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Swing King and the Temple of Bling review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2017
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: MIDDLING SWINGING
This arcade game has some clever ideas, but doesn't feel particularly special.
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Major Magnet: Arcade Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on June 30th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: MAGNETICALLY CHARGED
Fling the Major from magnet to magnet in this fast-paced if in-app purchase filled arcade style game.
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148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up - Why Core Gaming Had a Great Year on Mobile

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 26th, 2013

It's easy to look at mobile and see it as a wasteland for content; particularly with all the casual, free-to-play games, and especially the ones that seem to de-emphasize actual gameplay in favor of stronger monetization. That's only if you're not paying attention. Serious, core games - some even free-to-play - had a great year on iOS.

Oceanhorn was hyped for a good reason: it was beautiful and ambitious. That ambition didn't entirely pay off in my opinion, but for the game to have succeeded financially is a huge step forward for gaming on mobile.

It also felt like the barriers between mobile and PC/console games started to blur a bit. Frozen Synapse, Mode 7's highly acclaimed PC strategy game, landed on iPad at last. Limbo received an excellent port. Leviathan: Warships brought cross-platform online play - and the best trailer of the year. Space Hulk was not perfect, but it made for an exceptional transition.

But perhaps few did it as spectacularly as XCOM: Enemy Unknown. That game proved that it was possible to take a massive console and PC title - a fantastic modern take on one of the greatest strategy games of all time - and put it on mobile without losing any of the experience. Firaxis also absolutely stuck the landing with Sid Meier's Ace Patrol and its Pacific Skies followup; original games that went to PC later.

The Portable Podcast, Episode 178

Posted by Carter Dotson on March 12th, 2013

Sonic Bust!

On This Episode:

  • Megan Fox of Glass Bottom Games discusses Jones on Fire, why she decided to switch the game from a free-to-play title with IAP to a game that will be paid without any IAP whatever, and why she feels this way. As well, she discusses why she doesn't consider it to be necessarily a 'higher standard' to be paid with IAP, why she doesn't see premium games on Android to be a lost cause, and the surprise about Jones on Fire's protagonist.
  • Brett Nolan politely listens to Carter rant about Sonic Dash and why he feels Sega is mis-managing the Sonic series.
  • Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guest: Brett Nolan, AppAddict.net
  • Guest: Megan Fox, Glass Bottom Games
  • Music:

    How to Listen:

      Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:

    Apps From This Episode:

    This Week at 148Apps: February 18-22, 2013

    Posted by Chris Kirby on February 23rd, 2013

    We Are Your App Authority

    Every week, the experts here at 148Apps take on the hundreds of apps released weekly and take the time to sort through them, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. Isn’t that spectacular? A few lucky ones become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Here are a few excerpted notable reviews from this past week. Want to see all of them? Then be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

    Thanks to the advent of quality cameras on cellphones, we as a society take a heck of a lot more photos than we ever used to. The simplicity involved and the fact that everyone almost always has their phone on them, makes it all too easy to get very snap happy. What’s the best way of storing them, though? There’s so many different services, it can get complicated. Everpix aims to consolidate all the services together, enabling users to always be able to browse ALL their photos, not just certain groups of them. --Jennifer Allen

    Major Magnet from PagodaWest Games is at once a celebration of the titles that influenced its creators, but it also exists as a fantastic original concept that works wonders on touchscreens. It’s simultaneously nostalgic, original, and fun, a winning combination. --Carter Dotson

    Simogo has made a name on the App Store for themselves by creating stylish games that operate in a way that’s just a little bit different from the rest of the App Store. Year Walk is a haunting adventure that tells a strange story, seemingly influenced by Swedish folklore, that’s their best title yet. --Carter Dotson

    Wrapcam is the newest photo editing app, but it’s not quite the same as the others. It does use a variety of filters, but these different filter options and effects are designed to let users wrap and roll pictures to create impressive photo art. It’s like taking a picture and wrapping it up in decorative paper or cloth. --Angela LaFollette

    Within mere seconds of playing, Spunk and Moxie made me smile yet swear. Yes, it’s that kind of game. It’s entirely appropriate that cameos are made by characters from Spelunky, VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy, given they all share a similar level of difficulty. There’s even, currently, a $1,000 cash prize for unlocking all the stars! --Jennifer Allen

    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:

    I am excited to introduce readers to a new maze app by GiggleUp, Preschool Maze 123. As the name may imply, is a delightful maze app for preschool children – a lovely companion app to their other lovely maze app, Toddler Maze 123. --Amy Solomon

    I would never expect or encourage the iMarker and the Crayola Color Studio HD to take the place of coloring by hand with crayons on paper, but my son is quite interested in digital toys and tools. I am happy that he can continue to work on his pencil grip now while using this app, but I would love more apps or more material to be developed that would also work with the iMarker. --Amy Solomon

    Sharing with Duckie Deck is a delightful role-playing app for toddlers which re-enforces how to be nice and share with others. --Amy Solomon


    Rebuild is an interesting apocalyptic game from Sarah Northway that brings survival, end-times and zombies together in a fun, atypical way. It had the major zombie staples: zombies are running amuck, and I had to make it to a sealed off bastion of humanity, and guard against the undead that would just love to welcome us, uh, personally to their fold. Graphically, the developer did well to ensure that the zany artwork became a part of the gameplay, instead of distracting from it. There was a weird sort of bleakness to the abandoned All Mart that lent itself to the storyline. The hand-drawn art was from from unpleasant, and the game animations worked well. --Tre Lawrence

    If I thought about some of the least sexy things that I could write this KickStarter Spotlight on, I would imagine that plastic screen protectors would be somewhere near the top. These are the things that nobody wants on their device and, in my opinion, something that really muddles the advantage in having a swift, crisp display. So, that aside, for me to take up an entire blog post about a screen cover it must be fairly incredible. All the latest advancements in Corning’s Gorilla Glass and similar products have ushered in a new wave of advanced smartphone screens capable of being ever sensitive as well as strong. Unfortunately, things do happen. Every smartphone owner, including your’s truly, has that story of the time that they dropped their phone a mere foot and ended up with that disheartening spider-webbed glass. While we might not be able to do anything about the glass in modern phones there is certain control over what goes on that screen. Enter Evolutive Lab’s Rhino Shield which, among carrying on the animal moniker trend, is by-far-and-away the most unbelievable protection that I have ever seen. --Joseph Bertolini

    Vector is a side-scrolling running game based on the basics of parkour. It pitted me as an individual reluctant to conform to totalitarian regime in power, and with an understandable need to escape. I started by picking a location… the first of three (Downtown) was opened b default. Each level had its own appropriately named sublevels, which had to be unlocked. Actual gameplay jumped directly into the storyline, with a built-in tutorial (which is always a big plus for me). I had the bad guys after me as I jumped out of a building. Using swipes, I had to conform to my environment to elude an equally skilled establishment thug intent on preventing my escape. While running, there were goodies to collect, and tricks to learn. Prior to the action starting, I was given a trick or two to pull off, which determined moving on to higher levels. Coins collected could be used to open special moves, as could real cash. --Tre Lawrence

    Major Magnet Review

    iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
    By Carter Dotson on February 22nd, 2013
    Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: A MAJOR ATTRACTION
    Major Magnet takes obvious nostalgic influences and applies them to a great original game.
    Read The Full Review »

    PagodaWest Games Created Major Magnet from a Sonic Fan Remake

    Posted by Carter Dotson on January 23rd, 2013

    PagodaWest Games are soon to release their upcoming title Major Magnet, a physics-based platformer where players tap on magnets and swipe to jetpack around levels filled with orbs, cannons, and secrets, all in the name of getting high scores. It’s a uniquely-executed concept, but one thing stands out when playing the pre-release build of this upcoming game, due in February: it's very much like the Sonic series.

    The resemblance is not so much in gameplay as it is in terms of style: character designs, level backgrounds, even the fonts, all bear the kinds of hallmarks that the series has been known for. It’s very familiar, yet somewhat new. And it was no accident, as PagodaWest Games was partially born out of the love of Sonic, as the team of Jared Kasl, Tom Fry, Khoa Ngol, and Tee Lopes explain in this interview about the game.

    148Apps: How exactly did your team come together initially?

    PagodaWest: Tom and Jared initially met through the fan game Sonic 2 HD. After only a short amount of time spent socializing outside of the project, it became apparent that besides the obvious love of classic Sonic, our philosophies on game design were perfectly aligned, and so a close friendship was born.

    At what point did you folks decide to make a mobile game?

