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Favorite Four: Strange, Bizarre iOS Games

Posted by Rob Rich on July 17th, 2013

The past five years have seen the App Store’s library of available titles grow from a respectable 500-800 (July, 2008) to an almost inconceivable 1,000,000-plus. Of course the larger a software library gets, especially on a platform abundant with independent developers, the more likely for things to get weird. I mean really weird. With that in mind, here’s a list of four of the App Store’s most bizarre releases spread out over the last five years.

Tomena Sanner (2009)
It’s not the first runner to show up on the App Store, but it’s definitely one of the weirder ones. Guiding an energetic business man through levels filled with cowboys, dinosaurs, and even stranger obstacles is interesting enough. However, he doesn’t just leapfrog over robots and aliens and such; he dances with them. He dances with pretty much everything. And if he makes it to the end of the level in time, he dances there, too.
[itmsapp: 340120316]

Enviro-Bear 2010 (2010, obviously)
Anyone who’s familiar with Enviro-Bear 2010 should know that it’s impossible to create a list of off-the-cuff weird iOS games and not include it. I mean it looks weird enough as it is. Actually playing it is a whole other bundle of weird as players control a bear’s hand as it attempts to drive around the woods gathering food for the winter. Food that falls in through the car’s sunroof as the bear runs into things, that then has to be eaten using the bear’s one and only paw that’s needed for accelerating/steering/braking/everything else.
[itmsapp: 321414903]

NOM 5 (2011)
NOM 5 is basically the App Store’s most disjointed and surreal runner. It’s running and obstacle avoidance coupled with complete sensory overload, and the plot makes about as much sense as trying to imagine the personal relationship between a squirrel and the tree it’s climbing. Even that would probably make more sense than anything to be seen here. If you’re looking for something that makes so little sense it’s actually a little unnerving, look no further.
[itmsapp: 446316111]

Quadropus Rampage (2013)
Rounding out the list is a game about a very angry four-armed octopus on a quest to destroy Pete, the evil god of the sea. The bizarre creatures that make up Pete’s army aren’t about to make things easy, though. You’ll have to grab whatever weapons you can find (including flaming swords, guitars, sticks, and frogs) and make good use of your starfish companion if you’re to have any chance of reaching Pete at the bottom of his ocean kingdom. It’s probably the most “normal” game on this list, but the story and the world are still surreal enough for it to count.
[itmsapp: 635874036]

Favorite Four: Apps to Make Mom Smile

Posted by Rob Rich on May 10th, 2013

With the arrival of Mothers Day, children everywhere will be scrambling to show their appreciation. Perhaps consider one of these iOS options as well. Not that they'd replace quality time, of course. By all means go and treat your mom to a nice dinner, give her a call, or whatever else you were planning to do. We just ask you to consider adding one (or all) of these digital possibilities to your Mother's Day plan.

Flower Garden
Who doesn't think of getting their mom some flowers on Mothers Day? Nobody, that's who. Flower Garden allows users to grow their own flora, as well as acquire new seeds for more exotic (and in some cases fictitious) examples. After some TLC they can then harvest their flowers and create a bouquet. A bouquet they can send to anyone on their Contacts list. And if the price seems a bit steep don't fret; there's a possibility (nothing official, just guessing) that it may go on sale like it did last Mothers Day.

[itmsapp: 311265471]

Let’s create! Pottery HD
Mom always likes it when you make her stuff. She always held on to that hideous ashtray you made for her back when you were in first grade, even though she doesn't smoke. Now you can shower her with a ton of virtual ceramics without the hassle of any cleanup. Much like Flower Garden it's possible to send photos of a piece to anyone you want, including mom. Unlike Flower Garden it's also possible to give a particular favorite physical form through a little in-app purchase of some 3D printing.

[itmsapp: 380090605]

Cards
Moms also like to get cards. Not just on Mothers Day, either. Downloading Apple's official custom card creation app is practically a no-brainer for such an occasion. And as an added bonus you can send her customized greeting cards of the family/kids year-round. Think about that: the ability to send your mom personalized (and physical) greeting cards whenever you'd like, for any occasion. All without having to browse through the paltry selection at the store.

