Posts Tagged Super Hexagon

15 Coins Review

15 Coins Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
15 Coins is a minimalist arcade game that proves to have an engaging concept and different kinds of challenges.

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Duet Review

Duet Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Duet is yet another stellar entry into the pantheon of challenging minimalist survival games on iOS.

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Boson X Review

Boson X Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Boson X is an endless survival game in the tradition of several other titles on the App Store, but it shows how many elements in the equation can go wrong and make a game feel unsatisfying.

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Whitaker Trebella, now operating under the company name of Fixpoint Productions for his game and music work, is releasing his second full-fledged game, Pivvot. The development of the game was quite like how it plays: a long and winding path that was fraught with obstacles, but with success waiting at the end.

Pivvot-bannerIt makes sense because he definitely doesn’t take the easy path through life: he’s a music teacher who also does music for a wide variety of iOS games, becoming one of the most prominent composers on the platform. He was self-started, too – music submissions for Tilt to Live eventually turned into greater attention and more work to start making music for games. Then, he decided to learn how to program in order to make his own games, and he created Polymer, which didn’t make him rich but made significant income for him, was extremely successful for a first release, and was a critical success to boot. He even got married to the love of his life, changing his last name from Blackall to Trebella, a combination combined from his and his wife Dana’s last names. So, what comes next?

That was the one thing he just couldn’t figure out.

A screenshot from the final version of Pivvot. It took a while to get to this point, though.

A screenshot from the final version of Pivvot. It took a while to get to this point, though.

Trebella says that “I struggled for quite awhile with what kind of game I would like to make next. I probably had at least 20 totally different ideas running around in my head, fighting for attention. I sketched out a bunch on paper, prototyped a few on the device, and showed various people a couple of the ideas I had. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time after releasing Polymer.”

There was one idea that he worked sporadically on at the time, he just never felt all that motivated to work on it because he was struggling to make it work. A talk that Rami Ismail gave, one that wound up influencing fellow Chicago developers such as Dan FitzGerald and Lisa Bromeil of Dog Sled Saga, only helped to sway him toward ditching his idea when he got up to ask about it. His question about whether he should keep pushing with his idea (one he still might pursue in the future) was long-winded, and not exuding much confidence that the idea had a future. “I thought it had potential but it just never struck me. I never had that drive to finish it that I had with Polymer. And because it was a complex idea, it wasn’t even fun to play in the early stages. Eventually, I just scrapped it altogether.”

So it was back to the drawing board. After scrapping his original idea for his second game, he says “I started making a bunch of prototypes. Out of the many prototypes, I decided on one that eventually led to the creation of Pivvot.”

A screen from an early version of the game.

A screen from an early version of the game.

Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon “very much so” influenced Pivvot during its creation. “I just really love the simplistic nature of Super Hexagon‘s gameplay. While it is a VERY hard game, it is VERY easy to understand what to do and how to do it. I wanted to get that same sort of feeling with Pivvot. Someone said to me recently that they enjoyed Pivvot because they knew what to do right away without even playing it. It’s back-to-basics gameplay. I was tempted a number of times to add bells and whistles but I kept thinking back to how awesome Super Hexagon is and how it focuses strictly on that one fun mechanic.” He even has talked to Terry Cavanagh and says “He seemed to think the idea was cool!” when he showed a version of the game to him a couple of months ago.

But curiously, it was also the core technology at work with Pivvot that helped convince him that this was the right idea.”I’m working in Unity with the Futile framework. It took me a long time to really understand how to make cool-looking shapes and objects in Futile. Once I figured that out though, it opened up a ton of options. I was able to create cool-looking obstacles, and maybe even more importantly, I was able to create the winding, pulsating path that is the centerpiece of Pivvot‘s gameplay. Once I had a winding path with some obstacles and some basic collision detection, I was able to play the game and actually have fun.”

“Once I was having fun with the prototype, I knew it had potential.”

He felt like he had nailed the core idea of pivoting around a point traveling along a winding path avoiding obstacles all the while, but making it fun was the biggest challenge. “It took an incredible amount of playtesting on my end. I would create an obstacle, then play the game over and over and over with just that obstacle until I either felt really happy with it or found something that annoyed me about it. For example, if I kept dying on one specific part of an obstacle and it started to feel unfair, I would make that part a bit easier; if a certain part of an obstacle pattern was just way too easy, I would tweak it to make it harder; if an obstacle played well but just didn’t look very cool, I would think about how to make it look better.”

