Skylanders has always been a bit polarizing among gamers. Some see it as a glorified (and expensive) kids’ toy. Others see it as a somewhat ingenious combination of toys and video games. It’s a bit less of a toss-up with kids, though – kids adore it. And they’re undoubtedly excited about Skylanders Trap Team.
The Skylanders series has been broughttoiOS before, but Trap Team is a first. It isn’t just a port that’s been cut back to fit or a completely different sort of game that uses the license: it’s Skylanders Trap Team. You can swap between characters by switching out figures (including all the characters from previous console-only versions), capture enemies in special Trap Crystals, and otherwise do all that Skylanders-y stuff you’d expect. It’s the same game console players will be experiencing, only on a presumably smaller screen. The touch controls work quite well too, although they aren’t entirely necessary (I’ll explain in a minute).
The portal that’s included with the mobile Trap Team starter set is quite nifty. It uses bluetooth to connect to tablets wirelessly, has a simple but brilliant little notch in the side so that you can prop up your tablet (just about any tablet, no less) while you play, and comes with its own bluetooth controller that easily tucks into the bottom of the portal. Perhaps the most impressive thing about all this is that it’s incredibly easy to pair the portal and the controller with your device. If you’d rather not use the included controller, Trap Team also supports third-party mobile controllers. Or, if you find yourself with a surplus, you can also pair two different controllers and play co-op.
“It just works” has been the mantra for Vicarious Visions as they worked on the hardware for the mobile version, and it’s something they’ve pulled-off extremely well. So long as you have bluetooth enabled on your tablet all you’ll have to do is press and hold a button on the portal and/or controller and they’ll simply connect. Disconnecting them is just as easy of course, and if the controller becomes disconnected at any point during play (either on purpose or because it’s run out of batteries or something) the touch controls will pop up and you can keep playing. And if, for whatever reason, you either don’t have the portal or don’t have access to one you’re still covered. When Trap Team isn’t connected to a portal it’s still possible to play through the game using two special digital-only characters (each with their own levels, stats, and abilities).
Skylanders Trap Team will be available in the App Store as a free download on October 5 for the iPad 3 and 4, iPad Mini Retina, and iPad Air. The Starter Pack (includes the portal, bluetooth controller, unlock for the full game, and two figures) will be available on the same date for $74.99.
Loqheart has unveiled a preview trailer for their upcoming free-to-play wizard academy management game (i.e. Hogwarts simulator), Wizards of Prestige. Your academy is the final hope against the forces of evil, so it’s up to you as Headmaster to ensure that your students train up, master their skills, and graduate to fight against the evil. Along the way they may even fall in love or find themselves having a fight in class.
It’s also up to you to pick the correct wizards and control them in real-time battles, with good timing and strategy critical to ensuring your wizards get the chance to heal up and fight again another time.
No release date has been announced for Wizards of Prestige as of yet, but you can sign up for the browser pre-alpha now.
Set for release later this summer is Melissa K and the Heart of Gold, a casual adventure game that’s hoping to be a cut above the rest. I was lucky enough to check out a preview build of it to see just what we should expect.
The team behind Melissa K and the Heart of Gold initially worked on mystery game, LA Noire, being responsible for the real-time animation system within it – and it shows. Melissa K and the Heart of Gold is immediately more attractive than many other adventure games of this type. It’s the little things that shine through, such as how a small twitch of the iPad in any direction causes the game’s screen to move a little, adding a nice sense of fluidity to things.
Such pleasantries continue, ensuring that Melissa K and the Heart of Gold feels a more interactive experience than the usual titles in the genre. Objects can be manipulated by twisting them around, treating them like real 3D objects, and it works well.
Of course, the real meat for such games comes from its puzzles. Melissa K and the Heart of Gold offers plenty of hidden object scenes, but also a number of puzzles. In my short time with it I wasn’t overly challenged, but I was interested. The puzzles are clearly laid out and interesting enough. They’re reasonably different too, such as one requiring you to move a flower from one side of the screen to the other, without knocking the other items down. Figuring out how to unclasp a gem from a dragon statue was also a highlight, requiring more tactile controls than most.
Melissa K and the Heart of Gold should be out later this summer. It’s shaping up to be something that casual adventure gaming fans like myself should be anticipating. We’ll have more on it when it’s released.
We hope you’re all ready for a firefight, because the Overkill franchise is coming back for a third dose of action this summer. Craneball Studios‘ new teaser trailer for the upcoming Overkill 3 features more of the futuristic shooting that fans have come to expect from the series, only this time in third-person.
Though details are scant as of yet, you can definitely spot appearances from drones, gun emplacements, and the remnants of toppling skyscrapers in the footage. So essentially it looks like business as usual, right?