[itmsapp: 464957209]

ComicBook!
Giving your mom some eFlowers or making her a card is cool and all, but putting together a comic book that chronicles your adventures fighting crime (or even something a bit more tame) is just plain fun. I dare any moms out there not to laugh, or at least crack a smile, when their sons or daughters present them with the first issue of The Incredible Mom, Spidermom, or even Iron Mom.

[itmsapp: 436114747]

Favorite Four: Atypical Fantasy RPGs

Posted by Rob Rich on May 1st, 2013

As interesting (and surprisingly tough) as it was to put together a list of RPGs that have nothing to do with fantasy stuff, that’s no reason to ignore more “typical” examples of the genre. So now we’re back to fantasy RPGs in all their kobold-bashing, dragon-taming, evil-conquering, zombie-slaughtering glory. I’ll admit that none of the games on this list is a real “traditional” role playing game, but they’re all still RPGs (of a sort) and all chock full of fantasy goodness.

Dragon Island Blue
If you’re ever in the mood to hunt down and capture dangerous monsters, delve through perilous dungeons, and create the ultimate team of badass creatures then Dragon Island is the place to be. Most if not all of the enemies (and by extension potential allies) are fairly typical fantasy archetypes, but they each manage to look so much cooler than the typical examples and feature a pretty diverse range of abilities. Constructing a well-balanced team with complementary skills is a must for higher level encounters.

[itmsapp: 532138534]

Nimble Quest
An action RPG crossed with Snake. Who would've thought such a combination would work so well? Nimble Quest might feature plenty of typical fantasy baddies (i.e. bats, skeletons, evil wizards, etc), but its emphasis on a conga line procession of heroes with their own unique abilities really sets it apart. It's also one of the few action RPGs where I've found the super-frail magic wielders to be easier to use than the melee fighters.

[itmsapp: 583638819]

Brogue
Roguelikes are something of an acquired taste, but those who can learn to accept their brutal difficulty and typically steep learning curves will be able to enjoy virtually limitless hours of dungeon exploration and desperate fights for survival. So why Brogue and not any of the other fantastic examples of the genre that are also on the App Store? Well first off it manages to make use of its ASCII visuals to create some truly impressive-looking environments. Secondly it’s high fantasy to the core; filled with kobolds, goblins, wands, spell scrolls, and more.

[itmsapp: 613921309]

Slayin
Slayin might be the least traditional RPG on the list but it’s possibly the most fun by virtue of its addictive arcade style gameplay. All the expected baddies make an appearance here - slimes, bats, dragons, minotaurs, etc - and all are ready to fall before your sword in the name of the almighty High Score. Character levels are constantly climbing, and enemies are always getting more numerous and aggressive, equating to one crazy bite-sized action RPG.

[itmsapp: 548580856]

Favorite Four: Non-Fantasy RPGs

Posted by Rob Rich on April 29th, 2013

RPGs are incredibly popular, and probably will be for quite some time to come. The weird thing is that for some reason people seem to have trouble adapting the genre’s concepts into a world that isn’t full of magic, goblins, dragons, and so on. These games certainly do exist but they’re few and far between, especially on iOS. Hence our shoutout to four of our favorite iOS RPGs that aren’t saturated with dwarfs and elves and such.

Mission Europa Collector’s
One part dungeon crawler, another part shooter, a sprinkling of horror, and a ton of stat driven RPG elements make up this offbeat adventure. Players must brave the abandoned tunnels of Jupiter’s moon as they attempt to piece together what happened to the crew that was initially stationed there, as well as try not to get torn to pieces by the hideous amalgamations of rotting flesh and electronics that continue to roam the halls. It’s a very action and loot-heavy RPG with nary an orc to be found.

