Handy Photo's unique user interface makes it fast and fun to edit images from a mobile device, whether that's an iPhone or an iPad. Name a feature and it’s probably on Handy Photo’s checklist, along with convenient tricks such as Move Me, which allows an object from one photo to be transported to another in just a few taps. For those who aren’t so easily impressed, Handy Photo also includes Magic Crop, which allows photos to be “uncropped” by dragging any edge beyond the available image, then automatically healing the remaining space left behind. While results vary depending upon the type of image, the feature performed quite admirably in our testing.
Thanks in no small part to Bejeweled and Candy Crush, match-three puzzle games have made a curious resurgence in recent years, especially within the mobile market. We’ve seen match-threes dressed up as dungeon crawlers, medical simulations, pet shops, and even a shanty-laden pirate drama. Another Case Solved, the latest such app from Chillingo, tosses a few additional mini-games into the mix and goes the way of the 1940s-era private detective.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then PopCap must feel downright exalted upon spotting this new casual tower-defense affair. Trolls vs Vikings is so similar to the massively successful Plants vs. Zombies that the two would be barely discernible if not for this game’s slightly cruder art style. Almost every friendly and enemy unit and gameplay element has a direct analogue, and while Trolls vs Vikings is competently designed and tries to improve the groundwork that PopCap laid, it whiffs on some of the fundamentals.
Foursaken Media barely misses a beat on Bug Heroes 2. It takes 2011’s hit tower defense/dual-stick shooter/real-time strategy hybrid and pumps out a cool, fun, great-looking, and fast-paced sequel that ups the ante on just about everything (but sadly marginalizes the story of feuding bugs). Strategic nuances mix brilliantly here with arcade-style action, and the mission, skirmish, and endless modes alike all offer plenty of variety in the flow of play — though not in terms of scenery, as only three maps are included.
Tengami, a new point-and-click adventure game from indie duo Nyamyam, takes place in a dreamlike version of mythical Japan. It’s all cherry blossom groves, abandoned pagodas, and gently rolling seas, painted in pastel pinks and blues and set to ethereal music. Still images are pretty enough, but Tengami is defined by the cues it takes from old pop-up storybooks: secret passages are hidden beneath paper flaps, and new areas spring into existence with each turn of the page.
Oquonie revels in obfuscation. On the surface, it’s a simple isometric arcade adventure, of the type enjoyed by gamers since the likes of Knight Lore and Head Over Heels on ancient 8-bit systems. Taking the role of a dopey-looking cartoon bipedal dinosaur in a suit, you amble about a maze-like office complex, bumping into photocopiers that bestow you with cards and simultaneously spew gibberish via a series of cryptic glyphs.
Decades of fascinating and enlightening documentary work by filmmaker Ken Burns form the core of his self-titled app, which draws on close to four hours of footage compiled from documentaries covering a huge breadth of material relating to American history. While we’d have liked to have some longer clips included, careful, almost meticulous design and curation underpins everything. Only the 13-scene, 31-minute innovation playlist is available free, though; the rest of the videos and the other five playlists are locked behind a $9.99 in-app purchase.
Radiohead has long been known for its compelling collaborations with animators and video artists, which have resulted in cool music videos, performance projections, and graphics. Now the band has now extended its interest into the iOS world with PolyFauna, a strange sonic tour through a decidedly eccentric audiovisual realm. It’s not a game – there's nothing to win, nor a final destination – but rather a wacky piece of interactive art that is deceptively simple to navigate and oddly soothing, even for those who are not usually turned on by Radiohead’s expansive, moody musical stylings.
Sonico’s iTranslate is great for quickly converting text to other languages while on the go, but it’s less handy for actually holding a conversation with someone speaking a different tongue. Thankfully, the developer has just refreshed its companion app, which harnesses the power of voice as well. The all-new iTranslate Voice 2 has been updated stem to stern for iOS 7, headlined by universal support that allows it to run natively on the iPad for the first time. Unlike other apps touting so-called iOS 7 improvements, this major update actually delivers them on at least two fronts.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the last 2D entry in the "numbered" Final Fantasy series, so it's hardly surprising that Final Fantasy VI has followed its predecessors in getting an expensive, visually overhauled iOS remastering. What is surprising is how engrossing it still manages to be, two decades past its prime and with a strange, purist-infuriating paint job. Final Fantasy VI's leap to touchscreens is hardly flawless, but it's nonetheless impressive, and it's an easy way to slip into a true classic of '90s console role-playing games.