Start stockpiling your ammo now, because this is the kind of conflict that players won’t want to miss.
Posted by Blake Grundman on July 7th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Everyone’s favorite pizza peddling rodent has managed to sneak out of the midway and invade an iOS device near you. In Chuck E. Cheese’s Skate Universe, the mousy mascot takes a Temple Run-esque skateboard ride while dodging, jumping, and ollie-ing his way to safety.
This free title not only acts as an advertisement for the popular food chain, but also allows players to rack up as many as 1,000 tickets in-game that can be redeemed toward actual midway prizes! Cue children pleading their parents to make a pizza run in 3… 2… 1…
Chuck E. Cheese’s Skate Universe is available for free as a universal app right now.
Posted by Blake Grundman on July 7th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Years after the Advanced War series successfully melded the world of heavy artillery combat with mobile gaming, DeNA is taking their own whack at the turn-based strategy genre. In their newly debuted game, Super Battle Tactics, players get to build up an impressive armory of tanks and then face off against the competition.
This free-to-play experience revolves around upgrading and purchasing new vehicles, while also performing well strategically in the arena of combat. Successful performances help to attract sponsors, which in-turn brings in the revenue necessary to build out an amazing arsenal. Mix in some social networking features just for good measure, and this may be a recipe for mayhem inducing success.
Super Battle Tactics is now available for free in the iOS App Store as a universal app.
As part of this agreement Playdek is committed to maintaining the current online infrastructure (no fretting over the possible loss of multiplayer anymore, yay!), including cross-platform multiplayer functionality. But wait, isn’t Ascension currently iOS-exclusive, you say? Well our friends over at AndroidRundown have plenty to be excited about too, because shortly after the new expansion lands on the App Store, the title will be launching on both PC and Android for the first time.
For now though, you can brush up on your deck building skills by downloading Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer for free on the App Store.
There is nothing more irritating than when your phone runs out of juice. It is even worse when this happens while on the road. But what if there were a way to constantly have juice on-hand, without needing a handful of different charging devices? The over 6,000 people who Kickstarted the new product, Jump, have felt your pain and have the perfect solution.
Available for a mere $49.99 from BiteMyApple.co, the Jump is a hybrid battery pack/charger for iPhone 5/5S/5C that can either provide a pass-through charge from an electrical source or 3 hours of talk time from the on-board 800 mAh battery. This intelligent charger even waits until the iDevice’s battery is full before charging the booster.
Best of all, the product still performs perfectly as a sync cable as well. Move quick, because with impressive features like these, the Jump isn’t going to stay in stock for long.
Posted by Blake Grundman on July 1st, 2014 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Nowadays mobile shopping is becoming the norm. The problem is that there are too few websites that put a premium on a fantastic shopping experience on the phone. That is where the new app SnapUp comes into play.
Designed as the perfect way to quickly compile a list of products, SnapUp melds an iOS device’s screenshot functionality with a streamlined shopping interface. Users can even share and monitor products, all from the comfort of their iOS device.
Oh, and did we mention that SnapUp also has the ability to provide real-time price drop push notifications on “snapped” products? No wonder it was able to secure $600,000 in venture capital funding before the software even launched!
SnapUp is available now on the App Store for free.
Sebastian Gosztyla, a programmer for such games as Guilty Party and Avengers Initiative, wanted to make games less escapist and more interactive with other human beings. After experimenting with different gameplay styles he has come up with Dual.
The game involves two players and each of their screens make up half of the play area. Players fling missiles at each other and attempt to doge them by physically moving and tilting their phones. The game communicates between phones using bluetooth or wifi on the iPhone and Android, which makes it a great play-anywhere-anytime game.
There is no set release date, but Sebastian Gosztyla is hoping to make Dual available sometime near the end of summer.
There are very few contenders left in the 2D fighting game arena. One of the last standing combatants are the beautifully hand-drawn sprites of the BlazBlue franchise. Recently it was announced that the series is going to be making its iOS debut this fall, in a form that you may not quite expect.
BlazBlue: Battle Cards aims to blur the lines between fast-paced combat and deliberate strategic card games, all the while revisiting characters that fans have come to know and love on their home consoles. Look for more information as the game nears launch in a few months. In the meantime, be sure to enjoy the little sneak peak, below.
German developer Headup Games recently announced that they are partnering with Funatics Software to bringing the studio’s browser-based MMORPG, Cultures to the iPad. But this isn’t just any run of the mill port: the iOS version of the game will be optimized to make best use of everything that a touch-based gaming platform has to offer. Take that, PC Master Race!
