Despite sharing the name and much of the content from one of the year's most prominent Nintendo 3DS games, the iOS version of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is not quite the same experience. Rather than serve up a smattering of classic songs from the entire core Final Fantasy role-playing series, complete with story elements and familiar cinematic clips, the App Store release pairs the tap-and-swipe rhythm formula with a free-to-play shell that lets you pick and pay for exactly the tracks and characters your want. But trying to compare the two directly proves a losing proposition both for players and creator Square Enix.
When an earlier incarnation of You Don't Know Jack hit the App Store last year, it captured the look and spirit of the long-running trivia favorite -- including the risqué subject matter and abrasively hilarious narration -- but its single-player-only approach eschewed the multiplayer mentality that made the series such a beloved institution. Luckily, Jellyvision went back to the drawing board and came back with an inventive asynchronous take on the formula, which near-perfectly recreates the fantastic feel and flow of the bigger versions in mobile-friendly, bite-sized chunks.
When Gearbox released Borderlands in 2009, the studio managed to simultaneously combine the shooter and role-playing genres while creating one of the most enjoyable cooperative-play experiences ever devised. Borderlands 2 doesn't rewrite the book -- frankly, the changes are somewhat minor -- but when a formula works, sometimes a follow-up only requires just enough in the way of improvements and an expanded story to bring fans back to the fold.
You may need a computer to play popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) titles like League of Legends or DotA, but the genre is starting to make inroads on other platforms. The first mobile MOBA of its kind, Heroes of Order & Chaos successfully brings the feel of the genre onto iPhone and iPad without sacrificing too much of what makes the game approach so much fun to begin with.
Six years ago, ROBLOX started attracting younger gamers – generally between 8 and 14 years-old – to its user-generated, massively multiplayer world. While it's easy to draw some comparisons to the block-based concept of Minecraft, ROBLOX separates itself by allowing users to create entire games for others to play. Today, ROBLOX has launched the mobile version of its unique platform to the iOS format, bringing with it millions of user-generated levels and opening up possibilities for creativity to an even wider audience.
It's easy to lose perspective on a game like Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, particularly for those of us who enjoy lavish first-person shooters on consoles or computers. Gameloft's military shooter series seems content to mimic the immensely popular Call of Duty series from other platforms -- and Zero Hour boasts some serious parallels with this year's Black Ops II -- but despite its lack of ambition, the franchise delivers a big and entertaining mobile shooter at a fraction of the cost. And Zero Hour really does improve on the formula in small, but meaningful ways.
As dusty as the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rulebooks it's based on, Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition is a relic from gaming's past. For long-time tabletop RPG nerds like myself who get misty-eyed over the nostalgic glory days of rolling up a fresh character, recruiting a party of misfit NPCs, and gallivanting off in the Forgotten Realms to bash in the heads of some ne'er-do-wells, this antiquated fantasy adventure still hits a certain sweet spot. Baldur's Gate's classic sword swinging and spell flinging is well-preserved in this iPad port of the PC original, though it's perhaps a little too faithful to its roots for modern times.
Despite transitioning from the PC to PlayStation 3 and now finally the App Store over the past few years, Magic Orbz really does feel at home as a bite-sized brick-breaker priced at a couple bucks. Unlike the classics it pulls inspiration from (like Breakout and Arkanoid) and the many subsequent knock-offs, Magic Orbz isn't primarily focused on smashing through blocks or other generic, stationary objects. Instead, its stages take the form of small 3D worlds filled with pirate ships, sharks, and castles, all of which you'll aim to destroy in a comical manner.
If the word “beat” quickly leads you to "tab," "bat," "ate," "bet," "tea," and "eat," you’ll probably do just fine at Writer Rumble for iPhone and iPad. Proving the pen is mightier than the sword, combatants in Writer Rumble duel not with fireballs, but word tiles. Dragging your finger across the grid of letters to spell words creates not only terminology but also projectiles, which are flung at the opponent to cause damage. The longer and more complicated the word, the more powerful the attack. Think Boggle, but more violent.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is a fount of inspiration, and beyond upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, there's sure to be no shortage of tie-in video games. But considering the amazing reference material – a tale of adventure with dwarves and goblins – it's a shame The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth is so unabashedly boring. It's a typical, free-to-play conquest sim with a veneer of Tolkien influence.