Contra has never been easy. Like many of Konami’s old-school ‘80s arcade games, the punishment in this run-and-gun series is designed to come quickly and often, as you attempt to break through endless hordes of enemies using only your reflexes and aim. Death is only a hit away, so winning means memorizing every attack pattern the game throws at you. If and when you screw up – losing one of the few precious lives given from a finite supply of continues – the loss really hurts. Strip that necessary roughness from Contra’s bones and all that’s left is a sad husk trading on a venerable name. This is essentially what Contra: Evolution does.
It looks as though Zynga might be getting the life preserver it so desperately needs after a year of disappointments, but it's coming from an unlikely source. According to AllThingsD, Don Mattrick, long known as the head of Microsoft's interactive entertainment division (in other words, its Xbox entertainment system) will be stepping down from his role at Microsoft to take the helm at Zynga. To many observers, however, it's a classic case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
With the incredible popularity of Minecraft, it’s not surprising to see other games expand upon its winning creation formula. Toca Builders is one such offering, but it uses the template for additional aims. This kid-oriented app from Toca Boca adds some interesting twists to the core concept of “building with blocks” and gives kids the chance to be creative while also employing problem-solving skills.
Beginning today and continuing every Thursday, we're going to highlight a selection of the most interesting, exciting, and unique new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch titles released on the App Store. This week includes new entries in the popular Contra, Diner Dash, Magic: The Gathering, and Siegecraft franchises, as well as original titles and those making their App Store debut after success on other platforms.
Limbo, the delightfully macabre sidescrolling platformer that debuted on the Xbox 360 back in 2010, is finally making its way to iOS next week. Considering that developer Playdead announced this morning that it's sold over three million copies already, there's a good chance that you've already played it.
Strategy games that combine city-building elements with player-vs-player combat are incredibly common on the App Store these days, and War of Nations doesn't shy from using the familiar free-to-play formula seen in everything from Clash of Clans to developer GREE's own Modern War. Fortunately, a handful of elements elevate it above the mass of clones, but progression glitches and a pricey cash shop make it a tough game to get deeply invested in.
Rovio’s new “Stars” label was designed to snatch up and release indie games with promise, but we weren’t sure quite what to expect from the Angry Birds maker's publishing efforts. As the first of the so-called Stars, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage luckily lives up to its lofty billing and sets a high bar for those to follow. It’s a quirky, inventive, and colorful physics puzzler that deserves every bit of visibility the mobile publishing giant can give it.
Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, the latest expansion for Borderlands 2, is out today, and the good news is that we Mac game enthusiasts don't have to wait for weeks before we get to play it. It releases today for both the Mac and the PC on Steam and GameAgent.com, and it's a shining example of how DLC should be be done.
Imagine waking up in a strange house and having no recollection of what happened to your wife, your friends, your job, your home, and the rest of your life as you know it. Only by meandering through the darkness and stumbling upon grim clues can you begin to piece together the horrific tale that lies at the heart of Home. But exactly what that tale is depends on the choices you make and how you perceive each twist you encounter along the way. An experiment in interactive storytelling, Home is equal parts unsettling and puzzling. It's an absorbing – albeit terribly brief – journey that will ultimately leave many of your burning questions unanswered.
Very few educational math apps have recognizable characters, but the newest such iOS edutainment game from JumpStart features animals from the Madagascar series of animated films. Madagascar Math Ops balances education with fun by rewarding good math skills with an Angry Birds-like physics game, in which you hurl the penguins – who are wearing jetpacks – at obstacles in order to free the other animal characters.