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Every single week, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we've been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
It’s hard to imagine Double Fine producing something that isn’t a quirky adventure or contains more than a fair bit of bizarre humor. And yet produce Double Fine has, and now we have Dropchord. It’s definitely a departure from the norm, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Dropchord is a simple-ish rhythm game at its core. Players use two fingers, placed around the outside of a large circle in the center of the screen, to twist and turn a line around the middle. The goal is to grab all the good stuff (glowing orbs and such) while avoiding the bad stuff (bright red bolts of electricity that scream DO NOT TOUCH) by winding and whirling around everything. Hit the red stuff and lose some health, grab enough not red stuff and gain health at the end of the level. Every so often players will also have to forego the spinning as they tap away at various circles that appear on screen in what can best be described as a kind of bonus round. --Rob Rich
Burrito Bison creator Juicy Beast’s latest game, Knightmare Tower is based around offensive gameplay instead of pure survival like other similar vertical endless games. Players control a knight flying upward, and dash downward on top of enemies to hurt them and bounce back up in the air at a higher rate. Combos can accelerate the knight even faster, and powerups can help along the way. The enemies aren’t just there to take a beating: they’ll try to attack the knight and do enough damage to kill them. The other big hazard is lava, aka “Dear Knight, I suggest going faster if the plan is to not burn to death. Love, The Giant Rapidly-Rising Pool of Lava.” I suggest staying out of it. --Carter Dotson
Complexity can be a difficult thing to balance in a game, but so can simplicity. Distilling an idea or genre down to its more basic elements is no easy task, especially when trying to do it well, and for that reason alone I think rymdkapsel is worth celebrating. It’s a strategy/sim-lite without any of the typical blandness one would associate with so much fat trimming. Of course that’s not the only reason; it’s also a pretty great game all-around. rymdkapsel is about expanding a space station while simultaneously fighting off waves of hostile attackers. Players must construct various rooms – reactors, gardens, weapons, etc – in order to gather more resources so that they can expand their base, train additional workers, and construct even more rooms. However, the larger the base’s overall area the tougher it is to defend. It encourages planned expansion and interlocking the Tetris-like rooms together in order to keep the station from becoming too spread out. Of course there are also several obelisks scattered around the map that can be researched to enhance things like worker movement speed and weapon attack ranges. It’s a toss-up deciding between hastily crafting a path to a given obelisk, thus sacrificing defensibility, and rushing to acquire better tech early on. --Rob Rich
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Pango Playground for kids is a charming universal app for babies and toddlers which adults will enjoy a great deal as well. This app opens up to a very nice assortment of children’s toys such as train tracks or building blocks. Do choose a scene and tap on a number flag 1 to 4 to be taken to a new area. All of these scenes are variations on the same basic assortment of toys, different colorful building blocks, train tracks and chunky wood blocks crafted to look like familiar characters from the Pango series of applications. --Amy Solomon
Art Class with Dr. Panda is a charming new universal interactive app – part of a series of Dr. Panda role-playing apps for young children. As many readers may know, my family really enjoys these apps as they allow children to pretend to take part in many occupations and activities – be it a doctor’s duties or working in a restaurant, supermarket or farm. Here Dr. Panda is teaching an art class to animal children. I enjoy his costumes as he assists children who need help in six different crafts. --Amy Solomon
Color Zen is a cool cucumber. It seems to want to tease your brain while calming it. It’s a lofty idea, but thankfully, I love checking out lofty ideas. The game is definitely interesting. The best explanation is received from playing it and actually “feeling” the game. The object of the game is to solve the color-centric puzzles. In the game’s playing area, there is a frame color — a color that covers a thin area around the play grid, kind of like a picture frame. In the grid itself are any number of colored shapes. In general terms, touching any of the colors against another imbibes the second with the color of the first; in other words, the color is absorbed. For simplicity, one of the colors in the grid always matches the color of the outer rim. --Tre Lawrence
Remember playing the board game Risk back in the day? If so, I bet one of those memories is how long it took to play the game. In fact, it took almost as long if not longer as a good game of Monopoly. Well, the makers of Drisk came up with a game really similar to Risk but won’t take 6 months to play a full game. Starting out with Drisk, there will be the choice to play a local game or an online game. When playing a local game, the number pf players can be selected as well as if they are actual people or computer players. When playing online, the sign in is done through a Scoreloop account. This is mandatory to play online. To get the hang of the game, it’s a good idea to watch the tutorial. It goes pretty quick but it gives you a basic idea of how the controls work. If any questions arise, take a look at the help button on the main menu screen to hopefully answer them. --Trevor Dobrygoski
Ever imagined something like Dance Dance Revolution for the fingers? Yes! We all have, and Space Beats is just the game for folks with sturdy digits, keen eyes and wrists that move to the rhythm. Nimble fingers win the day. Simply put, you tap rapidly forming three-dimensional objects with the beat to keep the music going. The pieces to the orbs all come in from different angles, playing havoc on the eyes. Tapping on the orb scores points, but actually tapping on it to the beat scores even more. An arcade-type game is not worth its salt without multipliers, and in this aspect, this game is worth its salt; there are multipliers to be had, and they can be invoked by tapping. Additionally, the freestyle level is yet another change of pace, allowing players to tap on beat for even more points. --Tre Lawrence
Risk is one of my favorite board games of all time. Schmeuk Studios' Conquist 2 fed my obsession with a pretty spot-on homage to the tabletop game of world domination, and now Conquist Tournament threatens to take up all my free time.
