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.”
Retry, the latest game from the Angry Birds moguls at Rovio, apparently comes from the publisher’s new educational gaming branch. But if that’s the case, the only thing this game teaches is that life is nothing but unending punishment. Prepare for high-flying death over and over again in the latest edition of It Came From Canada!
Retry takes the brutally difficult flight controls of the infamous Flappy Bird but has players navigating finite, designed levels instead of endless rows of pipes. Pressing the screen boosts the player’s plane forward and also aims it up slightly. Meanwhile, letting go causes the plane to fall. With limited control over their speed and trajectory, players have to rely on careful yet confident taps to make it through these death traps. One brush against the environment, aside from water or wind currents, equals instant death. Sometimes the only way forward is a well-timed and skillfully executed loop-de-loop. The name Retry itself refers to how often players will be restarting the game. They’re even forced to look at the ghosts of their past selves, crashed against the walls, as their trial-and-error toils on.
There are a few oases in their desert however. Each level has a handful of permanent checkpoints, but in a devastating twist, they can only be activated if the player has a coin. Most sections between checkpoints have a coin somewhere in them, but they are usually in tough to reach spots – making the game even harder. If players can’t manage that, which is truly understandable, they can also just pay for coins. They can even earn them outside of gameplay by completing easy achievements like crashing a bunch. Overall, the checkpoint system is an intriguing compromise between being fair to the player while still honoring the game’s core commitment to hair-pulling challenge levels.
Sadism isn’t the only thing Retry shares with Flappy Bird. Both games use a chunky, pastel, pixelated art style and peppy music that belie their dark hearts and cruel, true natures. Retry has four worlds with various visual themes like “summer” and “the future.” Expect to see the same skies often though, because while the game has a decent amount of different levels, its difficulty and frequent restarts inevitably lead to repetition. Fortunately, that also means it will be a long time before players experience all the game has to offer.
Retry is currently in a soft launch phase, but once Rovio finishes toying with the Canadians, expect them to unleash their torture on the rest of the world soon enough. With the amount of effort this takes, it’s probably easier to just learn how to fly a real plane.
Uber Entertainment has announced that their mobile tower defense crossed with Clash of Clans game, Toy Rush, is finally launching worldwide on Thursday, May 15. The game has been in a soft-launch phase for a few months now, but now everyone will soon get to build their devious defenses and use cards to try and take down other players’ strategic turrets and traps.
Wargaming has one of the biggest games on the planet right now, and it’s one you might not have played: World of Tanks. This free-to-play tank warfare game has had over a million concurrent players on PC, and it’s starting extend its tendrils out beyond the PC to include mobile. World of Tanks: Blitz takes the formula of putting tank-driving players on to the battlefield, with the objective of capturing points or wiping out the other team, in small maps with fast-paced gameplay. The game is in a soft-launch phase in Europe, including Denmark. So, I whipped up some frikadeller and rugbrød for this It Came From Canada: Denmark Edition!
Blitz is an apt subtitle for this, since it puts players into the game pretty much immediately. Once players register with either Game Center or a Wargaming.net account, the tutorial starts. This lets players get an idea of the movement, aiming, and firing controls, before players are set off into their first real battles.
The tutorial actually does a great job at briskly setting up the game and showing how the mechanics work: a single joystick controls movement, with buttons for turning in place and arrows around the tank indicating where it will move to.
Though players do start off playing in real battles, this doesn’t mean that the learning is over. As players progress, the game introduces ammo buying, tank upgrading, and more. It just does so in a way that is spread out over time, and doesn’t overwhelm players with information all at once. Importantly, it lets players actually play and learn for themselves.
Even playing with non-US players via both wi-fi and LTE the game has performed exceptionally well, with latency having little effect. While the game does manage to put players into games with more experienced and better-equipped opponents, I didn’t feel helpless. The game does require some intelligence built-in since there’s not really any voice chatting, and with such a diverse international audience playing, having just a text chat option might be better anyway.
