With the Apple Watch’s generic release date of, “early 2015” hovering on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time before gamers begin to ask “What’s in it for us?” The obvious choice would be to place entire games directly on the face of the watch, but its limited form factor could prove to be a problem – to say the least. We’ve thought long and hard about the impending reality of wearable entertainment and decided to think outside of the box a bit. Here are just a few of the ideas of what developers might have waiting for us very soon.
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I’d like to think that we’re all familiar with N-Fusion Interactive, but for those of you who aren’t, I imagine you’ve at least heard of some of the games they’ve been involved with: Space Noir, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, and Deus Ex: The Fall to name a few. The studio has done some pretty impressive work on iOS over the years, and now they’re getting ready to release the RPG they’ve always wanted to make.
The world of Ember seems like a fascinating one. The game is titles after the world’s most valuable natural resource, which is used for all sorts of things from providing energy to a city to being set in jewelry. What’s more, it has intelligence. The larger the chunk of Ember, the smarter it is, to the point that you might find yourself squaring off against some rather (understandably) hostile giant crystals.
Ember also plays into your story, not just the over-arching story of the world. Throughout the game you’ll acquire Ember shards, which you can then decide to sell off for a tidy profit or set free – much like freeing or harvesting a Little Sister when you stop and think about it. Creepy.
Ember can best be compared to PC classics like Ultima and Baldur’s Gate. It uses a top-down isometric perspective, sure, but the similarities go a bit further than that. The world is also incredibly large, and will never need to load when traveling from one area to another. It has day/night cycles, weather, multiple homes to own, NPCs have their own schedules and behaviors that they keep to, and even the animals interact with each other (i.e. cats chase mice, wolves hunt deer, etc) on their own.
Items are also liberally sprinkled throughout the world (think just about anything Elder Scrolls) and all of them can be picked up. Or dropped, of course. There’s also a crafting system, so you’ll be able to turn ore you’ve mined into a new weapon or mix potions using materials gathered from the woods. And yes, there are readable books.
Combat is in real time, but you can pause the action at any point while you plan your tactics and activate skills. And speaking of skills, they’re tied to your equipment as opposed to being in some sort of tree. The reasoning behind this is simple: to prevent players from getting “stuck” playing a class they decide they don’t like. If you’re 12 hours in (the game touts 30 hours of gameplay, 180 quests, innumerable sidequests, etc) and decide focusing on melee combat isn’t doing it for you, it’ll be easy to start playing around with fireballs and lighting bolts instead. And of course when you put on new gear and equip new weapons they’ll all show up on your character.
There’s no official release date for Ember yet, but it’s coming along nicely and looks to be close to completion based on the build I was shown. Pricing is also still up in the air, but it’s definitely going to be a premium title – no ads, timers, etc. At the moment it’s being designed for the iPad, but I’ve been told there’s a chance we may see a separate iPhone version as well. Either way I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
On one hand it’s a bit depressing to see LittleBigPlanet (i.e. a PlayStation franchise adored for its abundant creativity) turn into an endless runner (i.e. one of the most overexposed mobile genres there are). However, maybe it’s better for a familiar formula to feature a familiar face. In any case, we’re checking out Run, Sackboy, Run!, LittleBigPlanet‘s iOS debut in this New Zealand edition of It Came From Canada!
Let’s not mince words. Run, Sackboy, Run! is totally just an endless runner with a LittleBigPlanet skin. Anyone looking for the robust platforming and level creation the series is known for will end up disappointed. But as far as skins go, it’s a pretty faithful recreation. The warm and fuzzy feel of the franchise looks just as great and tactile here as it does on Sony’s devices. As players progress they travel from earthbound environments to more futuristic areas, but the handcrafted aesthetic ties everything together. Like its siblings, the game also offers a plethora of costumes and collectibles. Players can gather stickers and outfit their Sackboy with new looks, like a kangaroo ensemble, to increase their score multiplier.
Fortunately, beloved license aside, Run, Sackboy, Run! is a pretty good endless runner in its own right. The controls are floaty but still fluid – ironic, considering how poor the controls in console LittleBigPlanet games can be – letting players easily jump and squish enemies. Levels don’t feel procedurally generated, but they are so large and dense with multiple branching paths that each run can feel unique depending on where players decide to turn. Along the way, players find power-ups like magnets and jetpacks, and they can charge their own inner powers like a shield for walking right over sticky pink goo. But if players do get trapped, a simple dash will save them from the monster in hot pursuit. And beyond just looking cool, using these skills completes missions and causes Sackboy to slowly level-up.
Again, as great as a proper LittleBigPlanet game could be on iOS, Run, Sackboy, Run! is not that game. It’s a simple spin-off. So potential players should make sure to keep that in mind when the game launches globally soon.
Through sheer force of will, along with a few legitimately great games, Ubisoft has turned their historical murder simulator Assassin’s Creed into one of the biggest franchises of the generation. But aside from a handful of questionable spin-offs, the series has never had a strong mobile presence – until now. We enter the Animus and check out Assassin’s Creed – Identity, the first “authentic” Assassin’s Creed experience for iOS, in this New Zealand Edition of It Came From Canada!
What’s so striking about Identity is how it manages to feel like a real Assassin’s Creed game by only making a couple of small compromises for the platform. Instead of controlling one protagonist for a sprawling, story-heavy campaign, players create and customize their assassin and take on a series of self-contained missions. The franchise’s infamously bonkers conspiracy meta-narrative is still there for those who choose to read it, but it never gets in the way of the neck-stabbing. And along with outfitting their avatar with collected weapons and skills, like the ability to summon online recruits for assistance, the different classes freshen up play styles on a more fundamental level.
