Eets Munchies invites tinkering and experimentation. Like its PC and Xbox 360 predecessor—from Klei Entertainment, of Don’t Starve and Mark of the Ninja fame—this puzzle platformer asks you to move and manipulate wacky objects to help a hungry rodent find dessert. Although Eets doesn’t have quite the feverish pull of other similar puzzlers, it does a splendid job at continually introducing you to new elements and allowing plenty of room to learn and get creative.
If you're an intergalactic space miner by trade, there are worse fates than getting stranded on a giant red planet rich with subterranean minerals, danger, and excitement. With nowhere to go but deeper and deeper beneath the planet's surface, Mines of Mars teases you along into its Metroid-style adventure by putting up subtle barriers and giving you a means to overcome them: mining. The balance between gathering, crafting, and exploring is well tuned to draw you in, even if other aspects of navigating the planetscape feel weak by comparison.
The nuances of Formula One racing are mostly imperceptible to the layman. It's all angular momentum and downforces; a system of geometry, physics, and engineering in which minute adjustments have outsized effects. As a result, a game like F1 2013—the latest of Codemasters’ annual racing series, brought to Mac by Feral Interactive—tends to require technical precision and strict execution.
Without question, LEGO Legends of Chima Online is geared towards younger gamers. It is, after all, based on a toy line and a CG-animated TV show on Cartoon Network. But don’t write it off just yet — this is a massively multiplayer online action-RPG in which a driving motivation is to collect loot. In many ways, Legends of Chima Online is like a simplified Diablo, and that’s why it can work for older gamers, too.
As our iPhones have matured, so have our apps. What used to be a sea of simple utilities with very mobile mindsets has evolved into a rich landscape of powerful tools, which continue to amaze us with what can be accomplished on a 4-inch screen. Zippy is the sort of app that shows us just how far our devices have come. As a basic to-do manager, it does its job well enough for a recommendation, but developer Amit Wadhawan embraces the power and modernism of iOS 7 to pump a little pizzazz into the stale concept and put it over the top.
MLB.com At Bat was so ahead of its time, it felt as fresh during the 2013 World Series as it did upon launching in 2008, despite little more than a series of relatively minor updates between earlier versions. Still, Major League Baseball used the offseason to give the pro sports-leading formula its first major update. But while it brings a slew of visual changes that freshen things up for iOS 7, the overhaul is mostly cosmetic in nature, leaving a somewhat streamlined experience that doesn’t quite deliver the home run we hoped for.
Shattering a pane of glass can bring a moment of sheer joy — or abject terror, depending on intentions — but the resulting expense and hassle rarely balance out the fun. Smash Hit provides a remarkably vivid simulation of splintering glass, letting you toss metal balls at shiny digital sheets and watch the shards fly, but it’s not a gimmick app. That sensation instead forms the core of an entertaining and smartly balanced survival game, wherein precise timing and aiming let you continue crashing ahead through the colorful levels.
Sector is a totally unique, vastly powerful, and well-designed beat manipulation tool for iPad that stirs together audio and math in a way that astounds and delights. The description of a “stochastic sample slice sequencer” might scare some off, but fear not: this is a beauty of a beast. Imported audio files are mapped into a circular, looping display, and sliced into a specific number of sectors, or segments (from two to 32 chunks), each with its own color.
Here we find that most elusive of creatures: a 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) strategy game for iOS that's not compromised by a free-to-play model. Autumn Dynasty Warlords scores a victory on that front alone. This tale of martial ambition in ancient China may have a harder time conquering on some other fronts, but its simple strengths usually suffice to rout its flaws. It's essentially Shogun: Total War Lite, delivering a compact take on that PC favorite. Warlords is designed for conquests on 10-minute subway rides, and thus it lacks the depth of, say, Sid Meier's Civilization – though what's here does the trick.
Arithmetic has never been so strangely fun as in Calculords, a collectible card game from developer Ninja Crime and comedy writer Seanbaby that puts math calculations at its very core. It has a bit of a learning curve, and its NES-inspired retro art style may prove divisive, but there’s a lot to like once you get over that initial hump. Computer-controlled opponents give as good as — or even better than — they get, complete with snappy taunts and humorous sci-fi-referencing one-liners, and you can easily find yourself locked in battles for hours without noticing how much time has passed.