Posted by Andrew Stevens on August 15th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Minecraft – Pocket Edition has seen a brand new update which adds the sun, the moon, and the stars. That sounds so beautiful! Players of the pocket edition will also find double chests [Editor's Note: FINALLY!], quartz slabs, and improvements made to many realms.
I think this means that it’s time to return to building. So get back to it, crafters!
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
While games may not be the largest percentage of apps in the App Store (non-games lead the way overwhelmingly), they are the most popular single category, with over 151,000 active games in the App Store as of this month, according to 148Apps.biz.
One could argue, and indeed I will, that games are the most transformative type of app in the App Store, bringing a quality of play to iOS devices previously impossible to achieve. As 148Apps staffers have been heard to proclaim, there are over 1.2 billion thumbs waiting to play games on these crafty little devices.
Of course, there have been landmark games since the App Store went live in 2008, titles that create, extend, and improve on the current state of the art. Here then, are the top 20 of those games, as chosen by your App Experts at 148Apps.
Doodle Jump – This one started the jumping game craze, inspiring a host of clones and imitators along the way. Angry Birds – Need we say more? The grumpy avians have taken over the public consciousness. Tiny Wings – Not just another bird game, Tiny Wings showed us how one mechanic, brilliantly executed, could take an unknown designer to untold heights.
Candy Crush Saga – Good heavens we still get a lot of invites for this casual, money-printing game. Clash of Clans – Say what you will about free to play, but this game has gotten it right. Tiny Tower – Nimblebit hit the jackpot here with a smart combination of tower building and free to play retro gaming.
Temple Run – If anyone deserved to have a huge hit, it’s the folks at Imangi Studios, who have been pushing the boundaries of quality gaming from the beginning. This one created the 3D endless runner genre at a breakneck speed! Puzzles & Dragons – Another free to play darling, this one gets all the elements right to keep players entertained and paying. Where’s My Water? – Disney’s breakout hit, with a new IP (intellectual property) and a fiendishly addictive mechanic.
Pocket God – 47 updates later, still going strong and keeping kids of all ages entertained and laughing. Minecraft Pocket Edition – The surprise PC hit the iPhone like a ton of cube-shaped bricks, letting crafters and miners of all stripe build and explore on the go. Words with Friends – Scrabble with people you know. What’s not to like? This one started the “with friends” genre with a bang. Draw Something – Super successful, super quick, leading Zynga to buy the developer for a landmark price.
Infinity Blade – This game set the bar high for utter gorgeousness and a fighting mechanic that still sees itself in current games on the App Store, some two and a half years later. Canabalt – Heard of the endless runner genre? Canabalt started it all with a one-touch game that exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has remained in the collective imagination ever since. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – This one proves again and again that the indie spirit can be captured and distributed via mobile, with a game that may never have gotten noticed on the bigger consoles. Galaxy on Fire 2 – This space exploration and dogfighting game set the standard for utter gorgeousness, as well as finding a way to build a space sim on a tiny mobile device.
Spaceteam – Don’t forget to flush the four-stroke plucker! Wait, what? Play this game with a few of your (drinking) friends, and you’ll see what multiplayer party games *should* be like. Real Racing – Still the gold standard for racing games on a mobile platform, the original game hit the starting line in 2011, with sequels upping the ante on visuals, controls, and profitability. Super Hexagon – If you hate yourself, play this brutally difficult yet strangely compelling arcade game and thank indie developer Terry Cavanaugh in the morning.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on June 18th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Pocket Gamer reports that Mojang began releasing the Minecraft Realms server slots for Minecraft: Pocket Edition. However, they are being released at a very slow pace of only 100 servers at a time. So, unless you are super speedy, it may be a bit longer before you get your hands on a realm. The slow pace is to make sure that the multiplayer realms remain stable and bug free before letting the masses have access.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition reached 10 million copies sold, reports Games Industry. It was just last month when the original PC version of the game hit the same milestone. Even though the studio, Mojang, is excited about the milestone, they are hard at work on restructuring the backend of Pocket Edition to make for smoother updates in the future.
I think most people can agree that we probably don’t need quite as many first-person shooters on the market as we actually have. There are some great games to be had, sure, but with so much over-saturation it starts to become difficult to get excited about it. That’s why we’ve got a list of four of our favorite first-person games that aren’t shooters. They use the same perspective, and in some cases the same “floating hands” motif, but there are no firearms to be found. See? Just because a game is in first-person doesn’t mean it has to involve shooting stuff in the face.