Featuring aspects of world-building, boss battles. and looting opportunities aplenty, Cultures is currently on schedule for a summer launch on the App Store. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
It’s always easy to be way too cynical when it comes to free-to-play games, and when Tony Hawk’s Shred Session was announced there was certainly some thought that it could be a cheap licensed affair. Well the game has soft-launched in New Zealand, so I put on my helmet, grabbed my board, and found out this is a more casual game – but not a cash-in.
The game is set up as a lane-based runner a la Subway Surfers, but it truly is just a Tony Hawk game set up in that vein of being friendly for mobile and casual play. Levels include ramps, rails, and even half pipes. Tricks can be strung together through the gesture-based system for grabs, flips, and grinds. Extended gestures exist for more complicated tricks. These complicated tricks can be unlocked and bought with coins over time as players level up, or unlocked instantly with bucks (the hard currency).
The game takes place in two modes: Shred Session and Survival. Shred Session is a level-based mode where each level tasks players with short-form goals to chase after. Some levels involve scoring a certain number of points before the timer or level runs out. Others involve collecting a certain number of orbs, collecting time tokens, and participating in trick-offs with other skaters where the prescribed tricks must be matched. All are managed by a three-star system, with higher scores or more collectibles necessary to get more stars.
While the game is free-to-play, and more advanced tricks will help with combos, it does a great job at not letting the monetization get in the way of playing the game. There are boosts to buy along with new boards and skaters, but purchases largely feel optional instead of necessary. Having no energy system helps out a lot, too. Given that style is a huge part of skating culture, I can see cosmetic upgrades contributing to the game’s moneymaking – particularly as hard currency is needed to unlock many of the skaters and cooler tricks early on. But there’s no replacement for skill.
While certainly the monetization could change, it seems as if there’s a really interesting core here; one that could appeal to those who like skateboarding games, but want a mobile-friendly experience. We’ll see how the world reacts when Tony Hawk’s Shred Session eventually goes worldwide.
Posted by Blake Grundman on June 11th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
There was once a time in nearly every person’s life when they enjoyed partaking in childish shenanigans. A perfect example of these events include things like pickup games of football in the yard, involving all of the neighborhood kids. Well now, thanks to the new game Soccerinho, you can relive these childhood memories – only with a different kind of football.
Featuring a collection of soccer-centric mini-games, Soccerinho will take players on an atmospheric adventure back to the streets of Prague, long before the days of this World Cup madness. The title’s 84 levels should offer more than enough ball bending fun to keep players busy for the foreseeable future.
Soccerinho is available now as a Universal app for $4.99.
It looks like Agent 47 is at it again. Fresh off of his Editor’s Choice garnering first iOS outing in Hitman GO, everyone’s favorite assassin is back for more bloodshed.
This time around the ubiquitous manslaughter machine is placed behind the scope of a sniper rifle in the aptly named Hitman: Sniper. Though the details are rather scant as of now, you can bet that we will be hear quite a bit more about the title over the span of E3 week. Oh, and spoiler alert: the game will probably feature players shooting a person or ten. But don’t worry, the targets have undoubtedly done something heinous to deserve their strategically-placed hot lead injection.
You can look forward to checking out Hitman: Sniper for yourself when it hits the App Store later this year.
Multimedia on iPad is hit or miss when it comes to producing quality presentations. Luckily ScrollMotion has our back. Fresh off of being highlighted at Monday’s World Wide Developers Conference, the team is proud to announce their next innovative tool: SmartStudio.
This next evolution of the ScrollMotion platform is a web-based tool that can be used to create great new multimedia presentations using simple drag and drop gestures. Better yet, the tool helps integrate seamlessly with other forms of traditional media such as PDFs, videos and even charts.
If huge organizations like Campbell’s and General Electric are already on the ScrollMotion bandwagon, why aren’t you?
At this point, everyone is more than familiar with Gameloft‘s extremely successful Modern Combat series of first person shooters. That’s why it’s huge news to hear that the next installment will be renewing the focus on multiplayer.
According to a battle-hardened birdie that just whispered in our ear, the core four multiplayer modes of Capture The Flag, VIP, Free for All, and Team Battle will all be returning. Each mode will allow for up to twelve players on a map at any given time. Along with the use of leaderboards and special in-game events, there will be a new persistent squad system in place. These glorified “clans” will allow players to group up with friends to share in the Team Battle action. There will even be squad chat functionality baked in on day one.
And to whet your whistle that much more, here are a couple of screenshots of what can be expected when the Modern Combat 5 launches, later this summer.
The classic (and brutal) first-person adventure series that is Shadowgate has amassed a pretty decent following over the years. More than decent, really, which is why zojoi has been in the process of rebooting it by way of an all-new re-imagined Shadowgate for Windows, Mac, Android, and of course iOS. And goodness gracious does it look pretty.
