It's only two weeks until the FIFA World Cup begins and I quickly remember that being an England fan is extremely unforgiving. While I'll no doubt be drowning my sorrows quite soon, I'll be watching till the bitter end along with many, many other fans. On that note, you'll probably want to use a few handy apps to make the viewing experience all the better. We've rounded up some of the best apps and games to do precisely that.
Tag: New Star Soccer »
Apps Are Us
What to do with all of that post-Thanksgiving holiday time? Search for the latest and greatest apps, of course! Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. 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. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
It was actually hard for me to review JLOOP’s Gravitations directly from the standpoint of it being a “normal” game. That’s because the missions are in themselves created by those playing. There are no preset levels here. Instead, Gravitations allows players to create, manage, and edit their own missions for eventual playing by themselves and others. Launching Gravitations for the first time, one can just feel the level of polish that has gone onto it. Backed by a “War of the Worlds”-style soundtrack that sets the tone for mystery and discovery, from the game’s start screen players will be able to choose from a carousel of options; including visiting the ship hangar, entering explore mode, builders’ contests, taking a class at the flight school, seeing what shared missions are available, or even creating missions. --Arron Hirst
There’s an increasing number of apps out there aimed at smoothing out the process of creating one’s own apps. While some simplify the coding process such as Codea, others help with different parts of the app making process. Demonstrate is one such app, allowing users to add hotspots and transitions to their previously constructed screenshots. It’s a fairly specialized tool that requires backup from other sources, but it’s potentially quite handy. Best of all, it’s free to download. An in-app purchase opens it up further in terms of how many screens can be used but the free build should be sufficient for many small projects. One sample project is included to explain how to use the app but it’s a pretty straightforward process. Users pick out a screen from their Camera Roll or Dropbox account before dragging and dropping hotspots onto the relevant place. Then it’s a matter of linking another screen to the hotspot in order to demonstrate the order of the app. --Jennifer Allen
There are not many 3D roleplaying hack n’ slay games out there in the iOS market, and admittedly this is the first action-packed adventure that I’ve come across in some time that hooked me in right from the opening scene. Tiger & Chicken tells the story of a chicken with a whole lot of courage, who after getting separated from his female friend, decides one day to finally leave the Shaolin temple that he grew up in as an orphan and take it upon himself to track her down and rescue her. --Lucy Ingram
Icycle: On Thin Ice is the latest platformer from Chillingo. While the game itself is beautifully displayed and has a unique sense of humor, it unfortunately feels too “floaty” and imprecise in the control department to really be a stand out title. The first impression that Icycle: On Thin Ice makes cannot be overstated. The game is simply beautiful with its stylized vector look, bright colors, and cool-looking design. On top of this, it tells a strange but charming story of a naked man named Dennis as he navigates a frozen landscape looking for love. Between both the visuals and the humorous storyline, there is a lot to like about the game conceptually. --Campbell Bird
The dawn of a new era in iOS gaming is on hand with the launch of the first MFi gamepads from MOGA and Logitech. However, things are far from ideal right now, as the MOGA Ace Power shows. I was most excited for MOGA to toss its hat into the iOS gamepad ring – the MOGA Pro is my favorite Android gamepad without a doubt, and a wonderful controller for playing games with. So, with MOGA having the first “extended” MFi gamepad boasting a full complement of buttons (four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, two analog triggers, a d-pad, a pause button, and two analog joysticks) I was excited. However, the limitations of the MOGA Ace Power and its high price tag make it only for early adopters. --Carter Dotson
Castle of Illusion, a modern remake of the Sega Genesis platforming hit, has made a surprise landing on iOS after launching on console and PC not long ago. It’s certainly a welcome addition to the platform. This is a 2.5D platformer in that it does contain mostly 3D characters along a 2D plane, but moments where 3D movement is possible do pop up and are parts of some of the game’s cooler moments – like a puzzle where players must discover if tiles they’re running on are fake or not by looking into a mirror. So no, it’s not just a straight-up paint job on the original game. It’s been modernized, but it still has enough of that classic flavor to it. This is not just in looks: many of the original enemies and bosses are still here in some form, but the game has the trappings of a kind of late 8-bit and early 16-bit platformer. There’s that feeling of rigidity to the way that levels are arranged and laid out that makes it have just enough of an old-school feel while feeling loose and new. --Carter Dotson
