Just kidding. Mobile games are stronger than ever.
Granted, some interesting trends came out of last year - like paid apps gradually finding themselves unable to compete with free-to-play games - but we can expect 2016 to begin the way 2015 ended: With tons of mobile games to choose from on the App Store and Google Play.
2016 will also usher in Nintendo's first stab at mobile game development (outside of some Pokémon apps that are more the work of the affiliated but still somewhat independent Pokémon Company).
Back when it was announced that Nintendo was going to start working on mobile games, it was tough not to expect the worst. Granted we still haven't really seen anything substantial from the console juggernaut on iOS yet, but if the new trailer for Pokémon GO is any indication things might just turn out alright.
Since the announcement on Tuesday that Nintendo and DeNA are going to start developing mobile games together, everyone’s gotten a bit overexcited. Will it be a disaster? Will it be amazing? Will the world end? Well, probably not. At least, I hope not. While Rob got quite excited about the possible games that this could bring, I feel a little more cynical about what’s going to happen.
I don’t think we’re all doomed by any means. First party Nintendo games on their respective consoles will continue to be awesome because, well, they always are. There’s no need to worry on that front. However, I’m not so sure that the Nintendo/DeNA meeting of minds will really come to that much worthy of note from a gamer's perspective. The more important part is the business and financial side of things.
DeNA are best known for freemium games like their collectible card game, Rage of Bahamut, and oddly distracting and compelling titles like Tiny Tower. Plus, there’s the dabbling in franchises like Star Wars: Galactic Defense and that awkward thing with Godus that no one really likes to talk about any more. They’re all reasonably well made games but are they the stuff that legends are made of? Nope.
Instead, I think this partnership will produce gateway games. Games that are there to highlight the potential of Nintendo to people who don’t normally game. A lot of smartphone owners dabble in games on their phones, but wouldn’t necessarily own a console. Introduce the concept of Nintendo to them and when it comes to considering a console, the name is already in their heads.
Is that a bad thing? Of course not. More people enjoying themselves with games is always a good thing. There’s no need for snobbery. Games have developed to the point that, much like cinema, there’s something for all tastes now. Whether you want a quirky indie darling or a mindless but distracting five minute session of a Match-3 game, you’re covered.
Nintendo won’t be coming up with revolutionary ideas through DeNA’s output, but they might just give you the chance to play a Match-3 game with the faces of Mario, Luigi, and co, or enjoy a card game made up of other familiar faces. Maybe we'll even get to see a Tiny Tower style game with a tower full of Nintendo characters? It'll be shallow but cute.
Regardless, these titles will be the tasty morsels while you’re out and about, before you go home and settle in front of your Wii U and play Super Mario 3D World. You never know, even if you have no interest in mobile gaming, such a deal might just help support your love of console games instead.
Now that Nintendo has decided to throw their hat into the mobile ring, it's only a matter of time before we'll start seeing Mario and the gang on the App Store. And we're already well past the point where people make free-to-play jokes. But if you really think about it, there are actually a fair number of mobile games that could do well with a Nintendo coat of paint.
With that in mind, we've taken a look at DeNA's current catalog (as well as a couple games from other developers) to try and pair like with as close to like as possible. And we came up with a list of 14 combinations that could actually be pretty interesting once the Big N gets their hands on them.
By now most of the world has probably heard about the partnership between Nintendo and DeNA. While it's reasonable to be nervous about this prospect (free-to-play is still something of a slippery slope, and Nintendo's never really done it before), there's really nothing to worry about. In fact, there might even be room for some cautious optimism.
First of all, while Nintendo made it abundantly clear that they aren't going to be porting any of their games to mobile, there's a decent chance that resolve could waver in the future. Now I'm not saying it's a definite, but Nintendo did say that they'd never be bringing their IPs to mobile. And look at them now. So while they might be insisting that there won't be any ports, that tune could change.
Secondly, Nintendo hasn't beendoing sogreat, financially [Editor's Note: Although they're a bit more optimistic about this year]. Assuming this partnership works out, the developer could stand to make quite a bit of money (everybody loves Mario, right?). If nothing else, the potential income from their new mobile library will let them keep making console/handheld games.
Nintendo has also stated that every single one of their properties and characters could potentially see their own mobile games. That's a pretty big back catalogue to pull from. Ignoring the obvious ones like Mario and Donkey Kong, because you just know they're a given, that still leaves all sorts of nostalgic goodies like Balloon Fight, Hogan's Alley, Excite Bike, Clu Clu Land, Gyromite, F-Zero, and so on.
