Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of 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.
Granted I’ve yet to watch either of the Star Trek reboot films (I know, I know), but I seem to recall there being something about Kirk and Spock not liking each other. Or rather, they have a kind of rivalry going on. Which is appropriate since Star Trek Rivals is all about going toe-to-toe with friends. And shoving their faces in the dirt with superior tactics. In a friendly way. Star Trek Rivals is essentially the Triple Triad mini-game from Final Fantasy IX with Captain Kirk, the Enterprise, and so on. For the unfamiliar that means a 3X3 grid and a bunch of cards with a number on each of their four sides. When a card is placed next to a rival’s, and it has the higher number between the two touching sides, that card is converted to the other side. The overall goal is to have dominion over more cards than the opposition by the time the grid is full. This is done by strategically placing cards so that they either block an opponent’s attempts at assimilation or take over their cards directly. –Rob Rich
Jawfish Poker is Texas hold ‘em poker for the mobile generation. A tournament can be played in minutes against dozens and dozens of players. For those wanting a rapid-fire poker experience, this is worth checking out. Instead of sitting at a table against a multitude of players, all the matchups are heads-up against players in the same tournament. Betting has been simplified: there’s a steadily-increasing big and small blind, and the only options are to fold or to go all-in. This means that for every hand that is called, someone’s getting knocked out. It’s high-intensity poker all the time, all against real players. While the Texas hold ‘em rules remain the same, new challenges arise. Bluffing becomes a particularly risky strategy just because it’s only really possible to steal the blinds with the all-in-or-fold betting system. Thus, knowing which hands are good to bluff on becomes key because any hand could instantly be a life-or-death situation. –Carter Dotson
With hardly a sign of animated talking animals, Disney’s Story is a fairly mature storyboard creation app for those who want to combine their images to create their own tale. Immediately accessible, not much is needed to get started. Facebook sharing is there, requiring a quick log-in but it’s far from essential at first. Instead, users can get straight into the action by manipulating the images from their camera roll. Story divides these images, at first, into dates proving particularly useful for those collecting memories from a specific day. For instance, I looked for the date in which I got a new baby guinea pig and within moments, could create a collage of the memories of the first day for the piglet. –Jennifer Allen
Other 148Apps Network Sites
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:
Colours! is an interesting, interactive color theory app that children and their adults will enjoy. I honestly did not expect much from Colours! as teaching children how to mix primary colors to create secondary shades is not an uncommon topic, so I was pleasantly surprised how complex this app can become. Colours! allows one to mix red, yellow, blue, white and black to form any color possible. A sponge is also included to use as an eraser – a nice touch. –Amy Solomon
Zoola Deluxe is a charming interactive animal app for babies and toddlers – a companion app to the popular Zoola, also reviewed at GiggleApps. Zoola Deluxe contains a nice variety of animals one can interact with. To start, tap on one of nine animals from either Farm, Safari or Forest animals. Babies will enjoy how chunky the areas for each animal to tap are, making this app intuitive for the youngest app users. Once a selection is made, listen to the animal’s name narrated as well as see the word on the screen. Also note the mild yet effective animated elements included as well as the sounds for each creature. This app also contains a nice variety of languages, always a nice touch. –Amy Solomon
Itsy Cars is a unique interactive app that allows children to build the race track of their dreams using a combination of thirteen pieces of track which are connected to create a track that one can drive a race car through. Four differently styled cars can be chosen, and then children will build their tracks with the tap of a finger, connecting pieces of track together. When complete, start the car down the track, tapping the “Turbo Button” when players want their car to go faster. The look of this app is highly computer-generated, with the use of many angles and bright yet not terribly unrefined colors – a style I am not always a fan of but which makes a lot of sense in this app. –Amy Solomon
Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic, at least in the sense that it was the launching pad for a famous character. In reality, it’s a lot more like some bands’ first album: their later stuff is more refined, exploring their strengths better, to make for a better product. Such is the original Sonic game. Sonic 2 and 3 do a lot to make the series much better, so I must admit that when I heard that Sonic 1 was being remastered by Christian Whitehead and company a la Sonic CD, I was initially disappointed. But really, there was no reason to be: the tweaks and new features make this better. Sonic should be well-known at this point. Run, jump, fight Eggman’s robots and contraptions (though he’ll always be Dr. Robotnik to me), and avoid those darn spikes. This is the game that started the classic formula, including the most underappreciated part of the series’ gameplay: the complex levels and challenging platforming that comes from their multiple layers. –Carter Dotson
