When PixelJunk Monsters debuted as a downloadable PlayStation 3 game in early 2008, it proved a real diamond in the rough – and something of a revelation. This was before tower defense games exploded in popularity, and still months before we had an App Store, let alone one eventually filled with numerous great genre options. To see a game mine such rich strategic complexity out of a simple approach was so impressive at the time, and I fondly recall pumping dozens of hours into the game, alternating between extreme emotions of glee and rage as I stared into the cartoonish glow.
Cuteness comes in many forms, but is it possible to apply it to a moon-sized space station designed for the obliteration of billions of lives? With Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, developer NimbleBit certainly seems to hope so, and there's a good chance it'll be able to considering the studio's success with free-to-play iOS games like Tiny Tower, Pocket Trains, and Pocket Planes.
Each week, we highlight a selection of the most interesting, exciting, and unique new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch titles released on the App Store. This week has a wide array of really intriguing releases, from the surprise mash-up Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign to old-school adventure game The Cave, plus a pair of sports simulations in the form of NBA 2K14 and NASCAR: Redline. You'll also find a couple of interesting original iOS games in the bunch, such as Gunner Z and Level 22.
The poet Tony Hoagland once said, "The glory of the protagonist is always paid for by a lot of secondary characters." And in the case of The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, the focus remains solely on a band of previously unknown adventurers, filling in little details to flesh out the fantasy world of Middle-earth and its better-known leads from other media. But despite a refreshing approach to a well-worn tale, the three protagonists of War in the North are depressingly flat, and the path to Mordor is surprisingly stuck on rails.
FIFA 14 continues the fine form set by last year’s edition of the popular soccer simulation, mixing in a compelling free-to-play Ultimate Team mode and an all-new gesture-based control scheme that dramatically alters the feel of the game. It goes much further towards defining the mobile series as distinct from its console brethren, with both the new controls and the lightweight design providing more of a streamlined experience that’s sure to please casual players. There’s still plenty on offer for the hardcore, too – even without paying a cent.
Building a budding railroad empire is hard work. You have to take whatever jobs you can get, which means hauling everything from giant vats of maple syrup and pickles to arcade cabinets and ethanol to maximize your profits. Growing your snaking network of train routes – and fleet of trusty engines to traverse them with goods in tow – hits a delightfully upbeat stride in Pocket Trains, the adorable spiritual successor to Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower. Despite the similarly cutesy sheen of this new venture in the world of pixelated "bitizens," plenty of depth, fun, and accessibility are balanced throughout the clever design.
After months of waiting and mere speculation, a leaked image of what could be Logitech's long-awaited gamepad for the iPhone surfaced today on the @evleaks Twitter account. As TechCrunch reports, @evleaks has a good record when it comes to presenting leaks from companies like Samsung and Nokia, so there's a good chance that what we're seeing is legit.
If you search for endless runners on the App Store, you’ll find a slew of games in all sorts of settings, using a variety of people or animals as subjects. Buddy & Me is another one of those games, but rather than emphasize challenge and dynamic action, what sets it apart from the pack are its gorgeous art, less intense gameplay, and charming, light-hearted feel. You play as a boy who dreams about running through the forest with a large, flying dog-like creature helping him.
It’s hard to say whether or not Boson X is truly inspired by the April discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, which physicists believe explains why matter has mass. There’s theoretically some common ground. Whereas Higgs, which can supposedly explain the Big Bang, remained elusive to physicists for the past 50-plus years, Boson X is also about the discovery of new experimental subatomics, presumably for a greater understanding – or at least the self-serving satisfaction of winning. But the similarities between the so-called God particle and this ostensibly geeky behind-the-back runner unsurprisingly end there.
Our monthly recap looks back at the games we reviewed during September, with a total of 18 iOS and Mac games presented here in bite-sized, to-the-point encapsulations. And if you want to read more, simply click the link on each slide to read the full, scored critique and find the link to purchase each game. September was headlined by major App Store releases like Infinity Blade III, Angry Birds Star Wars II, and Call of Duty: Strike Team, not to mention unique originals like Incredipede and Giant Boulder of Death. And on the Mac side, SimCity and Shelter are both standout options to consider.