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E3 2014 - The 7 Biggest iOS Highlights of E3 2014

Posted by Rob Rich on June 19th, 2014

As nice as it was to see such a strong representation of mobile games and devices at E3 this year, it also means more work when trying to figure out which were the most noteworthy. Seriously, there was a lot of great stuff on display and picking just a few to highlight wasn’t easy. With that said, here are our notables from E3 2014 in no particular order.

Phonejoy

I stumbled upon the Phonejoy completely by accident, but I’m very glad I did. It’s nice and compact, well-made, and easily attaches to iOS devices of any size and in any orientation. Unfortunately the version that’s available now isn’t MFi, but one is in the works - and you can be sure that once we find out about a release date we’ll be sharing that info with you. Until then, the current Phonejoy model will still work just fine with other games that still support third party controllers like the iCade.


Final Fantasy VII G-Bike

Square Enix has apparently been developing an iOS game based entirely around that Golden Saucer mini-game from Final Fantasy VII without bothering to tell anyone about it. For shame, Square Enix. But while Final Fantasy VII G-Bike seemed to pop-up out of nowhere, it’s definitely looking like a badass runner/driver/whatever you want to call it. Would that other 3D runners had this game’s sense of style and production values!


Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

I’m a Monster Hunter nerd, sure, but the reason Freedom Unite has made the list is because it genuinely impressed me. It looks like a fantastic port, plays very well, and even manages to add a couple of elements that the original PSP release was missing - namely legitimate online play and a lock-on feature. As someone who’s already sunk hundreds of hours into the original Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this one when it officially comes stateside.


The Gamevice

I’ve yet to get my hands on the final version of the Gamevice, but the “beta” version I was able to play around with last week was definitely cool. It’s uses are sadly limited to only the iPad Mini, but the combination of controller and iOS device make for a great handheld gaming setup. And because the Gamevice is essentially in two separate pieces that attach on either side of the Mini, it should also be pretty easy to tote around. Just in case.


Hitman Sniper

Between Hitman Go [GET LINK] and now Hitman Sniper, Square Enix Montreal is definitely a developer worth keeping an eye on. What could have been something as basic as a first-person shooting gallery with a Hitman theme is actually a very clever (and unorthodox) approach to something sort of like a puzzle game. It isn’t just fun to play around with the various interactive elements in each level, either. The constant competition with other players who are close to your rank on the leaderboards also acts as a great incentive to keep aiming (*rimhot*) for the high score.


Just Dance Now

I don’t dance, and there’s about a 99% chance I’ll never play Just Dance Now when it comes out, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by what I saw at Ubisoft’s booth last week. The game is being developed with accessibility as its main focus, which is something I wish more developers took the time to consider. And not only is it being made to work with older iOS devices, it’s also supposed to take it easy on your bandwidth. So it’ll run on your old clunker and won’t double your phone bill if you end up playing over 3G/4G. Seriously, big thumbs-up to Ubisoft for this one.


???

Image Source: whatculture
I can’t name names, I can’t mention developers, and there’s a good chance I can’t talk about genre. But if I’m obscure enough I don’t see the harm in saying that this thing I played that I can’t go into detail about was actually a whole lot of fun and probably the biggest surprise for me personally at the show. I know that’s not much to go on but it’ll all make sense in time. Suffice it to say, when a developer really cares and knows what they’re doing just about anything can be a hit.
[Please note that the game in-question has nothing to do with Futurama. I just like Futurama and needed an image.]

E3 2014 - Bandai Namco Reveals Goofy Movie Puzzler Cinemagic

Posted by Rob Rich on June 18th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting mighty tired of all these awful movie sequels and “reboots.” Well, thanks to Bandai Namco’s upcoming Cinemagic, we can finally fight fire with fire! Or, well, we can at least fight bad movies with awesomely bad movies.

Cinemagic is a match-3 puzzle game in which you’ll need to collect various movie-like elements (reels, tickets, etc), which are themselves used to activate special movie cards. These cards will determine things like the actors in your own movie, major plot points, and so on. Once you’ve run out of moves you’ll be treated to a unique synopsis and movie poster for your creation - and if you’re lucky you’ll also have beaten that other movie at the box office and raked in some serious profits.

