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Sometimes Shameless Clones Are Good (Kind Of)

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 14th, 2018
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

For the past few weeks, I’ve been playing a little game called Royal Booty Quest. Is it a good game? No, not really. It’s got really shoddy visuals, a UI that breaks easily, no sound, and missing text values all over the place.

The only reason I’ve been sticking with it is because it's a clone of Slay the Spire, a deckbuilding roguelike that generated some strong buzz when it hit early access late last year. In it, you pick a hero to enter a dungeon to fight enemies in card-based combat. As you get further into the dungeon, you get opportunities to finely hone your deck as the enemies around you get stronger and try to survive. If you die, you start all over again.

Into The Breach Would Be Perfect For Mobile

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 1st, 2018

If you ask just about anyone to name their absolute “must-buy” mobile games, FTL is bound to be on that list. With an awesome premise, tons of replayability, and a tough-as-nails roguelike sensibility, it’s a game you can fire up at any time just about anywhere and have a good time. With the release of Subset Games’s follow up title, Into The Breach, this week, a lot of people have been wondering if this game has the same potential to be a smash hit on mobile, and the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:

It’s great

The first thing you might want to know about Into The Breach is that—as a follow up to FTL—it pretty much completely lives up to the hype. It’s a tightly designed roguelike where you control a team of mecha as they try to defend humanity. For a quick comparison, it feels like someone took Pacific Rim and jammed it into a tiny tactical map that looks like Advance Wars but plays a bit more like Invisible Inc., where all of your hits will land, but you have to plan them out carefully to make sure you don’t die or inflict too many human casualties in the process.

On top of that, it has a ton of unlockables, bonus missions, upgrades, and the same great difficulty curve that keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly while playing. As long as a port job of Into The Breach brings the game to mobile more-or-less intact, there’s no need to worry about whether it’s worth a purchase.

It fits

As an experiment, I went ahead and tried a couple ways to shoehorn Into The Breach onto my iPad just to see what it would be like, and I wasn’t disappointed. Even without any port work to make Into The Breach’s controls work for touch, the game works surprisingly well. It's also a game that constantly saves your progress, which makes it easy to pick up and put down on a whim. Finally—and perhaps most importantly—Into The Breach’s bite-sized tactics maps fit amazingly well on a mobile screen. Don’t believe me? Check out the screenshot below of the game running on an iPad display. Even in this compromised, windowed mode, everything about the game's UI is clean and easy to read.

The App Store could use another essential release right about now

FTL came out on mobile about four years ago, and since then there have been a few games here and there that seem like they should stay permanently installed on your home screen, but not many, especially recently. Although there are no current plans for Into The Breach to come to mobile, it would be a huge hit, particularly if it struck during an App Store lull like the one we’re currently in.

You don’t need to be playing Asphalt 9: Legends, and here’s why

Posted by Campbell Bird on February 27th, 2018

Big news dropped this week as Gameloft announced they’ve soft launched Asphalt 9: Legends in the Philippines. This has caused quite a stir primarily because the Asphalt games are among some of the best-looking racing games on the App Store. Heck, you might have already started looking at screenshots and are wondering if you should make a Philippines App Store account just to check it out for yourself. Well, if you are, I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t, and here’s why:

3D Touch could be a game-changer, but it’s not there yet

Posted by Jennifer Allen on September 29th, 2015

Were you one of the lucky/financially secure enough ones to buy a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus over the weekend? Yup, me too (I’m not convinced I was either of those two things, but let’s go with lucky for now), so I thought I’d delve into just what’s going to wow us about this upgrade. It turns out that so far, there’s a ton of untapped potential. [Editor's Note: I see what you did there...]

You see, the iPhone 6s’ potentially coolest feature is 3D Touch. Sensing how much pressure you apply to your iPhone’s screen could, in theory, revolutionize things in a way that we haven’t seen since the advent of touch screens. It’s distinctly early days, though.

This is particularly evident when you bear in mind there’s only really one game with 3D Touch support at the moment. That happens to be AG Drive which kind of makes sense for a game that embraces the future quite so readily. Playing a lot like WipeOut, 3D Touch does make quite a difference.

I found that by pressing down a little harder I could accelerate faster, as well as brake more quickly. It’s not as awe-inspiring as you’d hope, being more of a subtle tweak than anything right now, but it’s a great insight into what could happen next in gaming. It’s freshened up an experience that I thought I’d had my fill of.