Everything with the game’s art is actually generated through code. Pivvot has a very minimalistic look, consisting mostly of lines and geometric shapes. This wasn’t always the case, though: “the obstacles used to have outlines and other details on them. At first, I thought it looked very cool, but the more I played it, the more I realized the extra details really distracted from the minimalistic look of the game. Having said that, I needed to make sure it looked ‘artfully minimalistic’ rather than just ‘flat.’ ”

Continue reading Whitaker Trebella’s Long Voyage to Completing His Second Game, Pivvot »

 

galaxyonfire2

While games may not be the largest percentage of apps in the App Store (non-games lead the way overwhelmingly), they are the most popular single category, with over 151,000 active games in the App Store as of this month, according to 148Apps.biz.

One could argue, and indeed I will, that games are the most transformative type of app in the App Store, bringing a quality of play to iOS devices previously impossible to achieve. As 148Apps staffers have been heard to proclaim, there are over 1.2 billion thumbs waiting to play games on these crafty little devices.

Of course, there have been landmark games since the App Store went live in 2008, titles that create, extend, and improve on the current state of the art. Here then, are the top 20 of those games, as chosen by your App Experts at 148Apps.

Doodle Jump – This one started the jumping game craze, inspiring a host of clones and imitators along the way.
Angry Birds – Need we say more? The grumpy avians have taken over the public consciousness.
Tiny Wings – Not just another bird game, Tiny Wings showed us how one mechanic, brilliantly executed, could take an unknown designer to untold heights.

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Candy Crush Saga – Good heavens we still get a lot of invites for this casual, money-printing game.
Clash of Clans – Say what you will about free to play, but this game has gotten it right.
Tiny Tower – Nimblebit hit the jackpot here with a smart combination of tower building and free to play retro gaming.

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Temple Run – If anyone deserved to have a huge hit, it’s the folks at Imangi Studios, who have been pushing the boundaries of quality gaming from the beginning. This one created the 3D endless runner genre at a breakneck speed!
Puzzles & Dragons – Another free to play darling, this one gets all the elements right to keep players entertained and paying.
Where’s My Water? – Disney’s breakout hit, with a new IP (intellectual property) and a fiendishly addictive mechanic.

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Pocket God – 47 updates later, still going strong and keeping kids of all ages entertained and laughing.
Minecraft Pocket Edition – The surprise PC hit the iPhone like a ton of cube-shaped bricks, letting crafters and miners of all stripe build and explore on the go.
Words with Friends – Scrabble with people you know. What’s not to like? This one started the “with friends” genre with a bang.
Draw Something – Super successful, super quick, leading Zynga to buy the developer for a landmark price.

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Infinity Blade – This game set the bar high for utter gorgeousness and a fighting mechanic that still sees itself in current games on the App Store, some two and a half years later.
Canabalt – Heard of the endless runner genre? Canabalt started it all with a one-touch game that exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has remained in the collective imagination ever since.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – This one proves again and again that the indie spirit can be captured and distributed via mobile, with a game that may never have gotten noticed on the bigger consoles.
Galaxy on Fire 2 – This space exploration and dogfighting game set the standard for utter gorgeousness, as well as finding a way to build a space sim on a tiny mobile device.

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Spaceteam – Don’t forget to flush the four-stroke plucker! Wait, what? Play this game with a few of your (drinking) friends, and you’ll see what multiplayer party games *should* be like.
Real Racing – Still the gold standard for racing games on a mobile platform, the original game hit the starting line in 2011, with sequels upping the ante on visuals, controls, and profitability.
Super Hexagon – If you hate yourself, play this brutally difficult yet strangely compelling arcade game and thank indie developer Terry Cavanaugh in the morning.

Expert App Reviews

 

Week-in and week-out, 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.

