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Hello World - Book 1: The Lonely Islands Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Lucy Ingram on October 22nd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: A WORLD OF MAGIC AND MAYHEM
A first-person adventure set in a magical world named "Fred," Hello World is a captivating story filled with the most bizarre and interesting characters one will ever meet.
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10tons Discuss Publishing Fantasy Hack n Slasher Trouserheart

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 12th, 2013

Recently announced, Trouserheart looks like quite the quirky, DeathSpank-style fantasy action game. Notably, it's a game that is being published by established Finnish games studio, 10tons and developed by similarly established and Finnish firm, Dicework Games. With our curiosity piqued, I was able to talk to 10tons's Jaakko Maaniemi about how the union came to be, and just what players should expect when the game is released next month.

148apps: Why is it called Trouserheart?
Jaakko Maaniemi (JM): It's awesome you ask about the name, as we put some serious effort into coming up with it. We wanted to achieve all kinds of things with the name, and we're very happy with Trouserheart. We wanted the name to be short, preferably one word – Trouserheart is ok in that regard.


We obviously wanted the name to be catchy, memorable and distinct, as there are hundreds of games released every day. As the name was your first question, I believe we succeeded here as well. The name also had to communicate the lighthearted, humorous tone of of the game. Check! Trouserheart is also the name of the game’s hero, King Trouserheart.

Finally, we wanted to [be] associated [with] the fantasy genre. The something-heart is a pretty well known fantasy convention, all the way from King Lionheart and Braveheart to hit games like Battleheart and Kingdom Hearts. Trousers also feature in the game’s storyline, but we’ll talk about that in detail later.

148apps: Will Trouserheart be a story-led game?
JM: Trouserheart is not very story driven, apart from the clear setup and rewarding conclusion. The reason is that Trouserheart's gameplay is very short form. In other words, a single session of Trouserheart is just a couple of intensive minutes. There's not a whole lot of time, nor point, in cramming a lot of storytelling in there. And we’re concentrating 100% on making the gameplay as great as possible.

148apps: What inspiration led to the game?
JM: We wanted to make a game that’s simple, easy to pick up and fun to play. It takes literally about five seconds from the start of each session to be in a fight with monsters, knee deep in your next quest. Seasoned gamers can probably name titles Trouserheart reminds them of, but there’s no single source of inspiration in that regard.


Visually, we wanted to make Trouserheart look instantly familiar, but with a recognizable quirky tone. The kind of blocky look works well with the gameplay. The bright colors and clear shapes also help the game look clear on the smaller screens of mobiles.

148apps: Are you able to discuss any of the features within the game? It looks quite hack n slash style in the screenshots, is that the case?
JM: Trouserheart is definitely hack'n slash. In fact, hacking and slashing is basically the only interaction there is in the game, although you do a few kinds of different things with the whackage. We're especially proud of how well we've nailed the virtual controllers. They're really good. We've always been annoyed by how many bad implementations of virtual controllers are out there, and one of the driving factors in creating Trouserheart is that we wanted to do virtual controllers right.

We should also mention that Trouserheart is as relaxed and easy-going as a good hack’n slash game can be. We hope that if Trouserheart is the first hack’n slash game someone plays, they’ll enjoy it.


148apps: What motivated 10tons to go into publishing rather than development?
JM: 10tons has been around for ten years now, and so far we've published around two dozen titles we’ve developed ourselves - and we’ll definitely keep developing games in the future as well. We’ve released games on most mobile platforms and know our way around different markets so we already had a nice toolset for publishing games. Both Dicework Games and 10tons are located in Tampere, Finland, so we had a chance to see the game very early in development. We immediately liked Trouserheart’s concept, instant accessibility, and style. A bit later it we found ourselves in a position where we could help each other: Dicework needed resources to finish and launch the game to realize its full potential and 10tons was dreaming of an easy-going fun mobile game that would also work with gamepads.

Thanks to Jaakko for taking the time to answer our questions. It's great to see indie developers working together towards a common goal. We'll be sure to cover Trouserheart in more depth when it's released in September.

GOL: Legend Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 26th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SOME SHALL PASS
One-touch controls or not, it takes a fair amount of patience to see even a single level of GOL: Legend through to the end. But it's extremely satisfying when that happens.
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DWD Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 13th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: DRAB WIZARD DEFENSE
DWD is a gorgeous game with a disappointing lack of genuine entertainment.
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Dark Quest Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on April 23rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: WIZARDS CAN BE JERKS
Dark Quest might not sport the best name in the world, but it makes good use of a rather eclectic mix of gameplay ideas.
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Sci-Fi Library Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Angela LaFollette on April 10th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: OUT OF THIS WORLD
Fans of the genre can easily keep tabs on their favorite books, as well as over 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books preloaded.
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Knight Storm Review

Posted by Rob Rich on April 3rd, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: 505 Games
Price: FREE
Version: 1.2.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

[rating:overall]

Life can be tough for a knight. There’s a near-constant need for chivalrous heroes, taxes to collect, and strongholds to manage. And yet, they persevere because it’s the just thing to do. Knight Storm appropriately gameifies such a life to a surprising degree of success, although it does have one spectacularly large flaw that any potential users need to be made aware of.

A young knight’s father has recently passed away and left him with his titles, lands, and all that other cool stuff. Players must do their best to fill their mysterious father’s boots as they fix up the compound and roam the countryside looking for evils to vanquish. There are three essential mechanics to Knight Storm: town management, jousting, and dueling. Town management involves assigning followers to various shops and such in order to speed up the production of cash, experience, and potions. Dueling is mostly a simple matter of deciding whether or not to equip magical glyphs (at the cost of some stamina) to deal extra damage to an enemy. Jousting also involves glyphs as well as a simple dragging mechanic to place the tip of the lance in the proper spot. Put it all together and we have a perpetual adventure full of action, basic sim aspects, and plenty of gear to upgrade.

