When the App Store first launched, five years ago, many of us were merely pleased to see any kind of game on there. It hadn’t really occurred to anyone just what could really be done here. After all, so many years of Snake clones and earlier mobile versions of Gameloft titles, only go so far. 5 years later, we now know that some very impressive titles from the console and PC gaming catalogue can be converted across, and with some impressive results. Here’s a look at our favorite four surprising console ports.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Arguably the most impressive port yet, the recently released XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a truly stunning game. Besides being one of the finest Turn Based Strategy games in years, its conversion is second to none. Touch screen controls are perfectly implemented here, and no compromises have needed to be taken. Those used to $0.99 purchases might feel it’s a trifle expensive at $19.99, but there are a ridiculous number of hours of enjoyment to be had here.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-06-20 :: Category: Games
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
A delightful surprise for many, when it leapt onto the App Store, this classic BioWare RPG still stands tall today. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic won’t hold its players’ hands, potentially confusing newer games, but it’s worth figuring out. It offers an exceptional story based gaming experience, the kind of which is rarely seen. The controls might not be perfect here, but it’s forgivable thanks to being such a brilliant game.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2013-05-30 :: Category: Games
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Rockstar Games has done a fine job of converting some of its titles to iOS. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the pinnacle, thus far. The strongest and most popular of GTA titles, it looks stunning on iOS as well as offers some appropriate controls to ensure everything feels smooth and well focused here. Most importantly, it’s an ideal example of a title no one would have really expected to see five years ago.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-06 :: Category: Games
Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD
It might not have the graphical prowess of the other entries here, but Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD was quite the delightful surprise when it made its way to iOS in its full entirety. Capcom has released many great console ports to iOS, but this one just about fought off the Street Fighter series for top spot. The series is like little else out there, requiring players to take the role of an attorney, as they explore crime scenes and use evidence appropriately throughout the court case. The adaptation is stunning, and a worthy example of how DS games can be translated to iOS.
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on July 12th, 2013 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is celebrating its 10th year anniversary by making the game available for half off its original price, for a limited time only. In our review, Carter Dotson mentions, “It’s an absolute classic that modern gamers need to play. Unlike many classics, it holds up incredibly well to this day, and advances on what games can do.”
Go journey into this great adventure, and may the force be with you!
Being asked to sum up the past five years of the App Store, on a personal level, is tough. Partly, because I have the memory of a goldfish, but also because so much has happened in those few years. How do you highlight what’s so great about a device and service that you can’t imagine being without? My iPhone and the App Store, by proxy, has been immensely important to me in this time. It’s given me so much information, enjoyment and even been a great outlet in times of need. Here’s a feeble attempt at trying to sum up how vital it’s all been for me.
Launch day: Despite the goldfish analogy, I do remember when the App Store first launched. I’d had an iPhone for a couple of months previously and had dabbled in jailbreaking, but didn’t feel too comfortable with it. The day the App Store started was genuinely exciting stuff. It’s hard to believe, for those newer to the Store, but it was possible to browse from start to finish, thanks to there being a mere 500 apps available. I did that, regularly, until it got to a point where there were just too many titles to look at. Like with any launch day event, these apps didn’t show off everything the technology could do, but they did offer a glimpse of a thrilling future.
Flight Control: Excluding a dabble with the no longer with us, Bejeweled 2, Flight Control was my first great iOS love. It showed me how great the touch controls of the iPhone could be, and how quickly one could gain satisfaction from a phone game. My past experiences with mobile gaming had been fun, but lacking that certain something that made me think it could rival handheld consoles. Flight Control changed that, for me, and I loved spending ages battling to improve my high score. Not that I was any good at it, though!
Exploration: I like apps that enhance my life, and I’ve used many in the past. Star Chart sticks in my mind, however, thanks to it enabling me to learn more about an area. While at the summit of an ancient ridge, Cefn Bryn, I could load up Star Chart and work out exactly what stars were above me and where. It was pretty magical.
A career path: It’s a pretty significant one, but if it wasn’t for the App Store, I wouldn’t be writing this. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what I’d be doing, given throughout my freelance career thus far, the App Store and iOS have played a very big role. It’s changed my life for the better. It’s been nearly three years since I wrote my first review for 148apps, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter, and I’m immensely grateful for how far I, and the site, have come.
The indie uprising: I always passively appreciated the efforts of indie developers, before the advent of the App Store, but my love for them has definitely grown. Perhaps more excitingly, I feel enabled to give it a go myself at some point. While I haven’t yet found the time spare to really pursue it, Xcode, Stencyl and Gamesalad are waiting for me, reminding me that the era of the bedroom coder has returned. That’s got to be a good thing for creativity, right?
Beloved Apps and Missed Titles
Favorites: I’ve struggled to narrow the list down. Really struggled. The memories of one Saturday morning avidly playing Game Dev Story in bed, before realising it’s practically lunchtime are particularly strong. Much the same as my hundreds of hours spent with Fairway Solitaire are fond, if tarnished by the time it inexplicably lost all my data and progress. Or how about the time I demonstrated the power of the iPad to my mother with the double whammy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and XCOM: Enemy Unknown? The former being one of my favorite games of all time.