There’s no actual energy mechanic, but tanks can’t be used until a battle ends – though players do have multiple tanks. Credits (the soft currency) can be spent on more ammunition, and gold (the hard currency) can be spent to buy different kinds of ammunition, additional tank slots, and more along with premium accounts, which grant more experience and credits for certain amounts of time. How well this model works on mobile as far as money-making remains to be seen. There are at least enough credits handed out to keep ammo supplied, but just how ‘free’ this game will be remains to be seen. As well, will the more casual market be willing to jump into such a gamer’s game, even if it’s fast-paced? These are interesting questions I’m curious to see the answers to when the game is eventually released worldwide.
Posted by Carter Dotson on May 6th, 2014 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Shadowrun Returns has gotten a big update and its biggest sale yet. Version 1.2.6, just released, overhauls the combat (including auto-heal) and UI for a better experience. Save options are now much closer to what they are on the PC, with the ability to save during a turn and when in the PDA. A variety of other bugs and tweaks are here as well.
Shadowrun Returns is also on sale for $4.99 – its biggest sale from its $9.99 price on iPad.
At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
Without context, it would be easy to think that Intake was designed from the ground up for the iPad. It’s the portrait orientation, and the game being so multitouch-friendly, being about frantically eliminating pills that drop from the sky by tapping on them, with the ability to pop multiple at a time by using multiple fingers. It actually wasn’t made specifically for iPad, though; it started as a PC game that used the mouse. Now that Intake is on the iPad, it’s at home and is a must-have for iPad owners who love fast-paced intense experiences. The best way to play the game is by laying it down flat on a table, using one’s thumb on each hand to switch pill colors in an Ikaruga-esque fashion, and then using other fingers to pop pills up and down the screen as necessary. It’s worth popping the same color pill as what is selected in order to extend out combos – not only for more points, but to get the power-ups that can help keep the board under control. This is especially necessary during the challenging levels that appear every five stages: they will often be the end of a run, but completing them means it will be even more lucrative. Checkpoints that new games can be started from are available every 25 stages. –Carter Dotson
There is no question that Lethal Lance swims in a big pool of old-school platformers, but LL Team and their publisher BulkyPix knew exactly how to make their title stand out. The game successfully (and almost immediately) plunges players into a lighthearted world that only jokingly ever takes itself too seriously (i.e. 2 star ratings come with the title of “Mr. Serious”). The objective (as one would expect from an intentionally old-school title) is for users to find their way to the other end of the level without losing all of their lives. Every level is packed with coins for players to collect in order to get a better rating. The rating system itself is pretty straightforward; in order to get all 3 stars, players must accomplish all of the 3 different objectives: they must finish the level without losing any lives, collect all of the coins, and reach the exit before the time expires. If the time does expire, they will simply lose one of the stars – as opposed to starting over. –Cata Modorcea
It’s funny how important comfort can be when it comes to a set of headphones, which is exactly why I’ve been enjoying Sharebrands’ Stereo Headphones as much as I have. It’s also rather funny how this $65 pair of headphones is actually more comfortable than some close to $200 pairs I’ve tried. And heck, some of that $65 isn’t even profit – Sharebrands donates 25% of the sale price of each pair to help the environment (Green), men and children’s health (Blue), women and children’s health (Pink), education (Yellow), or to help fight poverty (Red). Comfort isn’t the only thing these headphones have going for them, though; they also sound pretty good. I’m sure there are better pieces of audio headgear out there, but what I’ve been hearing is certainly not bad. None of that horrible “tinny” business, good balance, and the extra padding around the ears helps to block out a lot of background noise that could otherwise intrude on whatever the user might be listening to. –Rob Rich
Puzzle games and cars don’t exactly seem like the most logical combination on the planet. However, anyone who has ever played the classic quasi-board game “Parking Lot,” knows that that not only can the blend work, but also that it can actually be quite amusing. This is why it should come as no surprise 30-06 Studios would want to take advantage of this mix with their new title, Racer 8. Will it have players revving their engines or leave them running on fumes? Equal parts asset management, time trial and puzzle game, Racer 8 plays on several different mechanics to keep players’ heads constantly spinning. The core goal consists of navigating the car, which is constantly in motion, through a series of checkpoints and ultimately across the finish line. This is actually completed by revolving the square tiles in the map grid in order to form a track for the vehicle to follow. Throughout the process there are other concerns such as gas scarcity and target times, which both play secondary roles in determining how well the player performed on any given stage. –Blake Grundman