SuperBetter

 
superbetter

A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. –Jennifer Allen

Layton Brothers Mystery Room

 
laytonbrothers10

Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. –Rob Rich

Limbo

 
Limbo-1

Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. –Carter Dotson

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:

GiggleApps

 

Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet

 
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As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. –Amy Solomon

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

 
eyeville

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Space is Key

 
space

The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. –Tre Lawrence

Warmly

 
warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence

LandGrabbers

 
landgrabbers

Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. –Tre Lawrence

This Week at 148Apps: December 24-28

This week at 148Apps.com, everything was about end of the year wrap-ups and countdowns. Carter Dotson compiled an extremely helpful multi-part 148Apps Top Apps of 2012, and he also gave us his Favorite Things of 2012: “In particular, Super Crate Box and Super Hexagon both left me in states of constant desire, wanting to get that high score while tackling the immense difficulty both games presented. Yet there was one consistent thread in both: failure was usually my fault, the factor of poor execution rather than random chance. It makes success feel all that more empowering. The byproduct of it is constant failure, and frequent profanity usage.”

Oprah has nothing on Carter. Read his full list of Favorite Things on 148Apps.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-01-04 :: Category: Games

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-31 :: Category: Games

What’s a New Year’s celebration without pizza? Is it any wonder, then, that Amy Solomon at GiggleApps.com reviewed Bamba Pizza: “This is the fourth year my son will receive play food as a large part of his holiday and birthday gifts from my husband and me. Although he has different hobbies as well that are demonstrated in the other toys he plays with, not a day goes by that it isn’t a birthday for a doll or stuffed animal where pizza is always served, along with cake, cookies and many other selections.

Although I would never expect Bamba Pizza or other apps like it to take the place of playing with toys in the real world, my son also enjoys playing with these types of apps when away from the house or when lying in bed before or after a full night’s sleep, when play food items are not welcome.”

Read all of Amy’s review at GiggleApps.

$1.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-06-10 :: Category: Education

The holidays also present endless opportunities for taking photos. AndroidRundown.com reviewer Tre Lawrence showcases a venerable iOS photo app, now making the transition to Android: “There was a time, not all that long ago, when cameras on phones were not too hot. The hardware was rudimentary, and the accompanying software bordered on the silly. Pictures were not that great.
Since then, it has gotten better… much better. So much so, that for many people, their smartphone cameras are the cameras for everyday use.

Snapseed (from Nik Software) is an app that looks to perfect the picture-taking experience. It is a photo-editing title that incorporates a lot of the features people have come to expect with apps of this type. Being chock-full of fan favorite filters definitely makes it an interesting offering.”

Read Tre’s full review at AndroidRundown.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-07 :: Category: Photography

By this time next week, we will be in 2013, so all of us at 148Apps would like to take this moment to thank you for your constant readership throughout 2012. Without you, loyal reader, we simply wouldn’t exist! Thank you, and Happy New Year from 148Apps!

2012 was an amazing year. It was full of new things, old things, and big changes. But of everything that came about in the past year, these are my favorite things:

“Super” Challenging Games

In particular, Super Crate Box and Super Hexagon both left me in states of constant desire, wanting to get that high score while tackling the immense difficulty both games presented. Yet there was one consistent thread in both: failure was usually my fault, the factor of poor execution rather than random chance. It makes success feel all that more empowering. The byproduct of it is constant failure, and frequent profanity usage.

The Story of Mikey Shorts

Another one of my favorite games of the year, and one of the cooler stories too. Developers Mike Gaughen and Mike Meade met on the TouchArcade forums while competing for high scores, and eventually they got together to make the kind of speedrun game that they wanted, and they absolutely stuck the landing on this one.

The indie spirit lives on

2012 was not an easy year for indie developers, and it didn’t get easier. Yet, there were still so many great games from small studios, trying to just execute a great idea or hopefully hit it big. I fear for the future of indies on iOS, but the fact that they keep on trucking is inspiring.

Getting to Attend Game Developers Conference

This was my first GDC, and it was an amazing experience. To go around and talk to the people who create the games we love to play in person is a fantastic experience. And it’s refreshing to see that even those who have hit the mobile gaming jackpot still talk with those who have not had that kind of success get. And hey, nothing makes you feel important like having a press pass and getting into exclusive events. And San Francisco is a beautiful city.

Chicago

But Chicago is now my home. 2012 was a year of big life events for me, and I finally was able to make a big move, to leave Texas (where I had lived my entire life) and move out far away on my own. I live in a bustling and exciting city, I get to talk to a community game developers and writers that also live here, and the food ain’t bad either.

