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.
Gameloft is responsible for bringing us some of the most polished and frenetic mobile shooters for the iOS platform in the form of Modern Combat. The latest entry, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, raises the bar even higher, despite still having some of its own setbacks. This fifth entry is certainly an improvement that demonstrates what can be done within the mobile genre. Players take up the role of Caydan Phoenix, an ex-marine who was deployed into Venice to tackle an uprising sweeping the area. After Phoenix is inevitably set up, he finds out that the international security agency who sent him in is up to no good – in fact, it’s acting as a front for an international terror organization. That’s where you come in: righting all these wrongs and clearing his name; with guns. –Brittany Vincent
The Order of Souls is a turn-based, free-to-play role playing game set in a fantastical world that melds science fiction and fantasy elements. Throughout the course of the game players can expect a surprising amount of interactive story elements, but most of that requires them to grind through a middling series of combat scenarios that really drag the whole game down. The Order of Souls‘ various elements include head-to-head multiplayer, crafting, singleplayer combat, party management, etc. Most of these systems and mechanics seem familiar to those that have played RPGs before, but the game does very little to do unique things with them. It’s almost like the developers were more concerned with checking features off a list than they were thinking about how they might add a unique dimension or dynamic to the game. This is not to say that it has any seriously flawed mechanics, but they just aren’t as interesting as they could’ve been. –Campbell Bird
Revolution 60 has a lot of influences. It wants to be a sprawling sci-fi action RPG full of choices like Mass Effect. It spices up its numerous cutscenes with quick time events like Heavy Rain. Parts of its plot recall Metal Gear Solid, and its stylish 60s espionage vibe is probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to another No One Lives Forever. However, instead of being derivative, Revolution 60 emerges as a fantastically fresh original vision and a great debut for developer Giant Spacekat. Starting Revolution 60 feels like stepping into a wholly realized sci-fi world. In fact, the lore can get so dense at times it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on, but players will pick up enough. Plus they can purchase a separate guidebook explaining the universe, which fortunately seems interesting enough to warrant such a cost. Besides, the characters are what really matters, and Revolution 60’s cast is definitely worth getting invested in. –Jordan Minor
Previously a PC, Wii, and DS release, point-and-click adventure Secret Files Tunguska has made its way to iOS, and it’s quite enjoyable despite its dour tone. Veering away from the casual nature of many other titles in the genre, Secret Files Tunguska sticks to the traditional scenario of plenty of asking questions and combining items to create further useful tools. Set around the Tunguska event, a mysterious large explosion that occurred in 1908, the game delves into conspiracy theories that would make Mulder and Scully proud. You play a woman whose father, a scientist investigating the event, has gone missing, and soon enough various intelligence agencies are out to get you. –Jennifer Allen
MTN is not a game. It is not highly interactive app. What it is, is a serene part of your day that will bring you a few minutes of amusement. The MTN app, by David O’Reilly, opens by asking you to draw things based on 1-word prompts. According to David O’Reilly, “The drawings influence things like the shape of the mountain, the type of vegetation, the amount of vegetation, the length of your summers, the amount of snow you’re going to get, all sorts of different things.” After the prompts are answered the app generates a small, free-floating mountain in the middle of space. –Jessica Fisher
Mama, just killed a man. Pinched a vein inside his head. Pressed “OK” and now he’s dead. Bio Inc is a “biomedical simulator” from DryGin studios. While there are dozens of medical/surgical simulators available on PC, mobile platforms, and consoles, Bio Inc is a little different. Other medical-based games ask players to save patients in peril (even if said players may wind up removing the patient’s brain during a routine appendectomy, either accidentally or on purpose). Bio Inc, on the other hand, requires players to drag the Hippocratic Oath behind the hospital and shoot it. –Nadia Oxford
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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:
What does a developer do when a game around forming words and multiplayer becomes a succes? It takes out fifty procent of that golden formula and turns it to a list of chores. Ruzzle Adventure is a game where players need to form words on a grid full of letters. In the past, we’ve seen dozens of iterations of this concept in the form of Boggle, Wordfeud or even an earlier published version of Ruzzle. In all those games the goal is the same: make as many words as possible, to get the highest score. By making bigger words and combining tougher letters to make words with, the score multiplier raises and so does one’s score. Remember Scrabble? –Wesley Akkerman
Man, developers still make flappy games? I thought that that hype was over, but judging by the game Shurican, there still were some… I don’t know what to call it… Innovations..? …left in the subgenre. Yeah, I was surprised as well. How much can different people do with one mechanic? And especially the flappy mechanic? By looking at the flappy games in Google’s Play Store, not very much. Many of the flappy games are direct and shameless clones of the original and unintended successful original one, but sometimes a good one pops up and offers the same, but somewhat a different challenge. Shurican is one of those game, and not only because the game is played in widescreen mode. –Wesley Akkerman
In Super Tank Arena Battles, we get the to see our favorite weapons (tanks) go head to head in our favorite fight environment (an arena). It just gets even more hyper from there. It’s a simple looking game, but still manages to impress graphically, with the opening menu made up of cheery animations and pastels guiding the text. Here, amongst other options, we are presented with 5 game modes: Survival, Catch The Flag, One On One, Mines Rush and Hardcore Survival.The first is open, while the others need a threshold of some sort needed to unlock successive modes. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Modern Combat 5, created an expert guide for Hearthstone’s Naxxramas DLC, picked some awesome seeds for Minecraft: Pocket Edition, found 5 games like Monument Valley, and asked Double Stallion whether turning Big Action Mega Fight into a paid game was a success or a huge mistake. Read all of this and more, at Pocket Gamer.
