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And the Winner of the 7th Annual Best App Ever Awards is...

Posted by Rob Rich on July 21st, 2015

After much nominating and deliberating, the votes for the 7th Annual Best App Ever Awards have been tallied and the results are in. Congratulations to ustwo and Monument Valley for being selected at this year's Best App Ever!

The New Forgotten Shores Expansion is Now Available for Monument Valley

Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 12th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SKIN-DEEP BEAUTY :: Read Review »

In Monument Valley, ustwo's Apple Design Award winner for 2014, you are Princess Ida exploring the gorgeous world and doing your best to outsmart the Crow People. In the game's newest update, Forgotten Shores, you can play through eight new chapters with even more illusions and graphical beauty.

You can download Monument Valley for $3.99 on the App Store, and the update is available as a separate in-app purchase for $1.99.

Monument Valley: Tips and Playthrough Video for the Baffling Puzzler

Posted by Carter Dotson on April 3rd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SKIN-DEEP BEAUTY :: Read Review »

Monument Valley can be a confusing game at first glance: its worlds are built to mess with players' perceptions of them. However, by keeping a few good tips in mind, it's possible to master Monument Valley. And if not - we have playthrough videos of the entire game to help you out.

The trick the game pulls, similar to an M.C. Escher painting, is that real-world perspective is essentially useless. Mainly, if a place looks like it can be traveled to, then it can. So when manipulating objects, don't consider their absolute position, consider where they are relative to Ida. This is often the key to many puzzles: moving an object in one spot where according to its perspective, Ida can reach it, then moving it with Ida on the object, to where she needs to go. This is the backbone to the majority of the game's puzzles.

Remember that the key rule to interacting with Ida is that she can only move where you can see her, so if a path is hidden to you, it's likely that it is not the right path - at least for this perspective. Maybe a quick rotation will do the trick? Don't be afraid to experiment - there's no way to die or otherwise fail at the game.

If a location can be traveled to, it will illuminate with a circle around it. This doesn't mean that Ida will travel to it, just that it's actually possible to go there. This is worth keeping in mind if one gets stuck.

The crows can be tricky, but it's often just a matter of timing to get out of their way to let them pass. Remember that objects can be moved while the crows are on them. Ida is the only character in the game who can cause parts of the level to be non-manipulatable. If the mechanism doesn't change into an unworkable state (the handles on cranks will retract if Ida is on their manipulatable portions) then it can be manipulated.

Keep these tips in mind, and the world of Monument Valley can be explored in all its glory.

Monument Valley, gorgeous puzzler from ustwo out April 3rd

Posted by Jeff Scott on March 26th, 2014

We've talked about Monument Valley in the past. I got a chance to sit down with some of the development team at GDC last week to get an update. The game is looking even better than the last time I got my hands on it. I can't wait for the release. And the good news is it's going to be released next week on April 3rd!

A Hike into Monument Valley, the Next Great Indie Puzzle Game from ustwo

Posted by Jeff Scott on February 14th, 2014

Monument Valley, the upcoming puzzler from London-based ustwo, has raised quite a lot of interest since first being teased a few months ago. It's uniquely MC Escher inspired interactive 3D puzzle style has piqued the interest of many. It seems to be on-track to be the next indie hit for iOS. I recently had a chance to sit down with Dan Gray, Producer, and Neil McFarland, Director of the game to discuss and play through the game. Let's find out if all of the early accolades are deserved.

Ustwo has a reputation of quirky, yet quality games with a very unique visual style. Their office in an old warehouse in the Shoreditch area of London is just what I would imagine from a company that makes games like Whale Trail. A large number of bright, interesting, inspirational, funny, and oddball bits and found objects all over the offices and common spaces fits that perceived personality. It's as though their offices were in the world's largest art student dorm room. A perfect environment to foster the unique styles and somewhat off-the-wall games. Their previous iOS hit, Whale Tail, is the perfect illustration of their unique style in action. It combines a visually interesting look and bright color pallet with fun game mechanics and music.