Okay, so technically you do shoot some stuff in the face here, but not in the traditional sense. That’s kind of a weird thing to say now that I think about it. Anyway the crossbow isn’t actually a gun, and it functions are more of a way to chip away at an enemy’s health before they close the gap. Dark Meadow is primarily a first-person adventure/action game with an emphasis on exploration and melee. A combination that ends up being pretty awesome.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-10-06 :: Category: Games
Now The Quest is definitely not a shooter. It’s an old-school inspired, first-person, turn-based RPG that isn’t afraid to force those who write about it to use lots of hyphens. It’s also an incredibly robust adventure that allows players to create a number of various custom characters and tackle the world and its various quests as they see fit. And that’s all before taking the ridiculous amount of expansions into account.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-02-20 :: Category: Games
If you were to ask any console gamers about first-person games that aren’t shooters, one of the first titles that would pop into their head would have to be either Oblivion or Skyrim. This is the iOS gamer’s equivalent. Ravensword is a huge RPG full of little nooks and crannies to explore and unique creatures to slay. It can, of course, be played in third-person as well but in this instance first-person is far superior.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-20 :: Category: Games
Minecraft – Pocket Edition
Betcha didn’t see this one coming. Minecraft is a lot of things to different people: gaming’s most amazing sandbox, a great way to be creative with friends, The Second Coming, a boring and over-hyped piece of junk, or even just “meh.” But what isn’t debatable is the fact that it’s one of the least shooter-y first-person games currently available on iOS devices. Not only is there little to no emphasis on shooting (plus there’s only a bow), but it’s a game that’s actually about building rather than destroying. At least for those who wouldn’t jump into another player’s game just to troll.
Not all games can be winners, and not all the games we review on 148Apps will receive high marks. But the amazing thing about the App Store and mobile game development in general is that there’s always a second (or even a third) chance. Content updates allow developers to address complaints or perceived issues fairly quickly and have the potential to completely turn a game around.
Which is why we’ve decided to take a look at some previously reviewed titles that didn’t go over so well the first time. Each one has been tweaked at least once since we wrote about it and we wanted to see how they might hold up now. Have they been significantly improved or are they only marginally better? Were major issues resolved or are they still dragging the entire experience down?
Lets take a look and see, then.
Original Review Score – 2.5 Reviewer – Bonnie Eisenman Known Issues – Severe performance problems including lag and crashing, control issues due to said lag. Updates – Performance greatly improved with no discernable lag and no crashing, also resulting in improved control.
I like weird stuff like Puzzle Planets, but even I found it to be tough to play, originally. Thankfully, the game-breaking problems that kept Bonnie from enjoying it at launch have been addressed. And it’s all the better for it.
In my time spent building several alien worlds, I’ve never once had it crash on me, and being able to enjoy an iOS game uninterrupted is pretty important. More than that, however, the lag also seems to have disappeared, which makes it much easier to simply enjoy the game itself. All the planet rotating, pinching to form mountains, reverse-pinching to create fissures, and tapping to create volcanoes, as well as spinning the planet around in order to soak up water and distribute it to the barren land masses to create life all perform smoothly and create a kind of zen-like trance after a few rounds. I’ll certainly admit that it would be nice to have more than 15 planets to mess around with, possibly with some distinct characteristics rather than everything looking like “Earth 2.0,” but that doesn’t keep the somewhat simple time-based puzzles from being fun (and looking great) while they last.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-18 :: Category: Games
Minecraft – Pocket Edition
Original Review Score – 2.5 Reviewer – Rob Thomas Known Issues – Virtually none of the features that made the PC version so notable, a complete lack of survival mode, barely any blocks to play with, super-tiny worlds. Updates – Survival Mode, crafting, armor, mobs, a lot more blocks.
Now this is a game I did check out as soon as it was released onto the App Store. And, just like Rob T. (yes, we have a lot of Robs here), I thought it was a colossal disappointment. Nothing but a simplified Creative Mode with an extremely limited block selection. To call it a mere shadow of its older brother on PC would be a massive understatement. However, Mojang made good on its promise of constant updates, and the game has seen a slew of improvements ever since.
