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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.
Take the monetization format of Candy Crush Saga and add the wonderfully addictive Peggle, and what do you get? Peggle Blast – a suitably enjoyable yet similarly cynical version of everyone’s favorite adaptation of Pachinko and Bagatelle. First things first: Peggle Blast plays just as well as any other Peggle game. It’ll still occasionally feel a touch random, but it’s satisfying for the most part. Dragging a finger around the screen manipulates where the ball goes, with holding it down will magnify the area. Lining things up perfectly to perform a loop-the-loop in order to take out loads of tiles at once is particularly satisfying. And, of course, Ode to Joy is still in there for when you succeed at a level. --Jennifer Allen
It’s like some kind of unspoken rule that floats through the universe: good guys build towers to the heavens, and bad guys build underground lairs that go down, down, down. Wicked Lair by Stefan Pratter is all about building a hideout that stretches down into the Earth’s molten bowels. If that’s not enough of a hint, let’s just say it outright: Wicked Lair casts players as a lair-loving bad guy. And that’s OK, because foiling goodie-goods with a trapped underground hideout is as fun as it sounds. Wicked Lair is a mash-up between tower defense and tower building. Players assume the role of a berobed baddie whose subterranean lair is under constant threat from heroes that don’t know how to keep their noses in their own business. --Nadia Oxford
Clearly heavily influenced by the Trials series of games, Offroad Legends 2 is a less refined but mostly enjoyable physics-based racer. It can’t quite compare with the mighty Trials, but given the limited options for the franchise on iOS it’s a worthy substitute. With plenty of variety at hand, you won’t just be racing motorbikes either. Instead, you’ll be using trucks, buses, monster trucks, and more to negotiate the various obstacles within each level of Offroad Legends 2. That comes with its own issues – namely that you never quite get fully comfortable with one vehicle before you move onto the next, but this does keep things interesting. --Jennifer Allen
At first, Earn to Die 2 is a lot of fun. Kind of like an endless runner but with more of a structure, you attempt to drive a vehicle from one end of the level to the other. The problem is that there are waves of zombies in the way, plus the terrain itself is far from safe. The other, more significant problem is that things soon turn a bit repetitive and Earn to Die 2 turns out to be too long for comfort. That’s a real shame, as early on Earn to Die 2 easily has that ‘one more go’ factor. Controlling your vehicle is simple enough with buttons to the right adjusting for acceleration or using a boost, while the left side of the screen offers buttons that dictate the trajectory of your vehicle while you’re in the air – much like in a physics based racing game. At first you can mostly get away with hitting the accelerate button and seeing what happens, but soon enough those little tweaks make all the difference in helping you explore. --Jennifer Allen
When dealing with the legacy of its title character, Bruce Lee: Enter the Game smartly opts for a more old-school approach – in more ways than one. The gameplay is classic beat ‘em up and has players swiping the screen to clobber goons with fast fists and feet of fury. It’s not the deepest fighting style, but it unfolds at a blistering pace that feels great to execute. In fact, it’s when the system awkwardly tries something more complex, like charging special moves to take down guarded opponents, that it stumbles. Players can also augment Bruce with limited shields and health boosts as well as a power-amplifying fury attack. They can even give him outfits lifted from his films, each with their own bonuses. --Jordan Minor
Toddlers and preschool-aged children will be delighted to try the new app, Duckie Deck Bird Houses, which allows them to explore this helpful craft. From first glimpse, adults will marvel at the use of the depth of field that this app has to offer as a lush green and mildly interactive landscape can be seen in the distance while one chooses a tree to build a birdhouse for. I am fond of the look of all of the tree selections as they are various shades of brown and grey – wonderful representations of real trees that most people have come across, complete with distinguishing features such as maple leaves, apples, or acorns. They are all very nice choices that will jog the memories that children have of trees from their adventures in nature. Also of note is the well-crafted background music used throughout – upbeat and a little quirky, which adds to the overall experience for both children and adults. --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:
Magecraft: The War is yet another in a very long line of freemium city builders for mobile. Aping games like Clash of Kings and injecting a well-worn fantasy vibe does it stand out? Magecraft starts off a lot like most city builders. Starting with a threadbare base, the player must construct buildings and crank out troops to capture resources from enemies and become stronger and gain experience to become even stronger and so on. All player cities exist on the same map so rather than the arbitrary “neighbors” system common in other social games cities must be marched to to be attacked and distance always matters. --Allan Curtis
Antec should be known by now for its mostly great, affordable accessories; we’ve had the opportunity to look at several of its offerings. Its line of headphones, as exemplified by the PULSE (which we reviewed a few months ago), are nice value propositions, and we expected similar of the Antec PULSE Lite Bluetooth Headphones that were sent to us to review. So what comes in the box? Well, there’s the white headphones, matching white micro-USB charging cable, and ( I liked this small touch) a simple black drawstring carrying pouch. --Tre Lawrence
Red War may look a bit like Clash of Clans but it is in fact a mobile clone of War Commander, a Facebook game that allows players to build a base and take the fight to other players. Red War has the player take control of a basically non-existent base. After rebuilding some basic structures and receiving a small force of units the player must build a base, crank out more troops and generally roll over anyone who gets in their way. The game features a pretty familiar set of units. There are the ever useful rifle armed infantry, heavy machine gunners and snipers. Later on vehicles such as tanks and APCs come into play and medics and engineers round out the tactical options. --Allan Curtis
And finally, Pocket Gamer returned from the Basque Country with the winners of another Big Indie Pitch, reviewed Game of Thrones and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, picked the best iOS and Android games of November, and recommended some freebies to hold you over until Christmas. Check it all out right here.