Sago Mini Monsters is a playful and creative app for toddlers and early preschool children that allows them to explore with color and other fun details as they create unique monsters that they need to take care of by feeding, primping with accessories, and attending to their personal needs such as teeth brushing. Each monster is met by dragging him or her from the green swampy area seen at the bottom of the page bubbling about adding a charmingly icky sense of style – especially as one will need to drag the monsters and their food up from this bog-like area as a tap will also make this fluid bubble. Children will enjoy decorating their at first detail-less monster with the use of five included colors. Simply draw and, when completed, a charming creature face will sprout giving personality to the character the young player has just decorated. Also fun is the ability to swap out different features to further customize the look of these monsters, complete with fun gooey details as one pulls off areas of the face, allowing new parts to sprout. –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:
In Greedy Dwarf you control a dwarf in a mine cart, collecting gold and surviving the inside of magma-filled cylindrical caverns. It’s a endless runner type of game, chopped into different levels. The controls of the cart are fairly easy to comprehend. By swiping left or right, the cart will go that direction respectively. The levels are mostly in the form of a cylinder, so the dwarf can ride not only on the ground, but also on the walls and the ceiling. By using two fingers or both thumbs, the mine cart jumps. The problem with these jumps that is difficult to see when to jump or where to land, because of the 3D environment. When dying often, this gets very frustrating. –Wesley Akkerman
Little known fact, but samurai warriors very rarely used their katana swords in battle. They mostly used pikes, like everyone else, because they had the farthest reach, meaning that you could deal a lot of nasty damage, while being on the safe distance yourself – and you didn’t have to worry about friendly “fire” as well! The reason that I speak about ancient Japanese military tactics is that I frankly don’t have much to say about Dancing Samurai – not because it’s bad, but because it’s so small – like a bonsai tree under mount Fuji. –Tony Kuzmin
The first thing that will most likely strike you about Brandnew Boy (apart from its odd title) is that it looks great. Brandnew Boy is built using the Unreal engine and even though I reviewed the game on a Nexus 4, it still managed to pack a graphical punch. The game itself revolves around you playing as a young man (or if you’d prefer, a young woman) who’s got a bad case of amnesia. What they (you) can remember though is how to kick and punch. This is handy as each level you complete is full of bizarre creatures, ranging from odd-looking ‘egg men’ to what can only be described as a demon with an umbrella. –Matt Parker
And finally, this week, the Pocket Gamer crew highlighted its most anticipated games for May, took an advanced look at the next game from Rock Band developer Harmonix, reviewed 3DS sport sim Mario Golf: World Tour and picked the three best iOS and Android games of the week. Have a read.
Doodle God creator Joybits have announced their latest game, Doodle Creatures. This takes the formula of Doodle God, where players must combine disparate elements to form new ones, and puts a genetic manipulation spin on it as players are now trying to combine creatures to form new ones. Joybits promises that there will be more elements to combine than in previous Doodle games.
Expect Doodle Creatures on the week of May 5. Until then, check out the trailer below.
Previously, the game only ran upscaled on the iPad – now iPad owners get native Retina Display support and no windowing. The game is still free of in-app purchases, but has been updated for all users with added sound and animations, and a rebuilt scoring system.
You can download the now-universal Blowfish Meets Meteor for $2.99.
Bush League is, on its surface, a curious game: it’s essentially a baseball take on Puzzle Quest, featuring crude parodies of famous players and figures around the sport, using performance-enhancing drugs that serve as the game’s special powers. But it’s the creator of the game that is particularly noteworthy. Dirk Hayhurst is a former baseball player who’s become an author of several best-selling books about his life in baseball and some of the things that fans don’t necessarily see about the culture. He’s also become a provocative analyst, and was part of the post-game show on TBS for the 2013 MLB playoffs. And now he’s a game developer, and he took the time to talk to me about this baseball parody he’s helped to create.
