Posts Tagged Letterpress
While several of my compatriots here at 148Apps waxed lyrical about all sorts of general things they appreciate from the past year, I’m going to get specific. Sometimes, it truly is the little things that make me happy. To wit, the iPhone 5, the iPad mini, the Letterpress word game, a portable bluetooth speaker, and an illuminated portable keyboard. Seriously, these all made my 2012 just that bit brighter.
I reviewed this as a Wi-Fi only device, then promptly went out and bought an LTE model. The iPad mini is everything I’ve ever wanted in a tablet, with the perfect form factor and amazing battery life. While I still would love a faster processor or higher resolution screen, the mini is an unbelievably fantastic device at any price. I use it daily for news reading, writing, music creation, calendar reminders, and a ton of things that I used to just use my iPhone for. Now that I have the iPad mini, I can keep my iPhone just a bit more charged as I offload many tasks to the mini.
The iPhone 5 is a triumph of form and function, as many an outlet has proclaimed from the start. What I find amazing about it is how simply useful it is. The combination of killer app ecosystem, tied into the well-iterated iOS 6 structure and married to an absolutely flawless industrial design make this the best iPhone I’ve ever owned. While I do miss the double-sided glass panels of the iPhone 4, the trade off in terms of weight and durability are well worth it. I use this thing in all areas of my life, and I notice more and more people around me doing the same.
Wait, what? A word game? You’d think I’d spend more time with a game like Infinity Blade, or Magic 2013. Maybe even something like Arcane Legends, which I admittedly play daily. The win here goes to Letterpress, however, precisely because it is a word game, and one which has stolen more of my mind share this year than any other game. Winning the game requires a deft handling of both vocabulary and strategy, which keeps me coming back for more, every day.
Braven Portable Bluetooth Speaker
While working on a round up of a few of these jambox-style small, rechargeable portable speakers, I fell in love with the Braven 600 model sent along from the manufacturer for review. You’ll be able to read the full write up in the next few days, but suffice it to say that this one has it all: small footprint, good sound, and incredible battery life. Oh, and pairing it to any Bluetooth capable device is a breeze.
Logitech Illuminated Keyboard
I don’t think I could call myself a blogger without some sort of keyboard to use with my iPad 3 or iPad mini while out in the field. Or, you know, at piano lessons. The Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810 is a delight to use, as you can see in my full review here. It’s quickly become my keyboard of choice across my many devices, including my Mac mini in my home office (also known as my bedroom). The ability to tap an F key and have the keyboard respond to one of three different devices is a revelation of workflow joy, allowing this to replace my Apple bluetooth keyboard in a rather quick fashion.
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These are it. The cream of the crop of 2012. The best games that ought to be played. We’re sure you have opinions on this – tell us in the comments below!
10. The World Ends With You: Solo Remix: This DS role-playing game was brought to the next big touchscreen gaming system. Spoiler alert: its unique art style, soundtrack, and gameplay, re-fitted for one screen, fit well enough to let the experience still shine. It is expensive but worth it, writes Jennifer Allen: “I’ve played many JRPGs in the past and there’s nothing quite like it. The iOS conversion is pretty good, even despite the screen restrictions, and it’s all forgiven when you’re wrapped up in the storyline so much. It’s an expensive purchase but one that will offer you dozens of hours of memorable gameplay. When you think of it like that, it really doesn’t sound so bad.”
Released: 2012-08-27 :: Category: Games
9. Outwitters: One Man Left’s long-awaited turn-based strategy game proved to well worth the long-awaiting. Move units in such a way to avoid detection or be out of the range of the enemy. Imagine their horror as they realize that their opponent has set themselves up to win no matter what they do, and hitting submit is their doom. Such is the joy of Outwitters. Just hope that opponents don’t consider the phrase “The only winning move is not to play” a valid strategy.
Released: 2012-07-05 :: Category: Games
8. Super Hexagon: Where Terry Cavanagh’s frantic survival game is in its relentless simplicity. It’s all just spinning left and right no matter what, but then it becomes about learning the patterns of the different difficulty levels, and figuring out the approach. But yet, the hardest part is the execution, and not messing up. Spinning left and right has never been so difficult, and yet so ultimately rewarding.
Released: 2012-08-31 :: Category: Games
7. Letterpress: Who saw Loren Brichter, most known for legendary Twitter app Tweetie, reinventing the multiplayer word game? This stylish asynchronous multiplayer affair was compelling because the goal was so different: each player was on relatively equal footing with the same 5×5 grid, but new strategies, and competing for territory formed from words played out. Just don’t cheat.
Released: 2012-10-24 :: Category: Games
6. Rayman Jungle Run: Why was this Rayman auto-runner so good? Perhaps it was the absolutely stunning 2D animation. Perhaps it was the charming music that set the mood of the game perfectly. Perhaps it was the ingenious level design. Perhaps it was the perfectly-honed progression curve, introducing new abilities steadily throughout the game. But maybe it’s the fact that all of it came together so well in one game. Oh, and the game has used few in-app purchases, a shocking development considering they were all over the place in 2012.
