How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
Fairly tricky to track down in North America, Dragon Quest III’s $9.99 asking price doesn’t seem so bad when placed into the context of eBay prices for a NES or Gameboy Color cartridge. That doesn’t stop Dragon Quest III from seeming rather dated by modern standards, but JRPG fans will enjoy this slice of history. You play the child of a hero, sent to see the King on their 16th birthday before being thrust into an adventure to save the world. Dragon Quest III doesn’t bother with too much originality on this front but it’s forgivable. It adds some more originality and flexibility through its party system. While there’s no chance of being overly attached to your fellow party members, given they’re essentially soulless husks of statistics, they do offer plenty of potential. You simply head to the local tavern to recruit your party and then head out, forming them into exactly what you want of an ally. –Jennifer Allen
Roaming the Oddworld version of the Wild West is the Stranger: a gruff bounty hunter turning wanted criminals in for cash. There are a few gameplay styles on offer here, the first being the third-person platforming that allows for navigation of each area, as well as basic combat. The second is a first-person shooting mode that enables players to think more strategically by making use of a variety of critters that can be captured and used against enemies. Will they use a Bolamite to tie up their enemies, a Chippunk to draw them away from their buddies, or just electrocute them into submission with a Zapfly? Either way, the freedom of approach is an excellent touch. Last of all is the stealth element, giving players the option to take out enemies one by one by setting off traps or creating them, all while hidden from view amidst tall grass. These different styles come together seamlessly to give players the ability to decide how they resolve the matter at hand, preventing Stranger’s Wrath from feeling too linear and monotonous, and instead feeling fresh and exciting. –Lee Hamlet
As unlikely as it might sound, I had a job once that was vaguely like playing Papers, Please. It wasn’t on the border control of a corrupt state, but it did involve conducting background checks on people and checking that their papers as well as their stories added up. I stuck around as there was a strange satisfaction in looking out for discrepancies, and I also happened to be quite good at it. Papers, Please succeeds partially because of that similar sense of satisfaction, but also because of a storyline that draws you in bit by bit. Not that it should, technically. The idea of a game all about working on border control, checking over people’s papers before either admitting them to the country or rejecting them, really isn’t that fascinating on the surface. Two things save Papers, Please from being monotonous, however. The first is how, on a simple level, it gradually introduces new elements to what’s expected of you. –Jennifer Allen
Text editing apps are fairly commonplace on the App Store, but every now and then one will come along that clicks that bit more easily than the last. 1 Writer is one such app. Simple to use but reasonably powerful as well, it’s the kind of text editor that works just as well for taking notes quickly as it is for more powerful markdown-based work. A quick tap on the plus sign guides you straight into things. You can choose to just type away as normal or opt to throw in links, bold, italics, lists, and even images. Along the way, 1 Writer can upload it all to Dropbox and generate the relevant markdown syntax for you. A cursory swipe to the right takes you to a built-in web browser, lending itself well to research purposes. –Jennifer Allen
Flyhunter Origins from Ripstone and Steel Wool Games offers a solid demonstration of how mobile games are getting a bit ahead of themselves. Players zip through Flyhunter Origins as Zak, an alien janitor aboard a flyhunting spaceship. During some impromptu roleplay, Zak accidentally jettisons the ship’s crew and its cargo (bugs) into space. Then they promptly fall back to Earth. Zak needs to round up the crew and the bugs or else he risks making his powerful boss very unhappy. –Nadia Oxford
Recently, I was given the chance to review the 10 Digits learning toy – wood numbers that interact with the iPad and other tablets. Two apps work in tangent to this number set that teaches basic number recognition, addition and the manipulation of numbers up to one hundred within these Montessori-styled applications. I was eager to test this new toy as its brightly colored classic good looks and wooden construction remind me of the wood number puzzle my son had as a toddler, which he loved and oddly anthropomorphized by dragging these numbers within their frame to listen to stories or play with other toys as though this puzzle would take an interest in these activities. A close look at each of these wooden numbers from the 10 Digits toy will find three soft plastic feet on the back to allow these pieces to work on top of the screen of the device. Each foot pattern is unique; they’re akin to Braille and work with the iPad and other tablets to recognize each number in use. Both the apps 10 Fingers and Up to 100 have free lite versions to download and unlock easily using the 10 Digit toy pieces. I admire the clean look of these apps; the white screen, boldly colored numbers, and other details seen with bright translucent colors and subtle brush strokes are details reminiscent of felt tip markers on a dry erase board. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