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.
For a long time, I have been using Downcast to manage all of the podcasts I listen to. Its ability to create customized playlists and tweak settings for each individual show gave me a complete sense of control over the way I listened to my favorite shows. That being said, I was never 100% satisfied with Downcast for a variety of reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on for a long time. Now, I can safely say that my main issue with Downcast is that it isn’t Overcast: Podcast Player. Although this new podcast app isn’t perfect for every podcast listener’s needs, Overcast: Podcast Player has a very impressive suite of features that are smart, elegant, and super useful, provided you pay to unlock all of its features. –Campbell Bird
Much like its namesake team of ragtag misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is kind of weird and quirky. You see, while the game’s release date is clearly set to build hype for the upcoming feature film (which hits theaters in just about about two weeks) it’s not solely tied to the movie’s feel or continuity. Instead, it’s a rather strange mash-up of elements, sporting both movie-based character designs and story beats, as well as numerous nods to the team’s greater history and place in the comic-based side of the Marvel Universe. But does playing to both sides dilute the overall experience? And is it even a worthwhile game to begin with? Read on, True Believers! Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon straddles a few different genres as well. It’s a little bit action-RPG, a touch of arena combat, and a dash of side-scrolling beat-’em-up (minus the scrolling). Players assemble a team of characters from their roster of unlocked Guardians, Guardians-adjacent affiliates, and even antagonists in some cases (though they can only be used in the wave-clearing Arena mode), and smash their way through screen after screen of bad guys. Characters are controlled by drawing lines from them to their destination (when moving) or target (when attacking enemies or aiding allies). –Rob Thomas
Match-3 games are nothing new and to an extent, Cascade is very familiar indeed. It manages to offer a few twists and turns that ensure that fans should be quite appreciative of its efforts, even if it isn’t as revolutionary as it would like to be. The layout of Cascade is very familiar. You work your way through individual levels of gems that must be cleared in some way, in order to pass onto the next stage. Each stage has a slightly different objective, such as reaching a particular score, clearing a set number of boulders, or vanquishing lighter colored squares. Ultimately though, the principle remains the same – match those gems. Jennifer Allen
Another year, another updated iteration of Magic: The Gathering’s digital form. Fans of Wizards of the Coast’s long-standing, collectible card game juggernaut know exactly what they’re getting into here. But does Magic 2015 serve as a good introduction for new players into what can be a rather daunting new world? Well, it’s kind of a yes and no at the same time. As someone who already has a fair bit of past history with the game, I still felt the need to trudge my way through the tutorial in order to see how well it presents the game to newbies and, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The tutorial is relatively in-depth, with a fully-voiced narrator guiding new players step-by-step through the basics of the game, though I do feel that it may have dragged on for a bit too long and that some of these lessons could have been combined or condensed. However, that could well have just been my urge to get through the stuff I already knew and into the meat of Magic 2015 proper. –Rob Thomas
In Hellraid: The Escape, you will find yourself awoken from a stone tomb and trapped in a violent prison, patrolled by disfigured, demonic guards and decorated with all of kinds of vicious traps. Sounds fun, right? You must then find your way out by solving puzzles, dispatching enemies and collecting items to help pass through each area unscathed. Along the way you’ll find notes with some background information, hints and harrowing tales on them, further fleshing out the gameworld one piece at a time. Controls are simple, with a floating joystick for movement, a swipe to survey the surroundings and a tap to pick up objects or interact with mechanisms. However, these interactions are often more intricate than a mere tap, usually involving multiple gestures, proving how much attention to detail was paid to the environment. Powered by the Unreal 3 engine, the game looks undeniably excellent. From flickering lighting effects to the incredible level of detail throughout, Hellraid: The Escape is one of the best-looking iOS titles to date, and succeeds in creating a real sense of foreboding. –Lee Hamlet
