Posted by Carter Dotson on May 22nd, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
FairPlay Media has launched a game based on everyone’s favorite improvising crime-solver from the 8-s: MacGyver! In MacGyver Deadly Descent, players make a descent into a labyrinth of deadly puzzles in a laboratory that’s quickly running out of air. They will have to act quickly and solve a variety of puzzles to save the day.
MacGyver Deadly Descent is available now for $2.99, with proceeds from sales of the game going toward the MacGyver Foundation, which “aims to encourage and support individuals and organizations throughout the world who utilize self-reliance, non-violence, and sustainability to improve people’s lives.”
InnoGames, fresh off announcing Rising Generals, has an iPad strategy game currently soft-launched in Canada. Forge of Empires has players building a town, so I grabbed my sword and hammer and set off for the land of maple syrup for this edition of It Came From Canada!
The main phase of the game is town-building: creating new buildings in order to earn more money, or items that can generate more resources such as building points, villagers, gold, and even happiness. There’s a lot to keep track of here. This is all in service of becoming the most powerful town in the world. There’s a leaderboard of players that one can peruse, with guilds that can be joined for cooperative purposes.
Okay, it sounds a bit like Clash of Clans so far. The key difference is that players don’t just send off enemy hordes to battle: they enter a turn-based strategy game with them.
Battles take place on a hexagonal grid, where players can move their units about within their specified range, and can attack enemies within their attack range. There are also defense bonuses for certain terrain types. It’s very basic strategy gameplay, but it’s definitely deeper, even in its simplicity, than most Clash of Clans-esque games. Units start out as Bronze Age soldiers and eventually get up to modern era ones, though this will likely take a long time to get going. Those who check in often and spend their forge points regularly will get to the later eras first.
While there is a campaign against computerized enemies, it’s also possible to interact with other players. These can be in friendly ways: motivation and polishing will help resource generation and production happen at a faster rate. As well, it’s possible to attack other players and plunder one of their buildings. It appears that all battling is asynchronous for now against human opponents.
Players can research new units and types by spending forge points. These recharge over time (or can be bought with gold or diamonds) and by researching new tech trees, new unit types can be had. The tech trees are deep, so people who come back often will be the first to unlock later portions of the game.
While the town-building is very familiar – and the strategy very basic – for this oft-imitated genre spearheaded by Clash of Clans, the relatively-deeper (yet still approachable) combat might be worth checking out once it launches worldwide.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 21st, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
D3 Entertainment and Demiurge’s Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign keeps chugging along, with Episode 5 of the match-3 RPG now available. The story of this episode has players trying to convince Marvel character The Sentry to join SHIELD before Norman Osborn can get him to join the creatively-named Dark Avengers.
The episode 5 update, entitled The Prodigal Sun, is available now.
Just announced on Monday, May 19, Super Monkey Ball Bounce also showed its face in the Canadian App Store. This free-to-play game puts a Pachinko and Peggle spin on the game of monkeys in spheres. So, I sealed by plastic ball up tight and crossed the border for this edition of It Came From Canada!
This game is very Peggle-like. It uses many of the same tropes and gameplay setups as Peggle does. The general mission is to pop the various star pegs, with other pegs existing as opportunities to get bonus points, including randomly-placed multiplier pegs. Power-up pegs also exist, which grant an ability based on the selected character, though ones beyond AiAi require playing the game to certain levels to unlock. AiAi’s is a guided line, which is pretty much identical to the first character in Peggle, though other power-ups start to show some variety. Still, this skews closer to the Peggle formula than even what Papa Pear Saga did – though the physics feel a lot more consistent than King’s take on the genre.
How does Super Monkey Ball Bounce operate within the confines of its monetization? The game uses a currency of gold bars, which come with a free supply at the start but are either not earned or only infrequently so. What can be bought with them? Well, there are boost power-ups that players can take into levels with them, including the power-ups of other characters. Also, a slot machine that can be played for every ten spins can get guaranteed win spins for the cost of a few gold bars.
