In the shadow of the dearly departed Skyview Drive-In Theater, Santa Cruz's weekend flea market was another bit of my youth's paradise. Between all of the horrendous and delicious fried foods, and the empty promises of a vegetable chopper destined to make your life more convenient, the true prize would always lay between plastic, cardboard and twist-ties. Some would call them Hero Rangers, Adventure Turtles, or even Chopper Rats from Pluto, but despite their off-color paint jobs, they often could provide as much enjoyment as their copyrighted cousins. Knock-offs are what make budget-conscious world go round, and the iOS ecosystem is hardly different.
Last fall's release of the HeroClix TabApp tried to bring together the worlds of physical and digital games, letting users place specialized figures from the HeroClix tabletop game series on an iPad screen and transport them into a game. Unfortunately, while it did a solid job of recognizing the figures, the game itself was an utter mess: Painfully repetitive, both ugly and filled with lag, and lacking the strategic spirit of the tabletop source material. The brand new HeroClix TabApp Elite forges a fresh path with distinct gameplay and much different figurine implementation, but while it's thankfully a much smoother experience, the game itself still isn't strong enough to warrant the investment.
Games are a relatively young narrative medium, and plenty of them boil down to punching and/or shooting the bad guys. But wherever you find a canvas, a painter can’t be far behind to turn it into a masterpiece. The App Store is no exception, and creative minds have already used the platform to tell their own interactive stories on the ubiquitous iOS devices. We’ve compiled a list of games to satisfy the story itch, from the playful to the spooky and downright bizarre.
Button-mashing brawlers make for a great time when you've got real buttons to mash, but they don't always translate so well to iOS touch screens. Rather than attempt to shoehorn all of the intense fighting action into a traditional arcade-style control scheme, indie studio The Game Bakers concocted a fresh touch-centric battle system for its quirky new face-pummeling fighter. Combo Crew's fast-paced fisticuffs and streamlined combo system hinges on simple swipe controls that are far more satisfying to wield than you'd expect from an iOS beat-em-up.
Like predecessors Anomaly: Warzone Earth and Anomaly Korea, 11 Bit Studios’ Anomaly 2 turns classic tower defense upside down. Instead of fortifying a base with turrets, cannons, and soldiers, Anomaly 2 places you in command of the incoming horde. Armed with a combat suit capable of setting up decoys, detonating EMP pulses, and healing units, you'll be tasked with leading a convoy of tanks, armored mechs, drones, and mobile labs through hostile territory, blasting through metallic alien defenses to clear roads or liberate important objectives.
Google+ is a hit-or-miss proposition for many socially connected folks, so the company’s first Hangouts attempt — originally part of the Google+ app — passed by largely unnoticed. Now available as a standalone app, Hangouts appears hell-bent on reinventing the messaging wheel, but winds up leaving too many spokes off to make this a smooth ride.
The Fast & Furious movie franchise has gathered a cult-like following of fans who enjoy the intense action and tricked-out vehicles, with the sixth entry expected to dominate the box office once more this weekend. Fast & Furious 6: The Game is true to the elements that made the film series such a smash, with beautiful graphics and plenty of extras relating to the films – though the actual racing in this free-to-play affair can get a bit dull and repetitive after a while.
At last we appear to be seeing some movement on the Apple TV front. We can hardly wait. Sitting around with our little hockey puck sized hobby watching the Roku owners eat our lunch and have all the fun has been hard to swallow, but we expect great things. Find out about these developments and take a peak at one designer's vision of iOS 7 in this week's hottest news.
Summer is rapidly approaching, and with that comes the burden of moving. Whether your family is expanding and needing more space, college kids are returning home, or you're a young urban professional fearful that your roommate is trying to cook you into a stew, we all get locational angst. With all of the sketchy services out there, it can be exceptionally difficult to find the living situation that works for you. Well, be bound by Craigslist and its Machiavellian promise no longer.
If you were a gamer with an Apple II in the mid-'80s, there are a few names likely to stir nostalgic echoes somewhere deep in your heart; names like Choplifter, Hard Hat Mack, Ultima, and (most relevant to this review) Karateka. The first-ever game by Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner, Karateka finally reappeared as a rhythm-based remake in late 2012, but now Mechner's giving old-school Karateka fans what they really want: the unvarnished original, adapted for iOS and fitted with tweaks designed to tug at our sense of nostalgia (while also making the game less frustrating).