Note that this is a list of my favorite things of 2012 – I keep getting reminded that winter is coming and it is awful. As such, Chicago may not be on my 2013 list.

148Apps

Finally, 148Apps. Being part of one of the best app review sites on the Internet has changed my life in innumerable ways. The two and a half years I have been here have opened up new opportunities for me, and allow me to pursue the things that I am passionate about as a career. So for everyone that reads the site and listens to the podcast, I thank you for your support.

148Apps’ Best Games of 2012: 10-1

These are it. The cream of the crop of 2012. The best games that ought to be played. We’re sure you have opinions on this – tell us in the comments below!

10. The World Ends With You: Solo Remix: This DS role-playing game was brought to the next big touchscreen gaming system. Spoiler alert: its unique art style, soundtrack, and gameplay, re-fitted for one screen, fit well enough to let the experience still shine. It is expensive but worth it, writes Jennifer Allen: “I’ve played many JRPGs in the past and there’s nothing quite like it. The iOS conversion is pretty good, even despite the screen restrictions, and it’s all forgiven when you’re wrapped up in the storyline so much. It’s an expensive purchase but one that will offer you dozens of hours of memorable gameplay. When you think of it like that, it really doesn’t sound so bad.”

$17.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-08-27 :: Category: Games

$19.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-08-27 :: Category: Games

9. Outwitters: One Man Left’s long-awaited turn-based strategy game proved to well worth the long-awaiting. Move units in such a way to avoid detection or be out of the range of the enemy. Imagine their horror as they realize that their opponent has set themselves up to win no matter what they do, and hitting submit is their doom. Such is the joy of Outwitters. Just hope that opponents don’t consider the phrase “The only winning move is not to play” a valid strategy.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-05 :: Category: Games

8. Super Hexagon: Where Terry Cavanagh’s frantic survival game is in its relentless simplicity. It’s all just spinning left and right no matter what, but then it becomes about learning the patterns of the different difficulty levels, and figuring out the approach. But yet, the hardest part is the execution, and not messing up. Spinning left and right has never been so difficult, and yet so ultimately rewarding.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-31 :: Category: Games

7. Letterpress: Who saw Loren Brichter, most known for legendary Twitter app Tweetie, reinventing the multiplayer word game? This stylish asynchronous multiplayer affair was compelling because the goal was so different: each player was on relatively equal footing with the same 5×5 grid, but new strategies, and competing for territory formed from words played out. Just don’t cheat.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-24 :: Category: Games

6. Rayman Jungle Run: Why was this Rayman auto-runner so good? Perhaps it was the absolutely stunning 2D animation. Perhaps it was the charming music that set the mood of the game perfectly. Perhaps it was the ingenious level design. Perhaps it was the perfectly-honed progression curve, introducing new abilities steadily throughout the game. But maybe it’s the fact that all of it came together so well in one game. Oh, and the game has used few in-app purchases, a shocking development considering they were all over the place in 2012.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-09-18 :: Category: Games

5. 10000000: There’s no reason why, just looking at this game on the surface, why is should be on a top games list. It’s got a pixel art style, but it’s hardly polished or detailed. It has the ugliest icon on the App Store. That anyone noticed it at all is really a miracle. But those who did notice it also noticed that they had no free time left. The way that different matches can affect the board means that each move has an impact, and often an unintended one. It’s just way too easy to keep coming back and giving this one another shot to try and get to the eponymous ten million points total.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-25 :: Category: Games

4. Angry Birds Star Wars: The franchise got a major boost in 2012. While there’s only so many ways to tackle launching birds at pigs, the fact that Angry Birds Space mixed in so many new ways to tackle this eternal conflict was refreshing. But even better was that Rovio took an opportunity with what could have easily been a licensed cash-in and made it something that not only was nostalgic and just reverent enough to the source material along with its inherent irreverent characters and theme, but made it truly a Star Wars-inspired Angry Birds game. It sounded ridiculous, and at some level, still is ridiculous, but it rises above that.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-11-07 :: Category: Games

$2.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-11-07 :: Category: Games

3. Hero Academy: While exchanging words has been a staple of turn-based multiplayer games on iOS, Hero Academy was probably the first game that really mastered a combat-based gameplay on iOS. There was plenty of raw strategization, but there’s also the poker aspect of not knowing what units your opponent has up their sleeve, exactly. Watching your team dance around after winning is extremely satisfying, after that other team’s archer had taken so many with them. Dance little soldiers, dance indeed.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-01-11 :: Category: Games