You’ll be able to get your hands on Cinemagic for free this November.

E3 2014 - Say Hellooo to Gamevice from Wikipad

Posted by Rob Rich on June 18th, 2014

I only found out about the Wikipad recently, but when I did my first thought was “Wow it would be great if this were also available for iOS devices.” And it is! Well, sort of.

Gamevice is a specially-designed control pad that attaches to the iPad Mini, effectively turning it into something like a handheld gaming device. I had the opportunity to play around with it at E3 last week (I’d have said something sooner but I was sworn to secrecy) and I was genuinely impressed. Even though the model I was using wasn’t the finalized product it still worked quite well, and tearing across the highway in San Andreas was as responsive as it could be - seeing as I was using a truck at the time, anyway.

Wikipad is planning to release two versions of the Gamevice around during the holiday season later this year: one that can act as a battery back-up for the Mini, and one that uses its own power source. Both will be available in white.

E3 2014 - Have a Look at Snail Games’ iOS Lineup

Posted by Rob Rich on June 18th, 2014

Snail Games’ booth was filled with top hats and goggles last week, but nestled among all the steampunk were a few titles planned for iOS. It was a pretty decent spread, too. One action RPG, one puzzle game, and one strategy game. Personally I was most interested in the action RPG, but I’m kind of a sucker for those things.

Taichi Panda

Taichi Panda is that action RPG, naturally. The game features three playable characters (warrior, rogue, monk - guess which one’s the panda?), loot drops, plenty of fighting, skill trees, and pretty much everything else you’d expect from the genre. The levels seem big enough to satisfy, but are also small enough to gel with a mobile gamer’s play schedule. In other words they’re a good fit for a commute.

There’s no word on when Taichi Panda will be released yet, but it will be free with in-app purchases.

Heroes of Gaia

Then there’s the turn-based strategy game, Heroes of Gaia. This one is all about tactics and managing your armies. You’ll have to choose between one of four distinct races as you explore the world and try to gather resources. You’ll also be squaring off against anyone else who might be looking for those same resources. Armies are customizable and upgradeable, naturally.

Heroes of Gaia also has no release date yet, but will also be free with in-app purchases.

Puzzle Heroes Saga

Finally there’s Puzzle Heroes Saga: a sort of match-3 puzzle game where you match soldiers to send off to battle rather than clearing gems. Every successful match will activate a given unit’s special ability, which will include various attack patterns and effects. What’s interesting is that the enemy will attack constantly, regardless of how long it takes you to make your move. So you not only need to match, you need to match fast.

Puzzle Heroes Saga is TBA, but it will be free with in-app purchases.

E3 2014 - Pixowl has Big Plans for The Sandbox, as Well as Lasagna-Loving Cats

Posted by Rob Rich on June 18th, 2014

Pixowl has been working tirelessly for quite some time now, what with all the monthly updates to The Sandbox along with several other projects. It doesn’t look like they plan on slowing down anytime soon, either.

Last week, in addition to the news of the Farmer's update, it was also revealed that The Sandbox is rapidly approaching 2.0 status. This milestone (which should be ready within the next three to four months) will include updated features such as an all new interface, reworked campaigns, and will be in HD just like its PC counterpart. This means it’s going to look better, and give you a bigger place to play in.

The Sandbox EDU was also on display, which will be a premium paid version of the freemium classic that’s been specifically tweaked to function as an educational tool. The plan is for parents, educators, and kids to use it as a way to study things like physics, electricity, hot/cold, and so on. All of the elements will be open from the start, and will be restricted to those that actually have some educational value (i.e. no zombies). The Sandbox EDU should be available in the App Store a little before “back to school” time.

Finally there’s Garfield: Survival of the Fattest, which is due out in September. This one’s sort of like Greedy Grub [GET LINK] but with Garfield characters. You’ll get to complete missions for characters from the comic series, build stuff, collect resources, and even take part in three different mini-games. All in the name of getting the giant orange cat to lose weight. Or rather, to help the giant orange cat avoid losing weight.

E3 2014 - Ubisoft Invites you to Pick Up your iPhone and Just Dance Now

Posted by Rob Rich on June 17th, 2014

Want to earn points by flailing around in front of your friends but don’t have one of those fancy new home consoles or their video peripherals? Well you’re in luck! Ubisoft has announced Just Dance Now for the iPhone.

