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Castlestorm Preview - the iOS Version of Zen Studio's Action/Defense Game May be the Best One Yet

Posted by Blake Grundman on April 10th, 2014

It is a beautiful thing when bite-sized games from the console space transition to iOS successfully. A perfect example of this phenomena at work was Hello Games’ fantastic reinvention of the Joe Danger series last year. Now it seems that Zen Studios wants to get in on the action, as they've put the finishing touches on a port of their console and PC tower-defense/action hybrid title, Castlestorm. They were kind enough to give us an early look at the game, and much to my shock I learned that not only is it great fun, but it may actually prove to be better than its console predecessor.

Everything you loved about the original game is back again, and this time it's being aided by an extremely intuitive touch interface. The previously arduous process of twiddling control sticks to try and line up a headshot is a nightmare that can be left in the past. Launching projectiles are now as simple as tapping on the screen where the shot should land. But sometimes a catapult just isn’t enough to fend off the enemy’s attacks on the castle. In these cases, you have the option of spawning defensive ground troops or jumping into the fray yourself in the form of super-powered hero characters. These death-dealing beasts specialize in hand-to-hand combat, with a side of magical abilities mixed in for good measure. Anyone who is familiar with the control scheme of a traditional 2D brawler will feel right at home showing these “Knights of the Square Table” the error of their ways.

Though some may sink hours into the actual combat component of Castlestorm, others may find it just as enjoyable to custom design their own fortress. The easy to grasp quasi-drafting tool makes tweaking and tinkering with the perfect blueprint just as fulfilling as topping the adversary on the field of battle.

While the previously released Castlestorm console outing clocked in at a reasonable $9.99 purchase price, the iOS iteration implements an entirely free-to-play monetization structure. Both coins and crystals can be purchased using real cash, earned through normal gameplay or awarded for logging in to play on a consistent basis. Coins are used to level-up the abilities and stats of either the hero characters or each type of projectile in your quiver. Crystals are used to unlock more substantial elements, such as entire campaigns.

What I've played was a very solid sneak peak of things to come. Hopefully the final product lives up to the promise of this preview. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for our full review.

Joe Danger Infinity Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on January 9th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: DANGEROUSLY FUN
With the controls improved and niggling issues cast aside, Joe Danger is back and better than ever.
Read The Full Review »

Joe Danger Infinity - Joe's Back and Getting Ready to Start Grandstanding Once More in a New iOS-Exclusive Game

Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2013

A lot of people enjoyed Joe Danger on consoles. The iOS rendition didn't do so bad, either. But it's not over yet. Hello Games has been working in secret for the past year; and they've just pulled the metaphorical sheet off for the reveal.

Joe Danger Infinity is an all-new game, built from the ground up for iOS. The "Infinity" stands for "endless," which means (you guessed it) we're talking about an endless runner of sorts. Endless stunter, maybe? This time around Joe isn't actually Joe but a small toy from a magic gumball machine brought to life. Seriously. The interesting thing about this setup is that it gives Hello Games a whole lot more freedom with characters, vehicles, and environments. Joe isn't going it alone this time, and players will have close to two-dozen other characters to control as well as almost 20 new vehicles - tanks, airplanes, and more.

If you can't wait to get your hands on Joe Danger Infinity and start outpacing your friends (yes, the game is also a lot more focused on scores and competition this time around), well that's too bad. No official word has been given regarding a release date, but we've been told it should be making its way to the App Store "really soon."

Get Dangerous on a Budget - Joe Danger is on Sale for a Dollar

Posted by Rob Rich on September 24th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: DANGEROUS :: Read Review »

Hello Games' stunt driving physics-based racer, Joe Danger, is currently on sale for a buck. Or $0.99 if you want to get all official about it. What this means is that for less than the price of a cup of coffee - or just about anything, really - you can don your own flashy cape and start driving motorcycles off ramps and through flaming hoops. Well, not really, but you can in the game.

So please don't try doing any of this crazy stuff at home. That's what you have Joe Danger for!

iOS 7: The Game Developers' Take On It

Posted by Jennifer Allen on September 18th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SHOOT THE PUCKS :: Read Review »

With the release of iOS 7 upon us and a whole plethora of juicy new features for consumers and developers alike to enjoy, we took the time to ask some popular game developers just how they feel about it and what features they're looking forward to getting more intimate with.