2. Punch Quest: Rocketcat Games and Madgarden made a game that clearly was meant to take refuge in its audacity: the idea of an endless puncher where skeletons, bats and orcs get punched in between rounds of riding laser-firing dinosaurs and gnome transformations could easily just be ludicrous. Making it fun and addictive is another challenge: the fact that the game is so perfectly controlled with just two fingers helps. That it contains a deep customization and skill-based system helps propel return sessions, along with the ability to see friends’ customizations on the leaderboard. But the fact that the game just remains so simple and fun to play at its very core makes it one of the best games of the year.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-25 :: Category: Games

1. Walking Dead: The Game: When compiling this list, there were many titles named as some of the best of the year by our staffers. Yet, one game kept popping up, and it was Telltale’s take on the popular zombie franchise. It’s easy to see why: the game presents players with ways to interact with their world, and define their character and fate in ways that other games do not. It’s powerful and memorable, as Jennifer Allen explains: “I love games that offer an emotional experience which is exactly what The Walking Dead has offered. The fact that every decision has a repercussion, whether big or small, makes it all the more fascinating. It might not be a game designed for replaying, but that sole experience from start to finish is quite gripping if upsetting at times.”

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-26 :: Category: Games

Kotaku points us along to this story today, with a post on Super Hexagon creator Terry Cavanagh’s tweet about why his latest free game (Don’t Look Back) was rejected from the App Store today:

“Haha, wow…. Don’t Look Back just got rejected from the app store… You’re never going to believe why: i.imgur.com/wD4X6.png

The click through image shows an Apple official rejection for metadata that Cavanagh included, which says, “there are no in-app purchases or any of that nonsense.”

Apple calls this “placeholder text,” and suggests Cavanagh revise it. Woah.

Kotaku’s take? “So remember, it’s totally okay to clone Mario or Torchlight or Canabalt or Mega Man or Pokémon. Just don’t let Apple think you’ve accidentally left in placeholder text.”

source: Kotaku

This Week at 148Apps: October 8-12

This week at 148Apps.com, Eli Cymet plumbed the depths of difficulty with his interview of Super Hexagon creator Terry Cavanagh: “Talking to Terry Cavanagh (pictured, left), the first thing that jumps out at me is how pleasant he is. How soft-spoken and thoughtful he comes across as. Particularly for somebody who tortures people.

An award-winning independent developer from Ireland, Cavanagh has become known for wonderful, mercilessly difficult games like VVVVVV and Super Hexagon. The latter is Cavanagh’s first iOS game; a low-fi arcade gauntlet that challenges players to move left and right to survive an incoming barrage of lines and shapes for as long as possible. It bent our brains in circles and became a surprise cult-hit on the App Store, moving about 72,000 copies since release, according to Cavanagh’s last look.

Wonderful. Mercilessly difficult. The two don’t quite go together, do they? Against all odds, however, it seems that driving people mad is what’s driven sales for Super Hexagon. It’s a phenomenon that beckons the question: why is a game that’s so hard so very easy to love? What makes difficulty so satisfying?

Read the full conversation at 148Apps.com.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-31 :: Category: Games

Meanwhile, over at GiggleApps.com, reviewer Amy Solomon explored Magic Forest HD Pro, a physics-based game for kids: “There are many variations of this style of game in the iTunes store such Cut the Rope, but I enjoy the look of this app, with backgrounds reminiscent of water color or batik artwork and include forest motifs that I find appealing and a little different from what is commonly found in a game such as this. Here, one is looking to help these pets into their basket, breaking glass bricks or other obstacles that prevent these animals from typically falling into where they belong.”

Read Amy’s full review at GiggleApps.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-07-19 :: Category: Games

And at 148Apps.biz, Carter Dotson reported on the growing need for native language support in apps geared for eastern audiences. He writes, “It’s easy to think about the App Store as largely a western, and largely American phenomenon: it’s one of the largest revenue drivers, and success or failure there often means international failure. English is thus the most supported language in apps, particularly as it is such an international language as well now. But Distimo has put out information in their latest report that suggests while English may be the dominant language in the western world, success in the east requires apps to speak the native tongue.”