With this new multiplayer-focused game, Schmeuk Studios focused on making everything work smoothly and easily. "No AI player can substitute for a human, so we focused on making the online multiplayer experience great," they said in an email. "Players join matches effortlessly and follow every move in realtime."
The team also created a smarter matchmaking system along with tournaments and leagues that start every two weeks, with trophies and a Hall of Fame. There's even a new scoring system based on the chess championship algorithm (ELO) to accurately reflect players' abilities on the leaderboards.
Added to all that is a new power card system, which bring a whole new element to the gameplay without unbalancing it. The cards will let players camouflage armies, spy on opponents, make surprise air strikes and more, like power ups.
Unlike the other Conquist games, this one's free, so be sure to check it out.
EA, being the large gaming corporation that they are, have released their upcoming summer and fall lineup... and it's huge.
Madden NFL 11 - iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch - Fall - Everyone's favorite NFL game is back this year, but with a few cool features that will make the game even more intuitive on a touch device. The new "Gameflow" feature is the one that I'm most excited about, as it gives players the ability to spend "less time in the playbook and more time on the field".
"Coaches don't go into a game with their full playbook like you do in our game. When it's 2nd down and 3 yards to go, they don't thumb through a 3-ring binder with 350 plays in it. They find tendencies before the game and build a game plan to exploit the other team's weaknesses. This means they call plays based on the situation."
To make the game quicker, and more realistic in the process, "Gameflow" has the "coach" pick the play based on the situation you are in and then radio it to you, letting you see the play on the field like you normally would. If an audible needs to be called, there is now the ability to draw hot routes anywhere, letting you devise whatever route you would like, on the fly.
Check out our hands-on article here for a more detailed look.
[Source: EA Sports]
Reckless Racing - iPhone, iPad - Summer - Remember the amazing looking tp-down racing game, Deliverance, that never came out? It turns out that it was bought by EA, and has been renamed Reckless Racing. Reckless Racing "mixes old-school top-down racing game play with state of the art graphics and engaging multiplayer features." EA seems to be touting its online features more than anything else, promising "fully stocked internet multiplayer mode, on-line leaderboards and the ability to trade ghost races with other players from all over the world". If the game plays half as good as it looks, you'll see me playing Reckless Racing non stop when it launches later this summer.
For a more in depth look, check out our recent hands-on article.
NCAA Football - iPhone - Now - NCAA Football is EA's first app designed specifically for the iPhone 4. While it doesn't have all the new bells and whistles that Madden will have, it does have over 55 of the most well known colleges so you can support the team that you love... and it does look pretty.
Sim City Deluxe - iPhone, iPod Touch - Summer - EA seems to have addressed all the glitches in their first attempt at Sim City, and have made an app that is much more playable. All of the menus have been redesigned, and the glitch that has buildings disappear when you zoom out should be gone. Also added are the famed Sim City disasters, which could possibly bring over the Pocket God set that have sites on tormenting even more souls. There is also a rumor about an iPad version in the works, but nothing has been announced... so don't get your hopes up.
The Sims 3 Ambitions - iPhone, iPod Touch - Summer - There aren't many details about this one floating around, but it does seem to be the iPhone counterpart to the PC expansion pack with the same name. According to EA, in "Sims 3 Ambitions, players decide whether their Sim will be the brave town hero or cause loads of mischief among their neighbors. Their future is entirely in the player’s hands!"
