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FTL: Faster Than Light Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Rob Thomas on April 4th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: PREPARE FOR JUMP
Brutal. Uncompromising. Utterly addictive. FTL finally warps to iPad and it's even better than we'd hoped.
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GDC 2014 - 1849 is an Interesting Mix of City Builder and Spacial Puzzler

Posted by Rob Rich on March 18th, 2014

SomaSim's 1849 is a sim about the California Gold Rush in the same vein as older objective-driven simulations and city builders. It's also got a surprising amount of puzzle-like elements as you'll quickly find yourself trying to figure out the best way to make use of the limited space you're given.

The core idea behind 1849 is balance. You need to mine gold and other precious metals to earn money. You also need food and lodgings for your citizens and workers or else they'll abandon ship in a heartbeat. But in order to do that, you'll also have to make sure to provide other amenities such as schools and access to a saloon to keep the citizens of your ever-growing city happy. The catch is that every city (of which there are 20, each with their own overarching goals to complete) has a limit to how far it can expand. So in order to create a successful self-sustaining city you'll have to pay close attention to where you place what buildings and how many you construct.

SomaSim is aiming for an early May release. A specific price point hasn't been locked-in yet, but 1849 will be priced at a premium and offer additional content packs in the future.

Geek Resort Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Arron Hirst on March 5th, 2014
Our rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar ::
Geek Resort is a tycoon-style park creation title with an overall fun art-style; it's simply let down on its reliance of in-app purchases to drive its gameplay, and a few obvious bugs.
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Disco Zoo Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on February 27th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: DANCING HIPPOS!
Disco Zoo provides more NimbleBit-style simulation fun, even if NimbleBit only published the game!
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Strike it Rich in 1849 When Gold Fever Infects the App Store in May

Posted by Rob Rich on February 20th, 2014

SomaSim Games has recently announced 1849; a city management sim set during the California Gold Rush.

You'll have to make good use of an area's topography as you attempt to expand several real cities from the time period - or fail miserably, of course. 1849 will feature a total of 20 different scenarios, most likely involving different cities and events, as well as a sandbox mode for those of you who just want to build and rake in the dough.

1849 is due out in May for the iPad.

Air Cavalry Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Mike Deneen on February 14th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar ::
Air Cavalry is a pretty good flight sim with awesome presentation, but it's questionable to release a game before it's even ready.
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Tough Nuts Pinball Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Blake Grundman on December 13th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SAVE THOSE QUARTERS
A interesting hybrid of classic and modern pinball monetization that ends up working out in the best interests of the player.
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King's League: Odyssey Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on November 27th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: BATTLING SIM
Combining RPG and management sensibilities, King's League: Odyssey is an entertaining if unthreatening title.
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Bus Simulator 3D Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Lee Hamlet on October 14th, 2013
Our rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar ::
Strictly for those who find the idea of driving a bus exhilarating, Bus Simulator 3D lacks fun factor in the areas where it matters most.
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Office Story Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Lucy Ingram on October 11th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: BECOME THE NEXT ROVIO
Lovers of Game Dev Story will love Office Story; a simulation management game where players can create games and apps to try to conquer the mobile market.
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NASCAR: Redline Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Mike Deneen on October 10th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: QUICK TIME WRECK
Possibly because NASCAR games don't enjoy the same popularity as other sports games, this title attempts to mix things up by turning a racing game into a simulation. But is that a good thing?
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Transport Tycoon Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on October 8th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ROUND
The classic PC sim makes its way to iOS, complete with rewarding gameplay and a convoluted interface.
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Buddy Vampire Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on October 4th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SPOOKY CREATURE REARING
Offering a slightly different take on the virtual pet genre, Buddy Vampire bundles in some mini-games and more, in this fairly hands-off simulation.
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Pocket Trains Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on September 26th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: ALL ABOARD
Pocket Trains is yet another extremely satisfying simulation from NimbleBit.
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Learning More About Tech Startup Sim Hipster CEO With Developer Ger Kelly

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 6th, 2013

Ever wanted to start up a tech firm? Got an idea that seems stupidly awesome and original? Or just fancy running a business, warts and all? There's a fairly safe and inexpensive way of experiencing that life coming to iOS later this year. That title is Hipster CEO, a game which challenges players to "take an idea from their dorm room to Wall Street, Zuckerberg-style". We had a word with Dublin-based developer, Ger Kelly, on his vision for the game and just how it came to be.

