Heroes of Dragon Age sees EA taking the deep backstory of the Dragon Age series that BioWare helped to create and allowing players to create armies of characters throughout the series’ history, taking part in famous battles throughout the mythology. It’s a free-to-play game currently in testing in Canada, and we’re featuring impressions and a video of it in this latest edition of It Came From Canada!
All the combat is automatic, with players having no real say in what happens: just sit back and watch as everyone takes turns fighting. Players set up their lineup of fighters and then hope that they are advantageous in battle. Although there are strategy elements: using an army of the same type of character will give everyone a boost, and upgrading a character by consuming other ones can help turn even a poor fighter into someone who might help win some battles.
Yes, consuming other characters. Getting new characters is done through a card system, and consuming unused characters (really just a card system without much of the card metaphor) can upgrade a character’s stats. It’s kind of disturbing when it’s characters consuming other characters.
There’s an asynchronous battle element, too. Players can take on other players, or at least their current army, to get rewards. Of course there’s the lengthy campaign to take on as well, which takes players through various challenges with the ability to repeat them to get additional rewards, including premium currency. There’s energy systems for both multiplayer challenges and the singleplayer campaign.
Interestingly, for those who haven’t had much experience with the franchise the game’s language and characters are virtually indistinguishable from a brand new intellectual property, so don’t think that there’s a need to be previously exposed to the franchise to enjoy this one. The type of automatic combat is seemingly meant for a more casual, laid-back experience: it’s something seen in other mobile MMORPG type games as well.
Heroes of Dragon Age does have a high learning curve early on, though – there’s a lengthy tutorial section, which I explore in the video below. If all goes well this should be available internationally very soon, but soft launches are an art, not a science!
After taking a year to experiment with Madden NFL Social, and then pulling it from the App Store never to be seen again, EA Mobile has decided to try again with taking Madden and making it into a free-to-play turducken. Madden NFL 25 is not the 2025 version of Madden, but is instead named in honor of the series’ 25th anniversary (and quite possibly a way to make next year’s version Madden NFL 14 without anyone being the wiser).
This entry in the preeminent series of American football isn’t actually available in America – well, the United States at least – as EA has decided to test the game in Canada first. This is despite Canada playing a weird game of football with only three downs, longer fields, and something called a rouge. This is American football, exclusive to Canada, making this one strange set of circumstances for an episode of “It Came From Canada.”
The opening tutorial reveals that with the touch controls, this is a much simpler game than the full console versions. But all the important functions are there, all done with gestures. Teams can be built and improved upon through card packs, which can add players from other teams to one’s own team. Yes, it would be possible to get Aaron Rodgers on the Bears, sacrilegious though it may be. There’s the ability to play just standard games, but the bulk of the game seems to be set in challenges and missions, with an energy system to boot.
There’s an asynchronous multiplayer mode where it’s possible to take on someone else’s team, but they’re not actually playing defense; it’s just taking turns playing offense against a computer-controlled defense. The personal element comes in taking on their customized team lineups.
It’s likely that this is as much a test of server load more than it is with monetization as many limited-local releases tend to be, so with the console versions of Madden NFL 25 releasing on the 27th, it’s quite possible that this will be available worldwide on or around then. Until then, enjoy our hands-on footage of the Canadian version of the game.
EA showed off several of their new titles at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco today at GDC 2013, one of which being their Blitz take on Tetris. Appropriately named Tetris Blitz, this has two-minute sessions of the classic tetromino-dropping gameplay. The smart brick placement controls from the controversial revamp of Tetris have been refined, with easy manual placement options as well. Powerups can be bought, with special weekly powerups also available. The game is planned for this spring for iOS as a free-to-play title.
Since it’s been something of a non-stop Real Racing 3 party here at 148Apps we wanted to draw things to a close with a bit of style. Which is why we’re going to capitalize on all the spirit of Time Shifted competition and challenge you, our readers, to a race. Specifically the Pure Stock Challenge, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Nissan Silvia (S15) Showcase Cup race pictured above. I think I’ve typed that out correctly. Why this event? Because it requires one of the first cars new players will have access to and doesn’t allow for any other; providing as even and easily accessible a playing field as we could find.
All you have to do is drive your heart out. Snap a screen shot (hit the Power and Home buttons on your iOS device at the same time) of your best time and post it in the comments below along with your Game Center username. We’ll pick random winners from all of the entries and post the results here on Monday (3/4) afternoon.
The prizes? We’ll give away three $10 iTunes gift cards to spend how you see fit. Although in the spirit of the contest we’d suggest something like, oh, maybe the Race Car Booster Pack that includes 65 gold and a 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X?
Update: We’ll contact our three winners via email. Thanks for playing and look for more Real Racing 3 contests coming up soon.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on January 15th, 2013 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Electronic Arts has put together a Daily Deal, starting with Risk: The Official Game for iPad at a significant 85% off discount. It’s available today only, so grab it for $0.99 while you can, before it jumps back up to $6.99.
BATTLE COMPUTER & REAL-WORLD ENEMIES
With 3 ways to play – all for up to 6 players – RISK for iPad is made to satisfy the competitive demands of true strategy gamers. Test your power against unforgiving computer-driven adversaries. Play all around the board against your greatest real-world rivals in an epic war game. Or collide head-to-head against your most personal opponent via local WiFi or Bluetooth.
Who doesn’t love a good word game? Nobody, that’s who! With this in mind EA Mobile is working on Word Smack, a new free-to-play spelling puzzler that takes its cues from Mastermind and Hangman.
Word Smack is, at its core, an asynchronous multiplayer word game where the highest score wins the match. Players will have to guess their assigned words using only a couple of hints and their personal spelling knowledge, with proper guesses leading to new words and potentially more points. Once they’ve exhausted their allotted 15 guesses their turn is over, however, so it pays to stop and think for a bit rather than charge blindly ahead. Of course that’s just the first round. The two that follow get progressively more difficult but also yield higher points. So really, it’s the final round that can make all the difference. Assuming someone hasn’t totally botched the first two, anyway.
Word Smack is due out this fall, and it won’t set you back a single pe–y.
Did the Battleship movie get you all pumped up and ready to take on some hostile aliens? Yeah, me neither. In fact it was fairly unimpressive. ClassicBattleship, on the other hand, is all kinds of alright. EA Mobile’s upcoming Battleship Airstrike looks to sit somewhere in the middle, containing the spirit of the classic board game and coupling it with a faster-paced asynchronous multiplayer experience.
Imagine a typical game of Battleship. Each player takes their turn one shot at a time, trying to find their opponent and sink their fleet before they meet a similar fate. Battleship Airstrike ratchets the formula up a bit by allowing players to take multiple shots per turn. In addition to that, special limited use shots can be purchased with money earned through play in order to gain some possible advantages. Advantages such as destroying a ship with a single hit or deploying a kind of artillery sonar that doesn’t cause damage but will reveal vessel locations within a certain number of tiles.
Once a turn is completed – which may consist of several strategic bombings and even paying for repairs on your own damaged (damaged, not destroyed) ships – it’s all submitted to the servers and the opposition is alerted. Typical asynchronous multiplayer stuff, really. It’s more the mold-breaking multi shot turns and special shells (not to mention the possibility of repairs!) that make Battleship Airstrike enticing.
Battleship Airstrike should be out sometime this fall.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on September 24th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
EA Mobile announced the first content update to its freemium title, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, today. Check out the new features below:
· New Characters – Laugh at the mishaps of others with Nelson (Haw-Haw!), admire the snapdragons with Martin, and shake down kids for lunch money with Kearney!
· New Buildings – Collect book fees with the Springfield Library, stare at Neptune with the Springfield Observatory, and collect welfare with the Muntz House.
· New Decorations – Enjoy the elegance of the broken down washer, broken down dryer, and shooting car of the Muntz house, or plant flowers and frolic in the butterfly tent with Martin.
· New Quests – Make Kearney dance a jig, serve detention with Nelson, and more!
Poker has kind of taken the country by storm over the past several years. It’s made its way into all manner of media, obviously including video games. So what makes this particular digital rendition of card-based gambling worth checking out? Quite a lot, it turns out.
All of the expected options are available in World Series of Poker, such as Texas Hold ‘Em and even Omaha Poker, but there’s a slew of more social-oriented features that are actually pretty awesome. Every player has an account that automatically tracks virtually every aspect of their games; thus helping them to better understand their own play style through statistics as well as allowing them to show off their skills with a number of different trophies such as special tournament rings.
It’s easy to tell what a player needs to work on (i.e. too much folding, not enough folding, etc.) at a glance, but what’s also cool is that really good players can gain access to a special league of games that are only available to others that have earned the same honor. In other words, seriously good poker players won’t have to worry about finding themselves in a game full of casual players. It’s also easy to find, invite, and join games that are already in progress. Each game is represented with a table, and players have only to tap an open seat to invite a buddy or two. And it’s just as easy to join a game.