The new Shadowgate isn’t so much a port with improved visuals as a relaunch (hence all the “re-imagining” business). It will certainly include several nods to the originals such as familiar rooms and such, but it’s intended to be a whole new thing. A whole new thing with plenty of classically brutal puzzles and gameplay, an all-new orchestral soundtrack, a retro soundtrack for the nostalgia fiends, some very nice visuals, animations, and a whole lot more.
Keep an eye out for Shadowgate on the App Store later this summer.
- First Person Adventuring: Utilize your inventory, spell book, mapping system and on-screen commands to complete your quest
- Rooms: Tons of Beautifully illustrated rooms featuring both new and familiar locations, offering a new play experience
- Puzzles: Lots of new and updated puzzles that seamlessly expand on the original game
- Difficulty Levels: Three different difficulty levels that actually change the game play experience and puzzle structure
- Commands: Intuitive command-based UI allows you to interact extensively with the environments (includes features like key binds, command locking/unlocking, retractable/maximizable HUD, etc.)
- Storytelling: Features dramatic cut-scenes and all the same great storytelling you expect from a Shadowgate adventure
- Cinematic Score: A full, digitally-orchestrated, dynamic soundtrack by composer Rich Douglas
- 8-bit Score: A second retro soundtrack featuring Hiroyuki Masuno’s original NES composition
- Soundscapes: A complete atmospheric and puzzle-based sound design
- Achievements: Dozens of in-game and Steam-based achievements to find and unlock
- Animations: Environmental and object-specific animations and particles bring each location to life
As with any good trilogy, all good things must come to an end. Sadly, this is also holds true for Zen Studios’ epic conclusion to their trifecta of pinball DLC packs. The aptly named Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within releases for iOS on April 29, but we were lucky enough to get a hands-on look slightly before the masses. Will this be the strong finish that the game deserves, or will it end up feeling a bit more like “Revenge of the Sith,” than “Return of the Jedi?”
Leading off the pack is the most predictable in the pipeline: “Episode IV: A New Hope.” This brings a close to the trio of tables focused on honoring the original films in the franchise, and boy does it send things off in style. Fans of the “Empire Strikes Back” adaption included in the game’s base download will find the design of a central loop ramp rather familiar. That said, flanking ramp layouts make this outing appear far more symmetrical, with the exception of the additional left ramp. The main tweak to Zen’s existing formula is the ability for players to channel their inner Bambino and call their shot, so to speak, and select which ramp they would like to use for their post-launch skillshot. As per Zen’s usual mantra, the feature is nothing game changing, but it is just different enough to keep things fresh. Other highlighted elements include the return of mini-games involving a Tusken Raider or two, a slew of missions inspired by the plot of the groundbreaking film, and even a mini Death Star trench run. Considering that this film is where the magic began, it surprisingly also acts as a strong final act under these circumstances.
After dedicating a table to one specific film, it only seems appropriate to follow that up with a table focused the Droids that have incidentally appeared in every installment of the franchise. The core plot revolves around R2-D2 trying to get the Death Star plans safely into the hands of “Old Ben” Kenobi. Flanked by his trusty companion C-3PO, the duo navigate their way across the massive deserts of Tatooine. In the process, they come in contact with Jawas, sabotage and escape from a sandcrawler, and aid several other droids in need. Every aspect of this fast-paced ramp-heavy layout oozes personality and stays true to the series’ narrative – 3PO never shuts the hell up. But that is a good thing, right?
What would a last look at Star Wars be without something dedicated to the most important Jedi and Sith? The Masters of the Force table manages to do just that by bringing together the likes of Yoda, Count Dooku, Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, and several others, all in the name of reliving the biggest battles throughout the series. Oddly enough, most of the combat reenactments take a more simplistic and “old school” approach, employing what amounts to cardboard cutouts of the combatants that double as targets to either hit or avoid, instead of utilizing the resource-intensive fully rendered characters found across the other offerings in this collection. In another interesting side note, the way that the Jedi Holocron is used to capture the ball and transition between alternate modes loosely harkens back to the magnetic trunk in the classic Bally/Midway table, “Theatre of Magic.” It is hard to put a finger on why, but this decidedly more grounded table feels like something that the Zen series has been missing for quite some time and is a welcome deviation from their current design philosophies.
Bringing the collection to a close is none other than everyone’s favorite “scruffy looking nerf herder,” Han Solo. If there was ever a quip, mannerism, or action that the character was known for, most likely it will be featured on this table. Han teams up with his infallible protector Chewbacca to relive the many moments that made him an amazing anti-hero and cultural icon. Of course, the Millennium Falcon is prominently on display in the top middle of the playfield and can even be taken out for a minigame test flight, bobbing and weaving through an asteroid field. Heck, the player even has the opportunity to engage in a shootout in the Mos Eisley Cantina! Guess it is high time to find out who really shot first.