The missions themselves are familiar fare – things like stealthily kill this one dude, deliver this item, or run across these rooftops – and the Renaissance city playgrounds do feel more compact than usual. But again, it’s a small price to pay for gameplay and visuals as fluid and detailed as the franchise’s high-end portable entries at least. Players swipe to fight, sneak, and parkour with ease, and as they reach the tops of buildings they’ll get amazing views of the vistas before them. Assassin’s Creed‘s smooth systems have always been criticized for feeling too automated, but here it’s the perfect fit.
Right now levels are limited to adventures in 16th century Italy, but the game promises modern-day Montreal missions are coming as well. However, Assassin’s Creed – Identity presents such a promising framework the team should consider throwing in stages from however many eras as they can fit. For right now though, getting the game in shape for launch should be the top priority. As we played, the game would freeze and hard reboot the iPad after every completed mission while attempting to ping the server. But that’s why this is a soft launch.
Assassin’s Creed – Identity will be creeping onto iOS devices everywhere soon.
Anyone afraid that throwing Transformers into the Angry Birds mix would result in a Michael Bay-level of childhood pillaging can rest easy. While Rovio’s famous fowls may be a 21st century staple, Angry Birds: Transformers wears its affection for the 80s on its sleeve. But is mere retro reverence enough to justify this crossover? We find out in this edition of It Came From Canada!
The opening video reveals how the classic birds we all know and love have transformed into birds disguised as robots in disguise. But aside from establishing the story, the lavish animated intro’s attention to Saturday morning detail, right down to VHS scan lines, might be the best part of the game.
Fortunately the gameplay itself, while about as simple as a typical Transformers episode, is also about as action-packed. Plus the animation isn’t as cheap. Angry Birds: Transformers eschews the physics puzzles the series is known for in favor of something resembling an on-rails shooter. As avian Optimus Prime or beaked Bumblebee constantly run from left to right, and players tap to shoot down Decepticon pigs in the background. Targeting weak points on fortresses to squish enemies more efficiently is about as close as the game gets to traditional Angry Birds strategies. Of course, since this is a Transformers game, players will also occasionally need to change their robots into vehicles to speed past collapsing columns.
As players blast more pigs they’ll open up more parts of the map, unlocking new characters with unique weapons like lasers or missiles. However, we weren’t able to access special Jenga levels since we didn’t have the codes. Between battles players can also upgrade characters to increase their strength and durability. Doing so gives players a close-up look at the bird bots themselves, and their colorful boxy models amusingly marry the aesthetics of both franchises while still maintaining what separately makes them iconic. And even better, there are barely any hints of ugly, cluttered ‘Bayformers’ in their designs.
Apart, Angry Birds and Transformers have already made all the money in the world. So we can’t imagine what they can do together – especially with Skylanders-style toy integration. Expect Angry Birds: Transformers to transform and roll out everywhere soon.
Overkill 3 is like every trope of big modern gaming rolled into one. It’s a sequel to an action-packed military shooter. It’s flashy and scripted and flaunts its sophisticated graphics. And it’s a mobile game with a heavy emphasis on in-app purchases. But does it still manage to forge its own identity within that sea of marketing points? We find out in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In its biggest break from past Overkill games, Overkill 3 is a third-person shooting gallery rather than a first-person one. Movement is automatic, so players just aim and decide when to pop in and out of cover. But now they can see their vulgar, macho, soldier hero with his scarred Mohawk head instead of just imagining him. The shift also provides a slew of new tactical options. Firing down the sights, from the hip, or from behind cover each has its own balance of safety and effectiveness. More indirect assaults, like grenades and explosive barrels, also take on new dimensions for players and their enemies alike.
But the real benefit of the pulled out camera is the wider variety of moments it’s able to present. Players get a better look at the game’s graphically detailed and impressively lit environments from desert Shanty Towns with secret Windows 95 jokes to vaguely futuristic cities. Calling in airstrikes or firing off rocket launchers also becomes more exciting when seen in their full glory. The game’s levels bounce between standard missions, wave-based survival modes, and even turret sequences for those that miss the first-person feel. But nothing justifies the new perspective more than the occasional quick-time events where players swipe the screen, causing their hero to dramatically leap out of the way of sniper fire. It’s bombastic and ridiculous in the same blockbuster action movie way other AAA games are. And given its content and fall release, Overkill 3 definitely wants to be in that company.
Developer Craneballs says the limited number of levels in this soft launch version will be expanded during later releases, but players can still get more from the experience by buying and experimenting with different tools. Equipping new armor, lovingly rendered guns, and side weapons can really change a fight, and players can level-up via repeated playthroughs to give them access to even more goodies.
The past generation of games proved people can’t get enough of modern military shooters, but will this generation prove that players have now had their fill even on mobile? Overkill 3 will have to find that out for itself when it fully launches later this year.
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 brought to iOS 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.
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.
+ 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.
+ 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.
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.
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.
+ 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.
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:
Watch the whole broadcast here:
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.
So join us at 4:15 PM EDT (3:15 PM CDT, 1:15 PM CDT, 9:15 PM GMT) to check out this upcoming game. To watch and chat, just watch on our Twitch page. You can also watch in the embedded viewer below. Here early? Watch our previous livestream of Frontline Commando 2 while you wait.
Miss the live show? No sweat, we have an archive of the whole thing below:
See the basics of the game and some of the new stuff:
See the challenging new ice sections, find out how the team at Robot Invader approaches level design, and why gamepad support was so important to them:
Learn about why the new side-missions are so important to progress, and just how they change the way you play:
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.
So feel free to join us! Watch live below in the embedded viewer below, or join us on Twitch to chat with us.
If you miss the show, keep an eye on this page as we will upload the archived broadcast and embedded highlights as well. Be sure to follow us on Twitch to know precisely when we go live next!
Watch the footage of the Spellsword in action, and the first boss: