Despite a plethora of fun and colorful interactive elements and engaging animations, Incredible Numbers isn't a dumbed-down app for the digital generation. Rather, Professor Ian Stewart uses the iPad's boundless teaching tools to take the mystery out of some of mathematics' most difficult concepts, including factorials, Fibonacci numbers, and heptadecagons. An attractive menu of eight circles—plus a bonus section dedicated to brainteasers—guides you to your chosen lesson, but the simple one-word headings hardly prepare you for the wealth of information inside.
Despite its flashy neon lights and comic book-style interstitials, Flashout 2 is a pretty straightforward sci-fi-tinged racer: you'll zoom around a futuristic track, earn cash, upgrade your podracer, and repeat. Here’s the catch: each hovercraft comes armed with a machine gun, rockets, and mines, and a quick trigger finger is often the difference between first and last. While decently fun, it ultimately proves insubstantial and lightweight, with control quirks and a lacking balance between racing and combat.
Supercell's Boom Beach sticks close to the basic formula established by mega-hit predecessors Clash of Clans and Hay Day, but it brings an enticing new combat system that grants you greater control over your own fate. It's war of oceanic proportions, as you work to liberate the natives of one island after another from the evil Blackguard (as well as from rival players). Your goals boil down to two needs: keeping your headquarters protected from invaders—with help from an assortment of mines, defensive buildings, and strategic placement—and building up an army strong enough to take down the headquarters of any island not under your control.
Like the complicated father-son relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the marriage between the Star Wars franchise and card battling games has been a tumultuous one at best. Last year's Star Wars Force Collection was a hands-off snooze affair bogged down by heavy micromanagement. The latest attempt at shoehorning a galaxy far, far away into a collectible card game format, however, is a vast improvement over what we’ve seen before. Star Wars: Assault Team packs all the polish, accessibility, and strategy that were sorely missing in Force Collection, even if it's not an entirely fresh spin on collectible card combat.
Marvel Comics’ latest film adaptation, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has been receiving rave reviews in the run up to its release this Friday. Gameloft’s universal iOS beat-‘em-up of the same name has a fair bit going for it, as well, with solid presentation and quite a bit of content, but ultimately doesn’t captivate over the long haul. Spreading a small number of game mechanics and levels as thin as possible muddles what could have been a pretty strong action affair.
Google is coming up with all kinds of clever ways to enhance its $35 Chromecast, which plugs into any HDMI-equipped television and allows compatible apps to “cast” video, music, and now photos to the big screen. Billed as a “Chrome Experiment,” Photowall for Chromecast is Google’s latest iOS app, which allows mobile devices to throw pictures onto an HDTV and make them come alive as a unique interactive composite.
Scrabble and poker may seem like an unlikely pair, but the two have joined forces in Words & Cards, a new free-to-play puzzler from Ayopa Games. The result is unique to be sure—a colorful blend of vocabulary and card-playing that provides a few engaging sessions of casual, online head-to-head play. Over time, unfortunately, it becomes evident that Words & Cards lacks any real sense of depth or replayability. Like a beta still in its testing phase, this game sadly feels incomplete.
As an iPhone app, Next took the checkbook model and turned it on its head, collecting your transactions and displaying them as a gorgeous picture of your financial trends. Now, developer noidentity has brought the spending tracker to the iPad as its own paid companion, and while the minimal concept works well enough on the larger screen, we have a tough time recommending a double-dip here.
At some point in the ‘90s, every college dorm had a Magnetic Poetry set stuck to the front of someone's mini-fridge. Verses might have been limited to the few dozen tiles that hadn't fallen behind the vent cover, but the fun wasn't in creating Walt Whitman-worthy masterpieces—it was in seeing how your creation was twisted by other people. Magnetic Poetry eventually went out of fashion, but FridgePoems looks to bring it back. However, while there may be a certain sense of nostalgia evoked here, the digital representation loses quite a bit of the fun without the kitsch and collaboration of the original.
As a clear effort to emulate big-budget console shooters like Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox, Star Horizon is perhaps most notable for how true it stays to its vision. It's a game that takes very little influence from the usual iOS design trends, thankfully eschewing common devices like virtual sticks, tilt steering, or in-app purchases. As a result, it’s a mostly successful homage that shines particularly in its presentation, with the game serving as a showpiece for the iOS platform.