But the biggest reason you shouldn't let any of this worry you is that Nintendo's current and previous games aren't going anywhere. No matter what comes out of this partnership - good or bad - none of it will invalidate the Nintendo games you already know and love.
How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? 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.
One of the first comics I can remember buying with my own money as child, purchased from a newsstand near my great-grandmother’s apartment, was an issue of Marvel’s Contest of Champions. Contest of Champions was groundbreaking in a couple of different areas: it was Marvel’s first publication released in a “limited series” format, and it was also one of the first attempts to blatantly strip out any attempt at more nuanced story arc by instead offering three issues of heroes clashing against one another in page after page of epic battles as cosmic puppet masters tugged at their strings. Despite revisiting the concept a couple of times in intervening years, nothing ever quite captured that same spectacle that my five year old self felt while leafing through those pages. However, Marvel and Kabam are dragging the old chestnut out of mothballs again in the form of a head-to-head fighting game. And despite a couple of issues, it’s actually not the worst licensed game I’ve seen. --Rob Thomas
How lucky do you feel? Area 777 is heavily dependent on luck, so you’d better hope that you’re a naturally fortuitous person. Thanks to that dependency, it’s not overly gripping. Even when it eventually introduces new chip types it feels like too little, too late. The concept behind it is that it’s part slot machine, part tower defense game. In reality, it’s almost all slot machine with a hint of tower defense. Each level consists of a slot machine, with enemies slowly making their way across it in order to cause you damage. You have to hit the spin button and, mostly, hope that the reels line up and you take them out along the way. There is some element of strategy in there, mostly through the acquisition of chips, but it’s fairly basic. These chips frequently correspond to an element, such as fire or ice, thereby allowing you to set the enemies on fire or freeze a reel in a particular position. It’s helpful but hardly enough to make you feel fully in control of the game. --Jennifer Allen
SimplePlanes gives players all the tools they need to build airplanes from scratch. But successfully making use of those tools means wrapping your head around all the different parts and physics that, presumably, actual engineers need to consider. The game tries to help ease players in with its extensive manuals explaining the difference between an airfoil and a fuselage, but absorbing that data takes time and practice. There are a few convenient shortcuts, like the ability to mirror the plane so players won’t have to waste time sculpting the perfect wing twice. But like Minecraft, the best rewards – whether it’s a speedy biplane or functioning VTOL aircraft – will come to those with the patience to literally construct them piece by piece. --Jordan Minor
Luna League Soccer is the kind of soccer game that you’ll dive into for a few minutes here and there, but not exactly think too deeply about. It’s an arcade sports game through and through, meaning it takes seconds to master. On the left of the screen you have a floating joystick, while the right offers a contextual button that enables you to shoot, pass, tackle, or switch players depending on what’s going on during the match. It’s very simple to pick up, with each team bringing their own special moves to the fold. --Jennifer Allen
The graphics are pleasantly glitzy; the several environments showcase the developer’s penchant for being able to highlight artistic perspective and use of lighting and corresponding virtual colors. The animations are cool, and one can almost taste the kicked-up dirt. When the optional sound effects are tossed in, it’s hard not to appreciate the complete package of sights and sounds. When it comes to gameplay, off the bat I liked that I could get into the nitty-gritty with a minimum of interactions. As noted, this is mostly about destroying other combatants without being destroyed, and the tool at hand is a heavily weaponized truck on big wheels. The controls are virtual in nature, with buttons for shooting, accelerating, braking/reversing, and steering – the last of which can be switched to tilt or arrow control. With this, and after one picks the format (multiplayer vs single player), it’s off to the races. --Tre Lawrence
Online quizzes are a big deal these days. They’ve always been fairly popular but the rise of Buzzfeed, Playbuzz, Zimbio, and so many other places has really strengthened our love of answering a bunch of questions to figure out what animal/TV show character we are. It turns out such structures can be used for good as well, such as in the case of Hi.Q – Health IQ. It’s an app that offers you thousands of health-related questions, devised by experts, and can therefore teach you some valuable facts. Dive in and you’ll immediately notice that Hi.Q – Health IQ is stylishly laid out. Looking like it’d easily fit into a lifestyle magazine, each quiz is clearly described along with an attractive photo to further sell its purpose. Some quizzes may offer a lot of different questions but they rarely take too long to complete. Each time you answer a question the answer or an explanation is shown, meaning you’re constantly learning. --Jennifer Allen