[itmsapp: 419050879]

Corporate Fury
When a new CEO takes over a company, they can sometimes really shake up the way things are done. Corporate Fury takes that concept to a whole new level when salary men (and women) are forced to fight each other one-on-one for every little thing. Want a promotion? Then beat the snot out of the person above you. Thinking of passing that report along to the intern? You’d better hope they’re a pushover. Amidst all the goofy violence and mayhem players can improve their character with new skills, equipment, and combat moves as they attempt to fight their way to the top of the corporate ladder, leaving a trail of broken bodies in their wake.

[itmsapp: 387785566]

Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
Zeboyd's latest convention-defying RPG might be full of all sorts of fantastical creatures, but they include things like mollusks with a love of mimes and giant crab-wizards. It's a vaguely steampunk world filled with semi-Cthulhian horrors and a remarkably goofy sense of humor, not a series of dark forests filled with giant spiders and ogres. There's still plenty of evil afoot only this time it's a bit less conventional, as are the protagonists and their rampant multi-classing.

[itmsapp: 565213359]

The World Ends with You: Solo Remix
When putting together a list of non-fantasy RPGs I knew I just had to include The World Ends with You. It’s a fantastic RPG in its own right that still manages to set itself apart from most other titles in the genre thanks to its style, music, characters, and plot. And it all takes place in modern day Shibuya as Neku and his accomplices attempt to survive the Reaper’s game and save themselves from a horrible fate.

[itmsapp: 544695089]

Favorite Four: Pixel Worlds

Posted by Rob Rich on April 26th, 2013

Like it or not (I personally like it), retro-inspired pixel graphics are here to stay. A lot of people love the nostalgia that comes with such visuals, but it’s also interesting to see how pixel artists interpret different ideas. They can squeeze a surprising amount of detail out of a few well-placed squares. This list chronicles four of the pixilated worlds we find the most impressive. Not just the characters, mind, but the overall artistic style of their universe.

Arranger
I’ll admit that it’s a bit rough around the edges. Some of the mechanics aren’t fully realized and the movement controls, while much better after an update, are still a bit tough to use. However this is a list about fantastic, pixilated worlds, and Arranger has definitely got that. Part homage to Atari classics, part acid trip through a 1970s arcade cabinet, it’s nothing it not incredibly imaginative and unique.

[itmsapp: 567164379]

Pixel Kingdom
I know I’ve already mentioned how much I love the visuals in Pixel Kingdom but I’m going to reiterate because I really love them. Capturing so much personality and charm in characters that sport such small dimensions is no easy task, yet here it’s pulled off almost effortlessly. At least it seems that way. Simply watching the heros walk across the field brings a smile to my face. The added draw of discovering what other bizarre and wonderful creatures lurk just off-screen on higher difficulties is another big draw.

[itmsapp: 620076041]

Canabalt
What impresses me so much about Canabalt is how minimal its visuals are. Aside from the main character, I mean. His animations are pretty spectacular. There’s no color and practically no fine details to the backgrounds, yet it manages to tell a rather harrowing story. It’s a world on the brink of destruction, under attack from seemingly invincible extra-terrestrial aggressors, all depicted through the use of various shades of gray and some silhouettes.

[itmsapp: 333180061]

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Of all the worlds I've visited that can be expressed through "bits," Sword & Sworcery's is definitely my favorite. It's a world full of whimsical forests and foreboding caves. The magic floating in the pixelated air is almost tangible. And to say it's gorgeous would be a rather terrible understatement. The warrior monk's quest might be sorrowful (and a tad short), but it's stayed with me ever since its completion.

[itmsapp: 424912055]

Favorite Four: First-Person Games that Aren't Shooters

Posted by Rob Rich on April 24th, 2013

I think most people can agree that we probably don’t need quite as many first-person shooters on the market as we actually have. There are some great games to be had, sure, but with so much over-saturation it starts to become difficult to get excited about it. That’s why we’ve got a list of four of our favorite first-person games that aren’t shooters. They use the same perspective, and in some cases the same “floating hands” motif, but there are no firearms to be found. See? Just because a game is in first-person doesn’t mean it has to involve shooting stuff in the face.

