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Wobbles_CavemanA great robot once asked: “You guys like swarms of things, right?” How right he was to make that assumption. There’s just something about overseeing a churning mass of critters that feels oddly right. Or perhaps that’s just my inner overlord talking. Regardless, Wobbles, from Play Nimbus, offers up such an experience by letting players guide their aimlessly wandering charges through perilous maps in the name of technological progress. Sort of. We had a chat with Play Nimbus’ Nick Mudry (Producer, Creative Director, Marketing) to get the lowdown on these odd little characters.

148Apps: What sort of game is Wobbles, exactly? I can see some definite similarities to Lemmings but it also looks like there’s more to it than that.
Nick Mudry (NM): Wobbles is a 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformer where you guide a line of adorable creatures, called Wobbles, across a dangerous landscape. You do this by placing gadgets, such as fire, aqueducts, tunnels, etc, which the Wobbles interact with. For example, the fire lights their butts on fire and they fly into their air (think Mario 64) while the aqueduct allows them to safely land from falls in a pool of water.

Wobbles was inspired by Lemmings back when we were originally conceptualizing what game we actually wanted to make. It came up as “what if you had a ton of Lemmings running across a level and you were just throwing platforms in front of them?” That initial concept exploded into the game we have today. Minutes after we talked about that idea, we were already drawing concepts for the characters, mechanics, etc.

Wobbles03148Apps: About how many different eras are you expecting to include in the final build? Any plans to release more in the future?
NM: We are launching Wobbles with a total of 6 eras: Cavemen, Roman, Medieval, Industrial, Modern, and Future. Each era has 10 levels, which adds up to 60 levels for the initial release. Each era has their own specific gadget, ranging from the fire all the way to one that reverses the Wobbles’ gravity. We’ve had many ideas for different eras and gadgets that we would have liked to do for release, but they have been put aside for now. If Wobbles has a good reception, I’m sure we might work on a few new ones and release them.

148Apps: What made you all decide on the name “Wobbles?”
NM: This is an interesting story. It goes back to the night when we were initially conceptualizing the game. When we first saw the Wobbles’ concept and the way it was shaped, we were wondering what to call it. We threw a few ideas out in the air, but at the end of the meeting, we decided to call them “Wobbles” for the time being. It ended up sticking and being an adorable little name for them.

148Apps: Where did the Wobbles’ look come from? I think I see a little Alice the Goon in their design.
NM: A lot of the game originated at that meeting many months ago, and so did the Wobbles’ look. During our brainstorming of how the game played and what we wanted it to feel like, our amazing artist, Laura, was already drawing concepts for what they should look like. When I turned around, I saw something that I could easily remember and adore and knew that would be the design we’d pick. Funny you mention Alice the Goon as part of their design. While I haven’t thought of that until just now, it does have a little bit of the same style. We’ve noticed the Wobbles also look like a few other characters in games. I won’t say exactly which ones, but just picture a Wobble with a space helmet and then think what other characters look similar.

Wobbles01148Apps: Were there any mechanics that you wanted to include but had to cut due to time/balance/other reasons? Anything you’re hoping to add later?
NM: Before we went into a full production cycle this summer, we spent a decent amount of time in pre-production preparing. We had many meetings discussing what we should have in the game, and what we shouldn’t. This made us know exactly what we’d need to do, and didn’t have to cut anything. Surprisingly, things came together pretty well and almost on time. We did cut one feature, the stone bridge, since it was a bit redundant, but we didn’t miss it at all. There are things we hope to add later though. We have plenty of features in mind that we thought of during our production that we just didn’t have the time to add before release.

Wobbles is expected to wander onto the App Store sometime this month, where the curious and the insidious will be able to get their hands on it for $1.99. We’d like to thank Nick for his time and wish the team over at Play Nimbus luck with their game’s release!

2013logo_finalWhenever zombies and/or mutants have overrun the Earth, iOS gamers are always more than happy to take to the streets and start blasting. However, they haven’t had many opportunities to do so with friends. That’s why James Petty, president of Action Mobile Games, and the rest of the development team have been working on 2013: Infected Wars. They’re hoping to push the limits of what iOS gamers have come to expect from their action games, and James was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions about their soon-to-be-released project.

148Apps: What made you decide to create a co-op action game as opposed to a more typical single player affair?
James Petty (JP): There were a few reasons for that. One, it has never been done before on mobile so I wanted us to do something new and fun to try and stand out. Two, I thought it would be really well received by the community since playing multiplayer is always more fun. Three, because it is so difficult to pull off; my hope was Apple would feature us in the App Store at release.

emg 1148Apps: I was also wondering just how big the environments might be. Are there multiple paths to explore?
JP: They are not as big as some of the huge PC or console hits that many of us are familiar with. There are different paths you can take to some extent but we had to be creative to allow for the large number of creatures spawned at any given time. I wanted to make sure the player felt like the world was covered with infected. Most people probably don’t notice, but on mobile each unique creature takes a ton of resources which is why many games with higher end graphics will cap them at 3 or so. This wouldn’t work at all if we wanted to create hordes of enemies. So we were able to optimize the Unreal Engine to such an extent that we can have around 10 at any given time and have some amazing graphics to boot. With our custom spawn system you often don’t even notice the cap as we can have another enemy spawn as soon as one dies to really give you the feeling of an enemy ‘horde’.

148Apps: It looks like there’s a good mix of classes available (Field Support, Marine, Sniper, Sapper). Do you find that some compliment others better, and was it tough to balance them out?
JP: Yes, this was extremely tough to balance out. It would have been easy to just get rid of the classes and have a bunch of weapons but I think that removes some of the depth you can achieve when you get to choose a strategy and see if it works. The field support in my opinion is the easiest class to master, and I suggest this for any player who isn’t as experienced with mobile gaming. The sniper and Sapper are the most challenging and work better in multiplayer.