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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:
Ninja. Running. Swords. Enter Amazing Ninja. Side-scrolling action is the name of the game. Our protagonist martial artist runs aggressively from left to right, looking to avoid or confront different obstacles on the left. The ninja is stick-figurish in appearance, is armed with a sword and has enviable ups at speed; jumping and slashing are his only means of recourse. Tapping on the left side of the screen invokes jumping; on the right causes a slashing motion. The first type of obstacle are the blue-colored “deserters” that are seemingly fleeing the very conflagration that our hero is eager to get to. These terrified soldiers can be dangerous in their haste, and can end a run by making contact. Slashing the deserters has dire consequences, and as such, our boy has to jump over the blues. --Tre Lawrence
We get pitched a fair amount of accessories to take a look at, and, frankly, some are very, uh, unique. Not all work, either; some are ambitious, but might have a fatal flaw. Or two. Or seven. In any case, mobile accessories can be interestingly varied. I’d like to say I am open-minded, and I do feel like a decent assessor of product, but every now and then, I am surprised. But hold a sec; let’s talk about the Olixar Light Bulb Speaker. The name says it all: it’s a light bulb that doubles as a bluetooth-enabled speaker. The review package MobileFun sent us highlights the unit; in hand, it is mostly white, with a gold mid-section. It is more streamlined than “regular” bulbs, but also weighs a bit more. It sports LED light too, and emits 3W light (which the distributor says is equivalent to 50W from a standard bulb. It screws into regular receptacles (the package comes with an adapter piece for European light sources) and works the same way. Turn on the switch, and it bathes the room in bright, warm light. It functions well upright and upside down. --Tre Lawrence
The past couple of years have definitely been the years of the streaming media unit. All the big players have a hat in the Big C, and with good reason: we like content. Lots of it. Enter Fire TV, the still-relatively-new offering from Amazon. Amazon provided us a gaming bundle package to check out, containing the black unit, black remote, power cables, batteries, and the optional bluetooth gamepad (one should ensure one has HDMI cable). It’s fairly svelte, a bit smaller than one would guess, coming in at 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches and just under 10 oz. It has a quad core processor and 8 GB of storage, and supports output of 720 x 1080p up to 60fps. Specs aside, there is little to dislike about Amazon Fire TV. It looks good, and is a veritable source of content. It has a lot of the go-to programs that can be downloaded to it: Netflix, WatchESPN, Pandora, Crackle, Showtime Anytime (based on provider) and, of course, Amazon Instant and Amazon Music, among other offerings. Setup is easy, and the included control is definitely a huge positive. On its own, as a streaming accessory, it holds its own against the competition. --Tre Lawrence
Also this week, Pocket Gamer reviewed Gunbrick and Sol Invictus, played Metamorphabet and Need for Speed: No Limits, and figured out how to play PS4 games on any Android device. All that and loads more, right here.
And finally, AppSpy kicks 2015 off by giving you the definitive rundown of the best Nintendo-esque games on mobile, showing you the first gameplay video of Need For Speed: No Limits, a world exclusive look at Team17's Flockers, and much more. Join us, won't you?
Nintendo characters on the App Store? Have they really gotten that desperate? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. While it may be strange and novel seeing Pikachu and company running around on an Apple product, the fact is the Pokémon Company has always had some degree of autonomy from its Mario masters. And now they’ve used that independence to bring the wildly popular Pokémon Trading Card Game to the iPad. We catch ‘em all in this edition of It Came From Canada!
If the smash success of Hearthstone has taught us anything it’s that card games work great on the iPad, and Pokémon Trading Card Game Online is no different. Dealing with digital decks is just so much more convenient than laying out physical spaces, shuffling cards, and keeping track of various pieces. Plus, having a computer present to teach and reinforce the rules is a lot more reliable than leaving it up to human error.
However, this really is just a straightforward virtual translation of the Black and White starter editions of the actual trading card game. Battle animations aren’t flashy and graphics are kind of flat in general; they're not even as stylish as the beloved anime. Meanwhile, online is used for simple stat-tracking and basic multiplayer matches. Players should also make sure to register an account, because otherwise they’ll be forced to sit through the lengthy tutorial each time they launch the game.
But modest production values aside, there’s a reason why this game has been so popular for so long, and it’s not just marketing. It simply does a great job at capturing what’s fun about Pokémon RPGs in card game form. Arranging teams of monsters, evolving starters you’ve grown particularly fond of, and strategically unleashing powerful elemental attacks is just as satisfying here as it is on the screen of a Nintendo handheld.