Various apps are gradually embracing 3D Touch’s "Peek and Pop" - Apple’s term for being able to preview content by holding down on a link or button. For instance, doing this to Dropbox’s icon allows you to perform various quick actions, while Instagram lets you see thumbnail previews. It is a little tetchy though, so expect to change your settings so that 3D Touch recognises ‘light’ touches, otherwise it might not work correctly for you.

Stock Apps allow you to do things like preview messages or website links, saving you valuable time and being all-around a little cooler than before.

None of this is a game changer. Yet. But I can see it going that way. Imagine an Angry Birds game where how hard you press down on the reticule affects how violently the bird is thrown? Or an FPS game’s machine gun firing more rapidly because of how hard you "squeeze" the trigger.

The potential is pretty cool, and while for now it might seem gimmicky, it could make all the difference in making our games feel more tactile. That’s got to be a good thing, right?

Bust-A-Move Islands: Mourning the Loss of a Fairly Average Freemium Game

Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 13th, 2015

Why Final Fantasy VII for iOS Might Not be so Great After All

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 17th, 2015

If you’ve bothered to look at my profile on here, first of all, why are you that interested? Second of all, you’ll note that I stated that Final Fantasy VII (and Goldeneye) were ‘life-changing’ for me. Ok, so there’s a certain amount of hyperbole there, but those two games ensured I went from "Hey, games are quite fun when I've got nothing better to do" to "I love everything about them and they’re very important to me." That’s a double-edged sword to one’s productivity levels, but hey, look what I’m doing right now.

As a big mobile gaming fan and a big Final Fantasy VII fan, I should be excited about it coming to iOS, right? Well, not so much.

Why Having Native Apps on the Apple Watch is a Big Deal

Posted by Rob Rich on June 9th, 2015

Yesterday’s WWDC was full of all sorts of interesting announcements for all sorts of Apple-related operating systems. A lot of really impressive stuff is in the works, but the most significant change for the Apple Watch has got to be allowing for native apps (i.e. apps that are installed directly on the watch rather than piggybacking over from the iPhone).

How Does the Apple Watch Ranks As a News Reading Device?

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 2nd, 2015

If you’re like me, you’re a little hooked on knowing what’s going on in the world. I’ve been on nights out and still slightly drunkenly gazed at the TV in the bar because I’ve wanted to see what the breaking news was. Yeah, I know. It turns out that the Apple Watch might be the ideal device for news hounds such as me. While it’s yet to provide a perfect news reading experience, there are a few great ways of gaining some insight on your wrist.

What the Apple Watch Gets Right, and What it Gets Wrong - Revisited

Posted by Rob Rich on May 26th, 2015

A couple of months ago I ruminated on what the Apple Watch could and couldn’t do (as indicated by Apple’s own descriptions, since the watch itself wasn’t out yet). I also ruminated on what it seemed to be doing right and what it was doing wrong. Now that I’ve actually had one for a bit and have been using it daily, some of my thoughts have changed. Some for the better, and some for the worse.

So it’s time to take a look back at what I got right (ha-ha!) and what I got wrong (boo!).

Just How good a *Watch* is the Apple Watch?

Posted by Jennifer Allen on May 14th, 2015

Innovations at Apple are great, of course, but how does the Apple Watch perform as an actual watch? It’s something that few of us have probably given much thought because we were too busy wondering if this would be the next big thing for Apple in terms of gaming and app design.

Turns out it works much better than you’d expect.

Here Are Our Top 5 App Picks to Make the Gym More Fun and Productive

Posted by Jennifer Allen on May 6th, 2015

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

The gym can be an intimidating place at times. I’m now at a point where I’m pretty comfortable with my gym and my fitness levels (although they could always be improved!), but it’s taken a little while to get there. While I’ve had one personal training session with an expert who set me up with a good plan, much of it has come down to me figuring out what works best for me. That’s where a selection of iOS apps have really helped, both by providing me with useful advice and somewhere to store my workouts, and by giving me something to distract myself with between exercises. Here’s a look at a few of my recommendations.

The Apple Watch Could Revolutionize the Way We Travel

Posted by Jennifer Allen on April 19th, 2015

It’s not here yet but there’s that developing sneaky feeling that the Apple Watch, despite its price tag and low battery life, might yet change quite a lot about how we conduct our lives. While I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight transformation, I can see it being a slow but steady process. One such area where the Apple Watch could make all the difference is when it comes to convenience while traveling. Here are a few ways in which it could simplify our traveling life.