7148Apps: What sort of persistent character progression can we expect in 2013: Infected Wars? Do the characters actually learn skills or become more powerful, or is it more of a rank-based system that unlocks new gear?
JP: There is no gear unlocking in 2013: Infected Wars; instead, the more money you earn from killing infected and the less you die the more money you have. However each class gets benefits with certain weapon types, and as you level up the weapons in that class become more affordable. You also get unique bonuses for each class but there isn’t a special move per say. The game is designed to offer fun replayability and you are meant to die. If you challenge players and they realize a mistake is going to cause them to die, lose weapons, and then have to try a mission again it really ups the intensity. I believe the mobile gaming community is really wanting a challenge and I stand 100% by 2013: Infected Wars being the most challenging mobile shooter that will be in the App Store.


148Apps: What would you consider to be 2013: Infected Wars’ most significant feature?
JP: Definitely the fact we have a true full co-op campaign with a ton of content and true hordes of zombies and other infected to kill. And larger than life bosses that actually move around. This has never been done on mobile before and I really hope the community enjoys it. In fact we are already working on our first new content update before the game even hits the App Store.

We’d like to thank James again for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re anxious to get your co-op mutant blasting on, keep an eye out. 2013: Infected Wars should be hitting the App Store within the next couple of weeks and set you back $6.99. Expect a full review from 148Apps when it does!

I freaking love mech games. It’s just a shame that this is a largely ignored genre on the App Store. Or at least it was, until Small Impact Games took it upon themselves to show it some love.

M3CH looks to be the answer to iOS mech combat fans’ prayers. Of course showing a little love yourself on the developer’s Kickstarter page might speed things up a bit. It evokes a similar feeling to other gritty/semi-realistic mech piloting titles and sports some pretty impressive production values. I had to pry myself away to ask M3CH’s animator, James Rowbotham, about Small Impact Games’ baby.


Were there any particularly major influences in the design of M3CH‘s world? I know it’s not exactly the same but I’m getting a pretty strong Steel Battalion vibe from it.

At the time 3D iOS games exploded, we were playing a very mixed bag of games but fortunately they were all with the same genre, Mechs! We just loved the direction the iOS store was heading, it was screaming for a game with user-friendly touch-screen controls but with the in depth details you get in our favourite mech games.

Surprisingly however, Killzone 2 was a big inspiration in terms of AI and cover based action. What some mech games lack is the use of buildings as cover and enemy’s that work together to out flank you, something we saw that had been untapped in the genre (a lot of open spaces/terrain), so we looked at the great AI in Killzone and their behaviour and found a way to work it into our game.

You folks have done a bang-up job with the control scheme. Was it the product of rigorous testing and polishing or did you know right from the start how you wanted to handle it?

The aim with M3CH since the beginning has been to try and create an iOS game that doesn’t feel like it’s an iOS game, and more like a console experience. Touchscreen controls are notorious for being hard to use and something that we really wanted to nail. We went through a lot of different iterations to get to where we are now; having both shoot buttons on one side, holding down shoot instead of the auto toggle system, putting the shoot buttons on the thumbsticks and a lot more. We are keeping open minded about it and although we are getting later into development if we have an idea for an even better control set then we will be sure to test it out!

Were there any mech designs you wanted to include that ended up being scrapped?

There are quite a few that didn’t make it into the game (we already have 40 different mechs in the game). At the moment we have a mix of legs styles such as reversed legs in the game but [an] animalistic style is something we are keen on in terms of animation and how the mechs behave.

What exactly are your plans for the multiplayer?

We are hitting some technical limitations which means it most likely be 1-on-1 to start with. We would love to get a larger number of players battling at the same time (8v8 is the dream!), especially where the winning players get new weapons unlocked and credits to spend. At the moment its deathmatch style gameplay but we have plans set for objective based multiplayer.

Are you allowed to talk pricing?
It’s still early days but we are hoping for around the £1.99 [$2.99] price range. One thing we are certain of however is that we don’t want pushy monetization and in-app purchasing interrupting your gameplay experience, all mechs and weapons are attainable without too much grinding and we reward dedicated hard working players with big payouts.

How about a release date?
As for a released date, a lot of that depends on the kickstarter campaign, if we are successful then we are aiming for an April release this year.


Greedy Bankers Vs. The World was only the beginning for Alistair Aitcheson. Now we have Slamjet Stadium to satisfy our same-screen multiplayer desires. Think football re-imagined by a bunch of aliens who were trying to piece the rules together a couple hundred years from now and you’ll have the basic gist of it.


Where exactly did you pull Slamjet Stadium‘s inspiration from? Not just the wacky-looking gameplay; I’m talking about the physical roughhousing, too. Super-intense family game nights as a young boy perhaps?

Haha, I don’t know really! I’m generally a fairly calm and friendly guy. I was never into rough-housing at all when I was a kid! I am very competitive though, as my friends know – I’ll always be looking for a way to mess up my rivals in any game.

So I wanted to experiment more with this kind of game design. The original prototype for Slamjet Stadium came out of a big batch of experimental multiplayer games I did over the summer and tested out in the pub.

Often you’ll find yourself scoring by spotting a really awesome shot or powerup, so paying attention to the board is really important. Hand-grabbing is certainly a useful tactic, but it’s only one way of doing things. That makes play really dynamic. One moment it could be best to play rough, the next moment you might need to think fast, or play accurately.

While we’re on the subject of the multiplayer, how are you going to influence players to stop being polite?