How much muck could a muck chuck chuck if a muck chuck could chuck muck? Chuck the Muck is a cool entry from KizStudios that merges nice graphics with easy-to-learn gameplay and a familiar scoring method. Bob is the name of our protagonist in this one. A blob with attitude, Bob is described as a being with an appetite, and it seems to hunger for colored gems. It just so happens that these gems are not that easy to get to. Thus Bob’s job is to use the gooey stuff in his environment to solve the physics puzzlers that the the gem placements created. The basic tool was a stretchy, springy “muck” that I could manipulate to a degree. Using it as a trampoline of sorts, I could use my finger to direct Bob in a pre-determined trajectory. This helped me collect the gems for three start score. Missing a target or a landing could lead to Bob’s demise. The controls mostly involved dragging, pulling to release and tap and hold. –Tre Lawrence
I can’t say that I expected much from Elements Battle. The name is about as unimaginative as it gets, the art looked pretty but uninspired and to top it off it’s freemium, which is a business model that I’ve never been entirely comfortable with. As it turns out though Elements Battle is substantially better than I expected. The core game is a lot like Puzzle Quest. The bulk of it is a series of puzzle battles on a grid where three or more identical symbols must be matched each turn. Those symbols correspond to elemental spells which get fired at an opponent once enough of them have been matched. The opponent does the same and the winner is the one with health left at the end. Outside of battles there are some basic RPG mechanics with quests to complete (though they all boil down to battles too), levels to gain and a store used to purchase additional spells and equipment. –James Rogerson
The original Sonic the Hedgehog has been remastered for iOS, a la Sonic CD. Under the care of Christian Whitehead and his Retro Engine, the team at Sega who helped guide the port along, and Simon Thomley, aka “Stealth,” who helped put Knuckles into a Sonic 1 ROM, the original Sonic game is now even better, with tons of new extras for long-time fans. Oh, and it’s not a new app, though it certainly could have been – this is a free update to the original Sonic 1 release for iOS, which was just an emulated version of the Genesis original.
The game itself is a faithful port, with some tweaks added. It’s now friendly to multiple aspect ratios, including widescreen, which may still come to Sonic CD. The spin dash has been added as an option, which does make the game a bit easier. Spike behavior has changed to be more player-friendly and more like the later games in the series.
But it’s the extras, both big and small, that are worth getting excited about. Because the game has been rebuilt in the Retro Engine to the specifics of the original title, it’s possible to add new things in. Tails and Knuckles are unlockable by beating the game and getting all the Chaos Emeralds. This is one of the harder Sonic games, so good luck.
It’s the even more deeply buried tweaks that are more fun. iCade support is in the game, which comes recommended for two reasons: physical controls make this game a lot better, though the virtual controls are better than the emulated version and have plenty of options to configure them. But more importantly, iCade usage helps unveil one of the game’s coolest secrets that may be inaccessible otherwise. Don’t read any further if you don’t want to find out. SPOILERS!
Start up a new game in “No Save Mode” and input Up-Down-Left-Right on the controller. You’ll hear a chime. Tap Start, and you’ll see a level select screen. Initially, it’s a bit of sacrilege as it’s different from the Sonic 1 level select, but it lists plenty of neat options. All the characters can be played immediately. Individual game behaviors can be changed. Items from Sonic 2 and/or 3 can be added. The game can be played with 7 Chaos Emeralds instead of the original’s 6. Plus, there’s a sound test. Pretty much the only missing thing is the debug mode!
This might not be the end to the secrets: Tails’ name can be displayed as Miles “Tails” Prower when starting a game as him by tapping the letters in the famous SEGA logo to spell AGES. The developers have been in the Sonic Retro forums teasing out other secrets, so there’s plenty of options here.
That this all has been presented as an update to the emulated version, when Sega could have easily justified it as a new purchase – and I’d have defended it too – is a killer deal for Sonic fans. Casual fans will love getting a better version of this game. The hardcore fans will love all the additional goodies. Much like Sonic CD, this is how a port should be done. Of course, there’s two other main series Sonic games to potentially be ported, and don’t forget Knuckles Chaotix!
The developer who helped bring Sonic CD to mobile platforms in a flawless port is back with a new port, this time of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Christian Whitehead has brought his remastering touch to the Sonic game that started it all, dramatically improving and modernizing the emulated Genesis version currently on the App Store. Thanks to the rebuilt game’s new native engine, the graphics now support the Retina Display, widescreen, and the iPad. The virtual controls are improved as well, and some minor tweaks and improvements to pathing that will make the game play better than ever.
For extras, there’s the ability to see the US, EU, or JP version of the Sonic 1 cart in the menu, and to play a new Time Attack mode. This revamp releases in April, and will be a free update for those who already own Sonic 1 on the App Store, and will be available on Android as well with gamepad support.
