How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
The first of Tin Man Games’ 2015 offerings, Fighting Fantasy: Bloodbones, is a fairly solid entry within the field. Offering a few twists and turns that haven’t been utilized before in a Fighting Fantasy game, it should make a pleasant change of pace. You’re an adventurer out to track down the dread pirate Cinnabar, who murdered your parents. First of all though – and after rolling a few dice to see what skill, stamina, and luck you possess – you’ve got a fair bit of gold to spend. That’s one of the new inclusions within Fighting Fantasy: Bloodbones: a gold supply that can be used to buy many items as well as gamble in the hope of earning more. Early on there are plenty of opportunities to do both, opening up plenty of new paths to check out. The gambling isn’t overly gripping but the results are certainly useful. –Jennifer Allen
Not quite as feature-rich as more expensive apps, Evernote Scannable is still a near essential download for anyone trying to get on top of a mountain of paperwork. Taking mere moments to figure out, Evernote Scannable allows you to automatically scan mostly any kind of document possible – from receipts and contracts to business cards and Post-it notes. You simply point your iOS device’s camera at the thing you want to scan and Evernote Scannable does the rest. It helps if said item is on a clear background, but that’s far from overly restrictive. In a matter of moments the app easily scans things in, displaying the completed image on screen. –Jennifer Allen
You’d need a lot of fingers and toes to count up the number of tower defense games currently available for mobile. The same goes for anyone wanting to tally up how many RPGs, strategy games, or card-collecting titles. Is there any hope we’ll see an innovative game idea again, especially amongst the reams of free-to-play distractions out there? Actually, yes. Chain Chronicle from Gumi and Sega is a deep and satisfying offering that isn’t quite like anything else out there – and its fresh scent is a result of its creators picking and mixing traits from threadbare genres. –Nadia Oxford
A more bloodthirsty tale than you’d expect from something full of cute sheep, you’ll be guiding your flock away from huge drops, crushing weights, and dangerous saw blades for the most part. This requires using various tools, such as forming barriers or staircases, as well as utilizing a jump skill and even zooming up walls – kind of like a superhero. There are other skills too, such as creating a walking bomb to clear paths, but the main abilities revolve around jumping and building. Oftentimes you’ll be controlling two flocks of sheep at once, which is where Flockers falters. Its controls are somewhat awkward, and the puzzles themselves can be quite picky and require a high degree of accuracy. Sometimes, the results aren’t as enjoyable as they should be. –Jennifer Allen
Shadowmatic is an interesting concept. Checking out the gameplay, the first thing that stands out is the seemingly abstract nature. This puzzler lends itself somewhat to the childhood (and for folks like me, adulthood) fascination with shadow art. If you’ve ever created a fluttering butterfly with your hand, this game will probably tickle your fancy. But more than that, the game asks players to manipulate random objects bathed in light, such that the objects create newer, unrelated objects on the virtual wall. The source object can be moved and twisted along its axis, all with the goal of creating a coherent shadow on the wall via gestures and pinch zooming and expanding. The kicker is that the player isn’t told what the shadow object is supposed to be. And oh yeah, the session is timed. Oh my. –Tre Lawrence
Fans of dream team developer Sago Sago will be interested to know about their new app, Sago Mini Fairy Tales, which creates a landscape where children can move about while interacting with many different characters and objects – here with a distinct fairy tale theme that children will enjoy. Sago Mini Fairy Tales stars Jinga the Cat – a character Sago Sago fans will recognize from many of their other apps – complete with the addition of fairy wings that allow this kitty to fly about the magical forest in which she lives. And also allowing children to explore many different characters and devices in this open-ended app. Navigation is a simple drag from a finger, which will allow Jinga to move about the page to discover many mini-adventures from touching upon the Sword in the Stone to taking a nibble from the witch’s house from Hansel and Gretel. Children will enjoy the cameos from familiar characters, including Harvey the Dog who dresses as Rapunzel, or Robin, the pretty pink bird that children will remember as well, here styled as Robin Hood – a charming inclusion that will make adults smile. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