As readers may know, my son and I are big Dr. Panda fans as many of their apps allow children to role-play their way through differently themed apps such as Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, Dr. Panda’s Veggie Farm, or Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon. Recently, a new app, Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars, changed things up a bit, allowing young children to drive cars around town, free of the mini-games popular within this series. I would also like to introduce readers to another new app from TribePlay, the developers of Dr. Panda, Hoopa City, a city building application for older children that my son simply adores. Hoopa City allows users to build their own urban landscape as they tap areas of the screen, adding roads, buildings or green spaces as they choose from eight different city building elements, combining them to create other details that my son really fancies such as pools or skate-boarding ramps. Hoopa City stars Hoopa the Hippo, famous from other Dr. Panda applications, as well as other familiar Dr. Panda characters who can be seen wandering around town – a nice touch. –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:
Some puzzle games can be really relaxing, while other games of the same genre can be brutal as heck. The ambient puzzle game Glowgrid is a little bit of both, thanks to his two game modes. If one would see the title ‘Glowgrid’ and fires the game up, he would instantly see that the title of the game matches with the aesthetics of it. Like anyone could predict, in Glowgrid players get to fill up a glowing grid with some well know and lesser known shaped blocks, where they need to combine four or more blocks of the same color. The goal is to fill up the bar at the top of the screen, with a total worth of one hundred points. If players get to that point, the bar immediately empties itself. The next goal is to fill it up once again, only now while players need to figure out a way in their own mess, because the grid still contains like ninety pro cent of the blocks one previously placed there. –Wesley Akkerman
After two straight days of no baseball whatsoever, you may finally be ready to accept it back into your life. And between the many games, you may find yourself wanting to play a game. Well, RBI Baseball 14, the MLB-published revival of the classic series, is finally on Android. This is old-school baseball, for better or worse. Seriously, this game isn’t just RBI Baseball in name only, it replicates the original game to a T. Pitchers can throw fastballs, mid-speed breaking balls, and knuckleballs that move erratically and slowly. Hitters can move around the box to try and hit the myriad pitches coming their way with just swing and bunt commands. Each team has 4 pitchers, with the starter tiring midway through the game. David Price relieving Alex Cobb a day after he started? Dr. James Andrews shrieked in horror. This game eschews realism, and any real gameplay advances of the past couple decades or so, in the name of replicating this classic. –Carter Dotson
In Hopeless: Football Cup, players get to experience a different kind of football videogame. If I have to put a game next to it that closely resembles it, it should be Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football. In the good and the bad way. Hopeless: Football Cup is a game where players need to tap on the touch screen, in order to make the blob on-screen head the ball away. If they don’t, the ball will simply demolish the little bugger and than it is game over for the player. It is a hard concept, similiar to games like Flappy Bird; players just need to keep on tapping at the right moment to succeed in the game. Hopeless: Football Cup perhaps stands even more closely to Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football, a game that featured the studio’s own vision on the simple tap mechanic of Flappy Bird. –Wesley Akkerman
And, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed games like Battle Fleet 2 and Ingress, provided handy tips for Minecraft and Hellraid: The Escape, found some hot new indie games in Brighton, and gabbed to Luca Redwood about his absurdly ambitious new game. All this and more right here.
Being a pretty big fan of Mojang’s Minecraft, I was very excited to hear that Minecraft – Pocket Edition (PE) was receiving a large update. The previous version, Minecraft PE 8.0, had seemed a bit claustrophobic to me. The edges of the world were clearly visible and one only had a space about the size of an island on which to play. I found that the lack of trees, paired with the flatness of the space made the oncoming night less scary. Creepers and spiders were visible from far enough off that I could keep a good distance and there were few enough of them that I could fight them without being overwhelmed. The size issue also made finding materials to work with frustrating. I was frequently crippled by a lack of coal. Lightless, bereft of any cooked meat, and unable to cobble together even a pair of leather shoes, I wandered my small island with nothing to do except contemplate its emptiness.
Like a light in the darkness, a town appears.