Monument Valley takes a slightly cleaner, reserved aesthetic over Whale Trail, though it maintains a very oddball game mechanic. In this game the main interaction is rotating parts of the screen, mechanical or otherwise, leading to illogical optical illusions that create new paths for the characters to travel. It's these unique puzzle elements that require that you put what your mind thinks of as spacial reality on hold. Swinging platforms and stairways connect in seemingly impossible ways by rotating the entire structure or small sections on screen. It seems illogical, but when it fits, it's genius.

The game is designed with flat colors and intentional lack of detail that lends perfectly to the logic defying geometric puzzles. The lack of color and detail is almost the exact opposite of what would be expected for a game that moves in this way and stresses perceived logic so greatly. Where detail is given in the game, it is intentional to draw the eye to an available action or clue to how to progress. Tremendous thought has been given to the many levels of puzzles in this game. Maddening levels of trial and error have lead to some of the most unique puzzle and maze elements I have experienced.

For some reason the game reminds me of what a sliding 15 tile puzzle would look like if MC Escher designed it during a month long bender on absinthe and peyote. It's absolutely visually compelling and draws you in, wanting more and more. Moreish as the English say. It's relaxing and stressful. Balancing that line perfectly.

Ustwo takes pride in making unique and interesting games and it shows in Monument Valley. We can expect to see it released at some point this spring or early summer. It will be a premium game, priced reasonably the developers tell us.

Rando Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Carter Dotson on June 12th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: SUBSTANTIALLY INSUBSTANTIAL
Rando is an app for photo sharing, without being social. It's strange, it's different, and it's wonderful.
Read The Full Review »

Blip Blup Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By David Rabinowitz on May 28th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SPREAD THE COLOR
Blip Blup is a puzzle game that is all about strategically tapping tiles to fill the entire board with color.
Read The Full Review »

Whale Trail to Pivot 180 Degrees Again, Shifting to Free to Play

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 17th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WHALE OF A GAME :: Read Review »

Whale Trail, ustwo's stylish endless runner, is about to make another big PIVOT 180°™. The game is going to shift to a free to play model in the coming weeks. The game is going to be more akin to Jetpack Joyride or Temple Run than the pure score experience that it was previously. Now players earn an in-game currency called krill while playing, that can be spent on new costumes for Willow, along with powers and items for Willow to use, all in the name of higher scores. Of course, it will be possible to buy krill with in-app purchases as well.

For those who purchased the game in the past, and are potentially angry about that $0.99 game they bought shifting to free, well ustwo is hoping to soothe those fears by giving previous paid users a big bag of krill for their trouble. Just what I always wanted! Dr. Zoidberg should be excited too. ustwo are hoping that this update turns the game from a Succailure™ into a just plain success. The update is due to hit in the coming weeks.

Whale Trail Executes a PIVOT 180°™ in New Update

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 16th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WHALE OF A GAME :: Read Review »

When Whale Trail was released last month, ustwo's mills made a big point about how the game needed to sell about 300,000 copies in order to be a financial success. The game has so far only sold 130,000 copies; a number that a lot of indie devs would kill for, but for the greater ambitions of ustwo, it clearly falls well short, given the game's lengthy development time and high budget. The game reached the top 25 on the iPhone and the top 15 on the iPad while featured as the iPhone/iPod touch game of the week worldwide, but has been declining down the charts ever since. So, in an attempt to revitalize the game, ustwo are executing what they call a "PIVOT 180°™" to try and revitalize sales.

The new update to the game adds 32 new levels which transform the game from just an endless runner into one with level-based challenges as well. The new levels challenge players to try and navigate set levels, collecting blubbles along the way. Reaching certain point scores nets more stars (true false fact: it is now possible to earn more stars in iOS games than it there are stars in the universe), which helps unlock future levels. Those who are too lazy to perform well to unlock those levels, or who want to help mills and the rest of the folks at ustwo come closer to profitability, can pay $0.99 or local equivalent to unlock them all at once.

Of course, the same endless mode is still in there, so those who like their games to never end never have to. This release is obviously another risk taken toward profitability, but ustwo are hoping that between this PIVOT 180°™ and the in-development Android version, Willow the Whale can go from succailure to just plain success. The update is now available on the App Store.

Whale Trail Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on October 20th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WHALE OF A GAME
Whale Trail is an endless runner featuring bright and colorful graphics, where players control a whale flying through the skies.
Read The Full Review »

The Portable Podcast, Episode 107

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 19th, 2011

Whale, whale, whale, what do we have here?

