Resurrecting a beloved old gaming franchise for a modern audience seems like a challenging, thankless task. Even if you succeed in making something great, you run the risk of alienating existing fans if you stray too far from the original formula. When the alien-fighting strategy revival XCOM: Enemy Unknown was released last year on PC and consoles, however, it accomplished something we thought was impossible: It made just about everyone happy.
On consoles, The House of the Dead: Overkill took one of the most well-trodden premises imaginable – shooting zombies in first-person, on rails – and used it to create one of the most memorably over-the-top games of all time. Taking tropes from grindhouse horror movies and cranking them to ridiculous levels, HotD:O was gruesome, hectic, and – as its characters awkwardly shoehorned f-bombs into nearly every sentence – so deliberately crass that it was impossible to see it as anything other than a comedy. The iOS version, subtitled The Lost Reels, scales all that back considerably.
Storm Raiders is the best entry yet in the Sky Gamblers aerial-combat franchise, sending you soaring through two separate World War II campaigns—the Battle of Britain and Asia-Pacific War—packed with diverse missions, intense action, and impressive visuals. Even more notable are the eight-player dogfights, which span a large number of play modes (like team deathmatch and capture the flag) and deliver ample competition whenever you want it. The Mac version doesn’t control quite as comfortably as the iOS version, but it’s still plenty enjoyable.
Getting from one place to the next is trickier than it seems in Hairy Tales, a colorful Mac puzzler that finds you moving and turning various tiles to send the hero safely toward a goal. Initially, this means little more than evading hazards and creating a safe path forward, but as the 70-plus stages progress, you’ll encounter new obstacles, like enemies and fixed arrow tiles. It’s solidly smart and only occasionally frustrating, though the samey puzzles turn a bit monotonous before too long.
Finding your way through elaborate and impressively rendered mazes is the goal in each of Shardlands’ atmospheric stages, and you’ll do so by clicking to make heroine Dawn move to a location, as well as dragging movable panels into position and clicking buttons. There’s a nice puzzle-solving aspect to the navigation, as well as a bit of action, as you’ll have to avoid hazards plus dispatch enemy beasts using your surroundings. But the thankfully deliberate pace lets you consider each move before you make it.
Aside from maybe Batman, it's difficult to think of licensed characters who've been in as many games, in as many incarnations, as the Ninja Turtles. Their latest effort (based on the current Nickelodeon show) has muscled its way into an arguably overcrowded genre, but while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run is far from the best endless runner on the App Store, it manages to be a fun, sharp-looking romp that requires a fair amount of skill in spite of its simple controls.
Digital distributor GOG.com expanded its library of Mac games by an impressive 22 titles today with an update that includes both classics and newer hits such as the Diablo-themed dungeon crawler Torchlight. We’ve already seen the bulk of these games on the Mac before, but GOG’s update also brings a few '90s PC favorites to the Mac for the first time. Better late than never.
Halfbrick established itself as one of the App Store's top developers thanks to games that feature simple, engaging mechanics and delightfully manicured aesthetics. Both Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride alike were sensations when they respectively launched, and remain among the best all-time iOS titles because they're tremendously fun and so thoroughly well crafted. Fish Out of Water is the studio's latest original affair, and while some of the hallmark elements are there – notably a unique approach augmented by quick-hit missions – the game curiously doesn't have the same hook as those earlier favorites.
Is it possible to generate a convincing sense of speed on a four-inch display? It might seem unlikely, but the App Store is bursting with an excellent and diverse array of racing games that beg to differ. Whether your tastes run toward arcade antics or simulation-style precision, or you prefer to loop in a cartoonish kart racer from time to time, we've got you covered with our picks for the 10 best iPhone racers available today. Heck, a couple of them don't even give you active control of your vehicle, but still deliver intriguing touchscreen tweaks on the genre. Whatever your speed needs, these zippy affairs are sure to satisfy.
When Craig Stern, the singular force behind Chicago video game developer Sinister Design, unsuccessfully tried to fund his Mac game Telepath Tactics at the tail end of 2012, he saw the result not as a closed door, but as an opportunity — a chance to refocus both the campaign and the game itself to better execute his battle plan. And now that the second Kickstarter has doubled its original goal and generated much more backer enthusiasm with a few days still left to go, he spoke with Mac|Life to discuss how initial crowdfunding failure doesn't have to be ultimately fruitless.