Ger (left) and his business advisory team.

148apps: Where did the idea for Hipster CEO come from?
Ger Kelly (GK): Well firstly I have a huge passion for tech startups - I love reading about the causes behind startups' success and failure, exciting new technologies, marketing techniques, stuff like that. Whenever I tell someone I work in a startup they always say that they'd love the opportunity to do just that. I wanted to give people a taste of what running a startup company is like - fun but difficult. It isn't all air hockey tables and free beer but when it works, it's the best feeling in the world.

Secondly, I was a video game addict as a kid - particularly sports/business simulations like Championship Manager and Theme Park. I always felt games like that were different in the sense that you were especially proud of what you did - like bringing some low-tier football team all the way to the Cup Final - you always wanted to tell your friends. Even now one of my fondest teenage memories is winning a league title with my favorite football team - which probably says a lot about my adolescence! I felt that there was room for a tech startup simulator in the same vein.

The name came about when a friend called me a total hipster because I guess I can be a little snobby about my musical taste at times. I had a few other ideas for a title but people really reacted really well to Hipster CEO so I went with it.

148apps: The idea of the game seems pretty lighthearted, will that continue throughout the game?
GK: The Hipster element of the game is simply a veneer, the game will create the experience of building a tech startup as closely as possible. I think the Hipster shtick appeals to a lot of people in a fun way and I want people to have fun playing this game. However, the gameplay will be firmly rooted in reality so there won't be any "wacky" investment offers tabled or disgruntled developers setting fire to their desks. On second thoughts I might include that last one!

Stuff like the Social Network movie and TV shows like Dragon's Den and Shark Tank makes every man and his dog feel like they could grow a startup company into a huge success but, as anyone who has ever built a startup will know, it's a lot of hard work. There are so many things you need to get right to build a winning product: quality development, creative marketing, and of course sales. It might sound crazy but so many tech startups out there have no sales strategy starting off - Hipster CEO will encourage players to start making revenue from day one.

Players will need to get the right balance of these three in order to succeed, all the while keeping their staff happy, handling investors, and dealing with the media. That sure seems like a lot but trust me that's what a startup CEO has to deal with on a day-to-day basis!

I hope my app puts a smile of the face of those who play it because they feel rewarded not just because of some jibe at hipsters.

Where the magic happens - part of the Project 51 group - a creative collective in Dublin

148apps: Will the game solely be quite text focused, or will there be more game-style graphics too?
GK: I really wanted to have a basic graphics pane which displayed your character, your employees, your office and stuff like that but it's just not feasible for the first version. Like being able to see your little team graduate from your parent's basement to some swanky, playground-esque office would be awesome. I have some design skills but nothing on the level that would be required for proper animation so I've had to shelve that idea for now. It will probably be one of the first things addressed if the game takes off.

I think Championship Manager showed that you can just have words and numbers on the screen and still create a totally immersive experience.

148apps: Will it be a one-off payment game, or will there be in-app purchases involved?
There will be a one-off payment and the option to get additional investment via in-app purchases. I want to stress, however, that you don't need to make any in-app purchases after getting the app in order to build a great startup - it's merely there as an option. I'd actually prefer if players declined the option to take investment completely and slowly but surely built a solid company but I know there's people out there who will just want to get to a certain level as fast as possible.

148apps: Is there a way of completing Hipster CEO? Or is it more open ended than that?
GK: It's open ended. Each character in the game (including you as CEO) has certain stats that will grow and shrink based on their performance. If your company goes broke you'll have the option to build another startup with the skill set you've developed. Most entrepreneurs fail with their first few startups so it may take players a few different cracks of the whip before they really hit the big time. It's totally possible of course that they have a huge success of things and start getting acquisition offers to decide upon.

There will be an online leaderboard of all the players worldwide so you can see how you measure up as a CEO in the game. I've a lot of long term ideas for the game too - like inviting the top players around the world to become virtual venture capitalists in later versions of the game which other people can pitch to.

Sounding a pretty intriguing idea, we'll be keeping a close eye on Hipster CEO's progress. Further information is also available at the game's site. It's hopefully set for release in October. Thanks to Ger for taking the time to answer our questions!