People tend to jostle as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, and surprisingly that’s usually quite a lot! There’s typically a “eureka” moment when one player realizes they can get in the way of their friend, or use their opponent’s characters instead of their own. The physicality often grows from there!

So I’ve put messages in the loading screens suggesting ways you can “cheat.” The game’s advising you to play foul, so it must be okay! That eureka moment has to inspire creative play, so it’s important that players know that the game isn’t degenerating into chaos.

Would you mind going into a few specifics? Stuff like general gameplay, number of teams, differences between teams (if any), etc.

Each player gets two characters on a team, and the rules are fairly simple. You grab a character with your finger, pull back to charge their engines, and let go to send them flying across the screen. You want to hit the ball into your opponent’s goal, and the first to score five points wins the match.

There are also various power-ups and stage hazards that appear: rage power to smash up your opponents’ characters, freeze power that traps them in ice, multiball release, powerful gusts of wind.

My favorite activates “Last Man Standing” mode, where traps come in from the side of the screen, and it’s up to you to avoid them (or throw your opponents into them); a point is awarded to the survivor!

There are nine different arenas in the game, with different effects and hazards. As for the teams, there are six to choose from and each has different physical properties: shape, weight, boost power and grip.

Are there going to be multiple game modes? Might we be able to look forward to something similar in a future update?

Right now it’s split into Multiplayer and Solo Play. In solo, you take on a gauntlet of computer-controlled opponents over three leagues of increasing difficulty. Beating each one unlocks an extra multiplayer stage, and you can compete via GameCenter over your fastest completion times.

In Multiplayer it’s very much a quickmatch format: you choose your teams and arenas, and can have a rematch or pick new teams after someone wins. I’ll probably add some extra variations and setups in updates; I guess it depends on what players want to see after the initial launch. My focus was on getting players into the action as fast as possible.


All the elbow-slamming, wrist-grabbing, butt-nudging madness of Slamjet Stadium can be unleashed upon your iPad on March 14th for $2.99.


With Real Racing 3’s stateside release right around the corner, we figured it might be fun to take a look at the game’s extensive lineup of vehicles and pick out a few of our favorites. When a game has over 40 real-life vehicles to choose from, the competition is bound to come down to the wire. So in no particular order, we present to you the five hottest rides of Real Racing 3.

Porche 918 Spyder Concept

Planned for release in September of 2013, this beauty accelerates from 0-60 in a mere three seconds, can stop on a dime and starts out at a beefy 200mph. The most remarkable thing about this piece of motorized madness is that it in real life it burns up the track with Porche’s first ever hybrid, 580 horsepower engine, buoyed by the aid of two electric motors outputting a healthy 243 horses apiece. But be warned, this beast is going to set you back almost $850,000 in in-game cash, so start saving your pennies early and often.

Pagani Huayra

If there were ever a car that epitomized high speeds and sleek design, this bad boy would take the cake. Its twin V-12 engine manages to produce a staggering 730 horsepower that to start top out at 222mph, but when upgraded can exceed 230mph. The Italian produced dream machine is also highly touted by the good folks over at Top Gear, having crowned it the fastest street-legal vehicle in the program’s history, completing their coveted track in 1:13.8. As mind blowing as that may be, it also comes with a bit of sticker shock as well, because it will set you back 1.35 million big ones to park this in your in-game garage.

Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

Though it may sound odd to say, the Aventador is a bargain relatively speaking, clocking in at only $597,700. Without question, it is one of the crown jewels of Real Racing 3’s S Class. Originally put into production back in 2011, the vehicle’s availability is extremely limited, with only 4,000 ever planned on being produced. The in-game model has a top speed of 217mph, and a 0-60 in an impressive 2.9 seconds, making it one of the highest performing cars under three quarters of a million dollars.

McLaren F1

Originally dubbed as, “…The finest driving machine, yet built for the public road,” this extremely specialized vehicle was one of the most beloved and coveted sports cars ever produced. Despite production on the model ceasing way back in 1998, it is still thought by some to be one of the most perfected pieces of machinery on the planet. The $1.25 million price tag not only reflects the car’s rarity, but also its performance as well. Starting out with a 234mph cap speed, you can only begin to guess how high it can go with the help of a few, albeit expensive, part enhancements.

Koenigsegg Agera R

Last, but most certainly not least, this Swedish supercar begins to blur the lines between vehicle and rocket. Don’t let its sleek exterior fool you, because this slice of heaven is just as much about performance as it is about perception. Holding an impressive six different land speed records, this is the type of finely tuned excellence that can accelerate to 300kmh in only 14.53 seconds. Needless to say, but a top speed of 273mph is not going to come cheap. In fact, it is so expensive that it can only be purchased using 800 in-game tokens, not even cash! To put that amount into perspective, it would cost $99.99 in real life money to purchase 1000 race tokens, so watch your wallet. Perfection comes at an extremely hefty price.

Don’t worry, this is just the tip of the gas-guzzling iceberg. There will be plenty more affordable hot rods awaiting you when Real Racing 3 launches later this week. Until then, keep those engines revving, gearheads!

A number of players have been able to enjoy Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances in all its meticulously strategic glory for almost a full year now, but the experience has been tied specifically to web browsers. That’s a problem that will cease to exist in the near future.

Fans of the series should note that this isn’t a typical C&C. It’s not real-time strategy and its not divided into small half-hour long skirmishes. Each of the game’s 50,000 (that’s “fifty-thousand”) player servers houses a gigantic circular world map. Players begin on the outside and attempt to fight their way to the middle, which is far easier said than done. Simply reaching the center of the map can take months of planning and teamwork, and then there’s the matter of holding on to the bases that sit within those areas. Comparing this to the original series is sort of like comparing checkers to chess.