The genesis of Bush League came about when Hayhurst noticed that “There’s no good baseball game out there that kind of trolls baseball. You have all these scandals every year, but you never to seem to have a game that has all these players and all the drama they get into. And it’s such a big thing right now in Major League Baseball to get caught using steroids, right? I thought, why can’t we just make a game where you have to use steroids to win, and just troll the entire industry? I’m kind of like a black sheep of the baseball world anyways, and I always have kind of shown the other side of it, I thought, this is a great premise for a video game. Let’s make Candy Crush with steroids.”
The hook to Bush League is in the way that it tries to parody baseball. Famous players and other figures around the sport both past and present are the opponents that populate the game, and their personalities and dialogue make light of things that, say, MLB: The Show or RBI Baseball 14 would never touch.
Hayhurst’s unafraid to make fun of situations that he was involved in. There’s one character, Purcey Tweeps, who parodies David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. Hayhurst criticized Price’s performance after a playoff game he lost, and Price insulted Hayhurst’s playing career and said “SAVE IT NERDS.”. Purcey in the game makes reference to social media and to the nerds comment. Everything is a bit crude and over-the-top, but meant to, as Hayhurst says, “troll baseball” and “[service] that idea that baseball takes itself too seriously and needs a good mocking every now and then just to keep things even.”
While Hayhurst financed the development of the game and his name is on it, he didn’t just slap his name on it – he played an active role in development. “I was in charge of the art direction, the music direction… all the powers, I had to nest all the AI development, I had to decide the way it was going to look, the way it was going to feel, I had a say in all of that. At times I frustrated the guy doing the code, but it was a learning experience. And so there were things that I learned taking a shot at making a game that I never would have learned had I pursued a degree.” Hayhurst says he realized his strengths were “the writing, and designing the characters and how the game should feel, and my coder had his strengths, which was taking all these wild ideas I had, parsing them down, teaching me the ropes, and making them work in the actual game.
Hayhurst doesn’t want Bush League to be a static product either: he wants to, over time, update the game to incorporate other notorious events and scandals as characters and powers. He says he would love to tackle other sports in a similar way.
But given that he’s created this media career for himself, is Hayhurst afraid of the blowback that could come from this parody of the sport and its players that he’s created? He says “I don’t think of the church of baseball as some holy sacrament that everyone has to be reverential to, especially guys like me that didn’t have long careers. This kind of stuff deserves to get picked on a little bit, because it’s quite ridiculous when you think about it. I have always done that. And I understand because I’m in the sports entertainment field, I’m criticizing the sports entertainment field. I’m not criticizing these individual players, I’m criticizing the Franken-player that we’ve made out of them by knowing very little about who they are and taking what we know publicly and hyping it up, and turning it into something it isn’t. That is what I’ve always done, and that’s what got me on TBS and ultimately keep it from it at some point, but that’s who I am, and that’s the style that I like to work in.”
Thanks to Dirk Hayhurst for his time. Bush League is available now.
A new game starring Tony Hawk, famous in gaming circles for the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, is coming to iOS.
Tony Hawk’s Shred Session takes after lane-based runners such as Subway Surfers, having players swiping to do tricks in skatepark levels across two different game modes. Six real-world skaterboarders, including both Tony Hawk and his son Riley, will be available. See more about the game in this hands-on video of Tony Hawk playing the game with Hodappy Bird protagonist Eli Hodapp.
Tony Hawk’s Shred Session is planned for this summer, with a soft launch in the coming weeks.
Posted by Carter Dotson on April 30th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Republique Episode 2: Metamorphosis is now rolling out now for Season Pass holders, and will be available on May 1 for all users. This chapter of the surveillance-themed stealth-adventure game has players controlling protagonist Hope as she seeks out the librarian of her prison in order to help her in her quest to be free.
Not only is there new story content, with a new guard type, and new abilities, but also three puzzles from the creator of Blueprint 3D are in Episode 2. As well, there’s improved performance on iPhone 4, iPad mini, and iPad 2, a new 3D map, and the next chapter of the documentary is available. The episode will cost $4.99 as an in-app purchase to unlock, with the Season Pass available for $14.99.