Dark Meadow
Okay, so technically you do shoot some stuff in the face here, but not in the traditional sense. That’s kind of a weird thing to say now that I think about it. Anyway the crossbow isn’t actually a gun, and it functions are more of a way to chip away at an enemy’s health before they close the gap. Dark Meadow is primarily a first-person adventure/action game with an emphasis on exploration and melee. A combination that ends up being pretty awesome.

[itmsapp: 452823332]

The Quest
Now The Quest is definitely not a shooter. It’s an old-school inspired, first-person, turn-based RPG that isn’t afraid to force those who write about it to use lots of hyphens. It’s also an incredibly robust adventure that allows players to create a number of various custom characters and tackle the world and its various quests as they see fit. And that’s all before taking the ridiculous amount of expansions into account.

[itmsapp: 305553708]

Ravensword: Shadowlands
If you were to ask any console gamers about first-person games that aren’t shooters, one of the first titles that would pop into their head would have to be either Oblivion or Skyrim. This is the iOS gamer’s equivalent. Ravensword is a huge RPG full of little nooks and crannies to explore and unique creatures to slay. It can, of course, be played in third-person as well but in this instance first-person is far superior.

[itmsapp: 566839331]

Minecraft - Pocket Edition
Betcha didn’t see this one coming. Minecraft is a lot of things to different people: gaming’s most amazing sandbox, a great way to be creative with friends, The Second Coming, a boring and over-hyped piece of junk, or even just “meh.” But what isn’t debatable is the fact that it’s one of the least shooter-y first-person games currently available on iOS devices. Not only is there little to no emphasis on shooting (plus there’s only a bow), but it’s a game that’s actually about building rather than destroying. At least for those who wouldn’t jump into another player’s game just to troll.

[itmsapp: 479516143]

Favorite Four: Apps To Get You Running (For Real This Time)

Posted by Rob Rich on April 22nd, 2013

Tons of people, myself included, talk about wanting to get healthy. Often that means taking up running. Of course the reality of the situation is that we almost never make good on those promises. That’s where this particular list comes in. For your consideration we have four apps that should, in theory, get you out and jogging. For real this time.

RockMyRun
Music can be a big motivator for a lot of people. It can get the blood pumping and really gets us in the mood for doing stuff. RockMyRun is a collection of specially mixed tunes for runners from a variety of DJs from all over the world. Sure there’s always the option of listening to your own music, but why not try some tunes that have been specifically created to keep you running?

[itmsapp: 546417608]

RunKeeper
RunKeeper is great for tracking progress for running, hiking, biking, etc. It features a number of detailed stats to monitor, lets users take photos to chronicle their activities, and will notify them when personal milestones have been reached. It’s full of useful features but what’s really bound to get me using it is the feature that lets me compare and compete with my friends.

[itmsapp: 300235330]

Walkathon + Fitness Games
This particular app features a lot of games that can be unlocked via in-app purchase, ranging from fantasy kingdom construction to racing with friends. However, as motivating as gamifying running and walking can be, what’s really impressive is the way it automatically links with sponsors to make donations based on your activity. I mean, it is Walkathon after all.

[itmsapp: 564936523]

Zombies, Run!
Personally, I think Zombies, Run! is the app that will finally get me running. It doesn’t just turn jogging into a game, it turns it into an awesome and robust game. Constructing strongholds, completing quests, finding supplies, and running like mad from hordes of shambling corpses. It sounds awesome all by itself, but it’s powered by physical activity!

[itmsapp: 503519713]

Favorite Four: Bathroom Finders

Posted by Rob Rich on April 19th, 2013

We’ve all found ourselves in the unfortunate situation of being out of our element and desperately needing a toilet. It’s an awful scenario to be in; not knowing where to find one or how long you can hold out. For that very reason we’ve compiled a list of four restroom location apps that might not be super-versatile, but they can sure come in handy when they’re needed.