Tiberium Alliances is an incredibly player-driven experience. Hence the “Alliances.” NOD and GDI exist pretty much in name only here as player-formed groups can and will consist of both. Once these alliances have been established it’s up to the participants to figure everything out. Who wants to play the heavy hitter? Who wants to act as support? When will so-and-so be on so that you can coordinate an attack against a nearby enemy outpost in order to take it over and gain its bonuses for your alliance? There’s a ridiculous amount of strategy to be found if players are willing to travel deep enough into the rabbit hole.

Combat is also a rather involved affair with specific units gaining an automatic advantage over specific defenses and vice-versa. By the same token, different buildings within a base have different levels of importance in a fight. The Defense Facility, for example, will repair other buildings over time. Take it out and the base will take a while to get back to full strength. Or there’s always the Construction Yard. Kill that and the base is toast regardless. Of course not all bases can be overrun in a single attack, which is why it’s vital to communicate with other alliance members and really plan complex maneuvers ahead of time.

The overall experience is largely unchanged from the browser-based version, with the exception of a new touch-based interface. However, once the iOS version is released Tiberium Alliances will be totally cross-platform with players able to manage their bases and assemble armies on their computer, then immediately jump in where they left off on their mobile devices if need be. Which will be a boon for any serious players as the community is looking pretty intense and involved. In a good way.

Anyone interested in checking out Tiberium Alliances can do so right now through their web browser, of course. But in another month or so the entire life devouring, free-to-play strategy monster will go cross platform. And then there won’t be anywhere left to hide.

Versu Hopes to Redefine Interactive Storytelling

Posted by on February 12th, 2013
iPad Only App - Designed for iPad

Remember grade school recess, trolling the library, looking for interesting new books to read? Who needed all of that pesky social interaction when literature was the only friend that a kid could ever want? A bastion of that glorious reading joy was the widely consumed Choose Your Own Adventure series. Nothing could better engage the creativity of a youth’s inquisitive mind while simultaneously boosting their reading comprehension and decision-making skills. All these years later, Linden Lab is attempting to put an interactive spin on the genre with the introduction of their upcoming digital fiction platform, Versu.

Despite drawing a heavy influence from the popular book series, Versu prides itself on being far from a standard, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” experience. While there are plenty of similarities between the two forms of media, the interactive nature of Versu renders it a far more flexible storytelling medium than its print-shackled counterpart. The scripted interactions available in the narrative change every single playthrough, thanks to an AI system that reacts to the player/reader’s decisions in real-time. Additionally, if there are multiple non-playable characters in a given scene, their dialog options and reactions will also play off of each other, creating a far more realistic group dynamic.

Overall, the storytelling mechanics of the application are fairly straightforward. There are a series of actions that can be pursued at any given point, which will in turn effect how other characters feel about the player controlled avatar. Both dialog options and other physical actions are then triggered as a result of each decision. It is amazing to see how differently stories can play out, especially when replayed while controlling a completely different character in the scene. In another interesting touch, there are certain narratives where a diverse variety of characters are available to use as both NPCs and the reader controlled avatar. The selection of a separate cast can even influence how a given plot will play out.

As was previously alluded to, this is not just a collection of three interactive stories, but rather an entirely new literature platform. Versu has a store available at launch with an additional story that can be purchased, as well as the promise of many more to come. Even more exciting is Linden Lab’s announcement that they will eventually release authoring tools to the general public. It is going to be fascinating to see how other authors can put Versu’s unique toolset to work for their storytelling purposes. Be sure to keep an eye out for its launch, later this week.

Way back in 2009, Crescent Moon Games released an open-world RPG named Ravensword: The Fallen King. After years of titles developed and/or published by the studio, including various other RPGs, it’s returning to its big original hit, and it’s promising to be bigger and better than ever. Meet Ravensword: Shadowlands. Releasing on December 20th, it’s not only going to contain a massive open world, with numerous quests and things to discover, rivaling even console and PC open-world games, but it could be one of the best-looking games on the platform, as evidenced with my time on a near-final build.

The first hours of the game set the tone that this is an open world, and once the opening tutorial scene is finished, it’s open season. A town with dozens of buildings and giant detailed landscapes are immediately available. Want to go on the main quest, to discover what happened to the main character after the battle of Heronmar? Sure, do it. Want to mess around and join a guild, and help random citizens, affecting the character’s reputation? Do that, too. The game won’t say anything about it. In fact, doing a lot of side quests and exploring is highly recommended, because there’s plenty of tough foes that will come in the way, and the game prefers trial by fire. Spoiler alert: trolls and bears are a lot tougher than goblins and deer.

Weapon-based combat is simple: tap the attack button to use a weapon, tap on an enemy to target it, and hold down on attack to raise the shield. It does mean that shielding is not necessarily the most intuitive thing, but it does keep the controls from being overly-complicated. Magical items can add a third button for special attacks, and weapons and items can be set as quick use buttons at the bottom of the screen. In general, the best way to raise a stat like shielding or a weaponry type is to use it, or train it at a guild.

The game is going to be absolutely packed with content, if the sense of scale is anything to be believe: anywhere visible on land may actually be accessible in the game. Even many of the NPCs feature voice acting (usually for their first line), and a voice actor who worked on the Elder Scrolls series provides many of the NPC voices.

iPhone 5 owners are in for a treat: the game looks absolutely stunning, and only stutters occasionally in towns, for example. The build I have is “near-final” so it may or may not be sorted out, though the game is generally quite smooth. The draw distance is unparalleled as well.

Playing Ravensword: Shadowlands for several hours already, it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game, and there’s still mountains of content to discover. Between the vast landscape to uncover, and stories to unfold, this game could take a long time to truly discover all it holds.