It’s hard to define what genre Tap Titans belongs to. It looks like an arcade RPG on the first glance, but in reality it belongs to what I call finger busters. It’s going to be a lot easier to explain what Tap Titans is, and why it’s actually fun, if you’ve ever played Cookie Clicker. It has the same idea and the same lasting damage on one’s hands. I’m not ashamed to admit that my fingers are a bit numb, and it’s a difficult to move my hand to type – a feeling that I’ve not experienced since the 8th grade. It’s always a bother when an RPG is full of useless mechanics like story and challenge and basic gameplay elements that stand in the way of grinding and infinite power gain. If you, too, want an endless grindfest without the useless basic videogame mechanics, Tap Titans presents exactly this opportunity. Ditch the story and the item grind. The enemies not only can’t kill the hero, they can’t even scratch the little bastard. It’s just a matter of time until they all get wiped out by his barrage of sword attacks. The player’s task is simple. He needs to repeatedly tap the screen as fast as possible, the hero dealing a blow every time the finger touches the screen. That’s it, that’s the whole gameplay of Tap Titans, and it can consume hours at a time – until the player’s fingers start going off in protest. There is time limit on the more powerful enemies, so it’s not completely without a challenge. Besides, trying to get as much DPS as possible is a challenge into itself. –Tony Kuzmin
City Racing 3D offers, funnily enough a full 3D racing experience for free on Android. Can it compete with the greats of the genre? City Racing 3D starts off well enough. There are a large selection of cars, sharp controls, the ever fun Nos for bursts of speed and a long series of increasingly harder races to take part in. Unfortunately, City Racing 3D’s races are dull. There is no real sense of speed, NOS is underwhelming since it adds a grand total of about 10km/h to the vehicle’s top speed and makes it nearly impossible to steer. The game is also rigged so it is nigh on impossible to win a race without spending a lot of time upgrading your car. Even if you race perfectly, you simply will not catch the leaders. The only way to win is to repeat races to gain money. –Allan Curtis
There’s such a staggering number of super simple games, it makes me wonder if they even like to play the games, or if they just meditate while tapping on the screen. Infinity Dungeon proves that rather obvious point again. It combines a very primitive endless runner with a very primitive RPG, resulting in a somewhat primitive game. Basically, it’s one step away from being able to play itself without any player interaction. If you’re wondering how I know that it’s Asian, here is hint that prove points haha. The game is about a couple of adventurers that stumble across a dungeon full of treasures and precious metals. Handily, they have a bunch of dwarves that agree to dig the booty up, if they clear the dungeons first. Of course, the dungeons are full of all kinds of monsters, begging the question if it would be easier to just find a job instead. But we’re here to shove people’s faces in, not make reasonable assumptions, so we go through each of the levels of the dungeon, clearing it of everything that moves, so that a dwarf could then dig it for gold. Action itself is very simple: the heroes walk through the straight dungeon level from the beginning to the end, and punch everything that runs up to them. –Tony Kuzmin
Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 8th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Tin Man Games is offering all Gamebook Adventures at 66% off! Each adventure is a complete story where, just like a Choose Your Own Adventure, you get to control how the story progresses. The books have a realistic dice-based battle system that adds a bit of action to the story.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on December 17th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Fighting Fantasy: Island of the Lizard King is the latest interactive gamebook from Tin Man Games. It features dice rolling for battles, an auto-updated adventure sheet, and stat keeping as players make their way around Fire Island. It also lets users change the visuals to make the gamebook look similar to the style of an 80’s printing press.
• Auto-mapping tracks your journey across Fire Island! See locations appear as you discover them!
• Iain McCaig’s famous cover brought to life. The Lizard King has never been this terrifying!
• Alan Langford’s classic illustrations colorised for the app, making full use of high-resolution displays.
• Achievements to find throughout the gamebook.
As a huge fan of interactive fiction thanks to a childhood full of Fighting Fantasy and Choose Your Own Adventure books, it’s been a pretty exciting time on the App Store of late. Besides Tin Man Games’s steady conquering of all things Fighting Fantasy, the release of Sorcery!, and Visual Baker’s Underground Kingdom, things have been kicked up a further notch.
Founder of the series, R.A. Montgomery and publisher, Shannon Gilligan.