I wasn’t able to procure any pricing information, but World Series of Poker will be available on the App Store “soon.”
A lot of people enjoy Scrabble. Like a lot. But while the current official iOS rendition is doing okay, it’s been in need of a little tweaking for a while. Well the time for tweaking is nigh.
The list of changes includes a much-improved user interface that not only looks nice but makes setting up matches and finding friends a lot easier. In fact, it makes the act of setting up a game into about as painless a process as I’ve seen yet. The chat features have also been updated, and even include some pretty wacky emoticons. There’s also a rather handy new feature that will allow players to see what other words they might have made with their letters after (emphasis on after) their turn is submitted, which should help to even out the playing field a little for the less spell-savvy while still keeping things fair during multiplayer matches.
However, the most exciting change by far has got to be the cross-platform integration. The Facebook rendition is already available, but once the iOS and Android updates are ready to roll out players will be able to get their spell on across all three platforms. This means PC/Mac users can play against iOS/Android users, and that one user’s account can span multiple devices. So one could play a few rounds on their mobile device, then come home and continue the game on the computer via Facebook. Effectively, just about anyone will be able to play Scrabble with just about anyone else just about anywhere.
Scrabble is already available and is free, but these changes won’t hit until sometime this summer. Do any of these changes have you current players excited? Then chime in below!
I’m not what anyone would consider a soccer fan, but that doesn’t keep me from appreciating all of the cool stuff players can expect to find in EA’s upcoming FIFA 13. This is, of course, in addition to the expected bullet-points such as improved graphics and such.
FIFA 13 is indeed a great looking game. Player animations are incredibly smooth and their likenesses are captured eerily well considering this is an iOS game. Although they do have that creepy blank look that so many real world based character models tend to have. A bunch of smaller details will no doubt cause salivary glands to work overtime as well, including balls sporting the proper logos and all the tiny graphics typically found on a player’s jersey. And all of these fine details can be enjoyed up close and personal thanks to the game’s instant replay feature.
It doesn’t stop with tie visuals though. For the first time ever EA Sports Football Club will make its way into an iOS title. Even better, preexisting accounts will be carried over, so nobody will have to start from scratch on their iOS device. Of course my personal favorite addition is the way special skill shots and moves can be controlled via a second virtual stick on the right-hand side of the screen. Simply tap and drag in a given pattern or direction and the controlled player will start with the fancy footwork.
No information is available yet on pricing, but football (football, football) enthusiasts can expect to find FIFA 13 in the App Store sometime this fall.
Update: We received a response from EA that will at least make it possible to get Tetris for iPad back if you paid for the original version. Check the bottom of the post for more details.
EA Mobile has just released a new version of Tetris for the iPad. It uses the updated control method that the new iPhone/iPod touch version uses. That’s well and good. The new control method is actually one of the better improvements on Tetris I’ve seen. But the problem is, you have to re-buy it. Even if you bought the old Tetris, you have to re-buy this one and you don’t have access to the old app anymore.
Let’s say someone who has purchased Tetris for the iPad moves to a new iPad, or even gets a replacement under warranty. If that user, like many, doesn’t back up to iTunes on the desktop, they will no longer have access to the Tetris app they previously paid for.
Developers that want to put out new versions of apps and charge for them are more than welcome to. We’ll let consumers vote with their downloads on wether that is a good idea. But to make unavailable to download a previously purchased item? That’s a pure anti-customer, and obvious revenue-based decision.
The lack of an ability to download previously paid for digital goods, in the case an app, is the real problem. In the world of digital distribution, one where we are moving to a cloud-based backend and a Post-PC world, the apps and other digital media you buy in the App Store, you expect to be available forever. But the sad truth is, they are not available if the developer chooses to pull them. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of Tetris for iPad users that will find that out next time they upgrade devices and try to download the app.
And that is not the idea that Apple had when it introduced iTunes in the Cloud and subscribed to the Post-PC idea of the future.
This isn’t the first time EA has done this either. The original Bejeweled 2 has been pulled in favor of an IAP loaded version of the same just called Bejeweled. And of course, the same trick was played with Tetris for the iPhone/iPod touch.
And to make things even worse, the previous Tetris for the iPad was publicized and put on sale as recently as last week, in EA’s Easter app sale.