Anomaly Warzone Korea Preview

If you have played the first version of this game, Anomaly Warzone Earth you know that besides it’s fantastic graphics it offered original gameplay dubbed a reverse-tower defense. While there is a light story, the focus is on the great gameplay.

While there is just a light storyline, it continues in this sequel that once you finish the first game, the war is not over. It has moved from Tokyo, the scene of the first game, to Korea. In this sequel, everything has been taken to the next level, especially the graphics. Pawel gives a few details.

“We have made slight changes to the interface. In the game there are a lot of visual improvements. Lens flare, particle effects, dynamic lighting. With the first Anomaly we were unable to do these things due to [hardware] limitations. Now with the iPads we are able to implement [these features].”

Changes in Anomaly Warzone Korea include a new vehicle, new powers, and new enemies to battle. The biggest change though are new gameplay modes. In the first version the gameplay was similar from level to level. Korea includes modes that require special strategies.

Anomaly Warzone Korea will be out before Christmas this year, if at all possible. Developed by 11Bit Studios from Poland, and published by Chillingo. Hit the jump for more screens from the game.

I unfortunately missed out on the chance to play Rage of the Gladiator when it was originally released on the Wii, despite my legitimate interest. Luckily I’ve gotten a second chance because Gamelion is porting it over to iOS devices as a fully re-mastered and arguably definitive version.

The basic story is that Gracius, the main character and gladiator extraordinaire, is fighting for his freedom and for revenge against those who’ve slain his father. How? By cutting a swathe through a horde of inhuman bosses. Anyone who’s played Infinity Blade will be familiar with the adapted control scheme (tap arrows to dodge left/right, tap buttons to block, swipe to attack), but combat in Rage of the Gladiator feels decidedly more arcade-like than Epic’s, well, epic. Attack and response time is a bit faster, fights are broken up into three “rounds” much like a boxing match, and there are a number of weapons and skills to unlock and purchase as you progress.

Again, while Rage of the Gladiator is indeed similar to that other popular swipe fighter it’s not exactly a carbon copy. There’s a noticeable emphasis on giving each combatant their own personality, and with the addition of a jump button and some rather complex combo attacks it can be quite the ordeal to make it through a fight in decent shape. It‘s definitely a challenge but every pattern can be learned eventually and it can be exceedingly satisfying to knock a particularly bothersome foe in the jaw with a warhammer in slow motion.

Anyone interested in a first-person arcade-esque gladiatorial beat down should keep an eye on the App Store. There’s no official word on a price but Rage of the Gladiator is set to release sometime in November.


Who doesn’t love a good word game? Nobody, that’s who! With this in mind EA Mobile is working on Word Smack, a new free-to-play spelling puzzler that takes its cues from Mastermind and Hangman.

Word Smack is, at its core, an asynchronous multiplayer word game where the highest score wins the match. Players will have to guess their assigned words using only a couple of hints and their personal spelling knowledge, with proper guesses leading to new words and potentially more points. Once they’ve exhausted their allotted 15 guesses their turn is over, however, so it pays to stop and think for a bit rather than charge blindly ahead. Of course that’s just the first round. The two that follow get progressively more difficult but also yield higher points. So really, it’s the final round that can make all the difference. Assuming someone hasn’t totally botched the first two, anyway.

Word Smack is due out this fall, and it won’t set you back a single pe–y.

Did the Battleship movie get you all pumped up and ready to take on some hostile aliens? Yeah, me neither. In fact it was fairly unimpressive. Classic Battleship, on the other hand, is all kinds of alright. EA Mobile’s upcoming Battleship Airstrike looks to sit somewhere in the middle, containing the spirit of the classic board game and coupling it with a faster-paced asynchronous multiplayer experience.

Imagine a typical game of Battleship. Each player takes their turn one shot at a time, trying to find their opponent and sink their fleet before they meet a similar fate. Battleship Airstrike ratchets the formula up a bit by allowing players to take multiple shots per turn. In addition to that, special limited use shots can be purchased with money earned through play in order to gain some possible advantages. Advantages such as destroying a ship with a single hit or deploying a kind of artillery sonar that doesn’t cause damage but will reveal vessel locations within a certain number of tiles.

Once a turn is completed – which may consist of several strategic bombings and even paying for repairs on your own damaged (damaged, not destroyed) ships – it’s all submitted to the servers and the opposition is alerted. Typical asynchronous multiplayer stuff, really. It’s more the mold-breaking multi shot turns and special shells (not to mention the possibility of repairs!) that make Battleship Airstrike enticing.

Battleship Airstrike should be out sometime this fall.

I profess I tend to spend a decent amount of time playing virtual solitaire these days, mostly thanks to some ridiculously early commutes. So it’s a game I’m quite familiar with, although I haven’t come anywhere close to mastering it. Why is this significant? Because Popcap is bringing their popular Facebook adaptation, Solitaire Blitz to iOS and I’m expecting to have a grand old time with it.

The rules of Solitaire Blitz are both familiar and totally new. Players still have to empty their cards into piles by following a particular sequence, but suits and linear progression don’t matter anymore. A King can be tossed on a Queen, to be followed by another Queen, then a Jack. Or it could go 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, Ace. But while this might sound like the challenge has been sucked out of the classic solo card game, the fact of the matter is it still makes for an intense game. Mostly thanks to the never pausing 60-second time limit and slots (up to four) for placing cards that have to be unlocked.

It makes for some rather frantic card shuffling as you attempt to spot anything and everything that can get tossed on a pile, attempt to plan ahead to avoid getting stuck, and search out any cards featuring a key icon that will unlock those essential extra card slots. All of this while the clock keeps ticking down. No specifics have been given regarding price yet but we can all look forward to one of the most intense games of solitaire ever this November.