As well, continues can be had for gold bars. That’s likely where the money-making comes in: levels can start to ramp up in difficulty, and the temptation to spend real-world money on gold may just set in. As well, there’s a lives system like Candy Crush Saga (with a level progression map just like it as well), and these run out whenever the player fails a level, though connecting with Facebook friends can earn more lives.
The monetization might be an interesting thing to track at the final release. Super Monkey Ball Bounce is a slow burn early on so it might not make money for a while, or the early part of the game might get a bump up in difficulty. It’ll be interesting to see how Sega approaches this once it releases worldwide.
Mobile gamers know Terry Cavanagh for Super Hexagon, the challenging minimalist arcade game that seemingly begat a hundred more challenging minimalist arcade games. But before that, Terry Cavanagh’s big game was VVVVVV, a gravity-flipping open-world platformer that was also very difficult. A mobile version, while discussed before, may have seemed impossible: after all, being a platformer built around precision, virtual controls aren’t the friendliest situation for this game. But Terry Cavanagh’s taking a stab at it, and the mobile version is nearing completion. And it just might surprise some folks who thought VVVVVV was practically impossible on mobile.
For the uninitiated, VVVVVV takes place in a universe where the player, controlling Captain Viridian, can flip gravity to run along the ceiling as well as the floor. Players have to use Viridian’s abilities to rescue five other missing crew members, along with discovering the “shinies” that are hidden throughout the world.
VVVVVV is a non-linear game, and players can discover it as they so choose. There are no additional abilities to unlock, so unlike a Metroidvania game where progression is hindered until a certain item is obtained anything can be seen and any challenge conquered with one’s own skill. Just be prepared to die a lot. Thankfully, checkpoints are abundant.
VVVVVV presents an interesting controls challenge for touchscreens, though. The game requires being able to swiftly move left then right, but with a third button for flipping. Thus, the game’s default control scheme uses swiping horizontally on the left side of the screen to move Captain Viridian around, with tapping on the right side to flip gravity. As well, there’s a virtual buttons option, and one where tapping on either side of the screen moves that way, and tapping on both flips gravity.
The controls are still very much being tweaked and perfected, but VVVVVV is perfectly playable, and at a skillful level, with these controls. Will this become the preferred version of speed runners? Most likely not, as precise movements are what suffer a bit here just by the nature of virtual controls, but for people enjoying this game for the first time – or once more – the experience should remain true.
VVVVVV itself is fully playable in its current form, with even the player worlds feature from the computer versions available for more challenges once the main game is completed. Various bug fixes and tweaks to make the mobile version work better are what stands between this and its eventual release.
After messing around with giant cubes and social experiments, the famously eccentric game designer Peter Molyneux returns to the God game genre with Godus. This spiritual successor to Molyneux’s earlier game, Populous, is currently in beta on PC and has just soft launched on the New Zealand App Store. We let absolute power corrupt us absolutely in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Witness and shape the beginning of human history in Godus. As a benevolent deity, players will guide their followers from a single hut on a beach at the dawn of time up until around the Roman Empire, although the game could certainly continue from there. The main way to achieve this is by molding the Earth and allowing the population to expand. It’s almost sad mowing down thick forests to let humanity proliferate like a virus, but such is life. There don’t seem to be any threats to the tiny citizens, like predators or natural disasters, so players can just focus on reproduction. As the population grows, the player’s godly power increases – granting them new skills like the ability to shift oceans or terraform more parts of the single, continuous map.
The game unsurprisingly has numerous subsystems as well. More intense god powers, including burning bushes or controlling followers directly through “leashing,” draw from the belief of worshippers. Players naturally gain belief as their small world grows, but it can be purchased using the game’s real-money gem system as well. Players can also purchase sticker packs to activate the special cards they receive with each level up. These cards bestow various bonuses like faster building speeds or the ability to start settlements on different terrain. Fortunately, stickers appear naturally in the world too.
As more of the cold, unconquered North gives way to the player’s bright civilization, players will encounter ships and beacons allowing them to interact with other players online. In fact, the grand prize for finishing 22Can’s previous game Curiosity was becoming the God of Gods in Godus, along with a share of the profits. However, in many ways the game works best as an isolated experience, an entire little world unto itself.