Since Pokémon is a worldwide phenomenon, expect Pokémon Trading Card Game Online to launch everywhere soon. And while it’s not totally fair to use it as a litmus test for Nintendo’s future on the App Store, it’s at least interesting to think about.
So, it's finally happened. A Pokémon game is actually going to hit the App Store later this year. Who'd have thought it?
Pokémon Trading Card Game Online is that game, and thanks to the photo snapping skills of Josh Wittenkeller on Twitter there's a sneak peek at what it looks like. The photo was taken at the Pokémon World Championship, which took place last weekend in Washington D.C, with the iPad game being shown to some attendees there.
Nintendo has said for a long time now that they have no intention of releasing any games on the App Store but it looks like that's set to change soon. A spokesperson for The Pokémon Company told VentureBeat's GamesBeat that a game is set for release later this year.
We'll be sure to let you know more as and when we get it.
The short explanation is that Nintendo's case was mostly built around the emulator linking directly to websites that would allow users to download ROM files, and this latest release circumvents that by linking to Google instead. Tricksy Hobbitses...
Cult of Mac reports that GBA4iOS, the GBA emulator for iOS devices that used some trickery with enterprise ad hoc distribution to make one of the finest handheld gaming systems available to all, is no longer available - due to a DMCA request by Nintendo.
But wait, you may ask "How can Nintendo request the removal of an emulator if emulators are legal?" Aye, there's the rub: GBA4iOS distributed the GBA BIOS with it, which is copyrighted software and illegal to distribute. Thus was the downfall of this clever circumvention for now. Creator Riley Testut says "the site will remian offline until further notice," so it could return without the BIOS, but as a student he may not want to risk angering Nintendo's lawyers again.
Oh well, there's always jailbreaking or Android, right?
The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. 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.
dEXTRIS is not related to Tetris, so the “tris” part of the name doesn’t make much sense. But it is a game of dexterity that will cause the spewing of a multitude of profanities – in a good way. Players use their two thumbs to navigate two blocks around hazards. Tapping and holding on the left or right moves both blocks that direction, holding both sides splits the two blocks apart, and doing nothing leaves them in the center. This neutral state is mentioned specifically because some of the hazards require being in that neutral state. Some of the challenge comes from the fact that the blocks move quickly, but not instantaneously, and the hazards are diagonal: One must act about a split-second ahead of what’s coming at all times. --Carter Dotson
Spending most of my school-aged years in Northern California as I did, the subject of the mid-1800s California Gold Rush is indelibly etched into my brain. We went on gold panning school field trips to Placerville and hiked the same trails that the miners had a hundred and fifty years prior. When SomaSim’s 1849 went up for review, a glance at the screens filled my heart with hopes for a Gold Rush-themed Sim City. But as any seasoned Forty-Niner can attest, I probably shouldn’t get too excited about every sparkly nugget that catches the light. After all, there’s plenty of fool’s gold in these App Store hills, so it’s best to stay cautious. My assumptions were at least partially correct: 1849 IS a boomtown city simulation. But rather than the open sandbox format of a lot of city builders, 1849 takes a much more focused, scenario-guided path. Players jump from city to city across Central and Northern California during the height of gold fever, helping kickstart a series of small encampments and grow them into prosperous communities. Usually this takes the form of needing to import or export an amount of specific goods from surrounding towns, hitting population milestones, or the like. Upon arriving at the new settlement, players pick from one of three starting package options, which will determine the amount of money and/or free resources the settlers begin with. --Rob Thomas
At its most basic, Gunship X is a lot like Zombie Gunship. In fact, even at its most complicated, Gunship X is a lot like the zombie blasting hit. That’s no bad thing exactly, but enjoyment levels are heavily dependent on how much one enjoys mindless shooting. The idea is incredibly simple. Aliens are rushing at humanity and, most importantly, various landing areas. Humans are trying to flee to safe zones and it’s down to the player, controlling an AC-130 Gunship to protect them. Players don’t directly control the Gunship; instead they are reliant solely on its offensive capabilities. What this means is that the screen offers one large aiming reticule and a place to switch weapons. --Jennifer Allen
Previously a popular PC game, Sumotori Dreams is a pretty quirky title. It’s a form of sumo wrestling simulator, but one that’s far more focused on humor than realism. While in single player it’s a little forgettable, it’s a fun experience when participating with friends and certainly like little else out there. The key to success in Sumotori Dreams is to defeat the opponent. This is done through either pushing them over, forcing them out of the ring, or sometimes simply waiting for them to make a mistake and stumble over. The center of gravity for these characters is a bit wacky, meaning falling over is just as likely as being pushed. This is particularly noticeable when partaking in different arenas that actively encourage such problems, such as one level based on a giant seesaw and another at the top of a flight of stairs. --Jennifer Allen