Want to know more? Read the complete story at 148Apps.biz.

Talking to Terry Cavanagh (pictured, left), the first thing that jumps out at me is how pleasant he is. How soft-spoken and thoughtful he comes across as. Particularly for somebody who tortures people.

An award-winning independent developer from Ireland, Cavanagh has become known for wonderful, mercilessly difficult games like VVVVVV and Super Hexagon. The latter is Cavanagh’s first iOS game; a low-fi arcade gauntlet that challenges players to move left and right to survive an incoming barrage of lines and shapes for as long as possible. It bent our brains in circles and became a surprise cult-hit on the App Store, moving about 72,000 copies since release, according to Cavanagh’s last look.

Wonderful. Mercilessly difficult. The two don’t quite go together, do they? Against all odds, however, it seems that driving people mad is what’s driven sales for Super Hexagon. It’s a phenomenon that beckons the question: why is a game that’s so hard so very easy to love? What makes difficulty so satisfying?

“I think it really comes down to a couple of small things,” reflects Cavanagh. “The main one is that it’s fair. It never feels like…” he pauses for a moment. “Put it this way: whenever you mess up in the game, it always feels like it’s your fault, and that’s really, really important.” We’re talking about his game, but Cavanagh’s first guiding principle speaks to a fundamental shift in values within the industry.

Where once it was understood – embraced, even – that quarter-sucking games would be hard-wired for player failure, notions of ‘cheapness’ have taken over. Blistering difficulty can still exist, but with less erratic exceptions and more dependable rules. If dependability is one piece of the difficulty puzzle, it becomes clear in talking more with Cavanagh that simplicity is its interlocking mate.

“With [Super Hexagon], the sort of things that can happen in the game are very simple, very learnable. In a sense, nothing comes out and surprises you.” Almost immediately, he corrects himself. “Well I suppose that’s a lie…waves are decided randomly at the edges of the screen… [but] every pattern in the game is discrete and learnable. That’s a big part of the game; training your muscle memory and getting to know the patterns.” An important distinction, it seems. Nailing down the difference between too hard and just hard enough means understanding that systems can be complex, but that learning them shouldn’t be.

Playing Super Hexagon, it’s easy to see the way that approach informs every layer of the game. Case in point? The score. Far from recycling the bloated arcade method left over from the coin-op era, Cavanagh gives players only one measure of success: time. An ever-present reminder of the true game at work…survival of the fittest.

Soon after the game’s release, it became apparent that this choice just may have been the unexpected ace in the hole. Players would tweet out their latest time, wearing it like a badge of honor. Super Hexagon has no formal social features, no “tools for virality,” but armed with their hard-fought numbers, players began jostling for position in a metagame of milliseconds. I ask Cavanagh if that was part of his plan all along, and while he won’t speculate as to the social impact, I may have just discovered a third rule of difficulty.

“I think you’re dead right about the score being an exact measure of how good you are,” says Cavanagh. “If you’ve lasted for 14.36 seconds, that’s an exact measurement; it tells you a lot of information, which is not like the kind of scores we’re used to seeing. People are used to seeing exaggerated scores, scores that are multiplied by a million. Scores where there are all sorts of measures in place to prevent you from knowing how you’re actually doing. I think having a score that means something makes the score important to players.” Something to strive for. Arguably, difficulty becomes easier to cope with when success isn’t obfuscated by jargon, when players feel like they’re being rewarded for of their work.

Inevitably, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Feeling rewarded. Yet in some ways, that leads me back to square one, wondering what could be so rewarding about frustration. About losing. Pausing again, Cavanagh responds simply.

“I don’t know if I really think of the game as frustrating.” Only then do I realize, I’ve never asked what he does think of the game. So I ask.

“I feel like you’re trying to get into a rhythm with the game; when you’re playing the game really well, it has this sort feedback, and your senses are going off at the right time, and you’re making all the right moves, and everything…just feels right. And the game is about trying to get into that frame of mind.”

And perhaps that’s when something that’s so hard becomes so easy to love: when the pursuit of that feeling is more satisfying than the experience of not always finding it.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-31 :: Category: Games

Image: DistractionWare

Super Hexagon Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Super Hexagon is indie developer Terry Cavanagh's frantic survival title featuring lots of geometry, intense chiptunes, and deaths.

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