Out of them all, though, a select bunch are used nearly every day. I take photos each day to track my life and have some fond memories to look back on, so Instagram is a must have for me. I like to back up such things, as well as my social networking sharing, so Momento is always at the forefront of my recently used apps. As a writer, iA Writer completes the selection, thanks to its cloud syncing ensuring I can always write up a quick idea, no matter where I am. New Star Soccer remains the key game that I regularly find myself returning to, living my fantasy as a world class soccer player.
Apps I miss: There are a couple of apps I miss, though. Puzzle Quest being one such title, given my love of the Match-3 genre and the fact I’ve played it to death on all other formats. Similarly, I adored Big Blue Bubble’s use of the Fighting Fantasy license, although at least Tin Man Games is doing a brilliant job of taking over that mantle.
It’s been a fun five years, and given how far the App Store has come in that time, I’m excited to see what the next five years will bring. It’s looking like a pretty rosy future to me!
You know you’ve made it big today when you’re showing up in memes. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (aka KotOR) while not a modern game by any means, is still one of (if not the) most popular Star Wars games of all time.
It’s not surprising, then, that the internet has taken its own inability to refrain from putting big blocky letters on top of images and mashed that up with images and references to this most geeky of geek games. Here are several of the best from around the ‘net. Click on each image to go to the original source.
Let’s start with a meme from a popular series of beer commercials, the world’s most interesting man.
Yeah, it’s a bit obscure for us, too.
And, keeping within the classic meme concept, here’s a good one, referencing KotOR, the new Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic, and, well, Xzibit.
Seriously, dawg, we did.
Of course, no meme bank would be complete without actual images from the game itself. Here’s one of the main characters, Bastila Shan, who apparently has a bit of a judgmental attitude.
Voiced by Jennifer Hale, no less.
Then there’s the angry droid companion, assassin HK-47, who refers to all non-droids as, well, you get it.
I can haz Jedi-burger?
Darth Malak has Bastila up against the torture table, and leans in close, menacing. Suddenly…
A new fragrance from the maker of “JediPassion,” Darth Malak.
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, popularly known as KotOR, was the first computer role playing game (RPG) set in the Star Wars universe. It was originally released on the Microsoft Xbox in July of 2003 in North America, eventually coming to Windows computers in November of that same year and Mac OS X in 2004.
Bioware, headed up by Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka at the time, revealed the upcoming title at the Entertainment and Electronics Expo (E3) in 2001 to some great fanfare. Working under license from LucasArts, Bioware chose to set the game 4,000 years before Star Wars: Episode I in the official Star Wars timeline, thus avoiding any movie tie-in pressure and allowing the developers some freedom to create new content in a familiar universe. While the team of over 40 had to send concept artwork to LucasArts, there was only minimal direction from “the ranch.”
While previous BioWare games ran long (Baldur’s Gate was 100 hours of gameplay, though it could take over 300 hours for the non-expert to complete it fully), the KotOR team wanted to keep gameplay short enough to justify all the extra world and environment building. “Our goal for gameplay time is 60 hours,” said Mike Gallo of LucasArts in an interview with GameSpot in 2002. “We have so many areas that we’re building–worlds, spaceships, things like that to explore–so we have a ton of gameplay.”
BioWare had experience developing for PC, so the development team settled on Xbox as the obvious initial target for development. One of the challenges, though, was deciding how much detail to give the visuals versus the AI, scripting, and character models. With an console, the storage space is limited to how much can fit on a game disk, and the graphical performance is determined by the console maker, not the hot-rodding PC modder. In fact, the PC version of the game has higher resolution for both display and textures, an extra location to visit, and more non-player characters (NPCs), items, and weapons.
LucasArts worked on the KotOR audio, using its vast resources and movie-library of sound effects to make the game sound like a true Star Wars experience. The game also contained 300 unique characters with 15,000 lines of dialogue, leading to a script that filled ten 5-inch binders. Around 100 voice actors filled all the roles, including some big names like Ed Asner and Jennifer Hale. The music for KotOR was an original score by composer Jeremy Soule, who used similar themes as the motion picture soundtrack while creating something new, all on an 8 megabit per second MIDI system.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic launched to strong critical and player acclaim, winning several awards, including game of the year from Game Developers’ Choice, best Xbox game of the year from BAFTA, and an Interactive Achievement Award for best console and computer RPG. The game also received many Game of the Year awards from places like IGN, Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer, and G4, and has an average Metacritic score of 93/100. KotOR has been named one of the 100 greatest video games of all time by Time, and it came in at 54 on Game Informer’s 2010 Top 200 Games of All Time list.
Gameloft has released updates for all three of its Order & Chaos titles. This includes Order & Chaos Online, which adds a new dungeon for players over level 70 and more gem slots on weapons for upgrading. Heroes of Order & Chaos celebrates its first year anniversary by adding two new heroes (Evistix, the Bone […]