Metal Slug Defense is a 2D, real time, side-scrolling strategy game based on the popular arcade shooter series. Although not the typical Metal Slug experience, Metal Slug Defense does a pretty great job of translating the charm and spirit of its predecessors into a mobile and more strategic form. In more typical Metal Slug titles, players take control of an individual soldier as they run, gun, and jump their way through 2D levels full of enemy soldiers and creatures. In Metal Slug Defense, players instead take control of a base that is capable of spitting out soldier after soldier, with the ultimate goal being to destroy the enemy base on the other side of the level. --Campbell Bird
I would like to introduce readers to Moo Said Morris, a storybook app for iPad that children and their parents will enjoy. Meet Morris: a young mouse who is a bit of an outsider. While all the other mice at school and in his town make the traditional squeaky noises, Morris makes sounds that are certainly un-mouse-like such as mooing like a cow, quacking like a duck, and even sounding like a car or airplane – much to the dismay of his teacher and to the disappointment of the community who find his unusual noises disconcerting to say the least. That is until his ability to sound like something that he is not comes in handy at the end. I really enjoy this story of Morris, a character that children will be able to relate to. The illustrations are delightful, full of details, and with a hand-drawn quality that I am really drawn to. The moments when Morris speaks are simply delightful, with a speech bubble including the image of an animal such as a horse or donkey making noises and complete with the name of their sounds written out, aiding children who may be new to animal sounds as well. --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:
Jumping on a trampoline, opening windows and stealing TV’s. All while being a little rat – that is what Snatz is all about. But is it any fun? Yes and no. It seems a bit random: rats stealing TV’s for a living, while they’re jumping on a trampoline from house to house and entering them one window at a time. Yes, but that’s excatly what Snatz is all about. In this game, players have to open windows by getting to them via a trampoline. The building the rats visit are very high and will get even higher later on in the game. If the residents see your little rat face one time to often, they will call the police. And when they come, the rats flee the scene of the crimes. This results in a car chase – dropping the stolen tv’s on the police, will stop the chase. --Wesley Akkerman
Running around like a hopped-up hyperactive hare – that’s the best description for this Russian indie game featuring a colorless bunny in a colorless world. In Crazy Pixel Run you control a rectangular, colorless bunny. The little fella is born in a world where everything is grey. He’s main goal in life: bring more color to it. It is platformer style indie game where you have to collect energy to stay alive in a randomly generated and infinite world. The bring color to the world, you need to run around like a crazy pixel-rabbit and collect special glowing things. Every part of the world you touch collecting these things, will brightening up your world. --Wesley Akkerman
Song of Hero is a rhythm RPG, a combination between rhythm games like Guitar Hero, and a role-playing game. The player needs to organize a 4-man battle band that fights against various monsters. The battle consists of several phases, as heroes and the monster take turns attacking and using special abilities – but for player, the task is always the same – just hit all upcoming beats on time, as they reach the end of their lanes. Although the outcome greatly depends on the player’s accuracy, it’s still possible to fail the battle if the monster isn’t beaten by the end of the playing song. The songs are about a minute and a half long, and although I couldn’t name a single performer, each one of the songs was of a good quality. --Tony Kuzmin
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer celebrated the best month in iOS gaming EVER, discussed the controversy surrounding Nintendo's Tomodachi Life, and took a look at Techland's Hellraid: The Escape. Plus - get a full walkthrough to Bridge Constructor Medieval and learn how to build the perfect deck in Hearthstone. It's all right here, right now.
Nintendo has announced a new feature especially geared towards smartphone-using fans of its upcoming Wii gamem Mario Kart 8. The web service, tentatively known as Mario Kart TV, builds upon the ability of players to share race footage on the internet; the mobile device-ready video feature should be available to right around the official release of the game.
According to investor information presented by Nintendo, the service "will enable more people to easily watch Nintendo’s official videos, view rankings, watch videos that their friends have shared and videos of tournaments in which they have participated. We will work on providing this type of service so that players can enjoy video games more and be in contact with them even when they are not in front of a video game system."
No release date has been confirmed but, as noted, the service should go live at the end of the month (5/30) - around the time Mario Kart 8 is released.