Knight Storm’s presentation is probably its most impressive feature. This is a good looking game, of course, but a lot of care has been given to the smaller details as well. The slow motion shots of rivals being tossed from their mounts as their lances shatter and wood bits fly everywhere never get old, and the goofy dialog options for many of the quests make up for their lack of visual stimuli. The constant brewing of health and stamina potions is a clever idea as well since it gives players a legitimate chance to keep playing for extended periods of time without having to spend real money all the time.

I could nitpick about some of the smaller issues, all of which are cosmetic, but I’d rather spend the words issuing a warning: keep an eye out for the Game Center welcome bar that pops up on the top of the screen. If it doesn’t show up, go into the multiplayer menu (it looks like two crossed lances) and select the Game Center option manually. The reason for this is because Knight Storm will not save progress if it’s not logged in. I seriously wasted several hours of potential resource accrual because absolutely none of my actions were saved over at least half a dozen sessions.

I almost gave up on Knight Storm after losing so much progress but I’m glad I stuck with it and figured out the problem. It’s a fun, accessible game that doesn’t punish its players for being frugal.

Ark of the Ages Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on April 1st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: LOVE/HATE
XSEED's third/first person dungeon crawler is both good and bad. At the same time, actually.
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Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on March 28th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: UNLIMITED POWER
Torching goblins, crushing trolls, and making harpies explode is just as much fun as it sounds.
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Dragon Storm Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jordan Minor on February 22nd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: SIGH OF THE STORM
As original and memorable as its title.
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Fantasy Conflict Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Denis Farr on October 15th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: PESKY THIEVING DWARVES
Dwarves stole your crystal! The king wants it back. Time to get a-tappin'.
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Kingdom Royale Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jordan Minor on October 10th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: JOIN OR DIE
Kingdom Royale is a perfectly fine social fantasy strategy game, just like all the rest.
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Shadow Spires Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jordan Minor on September 30th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: THE TWO TOWERS
This strategy card game can be fun but it somehow manages to be too simple and too complicated all at once.
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God of Blades Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on September 27th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: GODLY
God of Blades, one of the first games to be funded via Kickstarter, has finally come out, and it is a fun action-packed romp through fantastic landscapes.
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Avernum Creator Jeff Vogel Talks About Past, Present, and Porting

Posted by Rob Rich on August 21st, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: INSTANT CLASSIC :: Read Review »

As Spiderweb Software's fantasy epic hits its 18 year anniversary, the final game's App Store debut is looming on the horizon. But it's not just the second iOS release for the series, not counting Avadon as it's a separate thing, it's the final chapter to a second trilogy. That's six games, total. And I was lucky enough to be able to ask series creator Jeff Vogel about it.

First and foremost, what made you all decide to create a role playing game in the first place?
I've been obsessed with role-playing games since I first learned to play Dungeons & Dragons, around 32 years ago. Sometimes there is something about a genre that just grabs you and doesn't let go.

I have to ask, when you all began work on the first Avernum, did you have plans for a 6-part series?
Avernum is a rewrite of my very, very first game, Exile: Escape From the Pit, which I started in 1994. When I began it, I honestly thought it was just a hobbyist thing, and I didn't look for one second past the first title. Happily, the world I created turned out to be very versatile and have a lot of stories in it.

And why six games specifically?
Two trilogies. I think three games is a really good length for telling one epic story. So the whole series is two almost self-contained arcs.

I imagine you've learned quite a bit from working on so many titles, and not just the Avernum series. Were there any particular bits of experience you've gained along the way that have been more useful than most?
I have learned so much since I started, and 18 years in, it feels like I learn more every year. Things about how to design, to code, to test, to market. It's a huge, complex field, and there is no shortage of mistakes and foolishness on my part I need to correct.

In that vein, have there been things that you know now that you wish you knew back at the beginning?
I wish, when I started, I knew to pony up the money and find good freelance artists. I made a lot of the art in-house, and I should have had real people doing it. Especially the interface.

Have there been any unique challenges in developing any of the Avernum titles for iOS as opposed to Mac or PC?
Adapting from a mouse/keybords interface to a touchscreen was difficult and required a lot of thought. Touchscreens don't work as well for hardcore, tactical games. Happily, people seem to be happy with the interface we developed.

I imagine iOS distribution is fairly different than Mac/PC. Have you found there to be any specific hurdles in releasing, selling, and supporting a game on the App Store?
Marketing. Visibility. It's a hugely, HUGELY busy and competitive platform. It's so hard to stand out from the teeming masses. Happily, we are about the only ones writing this sort of game for iOS, which helps.

Has there been more notable success on one platform as opposed to the others?
Avadon: The Black Fortress continues to do really well for us. I recommend it. It's fun.

Now that the final game in the series is coming to iPad, might there be plans to bring earlier titles to the platform?
Yeah, a few. I'm adapting Avernum 6 now, and I hope to have it out in October. However, the older games use an old code base that would be extremely difficult to adapt to iOS.

On a similar note, are there any plans to make the series available for iPhone?
No. The screen is too small. I will need to rewrite the engine from scratch to adapt to it.

I hope to someday write games for the iPhone. I'm really thinking about it. But that sort of thing needs to be baked in from day 1.

Lastly, how's Avadon 2 coming along? I noticed the little blurb about it on the website. Will that be available for iOS alongside the first one?
It's going. Slowly. I want it to be out next summer, but I'm having a little bit of mid-life burnout. But it is happening. And it will absolutely be out for the iPad.

Avernum 6 HD is slated to hit the App Store on October 10th. Avernum: Escape From The Pit and Avernum 6 are also available from the Mac App Store.