Theological discussions aside, I imagine it would be pretty tough to build a massive sea-going vessel and then stock it with two of every animal in the world. I also imagine it would be rather difficult to catch up with said super-sized ship once it’s set sail, but that’s exactly what happens in Chillingo’s Catch the Ark.

Noah and a few of his animal buddies have been left behind. Rather than mope around and wait for the floodwaters they decide to get proactive and attempt to chase down the biblical boat. The gameplay, which is still admittedly in fairly early form, takes place on an endless river. Players must guide the tiny raft back and forth in order to avoid obstacles and snag some coinage. These coins can be gathered and used to purchase new dinghies or special power-ups to give their future runs a better chance at success.

I have to admit I was pretty impressed by Catch the Ark, even with the game in such an early form. The visuals are incredibly stylish and colorful, the controls are responsive, and the little detail of animals hanging on the small boat representing “lives” is just brilliant. It’s also worth noting that, at least in this early build, it avoids many of the pitfalls typically associated with Bible-related games. Which is to say it’s more about the game than the Genesis.

Catch the Ark is still too early in development to have an official release date or price, but it’s definitely coming. And it seems like something worth keeping an eye out for.

Imagine a twisted game show in which contestants have to navigate their way through a maze full of hazards in order to earn some potential big bucks. Possibly even their freedom. Okay, not that game. What I’m talking about is Chillingo’s Man in a Maze. It’s a bit less bleak.

For starters, the Man (pictured) is always grinning like a goof. That’s pretty much the tone to expect from Man in a Maze: goofy and lighthearted. In between levels players can potentially spin a large, Price is Right-style wheel for bonuses or even use gems nabbed within a stage to purchase upgrades. Of course the stages themselves can be a bit more punishing than the bright and colorful themes might make them appear.

In my brief time spent with the game I saw a number of variations to the maps, which required completely different strategies. At it’s core, Man in a Maze functions much like a fairly typical maze chase game. Players guide the hapless grinning fool around with a finger drag and attempt to snag gems, avoid enemies, and possibly nail them with a fancy ball or two.

All the family friendly (and universal!) game show of death shenanigans will be coming to the App Store this winter.

What do you think of when I mention fur underwear, lots of muscles, and a really big sword? Okay, it calls a couple of different pop-culture icons to mind but what if I include flowing blond locks and an alter-ego that wears pink tunics? Couldn’t be anyone other than He-Man, could it? Well it is. And The Most Powerful Man in the Universe is getting The Most Powerful Game in the Universe at the end of the month by way of GlitchSoft (Destructopus, Star Marines) and Chillingo.

The developers have teamed-up with Mattel in order to bring the App Store an interactive celebration of the iconic 80’s action figure’s – I mean action hero’s – 30th anniversary. Hem-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe is quite possibly the first iOS Tap n’ Slash, too. Players will tear through several different environments and over 25 levels throughout Eternia as they attempt to thwart Skeletor yet again. The game features destructible environments, un-lockable and upgradeable attacks, hidden artwork, a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and a surprisingly clever control scheme. I didn’t get the chance to play around with it at all but it looks pretty intuitive with the left side for the screen used exclusively for movement and the right for jumping, attacking, and a bunch of special moves.

The glorious homage to one of the manliest toys ever to have graced the 1980s – with its self-referential humor, giant boss battles, and promise of more content in the form of new playable characters and levels in the future – is due out in the App Store at the end of the month, specifically October 25th. I wasn’t able to get a solid price point but it should go for between $0.99 and $1.99. Very soon we’ll all HAAAAVE THE POWEEEEEER! Make sure to use it wisely.


Things are looking pretty grim. A despicable race of alien beings has planted a doomsday device called “The Cosmic Fuse” deep inside the Earth’s core. Rather than wait for a team of semi-washed up actors lead by Hillary Swank to ride a drill train through the center of the Earth we’ve enlisted the help of Verticus, the world’s first (so far as I know) free-falling superhero.

Verticus is a new “endless faller” headed to the App Store courtesy of Moonshark, Controlled Chaos Media (creators of Texting of the Bread), and Stan Lee. Yes, that’s Stan – The Man – Lee. The comic book legend has created a special story and superhero for his first iOS outing, as well as supplying his own voice as the player’s mission commander. Commence geeking out. I was able to have a chat with Moonshark’s CEO, Matt Kozlov, and he filled me in on the whole world-saving affair.

The titular do-gooder must fall his way through the Earth’s atmosphere, past cities and their streets, and beyond its very center in order to reach and diffuse the alien invaders’ bomb. Then he has to make it through to the other side. This isn’t a mere dodge-em-up, however. The fledgling hero will have both offensive and defensive abilities to aid him in his task, as well as a number of upgrades to earn and unlock through multiple playthroughs. So there’s obviously plenty of incentive for multiple replays, what with the upgrades and new suits to earn. It’s also possible (though not necessary) for players to purchase in-game cash to speed up their development if they so desire.

Verticus is slated for a release sometime this fall (we all see what you did there, Moonshark). If you’re too excited to sit idly by and wait for the action to commence, you can also check out the game’s official Facebook page for more details. Oh, and you can enter to win one of a few pieces of official Verticus artwork signed by Stan Lee while you’re there, too. Wait, what?

VS. Racing 2 Hands-On Preview

The sequel to popular top down arcade racer VS. Racing is set for release soon and we got our hands on a preview build to see exactly what to expect in the full release.

VS. Racing 2 looks set to build on the success of its predecessor rather than revolutionize the genre but that’s nothing to complain about given how much fun the title is.