As has always been the case with Star Wars Pinball, each environment is lavishly populated with nods to the lore that will no doubt please hardcore and casual fans alike. The voice acting continues to be fantastic, once again breathing life and credibility into the Force-inspired experience. It’s a good thing that this is the last pack of DLC, because topping Heroes Within would be a tall order. No Jedi mind tricks are needed here, because each table’s midichlorian counts are off the scale.
Cipher Prime’s Inake is coming to iPad on May 1, as exclusively revealed yesterday on our Twitch channel.
This dubstep-fueled action-puzzle game is, according to William Stallwood of Cipher Prime, who joined up for the stream, pretty much a straight-up port of the PC version – in a sense. Some tweaks have been made to the game that will come to the PC version on May 1 as well, but ultimately it’s the same game with the same content. The difference is in the way it’s played: the game supports full multitouch controls on the iPad, so it’s a new approach to a familiar game.
Check out the video below of me going through the first 25 levels, which took some practice to get that far:
Watch some of the special levels, available in Challenge Modes:
Game creation is not easy. Edmund Koh and Personae Studios want to change that with the upcoming PICS Tower of Defense – a way for players to make their own tower defense levels, and eventually their own tower defense games, as a way to lower the barrier that comes between having an idea for a game, and actually creating it.
The app’s concept was born from his studio’s previous game MechWarrior: Tactical Command. Koh says “People were asking for more missions after we released [the game]… so we realized that with all the suggestions on what we should do, we should just open it up and let people make their own games… basically facilitate people to make games in their own genres. The intention with PICS Towers of Defense is that it would be the first in a series of game creation tools.”
The plan for PICS Towers of Defense is to start the game off with level creation only, but eventually, the idea is to let people create full-fledged games with narratives and progression that they define. However, it will be possible to customize all sorts of details, such as attack power of towers and enemies, and even whether the game will be a standard mazing game or an open-field one like Fieldrunners.
Koh says that, “With game development, essentially what you’re doing, most of the time, you’re just guessing what the audience wants… the approach that we’re taking is that we’re gonna ask people what do you want, and let them do it.”
One of the features for creation that they’re working on is to be able to modify levels that other players have created. Koh puts it like this: “If I gave you a clean sheet of paper and asked you to design a car, the chances are, very few people are able to do it. Whereas, if I ask you, what’s wrong with your car and what would you want to change on it, I’m sure you can come up with a lot of things.” So, powered by this philosophy, Personae is aiming to make attributable changes to levels, and to help make creation easier for people.
The way that PICS Towers of Defense intends on making money right now is through theme packs for levels and towers: the game is expected to be a free download, but additional theme packs will be available as in-app purchases, and there is talk of crossovers with other games to get theme packs into this creation tool. Koh says, “We want this to be more of a community-driven platform where people could write in suggestions on what kind of theme packs that they would want to see, and we’ll try to create it for them.”
The plan is for the game to release at some point in the second quarter of 2014, though the initial release will not be the be-all end-all of the game, with more features down the road. And perhaps if the game does well, then more genres could be added to the PICS brand. But for now, Koh and Personae have their hands full with this ambitious app, which in its current state definitely delivers on its promise. But making it widespread and accessible will be the key to the game’s success.
Wind-Up Knight 2 from Robot Invader is nearing release, and we’ll be streaming a preview build with the developers this afternoon. We’ll be showing off the game and some of the new things that players can expect to see – and viewers can join up in the Twitch chat to get their burning questions answered. Sadly, we don’t have a DDR pad available to play the game with.
We’re getting the 148Apps Live train started back up in a big way this week! At 4:00pm EST (3:00pm CST, 1:00pm CST, 9:00pm GMT), Kepa Auwae of Rocketcat Games will join 148Apps on Twitch to chat up Wayward Souls – formerly known as Wayward Saga, and as the spiritual successor to Mage Gauntlet. We’ll run through a fresh build of the upcoming game, and chat about what’s gone into the development of the game. And of course, you can ask your questions as well in the Twitch chat.
Assassin’s Creed Pirates is not the Assassin’s Creed game you’d expected to come to mobile, as it’s more of a straight-up pirate adventure with boats than any kind of character-based action game. Of course, the recent console release kind of took its own path by shifting to a piracy theme, and the mobile game goes whole hog into the concept. Players take command of their own pirate ship, starting off with a small schooner but eventually make their way to becoming a pirate king while wreaking havoc all over the Caribbean.
Gameplay consists of several different phases: there’s a top-down navigation mode, where players can sail around looking for treasure and to take on other captains on the high seas. It’s possible to go into a 3D view of the action, and is necessary for some events, to try and chase down other ships. Then there’s combat, which involves trading cannon volleys, trying to dodge enemy attacks, and exploit their weaknesses.