Just Dance Now uses the accelerometer to track your movements and judge the accuracy of your ability (or lack thereof) to dance. No big screen TV or AAA console required. You will need an internet connection, however. You’ll also need access to a web browser on a nearby computer. But once you get all of that set up you simply have to log in to the “room” created in the web browser and get your various grooves on. In fact, there’s no player limit. Provided there are enough devices and there’s enough bandwidth to go around, you could have games with dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of other players. It’s been designed to go easy on your bandwidth, too. Only a tiny bit of data is required to play, so even if you’re without wifi you can still join in on the fun and not break the bank.

Just Dance Now will be available on the App Store “soon” for free.

E3 2014 - Gameloft Unveils Puzzle RPGs, Endless Racers, and a Swarm of Spider-Men

Posted by Rob Rich on June 17th, 2014

Gameloft has been busy (isn’t Gameloft always busy, though?) lately. Several upcoming titles were on display at the popular iOS developer’s booth last week, including the Totally 80s endless racer Asphalt Overdrive (a spin-off of the popular racing series), “web-runner” Spider-Man Unlimited, and puzzle RPG Dungeon Gems. Not a bad spread, really.

Dungeon Gems

Dungeon Gems is all about building up a formidable fighting force, then clearing colored gems to activate their abilities and clear out dungeons full of enemies. Characters can be collected and upgraded, and tend to conform to one of five different elements (fire, earth, water, light, and dark).

What’s interesting about Dungeon Gems, aside from the fact that it looks pretty darn impressive when compared to similar titles on iOS, is that you don’t actually have to match gems to fight enemies. Simply tapping on a single gem will trigger an attack, and you may connect multiple colors in one go - so long as you have enough Action Points (special points that refill as you defeat enemies) available.

Dungeon Gems will be available on the App Store later this month.

Spider-Man Unlimited

Ol’ web-head is also going to be putting in an appearance once Spider-Man Unlimited is released.

This self-proclaimed “web-runner” pits Spidey against The Sinister Six. Actually, it pits dozens of Spidey’s against dozens of villains from a bunch of different dimensions. Each of the 20+ Spider-Men will sport their own look and slightly different stats/abilities, and can be collected and fused CCG-style.

Spider-Man Unlimited isn’t due out until later this summer, but it’s definitely looking pretty good. And the supply of characters from alternate universes means we can expect lots of other characters to eventually pop-up.

Asphalt Overdrive

Finally, there’s Asphalt Overdrive: a sort of spin-off of the Asphalt series that in no way is an official sequel so put down those torches and pitchforks!

Asphalt Overdrive is a lane-based endless racer that tasks you with going as far and as fast as you can while trying to outrun the police and avoid crashing into anything heavier than your own (licensed) car. It’s also super-80s, with lots of neon and bright colors, eerily familiar vehicles (Kit?), and a distinct Outrun sort of feel.

Asphalt Overdrive will be releasing later this summer.

Sonic Jump Fever Recently Announced by SEGA

Posted by Ellis Spice on June 16th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: SONIC BUST :: Read Review »

Over in Los Angeles last week, SEGA announced Sonic Jump Fever - a new competitive multiplayer take on Sonic Jump. Much like the previous incarnation the game will feature jumping gameplay, with the aim of the player being to progress as high as possible via vertical platforming. A bunch of Sonic characters will be available to play as, each with their own unique abilities to go alongside the power-ups scattered along the levels and countless rings to collect.

At the beginning of every round players will be shown the scores of their friends that they'll be trying to beat. Players won't be able to rest easy on their high scores however, as leaderboards will be reset twice a week.

Sonic Jump Fever will be free to download when it launches later this Summer.

E3 2014 - This War Of Mine isn't Quite What I Expected, and That's Perfectly Okay

Posted by Rob Rich on June 16th, 2014

When I first saw that teaser trailer for 11bit Studios' This War of Mine, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. Now that I've had a little hands-on time with the game (it was the PC version as the iOS build isn't showable yet, but I've been told it's pretty much 1-to-1) I have a much better idea of what to expect - and it wasn't this.