The Minecraft PE 9.0 Update is a significant upgrade. It is much more in-line with the PC version of Minecraft, with its infinite maps and more densely populated environments. The first time night fell, I was terrifyingly aware of the fact that I was standing in a forest and I could not see further than a few feet; the sound of hissing growing closer and closer. The landscape is certainly more robust. Where I spent an hour looking for coal in the previous release, in 9.0 I had no problem finding a bevy of ores, including newly-added blocks such as: Diorite, Granite, and Andesite. The variety of biomes that are now included also add to the feeling of wondrous exploration that the PC version captures so well, but which the 8.0 PE edition was lacking. I climbed a high hill one morning to find a small village just a short distance from where I was beginning to build a fort for myself. I ran towards the village and was delighted to find villagers. That moment of discovery was exciting, and speaks to the heart of the Minecraft experience.
It is amazing how much the presence of NPCs changes the feel of the game; no longer am I a stranger carving out a life in solitude. Unfortunately you cannot interact with them yet in any meaningful way except to attack; trading with villagers has yet to be implemented. However, to further banish loneliness, wolves can now be tamed; loyally following you through thick and thin.
A side by side comparison of 8.0 & 9.0
I am really happy that Mojang is continuing to make the app more robust. Minecraft – Pocket Edition 9.0 has come a long way from its alpha release back in 2011, and with all the new content that has been added, Minecraft PE is finally living up to its namesake.
Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 7th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Mojang has dug deep and announced the 0.9.0 update for Minecraft: Pocket Edition. This is their biggest update yet with infinite worlds, abandoned mineshafts, villages, caves, and an insane amount of new blocks and items including Monster Eggs and huge mushroom blocks. Mojang has also added biomes from the PC version including mesas, jungles, swamps, and extreme hills. The biomes will have the new feature generator that makes lakes, vines, and the always exciting monster rooms.
Players will be able to tame wolves and fight new mobs including Slimes, Endermen, Silverfish, and the diabolical Mooshrooms. Alongside a bunch of bug fixes, the interaction button has been revamped so you won’t accidentally sucker-punch your new wolf companion.
Will all these additions and so much more packed into the 0.9.0 update, now is a great time to pick up Minecraft: Pocket Edition. The game is available on the app store for $6.99.
Daniel Kaplan, Business Developer for Mojang, announced some pretty big news for Minecraft – Pocket Edition yesterday. The Pocket Edition team has begun to rework the game’s code in order to allow for the generation of worlds that are much larger than those that are currently (and kind of disappointingly) available.
More stuff is planned to roll out along with it of course, including updated inventory and AI systems, and it looks like wolves maybe? There’s no real indication of just how much bigger these new worlds will actually be, however it’s definitely promising news. As of now there’s no specific release date in sight, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for.
Minecraft has been a full-blown phenomenon for quite some time now and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the sandbox builder, it’s influence is undeniable. Lots of games have tried to replicate its success with varying degrees of success, but what’s interesting is just how different many of them turned out to be. Some are 2D, some are 3D. Some implement more structured gameplay like tower defense elements on top of all the user-defined construction mechanics. A few almost feel like a randomly generated Metroid. Heck, some even incorporate a ecent number of RPG elements.
Honestly, there’s been quite the creative crop of blocky sandbox games on iOS for a while now, and this year was no exception. So naturally we decided to put together a list of some of our favorites.
Minecraft – Pocket Edition was actually a little late to its own party on iOS. When it first arrived it fell far short of expectations, but just like the PC original it’s been steadily improving ever since. What was once a simple 3D block placement exercise has been fleshed out to include enemies, crafting, fishing, and more. Of course since the PC version has continued to grow the iOS port still hasn’t managed to catch up, but it’s made some really incredible strides.
It would be easy to take a look at Junk Jack X and dismiss it as nothing more than a 2D Minecraft, but nope. It’s actually a very well-made 2D adventure with a heavy emphasis on crafting, exploring, and combat. This sequel of sorts also managed to add multiplayer, animals that can be raised, clothing, character customization options, and a whole heck of a lot more. There are numerous planets to explore (and actual incentive to explore in the first place), and your inventory is tied to your character as opposed to the world so you can bring all your stuff with you while you travel.
Initially I expected The Blockheads to be nothing more than a 2D Minecraft (see a pattern emerging?), but oh my goodness I could not have been more wrong. Instead of a rehash minus a dimension, we have an incredibly unique take on sandbox crafting. One that hits all the right world exploring and building notes, while also incorporating sim-like elements as players guide their little Blockheads around the environment. What’s even more awesome is that they’ll continue to perform queued up actions even while the game is turned off! So even if you can only drop into a game for a few minutes it’s still possible to get quite a bit of stuff done.
