“Stealth board game” isn’t exactly a common genre, but it’s the best way to describe Hitman GO, the debut project from Square Enix’s new Montreal studio. It strips down and repurposes classic stealth mechanics from the popular console and computer assassination game series, and the result is a novel experience that’s perfectly suited for the App Store. Hitman GO takes place on a series of game boards with a grid overlay, populated by security guards, night watchmen, and unwitting police officers.
Gardening may look easy, but there's a subtle art to it. Even if you're just growing herbs on your windowsill, each plant needs careful management, and the slightest deviation in your watering or fertilizing schedule can result in withered leaves and small, undernourished stalks. Garden Plan Pro thinks it can help. With a comprehensive strategy that maps every square inch of your plot of plants, the app doesn't just keep track of your seedlings—it offers tips and guidance that promise to get your garden off the ground.
Although many use Office for everyday word processing and number crunching tasks, there’s a substantial contingent of customers who live and breathe the presentation leg of Microsoft’s productivity tripod, which has finally made an impressive (though somewhat handicapped) transition to mobile. Together with Word and Excel, PowerPoint for iPad makes up Microsoft’s newly mobilized Office trilogy. This trio of apps features a touchscreen user interface often slicker than their desktop equivalents, but more importantly, documents can be opened and edited with complete confidence that they’ll look exactly as they do on Mac or PC.
Vlambeer specializes in twitchy, arcade-style games that get really hairy (while remaining plenty fun) in a hurry—like iOS greats Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing—and its latest Mac entry, Luftrausers, certainly maintains that philosophy. You'll pilot a tiny plane as enemy craft and carriers launch a barrage of gunfire, zipping about and laying waste to foes while trying to maintain a score-boosting combo streak. And much as the combat itself proves entertaining, it's matched well by an awesome customization system that allows you to swap various parts to create the fighter of your dreams.
From the moment the App Store launched, The New York Times has been at the forefront of the digital newspaper revolution. There's been a constant stream of apps and subscriptions, but for the most part, its initiatives have revolved around an unimaginative repackaging of the paper. With NYT Now, the Gray Lady seems to have figured out a formula that may pay off. Rather than delivering a rich stew teeming with every subject it has to offer, the app serves as sort of a greatest hits package, aimed at casual readers who might not have such a ravenous news appetite.
Family Guy made its name on TV by being simultaneously derivative and edgy; it riffed on The Simpsons’ formula of an animated nuclear family with a drunken, lovingly-dumb father, but its gags went further or weirder. And it did it well. So you might have reason for thinking that Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff—which takes its cues from The Simpsons: Tapped Out—might also push boundaries and poke fun at conventions. You’d be sadly mistaken. The Quest for Stuff is a shallow, money-grubbing, cynical, and downright boring freemium city builder with few redeeming qualities.
With a gorgeous interface and a good developer pedigree, we had high hopes for Scanbot. There's a clean, simple aesthetic that runs through every screen, helping you capture and organize your documents with ease. The priority here is speed, as Scanbot's foolproof interface can attest to, but it doesn't come at the expense of professional features, including high-resolution output, a low-light indicator, and automatic edge detection. Our final products weren't always perfect, but the powerful cropping tool and one-touch enhancer fine-tuned things nicely.
Wherever Word travels, Excel cannot be far behind—and at long last, Microsoft has allowed the number crunching favorite to follow the money trail straight into the App Store with a touchscreen version built just for iPad. Microsoft Excel for iPad ends years of suffering with less-powerful third-party solutions that have been all too happy to encroach in Redmond’s absence. Like Word, Excel for iPad is in most respects a superior effort over the venerable Mac application, offering an impressively clean user interface that doesn’t skimp on features.
Nearly six years into the life of the App Store and we’re just now getting a realistic, licensed Major League Baseball simulation—but R.B.I. Baseball 14 doesn’t resemble the feature-crammed, richly complex affairs seen on home systems. Instead, it pulls both inspiration and its moniker from a popular ‘80s/‘90s console franchise, and grounds its gameplay in the simplicity of that era while modernizing only the visuals. The result is expectedly very accessible and easy to get into, but also skimps on a lot of things that make baseball video games enjoyable and worth playing more than a couple times.
David doesn’t pull any punches. Its blissful, serenely sparse world is populated by multitudes of terrifying two-dimensional shapes, all hell-bent on snuffing the life out of your little box-shaped hero. All you have in your defense are wits and agility, along with a special projectile ability that takes a few seconds to charge. David’s physics-driven rumination on the struggles of life feels almost poignant at times, and its abstract design works mostly in its favor—but the game is also extremely difficult and not for the easily frustrated.