I don't mean that in a bad way, though. Far from it, in fact. From what I've seen and played, This War of Mine is a bit more like a micromanaging sim during the day - in which you'll be issuing commands for searching for supplies and crafting items to the unfortunate souls forced to hole-up in a dilapidated building - and a kind of 2D stealth game at night - in which you'll want to carefully sneak through (hopefully) abandoned buildings as your chosen survivor scavenges for supplies. It's very, very bleak. It's also very, very interesting. There's no shortage of tough calls to make when it comes to divvying up supplies, especially once you start to gather more and more survivors.

This War Of Mine will be out later this year. No price has been announced yet, but it definitely has the look and feel of a premium release.

E3 2014 - Square Enix Shows Off More Final Fantasy Agito and Reveals Final Fantasy VII G-Bike

Posted by Rob Rich on June 16th, 2014

Square Enix's booth was full of Final Fantasy type stuff this year, but it wasn't all about the MMO or the Disney crossover series. The RPG giant was also showing off a couple of mobile titles: the greatly-anticipated Final Fantasy Agito, and the "where the heck did this come from?"Final Fantasy VII G-Bike.

Final Fantasy Agito

Final Fantasy Agito is a pretty great-looking title that's already out in Japan, but now it's been confirmed for a US release as well.

In Final Fantasy Agito you'll be able to create your own custom character, take down various enemies for experience (naturally), craft better weapons, and team up with other Agito players to battle massive bosses. Sounds cool, no?

There's no official date set for a release, but Final Fantasy Agito will be coming to the US App Store for free and feature in-app purchases.

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike was a total, although not unwelcome, surprise. Remember that mini-game from the Gold Saucer that involved riding around on Cloud's motorcycle while swiping at enemies? Well this is that but ratcheted up to a ridiculous degree.

G-Bike takes the core concept, heaps on a health dose of modern production values, dresses up the visuals significantly, and adds RPG elements like character customization. And it just looks sweet.

No release date has been announced yet, but it will be available as a free download with in-app purchases.

E3 2014 - Soul Guardians: Age of Midgard is a Super-Flashy Action RPG Worth Your Attention

Posted by Rob Rich on June 16th, 2014

One of the more surprising iOS surprises to come out of E3 last week was the seemingly out of nowhere online action RPG Soul Guardians: Age of Midgard.

I've seen my fair share of action RPGs on the App Store before, but Soul Guardians displays a cool mix of colorful style and ridiculously over-the-top attack animations that really stand out. You'll be able to collect monster cards, which can then be used as upgradeable special attacks. Seriously, there's a ton of action to shove in your face, and you'll be able to share it all with your friends or random strangers through online co-op.

Soul Guardians: Age of Midgard should be coming to the App Store within the next couple of weeks for free.

E3 2014 - Glu's Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores and Hercules: The Official Game are Bound for iOS

Posted by Rob Rich on June 16th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Last week I had a chance to sit down and take a look at a couple of new titles fro Glu coming later this summer: Hercules: The Official Game and Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores. But are either of them worth keeping an eye out for?

I'm thinking yes.

Hercules: The Official Game

Hercules: The Official Game is based on the upcoming film starring Duane "The Rock" Johnson and follows the demigod's quest to complete his legendary Twelve Labors. It's a task that appears to boil down to a bunch of one-on-one dueling, similar to titles like Infinity Blade. The game's environments are meant to be reminiscent of the film (so beware spoilers I guess?), while the gameplay will feature lots of weapons and equipment to collect.

Hercules: The Official Game should be released in late July for free, and will be available shortly before the movie is officially released.

Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores

On the other end of the action spectrum we have Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores. To an extent it's a lot like Deer Hunter 2014 with dinosaurs, but that's absolutely a good thing. Deer Hunter was surprisingly great, and being able to enjoy the same style of gameplay in a world of ancient animals and goofy/futuristic weapons (think along the lines of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter) only looks like it'll make for an even more entertaining formula.

Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores will hopefully be hitting the App Store for free in late July.

E3 2014 - Hitman Sniper is a Slick and Clever Game of Stealth Sniping

Posted by Rob Rich on June 13th, 2014

Take note: Hitman Sniper is not Contract Killer with a glossy shine. I was actually quite surprised to find out it's more like a high score-chasing puzzle game that just so happens to involve bullets.