Terraria was one of the first “It’s like Minecraft, but” games, and just like pretty much everything else on this list it’s definitely not that simple. It’s more of a massive randomly-generated adventure game. Complete with NPCs to buy items off of, rare loot drops, special bosses, dungeons, and more. And this iOS port is no slouch. Some concessions had to be made (because of the touch screen, of course), but it’s been adapted to the new platform quite well.
What’s interesting about Growtopia is that it’s designed to be an MMO of sorts, but with a crafting motif. Well, it’s actually “splicing” and not “crafting.” Players combine items to generate totally new ones, which are then grown from the ground. It’s a little weird and a little different, but you’ve got to admit it’s also pretty intriguing. Just be aware that, as it’s an online game, you’ll have to learn to live with the constant inclusion of other players.
I freaking loveBlock Fortress. It’s this compelling mix of random level generation, resource management, base-building, and wave defense that never fails to entertain. Materials earned from harvesting and fending off waves of enemies can be used to improve your arsenal and bolster your defenses, and there are quite a number of defensive options at your disposal in the first place so you’ll be busy for quite a while. The upgradable everything that players can tweak using resources saved up from their various playthroughs also sweeten the deal significantly.
It’s easy to look at mobile and see it as a wasteland for content; particularly with all the casual, free-to-play games, and especially the ones that seem to de-emphasize actual gameplay in favor of stronger monetization. That’s only if you’re not paying attention. Serious, core games – some even free-to-play – had a great year on iOS.
Oceanhorn was hyped for a good reason: it was beautiful and ambitious. That ambition didn’t entirely pay off in my opinion, but for the game to have succeeded financially is a huge step forward for gaming on mobile.
It also felt like the barriers between mobile and PC/console games started to blur a bit. Frozen Synapse, Mode 7′s highly acclaimed PC strategy game, landed on iPad at last. Limbo received an excellent port. Leviathan: Warships brought cross-platform online play – and the best trailer of the year. Space Hulk was not perfect, but it made for an exceptional transition.
But perhaps few did it as spectacularly as XCOM: Enemy Unknown. That game proved that it was possible to take a massive console and PC title – a fantastic modern take on one of the greatest strategy games of all time – and put it on mobile without losing any of the experience. Firaxis also absolutely stuck the landing with Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol and its Pacific Skies followup; original games that went to PC later.
Posted by Rob Rich on December 12th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Remember when Minecraft – Pocket Edition first came out and people were disappointed because it paled so much in comparison to the PC version? Well those differences have been slowly disappearing over the past two years. In fact, this latest update (0.8.0) is purported to be the biggest one yet. And based on what I’m seeing in the notes, I’m inclined to agree!
What do you get when you update Minecraft – Pocket Edition this time? Not much; just mine carts, textures lifted from the PC version, new blocks like carpets and iron bars, more crops, several additions to Creative Mode, improved lighting, an increased view distance, and more. Check below for the update notes. Or, you know, just download it already.
What’s New in Version 0.8.0
- Minecarts, rails, and powered rails!
- The view distance has been massively increased. Check the options menu for more!
- New textures and colours taken directly from the PC version
- New blocks: carpets, more wood types, hay bales, iron bars, and more
- New crops and food types, including beetroot, carrots, potatoes and pumpkins. Now you can cook new soups, pies, and more!
- A bunch of new items for Creative and Survival, including clocks and compasses
- More blocks and items to use in Creative Mode: including jungle wood, ice, bedrock, shears, dyes, and tall grass
- New AI: mobs are now more intelligent and you can even breed your own animals
- A new Creative Mode inventory with tabs
- New functionality and tweaks to existing blocks and items. Bonemeal lets you grow new cool stuff!
- Improved lighting and fog effects
- Loads of bugs fixed, and possibly some added.
The expansive 2D Minecraft-like that is The Blockheads has just received another major update, bringing the list of features into the realm of the ridiculous.
In addition to all the expected (but still very much welcome) improvements, most of which involve multiplayer stuff like item ownership and player device banning, there have also been quite a few additions. Things like HD textures for newer devices, the ability to warp in up to 5 Blockheads, electric workbenches that are faster and use less fuel, new types of weapons and armors, a few new mysterious enemies, and trains to transport materials (and players) around the world. Seriously, that should be more than enough incentive to check The Blockheads out if you haven’t already.
Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. 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.
League of Legends may not have invented the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, but it certainly had a hand in popularizing it. It’s actually become so popular that there have been more than a few attempts at recreating such an experience on iOS. And I have to admit that while Solstice Arena has a few snags, it’s probably the best mobile iteration I’ve played yet. The basic gist of a MOBA is that two teams of players beef over turf until one has wiped out the others’ base. What makes things a little different than every other team-based multiplayer game out there is that the characters feel more like MMORPG classes than anything; each with specific skills that are meant to pair well with other characters’ and each with their own role to play. In Solstice Arena, players must take down the other team’s towers in order to weaken defenses, while simultaneously battling other player characters who are trying to do the same to them. There’s no major penalty for death except for waiting to respawn, although it’s a good opportunity to spend gold on better gear for the match. –Rob Rich
For several months now I’ve been seeing little Facebook updates about friends and their Avengers Alliance progress. I had about gotten to the point where I was going to see what all the fuss was about when I found out it was coming to iOS, so naturally I decided to check out the more portable version instead. The Earth is in danger (again) from some sort of enigmatic presence. Also super villains. As a new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit, players must team up with a host of notable Marvel heroes as they try to thwart nefarious plots and figure out just what in the heck is going on. The majority of these missions involve turn-based battles with various baddies, but it’s also possible to send characters off on side missions (over a set period of real time, of course) for extra cash and experience. Players can also train their heroes when they’ve acquired enough experience in order to access new abilities that can make a huge difference in a fight. –Rob Rich
“You have no friends.” This is a tagline for Rando, a photo-sharing app from ustwo. Initially the statement seems hostile, but it reveals the philosophy behind this app: it’s anti-social. It’s not about status or appearance, like Instagram, the service that this app stands in marked contrast to. It’s all about sharing photos to someone, or no one in particular. See, how Rando works is that it lets users take a circular photo, and then launch it into the universe. It’s saved to the camera roll, but there’s no way to share that photo to any social networks from within the app itself. Later on, a push notification may be received that will say that someone in a certain spot will have received one of the user’s Randos, but that’s it. This is about sharing to just one person. One random person out there in the universe. They might like the photo, they might not, the photographer won’t know at all. –Carter Dotson
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If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:
Helping My Dad – Little Critter and Just Grandpa and Me – Little Critter are charming apps adapted from the storybooks of the same name, now developed by Oceanhouse Media – great choices for Father’s Day. In these tales, Little Critter tries hard to be helpful to his loved ones although he is unaware of the mess he makes in the wake of his helpfulness. In Helping My Dad, Little Critter tries his best to take care of his father, creating more work for him along the way as kids are known to do, such as waking him up early on dad’s day off or making breakfast, causing terrible disarray in the kitchen. –Amy Solomon
Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a delightful, universal app from Sago Sago, a new developer to be aware of as it is a combination of talents from both Toca Boca as well as the creative minds who developed zinc Roe’s Tickle Tap Apps. As some readers may know, the Tickle Tap Apps are a series of apps that were my son’s first experience with applications, now having been re-developed into new apps. Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a new variation of the earlier app, Field Flyer. Sago Mini Forest Flyer maintains much of what we have enjoyed from Field Flyer as well as adding new elements to have fun with as well. –Amy Solomon
Block Story is a quest-based adventure in the same vein as Minecraft that puts an adjusted spin on survival style gaming. Gameplay starts straight away: a mini-tutorial greets you with basics of the action. Players learn movement, collection of items, hunting and the procurement of sustenance, and more. The options give a good idea of what to expect; players get to name a new “world” and “world seed” and select from three modes: Story, Creative and Hardcore. Then you can pick or create a character and push on. –Tre Lawrence
UNO & Friends is a re-polished take on the classic shedding-type card game that tosses in some interesting new features and multiplayer functionality. The standard gameplay applies. Play commences against three other players, each player being dealt seven shuffled and random cards from a deck of four colors (yellow, green, blue and red). The rest of the cards, face down for surprise chance effect, make up the deck and the topmost deck card is turned over and becomes the starter card. The first player then places a card that matches the color or rank of the starter card; each succeeding player then takes a turn in clockwise fashion, also trying to play a card that matches the last card played. If a player does not have a card to play can take it from the bank; if it is playable, it has to be played immediately. The first player to play all his/her cards wins. –Tre Lawrence
Tilt Arena is a classic type of game for a modern type of gamer. If the game brings back memories if the iconic arcade shooter Geometry Wars, don’t feel alarmed; that’s a good thing, and the developer isn’t ashamed of the potential mental connection. The gameplay is fairly simple; the goal is to stay alive. It’s set up in a rectangular grid, with the player in control of a white trapezoid spacecraft. Armed with perpetually shooting guns, I had to avoid the randomly appearing enemy spacecraft that were oh so eager to exhibit their contact-based lethality. Darting around and dodging them helped to a small degree, but directing the guns at them destroys them and earns valuable points. –Tre Lawrence
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.