Look and Design of iOS 7

The look of iOS 7 is a huge change for many, which explains why so many pivotal apps are changing their appearance; to make sure it ties into the new style of doing things. How about with games, though? And do game developers appreciate such a significant change?

For the most part, it's been considered a positive change from those we questioned. Andrew Smith of AppyNation and Spilt Milk Studios explained, "I like it! I’m a fan of refreshes – and although when I first saw the new look I wasn’t completely sold, since using it in studio on the betas it’s won me over." Stephen Morris of Greenfly Studios reinforced that view, emphasizing that the "redefining of the experience... it certainly feels fresh and more efficient."

Some apprehension was felt, though. As Richard Brooks of Rodeo Games explained, "a veteran iOS user may find it a little jarring at first," pointing out that, "the new look will split the room," from his personal experience of showing it to others. Ben Britten of Tin Man Games felt the same, pointing out that some people will love it and others will, predictably, hate it.

It's not all plain sailing though, as Martin Linklater of Curly Rocket explained, "to be honest the colours are a little garish for my tastes. Maybe in iOS 8 Apple will tone it down a little. It's not quite got the subtlety that Apple is known for." Aaron Fothergill of Strange Flavour felt the same, diplomatically pointing out that he's "getting used to it."

Even those who weren't a fan had to admit that they, for the most part, appreciated the cleaner interface.


More positively, few issues have been encountered thus far. For the majority of the people we asked, covering developers such as Hello Games, Hammer & Chisel, AppyNation, Spilt Milk Studios, Strange Flavour, and Green Fly Studios, hardly any issues were reported. The only few problems that did occur related to third-party tools, although noticeably Ben Britten of Tin Man Games found no issues with Unity3D. There were some early day problems with Rodeo Games's Warhammer Quest as explained by Richard Brooks, "The devices we were testing with were crashing a lot and it was very difficult to get anything working. Warhammer Quest didn't work at first due to some bugs in the iOS 7 main libraries, so we just had to sit back and wait. After about 4-6 weeks these were dealt with and are mostly good now."

It's a pretty positive sign for developers that iOS 7 should prove quite beneficial in the long run, given the limited issues that have been encountered so far.

Controller Support

Concept art of a possible Apple Controller (via PocketGamer)

Arguably most significant of all for many game developers is the introduction of official controller support. How do they feel about it?

"For us, this is the biggest new feature of iOS 7." explained Aaron Fothergill, "The fact that they’re a standard is the important bit as we can actually design them into our game with the standard features in mind, so we can do it properly. We’ve already got test code in SlotZ Racer, Any Landing, and Apple Dash and we’re just waiting on controllers being available for us to actually test with and perfect the controls before we release games with them in and then we’ll be considering MFI controller as integral design parts of all our games."

Simon Renshaw, of PUK fame, has similar thoughts. " I love that its possible to play iPhone games on the big screen with Apple TV mirroring, latency is an issue though, as is battery life, so I kinda hope we'll see a controller bundled with a magical iPhone-charging HDMI cable!" Martin Linklater also thinks that the controller could be the "real killer feature," at least once adopted more frequently.

Hello Games' Sean Murray explained that "touchscreens are great for lots of games - like, I’m really proud of what we managed to do with the touchscreen design with Joe Danger Touch. There are some games that just benefit from buttons and thumbsticks though, and as a gamer, my thumb just feels comfortable sat on a nice analog button. Having officially supported controllers could be fantastic for broadening gaming on iPhones even further than it is today, bringing in the controller snobs like me! We're working on making something of all this right now, something that makes use of both touch and controller. We're throwing ourselves into it completely... I think people will be surprised how well it works."

Consider us fascinated as to what this will mean for Joe Danger on iOS!

Another possible example of a future controller (via PocketGamer)

Andrew Smith is keen, but as he points out "[it's] hardly going to sell the games to more people. The vast majority of iPhone users and gamers are perfectly happy with good touchscreen interfaces, so we’ll be happy to continue to provide those!" Greenfly Studios feels the same way, with Stephen Morris explaining "our mobile games are currently more focused on the casual consumer but it doesn't mean we're not open to exploring the new niche!".

Richard Brooks also found such support less than essential, pointing out that Rodeo Games' titles are "designed entirely for mobile and tablet devices with touch screens and implementing controller support would make them worse." A fair point indeed. Jason Citron expressed similar views, explaining how Hammer & Chisel is "laser focused on building original high-quality games for tablets. A big part of that is taking advantage of the unique interaction a large touch screen affords."