To be fair, this still isn’t a 1:1, pocket-sized version of the PC game. Heck, it’s still technically alpha status at the moment. Even so, this month’s update has brought it much closer. New blocks have made it in, sand and gravel are finally affected by gravity, armor can be crafted now, baby animals will appear, and so on. As I’ve said, it’s not PC Minecraft on iOS, but it’s certainly close enough to make me happy. Heck, in some ways I actually prefer it to the original because I can play it anywhere at any time, and it utilizes a much friendlier crafting system that does away with tile placement and simply shows what can be made outright. If it weren’t for the absence of a few features I’d even call it the best version to own. Even so, it’s a fantastic companion to the indie juggernaut Notch started to build all those years ago.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-11-17 :: Category: Games
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
Original Review Score – 2.0 Reviewer – Brad Hilderbrand Known Issues – Absurdly long real time requirements for performing tasks, an almost unnecessary reliance on premium currency. Updates – Improved server stability, special holiday events.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out is another game that I myself didn’t play around with until recently. It’s also a bit more complicated of a comparison than the other three games on this list in that virtually none of the issues mentioned in Brad’s review have been addressed. Instead, the real difference is having another perspective.
First I’d like to say that I 100% respect Brad’s opinion on the matter and can totally see where he’s coming from. This game takes time to play. Lots and lots of time. More so than the average freemium title, it seems. However, I don’t necessarily view that as a “bad” thing. The very nature of many free-to-play games makes them ideal for playing in small increments, and that’s no different here. Sure we have to wait 24 hours while Lisa does all of her homework for the week but when factoring in all the other characters that can be acquired and given tasks to complete it doesn’t seem so bad. I’d consider it ideal, actually, since it means I can fiddle with my own personal Springfield, go off and do whatever my day demands, then check back in on occasion. I can’t claim that the game has been “improved” at all in the past year, but I don’t personally think it really needed to be. It’s Springfield in my pocket, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-02-29 :: Category: Games
Static Quest: The Delivery
Original Review Score – 2.5 Reviewer – Ray Willmott Known Issues – Lackluster freemium mechanics that practically force players to pay in order to progress, overly simple gameplay, no staying power. Updates – Bug fixes for late-game content.
Based on what I’ve read in Ray’s review, I’m willing to chalk this one up to a fairly drastic difference of opinion. Again, I wholly respect Ray’s views and opinions but mine are almost a complete 180 from his.
It’s true that Static Quest: The Delivery is incredibly basic in its “tap either side of the screen” mechanics. However those same mechanics are what make it ideal for quick mobile play sessions. It’s super easy to start up a game for a minute then put it down just as quickly, and with all the various weapons to unlock and upgrade there’s always something to strive for. I’m also rather fond of the retro pixel visuals (as per usual) but I found the special costumes associated with each weapon to be the real treat. I can totally get behind a game that makes the main character look like Ezio from Assassin’s Creed 2 (and up) when he uses a dagger, or like Robin Hood when he equips a bow and arrow. The fact that it’s actually quite fun to play doesn’t hurt, either.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on January 31st, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Universal app, Minecraft – Pocket Edition, got a new update today, bringing new crafting joy to the diminutive version of one of the most popular games on any platform, including baby animals, signs, armor, fancy clouds, and more. If you haven’t grabbed it already, head over to the App Store now and do so, because baby animals!
- Baby animals
- Fancy Clouds
- Sand and gravel have gravity
- Improved D-pad
- Lots of new blocks
Known bugs (fixed for next version)
- Falling sand can disappear
- When returning from Home-screen, sign model disappear
- Screenshots in store are old. Will put up new ones
For those living underneath a rock the past year or two, Minecraft is the uber popular indie-made computer game, for Mac and PC, that has set the gaming world on its ear while making a kajillion dollars – all while still in beta. The official non-beta version will most likely be announced this weekend at MineCon, but the big news for us here at 148Apps is the arrival tomorrow of Minecraft: Pocket Edition, also known as the end of productivity as we know it.
This pocket edition is reported to be the same as the Android version, and has also been out on the Xperia Play. The pocket version gives players all the needed blocks to craft and build and mine to their heart’s content, but does not include the survival mode made popular by the original game’s release. Other reports suggest that there will be a local multiplayer option that will allow iOS and Android users to play together.
All this is confirmed with the magic New Zealand iTunes store, which is listing the Universal app of Minecraft: Pocket Edition for iOS for about $7. Here in the US, the app should go live at midnight tomorrow. Or tonight. Whichever way you prefer to look at it.
A new expansion pack is now available for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. The Desolations of Smaug is available for free and features new campaign maps and bosses for players to strategize against, along with new armor and weapons for them to collect and equip.