The connection to the traditions of Assassin’s Creed seems tenuous at best, at least initially: there’s the famous iconography of the series but Edward Kenway, the protagonist of the console game, isn’t anywhere to be seen – at least early on. This is an entirely separate experience, though the game certainly could link up to AC4’s narrative at some point later on (I won’t give away any secrets). In reality, it gives off the appearance of trying to fit in thematically with the game, but in my playing of it, it seems to stand up well on its own.
As a whole, it gives off the vibe of being like Infinity Blade in a fleeting sense. A large part of it is the combat being based off of dodging enemy attacks, and then delivering timing and precision-based weapon strikes from one’s boat back at the enemy – or enemies! The ability to level up and get upgrades for the boat and crew feels like a familiar aspect too, but that’s true of most any iOS game nowadays. But really, it feels like the developers paid attention to making a game in the same sort of vein – of exploring and becoming stronger – but decided to use the concept to fit in with what the piratical theme.
Assassin’s Creed Pirates releases on iOS on December 5, and even for people who aren’t too exposed to the series this shows some promise as a high-seas adventure.
Ryan Mitchell has been diligently releasing some fairly under-appreciated gems on the App Store for quite some time now. Of particular note are Necromancer Rising, a first-person dungeon crawler, and Mission Europa, a far more refined first-person dungeon crawler with a really creepy atmosphere. And now he’s working on what can best be described as a Dungeon Keeper-like titled Cursed Realms.
We contacted him recently and he was gracious enough to speak to us at length about his new project, and tease a little bit about a possible Mission Europa sequel. Please note that all of these images are from a pre-alpha version and that the look/style/etc are, naturally, subject to change.
148Apps: What made you decide to start developing Cursed Realms? Ryan Mitchell (RM): I had finished Mission Europa and I was looking for the next big challenge. I wanted to develop a universe that is so encompassing any storyline is possible. As Stargate allowed its viewers to escape any rules or bounds, I wanted the same. Thus the Cursed Realms universe began.
148Apps: Why something akin to Dungeon Keeper rather than a follow-up to Mission: Europa? RM: I wanted to create a more mainstream type game while also creating a new game engine. I constructed a new Shader and Opengl ES 2.0 based engine. Alas, my scope of work exploded far broader then I originally intended. I LOVE Mission Europa and do plan on a sequel in the future. The update would be using the new engine which includes a LOT of online components. I would like to have some systems where users create scenarios and the like. User created content REALLY blows open a game even if it is just a simple base defense like clash of clans.
148Apps: I know you’ve been working on Cursed Realms for quite a while, so it couldn’t have been in response to EA’s upcoming Dungeon Keeper release. RM: Not at all. This is an after-work endeavor, and for quite a while my main job ate into my night time dev time. I also am married with two kids in sports and we all are in Brazillian Jujitsu. However, I have dropped a lot of activities and am pouring more time into developing again. That along with a scope of game that ballooned far bigger then I expected. However, that is a main reason for the switch to a Clash of Clans type game mixed with Dungeon Keeper. I am culling back some of the scope to not only make the game better but get it done sooner.
148Apps: Why the sudden switch from Dungeon Keeper to something more Clash of Clans-y? And how significantly will this shift affect what’s already there? RM: The current game had been in alpha testing developing game play when I was introduced to Clash of Clans by a friend who does not play any games at all. His addiction blew me away. I then realized I needed to change several things in Cursed Realms to make it most importantly more fun and addictive, then secondly to make it more appealing to a wider audience. The gameplay will be immensely sped-up in multiplayer and maybe single player (single player is taking a backseat now). This speed up conforms to the devices strength of popping your device open and jumping into a game for a short break or while waiting on something.
The online element and crowd sourcing gameplay is [also] very important. The ability for people to build, defend, and destroy other bases and minions explodes the content level. Then being able to take over your own minion in 3D and personally take on another players base adds a new level to this type of game. Another concept I saw as very important is a purchase model where players with more money then time can accelerate their play and help support future games I make.
All assets were unchanged really just database adjustments. I just had to clean up programmer interfaces and expose them to the users. My scene graph based engine really is quick to prototype and create new game-types. So the change accelerated completion instead of delaying.
148Apps: Do you think long-time Dungeon Keeper fans will love, hate, or be indifferent to the change? RM: I think it will be an amazing upgrade into the new century. I played the old Dungeon Keeper extensively before starting Cursed Realms and it helped remove a level of nostalgic awesomeness I had in my head. It is still a GREAT game and one of the best classics ever. However, we have some really interesting new tools now. And back then we could not fit the 486 in our pocket for quick game sessions. As far as to whether fans will enjoy it I will not release Cursed Realms until my testers say it is ready and it is awesome.