Polygon reports that Mojang, the developers of Minecraft, is looking to release a new monthly service plan this summer to enable a more simplified gameplay experience for Minecraft players. Minecraft Realms will allow fans to easily create a permanent, private world on a server and have complete control of who may join them in their world. Currently, fans need to know technical knowledge on how to set up and rent their own server in order to have their own private world, but soon they will be able to instantly have a server up and running with one simple click of a button, thanks to the simplified Realms monthly service.
Mojang plans to launch Minecraft Realms on their mobile edition of the game, Pocket Edition, and even more interestingly have discussed the possibility of designing a way for PC and Mobile versions of Realms to communicate with each other, though it would be a difficult undertaking. The other topic of discussion is to eventually add the ability for players to form a network of servers by connecting to each other to create an even more social experience.
I love how, at the beginning of this video, developer Jim Rutherford says, “This is just a little weekend hacking project we through together.” How modest!
Rutherford’s son is ten, and loves Minecraft. Dad decided to mess around with a Phillips Vue lightbulb, and connect it to an app running on his iPad that then connects to the Minecraft server and changes color and brightness in sync with the Minecraft day/night cycle. The app lets them set the time of day, debug the cycle, and even scrub through it, assumedly issuing server commands to achieve the effects.
Not only is this super cool, and would make my own 10-year-old son squeal with joy, but Rutherford has put the code up on github, a repository of open source code that anyone can access. If you’re a hacker/developer, be sure to head on over there and grab the code.
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: 2012-03-01 :: 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 Blake Grundman on February 18th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Designed by 57Digital, the same team behind 2011′s Minecraft Explorer, Minecraft Papercraft Studio is the key to rendering Minecraft digital avatars in the third dimension, via paper. Using this new app, you can print out diagrams to bring the characters to life with only a pair of scissors and some glue.
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
Posted January 22nd, 2013 by Rob LeFebvre Our Rating: :: GROWS ON YOU
Growtopia takes the now-familiar mining and crafting genre, and turns it into a massively multiplayer grow-your-own-stuff game that unfortunately allows for, and maybe even encourages, griefing and scamming.
Jean-Philippe Sarda’s Micro Miners, releasing on Thursday November 15th, is a game with an interesting origin and history on its way to the App Store.
The game has its inspirations in a Java game called Miners4K made by Markus Persson, better known as Notch of Minecraft fame, back in 2006. Notch and Sarda have been in touch before: after the game was created for the Java4K competition, Sarda says he “contacted Notch to get authorization to modify Miners4K with [the] pepere.org scores system…this game has made more than 1.3M plays on pepere.org until today.”
So how did Sarda’s take on the concept come about? He says “when I started developing iOS games in 2009, I still had this game/concept in a corner of my mind as I knew it was really special and so suited for touch devices.” However, this is not a case of unauthorized cloning: he got in touch with Notch to receive his blessing to build out the game. Sarda says “From the beginning I tried to contact Notch by email to get his authorization…Notch was busy with Minecraft and he ignored my 3 emails among thousands of emails he receives every week. Until I sent a link to the gameplay video, he replied ‘Haha, that looks cool! :D’ and tweeted the video. Don’t need to say how happy I was to receive this email.” The project, almost two years after its initial prototype, finally had its official blessing.
However, the game might not have ever made it to the App Store. As Sarda explains: “After 10 days [of] waiting, the game was rejected for low res graphics…I had 3 choices: 1) do another game as Micro Miners’ engine and art is entirely based on pixels 2) Resubmit the game hoping it’s reviewed [by] a smarter guy 3) Request a second review by the appeal board.” The game does have a lo-fi pixel art style, but we’ve all seen one too many crude fart apps for such an excuse to hold water. Also, see the Pokemon Yellow fiasco.
So what did Sarda do? He says “I selected 3) and I waited another 15 days, before I received their response ‘This app version has been approved. All communication regarding your previously-rejected binary is now closed.’ This is short but that was enough to make me happy.” The game’s fate was saved from seeming oblivion, and the release was scheduled for November 15th.