Perfect World Entertainment has announced their new MMORPG coming to iOS, Dawn of the Immortals, releasing this summer in North America and Europe. Players will fight through dungeons, teaming up with fellow players to take down their opponents in both PvP and PvE (player vs. environment) arenas. There will be guilds, parties, group chat, and more social features, including cross-platform play with the Android version.
Dawn of the Immortals is planned for this summer, and players who pre-register can get a free mystic pet summoning card when the game releases.
Gameloft has announced some new details for the upcoming Modern Combat 5: Blackout, the latest in their long-running military FPS series. Players will begin in Venice, Italy as protagonist Phoenix, travelling around the globe to Tokyo and other locales. While few other details are known, we do have this concept art, the trailer from E3 2013, and the promise that more will be announced in the coming weeks.
Posted by Carter Dotson on April 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the beefy turn-based strategy game brought to mobile from its initial PC and console release with just about everything intact, is on sale now for $9.99. This is cheaper than the game’s current price on Steam ($29.99), so it’s a real comparative bargain. As well, the Android launch clocked in $9.99 without any indicators that it was a sale price, so this may be a permanent price drop for the game, and quite possibly one of the best values on mobile.
Pixel Press Floors has a lofty goal: to make it possible to turn sketches of video game levels into ones playable in their platforming game app, done through the magic of augmented reality. Download and print the Floors Sketch Guide and Sketch Sheets, follow the instructions for layouts and objects in the levels, and if properly done, it’ll be turned into a level that can be played in the app. It’s also possible to draw levels in the app itself.
Check out the trailer below, and the PixelPress Vimeo channel for more videos on how it works. Pixel Press Floors will be available on April 30.
Harmonix, creators of the Rock Band series, have soft-launched Record Run on to the Canadian App Store. You will likely not be surprised to learn that it’s a rhythm-based game, but in a mobile-friendly endless runner format. So, I put on my athletic boogie shoes for this edition of It Came From Canada!
The gist of the game is to dodge obstacles and make it to the end of each level, but that’s oversimplifying things. See, each obstacle is meant to be dodged in time, with more points scored and more of a multiplier boost for timing the jumps, slides, and sideways movements properly. Of course everything is set to music, and players can import their own music to listen to while they play, with the game’s levels synchronized to the music. This does tend to work better with tracks that have a consistent tempo to them: the Animals as Leaders tracks I tried didn’t work so well, but electronic tracks worked a lot better.
Essentially, much like Rock Band, Record Run becomes about maintaining success in order to get high scores and the elusive five-star rating. In particular, continued success is necessary: getting and maintaining high multipliers is key. And they can get really high, I’ve seen as high as 10x, so repetition becomes important. Figuring out when to make swipes is harder once the 3x multiplier is reached, because that’s when the world shifts to its extremely-colorful mode – where the main character transforms into a creature of some sort (the first one available transforms into a flaming skeleton), and the world dances to the music. But most importantly, the indicators for when to swipe go away, and players are on their own as for when they have to.
Record Run is monetized through the standard two-tier currency, with records being used for upgrades, and backstage passes as the hard currency used for unlocking additional song slots and additional characters. It will be interesting to see how well the game monetizes: when I spoke with Harmonix at GDC, they gave off the attitude that they were just jumping in feet-first with this sort of free-to-play game, so balancing everything could take some time. I expect some sort of daily challenge incentive to be added as well, along with perhaps an energy system – the game is fairly simple and would be most rewarding perhaps through a system that conditions the game to be played in short bursts. So, before it launches worldwide, it could have a long way to go, and could still change a lot.
Posted by Carter Dotson on April 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
SimpleRockets has gone free for only the second time in the app’s existence. Normally available in the $0.99-$2.99 range, now players can build rockets, trying to take off from various planets using realistic orbital physics based off of Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. While the game does have in-app purchases, do not fret: they’re all for rocket skins.
While rocket launches require careful planning, be quick with this one: it could go back to paid at any time.