148Apps: Even though it’s going to be more Clash of Clans than Dungeon Keeper, do you think there might still be a chance for players to jump in to their minions’ heads and play from a first-person perspective from time to time? RM: ABSOLUTELY! That is one of the biggest differences from base defense games. Here you can be a part of your army. You also fight THEIR army. And in reality it is about 70% Dungeon Keeper I would say. The engine can support an immense number of characters on screen and this leads to epic battles of which you can wade through with your weapon in hand. The Clash of Clans thing is the purchase model.
148Apps: Going back to Mission Europa, is there anything you’ve learned since creating it (and while working on Cursed Realms) that you’d consider incorporating into an update/rerelease/sequel/hypothetical game that will never actually exist? RM: I am a FPS RPG fan at heart and Mission Europa 2 is on my radar. This time with user created content and worlds tied into Cursed Realms as they are tied together in the storyline currently. The main thing I have learned is marketing/price models are 90% of the battle these days and the little guys have a really hard time getting noticed. Along with the pricing model of free with in game purchases is the best way to fund development which is not free; music and assets cost money, not to mention software and hardware.
148Apps: Care to elaborate on the connection between Mission Europa and Cursed Realms any further? Might that mean that players could control, say, a faction of hellish machine/human demon hybrids? RM: Your actions in the end of Mission Europa also had a significant impact on the fabric of the universe which is Cursed Realms. Here is a small design snippet:
The Abaddon – A horrible mechanical race possessed with souls converted from living flesh. One weakness of this race is their poor connection to their equipment. The souls that run them seem to have a loose connection thus they have a hard time controlling them. They are however HIGH in armor to compensate. The Abbadon have wormholes to the north. They sweep entire galaxies harnessing the organic life, and some think souls for their evil.
Cursed Realms doesn’t have a definitive release date yet, but once it’s been given the green light by testers it will hit the App Store for free. In the meantime, you can keep track of the game’s progress on the official development blog or soak up the lore on the wiki. Thanks so much to Ryan Mitchell for taking the time to talk with us.
The original Feed Me Oil was an imaginative and fun physics puzzler with some serious wackiness. No, really, it was awesome. And now the sequel is looming on the horizon.
Feed Me Oil 2 is focusing on “more of the same, only better, and more.” The visuals have been dressed-up significantly with sharper graphics, more all-around detail, and even weirder environments. You’ll be using gadgets to direct the flow of a-bubblin-crude, as expected, but now there are even more tools thrown in that can alter your strategies. The oil physics have seemingly been tweaked for the better, and water has been added (along with other environmental stuff) to further mix things up. In many ways it’s the same game as it still uses the three-star rating system that grants more stars when you use fewer items, and those stars can be traded in for level hints, but if it ain’t broke, right?
You can expect to see Feed Me Oil 2 in the App Store in the beginning of January of next year (only a couple months away, really), where you’ll be able to grab it for $0.99.
Making a first-person shooter with zombies is a safe bet for a game concept, and if Dead Trigger 2 promised to just be more of the same there’s certainly the possibility that it could do just as well as the original. After all, it has zombies and the series’ creator Madfinger is known for its gorgeous-looking games. But Marek Rabas, Co-Founder of Madfinger, says that for Dead Trigger 2, visuals were not the focus. “We didn’t focus on improving graphics quality this time around, instead, our main focus was on gameplay and other aspects of the game.”
This is the first thing that is apparent when playing Dead Trigger 2, perhaps after the still-impressive visuals: it’s a much better experience.
The core concept remains the same: players trying to survive an onslaught of the zombie apocalypse. But something just feels different. Early on, it’s a much more engaging experience. Rabas says “we have changed and enhanced [the] core gameplay. We are monitoring combat intensity and allowing gameplay to adapt to it. We have added bosses in the game and players have to change their behavior in the game when they spawn.” These include enemies like the Vomitron and Kamikaze, powerful enemies that require the player’s full attention as they can kill quickly.
The story missions feature more of a narrative backbone: there’s rudimentary interaction with other characters such as an escort mission early on, albeit with a character who knows how to handle his gun. They’re little things, but they make the game feel less like a soulless collection of missions and more like a game with actual progression. There’s still the assortment of side missions with their own challenges, but the main story mode should be more motivating.
The controls show great promise as well. It’s a version of the dual virtual stick control scheme, but set up with just swiping to move and to aim. Most importantly, aiming is incredibly accurate with the touchscreen to where I had no complaints early on. It’s a Halloween miracle!