    Before our time on Sonic 2 HD was over, we started discussing the idea of starting our own game company. Due to circumstances in both our lives, we were at a point where it felt right [to] start PagodaWest Games, so that’s exactly what we did. With mobile gaming on the rise and the many game design possibilities a touch screen can provide, going mobile seemed like the way to go - added to which, the start up costs for development on a mobile platform were far slimmer than developing for home console or handheld.

    Are there games besides the Sonic series that you feel are influences on Major Magnet?

    As we were growing up, every so often a game would come along that would bring us pure joy the whole way through. We wanted to recreate this feeling in Major Magnet, so naturally the games that influenced us when we were younger have found their way through. Don’t be surprised to see a hint of NiGHTS into dreams… or the old Kirby’s Dreamland games as you make your way through Lastin Magnetic!

    What kind of lessons from the Sonic 2 HD project were you able to apply to Major Magnet?

    Shortly after we finished with Sonic 2 HD, we were able to reflect on what went right and wrong on the project. Even though it was just a fan game using an IP owned by SEGA, there were a few of us on the Sonic 2 HD team that tried to treat the project with a professional attitude.

    We also learned, whether through ourselves or others, not to treat any piece of work too preciously. For example, there were some pieces of art that should have taken a matter of days to complete, yet they were taking months! With Major Magnet, we give ourselves a deadline for any feature, piece of art, or asset and plan accordingly to make sure it’s finished on time.

    One of the most important lessons we learned from Sonic 2 HD was to formulate a team of people we can trust and depend on. It’s important to know if you ask for something to get done, you can trust that it’s going to be taken care of in a timely manner and to the very best of their ability. We chose our team very carefully for Major Magnet, and so far things have gone off without a hitch!

    How did the magnet gameplay mechanic come about? Was it a big part of the title initially, or did it become an important part of the game later on?

    The concept of tapping button-like magnets within the level was conceived from the get go, working along the lines of Newton’s law of universal gravitation for attracting Marv to a given point. However, it was the “swing ball”/“orbiting” mechanic which is now core to the gameplay that was refined and honed a couple of months into our prototype development.

    We had initially planned a hybrid system that allowed the player to select between standard attraction to a magnet or forcing Marv into orbit by either tapping the magnet once or holding down on it respectively. Due to the fact that the game is rather fast paced and holding the magnet would not only require the player to “track” the magnet if the camera moved but also obscured the screen with their finger, we settled on a tapping and timing system using only the orbiting physics, solving these problems and streamlining the gameplay.

    The animation for the game is very crisp and clean; is this just a case of high production values on your end, or does the Corona engine that you worked in have any effect on that?

    With regards to the engine, our only base requirements when going into using Corona was that it could display sprites cleanly and plentifully without a loss in performance across a wide range of devices. Having satisfied these criteria with aplomb and having a clear idea of what aesthetic we were after, the rest of the power was indeed in the artist’s hands.

    For all of the character animation, every single frame (for which Marv’s in-game sprite has roughly 200 alone) was painstakingly hand-drawn adhering to the strict principles of 2D animation that have been well established in the West for over 80 years. A few animations used for special effects like Marv’s particle trail use a mix of “baked in” animation and real-time particle effects making the trail look rich and dense without stressing the CPU.

    Major Magnet does appear to have a currency with upgrades, and there’s the ability to buy additional currency. In a world where many retro-focused developers are eschewing IAP, was there any reason why you felt like this was an acceptable inclusion?

    From the beginning of development we felt IAP could have a place in our game, but only if we really felt it added something meaningful for the player and would not hinder their experience in any way if they did not want to use the in-game store. Firstly, our system uses an in-app currency, Magnorbs, which you collect in the game’s levels and mini-games. If you save up enough Magnorbs, you can spend these in the store to purchase useful items to help you along if you’re having trouble - such as the Super Boost which can be used at any time during gameplay, freezing Marv indefinitely until the player swipe-boosts him in the direction they choose.

    If the player chooses to rely on these items more frequently, they may wish to buy additional Magnorbs to purchase more items at their discretion. However, unlike freemium games whose sole income is from IAP, there is absolutely no obligation for the player to spend more money in Major Magnet in order to progress, it is simply a means to enhance their enjoyment of the game by saving them time if they ever come unstuck.

    Thanks to PagodaWest Games for their time. Major Magnet is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2013.