That shoebox diorama quality is accentuated by the game’s almost paper cut-out art style. The solid colors and obvious layers of the landscape may not be realistic, but they’re charming. The same goes for the cute sound effects like the mysterious voices on the wind and the happy little tunes villagers whistle while they work. The distinct layers also make it easier for players to meticulously sculpt the land as they see fit. They can even make terraced steps out of the Earth for followers to climb to higher places, when their spotty path finding works that is. However, it is still a little too easy for fatter fingers to make unintended changes, which is especially annoying when those accidental changes waste precious belief.
Still, Godus successfully captures both the tedium and the power trip of what being an all-knowing, all-powerful force must feel like. Players can get their hands on a world of their own when the game fully launches.
Manila-based Altitude Games has announced their upcoming Run Run Super V. Taking cues from sentai series such as Power Rangers, this game will be an auto-running action game where players form a ranger squad and fight evil without stopping. There are three modes planned: run mode, vehicle mode, and robot mode, with the latter involving one-on-one fights with giant enemies, all using one-finger controls with gestures.
Run Run Super V is expected during the 4th quarter of 2014.
So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.
Last week, I reviewed Godzilla: Strike Zone. It wasn’t very good. Still, there was some small comfort to be had from the fact that at least Warner Bros. wasn’t charging anything for this poorly executed piece of digital movie hype fluff. Now, one week later, Godzilla is lumbering his way into theaters as we speak and yet another free movie tie-in has come to herald his arrival: Godzilla – Smash3. But guess what? It’s actually kinda fun. Who’d have thought, right? –Rob Thomas
Radiangames is back with another dual-stick shooter. JoyJoy is a fast-paced, arena-based, dual-stick shooter that’s going to be satisfying for those who fancy the genre. The setup is familiar: there are waves of enemies, and players must control their ship that can fire in 360 degrees, to take out everything shooting at them. Enemy bullets can be destroyed with the player’s bullets, so it’s not just a game of frantic dodging but one where it’s possible to cancel out threats with the immense firepower that the player has. The upgrade system is much simpler than what it was in Ballistic SE, Inferno+, and other Radiangames titles, as players just pick up powerups in the main Waves mode that have permanent effects like more health or more powerful weapons. As well as the 24-level Waves mode, there’s a Challenges mode where players can try to last as long as possible against particular enemy setups. All of the modes have seven difficulties available. –Carter Dotson
When every interesting game idea is copied and cloned in a thousand different iterations across the App Store mere moments after gaining any modicum of mass popularity (2048 anyone? Some Flappy Bird maybe?), it’s very easy to get dismissive and jaded. We’ve seen and played the Jetpack Joyrides, the Robot Unicorn Attacks, the Temple Runs, and any of a hundred other flavors of the endless runner. Does Dark Lands manage to do anything different? While the core is pretty typical endless runner, Dark Lands has slapped on a layer of visual distinction that, if nothing else, certainly makes it pretty to watch. Co-opting both style and content cues from games like the critically acclaimed Limbo, Dark Lands comes with a bold, moody, silhouetted visual aesthetic. While there may not be ghostly children here, players sprinting and slashing their way through this pseudo-Grecian world will encounter monsters and deathtraps aplenty. –Rob Thomas
CIRCA6 is an incredibly simple game. Take a look at the screenshots below and that’s pretty obvious. Attractive in its own way it might be, but feature-packed it’s not. It’s a minimalistic shooter that focuses on providing an enjoyable experience rather than memorable visuals. It works as a fun distraction for five minutes, for the most part. Controls are conducted via a virtual joystick which allows one to propel forwards, with bullets flying out in the opposite end of the direction taken. Working on a kind of thrusting basis, it takes a brief bit of adaptation but it’s soon quite natural to use. Shooting is done automatically with endless waves of colored dots flying at the player. These dots are different colors, each representing a different skill level. While one color might be fairly dumb and easy to take out, another might be keen to dodge bullets and tricky to chase after. –Jennifer Allen