The top down racer has always lent itself to short bursts of fun and VS. Racing 2 is no different. A series of 36 different tracks ensures there’s plenty to do with it only ever taking a few minutes to complete a track. Controlling the car is conducted through a virtual steering wheel on the side of the screen. There’s an option to change this to tilt based controls but there’s really no need. The virtual steering wheel does a fine job of offering responsive controls that can be relatively easily mastered. Although, one tip worth pointing out, stick to using your thumb to steer rather than another finger. It’s geared towards thumb steering and it’s much more intuitive that way.

VS. Racing 2‘s focus is very much on speed and fun here with impressive drifts achievable in hardly any time at all. Action gets pretty challenging in later stages but consistently enjoyable. A series of upgradeables and new cars to buy ensure the learning curve is pretty smooth and satisfying.

The real stand out feature here, however, is the Race A Friend mode. It’s this that I suspect will keep players coming back for more. Supplementing the local multiplayer, players can challenge friends from any location, providing they have their email address. Players take it in turns to beat their opponent’s fastest time. A ghost car demonstrates where the competition lays at all times, providing some memorable thrills and spills. It’s great fun to play and I can see this being the ideal mode to dive into throughout the day. The preview build I checked out didn’t include Game Center integration but that’s set to be included in the full release, so I’m hopeful that this will boost multiplayer play dramatically.

VS. Racing 2 is shaping up to be a highly enjoyable top down racer. Its arcade spirit won’t beguile more serious racing fans but everyone else should be excited. The asynchronous multiplayer should cement its popularity all the more.

VS. Racing 2 is set for release in the near future. We’ll be sure to let you know when it hits the App Store.

Just about everyone in the world dreams about having super powers. Flight, strength, x-ray vision, that kind of stuff. While DeNA (think Mobage) and Marvel Entertainment’s upcoming Marvel: War of Heroes may not bestow impossible abilities to its players, it does put them in charge of a slew of iconic heroes.

Assuming the role of a S.H.I.E.L.D agent players will collect cards featuring various Marvel heroes and craft their own super team. Powers and abilities can be fused and upgraded as well, making an already powerful legend even more so. If you’re thinking it sounds similar to the more than a little popular Rage of Bahamut, that’s because it is. And because it’s being crafted by the same developers. Although the story – which is a thing that actually exists in this freemium card game. I know, right? – is all original and comes directly from Marvel itself. As does the art, actually, which is ridiculously awesome.

Marvel: War of Heroes is due to hit the App Store this fall. Anyone with even the slightest interest will be able to check it out for free, but those of us who are already curious can head over to the official website to pre-register. Why? Because it earns a free rare card, among other things. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing similar Mobage titles it’s that rare cards, no matter how useful they might be to my strategy, can pay off big. Also it might actually be really cool.

Coaching sports can be both one of the most fulfilling, yet thankless jobs on the planet.  You are tasked with taking fundamentally challenged players and transforming them into polished athletes.  When it comes to instructing these players it is helpful to have any innovative technology at your disposal.  And what could be more helpful than having slow motion video analysis, all available at a moment’s notice.  The new tool Coach’s Eye aims to bring this functionality to any iOS device with a camera.

Here is how the application could be put to use:

Without question, this could be put to good use by any trained sports educator.  Being able to playback the footage of a player to themselves could be just what they need to make career defining adjustments that could help differentiate between riding the pine or leading off to start an inning.  Really, isn’t $4.99 a small price to pay for success?

$4.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-11-08 :: Category: Sports

Calendars Go Social With UpTo

Life is busy enough as it is, without having to figure schedule balancing into the mix.  With so many different calendar services like iCal, Google Calendar and even Facebook events, it is becoming impossible to keep up!  Now what if we told you that there was an application that could bring these distinctly seperate worlds together, all in the palm of your hand?  Say hello to Upto, because it is ready to transform your social life for the better.

Not only does UpTo allow you to monitor your life across platforms, but it also adds in a new social aspect that allows users to share events and even comment on plans with all of their contacts.  There is even a dynamically adjustable group system that ensures that no one is ever left out in the cold.  Let us know if this free app transforms your social life the way they claim.  Who knows? With the kind of press it has been receiving, it could very well be the wave of the future.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-03-07 :: Category: Productivity

UNO Goes Multiplatform

At this point it is safe to assume that any electronic device with some kind of a screen most likely has some permutation of UNO available for purchase.  If that wasn’t the case before, it sure is now, thanks to HasbroMattel and Gameloft and the upcoming release of their newest entry into the UNO franchise: UNO & Friends.  While this in and of itself isn’t that big of news, what makes it interesting are the new multiplatform features coming to the game.

The title is planned to launch on iOS and Android this fall, wit hNintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita versions coming early next year.  What makes this so cool is that all versions of the game will be able to play together simultaneously.  Taking things even one step further, there will also be a Facebook version of the game as well, that can also be used to take part in the action.  Suddenly the concept of playing games with friends became even more enticing.  Have fun ignoring all those game requests from family members and former classmates!

Sneaking candid shots of yourself and sharing them with the world has become a staple of the iOS ownership experience. There was always the issue of security when it came to apps like instagram.  Under most circumstances your photos were essentially being broadcast into the ether, for everyone with an internet connection to consume.  Who would you expect to come to the aid of users who wanted to share their images in a more discrete manner?  If you guessed Warner Bros. you may want to consider getting your head checked, but oddly enough that is actually the correct answer.

Despite coming from a completely unlikely source, outmywindow is a hybrid of social networking and photo storage that allows you full control of who can see your photos.  Users can even import images from their iOS libraries and create albums to once again share with only those that are worthy of permission.  The app is free and looks to be a solid alternative to other providers on the market. Plus, when they are offering 5GB of free storage, there is always an added incentive.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-18 :: Category: Photography

Employers are constantly fighting an uphill battle these days.  In an age where tax laws are constantly in flux, it has become virtually impossible to conduct business without the aid of serious financial software.  Intuit, the developer of the extremely popular Quicken and QuickBooks suites, has decided to lend a small hand to folks struggling to keep their payroll records in order with the release of Snap Payroll.

