Sure 148Apps is known far and wide for its diverse array of app reviews, but we also love to spotlight some lesser-known developers, review the occasional piece of useful hardware, and challenge developers to duke it out in their own games. Here's a look at some of the highlights from the past year:

Developer Spotlight: 11 Bit Studios

Jennifer Allen:What’s your favorite thing about iOS development?
11 Bit Studios: We are producers of PC and console games too, and iOS development is pretty different. The entire design process begins (after typical dev brainstorm for game’s main theme is over, hehe) with thinking about how to make touchscreen gameplay enjoyable in the project. At least that’s our way. We believe this particular gaming platform is based on the controls in the first place. PC games may be pad-controlled, keyboard-controlled, mouse-controlled or even be turn-based in a model where controls are totally less important comparing to story. That, of course, does not mean we are not putting attention to story, visuals et cetera, but there’s something in the statement, that iOS development is very controls-oriented. And those controls are all about tapping and finger-swiping.

Developer Spotlight: Dragonhead Games

Jennifer Allen:What was the inspiration behind Zombies & Trains?
Tor Martin Kristiansen: We actually weren’t that interested in making a game about zombies, since it seemed like every other day, someone made a game about them. We were focusing on coming up with an idea that sounded cool when you shared it with other people. At some point, almost as a joke, we started discussing ways of disposing of zombies that hadn’t been used in games or movies, and the idea of a train blasting through a zombie-horde came up. It immediately struck us as an idea that we just had to try, and we made a simple demo that was so much fun to play. And it was incredibly challenging, something we liked!

Developer Spotlight: Little Bit Games

Jennifer Allen: What was the inspiration behind The Seed?
Cody: The original inspiration for the basic physics based puzzle mechanic of The Seed was an old PC game called The Incredible Machine. The game involved creating elaborate Rube-Golderg contraptions for each level and featured a very addictive tweaking trial-and-error type gameplay. Overall though, The Seed has taken a much different tone than its inspiration. We’ve noticed that most physics-based puzzle games on mobile platforms these days look and feel the same. Quite frankly, many feel like they’re trying to capture the Angry Birds “feel.” They’re colorful, and childlike and try very overtly to appeal to the casual audience. With The Seed, we really wanted to do something different and decided to take a much more mature and minimalistic tone which is what every detail [of The Seed] strives for. There’s very little text in the game, and the music and art are designed to give a zen-like experience, to offset what can often times be a very challenging game.

Sonos Play:1

Sonos has long been my system of choice when it comes to playing music when at home. Their model of ‘stream everything using an iOS device as a controller, rather than the stream source just works so dang well. I use it nearly constantly to stream Sirius XM, Rdio, and MLB baseball. But I have to admit, if Sonos had not sent me the devices I’m not sure I would have shelled out the money for their system. Now that I’m used to it, I can’t live without it. --Jeff Scott

Crayola Light Marker

For those parents who have children who love technology and prefer to spend time tapping and dragging their fingers across a screen instead of working with real world objects that can help with fine motor skills, they may benefit from working with the Light Marker. --Amy Solomon

Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard

Scratch that--THIS is the best bluetooth-enabled keyboard I've ever used, with easy switch access to pair up to three Apple devices and a comfortable Apple-centric layout. --Rob LeFebvre

Carter vs. the Developer: Disc Drivin'

On this edition, Carter takes on Michael Bean of Pixelocity Software at the classic turn-based racing game, Disc Drivin’. Squaring off on one of the game’s new mirrored tracks, the victory condition is simple: whoever crosses the finish line first wins. Game on, gentlemen!

Carter vs. the Developer: Delta-V Racing

Chi Dire of Spacehopper Studios must not have known what was going to hit him when he put the ghost racing feature in Delta-V Racing. I try to beat his ghost time on what he calls one of the more challenging tracks in the game, albeit early on. I take ten minutes to try and top his time. Can I do it, or will the pressure be too much? Along the way, valuable hints on how to max out one’s own times at the game will be given

A wonderfully eclectic mix, don't you think? Stay tuned for more developer spotlights, hardware reviews, and yes, even more challenges from Carter in 2014.

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