4 Features We Want to See From the Apple Watch 2

Posted by Jennifer Allen on April 15th, 2015

I’ve had an iPhone since they first launched back in 2008. When the original first came out, it had a ton of potential but very little had been realised at that point. Heck, it didn’t even have the App Store! So excuse me while I mutter about how the Apple Watch will be great one day, but probably not until its second hardware revision has been released. Following that logic, here are a few ideas of exactly what we’d love to see the second time around.

Apple Watch Fitness - Why Apple's New Smartwatch May Not Live Up to Expectations

Posted by Campbell Bird on April 13th, 2015

The end of this month will see the release of the Apple Watch, a product that was officially announced late last year that has many people speculating about how having an extension to your phone that you actually wear will change how we operate. As someone that tries to withhold judgement about products until we know what they are - rather than what they promise to be - I have held off on figuring out how the Apple Watch could or should fit into my lifestyle.

Recently though, early reviews of the watch have come out and - upon reading them - I've been pretty disappointed. As a runner that enjoys the outdoors, I was hoping the Apple Watch would incorporate all of the things I would need to abandon all of my current running tech (namely an iPod and Garmin GPS watch) but the Apple Watch's current form just doesn't seem up to the task. Here's why.

The Apple Watch Might Impact Our Daily Lives More Than You’d Think

Posted by Rob Rich on April 6th, 2015

I know I’ve already theorized on how the Apple Watch could change mobile, but this time I’d like to talk about how it could affect our day-to-day lives. And make no mistake, there’s a good chance it’s going to change a few things around here.

One of the biggest changes we’re going to see because of the Apple Watch is company policies for retailers, restaurants, and pretty much any other place that caters to the public. Most places already prohibit their employees from bringing phones onto the floor since, for example, it usually doesn’t look good if a cashier is fiddling with their iPhone when they should be ringing people out. Now that people are going to start wearing the Apple Watch, you can bet a lot of places are going to ask workers to keep their timepieces in their lockers or otherwise off the floor. I don’t imagine having a theater usher ceaselessly messing around with their watch would go over much better than if it were a phone, do you?

By extension, the Apple Watch could end up affecting employee productivity to the point where businesses that don’t directly interact with the public might still have to institute some kind of limit. Granted I imagine most offices discourage using one’s iPhone while on the clock, but it’s going to be a lot easier to sneak a peek at your wrist and jump back to work once the boss shows up than it is to hastily tuck a phone back into your pocket or desk drawer. Conversely, the potential functionality of the Apple Watch could end up becoming such a boon that some offices encourage their use or even issue one to their employees. It really depends on the business.

Reminders will also be far more useful, since it’s much easier to accidentally (or purposely) miss a notification if your phone is silenced or in another room. When your watch is tied into your itinerary it’s going to be a lot harder to ignore the blaring alarms coming off your wrist. Whether or not this leads to an era of never forgetting to pick up milk on the way home ever again remains to be seen, since it still relies on people making the effort to set up reminders in the first place, but the potential is definitely there.

I also touched upon the unfortunate side of things last time when I contemplated the idea of thievery a bit, and despite it being a depressing topic I think the Apple Watch will affect things here as well. For better and for worse. What I mean by “worse” is that you can’t really hide an Apple Watch like you can an iPhone. Telltale earbuds aside, if you’ve got an iPhone in your pocket it won’t really be attracting the attention of potential thieves. An Apple Watch though, that’s going to be on your wrist for all to see. Of course it is more difficult to remove a watch than it is to yank a phone out of someone’s hand. On the “better” side of things, the near-constant health monitoring could be used to automatically call for help if you’re in trouble (medically or otherwise), as I’ve mentioned before.

Then there’s the issue of how we physically move through a space. Yeah, I know, it’s weird to think about but anyone who’s ever worn a wristwatch can tell you that you’ll need to start paying attention to where you swing your arm. Banging your watch against things is an extremely common occurrence even if you’re used to wearing one, and people are going to want to be extra careful not to whack their Apple Watch against the corner of a desk or something. It’s not going to lead to a country-wide baby-proofing (padded table edges, etc) or anything like that, but Apple Watch owners are going to want to be a lot more conscious of their movements once they’ve strapped their wrist-phone-thing on. And they’ll want to make sure not to forget to take it off when they take a shower or otherwise have to douse their hands in liquids.