Public Toilets
This isn’t just a bathroom-finder, it’s an extensive database of close to 50,000 toilet locations across several different countries. Users don’t just find bathrooms with it, either. They can also submit their own entries, complete with photos and ratings, for everyone’s benefit. Just don’t go too crazy with the toilet pictures.

[itmsapp: 379780247]

Where to Wee
It’s not as user-driven when it comes to submissions, but Where to Wee is still a handy at-a-glance restroom app. Not only does it display the necessary location info on a map, it also highlights the highest-rated toilets with a vibrant green icon. In addition to finding restrooms and displaying properly on the iPhone 5’s screen (yay!), it can also help roadtrippers and other out of towners find some nice out of the way spots to eat.

[itmsapp: 328752324]

Can’t Wait
Canucks (and tourists) rejoice! Can’t Wait is a Canada-centric toilet app that chronicles various porcelain thrones, displays their locations in relation to the user’s iOS device, lists amenities, and allows for submissions that can be shared with friends or all users. It’s the perfect app to have after a huge breakfast full of syrup and ham slices that they refer to as “bacon” for some odd reason.

[itmsapp: 397788283]

Pottys
Pottys offers up all the expected perks of a toilet app - locators, ratings, reviews, bookmarks, photos, and so on - with one interesting addition. Users can also earn “potty points” and achievements for performing various actions (using a restroom, submitting photos, etc). So with enough use it’s possible to become a Knight, Emperor, and so on. It effectively gameifies potty time.

[itmsapp: 511798655]

Favorite Four: At-a-Glance Weather Apps

Posted by Rob Rich on April 10th, 2013

Anyone who ventures outside with any regularity needs to know what the weather is doing, no matter how they get around. Thing is, people are often in a rush and need to either figure out how to plan for the day or wing it and hope for the best. For anyone who often finds themselves flying out the door and subsequently caught in the rain without an umbrella or sporting a thick coat in 60 degree temperatures, this list of at-a-glance weather apps is for you.

Weather Neue
What makes Weather Neue so great is that it pretty much embodies “at-a-glance.” As soon as the app starts up users are greeted with a screen displaying the current temperature and weather conditions, wind speed, and a peek at what the next three days will bring. All with a big, bold, easy to read presentation.

[itmsapp: 527856624]

Climate Clock
It might seem odd to have this and Weather Neue in the same list since they’re so similar, but what sets Climate Clock apart is the way it displays information for most of the day on a single screen. Users can see how hot or cold it will be later on that evening, and even if they should think about bringing an umbrella, without touching a single menu option.

[itmsapp: 586030399]

Daily Weather
It’s not as elegantly simple as some of the other apps on this list, but Daily Weather is still great for avoiding awkward weather situations. The current temperature, highs and lows, cloud cover, wind, humidity, and a general sense of what it feels like outside (i.e. “warm”) is all front and center. In a handy and familiar newspaper-style format, no less.

[itmsapp: 547739898]

Beautiful Weather
It’s perhaps the most complex out of these four apps, but Beautiful Weather is still a cinch to use and great for figuring out how to dress. A title of the device and a single upward swipe will call up a window with virtually every bit of weather-related info the user would most likely want to know (temperature, conditions, high, low, humidity, moon phases, sunrise and sunset times, etc), along with random historical facts.

[itmsapp: 412864954]

Favorite Four: iOS Games that Play Themselves

Posted by Rob Rich on March 22nd, 2013

I think Terminator lore might have gotten it wrong. Skynet wasn’t developed by the military, it was the natural progression of cloud gaming and AI functions. Most iOS users already take advantage of wireless data transference between devices, and there are a surprising number of games out there these days that involve very little player feedback. So think about that while taking a look at this list of games you can play without having to devote a lot of time or effort to the process. I mean who knows? Maybe the real Skynet is just a free-to-play sequel away...