Limbic Software, creators of Zombie Gunship, decided to celebrate April Fool’s Day the way they usually do: by announcing a fake game. This year, they announced Zombie Gunship Arcade, a 2D pixel-art version of Zombie Gunship where players tap to flap upward, which also shoots a shot at the zombies below. The goal is to kill as many zomibes as possible while trying not to kill any of the humans in the mix, thus ending the game.
Well, now it’s funny ’cause it’s true: Zombie Gunship Arcade is a real game, and it releases this Thursday, May 1, on the App Store for free.
Posted by Carter Dotson on April 29th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Want some remastered Sonic action for cheap? Well, Sega has put Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on sale. Both originally released as emulated versions, then later updated by a team including Christian “Taxman” Whitehead and Simon “Stealth” Thomley, both well-known in the Sonic scene. The remasters include support for high-definition and widescreen displays, tweaks to the original games, and features like characters and levels not playable in the originals (such as the lost Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 2).
Both games are available for a limited time for $0.99, so be speedy – like a certain blue hedgehog whose name escapes me.
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.
The roguelike-inspired genre hasn’t really taken off on mobile like I expected it to quite yet, but Wayward Souls sets the bar so high for any other developer that tries to jump in that I do not envy them. Wayward Souls is a darn fine roguelike action-RPG. The game, which is a spiritual successor of Mage Gauntlet, thrusts players into three dungeons where they have one life, a limited amount of health, the character’s special abilities, and occasional power-ups, upgrades, and coins that can be collected. The coins are the only permanent thing that is carried between games, which can be spent on upgrades. Otherwise, the game features permadeath: any upgrades and items collected don’t carry over. So choose wisely and don’t be afraid to actually use the items. As well, the game features random levels in each dungeon, so no run is ever the same. There are common elements each time through, but expect the unexpected. –Carter Dotson
When a game starts with a gentle and vaguely ethnic voice talking about “good mornings” and “purple light,” players know that they’re in for something unique. But lavish production values and lovingly realized characters are just the beginning of the greatness that is Leo’s Fortune. Tilting Point and 1337 & Senri set out to make a mobile game as fun and fantastic as something on consoles. Fortunately, they succeeded. Players take control of Leo, a brilliant inventor and adorable elderly fuzzball, as he attempts to reclaim his stolen treasure. It’s impossible to oversell how delightful his design is. Imagine a grandpa’s beard that suddenly came to life. That’s just the start of Leo’s Fortune‘s amazing aesthetics. The game’s graphics have an old-world whimsy full of wartime, turn of the 20th century, Eastern European influences. Also, with its stage motif, the game draws from the early world of cinema that Martin Scorsese sought to recreate in the movie ‘Hugo.’ On a technical level, the naturalistic environments like desert ruins and ocean floors, or more industrial ones like a fiery underground furnace, have exquisite lighting and immaculate textures. However, the art style is so strong that the impressiveness of the visuals just adds to the wonder instead of being boringly photorealistic. With all that eye candy to take in, the fact that the feature film-level soundtrack and professional voice-acting equally amaze just speaks to their quality. –Jordan Minor
The Strongarm falls into that special category of hardware I like to call “Simple but Effective.” Really it’s just a couple of suction cups that can pivot around each other, but if you’ve got a flat enough surface handy it can make for a pretty effective stand for your iOS device. With a few caveats. Using the Strongarm is super-simple: just place the larger end on a smooth, flat surface and push down five times. This creates a vacuum that will keep it solidly in place for quite some time – depending on the angle and the weight of the device at the other end, of course. Then do the same for the smaller end (place on surface and push five times), only use the back of your iOS device instead of a table or wall. And viola! You now have a stand for your iPhone or iPad that can swivel around if you need it. Want to remove your phone or move everything to a new spot? Just push down on one end to disrupt the vacuum and the Strongarm pops right off. –Rob Rich
The twofold attack of complexity and cost have always been the biggest barriers to entry for newcomers interested in collectible card games. Arcane layers of terminology and elaborate multi-stage turn structures can prove daunting to the uninitiated and indeed were almost my own undoing during my teenage introduction to Magic: The Gathering. Even if newbies can handle absorbing the rules, there’s still the financial bite of dropping $4 for a single booster pack of around a dozen cards. But with the release of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard has managed to execute a truly impressive feat of plate-spinning. They have not only created a CCG that is both quick and easy for newbies to pick up (while still challenging for veteran card slingers), but have simultaneously crafted what may well be one of the best free-to-play experiences on any platform EVER. –Rob Thomas
