relies on strategically balancing your partners. There are “Solo” and “Pair” attack options; attacking in a pair might do more damage, but it also places both of your characters at risk. Following the tournament-based premise, teamwork is crucial. You’ll also have access to “Genes,” which provide special skills and magical powers. One weird detail posted with the new information is the differences between male and female characters. Each team is a man/woman pair, with the male characters being stronger and the female characters being fast but more fragile. Was sexism really necessary?
That caveat aside, Chaos Rings looks very interesting. It’ll be the first “real” JRPG for the iPhone, after all, complete with turn-based battles and 3D graphics. We expect only the best from Square Enix. Chaos Rings’ release date is unknown, but the developer claims that things are moving ahead of schedule. In the meantime, check out the new screenshots!