With so many of the best developers doing a great job of providing touch-based interfaces, is there really a need for controllers after five years of perfecting touch controls? Perhaps not, but it'll be fascinating to see how things develop.

Revamped Game Center

For the most part, the revamped Game Center has been quite appreciated by those we asked. Andrew Smith puts it well, "it's really neat!" although does admit, while inventing a new word, that the icon is a little un-game-y. Stephen Morris particularly loves that there's a way to combat cheaters at last, which means "we can focus on providing consumers fun and realistic challenges." Like any self-respecting iOS gamer, Sean Murray explained "Seeing insane hacked scores on any game makes me sad. I’m... going to really appreciate the added security for score and achievement data, because it’ll hopefully mean there isn’t so much leaderboard hacking."

Richard Brooks points out what we've all been thinking in terms of old Game Center's looks, "I'm glad they've gotten rid of the horrible green felt style though!" because as Simon Renshaw says while describing the old interface as archaic looking, "what young person recognizes the connection between a black jack table and their favorite shooter?".

So, it's a fairly positive change for iOS 7 and some of its finest game developers. Understandably, there's some apprehension as is always the way with such a significant change, but the future is looking pretty bright. In particular, it'll be fascinating to see what comes of controller support, as well as the new and extra shiny Game Center.

Thanks to Curly Rocket's Martin Linklater, Strange Flavour's Aaron Fothergill, AppyNation/Spilt Milk Studios's Andrew Smith, Greenfly Studios's Stephen Morris, Rodeo Games's Richard Brooks, Laserdog Games's Simon Renshaw, Hammer & Chisel's Jason Citron, Tin Man Games's Ben Britten, and Hello Games's Sean Murray for taking the time to answer our questions.

Joe Danger Adds 21 New Levels and 5 New iOS-Exclusive Characters

Posted by Andrew Stevens on July 11th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: DANGEROUS :: Read Review »

Joe Danger pulls off a massive stunt in the latest update, adding a brand-new tour with 21 new levels for players to enjoy. The update also adds 5 new characters that are exclusive to Joe Danger on iOS. Players can test their skills in an enhanced laboratory and earn coin rewards through daily challenges.

To make things even better, the price has been dropped to .99 cents to celebrate the release of the update! So get to it, stuntmen!

Hello Games Discuss Joe Danger Touch's Success And Future Update Plans

Posted by Jennifer Allen on May 7th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: DANGEROUS :: Read Review »

With eight billion coins having been collected in-game since Joe Danger Touch's release in January 2013, the adventures of the daredevil stuntman have proved to be quite the hit. We managed to drag Hello Games's managing director, Sean Murray, away from work on the latest game update, in order to learn a little more about the game and its future direction.

148Apps: How hard was it to take such a successful console game (Joe Danger 1 and 2 on PS3 and Xbox 360) and convert it to iOS?
Sean: It was really hard! One of our weird little things we have at Hello Games is to never just port a game to a new platform without doing something special that fits it. We couldn’t just shunt Joe Danger over with virtual controls and the same set of levels because we knew it wouldn’t really work. Joe Danger on PS3 uses every single one of the pad’s buttons and sticks. So we went right back to scratch and thought about how a touchscreen can bring something new. We set ourselves two big goals - it was really important that it would feel like it could only work on iOS because we were building it specifically for iOS devices. And we wanted it to feel like nothing else you can play on iOS. No biggie :) We’ve designed lots of console games in the past, so it was really refreshing to get to think about touchscreens, and that meant the whole process was genuinely inspiring even while it was head-bangingly hard at times.

148Apps: What's been the team's reaction to the huge success on iOS?
Sean: I can’t tell you how excited it’s made us. It’s quite embarrassing, really. We always get really nervous launching a new game, and this one was for a platform we had never worked on before, so we were especially scared. We had good feedback from playtesters, though, so we were sort of confident, but that’s never going to prepare you for what actually happens when the public get their hands on the game. As I said, we were trying to make Joe Danger Touch feel new, so it justified the hard work that went into it, and showed us that we could be at home on iOS as we’ve been on console in the past.