Mega Mall Story
Kairosoft is pretty much the reigning champion of high quality (yet accessible) iOS sims. Their entire library is fantastic, as far as I’m concerned, but Mega Mall Story stands out as the least gameplay-intensive of the bunch. Constructing new shops and researching new mall technologies is important, but most of the time players simply have to sit and wait while their mini consumers consume and fill their virtual bank account with millions. Gotta love making money hand-over-fist for doing nothing.
[itmsapp: 454679700]

The Blockheads
This surprisingly entertaining mix between Minecraft and The Sims is its own reward, but it’s also pretty low-impact. Once players queue up a large list of actions, ranging from crafting multiple tools to hollowing out an entire cave system, they can just sit back and watch their tiny minion do their thing. Or not, since the latest update now allows the virtual prospectors to finish their actions even when the game is turned off.
[itmsapp: 519596406]

Rivals at War
I’m pretty sure I’ll catch a little flak from Carter for including this in the list but I’m willing to take that chance. Rivals at War is about as hands-off as a war game can get. Players construct a team of soldiers using cards, upgrade their abilities, swap them out for better killers when needed, and send them off to battle. Completely automated battles that don’t even have to be viewed if players would rather skip ahead to the results. Aside from occasional team maintenance there’s little player influence, which is great for some quick on-the-go play.
[itmsapp: 589599502]

Godville
Of course I’ve saved the best example for last. As far as I can tell, iOS games don’t get any more hands-off than this. Players get to name their character, who’s really a pawn that blindly follows their iPhone-toting god, and that’s it. The game does everything else - combat, quests, equipment, guilds, PvP, etc - on its own. Players can stop in and encourage or punish their follower as they see fit, but that’s about all they can do aside from simply checking in to see how things are progressing. It’s the ultimate game for people who don’t have a lot of time to commit to playing games.
[itmsapp: 353421868]

Favorite 4: Apps for Getting Around Manhattan

Posted by Rob Rich on March 12th, 2013

Anyone who’s ever been to Manhattan, let alone actually lives there, can tell you that getting around is something of a pain at times. Actually that’s not true. Getting around Manhattan is a nightmare most of the time. Between subway re-routes that aren’t even mentioned in their respective stations to obtuse maps, simply getting from Point A to Point B can require a stop over at Points X, Y, and Z. It gets even worse when you’re in a hurry.

With the ineptitude of the MTA in mind, I’ve compiled a list of apps that should help anyone, resident and tourist alike, find their way around with a bit less hassle.

iTrans NYC Subway
The App Store description claims that this is the “ultimate NYC transit app,” and they aren’t wrong. It’s not perfect because the MTA is rarely “on schedule,” but it’s about as close are you’re going to get. Predicted train arrival times, schedules, maps, location based navigation to nearby subway entrances, step-by-step directions for a planned trip, bus info, and real time train delay info when connected to WiFi will all make getting around beneath the city streets as painless as possible. Provided you don’t get elbowed in the face by one of those dancing panhandlers.
[itmsapp: 283492923]

HopStop Transit Directions for iPhone
Now this is the app for serious trip planners. It covers virtually all possible transit routes ranging from cabs to buses to trains and beyond. It can call up schedules, maps (even viewable offline), ETAs, lists several possible routes, and even allows uses to set their preferences to avoid or stick to specific modes of transportation. Heck, it can even save recent searches to be called up later.
[itmsapp: 303217144]

NYC Way
What makes this one so notable is that it’s essentially dozens of useful NYC-centric apps in one place. It can call up video from live traffic cams to plan ahead for a road trip. It can call up a bunch of info for various galleries, shopping hotspots, and more. It can search for parking and WiFi. Museums and various tourist attractions are on the list, too. It’s kind of the one-stop shop for any and all information you may need to plan a trip into the city; whether it’s for a few days or a couple of hours.
[itmsapp: 343208275]

Central Park
A lot of people don’t realize it until they see it for themselves, but Central Park is big. So big, in fact, that it warrants its own app. This “insider’s guide” covers events (concerts, etc), notable locations to check out (did you know it has its own zoo?), and even helps you find a bathroom. It can guide you wherever you’d like to go using its GPS functions or even let you wander at your own pace while tossing up alerts every time you near a spot you want to check out.
[itmsapp: 396515130]

Favorite Four: Games for Super Short, Stop And Start Play Sessions

Posted by Rob Rich on February 6th, 2013

I play games on my iPhone a lot, as I’m sure many of you reading this do. The thing is, while many iOS games are great in their own right and function well for gaming in small bursts or extended sessions, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot that can be picked up, played, and stopped at the drop of a hat. Oh sure most can be suspended but I’m talking about games that actually allow you to quit entirely and come right back to where you left off no matter how long that may take. Games that auto-save constantly, can be saved at any time with a single button press, stuff like that. Here are our picks for four of the best.

Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil
Most of Playdek’s card games fall into this category but I’ve chosen this one because it’s the most recent. And because I happen to really like it. Gamers vs. Evil tracks progress in each match, however many there might be at once spread out over single and multiplayer modes. This means you can play a single hand or even stop in the middle of one, quit for whatever reason, and then start it right back up again from wherever it left off. It’s as perfect for micro-gaming sessions as it is for lengthy ones.

Junk Jack
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this 2D Minecraft-like since its release for many reasons, but it’s the save system that’s always impressed me the most. Pausing the game at any point will save progress automatically, so stopping at a moment’s notice is never a problem. Even more impressive is the way Jack’s inventory can be saved and transferred between worlds, so even if you get tired of your current game you can always start a new one and keep all your cool stuff.

Game Dev Story
Kairosoft’s first iOS release continues to be their greatest as far as I’m concerned, but really all of their games are perfect for quick starts and stops of game time. That big Save button sitting on the main screen for every single one of their titles that saves progress instantly makes it incredibly easy to stop what you’re doing and get back to actual work. Not that I’m condoning that sort of behavior, of course.

Zenonia 5
Much like Kairosoft, GAMEVIL also has the handy Save button down pat. Their action RPG series is plenty of fun and this most recent release is absolutely packed with features, and yet they’ve (thankfully) kept the one that makes it the easiest to play whenever and wherever. It’s comforting to know I can tap once to save and then bolt off of my train without having to worry about losing all that progress.

Favorite 4: Scary Games for Halloween

Posted by Eli Cymet on October 23rd, 2012

It’s hard to say exactly when it happened, but Halloween has undisputedly crept up on us to become a big league holiday. The kind where preparations begin over a month in advance, with horror movie marathons, costume discussions, and decorations. With that in mind, it would be a grave mistake to go in ill-prepared, so we’re here to do our part to help ring in the festivities. Here are four spooky games that will have horror-lovers shambling on over to the App Store and coffin’ up their dough.

The Room
Perhaps not the most obvious pick at first, The Room makes up for a lack of blood and gore with an ample amount of atmospheric tension. What starts off as Myst-like series of interlocking, symbol-filled puzzles soon emerges as an implied storyline filled with spine-tingling mystery. Much goes unsaid, but plumbing the depths of the unknown backed by eerie music box chimes is a meticulous thrill all its own.

Papa Sangre
From one nontypical experience to the next, Papa Sangre is a video game with no...video? Tasked with saving the soul of a loved one, players will take a frequently terrifying first-person audio journey through the palace of the titular demon. With an elegant interface and gripping story, Papa Sangre is a truly unique title that speaks to the power of sensory deprivation. The horrifying, horrifying power.

The Walking Dead
For a game filled with zombies, The Walking Dead’s horror derives almost entirely from the heart-breaking failings of humankind. Telltell Games has earned a mausoleum full of critical praise for its serialized interpretation of Robert Kirman’s graphic graphic novel, which uses the point and click adventure genre to force players to make tough, lasting decisions about life, death, and the brainless hereafter. All episodes can be purchased from within the app, so start this gripping tale right now.

Dead Space
As far as mobile horror goes, this one may be an oldie, but it’s most definitely a goodie. One of the best, in fact. Not only is it a faithful translation of Visceral Games’ flagship survival horror series to the small screen, but this version may just be scarier. In a dark room, with headphones in, the game’s brilliant tension between all-out action and edge-of-the-seat inaction is brought to the forefront, all backed by a methodical, shriek-worthy soundtrack. Player beware: Necromorphs may induce device dropping. (iPhone version also available.)