On paper, Toy Rush doesn’t look particularly remarkable. It’s a freemium game, a tower defense/offense title, and it has collectible cards to acquire. It’s essentially a mash up of many other elements we’ve seen before. While, as is the way with such freemium games, patience is necessary when dealing with some timers, Toy Rush still offers a few different elements that make it feel more worthwhile than other titles within the genre. Players start out with their own base to defend and build upon. It’s a familiar premise with players able to place new towers and units to keep things safe for while they’re offline. What’s different is how this is done. Tickets are gradually accumulated through victories and simply through waiting it out. These are then used to buy packets of cards. The more spent on these card packs, the better the quality of the items gleaned from them. Such randomness is sometimes a bit infuriating when one is desperate for a particular card, but it’s also fun to see what happens. –Jennifer Allen
WordGirl Superhero Training is a PBS educational app based on the PBS show WordGirl that, like the name describes, revolves around a superhero girl with a focus on introducing new vocabulary to viewers through a conversational means. I really enjoy WordGirl – bright and colorful, with nuances reminiscent of The Powerpuff Girls with an educational spin easily palatable for children of all ages. The heart of WordGirl Superhero Training includes four mini-games that are geared towards strengthening skills such as memory, logic, and reflexes in an arcade-styled game that also includes a vocabulary element as well a maze-centric section involving synonyms. I really enjoy the creative ideas included within these sections. Instead of the classic “concentration”-styled game of flipping over cards to match pairs, one must focus on two related objects before they are “WHAMED” apart by the villain, The WHAMER, and are in need of being put back together by the player in this puzzle-themed section that helps children learn detailed words to describe these commonplace objects. –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:
Bubble breaking games are timeless reminders of the charm found in classic arcade titles. Striking the perfect balance, bubble popping games are the perfect mix of simple to play and difficult to master. Bringing these types of games to the modern gaming audience can also be a matter of finding the right balance. Lost Bubble, developed by Peak Games, fails to recognize the charm of classic bubble breakers by reaching too far for a modern overhaul. Like any bubble breaking game, the premise of Lost Bubble is simple. Players enter a level with colored bubbles populating the screen. It is the player’s job to shoot matching colored bubbles in order to make them fall. Early levels are quite simple, but the game challenges players with more bubbles to break and new obstacles as they advance through stages. –Ryan Bloom
Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies is a fun, retro-feeling mouthful. The game premise is as simple as it gets; it takes a leaf out of the the book of arcade games of years past, and pits a shooter against shooting opponents. It’s a 2D playing area in this one, with the protagonist object at the bottom (forescreen) and the enemy craft mostly in the air above at the top of the screen. The protagonist object can move left and right, and can shoot, and these actions are accomplished via the virtual controls at the very bottom of the game. –Tre Lawrence
Go Kane! is a game about love, drugs and a fight against the clock. Will Kane get enough money to save one of his girlfriends? That’s up to the player. In Go Kane! players take control over ladies’ man Kane. Kane got himself in a nasty situation: his girlfriend – or at least, one of his girlfriends – is held hostage somewhere and Kane needs to get a certain amount of money to set her free once again. But how will he get more than a hundred thousand dollars? Well, by selling drugs, of course. Everything in this game should be taken with a grain of salt, because instead of drugs, Kane could be selling anything to get the money. But this game isn’t meant to be serious and has a lot of humor, so yeah. Why not drugs. –Wesley Akkerman
And finally, this week the chaps at Pocket Gamer reviewed KeroBlaster, JoyJoy, and Thomas Was Alone, gazed and guessed at Apple’s future with some iPhone 6 rumours and an iOS 8 wishlist, put together its first all-animated-GIF walkthrough to Blek, found some indie games in Poland, picked the best games to play with your kids, and told you how to become the next iOS game-streaming Twitch superstar. See it all right here.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 16th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Bonsai Slice has just started swinging a bigger sword. The game where players use their iPhone or iPod touch with a gyroscope to hack and slash at objects being tossed from all around them, is now universal for the iPod. Plus, the game now has a variety of new objects to cut into little pieces.