EA, please stop cheating your loyal and paying customers. There’s no reason they should be required to re-pay for new apps because the decision is made to update them. If they are happy with the old version, they should still have access to it.
Note that we have asked EA for comment on this, but due to multiple timing issues including deadlines, time zone differences, and our contact being out of the office, we have yet to hear back. We will update this post when we do get an official response.
Update: 4/13 We heard back from Alexis McDowel, PR Director for EA. The following is their response to our query on where Tetris for iPad the original version went.
As you know, the “old” version of Tetris was recently removed from the App Store in order to accommodate the new version of the game (which is also titled “Tetris” but has several new/different gameplay modes and features ), but consumers who have previously purchased Tetris should still have access to it via their “Purchased” account in the cloud—even if they’ve bought a new device and are trying to access the game from that newer device, it should be in there.
We just tried it on our end (i.e., trying to pull up the “old” purchased Tetris on a new device), and we were able to do it with by following these steps on our new device:
1) Click on App Store
3) Not on this iPad
4) Scroll through to find your title and download.
We also checked with one of our on-site support members and were told that your previous Tetris purchase should not go away as long as your firmware is updated—no sync to a desktop necessary.
So there you have it. I have verified this on my iPad and see that Tetris for iPad is available to download even though it’s no longer available in the App Store. In light of that, calling this cheating customers is way out of bounds. But confusing and annoying it most certainly is. Since the app can not be searched for in previous purchases for unknown reasons, this will still lead to many users thinking they need to pay for the new version. Confusing and annoying, yes.
EA Mobile and subsidiary publisher Chillingo were on hand at GDC to demo some of their upcoming mobile titles, including the sequel to one of the biggest iOS franchises, and a couple of interesting new independent titles.
EA Mobile showed off Flight Control Rocket, Firemint’s next entry in their popular path management series. The core gameplay is the same as the original Flight Control: draw lines from ships to their landing points. However, the game now takes place in space (and it boasts a 70′s-esque sci-fi theme to go along with it), and new elements like snake ships that are connected, ships that split in two, and ships that drop drones as they fly by. The game also has bots that can be leveled up, and used as game modifiers, to enable bonuses or to make the game slightly easier. The game is planned for iPhone and iPad, and will be available later this month.
Chillingo and React Entertainment showed off The Act, which is inspired by games like Dragon’s Lair where the graphics are all hand-drawn animation. The game has its origins in an arcade game that was canceled in 2007 that was recently revived for the iPhone. Unlike Dragon’s Lair, where the player had little control over what the protagonist did, in this one, players can swipe left to right in varying degrees to control what they do. For example, in the demo’s opening sequence, the player must try to woo a lovely woman, the object of the protagonist’s affection, at a Casablanca-esque club in a dream sequence. The player must swipe left and right to control the intensity of his actions, from pretending to ignore her, to eventually dancing for her, but not going too far as to jump on her, or to perform the always-classy pelvic thrust.
Next, there was another Chillingo-published title, Air Mail. This game has players flying around beautiful fantasy worlds, performing missions in their biplane. There is no direct combat, no guns being fired, as missions involving dropping off packages, putting out fires with a water bucket that must be refilled, and similar missions of that ilk. As well, there are high score modes that involve limited-time and endless missions, and a free exploration mode with secrets to discover. This game was developed in Unity, and there are plans to bring it to non-iOS platforms as well.
EA and Firemint’s Spy Mouse has an update out now that’s designed to be more appropriate for this time of year, with Valentine’s Day coming up. Love is in the air, and while the cats in Agent Squeek’s life are still out to keep him from getting his cheese, everything is a lot more lovey-dovey. The app icon shows not a stern and focused Agent Squeek, but a more charmed Agent Squeek, presenting delicious chocolate for a willing suitor. The whole menu is now Valentine’s-themed, which means that it’s more pink and heart-filled. In-game, the cheese crumbs that give bonus points are now hearts. As well, those cats now get hearts over their head when they spy Agent Squeek, broken heart icons when the try to grab him and miss. Plus, when they do get him, it’s now a heart-filled dust cloud. Okay. This alternate interpretation of Spy Mouse update is available now for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad versions of the game.
EA are well-known for their sales on the App Store. Usually, around some kind of holiday, there’s a sale on many EA Mobile games, often dropping games from $6.99 down to $0.99. So what is EA Mobile supposed to do with this time of year, referred to as the “holiday season?” Have an entire month of price cuts and deals, apparently. Thus, EA Mobile has begun their “Daily Deals” program.