That’s thanks to the latest Kickstarter campaign, focused on Choose Your Own Adventure books aimed at younger readers and now known as Choose ‘Toons. With the Kickstarter just launched, we took some time to chat to Shannon Gilligan, publisher at Chooseco.
“Choose ‘Toons are interactive cartoons, plain and simple. There are very abbreviated amounts of text at the choice points, but that’s it. Otherwise, you are watching an animated story, with choices!” explained Shannon.
The first app is based on Your Very Own Robot in which the reader uses their parents’ robot lab to put together a robot named Gus, leading to some entertaining mishaps. While Shannon told us that there are some “slight amendments and additions”, the app is set to follow the book “pretty faithfully”.
“It was interesting to adapt because I actually found that typical cable or Saturday morning cartoons are much more physically violent than what’s in our books,” Shannon noted. “It has something to do with watching vs. reading I think. And it’s nothing new. I watched Roadrunner as a kid and it’s quite violent, sometimes to the point of sadism. Our eyes are trained to be entertained which might demand certain kinds of less cerebral plot points.”
So, young readers and their parents should have nothing to worry about when it comes to the content of this forthcoming adaptation!
The Kickstarter comes with some fairly typical pledge awards, as well as some rather exciting high-end ones such as being able to pay to have one’s voice featured in the app. Most thrilling of all, though, has to be the one-off $10,000 pledge. Unlike anything else I’ve seen before, it gives the buyer their very own Choose Your Own Adventure for real. Throughout the campaign, backers and followers will be asked two questions each week, which will eventually lead to the adventure of a lifetime. While Shannon explained that Antarctica is out because of costs, pretty much everything else is up for grabs. Adventurous spirit and $10,000 to spare? You know what to do.
On a serious final note, anything that encourages kids and their families to read together has to be a hugely positive step. Even better, for this series, it looks set to combine nostalgia for the parents with new discoveries for the kids. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on this Kickstarter’s progress. For now, check out the campaign page if you’re interested in participating or you fancy a $10,000 adventure of a lifetime. The campaign ends on September 12.
Over the past five years, many thousands of developers have tried their luck in creating the next big hit for iOS gamers. While some were there right from the beginning, others have found success in only the last couple of years. I took the time to chat to four relatively recently successful developers to find out exactly why they were so interested in pursuing the App Store route, and how they’ve found the experience so far.
“First and foremost it was the ease of development and getting things…running quickly, with no development kits and long processes of approval,” explained Simon Flesser of Simogo (most famous for the rather exceptionally spooky Year Walk). “That coupled with us being interested in the iPhone as a gaming platform and the different features it provides, touchscreen interaction, motion controls, constant internet connection…”
Simogo’s Year Walk
Barry Meade of Fireproof Studios (makers of BAFTA award winning The Room) had similar views: “As a small team with little resources to draw on, the fact you could self-publish on the App Store was a huge enabler for us…The Room might never have been made if we’d had to rely on a publisher as it was a bit too unusual…they would not have believed in the game like we did.” As he pointed out, “the App Store allowed a team from nowhere to make a small game and see big success.”
The Room‘s Fireproof Games is one such team made up of ex-AAA developers, with the studio formed by six ex-lead artists from Criterion Games’ Burnout franchise. Similarly, Warhammer Quest‘s Rodeo Games came from such a background. Formed from executives previously working for the likes of EA, Lionhead, Criterion and Codemasters, Rodeo Games were provided the opportunity to pursue something new, thanks to the App Store.
“Well, we’d been in the AAA games industry for many years and had been talking about how to take steps in setting up our own company. The App Store was just flourishing at the time. It was this awesome, new, bold place for smaller dev teams to put their games in-front of a huge audience. So we crafted a plan with the mindset of making the very best turn based strategy games on iOS, and Rodeo Games was the result,” Ben Murch, co-founder, explained.
Fireproof Games’s The Room
Neil Rennison of Fighting Fantasy developer, Tin Man Games, enjoyed a similar revelatory moment, after a move to Australia, gave him the chance of starting his own indie development studio, just as the iPhone and the App Store came to fruition: “I was originally running a small games art outsource company in the UK and then…I…moved to Australia with the dreams of starting my own indie and making my own titles instead of working on other people’s games.”