You can download Bonsai Slice off the App Store for free.
In an App Store chock full of shameless clones, it’s always nice to see a game that expands on its influences instead of just copying them wholesale. Such is the case with Globber’s Escape, now in a soft launch phase, which clearly borrows its basic framework from the classic Pac-Man formula. But fortunately it doesn’t stop there, and we see just how far it goes in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In Globber’s Escape, players guide a circular creature around a 2D maze collecting tiny objects and avoiding patrolling enemies. However, if they collect the right power-up they can turn the tables on their foes and gobble them up, sending baddies back to the center to regenerate. Again, it sounds like Pac-Man. But from that familiar set-up, the game starts diverging in small but clever ways.
Instead of static dots, players devour little aliens that sporadically burst out of different containers on the map and mindlessly roam around the stage. This means players must always be ready to adjust their paths and strategies on the fly. Once all the critters are collected, instead of automatically starting the next round players must manually escape the room by reaching the closest open door. However, this makes them even more vulnerable to agitated enemies like evil mad scientists and almost unfairly unstoppable robots. If players do get caught, they can free Globber using the rare revive hammers sprinkled throughout each map. And when it’s game over for real, the final score goes towards increasing Globber’s level.
In an alternate universe, Globber’s Escape is one of the better arcade games made to capitalize on Pac-Man‘s success. Along with all the mechanical twists, the game has a less breakneck and more strategic pace overall. The control scheme has players creating waypoints for Globber to follow by touching the maze, which reduces the amount of mindless, frantic tapping while still allowing players to course correct easily.
However, for all of its gameplay creativity, Globber’s Escape‘s presentation sadly falls back on generic tropes. The cartoony sci-fi visuals, full of vibrant colors and angular designs, are pleasant but uninspired. The music might as well be non-existent. Some of the dialogue between the chatty tutorial robots is at least kind of amusing in a classic comedy duo way, but the game’s universe isn’t the reason to get invested.
Instead, players should get invested because Globber’s Escape is reassuring proof that cool, new games can still come from slight tweaks to old concepts once considered done to death. They can find out for themselves though when the game launches worldwide soon.
Did you read our Overkill Mafia preview coverage of the soft launch the other day and say to yourself “I can’t wait to play that!” Well, the good news is that you don’t have to wait, as the game will be available worldwide later tonight (typically around 11pm EST, 8pm PST) for free. Bust out the 1920s greatest firepower on some mooks and rule old-school Chicago with an iron fist and an itchy trigger finger.
Frank Condello is the solo developer behind Chaotic Box, now well-known for dEXTRIS, which has surpassed one million downloads and become one of his most popular games. Condello has been at work on the App Store for years now, but this stands as one of his biggest releases yet. Condello was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions about dEXTRIS, and what it means for him.
Krosmaster Arena, the online version of the board game from Anakama and Japanime Games, is getting a mobile version coming in early 2015. This miniatures-based board game has had its online version available via browsers for some time now, but now mobile players will be able to play from anywhere. As well, it will allow players to bring in the figures they already own into the mobile version of the game.
InnoGames has announced their new cross-platform strategy-MMO Rising Generals, designed with the help of Bruce Shelley of Civilization and Age of Empires fame. Built around player-versus-layer combat, players will command planes, tanks, and armored automobiles in worlds that will span 40,000 players each. The game will be cross-platform between iOS, Android, and browser, with support for the same account on different platforms for those who aren’t loyal to one electronics company.
Craneballs is returning to the Overkill well that has helped put them on the map. Where previous games in the series were futuristic alien-shooters, this one takes place in a past version of Chicago, where violent, fedora-wearing, gun-toting criminals roamed the streets shooting at each other and innocents occasionally getting caught in the crossfire. Thankfully such a world no longer exists: there are far fewer fedoras now. So, with the game currently soft-launched in Canada, I made sure not to put ketchup on my hot dog for this edition of It Came From Canada!