This game is not meant to be just a port of Miners4K, though. Sarda says “Yes it’s inspired by Miners4K for the ”Lemmings+Dig“ idea, but the gameplay is totally different and new, and it took me forever (and 5 beta tests) to tweak/adjust it.” And he has questions about how players will take to it: “…my games are usually really hard to play and appeal most to harcord players. I made a huge effort trying not to discourage casual players…the whole game is guided by contextual help.”
Micro Miners releases on November 15th and we’ll have a review of the game. For Sarda, however, the long journey will finally come to an end, as the world will finally get to check Micro Miners out for themselves.
The tower defense and castle defense genres are quite popular on iOS. Touch devices work perfectly for that type of game and, as a result, it’s hard for a new defense game to distinguish itself from the others. Battles and Castles has just been released and seems to have some interesting features that sets it apart.
The game seems to combine elements of traditional tower/castle defense games with building elements (that have become recently popular with games like Minecraft) and RPG elements. Users actually build their castles before defending them and then recruit units, find treasure, and explore mines. It seems to have elements that fans of nearly any genre can enjoy: strategy, simulation, action, and role-playing. The game has over 20 units and 20 buildings, three levels of technology, two campaign modes, multiplayer vs AI, local multiplayer on the device itself, and Game Center support.
Battles and Castles is a universal app and is available for $2.99.
As Rob greedily but understandably stated, it could have done with “more stuff to mess around” with. Fortunately, developers Pixbits has acknowledged this with a new and huge update that has just been released.
The update is big enough that we haven’t got the room to discuss every single improvement. However, key points to take in are that it’s now an Universal build, has new rare weapon drops and new mobs in the form of Stone Golems, Mummy Pharaohs, Carnivore Plants, Blue Scarabs, Frogs, Headless Zombies and Zombie Head.
That’s not all, though, with the addition of new color dyes, new recipes and a cooking pot and cooking ware craftable addon, also included. Farming fans can enjoy the option of plantable fruit, vegetables and trees, also.
It’s a huge update for Junk Jack and that’s not including the huge number of enhancements and fixes that come included. Without further ado, get downloading Junk Jack and watch your productivity and free time vanish!
Minecraft may be my favorite game of all time. I’ve played it on an almost daily basis since I was introduced to it a little over a year ago. I remember how excited I got when the piston update came out. So imagine my disappointment when Minecraft – Pocket Edition was released for iOS with a fraction of the features in the PC version of the game. Finally, developer Mojang’s most recent update to Minecraft – Pocket Edition has taken one step closer to making the iOS edition similar to the full edition with crafting.
Previously, one of the most important features of Minecraft, the ability to craft objects from material found in the game, was left out of Minecraft – Pocket Edition. Mojang has a tradition for taking game development slowly. It took the original Minecraft over a year of a completely playable beta for them to release what they called the 1.0 release. So it was no surprise that they planned to do the same with Minecraft – Pocket Edition. Crafting is part of Minecraft – Pocket Edition’s 0.3.0 update. Notice that they aren’t even calling Minecraft – Pocket Edition a 1.0 game yet. So in a way, Minecraft – Pocket Edition is still a beta.
Other features in the update include cows and chickens, damageable items, making resources harder to gather, and dropping items. I won’t be a true fan of the iOS version of Minecraft until it’s at par with the PC version and let’s me connect to multiplayer servers. But this update is a good start.
Eden-World Builder is an app that lets players do and build whatever they want. There are no goals or objectives in the game, just a wide-open world waiting for players to make whatever they can imagine.
Microcraft is something of an oddity. It’s a fan-made “remake” of a port of a Notch-made knockoff of one of the most popular indie games of all time. Wow, that was intense.
The game itself functions much like a top-down Minecraft, with a few other key differences. While surviving assaults by vicious monsters and crafting items from wood and stone are still a major factor, there’s not much in the way of building. So while players can (and should) explore the world and create helpful tools and weapons for themselves, they can’t construct a fortress to live in. Kind of a shame, but making something like that from this perspective would undoubtedly be tough to pull off.
With several “mobs” to fight, a number of different environments to explore and a day/night cycle (not to mention all the crafting), I think Microcraft should make for a good time. Whether or not it stays on the App Store for very long is up in the air at this point since it does share many a similarity to Mojang’s runaway train of a game, as well as Notch’s Ludum Dare spin-off, but I’d like to think that it’s different enough to earn a permanent place among the other hundreds of thousands of titles up there.