Released: 2012-09-18 :: Category: Games
5. 10000000: There’s no reason why, just looking at this game on the surface, why is should be on a top games list. It’s got a pixel art style, but it’s hardly polished or detailed. It has the ugliest icon on the App Store. That anyone noticed it at all is really a miracle. But those who did notice it also noticed that they had no free time left. The way that different matches can affect the board means that each move has an impact, and often an unintended one. It’s just way too easy to keep coming back and giving this one another shot to try and get to the eponymous ten million points total.
4. Angry Birds Star Wars: The franchise got a major boost in 2012. While there’s only so many ways to tackle launching birds at pigs, the fact that Angry Birds Space mixed in so many new ways to tackle this eternal conflict was refreshing. But even better was that Rovio took an opportunity with what could have easily been a licensed cash-in and made it something that not only was nostalgic and just reverent enough to the source material along with its inherent irreverent characters and theme, but made it truly a Star Wars-inspired Angry Birds game. It sounded ridiculous, and at some level, still is ridiculous, but it rises above that.
Released: 2012-11-08 :: Category: Games
Released: 2012-11-08 :: Category: Games
3. Hero Academy: While exchanging words has been a staple of turn-based multiplayer games on iOS, Hero Academy was probably the first game that really mastered a combat-based gameplay on iOS. There was plenty of raw strategization, but there’s also the poker aspect of not knowing what units your opponent has up their sleeve, exactly. Watching your team dance around after winning is extremely satisfying, after that other team’s archer had taken so many with them. Dance little soldiers, dance indeed.
Released: 2012-01-11 :: Category: Games
2. Punch Quest: Rocketcat Games and Madgarden made a game that clearly was meant to take refuge in its audacity: the idea of an endless puncher where skeletons, bats and orcs get punched in between rounds of riding laser-firing dinosaurs and gnome transformations could easily just be ludicrous. Making it fun and addictive is another challenge: the fact that the game is so perfectly controlled with just two fingers helps. That it contains a deep customization and skill-based system helps propel return sessions, along with the ability to see friends’ customizations on the leaderboard. But the fact that the game just remains so simple and fun to play at its very core makes it one of the best games of the year.
Released: 2012-10-25 :: Category: Games
1. Walking Dead: The Game: When compiling this list, there were many titles named as some of the best of the year by our staffers. Yet, one game kept popping up, and it was Telltale’s take on the popular zombie franchise. It’s easy to see why: the game presents players with ways to interact with their world, and define their character and fate in ways that other games do not. It’s powerful and memorable, as Jennifer Allen explains: “I love games that offer an emotional experience which is exactly what The Walking Dead has offered. The fact that every decision has a repercussion, whether big or small, makes it all the more fascinating. It might not be a game designed for replaying, but that sole experience from start to finish is quite gripping if upsetting at times.”
The modern era of asynchronous multiplayer has led to not only people playing more word games, but more people flagrantly cheating at them. After all, it’s a lot easier to cheat at something when the opponent can be physically far away, or someone completely unknown. There’s no immediate repercussions. So while Scrabble clones like Words With Friends have allowed for a cottage industry of cheating apps to rise up, to turn the tide in the favor of those who wish to win by any means necessary.
The cheats are quickly evolving beyond just looking up Scrabble words online, though: they’re starting to exploit this sufficiently advanced technology that we carry around in our pockets. One Words With Friends hack for jailbroken devices actually hijacked the game to make any word playable. And one App Store app for iOS original word game Letterpress makes cheating almost too easy.
Lettercheat doesn’t do anything as malicious as hijacking a game’s rules, but it does use an impressive technological trick for unscrupulous purposes: it recognizes the game board based on a screenshot, and analyzes the letters on the board to find the best words to be played. It can even find, when available, moves that will end the game instantaneously. But the developers, who ask only for $0.99 after getting to try 2 games of cheating (piggybacking off of Letterpress’ business model), also promise something else: the ability to “Smurf” a game board by turning it all blue in the game’s default theme. Even the avatar carries this theme.
But why? Why intentionally release an app that is designed to break a competitive multiplayer game like this?
Loren Brichter, creator of Letterpress, doesn’t know. “I don’t get it. But it’s an inherent human problem, you can solve it technically or legally — capitalism promises that where there’s a want there’s a product. Maybe it’s a by-product of the competitive primordial brain overwhelming the reason why you’re competing in the first place (to have fun).”
The Lettercheat creators did not respond to a direct email as of press time, but did share their reasoning on their website and in a blog post. They say that “Lettercheat is meant to be a companion app to the Letterpress game. We’re hoping that the app can help you develop strategy skills and better understand how to win. Plus it’s a lot of fun to see an entirely blue board.”
While there will be some that use this as a fun tool, there will be those who use it to try and win, and such a tool seems difficult to conquer. And because this is a multiplayer game, there doesn’t seem to be the kind of “victimless crime” aspect and moral imperative that some players of the recent My Little Pony game have claimed as why they use a hack that reduces or eliminates the cost for expensive items in the game. However, that game is primarily a singleplayer experience, and Letterpress is meant for fun with other players, though there’s no global leaderboard for those mastering the game. If this cheat allows people to have fun with the game, and if it’s used responsibly, what harm is there?
There isn’t really a good solution for these kinds of cheats, at least from a technical perspective, either for creators or players. But there is a human one, as Loren Brichter suggests: “play with friends you trust not to cheat.”