Of course, with Apple’s MFi gamepad protocol on the horizon Dead Trigger 2 would be a natural fit. Madfinger loves their gamepads on Android – their games support them, and almost all of the controller manufacturers I met at GDC were demoing the original Dead Trigger on their controller – and Rabas says “Dead Trigger 2 supports MFi gamepads already. We haven’t tested it yet, because we don’t have MFi gamepads here. I hope we will get some before they will release them on the market.” However, the feature should be ready for when the dual-stick gamepads do come out. Until then, the touchscreen on iOS should do a bang-up job for most.
Dead Trigger 2 releases on October 23rd worldwide, and it’s showing great promise as a game that takes a familiar concept and iterates on it to make it possibly the most ideal version of what it could be.
Lords of Discord is a new turn-based strategy game that just began its Kickstarter campaign. It takes place in a fantasy world where Humans and Demons battle it out. There are also the familiar orcs, giant spiders, and other nefarious creatures.
Players can play as humans or demons in two campaigns that feature 12 missions each. There is also a character development system for each race with around 30 units each. Get a glimpse of battle in the trailer below!
Zen Studios have been at this pinball thing for quite some time now. Between the console and iOS platforms they have become the undisputed champion of the digitalized steel ball. Their most recent offering, Star Wars Pinball, garnered an Editor’s Choice rating from this very site. So you can only imagine the excitement when they announced the game’s first batch of DLC, entitled Balance of the Force. Calling upon their veteran stable of developers, the trio of new tables look to put the initial collection to shame. Thankfully, the team over at Zen has the Force on their side!
The first table of the set follows the trend of the first outing by adapting one of the classic films, which in this case is the original trilogy finale “Return of the Jedi.” Building upon lessons learned last time out, the table once again breaks up the plot points into a collection of checkpointed missions. When playing through the stages in Jedi, players will encounter countless interactive objects and fantastical extra-curricular activities that force them outside of the traditional confines of the bumpers. How exactly does one take part in a speeder race through the forests of Endor, without ever breaking the immersion of a pinball experience? Trust us, somehow they have managed to pull it off seamlessly. And how could you ever forget the epic showdown between Luke and Vader? This time the player gets to determine the outcome.
Next up, Starfighter Assault comes aboard to provide the parallel experience of piloting for either the Empire or Rebellion. Depending upon the ethical allegiances of whomever is behind the paddles, the player is placed in the role of tipping the balance of battle one way or another. The table has a light RPG system of sorts that rewards mission completions with upgrades to their fleet, which may very well turn the tide of conflict. Once again, certain missions will involve leaving the table and jumping into the cockpit of signature fighters made famous by the series or competing in third person shootouts, somewhat in the vein of Galaga. There is more than enough variety and fan service to go around, regardless of which side of the battle is embarked upon. Thankfully this also lends itself well to replayability, because why settle for only one side of the story?
Darth Vader rounds out the trio, with his own signature table. It only makes sense that a character as iconic as Vader would receive the same treatment afforded to Boba Fett in the initial offering. As one of a select few characters that spans the trilogies, there is quite a deep pool of subject matter to pull from; starting at the beginning of each game, when the player has the opportunity to actually participate in his transformation from Anakin Skywalker to the hulking “mandroid.” From that point on, the table covers notable occurrences from the original films including the hunt for rebel bases, a Death Star trench run, and his battles with the likes of both Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It is a tour-de-Force, (sorry, I had to…) that should not be missed.
This time around it feels like the team at Zen was given free range to really “go nuts” in respect to table design. Each playscape feels more complex than the base set, while still not being off-putting to newcomers. Everything from tricky ramp positions to the new multi-shot goals all play like evolutions to a formula as well as the culmination of mechanic refinement that has been in progress since their immensely popular Marvel line. Regardless, the result is a breath of fresh air for pinball enthusiasts who have been eagerly awaiting their next challenge.
Balance of the Force is scheduled to launch on iOS as downloadable content for both Star Wars Pinball and Zen Pinball on October 16. It is also worth noting that while the tables will be available for purchase from within Zen Pinball, players will not get the benefit of Star Wars Pinball’s additional leaderboards and Force rating system; so choose platforms wisely. Really, no matter what the choice the player will still be treated to a nostalgia-drenched adventure in a galaxy far, far away. They may have once been but a learner, now Zen Studios has become the master.
Mines of Mishap brings classic action-rpg gameplay to iOS and is scheduled to release on September 26th, barring any mishaps. The game gathers its inspiration from titles like Torchlight and Diablo and hopes to provide players with addictive hack-and-slash gameplay on their iOS devices. So get ready to discover the secrets of the town’s caves while playing the role of a warrior, ranger, sorcerer, or assassin.
“With ‘Mines of Mishap’, we’re really focusing on the multiplayer experience and really want to bring fun co-op gameplay with a competitive edge that you can share with your friends wherever you are.” said David Dunnett, art director of Thunderhead Interactive, in a press release.