Being fit is gently moving on from being a pastime to being a habit of successful people. Of course, as the need to be healthy becomes more pervasive, it is natural to see more and more tools that have a mobile component. It makes sense… smartphones are the ubiquitous pocket companions. The Pear System looks to bridge this gap, first by being a veritable heart rate measuring tool, and then by wirelessly connecting data via one’s Android device. The review package Pear send to us highlights the system; the review packet contains the Pearl heart rate monitor, a chest strap, headphones and a carrying pouch. Most of th pieces are bathed or accented in bright blue. The HRM unit is diminutive, with the company logo tastefully stamped on the front. The back has two press-in buttons and the battery cover. The strap is black, with the press-in receptacles, and is adjustable and stretchy. The headphones look simple, but have interesting buds, and there is a button on the right ear. Finally, the carry pouch is light and zippered. –Tre Lawrence
Star Wars Galactic Defence is a pretty basic tower defence game. Enemies of different types run along lanes in each level. The player must build a series of towers to prevent the m enemies reaching a certain area . After each level the player receives a rank depending on how many enemies they managed to stop. Player can also select 1-3 heroes for each level. These heroes can be freely controlled. Star Wars Galactic Defence doesn’t stray far from this formula and indeed lacks fairly basic tower defence features, like an upgrade system or hero skills. The only hint of progression in the game is new towers that are unlocked at certain levels. Galactic Defence doesn’t just encourage players to replay previous levels, it requires it. Every level after the first is so difficult that it is nigh on impossible to repeat earlier levels to gain money and hero experience. Enemies simply flood in and getting three stars is difficult indeed. This is the polar opposite of fun and is compounded by the fact that to unlock later levels the player must acquire a certain amount of stars. –Allan Curtis
Call of Duty: Heroes, despite its action game roots has more in common with Clash of Clans than with Modern Combat. Does the mammoth license of CoD make it a good game? After an initial battle, like other city builder games, the player is put in charge of constructing a base from the ground up including resource buildings, troop training facilities and base defence. This proceeds slowly. After a few resource buildings are ticking over the player can begin to crank out an army. These range from average rifle wielding grunts to..other slightly different soldiers such as RPG ones. –Allan Curtis
And finally, what were the ten most watched videos on AppSpy? What are the best gamebooks on Android? And just how good is Galcon 2? All of these questions, and at least four more, are all answered on AppSpy’s lovely website this week.
Also this week, Pocket Gamer finished off its advent calendar with five more amazing freebies, reviewed the new SimCity and Brothers in Arms games, and reported on the most Googled game of 2014. It wasn’t Destiny… All that and loads more, right here.
Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 16th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
SimCity BuildIt, by EA Games, has finished construction for the holidays. Now you can enjoy hours of constructing your dream city in 3D. You can pinch, zoom, and rotate your city 360 degrees to catch all the action.
Just like other SimCity games, you must strive to keep your citizens happy. Prevent traffic problems, fires, and pollution, and keep your services like electricity and entertainment balanced, lest your people start looking for someone else to be mayor. You can also create and trade resources with friends and other cities for more interactive fun.
Check out SimCity BuildIt on the App Store for free.
The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a puzzle platformer in the most literal sense. The game has players manipulating platforms with a match-three mechanic, with the ultimate goal of journeying further down toward the center of the earth. With bright visuals, smart mechanics, and a satisfying brand of puzzle-solving, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a very worthwhile download. As a spelunker, players can move about caverns by sliding their fingers across the bottom part of the screen. As they approach sets of colored blocks underground, they can then tap and slide to link blocks of the same color together and break them. Breaking blocks allows players to move deeper down in a level, which contains an exit on the bottom of the screen. –Campbell Bird
You play Joe Average as he leaps back and forth between the 70s and the modern day. As before, this is easily achieved thanks to your trusty time machine. It’s a mechanic that changes up what you see in each room or building, and is the kind of thing that means you can’t help but switch between timelines regularly just to see what’s changed. For the most part, this mechanic is used to get past a closed door or two, which means it’s a little underused in terms of its potential, but it’s relatively easy to forgive The Silent Age Episode 2 for its flaws. –Jennifer Allen
Part auto-runner, part side-scrolling shoot-em-up, you control one of many Transformers as they stop the EggBots by taking out their platforms. Instead of flinging birds at your enemies you shoot at them, aiming for weak points in order to vanquish them. It’s simply done, with you tapping to create a reticule. Each level is much the same meaning that Angry Birds Transformers can get a little repetitive, but it’s often fun. At times you can transform in order to duck under obstacles coming your way, which ensures you keep your wits about you. Each level is also pretty brief so it’s an easy game to dip into for a few minutes here or there. –Jennifer Allen
