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King of Thieves - An Interview With ZeptoLab’s Co-Founder Semyon Voinov

Posted by Jennifer Allen on January 23rd, 2015
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Ahead of the release of ZeptoLab’s King of Thieves, we were able to ask ZeptoLab’s co-founder, Semyon Voinov, a few questions about the inspiration behind the game and what that means for the Cut the Rope franchise.

148Apps: What was the inspiration behind combining so many familiar genres into one package?
Semyon Voinov (SV): The initial idea was brought up by one of our team members. We created a quick prototype, and suddenly many people around the office were eagerly competing with each other, building their defenses and breaking into the opponent's dungeons. There was plenty of laughter and cursing in the process - and we immediately realized that the game had the most important component for success: it drives emotion!

You can find plenty of games in the App Store with the strategic "attack and defend" gameplay (including the famous Clash of Clans), but our game is vastly different because of the arcade skills-based experience at its core. It’s something we haven't seen in any other games and while building King of Thieves, we discovered why: it's a very challenging type of game to build. It took two years of time, dedication, and extensive testing to create a balanced and highly enjoyable game.

Hands-On With Cut the Rope Developer ZeptoLab's King of Thieves

Posted by Jennifer Allen on January 23rd, 2015

Marking quite a departure from ZeptoLab’s past successes, namely the Cut The Rope series, King of Thieves is shaping up to be quite promising. Due for release in February, we were lucky enough to have some time with a preview build to see exactly what it’s all about.

Focused on multiplayer, King of Thieves is best described as part tower defense, part platformer. Your mission is to break into dungeons and steal the opposition’s treasure chest. This requires a certain amount of finesse when it comes to your platforming skills. Controls are fairly simple here, with a series of taps and double-taps being pivotal. You automatically run, with a change of direction only possible when you bounce away from a wall. At first it seems a little awkward, but it turns out to be reasonably effective.

As you’d expect, levels steadily get trickier the further you progress, with up to three stars for the taking depending on how well you perform. There’s a PvP side to things too, with you able to tackle other players' dungeons as well as needing to protect your own. The latter is where things turn more tower defense-like, with it being possible to place turrets and spikes around your dungeon in order to ward off attack. To save your creation, you have to be able to complete it twice to prove it’s possible. Something that may end up testing your own skills as well as other players’ abilities.

So far, King of Thieves is shaping up to be an interesting mixture of puzzle style elements and platforming that’s sure to test your reflexes. My only concern is whether or not it will be able to keep everyone hooked for an extended period of time. There’s the race to be top of the leaderboard and to have the most intricate dungeon, but it’s hard to say just yet whether or not that will keep people hooked for a long time to come.

We’ll be able to see how things unfold once the game goes live worldwide. For now, it’s certainly an interesting combination of genres.

King of Thieves is set for release in February. Of course, we’ll let you know when.

Cut the Rope 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on December 19th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: STILL SWEET
It’s a little heavy-handed with some of the in-app purchase suggestions, but Cut the Rope 2 is still quite the delight.
Read The Full Review »

Cut the Rope 2: Om Nom's Unexpected Adventure Receives its First Trailer, Will Arrive Next Week with 120 Levels

Posted by Andrew Stevens on December 13th, 2013

Cut the Rope 2: Om Nom's Unexpected Adventure gets its first gameplay trailer that takes a closer look at the game and its challenges. The game is set to release with 120 levels throughout new locations that take players to a forest, junkyard, city park, sandy dam, and underground. It's scheduled to release next week on December 19 for $0.99.

“With Cut the Rope 2, we’ve taken Cut the Rope to the next level, creating a game that not only does justice to the original, but enhances the experience in every possible way,” said Misha Lyalin, ZeptoLab CEO, in a press release. “It’s literally and figuratively a huge leap for Om Nom as he ventures out into the world for the first time.”

Drop That Candy Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on September 26th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar ::
Mechanically and visually sound, Drop That Candy lacks a certain something to make it truly stand out from a cluttered crowd.
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Cut the Rope and Cut the Rope HD Get Significant Price Drops - To Zero

Posted by Rob Rich on August 29th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

A little while ago, Chillingo released this adorable little game about giving a cute little monster some candy. Cut the Rope has done pretty well for itself since then.

Well, if for some odd reason you've missed out on either the original or iPad-only HD version, now is the time to act! For one week only, both Cut the Rope and Cut the Rope HD are totally free. So there's certainly no time like the present to start feeding the little critter sweets in the most complicated fashion imaginable.