Favorite 4: Games that Won’t Draw a Crowd

Posted by Rob Rich on October 18th, 2012

In keeping with the recent mass transit theme, this Favorite 4 is all about maintaining personal space. While many of us might enjoy occupying our commute time with bird-flinging or hack n’ slash action this can sometimes invite some unwanted attention. Lining up that final shot can be difficult enough without some complete stranger leaning over us and watching our every move. This is where games that appear uninteresting, but are actually quite fun, can come in handy.

Organ Trail:Director’s Cut
Like it or not, a number of people dislike “retro” visuals. Whether it’s a general lack of appreciation or some self-imposed snobbery depends on the individual, but regardless not everyone thinks pixels are neat. It frustrating, sure, but it can also mean the difference between someone you don’t know trying to awkwardly start up a conversation on the bus about the game you’re playing and being left alone.
[itmsapp: 533024665]

Mission Europa
I’ve gone on at length about how much I love Mission Europa, and also about how downright ugly it is. But that’s the “beauty” of it. It’s a fantastic action RPG with some incredibly deep and rewarding systems, but it looks so bizarre and low tech it won’t draw much attention from the guy standing in the doorway just over your shoulder.
[itmsapp: 419050879]
[itmsapp: 420782354]

DragonSlasher
DragonSlasher is another game with visuals that belie a much more complex experience. It looks like a simple action game with solid color cutouts for characters. It’s most definitely not much to look at and at best might draw a curious glance or two for a moment before any would-be gawkers shift their attention elsewhere. And while they’re busy reading some other poor commuter’s newspaper, you get to enjoy what is essentially a side-scrolling portable Demon’s Souls in peace.
[itmsapp: 426074232]

Game Dev Story
This really applies to all Kairosoft games but I wanted to stick with the one we all fell in love with first. Although it’s certainly cute to look at and sports some pretty colorful visuals, Game Dev Story is only really interesting when you’re playing it. Watching it, especially when you have no idea what’s going on, is much less interesting. Which means less random people breathing down your neck and more planning a new console launch.
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Favorite 4: Games that Don’t Require Sound

Posted by Rob Rich on October 16th, 2012

This particular commuter-centric Favorite 4 might lean more to the train side of mass transit than the bus side, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Anyone who’s used a commuter train to get to work knows just how noisy they can be. Screeching wheels, blaring overhead announcements, business folk screaming into their cell phones, and so on. That’s why it can be important to have a couple of time-absorbing iOS games that can be enjoyed with or without sound waiting in the wings.

Infinity Blade II
Okay so this might seem like a bizarre choice but there’s logic behind it. Completing Infinity Blade II’s story doesn’t generally take long, and once it’s finished it becomes a kind of meta-game about loot grinding. Not much call for atmospheric music and sword clangs there. Besides, the developers themselves suggest that turning off the sound can even improve performance on older devices. Bonus!
[itmsapp: 447689011]

Hook Worlds
Rocketcat’s refinement of their hook-swinging formula is a fantastic “endless runner” kind of game that offers up four unique variations on the formula. While the music and sound effects are certainly top notch it’s the one-of-a-kind visuals and character design that really make these worlds feel complete.
[itmsapp: 407526767]

Wizorb
I still think combining brick-breaking with RPG elements is ingenious. Doing so with a fantastic 16-bit retro aesthetic is even more brilliant. With or without the sound muted it’s a treat to play, but without the sound it gives us the added benefit of not getting the music stuck in our head for the whole day.
[itmsapp: 541954089]

Legends of Yore Full
This cute and simple-looking Roguelike is actually much more complex than it first appears. It’s even got pets! However none of its complexities involve the audio, which is about as simple as one would expect given the visuals. Relevant to the pixilated theme, yes. Necessary to enjoy the all the massive amounts of content, no.
[itmsapp: 441898274]