148apps: Are you able to reveal any details regarding the next major update?
Sean: Yes! So, we’re working on more new characters - we’re planning on asking players to help design and choose them on our blog actually - and levels. We’ve got a nice idea coming that we hope will give players a reason to come back and play every day. And, this is probably saying too much, but we’re planning a massive set of cheat modes that are inspired by being obsessed with games like GoldenEye. That’s all coming in just a few weeks. On top of all that, and this is really is saying too much, but we had some ideas for a JDT update that have completely spiralled out of control into something else entirely. It’s super exciting and has got us all deep into learning new things on iOS, but it’s not quite ready yet for us to show off. I’m so excited about it though :D

148Apps: The Joe Danger series has always offered plenty of humour and personality, where does the inspiration for such level design come from?
Sean: That would be the contents of our art director Grant Duncan’s head. To be honest, sometimes it frightens me, but if we give him a bright enough theme it’s usually OK. It all actually came from our very earliest days as a team when we were trying to decide on what game we would make. Grant came in with some toys from when he was a kid and one of them was an Evel Knievel stunt cycle. Mix that with our love for Mario, Sonic, Paperboy and so on, and the style kind of flowed from there.

148Apps: Any more fun statistics gleaned from Joe Danger Touch?
Sean: Sure! So this morning we worked out from the total distance that Joe has ridden that, if we assume he’s 6 feet tall, he’s been the equivalent of to the moon and back three times. And he’s been in 5 million crashes. I think his insurance premiums are pretty high :D

Yes, we'd suggest avoiding ever riding pillion with Joe Danger!

Huge thanks to Sean for answering our questions.

Joe Danger Touch is out now, priced at $2.99.

Joe Danger Adds New Characters and iCloud, Mentions Big Update In The Works

Posted by Andrew Stevens on April 19th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: DANGEROUS :: Read Review »

Joe Danger adds new features in the latest update, including three new characters to unlock and iCloud save support. Also, every time you pull off a trick, you'll now earn coins for that. Hello Games has mentioned that it's been working on new game mechanics that could lead to something far bigger in a future update.

Joe Danger Touch Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on January 10th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: DANGEROUS
Joe Danger Touch boasts gobs of content and plenty of sweet tricks, but actually pulling them off is another proposition altogether.
Read The Full Review »

Joe Danger Touch Coming This Month

Posted by Jeff Scott on January 7th, 2013

We've mentioned Joe Danger Touch to you before. This game that we first saw, in it's very early form, at PAX 2011 is now in the final stages and should be released as soon as this week. We got a full hands-on with the release candidate of Joe Danger Touch, and here's what you can expect.

Joe Danger isn't your average trials-type motorcycle game. If anything I'd say it's more of a rhythm/puzzle game with a motorcycle theme. Each level presents movements and tasks you have to complete to get a perfect score. Take a look at our video of the first few minutes of the game to get the idea.

Thusfar, in our time with Joe Danger, it's seems well-designed and well-tuned. The touch controls are well thought out, unique, but easy to pick up--especially with the progressive tutorial in the game. With a multitude of levels and an amazing variety of tasks to compete in those levels, this two finger game could be the next big hit.

Developer Hello Games has taken its time to make sure that it got everything right, and it shows in the game. Well done. We'll have a full review for Joe Danger Touch on release day, and we'll update this post with that release date when it's officially known.

Joe Danger Touch Hands-On Preview

Posted by Ray Willmott on September 4th, 2012

What started out as a fun pastime for Hello Games has become something extraordinary.

They hadn’t intended to make mobile games. The whole idea of Joe Danger for iOS came about as a portfolio project using previous assets. As it turned out, the ideas came in thick and fast and now the game is in a near-finished state. Joe Danger Touch is not a port. This has been built from the ground up to make the best use of the iOS platform. At Gamescom, I sampled several levels of varying difficulty.

The first thing that struck me was the lack of a virtual stick. Personally, I think that’s for the best. I’m not sure any developer, even Hello Games, would be able to capture the dexterity a console analog provides and Joe Danger requires. Players will use tap and swipe gestures to perform moves and stunts while Joe automatically rides his bike. While some earlier levels merely require players to tap the screen to vault over obstacles, later on, they’ll need to tap obstacles to remove them from their path, as well as duck under obstructions. They’ll also need to change lanes just like the original game.

Each level has an objective, whether it’s beating the time or collecting all coins, and encourages an immense amount of replay value. Of course, it wouldn’t be Joe Danger without stunts. While airborne, players merely need to swipe the screen to perform all manner of death-defying insanity. In my time with the game, the controls were very responsive and accurate on iPad. There were no hiccups and I quickly felt like a natural after only minutes of play.

With Hello Games' incredible attention to detail and high standards, there’s no reason to think Joe Danger Touch won't be one of the year's best on any platform, let alone iOS.