5 Years and Counting - The App Store Then and Now

Posted by Rob Rich on July 12th, 2013

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.

iOS Games My Mom Doesn't Hate

Posted by Rob Rich on May 9th, 2013

Moms and video games. I know there are always exceptions, but, at least for my generation, more often than not the two just don't mix. I've spent over 25 of my 31 years playing them, and my mom has spent almost as much time expressing her distaste for them, specifically, she said, “all that bloody, gory, gooey violence.” I decided to take the time to really talk to her about it; to figure out exactly why she had a tendency to turn up her nose at my hobby-turned-career, why she eventually stopped scrutinizing my pastime, and what iOS games (if any) she could even end up liking. It was interesting, to say the least.

A Bit Of The Old Ultraviolence

As it turns out, my mom's disinterest/distaste for video games stems from a fairly common issue: violence. Not just the concept behind the acts, but the increasingly realistic depictions. When I was little and playing something on my Nintendo it never really bothered her since she and my dad could simply nix anything they thought was too much for me. Not that it happened often since very little from that era was all that graphic. However, as I got older, I tended to play more violent games. I personally attribute it to the industry increasing its mainstream focus on violence as it grew into itself, along with coincidence. I mean, sure, I played Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but I also played Intelligent Qube and Jet Moto which probably wouldn’t have bothered her at all if she’d ever seen me playing them. This is when it really started to bother her. She was legitimately worried that my constant exposure to video games would alter my personality. As time went on, she realized I was doing just fine, but she still wasn't too crazy about all the gore.

Even after I graduated college and moved out of the house, video games continued to bother her. As a teacher, she had begun to notice a shift in her students as more and more of them began to make video games a larger part of their lives. “It’s much harder to keep kids’ attention,” she said. Many of them required more and more visual stimuli in order to keep their focus. She also noticed that many of the younger or more impressionable kids started to act out things they saw on TV and in video games. “It seemed like they thought they were invincible,” she told me. One group of boys she'd taught years before went so far as to murder a 25 year old cook as he walked home from work simply out of boredom; an act that some claimed was inspired by a video game. I now realize why my success at getting her to accept the medium has been so difficult.

However, she hasn't written games off entirely. She's come to appreciate the technology behind it all, and can definitely appreciate the imaginative visuals found in many of the more offbeat titles. With my increased interest in all things iOS, I've managed to have even more success in convincing her that the industry isn't all headshots and zombies. In fact, I've managed to find a few iOS games she's even curious to try on her own.

Easing Into It

First I asked her to take a look at Triple Town. I figured a turn-based game with no timer and some cute, if oversized, cartoon bears might be okay. I mean it’s a fairly adorable game with some really addictive puzzles, so why not? And I was right for the most part. She didn’t have a problem with it since the only vaguely troubling imagery is “just angry looking bears.” She also thought, “(It) sounds exciting. Build a city. ‘Plot’ against the bears. Looks like something ‘I’ may even be able to handle.”

Next up: Spaceteam. Both because it’s family-friendly fun and because I freaking love it so, so much. Although it can get pretty frantic; I wasn’t sure how well she’d respond to it. “I remember watching you and dad play this one,” she said. “It looks and sounds like a great time.” And really, who wouldn’t like to try and desperately keep a lone starship functioning by shouting commands at their friends while simultaneously trying to follow their own sets of instructions?

After that, I decided to show her Paper Titans. Since my mom has an art background and actually teaches art, I figured there was a good chance that she’d appreciate the visuals. I mean it’s flippin’ gorgeous to begin with but it also does a fantastic job of capturing the look of a paper world with paper inhabitants. I was right again. “LOVE the bold graphic style,” she said. “Looks like my kind of game; fun, colorful, sounds easy (low stress). So far (this is) my fav.”

Getting A Little Retro

I didn’t want to focus entirely on new releases, though. I also thought there might be some worthwhile considerations from the App Store’s past. Hence my next choice: Zen Bound 2. “Very, very appealing,” she said. “[The] graphics look excellent.” It’s the kind of reaction I was hoping for. The entire game is meant to be serene and calming with no timers or real possibility of failure. It’s almost more of a relaxation exercise than a game. “This is my top choice,” she enthused. “I want to wind the rope!”

Moving right along, and in keeping with the visually inoffensive, I brought up Tiny Tower. Nimblebit’s first major iOS success still has quite the following today, and it’s managed to last this long without resorting to any sort of violence. My mom liked it right off, saying, “Everyone looks HAPPY!” This is true: I’ve yet to spot a bitizen who doesn’t look like they’re having the best day of their life at all times. “My kind of game,” said mom. “I would try this one.”