As stated earlier, the setup is very similar to past entries in the series in that this is a shooting gallery game. Players are in a stationary position, trying to take out enemies as they come in. The left thumb is used to move the gun by dragging around the screen, and there are fire and reload buttons in the lower-right corner. This is a Prohibition-era setting, so all the weapons are based on that time period, like a Colt 1911. Don’t expect any high-powered assault rifles here, but perhaps a tommy gun or two.
The meat of the game is the level-based progression, where players must survive multiple waves of enemies without dying, earning cash along the way. There are hundreds of levels promised, and interestingly enough, no energy system. At least yet. Right now, it’s possible to play to one’s content.
Along with the fixed levels, there are also reputation battles – such as the game’s endless mode, which also serves as a kind of asynchronous play where players attempt to get higher scores by lasting as long as possible, with more powerful enemies coming in as time goes on. Leaderboards track who’s doing better than whom. This is where buying better clothes comes into play: they grant character upgrades but also reputation multiplier bonuses. These bonuses naturally make it easier to get higher scores. They also serve as lives since every time the player ‘dies’, their multiplier lowers.
Guns can be upgraded with cash, with wait timers for upgrades to be delivered that can be skipped by spending liquor. Liquor is earned occasionally through level-ups, though there’s plenty to spend it on – including health and power boosts in the game itself. The game steadily gets harder, and it’s easy to see where the desire can be cultivated to spend real-world money on more cash and liquor to be more powerful; at least to catch back up to the game’s increasing difficulty.
It will be interesting to see how well people take to another entry in this series, and to one with a different theme than the ever-popular “shoot aliens” motif. And of course, will this make money? Time will tell. I imagine this one will be available worldwide soon enough, but it’s difficult to tell sometimes with soft-launched games. Some take months despite feeling ready, others feel half-baked but are soon available everywhere.
Dynamite Jack, from Galcon and BREAKFINITY creator Phil Hassey, is getting a new free version on May 22. This version will be the same as the paid version, but with ads. Every time that players continue they will see ads, though it’s possible to buy ad-free continue packs: 50 for $0.99, 250 for $2.99, or unlimited for $4.99, which is the same as the full version.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 12th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Image & Form Games have unveiled the latest level pack for their strategy game Anthill, entitled Antology. This pack contains eight new levels and a new endless mode called Ceaseless Mayhem. The level pack is available for $0.99 as an in-app purchase, but the base game is currently on sale for free for those who haven’t checked it out yet.
Panzer Tactics HD, bitComposer Games’ upcoming World War II turn-based strategy game, has had its price and release date announced. The iPad version will cost $8.99 and release on May 22. This updated version of the DS original will boast three campaigns, over thirty missions, and over 150 total units across the land, sea, and air.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 12th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Sega has announced their new game, Dragon Coins. This takes the coin-collecting gameplay popularized by titles such as Coin Dozer and mixes it with RPG battling. The coins that players drop onto a pile to try and collect go toward charging attacks to take out enemies, with upgrades for being a better battler. And of course, dragons are all throughout the game, because who doesn’t love dragons?
N-Fusion, developers of Deus Ex: The Fall and Air Mail, have released screens and a trailer for their upcoming game Space Noir, published by Unity Games (the publishing arm of the popular 3D engine). N-Fusion promises to mix the standards of space combat with the noir aesthetic usually reserved for hard-boiled detective stories.
Space Noir is planned to release this summer for PC and for tablets.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 8th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Team Chaos has released a big update for their “hatch-three” puzzle game, Dragon Academy. The “Path of the Elder Dragon” expansion brings 48 new levels inspired by ancient Greece in this new episode, with 24 new main campaign levels. As well, new items called Magic Vines and Magic Creep will add new dynamics to puzzle-solving. Finally, because this is a game about dragons, there can’t be an update without a new one: Bloo the Dragon is what Team Chaos claims is “the most adorable thing we’ve ever created.”
Out this Fall is a new kind of card battle game: Outcast Odyssey. From This Means WAR! developer Magic Pixel Games, and Bandai Namco, you’ll be able to explore and discover new worlds, fight various foes, and take on a number of quests. There’ll be guilds to join too, so you can tag along with […]