Zero Age‘s visuals and gameplay are both so stunningly well-executed it’s hard to know where to start the praise. Let’s go with the graphics since they’re more immediately striking. The game takes place in a hauntingly atmospheric geometric world filled with vast, cubic vistas. It’s like a minimalist robot city that’s either unfinished or long since abandoned. Guiding the hooded hero through these multi-tiered landscapes while soulful piano music plays would still leave an impression even without the puzzles. Fortunately Zero Age offers some of the most creative and complex 3D puzzles around. Players must get their character to the end of each level. Sometimes that’s as simple as just tapping on the goal, but usually they will have to create a path by manipulating a handful of blocks. Different blocks have markings specifying their rules – some blocks can only move on a horizontal plane, while others are limited to the vertical. However, players can stack cubes on top of each other to move certain blocks in ways they couldn’t before or shield themselves from deadly lasers. Constructing even something as basic as some stairs requires intense levels of spatial thinking. –Jordan Minor
Each level offers up a series of paths for the waves of enemies to follow. The trick here is that these paths can be rotated around, thereby enabling you to redirect where the foes go. This means that you can send the waves down areas that you’ve fortified particularly well, giving you the edge. The catch is that you have to be constantly aware of what’s going on around you. Unlike other Tower Defense games, where you can usually set up a strong layout then watch it unfold, things change fast and you’re never entirely comfortable about your chances of success. This keeps Sleep Attack TD consistently interesting. It’d be business as usual otherwise, with a typical plethora of enemies to withstand and a bevy of towers that are useful in different scenarios. The rotation mechanic really makes a difference though, and ensures that Sleep Attack TD is more appealing. It looks pretty charming too, with a more fluid style than the usual lane defense mechanics we’re used to within the genre. –Jennifer Allen
As readers who follow my posts may know, my son’s favorite subject is math, and he is eager to practice these skills whenever he has a chance. One of his favorite ways is making a bee-line for any app that includes “math” in the title. A new favorite of his is Montessori Math City, which has strengthened his ability not only to count to one thousand, but to be able to build different sums with the use of smaller numbers in a way that is actually quite open-ended. There is also a city area he can build within, providing motivation to continue working with this app. I must admit that when I sat down to review it I was intimidated, because without a Montessori background I felt at a loss to explain the goings-on within this app in the technical terms that one may expect. Although I don’t find the gathering of correct words intuitive to properly explain what this app has to offer, I must remember that my son does find this app utterly intuitive to use. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
We’ve been wanting this one for a while. And now that Republique is on Android, we can breathe a sigh of relief. We can stop giving Camouflaj and Darkwind Media the side eye. And we can taste of the goodness that this title unabashedly brings. The gameplay comes in two modes: Story, which allows players to experience the story and explore environments, and Normal, which is the standard experience. Going the normal route allows one to pick an episode, and we’re off. –Tre Lawrence
At the first sight, this game looks like another simple survival horror, which are quite popular on the mobiles. Surprisingly, Dementia: The Book of the Dead is neither simple, nor a survival horror, in a true sense. It has great and scary atmosphere, but once you understand that the unholy abomination before you can be dealt with by the means of stuffing it with holy bullets, or smashing its abominable face with not-quite-holy lantern, the atmosphere dwindles somewhat. Not to say that it’s in any way a bad game, but the main character’s death is more likely to summon a groan instead of shivers. It’s still a horror, so the enemies always overpower the main character and running away is often a better decision than fighting. In other words, great fun. –Tony Kuzmin
It is nice to see that some pc games are being ported to Android and that the idea behind the game stays intact. Same goes for Five Nights at Freddy’s. If you have played Five Nights at Freddy’s on pc, than you know what you are up for in this Android version of the game. It is a port of the pc version and one that is very well made. Everything from the first version is the same, only now you use the touch screen as an input source, instead of the mouse. Input methods aside, these game is freaky. Very freaky. The first few times it gave me the creeps and my first reaction was to close the game. When that happens, I say: the objective of the developers must’ve been a success by then. –Wesley Akkerman
And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer went hands-on with the latest Pokemon game, found out how to record iOS games with just a lightning cable and a Mac, picked the best gamebooks, and tried the latest SimCity game for mobile. And it’s all right here for your perusal.
SimCity BuildIt has been teased here and there, but specific details have been a bit sparse. That is, until now.