After some thought, I figured I’d also show her Heads Up!. Not because she’s my mom or there’s much of a chance she watches The Ellen Degeneres Show, but because the game itself seems right up her alley. It’s a party game that requires interacting with other people, it’s goofy, and there’s a good chance that several laughs will be had. “Yes! Looks like fun,” she said. “My kind of game.”

Last, but not least, I tested the waters with a slightly more complex game that keeps things cute: Cut the Rope. I wasn’t entirely sure if the more involved gameplay mechanics would be off-putting but I was willing to bet that the adorable mascot would win her over. “Probably wouldn’t keep my interest at all,” she said. Ouch; I was totally wrong on this one.

The Heart Of The Matter

So why go through all this effort? Why try so hard to show my mom examples of iOS games that don’t fall under the rather broad viewpoint she used to view the medium with? For two reasons:

First, video games have been a significant part of my life for close to its entirety. It’s something that I’ve enjoyed immensely, but was never able to truly talk about with her due to her previous experiences. Since I began writing about them professionally they’ve become even more significant in my life, and I wanted to be able to find some way of sharing that with her. I think introducing her to the casual market is a great way to accomplish that and I’ve already found a few titles she’s interested in checking out. Say what you will about casual games, they’re still a great way to introduce non-gamers to the medium.

Second, I don't want her to keep worrying. I know she understands that I’m an adult and that none of the virtual violence I’ve taken part in over the years has had any sort of negative effect on me, but I also know there’s still a part of her that worries. Both about me and about what the industry may or may not be doing to children. I wanted to help her to understand that, despite all the media attention and tendency of AAA releases to rely on violence, it’s a very diverse field that’s grown immensely ever since I first tried to get Mario past that first walking mushroom.

I suppose in the back of my mind I’ve always been concerned that she had the wrong idea about what I do and what I write about. This was my chance to finally address that concern and I feel like we really made some progress. Granted, I doubt I’ll be excitedly discussing Star Command or Robot Unicorn Attack 2 with her any time soon. Still, I can finally, really, talk to her about one of the major facets of my life for the first time. It’s a great feeling.

[Happy Mother's Day to you, Rob's mom! --Ed.]

Cut the Rope: Time Travel Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Blake Grundman on April 23rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: JUST AS SWEET
Who knew that there was candy in the past? This sugary treat is well worth consuming.
Read The Full Review »

Cut The Rope: Time Travel Is Now Available

Posted by Andrew Stevens on April 18th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

What better time than now to begin your time traveling adventures? Cut The Rope: Time Travel is available in the App Store and follows Om Nom, the candy loving monster, as he discovers and uses a time machine to learn about his roots. ZeptoLab will also be expanding on the Om Now Stories animated series to expand on Om Nom's travels through time.

Cut the Rope Adds Lantern Box to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Posted by Jeff Scott on February 7th, 2013
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Zeptolab has released an update to the favorite Cut the Rope that includes a new series of levels called the Lantern Box. These new levels, demoed below, have been released to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. It's nice to see a game like this still getting updated.

Bring That Cute Monster From Cut The Rope To 3D Life With Om Nom Candy Flick

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on January 4th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Om Nom, the cute little monster from Zeptolab & Chillingo's hit game, Cut the Rope, is back and still hungry. Flick treats into his adorable little mouth to watch him animate up in three dimensions. Got two iOS devices? Animate him on one, play on the other. Sweet!

Game features:
· Om Nom in 3D animation
· Augmented Reality game
· Game Center achievements and leaderboards

Green Jelly HD Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on December 19th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FIENDISH FLINGING
Green Jelly is a particularly tough yet enjoyable physics puzzler. Don't expect to finish it fast!
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Cut the Rope Adds Another Sweet Box of Levels

Posted by Kevin Stout on April 26th, 2012

Insanely popular physics-based puzzler Cut the Rope has received yet another update adding even more levels. It’s been a few months since the last update (December), but the game has been constantly releasing new levels and content since its release back in October of 2010.

With this release, Cut the Rope has added another “box” with 25 more levels to the already insane level count of 250. That puts the total levels up to 275 and total boxes to 11. This box has a DJ theme with vinyl records throughout. In addition to the extra levels added, a new Om Nom drawing has been hidden in the game for players to collect as well as a new leaderboard and achievements.

The game was released with 100 levels. The game has almost tripled in content since its release with no extra charge to players.

Gravimaze Review

By Sinan Kubba on March 20th, 2012
Superb puzzle game that ticks almost all of the boxes.
Read The Full Review »