Other 148Apps Network Sites
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:
Siegecraft Defender pays another visit to the well-worn tower defense genre. Does it stand out among the throngs of similar games on Android? Siegecraft Defender plays pretty much like other tower defense games. There is a portal that constantly spits out enemies in waves of varying amounts. Somewhere else on the battlefield is an area that must be defended. To stop the enemies the player builds fortifications featuring towers and walls to create mazes of fortifications designed to slow down enemies as much as possible so they can be picked apart by the defenses. Each tower has a different effect on enemies. --Allan Curtis
Okay, I have no idea what to say about Bitter Sam, content-wise. It’s a game with very simple and understandable mechanics, but when you actually try to understand what the hell is going on in there, your thoughts start to hurt a bit. It’s about a strange furry creature that kinda looks like a man in a suit, and is not more than three inches tall. He is literally hanging by a thread, held by some crazy scientists, descending into some dangerous caverns with unclear intentions. I frankly can’t fathom what is going on in there, but Bitter Sam is living up to his name, being quite a miserable little bastard throughout. Seriously, the dude is so utterly soul-crushed that he actually smiles when he dies. He’s being on an emotionally-destructive level of the first several minutes of The Land Before Time, and the game is being quite schadenfreudian about this. Despite the main hero being sadder than a rock star’s 28th birthday, it’s really fun and casual. --Tony Kuzmin
I’ll be honest: I’m somewhat cynical of soccer sims. It seems most long-term sports management games have been done. Still, it takes a game like New Star Soccer to change my mind, and change my mind it did. The game provides an abbreviated player development ladder based around The Beautiful Game. It connects gameplay, skill development/career and more into a pretty nice simulation package. --Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer went hands-on with Angry Birds Go and Assassin's Creed Pirates, picked out its most anticipated games of December, welcomed Skulls of the Shogun to iOS, and reviewed Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and Icycle: On Thin Ice. All that, and loads more, in PG's weekly wrap-up.
Being asked to sum up the past five years of the App Store, on a personal level, is tough. Partly, because I have the memory of a goldfish, but also because so much has happened in those few years. How do you highlight what's so great about a device and service that you can't imagine being without? My iPhone and the App Store, by proxy, has been immensely important to me in this time. It's given me so much information, enjoyment and even been a great outlet in times of need. Here's a feeble attempt at trying to sum up how vital it's all been for me.
Launch day: Despite the goldfish analogy, I do remember when the App Store first launched. I'd had an iPhone for a couple of months previously and had dabbled in jailbreaking, but didn't feel too comfortable with it. The day the App Store started was genuinely exciting stuff. It's hard to believe, for those newer to the Store, but it was possible to browse from start to finish, thanks to there being a mere 500 apps available. I did that, regularly, until it got to a point where there were just too many titles to look at. Like with any launch day event, these apps didn't show off everything the technology could do, but they did offer a glimpse of a thrilling future.
Flight Control: Excluding a dabble with the no longer with us, Bejeweled 2, Flight Control was my first great iOS love. It showed me how great the touch controls of the iPhone could be, and how quickly one could gain satisfaction from a phone game. My past experiences with mobile gaming had been fun, but lacking that certain something that made me think it could rival handheld consoles. Flight Control changed that, for me, and I loved spending ages battling to improve my high score. Not that I was any good at it, though!
Exploration: I like apps that enhance my life, and I've used many in the past. Star Chart sticks in my mind, however, thanks to it enabling me to learn more about an area. While at the summit of an ancient ridge, Cefn Bryn, I could load up Star Chart and work out exactly what stars were above me and where. It was pretty magical.