We recently had the chance to ask EA Mobile’s Vice President and General Manager, Jason Willig, some questions about the series’ new mobile outing. I was also able to get a live demo at EA’s recent Naughty & Nice event in New York, so I’ve got some serious impressions to share. After the questions, of course.
Fans of the SimCity series will be thrilled to hear that EA’s SimCity BuildIt, a mobile version of the game, will be coming to the iOS soon. Players will be able to build their city in high quality 3D graphics, and the app allows you to pinch, zoom, and rotate your city 360 degrees so you can see it in all its glory.
You will, of course, still have to worry about keeping your citizens happy by managing and expanding your city.
EA hasn’t announced a release date or pricing for SimCity BuildIt yet, but they assure us it is coming “soon.”
Ah, the Great App Store Pricing Debate. For years people have been arguing over the cost of mobile games. What constitutes “too much?” Where’s the line when it comes to free-to-play monetization techniques? Should developers have deep discounts and temporary giveaways? Should consumers simply expect everything to go on sale and wait accordingly?
The recent Dungeon Keeper debacle is a good example of this. Gamers and critics alike have railed against it for using various monetization techniques and associating itself with the classic PC strategy series, and many point to it as an unpleasant indication of where the video game industry (especially mobile) is headed. It’s an issue that’s almost as complicated as the initial Freemium vs. Premium debate; so let’s take a closer look at everything and try to make sense of it all.
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.
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.
Glu have been a little cautious on their adoption of the iPhone platform. While they have a few games out thus far, they have yet to really make their voice heard on the iTunes App Store. However, it looks like that is about to change. Glu gave us a sneak peak at some of the games they will be releasing over the next few weeks. We were promised that this is only the tip of the iceberg, as they are planning on releasing 20 games for the iPhone this year. Here’s some info on the ones they are ready to talk about now.
Build-a-lot strikes me as a simplified SimCity, smashed up with a time management game like Sally’s Salon. In this game you buy, sell, and build property in a small segment of a city. The goal is to make as much money as possible by selling and renting properties. There are plenty of levels and plenty to keep you busy. Some of the later levels really turn up the heat and require that you really move your fingers. Approximate release date: March 30, $4.99
Cooking Star is a mini game collection that obviously reminds me of Cooking Mama. But from what I’ve seen of both, this one plays better. An achievement system in this app has been includes where you unlock real recipes, an innovative features. Glu plans to add additional mini games to this title every once in a while, which will increase the value of this app. Approximate release date: April, 2009, $2.99
Cops and Robbers is a cross between a racing game, a platformer, and a timing game. You play as one of two robbers, and run and jump your way through multiple levels. You goal is to collect money to pay your rent. Once you complete a level, you can re-play the level as a police officer and try to catch yourself from when you played as the robber — like ghost racing. This game is one of the more originals we’ve seen from Glu and has good potential. The only problem we see in the current build is that the action can be a little stop-start with the camera changes. Approximate release date: Late April, 2009, $4.99
Glyder is a collection game where you are on a glider, trapped in another dimension. This is a slow play game where there are no time pressures or enemies attacking you. There are also no negatives to crashing; you just restart the last place you landed. It makes for an interesting concept for a game, and there’s plenty of variety with the multiple worlds. An achievement system is nicely varied and provides progress info on each of the achievements. My current feeling is that this game has great potential but the graphics in the game’s landscape are a little flat. But for a relaxed, casual game, it does have something going for it. Approximate release date: April, 2009, $1.99
Mini-Golf: Wacky Worlds is a mini golf game set in four themed and very oddly interesting 3D worlds. This was the least finished of the games so we won’t make any critical remarks about it. It’s just not done yet. Approximate release date: Summer 2009
Thanks to Slide To Play for providing video of the first 4 games, embedded below.
One thing is for sure, Glu are one of the most popular and prolific mobile game developers. They have been a little slow on the uptake on the iPhone but are planning to go full force now. They haven’t tipped their hat to what they are doing in the social games area, the segment that the iPhone can really excel in, but assured us they just aren’t ready to talk about their plans there yet.
They have some exciting things coming with the above and beyond and we can’t wait to see what they do.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted January 28th, 2009 by Gary Lucero Our Rating: :: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
SimCity for the iPhone is a full featured version of the venerable series. That EA has packed such an immense amount of content, including advisors, help, reports, and all of the zones, utilities, and disasters of the original, is amazing. While the game generally chugs along and could look better, the game play is rewarding and production values are generally top-notch.