It’s been nearly five years since Polaroid ceased production of its instant film products to focus on the digital photography market – a pivot that included licensing its iconic brand to other companies, which yielded an inexpensive iPhone app known as Polamatic. Now in its fourth incarnation, Polamatic isn’t just some licensed knockoff: Snap a photo with the app and a virtual print slides down the screen and “processes” before your eyes in true Polaroid fashion, complete with sound effect. But this time, shutterbugs won’t have to wait around shaking prints as they develop.
Hauling around a heavy backpack crammed with a Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, dice bag, pewter miniatures, and other tools of the tabletop RPG trade can be exhausting. Luckily, Dungeons & Dragons action is more portable than ever thanks to the iPad re-releases of BioWare’s celebrated Baldur’s Gate games, and 2000’s Baldur’s Gate II is the latest to make the leap. This return romp through the Forgotten Realms definitely recaptures the magic of playing AD&D 2nd Edition long ago, but the old-school design doesn't make a perfectly smooth transition to iPad.
We're constantly amazed by the amount of reading we do on our iPhones. Thanks to Retina displays that have all but eliminated eye strain, we're frequently buzzing through lengthy feature articles, flipping the pages of comics, and even curling up with occasional full-length novels, all without reaching for our iPads. But iPhones aren't exactly built for fast reading. Whether we're pinching and swiping to properly position text or constantly scrolling to get through lengthy works, the tiny screen is often a detriment to our concentration.
Unlike most games invoking a 16-bit aesthetic, Lost Yeti feels and even sounds as though Nintendo itself had originally released this action-puzzler alongside the likes of Tetris Attack or Kirby’s Dream Land 3. It’s certainly sugary enough, with the cheery yeti waving hello before you send him on his way towards the goal of each compact level. Taking a page from the puzzle classic Lemmings, you don’t actually control the creature in Lost Yeti, and therein lies the challenge.
Once upon a time, there was a great iOS app called Pastebot, which could be used to transfer text and images to and from a Mac with Pastebot Sync installed. Unfortunately, time moved on but Pastebot didn’t: as of this writing, the app hasn’t been refreshed for iOS 7, still has no native iPad version, and doesn’t sync reliably with current versions of OS X. Possibly sensing a gap in the market, Command-C has arrived to fill the shared clipboard void.
It makes a strange kind of sense that you’d send inhumanly tall and athletic pro basketball players to ward off an alien invasion, as is the offbeat hook for the fun (but generic), free-to-play endless runner, NBA Rush. All 90 players are licensed from the 30 current NBA team rosters, and are modeled in a rough likeness to their real-world selves, right down to their respective signature dunking styles. There’s little to distinguish them beyond aesthetics, however.
With something of a cult following in the Android world, Caustic comes into the iOS universe with real pedigree – a rare event. But just moments after launching the app, it’s hard not to become an instant believer in this truly potent, fully featured sonic monster, and the almost overwhelming number of excellent-sounding ingredients it offers up for cooking up tasty riffs and compositions. Caustic delivers an array of synthesizers, effects, and MIDI recording tools, featuring both depth and excellent sound quality, plus a vast variety of useful presets for each and every one of its many components.
NHM Alive tries to distill the wonderment and discovery of London’s Natural History Museum into app form — and mostly pulls it off. Sir David Attenborough acts as narrator and guide through the experience, which includes a mixture of photos, descriptive text, CGI stills, and videos that shine a light on the current scientific consensus regarding a cast of 10 prehistoric creatures. Developer Colossus Productions clearly made an effort here to instill a playful, discovery-driven element to the experience, but it’s not clear just what there is to discover — or how — and that makes the app seem frustratingly simple at first. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of detail lurking beneath the surface.
If you’ve always wanted an answer to an eternal question (like “Are we alone in the universe?”), there’s finally an app capable of providing the answer – although you may want to stick with more basic queries for now unless you have a sense of humor. Jelly is the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, offering a method for iPhone (and Android) users to snap a picture of something, type in a related question, and post for others to see and answer. Questions appear on cards that can be swiped off the screen, with options for contributing an answer or forwarding to others who can help via SMS, email, or clipboard.
It’s just as well that ninjas have long been associated with a mercenary take on warfare as opposed to honor-obsessed samurai. In Shadow Blade, hero Kuro isn’t averse to quite a bit of unsporting bloodshed after he receives news about the Amida clan rising once again — and reasons that he must immediately inform the sole surviving ninja master. Unfortunately, Sensei lacks a cell phone, and so Kuro must fight his way through 30 smallish core levels of traps and bodies that inconveniently lie in the way of his goal.