Sims 3 Ambitions will add many often requested features to the Sims on the iPhone. New large features like careers, babies, and building new structures make this a pretty huge new version.
Yahtzee - iPad - Summer - Everyone's favorite dice rolling game is coming this summer, and it will surely be prettier than the thing that you have to unpack out of the box.
Risk - iPhone, iPod Touch - Summer - I'm not sure what took EA so long to come out with Risk, but this announcement will surely make many people happy. I liked Lux DLX alright, and think that Strategery is a great Risk alternative, but there's nothing like the real thing. As long as EA gets the AI right, this one will be a winner.
R-Type - iPhone, iPod Touch - Summer - Just like you remembered it, R-Type is keeping "100 percent true to the original game allowing fans to get back to the ‘80s video-arcade experience in the palm of their hands." As I wrote in an earlier preview article, the original R-Type is "the most frustratingly difficult game outside of playing a Don Bluth game in the arcade". There is a distinct possibility that my iPhone will end up thrown across the room.
Be sure to check after the jump for some more great screenshots.
Version Reviewed: 3.1
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With the arrival of the big, bad iPad and the super sharp iPhone 4 with its retina display, it's becoming harder and harder to find apps that are just plain simple. This is for a different article altogether, but the app store is quickly going the way of the console in that even the most simple of games are becoming so graphically advanced that they have lost their simplicity. Anyways, Strategery is a simple strategy game with simple graphics, but with a ton of fun to be had.
The best way to explain Strategery is to compare it to the old board game Risk. You get a map, units get placed on the map, and you attack neighboring territories to go about your "world domination". Unlike Risk, the world is more like Pangaea, and you get your troops based on the amount of adjoining territories you own rather than the continents that you acquire. Each territory has a set amount of pegs in it signifying the amount of troops that you can place, and each troop equals one six-sided die in combat. That's it... so now you can go and take over the world.
The great thing about Strategery is the amount of customization that can be done. There are 4 map sizes to choose from, 4 difficulty levels, options on how your armies get placed, starting setup, battle type, color, and even who moves first. You can also choose from playing the game solo against a bunch of computer players, pass and play with up to 4 friends, or online against your friends elsewhere.
As for the game play, Strategery is extremely... fair. Never do you feel like the game is cheating you, but on the hardest difficulty it does try to punish you for taking risks. The problem with the computer at times is that each "bot" has a different personality. There is usually a conservative bot that doesn't attack much, a few semi-aggressive bots, and then a bot or two that just attack unmercifully. None of them wins more than the other, as each game is wildly different from the other, but it does make game play challenging.
On an "epic" sized map, I can usually win a game on the "brutal" difficulty by avoiding the over aggressive bots like the plague. On a small map though, it's almost impossible to win (at least for me), because after the first turn I'm usually toast. I've also heard rumors that the dice roll less in your favor in the harder difficulties, but I honestly think that some people just can't handle the pressure.
I don't want to toot the games horn too much or anything, but there is definitely a reason that it won Macworlds 2009 App Gem Award for best strategy game. It's wildly fun and almost impossible to put down once a game is started. If strategy games are your thing, pick it up on any iDevice for $1.99. It works wonderfully on any generation iPhone due to its low graphics requirements, so don't be afraid to grab it no matter what device you use.
This weekend, we're going to have fun in another brain game. This time, it's a game similar to Risk, Strategery.
Strategery is a land battle game where you battle up to 4 other players on random maps of various sizes. You start out controlling an equal part of the world map and battle to control more. You initiate a battle against another country on the board and then automatic dice rolls determine the winner. You turn continues until you have done all of the valid battles you wish. After your turn you can reinforce your troops in the countries that you still control to give you stronger forces for the next round. The game continues until one player or the other obliterates the others and controls all of the countries on the map.
The game takes strategy, planning, and a little bit of luck.
Strategery includes an online, 2 player battle mode that works similar to last weeks Words With Friends. Each player takes their turn on their own time and there are push notifications to let you know when it's your turn. While the multiplayer system isn't very robust, it gets the job done.
Now, the contest part! Add your Strategery user name below so that we can have a group of willing players to play against. I am, as usual, Jeff148Apps, feel free to hit me up for a game. We'll pick a random winner for a $15 US iTunes gift card from all the entries and announce it next weekend.
If you want to check the game out before buying, there's a Lite version available for the iPhone, but it lacks the online battle mode.
Check our our previous Weekend Fun posts.