Courtesy of HBO, Disruptor Beam, and Kongregate, iPad users can now play Game of Thrones Ascent right on their devices. The game, which was formerly exclusive to Facebook and the web, is based on the popular HBO series of the same name.
It is a story-driven/strategy social game, and is just in time for the TV show's Season 4 debut. After every episode there will be fresh content for iPad users via the app.
Disruptor Beam Chief Jon Radoff recognizes how important iPads are with regards to consumption. “We recognize that tablets are actually where so many Game of Thrones fans are either reading the books or watching the TV show,” he says. “So, it makes perfect sense that we bring this great game, which 2 million players have already enjoyed online, to the iPad, giving Game of Thrones fans even more of a chance to immerse themselves in Westeros.”
Game of Thrones Ascent is available for free on the App Store.
Game of Thrones: Ascent, the strategy-RPG Facebook game, is making its way to iOS in the near future. Pocket Gamer reports that all content from the Facebook version will be available on iOS and that current players can link their accounts for cross-platform play. Players are able to create an army to send on adventures, craft gear and items, and participate in player-to-player actions that can either help or harm their neighbors.
Candy Crush Saga meets X-Com meets Game of Thrones? It's an impressive mix of genres and ideas, and it forms the basis for a new title called Pocket Titans. A turn based RPG puzzle adventure game, Pocket Titans certainly sounds pretty exciting. Its origins are quite something too, having been conceived by veteran developers, John Payne & Ian Pestridge. Between them, they've worked on a number of console releases, including Herdy Gerdy, In Cold Blood, SEGA Rally, Reservoir Dogs, and Dead to Rights: Retribution.
For the past 18 months, the pair have been working on Pocket Titans in their spare time, all in the name of flexing their creative muscles. With the game set for release soon, we took the time to find out more.
148apps: Where did the inspiration for Pocket Titans come from?
John Payne (JP): There were a few different strands of inspiration which led to Pocket Titans. I've always been a fan of RPG fighting mechanics like the semi-turn-based Final Fantasy battles, or the group dynamics of big World of Warcraft boss fights. My original idea was to do a game which was a series of these massive fight moments without the RPG story and running around in between. Then I got in to Zoo Keeper on my iPhone (entirely my wife's fault), and I mean really in to it, in a way I'd not really experienced with match 3 games before. The game play felt really tactile, and moving through levels with just a little bit of story felt right. I'd always been a fan of the old X-COM games (not knowing at the time that there was a brilliant new one coming out that year!) and games like Advance Wars, and those three strands came together to form the idea for Pocket Titans. It's the class based RPG battles of World of Warcraft, the tactile movement and easy pick-up play of a match 3 and the tactical positioning of X-COM.
Ian Pestridge (IP): I'm a huge fan of all things fantasy, I was raised on [Ray] Harryhausen and the 'greats' of the 80's. I spent most of my youth playing Fighting Fantasy, D&D, AD&D and some of my favourite fantasy authors are [David] Gemmell, [Terry] Pratchett & Robin Hobb… oh and [J.R.R] Tolkien which goes without saying. So much of the inspiration for the visual is a distillation of those influences through the lens of my own styling.
As John says the game condenses many of the elements associated with RPGs and has been developed to be very accessible. I took recognisable fantasy motifs and caricatured them, resulting in a look that 'feels' familiar and yet 'looks' unique and full of spirit.
148apps: How difficult has it been to find the spare time to create Pocket Titans?
IP: The short answer is not very difficult at all. We believe that if you had fun making a game it shows through. The players can sense that freedom and enjoyment. So we promised ourselves that we would focus on having fun and avoiding stress.
JP: The great thing about a home project is you can park it for as long as you need to when life gets in the way. During development there were weeks when I didn't really do anything on the game, and weeks where I'd do an hour or two most nights, it fitted in around everything else. I set myself a rule very early on that I'd never let it distract me from my day job and in the end the whole process was fun and relaxing. The game's been 99% finished for quite a while so its certainly the most relaxed end to a project I've ever had!
IP: We both have similar family situations and day jobs. I've generally been using the couple of hours I'd usually spend watching TV or a movie after the kids have gone to bed to jump on the PC and create some artwork. Ultimately, we enjoy making games, so this has been a great experience.
148apps: What challenges have you faced during the production?
JP: Early on in development it became clear I wasn't going to be able to do it by myself, especially when I realised quite how bad my programmer-art was. At that point I almost gave up on the project and probably would have if I hadn't shown it to Ian.
IP: I loved the game from the moment I saw John's early prototype. The greatest challenge was translating the aesthetics of the world we both imagined onto the moving tile mechanic, it's that challenge that first attracted me to John's concept and has kept it so interesting.
148apps: How different is it working on a personal project rather than as part of a big studio?
JP: I've been lucky enough to work with lots of talented and creative people in my day job and I love every minute of it. That said, creating Pocket Titans has given us a chance to do something that's just ours, without any other stakeholders or any outside direction. It was great fun to make but also a little bit terrifying now people are playing it other than our friends!
148apps: Will there be any micro-transactions within the game?
JP: The best way to play the game is to work through story mode looting weapons and armour from the Orcs and Skeletons you defeat. But we've also got multi-player battles in there and if people want to tool up to level things out with their friends we're not going to stop them. You can use gold you collect during quests to grab any items you're missing and if you really want to make things easy you can buy a bit of gold, but we hope people play through the whole story as there's some amazing battles at the end that you don't want to miss!
Thanks to John and Ian for taking the time to answer our questions.
Pocket Titans is set for release later this month. We'll be sure to track its development. In the mean time, why not check out the beta trailer below? It's looking pretty sweet.