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Nono Islands Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 16th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Nono Islands is a cute looking but rather tough platformer.
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Touchgrind Skate 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on November 21st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: RISE AND GRIND
Hop back on the board with one of the best skateboarding games around.
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Mr. Crab Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 11th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ADDICTIVELY TOUGH
Learn just how fast a cartoon crab can run and jump in this fast-paced platformer.
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Blast-A-Way Review

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 31st, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: Illusion Labs
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar


Blast-A-Way is the newest title from Illusion Labs, who are known for their visually-stimulating titles like Labyrinth 2, and the Touchgrind series. Now, they’re entering the realm of physics puzzlers. Players control robots who need to use bombs to get to the exit. The bombs come with different properties: some just blow up, others can pick up the color of the block that they bounce off of, and others can teleport the player to a block of the same color. However, they can’t just go around blowing things up all willy-nilly, as bombs can only interact with blocks of the same color. As well, they need to save the tiny boxies, little baby robots that are stuck in the blocks and often in perilous positions.

Portal fans will get a kick out of the game, and not just becuase there are portals involved. The puzzles have a very similar feel, players use the environment to get to the goal. While there are fewer reflex-based challenges, trying to collect the boxies does add a degree of difficulty. The sparse environments help with that similarity as well, though the splashes of color keep things from feeling stale.

The 3D nature of Blast-A-Way made me curious as to how precise one could be in the environment, and actually, the game is structured well enough to where it’s not a problem. In general, the boxies won’t go flying off to their doom if the player is doing something right. Whether this is the invisible hand of Illusion Labs’s engine ensuring this or just really well-done design, it does give the player some confidence that the boxies will only be doomed if the player explicitly messes up.

The controls can be a challenge to deal with, but I fault them in no way. With a touchscreen involved, they seem like the best method of control. Players tap and hold on a block or place on screen to target, and then let go at the desired angle. Drawing a line from the robot moves it to its proper location; it cannot fall off of ledges just by moving. Dragging on a piece of the level moves the view around, and dragging around outside the level rotates the view, with pinch-zooming, and two-finger vertical swiping to control the view height. Occasionally, adjusting the view or targeting a certain spot is problematic, and I did make some accidental mistakes because of these somewhat-complex controls. But, given the relative complexity of these controls, I can’t blame the game too much. IT ultimately does its job, and the controls are consistent.

Blast-A-Way has plenty of outright brilliant moments, and it’s sublime when a puzzle comes together just perfectly. Illusion Labs has a great feel for how iOS games should work, and it’s in effect here with Blast-a-Way.

New App: Blast-A-Way, Portal-Inspired Puzzle Game Now Available

Posted by Jeff Scott on August 30th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

I've been looking forward to this game from Illusion Labs since it was announced a few weeks ago. Now that I've had a chance to play through a couple dozen levels, I'd describe it as a Portal-inspired, yet has a very different game play style, puzzle game with robots.

Carter is working on a full review for you and it will be up in the morning.

Illusion Labs Announces Touchgrind Sequel, "Touchgrind BMX," for Spring 2011

Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on March 21st, 2011

Touchgrind, a skateboarding (or "fingerboarding") game that beautifully demonstrated the power of multitouch, debuted in the early days of the App Store. At the time (all the way back in 2008!) we called it a "great game with a finger controlled board and fantastic and innovative physics and control." Since Touchgrind, Illusion Labs hasn't released too many titles, but they've all been of extraordinarily high quality; Touchgrind, Labyrinth 2, and Sway all won "Editor's Choice" designations from us. So, then, it's with great excitement that we view a new trailer from Illusion Labs. It looks like Touchgrind is finally getting a sequel!

The trailer doesn't contain too much information, but it's tantalizing nonetheless. The sequel will be called Touchgrind BMX, and instead of a miniature skateboard, players will control BMX bikes, though of course the focus will still be on performing finger-twisting tricks. Touchgrind BMX is scheduled to hit later this spring.

From the video, we can see that the game retains the gorgeous graphics that have become Illusion Labs' signature. Additionally, players will have separate control of the front and back of the bike at the very least—unsurprising, considering that Touchgrind BMX is being billed as "the world's first true multitouch BMX game." The video shows off a number of tricks, with the promise of being able to post replay videos to YouTube for your friends to gush over. We can also see a variety of bikes and locales. As the description boasts, "Your skill and imagination are the only limits to unlock bikes and locations all over the world."

I think "teaser" is definitely the appropriate title for this trailer. Still, it's got us pumped. Touchgrind was hugely fun thanks to its fantastic controls and physics, and Touchgrind BMX looks like it'll expand upon those strengths. "Spring" is just about here, so we should be able to see how well Touchgrind BMX carries on its predecessor's legacy soon enough!

Friday Five: June 18th, 2010

Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on June 18th, 2010

It's Friday! Hurray! Of course, for me it's summer vacation and Fridays aren't quite as exciting. But, we've still got our traditional sampling of delightful new releases from the past week, so that's something. Big names like ngmoco and Illusion Labs make an appearance this week, as well as a few more mainstream companies like ESPN. Enjoy!