On This Episode:

  • Carter speaks with ustwo's mills, a British design firm and developer who are about to release their first game, Whale Trail. Carter and mills discuss the trials and tribulations that have gone into the game's development, what testing has brought to the final experience, why the game is a premium app in a world of free to play titles, and the risk that ustwo is taking in releasing this big budget game.
  • Who We Are:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guest: mills, ustwo

  • Music:

  • "Beatnes7 (Theme to The Portable Podcast)" by The Eternal - Download on iTunes here:

  • "Nanocarp" by The Eternal

  • How to Listen:

  • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
  • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.
  • Listen Here: [powerpress]
  • Whale Trail: A Hands-On Look at What Goes Into ustwo's Upcoming Endless Game

    Posted by Carter Dotson on October 7th, 2011
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: JOYFUL :: Read Review »

    British design studio ustwo is making their first iOS game, Whale Trail. This is a charming endless high score game where players control a whale who is flying through the sky. The goal is to collect bubbles that extend the eponymous whale trail that powers this flying whale, which also extend the points multiplier. Evil dark clouds line the sky as well, and these must be avoided in order to keep the multiplier and whale trail up. Holding down on the screen causes the whale to fly upward, eventually performing loop-de-loops.

    This is a game centered around its visual and artistic design. The theme is key here; the visuals are bright and colorful, representing a rainbow of colors with a whimsical style, contrasting the dark, evil clouds. The music, created by Gruff Rhys, continues that whimsical style with the lyric version of the Whale Trail theme that plays on the title screen, along with the instrumental version that plays in the game itself. Everything in the game is meant to be friendly, fun, and inviting.

    One part of the game design that becomes apparent is that sessions last longer than the average endless/high score game. Failure is not an imminent threat like in other games like Jetpack Joyride; bumping into a cloud is not a death sentence, and refilling the whale trail bar is easy, though the bubbles do become more sparse over time. This was an intentional design decision.

    As according to ustwo's co-founder and "Chief Wonka," a man who goes by the single name of Mills, "Whale Trail is about creating a longer gameplay experience - it's about manifesting an almost endless/neverending gaming experience. You can't appreciate this wonder if the game ends quick...you can't rush beauty." However, he adds that the game is meant to also appeal to a wider audience, including those who want to go for high scores: "It's there to be enjoyed on the most simple and subtle of levels if you're that way inclined, or to be enjoyed on a more serious and competitive level, for those who really want to push it to the limit and just focus on achieving the highest scores possible." However, he reiterates the ultimate goal of the game: "This game is all about the joys of flying."

    Whale Trail will set sail on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on October 20th. Those looking to get their hands on this game right away can visit ustwo's Whale Trail Facebook page and become eligible to test out the game for themselves before the game's final release.

    The Portable Podcast, Episode 105

    Posted by Carter Dotson on October 4th, 2011

    Smuggled in from faraway lands.

    On This Episode:

  • Carter and guest co-host Brett Nolan discuss recent release Shadowgun, the partially-launched Forever Drive, and the upcoming Whale Trail.
  • Who We Are:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guest: Brett Nolan, AppAddict.net
  • Music:

  • "Beatnes7 (Theme to The Portable Podcast)" by The Eternal - Download on iTunes here:

  • "Nanocarp" by The Eternal

  • How to Listen:

  • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
  • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.

  • Listen on WRGT Radio every Friday at 4pm Central
  • Listen Here: [powerpress]
  • Apps Mentioned in this Episode:

    Get Your Message Across with Happy Snapper

    Posted by Blake Grundman on November 3rd, 2010
    iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

    As a person with a crazy imagination, I find myself sometimes self-narrating what I see in my day-to-day life.  Anything from an amusing happenstance to a funny exchange between friends, all becomes fodder for my over-active mind.  I can't even count the number of times that I have taken a picture on my iPhone, only to later come up with a caption that could shed a new, and often more humorous light on a situation.  For people with a mind much like mine, publisher ustwo brings us Happy Snapper, the photo tweaking app for passive aggressive jerks like me everywhere.