Boxer is a mailbox app for iOS that seems to be able to do almost anything one could ask of it. Where many mail apps I’ve tried tend to lean either more toward user-friendliness or high customization, Boxer does a great job of balancing both – making it my new favorite mail client for mobile devices. When users boot up Boxer they are greeted with their inbox view, which merges all of the incoming email from all connected accounts in a column view that is similar to most mail apps on the iPhone. From here users can open messages, swipe to archive or delete them, or assign other labels or actions to them such as putting them on a to-do list, liking them, or sending quick replies. While I found this layout relatively intuitive, Boxer accounts for the fact that this may not be the desired way to use email for everyone and have included customization options for users that want to boot into a different screen on startup, or change what the swiping actions do. –Campbell Bird
Sometimes it is hard not to become jaded as an app reviewer because there are times that it may seem as if many apps are rather familiar – making me wish for something unique, interesting or simply beautiful. Because of this, I am happy to have had the chance to review Petites Choses: an interactive app for young children that has a wonderfully crafted style, setting it apart from other apps seen in iTunes. Petites Choses is an app for small children that includes simple, unique mini-games that one discovers inside the included beautifully-illustrated cityscape that employs a serene use of color and a watercolor style that I greatly appreciate. As one scrolls though this city, children will be lead to the areas of this app that are to be explored – be it scenes found within the windows of a building as well as within the trees, taxis, flowers or umbrellas also seen within this urban landscape. I do love the look of this app – the hazy use of color and the clouds that hang over this city as well as the buildings that include a layered look that gives this city depth when scrolling through this landscape. –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:
Every now and then, I get, well, got. I do try to be a beacon of impartiality, mostly immune to the wiles of software titles, but every so often, a game throws it on me, and I get weak. That what Voxel Rush: Free Racing Games from HyperBees continually does to me. With regards to gameplay, it is as straightforward as it gets: it’s a first-person endless runner set as a race through an artsy, creatively minimalist environment that is built to challenge and stimulate the senses. The game depends on this ever-changing backdrop to deliver the excitement that it intends to, and it mostly delivers. –Tre Lawrence
G5 is practically the authority when it comes to hidden mystery games, and one can be fairly certain that a game from the venerable development house will be better than decent. With Letters From Nowhere: Mystery, we do get what we expect, and a bit more. The gameplay goes a bit beyond Murray finding miscellaneous objects in different environments; this game has a few palpable elements that add to the overall gameplay in quite positive ways. –Tre Lawrence
Smash and Dash is a game title that delivers: in the game, you smash up guns that fire blue bullets at you, while you dash away to not get hit by those bullets. Smash and Dash is played on a grid, and strongly reminds us of another great game: Geometry Wars, only now on a smaller scale.The little flying machine you control can smash every enemy on screen, but is extremely vulnerable when it comes to bullets. Only one of those is needed to knock you out, what makes the game really challenging to experience arcade gamers. It’s really fast-paced and it suits the game very well. And the controls are very smooth, too. On screen, there is an analog stick that directly controls your flying vehicle and the response of that stick is utterly fast. It has to be: a fast-paced game where you need to rely on your own skill, won’t benefit from anything other than that. –Wesley Akkerman
Finally, this installment of AppSpy’s Week in Video, reviews troubled web-wanging sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2, noir sneak-’em-up Third Eye Crime: Act 1, and neon endless-runner Unpossible. AppSpy also takes a sneak peek at new releases like fluffy platformer Leo’s Fortune, and the impressive-looking roguelike Wayward Souls in our live Twitch show Eye on the App Store. Watch it all on AppSpy now.
And, this week Pocket Gamer gave a rare Platinum Award to Wayward Souls, shared some tips for Blizzard card battler Hearthstone, picked out the best puzzle games on Android, and weeped over 10 franchises that have been spoiled by the intrusion of in-app purchases. All this and more over at Pocket Gamer.