The Daily Deals have kicked off with games dropping to the lowest price point possible: free! The first two free games were The Sims Medieval for iPhone/iPod touch, and Shift 2: Unleashed for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. As well, Battlefield 2: Bad Company went on sale for $1.99 for iPhone/iPod touch, and $4.99 for iPad; these are 33% and 50% discounts off the regular price, respectively. As per the title of the program, EA is claiming that there will be new deals each day, although for the first weekend of the promotion these deals remained in effect.
EA is offering a web app for users to keep track of the promotion at their EA Daily Deals web page. A new deal will be made available each day at 9:00 am PST (GMT -8), and EA says that they will vary from more free games, to deep discounts on paid titles.
While people love deep discounts on iOS games, and I myself am not excluded, I have to wonder if the current state of the mobile game business, where those who wish to sell games at premium price points are unable to do so because companies like EA can afford to drop their prices to deep discounts like this. In many ways, it’s led to situations like the release of the new Tetris game, which relies heavily on IAP monetization, which is something some vocal users have been staunchly against. Massive regular sales on titles like this might be why that kind of situation is now occurring, and why sales like this exist, because it is difficult to sell titles at price points above $0.99, or even free. When EA, one of the companies that can actually sell titles at higher prices is so willing to have these kinds of fire sales with massive promotion, it does not necessarily portend well for the future of premium-priced apps on the App Store.
Grow tired of the same old Tetris on iPhone? The current version dates back to 2008 (fun fact: the game used to cost $9.99), so it may just be proper time for a new version of the game. Well, EA is hard at work on a new Tetris that will help mix things up. First, a brand new visual look offers a glowing design that colorizes each individual piece. A new rank feature appears to be in place, to allow players to reach the tile of “Tetrismaster.” The ability to earn coins to spend on in-game poweruos is also now available, potentially keying in on this being a free-to-play release, or even just a premium release supported by in-app purchases as well. Details are very scant at this moment, as no release date, potential iPad availability, or anything beyond these screenshots is currently available, but we will have more on this new Tetris release as they come in.
EA Mobile and Firemint’s mousey hero Agent Squeek is now about to stealthily and cheesily sneaking around on the iPad in the recently released SPY mouse HD. The game, which topped the iPhone/iPod touch charts upon its release, has been re-worked to take advantage of the iPad. The game’s art and graphics are optimized to shine on the bigger screen, and the line drawing controls are more accurate thanks to the iPad’s massive screen. The iPad version features the same number of levels as the iPhone/iPod touch version, but the game boasts exclusive new content for the iPad version. Otherwise, this is the same hybrid of line drawing, popularized by Firemint’s Flight Control, and stealth action gameplay. Players control Agent Squeek by drawing lines that he walks along; however, he must avoid cats and other traps that get in the way between him and his beloved cheese. SPY mouse HD is available now for the iPad.
Create and customize a wildlife reserve. Manage various park minutiae. Upgrade facilities and inhabitants in order to bring in the big bucks. It sounds fairly typical of a good number of freemium park sims, but Fantasy Safari twists it up a bit. By adding fantasy creatures, naturally.
Dragons, frozen wolves, phoenixes and more. It’s a bit of a departure from the usual fare, to say the least. Now, thanks to EA Mobile, we can all try our hand at running our own zoo full of non-existent animals. 40 different non-existent animals, at that. 40 non-existent animals that can learn new abilities (i.e. fire breathing) as savvy players futz with their enclosures.
Anyone looking to try their hand at managing a theme park/zoo with a bit more… “flavor” can do so right now. Fantasy Safari is already on the App Store and, like most (read: all) free-to-play titles it doesn’t require any money to get started.
Money, it’s a gas; grab that cash with both hands and make a stash!
On This Episode:
Carter speaks to Alex Benoit of EA Mobile about the recent release of Scrabble for Android, discussing its cross-platform multiplayer play, as well as major publishers who distribute games as free to play releases on Android.
Carter and Owens Rodriguez talk about Alien Space Retro, what went into this release of the game, as well as discussing the culture of in-app purchases on iOS.
RISK is an epic, sprawling strategy game with a diehard following. But while this app delivers the core of what makes Risk fun, it's also lacking in important areas. No global multiplayer, house rules, or extra maps make this port one of dubious value.