    Operating under the popular assumption that a picture is in fact worth a thousand words, Happy Snapper allows you to take candid shots from your iPhone photo library, and apply stickers and headers that let the world know what you really think.  Are you really, "with stupid?"  Would you like to inform a coworker that you think their nametag should really read, "Hi, my name is moron?"  You can do all of that an more with this versatile tool of ego destruction. Here is how the app works:

    • Pick your sticker and write your own message or slogan.

    • Drag to move, pinch/ pull to resize and rotate the sticker at anytime.

    • Double tap the sticker to edit the text.

    • Take a photo or use an existing photo from your library.

    • Save the photo to your library, email it to a friend or post it to Facebook or Twitter.

    The app sounds just as simple in execution as it is in concept, but don't take our word for it.  We'll leave you with a trailer showing off Happy Snapper's many uses below.  Be sure to let us know when you posterize your first victim.


    Friday Five: May 14th, 2010

    Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on May 14th, 2010

    Fridays are the perfect time for reflecting on the past week...and Fridays at 148apps are no exception. Here are five interesting apps released in the past week for your perusal!

    ustwo seems to enjoy creating unique apps, such as the masterfully titled "...". Inkstrumental is their newest app, and it's a funky one. The point is to create your own weird music videos and strange soundtracks, using the 31 creatures included. See, each character will emit a musical sound when you tap it. A "VIP character" allows you to record your own sounds, too. By mixing them together against different backdrops you create a unique mash-up of noise and your very own music video. It might not be as complex as other sound-mixing apps, but Inkstrumental is intuitive and packs a ton of character. Who couldn't love these fuzzy creatures? As an added bonus, you can share your masterpieces by in-app uploading to YouTube.

    Nirvana Revenge
    By now it's an established fact that the Tap Tap Revenge series reigns supreme when it comes to iPhone rhythm games, at least in terms of popularity. Nirvana Revenge is the latest spin-off, featuring—you guessed it—hits from Nirvana. Fourteen songs are bundled with the app, including songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit, Breed, Heart Shaped Box, and Lithium. (Note that the fourteen includes three live versions.) The songs give you a good sampling of the band's work, and you get to tap along to the fourteen tracks for far less than they would cost on iTunes. This being a Tap Tap game, you also have a few neat features like four difficulty levels and four boss tracks thrown in. If you're a Nirvana Fan looking for a gaming fix, you'd better check out Nirvana Revenge.

    To quote Komenten's description: "A comet has been born, please take good care of it!" Komenten is a colorful space exploration game in which you zip around the galaxy like an intergalactic tourist. There's no real objective, but the vivid watercolor graphics coupled with the soundtrack make a relaxing, beautiful ride. Even if you don't usually enjoy non-traditional games, I'm willing to wager that anyone in touch with their inner child could easily get lost in Komenten's vibrant, bizarre world. The universe is such an exciting place—why not explore it?

    Zombie Infection
    Gameloft just keeps rolling out games. Zombie Infection is one of their latest titles, and if it looks familiar, well, chances are that's because it's highly similar to Resident Evil. That doesn't stop Zombie Infection from being a technically stunning title, however, and Gameloft's new zombie game is sure to devour both your brains and your free time. Zombie Infection comes with a 12-level campaign mode in which you switch between ex-soldier Damien Sharpe and journalist Alex Rayne, as well as a Survivor Mode. There are tons of enemies, including mutated and infected animals, plenty of weapons, a sinister zombie-filled storyline, and top-notch 3D graphics. In short? Gameloft does it again...this time, with zombies!

    StreetSpark is one of those apps that needs a large user base to function, which is probably why it's free! StreetSpark is a location-based dating app that takes your location and searches for nearby users who match your profile (they call this a "Spark"). With an eye towards safety, StreetSpark doesn't reveal your location or personal contact info. Instead, you can chat in-app or meet up in one of StreetSpark's HotSpots, which give StreetSpark users discounts and offer users a place to congregate. Think FourSquare, but for dating. It's a really interesting use of the location feature, and thankfully it looks like the app's developers are aware of privacy concerns. Sadly, it's currently limited to the UK, but the developers plan to expand to other countries (and, for that matter, handsets) in the future.