This week at 148Apps.com, Kevin Stout examined the question more than a few of us are asking: Why won’t Nintendo release any games for iOS? Stout writes, “Nintendo recently reported its first annual loss, showing that perhaps 3DS isn’t enough of a success. Nintendo hasn’t even released its legacy games on mobile platforms where others like Sega have (Sonic the Hedgehog). While current CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, is in charge, it’s unlikely that Nintendo will acknowledge its mistake. When asked about releasing Nintendo games for smartphones, Iwata replied, “This is absolutely not under consideration. If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo….”’
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-05-21 :: Category: Games
Meanwhile, Amy Solomon at GiggleApps took a look at a new Marvel Avengers app for kids: Avengers Origins: Assemble! is a very enjoyable universal interactive storybook that tells the tale of how The Avengers became a cohesive group after meeting Captain America. I really enjoy how these characters are introduced, making this a great primer for children new to Marvel comics. Interactive moments are included throughout that children will also enjoy such as dragging the tools used by each Avenger to their rightful owner.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-12 :: Category: Books
Last, but certainly not least, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson reported on results from a recent MocoSpace study: “MocoSpace has announced the results of their new “Y U Play?” study that tries to answer the question of just why people play mobile games, anyway? The answer for the majority of people appears to be just pure entertainment. 34% of people like to play mobile games because “the games are fun,” and 32% do it because they are bored, or want to kill time.”
I don’t really understand what it is, but there is just something about being chased by the unknown that brings out the competitive side in gamers. The recet explosion of free-running games have been nothing short of remarkable, and game developers have taken it to the bank in droves. Sure, you could say that Sonic the Hedgehog perfected the left to right dash two decades ago, but you wouldn’t know it by asking iOS consumers.
Another title looking to get in on the craze is the debut title from up and coming developer Orange Agenda, Stellar Escape. Players will find themselves racing through fifteen different stages, set in five different unique environments. While the gameplay may be simple to grasp the star is the graphical polish and smooth animations. Be sure to keep moving and leave no clues other than a cloud of dust in your wake. If you fail to do so, just remember that no one can hear screams in the vacuum of space. Check out the chaos in full motion below.
Have you had your eye on a copy of Chu Chu Rocket but couldn’t justify the $4.99 price tag? If so then we’ve got good news, as Sega has announced they’re dropping the price of several of the company’s most popular games. This isn’t just a temporary reprieve either, as all price cuts are permanent. Here’s the full list:
ChuChu Rocket: $4.99 $2.99
ChuChu Rocket HD: $6.99 $4.99
Ecco the Dolphin: $2.99 $0.99
Golden Axe: $2.99 $0.99
Gunstar Heroes: $4.99 $2.99
Phantasy Star II: $4.99 $2.99
Shining Force: $2.99 $0.99
Super Monkey Ball 2: $5.99 $2.99
Super Monkey Ball 2 Sakura Edition: $7.99 $4.99
Sonic The Hedgehog 1: $5.99 $4.99
Sonic The Hedgehog 2: $5.99 $4.99
Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 1: $9.99 $6.99
Streets of Rage: $2.99 $0.99
A quick note here, most of the price cuts apply to the iPhone/iPod Touch version of the games, so keep that in mind. The only native iPad apps listed in the reduction are Chu Chu Rocket HD and Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition.
Hooray for cheap games! It’s also nice to see that most of the price cuts are rather substantive, and that Sega isn’t just taking 50 cents off the price and asking us to get excited. Sure, Sonic 1 and 2 are only discounted by $1, but most of the other titles are at least half off. Furthermore, since these are permanent price cuts you can space out your purchases and grab most if not all of the games rather than being rushed and forced to only pick one or two to get in before the sale ends.
Of course, the flip side to all this excitement is the fact that the price reductions really just bring the games in line with what users expect to pay for apps and the cost of entry is really no lower than what one would find on a lot of other quality titles. So while we applaud Sega for bringing the prices down to a more reasonable level, maybe they should have started here in the first place.
SEGA brings Sonic the Hedgehog to the iPhone. Loop dee loops, dives and jumps are all here in the quest to stop the evil Dr. Eggman and his world domination scheme. Springs, traps, bridges and all sorts of monsters are there to stop you all the while collecting rings (cha ching).
Sonic, he can really move/Sonic, he’s got an attitude/Sonic, he’s… on my iPhone?
Not entirely out of left field, but entirely unpublicized, comes Sonic the Hedgehog to the iPhone. From the description of the game in the app store, the new app lets you “Relive your favorite memories of the Genesis era as you rocket Sonic through hair-raising loop-de-loops and dizzying dives as you gather up Rings and stop Dr. Eggman’s schemes for world domination!”
Even though I have probably seen (and played) everything this game has to offer, I still want it… really, really badly. If all goes well with my espresso machine, I should have a review up by morning. Wish me luck!
Update: No more espresso!!! Nooooooo! We may have to wait till mid-afternoon.