Godfinger from ngmoco allows you to build up a little world of cartoony followers and exert your godly powers on them. In Godfinger, you can be a kind, caring deity—performing Wonders and helping your civilization prosper—or a wicked demagogue, leaving a path of destruction in your wake. You can control sun, rain, lightning, floods, and fire. As you play Godfinger, your actions shape the terrain and your populace's opinion. It's almost ngmoco's answer to Pocket God. Go on, give it a try and test out your godly abilities...Godfinger, like many of ngmoco's newer games, is free.

Geometry Wars: Touch
Geometry Wars was already a classic Xbox game, but it made its iPad debut back in March. Now, it's a universal app, meaning that iPhone and iPod owners can get in on the action! Geometry Wars is a simplistic arcade shooter with basic, geometric graphics and a strong retro theme. It also was one of the first major games to make good use of the dual-stick shooter system that's so popular on the App Store today. The iPhone/iPad version also includes a brand-new mode, Titan, in which you gradually break giant foes apart into swarms of smaller pieces.

ESPN Pinball
In honor of the World Cup, ESPN has a released a pinball app with some football-themed tables (ahem, soccer for us Americans). There's also a Basketball table. The new pinball app is full of flashy graphics and boasts pass-and-play multiplayer, global and local leaderboards, and voice-overs from ESPN Sports Center host Jay Harris. It's a marriage of a TV network, sports, and pinball...if that sounds a little strange, well, it is, but the game looks like some solid pinball fun nevertheless.

Onion News Network
Where would we be without the Onion? In case you haven't heard of this magnificent publication, the Onion is a completely satirical news network with both an online and a print publication. (Yes, that's right: you can get a real Onion newspaper.) Their stories are funny, witty, snide, and clever; you'd be crazy not to enjoy browsing them. The Onion's new app gives you mobile access to the entire Onion archives, including both textual stories and videos. There's not much more to say: it's a typical newspaper app. The only difference is that the Onion is anything but a serious, esteemed publication. It's here to make you grin, and, perhaps, think.

Foosball HD
Illusion Labs has long expressed an interest in touchscreen gaming on larger screens (think back to their tabletop demo of Touchgrind) and now they've released an impressive iPad-only title: Foosbal HD. Foosball HD takes full advantage of the iPad's large screen, transforming it into a top-down view of a foosball table designed perfectly for "local multiplayer": both you and your friend just play foosball! You can also play against the computer, of course, but multiplayer is the real draw. Foosball seems like a natural fit for the iPad, and it's great to see Illusion Labs putting the iPad to good use. Sorry, iPhone users; this one isn't for us.


+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Perrin Stewart on February 26th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: RECOMMENDED
Illusion Labs has released yet another innovative and gorgeous game for the iPhone, leveraging the platform's multitouch and hardware strengths. The question is - will you be playing it to the end?
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Upcoming Release from Illusion Labs Sway

Posted by Jeff Scott on January 19th, 2009

Illusion Labs today sent out word about their upcoming release Sway. They game looks like it continues the innovative games and control schemes that Illusion Labs is known for. They have previously released Labyrinth (iTunes link), the ball rolling game recreation of the classic wood puzzle where you roll the ball to the goal, and winner of the 2008 Best App Ever Awards category Best Casual Game. They also released Touch Grind (iTunes Link), the winner of the Most Innovative Game for it's fantastic control scheme where your fingers control a skateboard rolling in a skate park.

Sway is described by Illusion Labs as:

Introducing Sway - The nice and friendly, but clumsy, wizard has accidentally blown up their home planet. All your friends survived the big badaboom due to their soft interior and fuzzy exterior but are scattered all over the galaxy. Now they are on a mission to find each other again!

Swing and sway through beautiful worlds in bouncy physics simulation using finger gestures to control their little grabby hands. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the controls but once you get the hang of it, you never wanna stop swaying.

Meet Lizzie, The Friendly Ninja, Benny the Bear, Recyclable Man and all your other friends in a swinging and swaying adventure like nothing you have seen before! Sway will be available on the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch before you can say smorgasboard!

Take a look at the video below -- looks like an interesting game. We'll get you more info as soon as we can get our hands on this game.

[youtube Tyguj8d9fQA]


+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jeff Scott on December 9th, 2008
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: RECOMMENDED
Touchgrind takes the skate park and puts it in your pocket. Great game with a finger controlled board and fantastic and innovative physics and control.
Read The Full Review »

Second Trailer for Upcoming Skate Game Touch Grind Released

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 31st, 2008

Illusion Labs have released the second trailer for their upcoming game Touch Grind. The skateboard game where you control the board with your fingers on the multitouch display is scheduled to be released at the end of November. The game looks really promising. As a fan of the Tony Hawk games and EA's Skate, I'm really looking forward to it.

[youtube 6uDKCBiYDOk]

Illusion Labs Announce Web Based Labyrinth Level Editor

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 30th, 2008
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Illusion Labs today announced the immediate availability of a web based level editor for the amazingly successful Labyrinth game. Labyrinth is the accelerometer based game that has been downloaded over 3.5 million times. The level editor which is available today requires version 1.4 of Labyrinth which has recently been released in the App Store.