Each level (2 locations are planned for release, with more expected at a later date) has a primary target that you'll need to take out in order to complete - but simply offing your mark right away won't net you much. To really rack-up a high score and get your name somewhere respectable on the leaderboards you'll need to build up combos by offing guards that are wandering around the environment. But this is no gallery shooter; you'll be able to shoot out railings guards are leaning on, create distractions by shooting alarmed cars, and interact with the environment in all sorts of ridiculous ways.

There are also upgradeable weapons, of course, as well as a Rival system that pits you against the player immediately above you on the leaderboards so you'll have a reasonable score to try and top every time you play. Everyplay support is also included, which means you'll be able to save your most spectacular setups and combos to show off to all your friends.

Hitman Sniper will be coming out this Fall for free.

E3 2014 - iOS Controller Roundup with SteelSeries, Razer, and More

Posted by Rob Rich on June 13th, 2014

The E3 show floor was awash with games, as you'd expect, but there were also a fair number of iOS controllers on display. Three in particular stood out, including a couple of big names as well as a third entry that seemed to come out of nowhere. Curious to know more? Well then read on!

SteelSeries Stratus XL

Imagine a much larger console-style rendition of the Stratus with pressure-sensitive left and right bumpers, a decent heft, comfy fit, a Quick Pair button that makes pairing with an iOS device much easier, and rubber on the analog sticks for a better grip. That's the Stratus XL.

This new full-sized controller ships with (and uses) two AA batteries and holds a charge for up to 40 hours of start/stop play, and will auto sleep after two minutes of inactivity just in case you forget to shut it off. It also features the same compatibility list as the original Stratus.

The Stratus XL should be available for purchase in September or October of this year. No concrete price has been announced yet, but I've been told it will sell for less than the classic model ($79.99).

Razer Junglecat

Then there's the Junglecat from Razer.

What makes the Junglecat interesting is the way it's been designed to act as both an iPhone case and a controller. The control portion actually slides out from the side, turning it into something that's about the size of most handheld gaming devices. Once you're finished with it you just slide it back and go back to using your phone as usual. It was designed with to be a more convenient portable solution to iOS gaming controllers, and it definitely shows.

The Junglecat is available in white or black for $99.99.

PhoneJoy

The PhoneJoy was tucked away in a corner towards the back of the expo hall, but I'm glad I had the chance to check it out because it's actually pretty neat.

It's certainly similar to the MOGA Ace Power Gamepad in the way it expands and cradles an iPhone, but make no mistake: this is a totally different beast. When collapsed, the Phonejoy takes up very little room - maybe about the size of a wallet - and can easily fit into a pocket, yet it can expand far enough to house a tablet in portrait orientation. Oh, yeah, it can be used with tablets. It also connects to iOS devices via bluetooth.

There are three packages available for the Phonejoy: Basic for $69.90, which is just the controller and a one year warranty; Advanced for $79.90, which includes the controller and warranty, a soft pouch, and a set of specially-designed adapters that will allow you to plug in headphones (because it covers the iPhone's jack) and act as a backup power source; and the Pro Gamer for $89.90, which includes all of the above plus a tablet kickstand and travel case.

E3 2014 - Hands-on with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

Posted by Rob Rich on June 12th, 2014

The announcement that Capcom's Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was made just over a week ago, but even so I couldn't help but be surprised to find it on display at their E3 booth. Even if it was tucked away in a quiet, forgotten corner.

I jumped in after someone left a quest partway through, just to see how it all works. And I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn't set the bar for touch controls or anything, but the interface works pretty darn well. Moving is done with a virtual stick on the left side of the screen, swiping the screen moves the camera while tapping resets it behind the character, and a series of virtual buttons and sliders on the right allow you to attack/block/dodge roll with relative ease. It took some getting used to as this control scheme is more in-line with the classic system from the original that relied on attacking with the right analog stick, but overall it worked quite well. making the button for harvesting, climbing, and so on contextual was also a good call.

The verdict is still out until we get the chance to review Monster Hunter Freedom Unite later this summer, but so far it's looking like a very respectable port of one of Japan's most popular series.