How different do they all think things would be if the App Store didn’t exist, though? “Very! Certain types of business models and certain types of games would probably not exist without the App Store,” Simon reckoned. Ben offered similar views, although noted the loss of the “middle tier” of gaming: “The gaming world would be a very different place right now. Just think about how many small companies and jobs have been created just from iOS gaming alone. Before the App Store, there was this surge towards “middle tier” gaming, i.e. titles coming out in the £10 – £20 bracket. I guess that market would have grown more and become an eco-system in itself. However, thanks to the App Store, creators who were interested in that model shifted into the mobile market, effectively crippling the whole “middle tier” gaming sector.”
Rodeo Games’s Warhammer Quest
Mention was also made, by Neil, of the fragmentation of the mobile phone operator universe, something that was a significant problem before the advent of the App Store. “Apple’s stock would be worth a lot less”, noted Barry. All quite rightly pointed out that none of them would be in the position they’re in today, if it wasn’t for the ease of the App Store.
For the most part, all four of our interviewees were very positive about the App Store’s impact. Each citing how it’s “paved the way for many small developers”, as Simon eloquently put it, and enabled them to try riskier material. As Ben pointed out, “Without the App Store, it would be nigh on impossible to get your strange little game idea in front of….well, thousands of people would be a struggle. Suddenly, anyone can release something that has exposure to HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of potential buyers. Just thinking about that blows my mind.”
Financial barriers are also lowered, as Barry explained: “The relative cheapness of mobile games development allows niche ideas to thrive.” Neil reinforced that point, citing how the games industry “was slowly becoming a bloated AAA only console game market and traditional game developers were beginning to struggle as the mid-point of the market was getting squeezed. The app revolution helped give developers options and in a way created its own new market in which everyone had the same opportunities from the big publishers to the lone bedroom coder…[it] was a perfect springboard for budding entrepreneurial devs like us.”
Tin Man Games’s Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom
Simon was slightly more cautious, enjoying the risks that were possible to take, but also citing how it’s “paved the way for some very questionable money-grabbing schemes… the market place has been somewhat flooded with low-quality software. It might have lowered the quality bar for what is considered to be a release-able piece software.”
That’s clearly a thought that runs through each of the developers’ minds, given that each recommends changes that make it easier to find good apps and games. Ben would appreciate a better quality Related Apps section and a twist on the Genius section, “Some form of “We recommend these Apps for you based on what you’ve downloaded already” type thing.” Discoverability is a big thing for Barry too, “There should be a lot more ways to format the lists of games when browsing the store. A chart by user rating is very needed for those smaller companies who make great games but get buried by the marketing clout of richer but arguably less skilful publishers.”
Higher “quality control” is an important wish for Simon, while Neil would appreciate a way to reply to App Store reviewers.
Rodeo Games’s Hunters 2
For the most part, though, all four developers were, understandably, happy with how the App Store is performing, both in terms of business and personal use.
“I think Apple does a marvellous job at finding and promoting good games. It’s so nice that they can give small developers, such as us, a big spotlight if they find something that is good…it’s almost…unbelievable that something as strange as Year Walk can get the same type of exposure as a mainstream game from a big publisher,” beamed Simon.
The “open territory” of the Store was appreciated by Barry, also, “You can upload a game to the store and be published in 150 countries within 24 hours – this is really quite incredible when you compare it with how difficult it was to get a game onto other platforms only a few years ago. It’s pretty much a revolution in terms of enabling creativity,” with Neil offering similar views.
Simogo’s Bumpy Road
As a consumer, it’s also proved quite the hit with Ben pointing out, “it’s that feeling of being able to browse a huge catalogue of games from your sofa, eventually finding something that’s right up your street. They have great landing pages in the App Store making it easy to find great games that you may not have heard of previously.” Neil appreciated the vast wealth of games, too, “it’s enabled me to play games that I haven’t played in over 20 years and also experience new innovative game designs from some truly talented people that wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to shine.”