A career path: It's a pretty significant one, but if it wasn't for the App Store, I wouldn't be writing this. In fact, I'm not entirely sure what I'd be doing, given throughout my freelance career thus far, the App Store and iOS have played a very big role. It's changed my life for the better. It's been nearly three years since I wrote my first review for 148apps, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter, and I'm immensely grateful for how far I, and the site, have come.
The indie uprising: I always passively appreciated the efforts of indie developers, before the advent of the App Store, but my love for them has definitely grown. Perhaps more excitingly, I feel enabled to give it a go myself at some point. While I haven't yet found the time spare to really pursue it, Xcode, Stencyl and Gamesalad are waiting for me, reminding me that the era of the bedroom coder has returned. That's got to be a good thing for creativity, right?
Beloved Apps and Missed Titles
Favorites: I've struggled to narrow the list down. Really struggled. The memories of one Saturday morning avidly playing Game Dev Story in bed, before realising it's practically lunchtime are particularly strong. Much the same as my hundreds of hours spent with Fairway Solitaire are fond, if tarnished by the time it inexplicably lost all my data and progress. Or how about the time I demonstrated the power of the iPad to my mother with the double whammy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and XCOM: Enemy Unknown? The former being one of my favorite games of all time.
Out of them all, though, a select bunch are used nearly every day. I take photos each day to track my life and have some fond memories to look back on, so Instagram is a must have for me. I like to back up such things, as well as my social networking sharing, so Momento is always at the forefront of my recently used apps. As a writer, iA Writer completes the selection, thanks to its cloud syncing ensuring I can always write up a quick idea, no matter where I am. New Star Soccer remains the key game that I regularly find myself returning to, living my fantasy as a world class soccer player.
Apps I miss: There are a couple of apps I miss, though. Puzzle Quest being one such title, given my love of the Match-3 genre and the fact I've played it to death on all other formats. Similarly, I adored Big Blue Bubble's use of the Fighting Fantasy license, although at least Tin Man Games is doing a brilliant job of taking over that mantle.
It's been a fun five years, and given how far the App Store has come in that time, I'm excited to see what the next five years will bring. It's looking like a pretty rosy future to me!
As a soccer fan, I'm getting twitchy. The Confederations Cup might be helping a little, but I miss the English Premier League week in, week out. This is where I sink time into FIFA 13 on my console in order to counteract the problem. What about while on the move, though? Here's a look at my favorite 4 soccer games, each offering a slightly different take on the beautiful game.
New Star Soccer
The current King of sleep deprivation causes, New Star Soccer is a soccer fan's dream game. Instead of managing an entire team, players focus on one person: themselves, as they build up their skills and talents, hopefully working their way up from the lower leagues to great success. The controls are simple yet rewardingly satisfying, with the winning goal consistently sweet to score. There's life simulation included too, with the need to keep the boss happy as well as spend some hard earned money on fun leisure pursuits.
Older gamers will remember before the days of FIFA's hold, when graphics weren't so great but gameplay was King, courtesy of the likes of Kick Off and Sensible Soccer. Active Soccer encapsulates that spirit and brings it to the iOS format. It's the controls that shine through most here, keeping it simple with minimal virtual buttons and a virtual joystick that allows players to curl shots in without any AI assistance. It'll take a bit of practice to master, but it's enjoyable stuff.
Football Manager Handheld 2013
The master of soccer management, the Football Manager series has been highly addictive for many years, and caused many a sleepless night. The handheld variety has improved year on year, with 2013 proving quite the fascinating title. Besides the full career mode, it's possible to dive into the Challenge Mode for more bite-sized gaming, offering a clear goal. For those wanting to take on the mantle of Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourhino, Football Manager Handheld 2013 is an unmissable game.
Score! World Goals
Ever wanted to be responsible for a match winning goal? Score! World Goals skips past all the build up play, focusing on the bit that counts. Taking players through a large selection of historical matches, Score! World Goals is part puzzle game, part arcade line drawer. Success is dictated by the player's ability to draw the correct route between players on the pitch, in order to pass appropriately and eventually score. Things start out pretty simple, but it gets more complicated thanks to more advanced stages, as well as the quest for the 3 Star completion record, so beloved of puzzle games.