Though it may not contain the overwhelming feature set of its PC centric counterparts, Snap Payroll is a handy way to calculate paychecks on the move.  Here is a video demonstrating the application’s capabilities:

As you can see, the uses of this tool are rather focused, but how can you complain when the app is free?  One other thing to note is that it is currently only available in twelve states, with more coming soon.  Check to see if you are among the lucky few and take it out for a spin.  Let us know if it would be helpful to your business in the comments.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-04-25 :: Category: Business

It has been said that music is the one true universal language.  Going along those same lines, music can speak to your mood and feelings as well.  For example, who wants to listen to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” when they are depressed?  That is why death metal was created!  With this specific scenario in mind, developer Gravity Mobile set out to make a tool to provide folks with tunes to suit their emotions.  The result of these efforts is the new multimedia app, HABU Music.

Thanks to a little help from Gracenote, users will be able to analyze their music collection to see what it says about their personality.  Along the same lines, HABU Music will also help in organizing specialized playlist that cater to the whim of a listener.  Remember those wicked mood rings from grade school?  Now there is finally a multimedia player that can adapt just as easily.  The future of music has arrived!

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-19 :: Category: Music

 

Freemium social games are all well and good, but a number of them are decidedly lacking in certain places. Namely in action. That’s probably why it’s so easy to take notice when companies like Pangalore announce a game like Knightly Adventure.

Knightly Adventure is indeed a social game, and it does indeed possess a bunch of typical fantasy RPG elements; stuff like medieval kingdoms, quests, hostile monsters, colorful storybook-like graphics, and so on. But while it adheres to many freemium norms, it also attempts to deviate in that one key area. Amidst all the kingdom building, character customizing, friend gathering, and so on is a much more interactive action RPG approach to the quests. With the option of choosing between four character classes (swordsman, wizard, bowman, or knight) available to further sweeten the deal.

This free-to-play cross-platform (mobile, tablet, or Facebook) super-hyphenated fantasy adventure will be setting up shop in the App Store sometime next month. Presumably and preferably soon.

Finding your way around large cities can be hard enough.  When you mix in being a tourist and possibly not even living in the same country, things are bound to turn out disastrously.  What if there were a tool that could integrate with the GPS in your phone and help point out the best attractions in a bustling metropolis like London?  Say no more, because the new app Recce – London has got your back.

Centered around the goal of making the most of your visit to London, the awesome new tool combines the iOS device’s GPS with their 3D mapping technology.  You can use the application for many different purposes such as locating landmarks and special experiences close to your geographical location. Heck, they even managed to throw in an updating subway schedule, just to make sure that you end up at the destination on time.

If you plan on visiting London anytime soon, this seems the kind of free app that you couldn’t afford to leave home without.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-14 :: Category: Travel

Lately Microsoft has been making serious strides in the iOS development space.  One such example was their recent release of the official Xbox LIVE companion app, My Xbox LIVE.  At first the tool was mainly for viewing Xbox LIVE messages, gamerscore and avatars, but now things finally seem to be taking a turn for the more interactive.

As part of their sixth update to the application, functionality has now been patched in to actually remote control and interact with the console from the iPad.  Granted the remote control abilities are limited to multimedia playback and they do not apply to the iPhone version, but at least it is a baby step towards Microsoft eventual SmartGlass feature set.  It remains to be seen if the My Xbox LIVE software will actually be the vehicle for launching the initiative down the road but as far as we are concerned, any kind of convergence across the platforms is a move in the right direction.

Either way, if you own an Xbox and an iPad there is really no reason not to check the app out anyway, considering it is free.  Give it a look.  Who knows?  You might be surprised at what you find.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-07 :: Category: Games

As the Tour de France amps up, so does the population’s interest in one of the world’s most accessible sports.  Whatever people’s reasons, they are turning in droves to biking, and iBike Powerhouse is ready to help them achieve their goals.

Available for $279, the iBike Powerhouse is both an iOS app and peripheral that measures detailed information about your ride.  The software then presents users with a heavily customized training plan that is meant to fit both the users goals and time availability.  Among the datapoints that are measure include speed, cadence, and power exerted both in real time and over the entire ride.

When used in combination with dedication and a strict exercise regimen, it would be amazing to see the overall results.  Though the pricepoint may seem a little steep for some, there are bound to be plenty that finds this to be just what the doctor ordered.  Who says you have to wait until New Year’s to reshape yourself?

A new gameplay trailer for Mojo Bones’ latest release, The Curse, has been released.

The guys at Mojo Bones, previously famous for cutesy dog-based puzzle game, Tongue Tied! have been busy working away at The Curse since releasing the first teaser trailer in February.

I was fortunate enough to get a hands on preview of The Curse and things are shaping up to look pretty great. 100 puzzles will be available to the player, with a creepy nemesis by the name of Mannequin linking everything together.

Puzzles are a varied bunch. While some puzzles will require players to piece together complex jigsaw pieces, others require careful lateral thinking to slide blocks together or draw a set number of lines to block off certain sections. Word based puzzles also feature with plenty of riddles to confound the old gray matter. The bite sized nature of these puzzles lend themselves perfectly to the iOS format and it’s a great sign of how quickly ‘just one more puzzle’ turns into another half a dozen.

Don’t expect an easy ride, though – there are some real brainteasers within the selection and The Curse should prove quite an enjoyable challenge to puzzle fans.

The Curse is set for release this summer. Expect a full review on 148apps when it hits the App Store.

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