While it’s clear that the App Store isn’t perfect, mostly in terms of offering great visibility to the titles that deserve it, these four developers have clearly found it an overwhelmingly useful experience. Each of them, from different backgrounds, have found great and deserved success, highlighting the best of what can come out of the App Store in terms of original efforts.
We’re certainly fascinated to see what will come next from these relatively new developers, part of the next generation of exciting game makers.
With the recent release of Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom, it seemed like the perfect time to take a look at our favourite four Adventure Game Book Apps. The Forest of Doom isn’t included here, but consider it a bonus 5th, representing just how great all the Fighting Fantasy conversions are. The Adventure Game Book genre is a strong one on the App Store, so it’s been a tough battle narrowing things down!
Only part one of four has been released so far, but Sorcery! is a great conversion of the much loved series by Steve Jackson. There are nearly 50 spells to learn, plenty of decisions to make and a gripping story throughout. The combat might take a moment or two to click, deviating from typical dice throwing methods, but it all adds to the already beautiful visuals. It’s a quite captivating tale.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-05-02 :: Category: Games
Trial of the Clone
One of two titles featuring here from, unofficial App Store Kings of the genre, Tin Man Games: Trial of the Clone is a rare thing in the gaming world: a genuinely funny title. Written by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal creator, Zach Weinersmith, and including the voice of Wil Wheaton, the artistic pedigree is as strong as the content. Telling the story of a clone making its way in a futuristic world, it’s an unique tale that is ideal to play again and again, seeking out new endings.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-04-16 :: Category: Books
Less focused on combat than the others, Underground Kingdom is the re-imagining of the first Choose Your Own Adventure book, a series popular in the 1970s and 1980s. 23 different endings are available to find, as players explore an alien world in this attractive storybook style app. The artwork is particularly appealing and while it’s a shorter read than some of the others here, it’s an ideal way to remember a classic series.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2013-01-15 :: Category: Books
Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106
It was a close run thing between this and one of the Fighting Fantasy titles, but the Judge has just about inched ahead. Understandably for such a violent theme, there’s plenty of dice rolling based combat here, alongside appropriate visuals capturing the spirit of Judge Dredd well. What makes it stand out all the more, however, is the record sheets that come with each perp either killed or arrested. There’s always that urge to play another game, just to try to fill the database. Adventure fans, as well as comic book fans, will love this.
For the last several years, Big Blue Bubble has been releasing iOS versions of classic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. However, with the license being transferred to Tin Man Games, known for their Gamebook Adventures series and the recent Judge Dredd gamebook release, this means that it is unfortunately time to say goodbye to Big Blue Bubble’s Fighting Fantasy apps.
The 5 apps being pulled from the App Store on August 14th are The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Deathtrap Dungeon, Citadel of Chaos, City of Thieves, and Creature of Havoc.
Those who missed out on some of the titles of the series, or want to check them out for the first time need to hurry. However, buyer beware: with the apps being pulled, support to fix bugs that may pop up in future iOS versions will be unfixable with the apps being pulled. They may not also support future iOS devices at all, with no recourse for the user. While Tin Man Games is an experienced gamebook developer, and business interests from one or more parties may have caused this situation (for what it’s worth, Tin Man’s Twitter account retweeted a tweet about the last call for BBB’s games), it is somewhat disappointing for fans of these gamebooks to see them go away.
Megara Entertainment, crafters of the rather popular Fabled Lands, has just released their latest stand alone “choose-your-own-adventure” rpg. The Keep of the Lich-Lord is adapted from a tale of the name from the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, penned by none other than illustrious interactive fiction authors Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson. Expect much decision-making and dice-rolling, naturally.
All the expected and classic gamebook gameplay is present and accounted for. Players can choose between two distinct classes this time around (Rogue or Paladin) and enjoy close to 100 color illustrations along with the orchestrated score. This isn’t a mere straight port, however. Megara has added some new story twists along the way, so even battle-hardened veterans might find a few surprises. Heck, they could even stumble across a new magical item or two that could make a huge difference down the line.
iPad-owning gamebook fans should head on over to the App Store right now and grab The Keep of the Lich-Lord for the measly $4.99 asking price. I mean, it’s not like that newly-resurrected necromancer is going to change his mind about tearing the land apart, right? At least, not without a little “encouragement.”