Digital representations of pinball machines seem to get better and better with each new passing genre entry, and they've proven particularly well-suited to the iPad and iPhone. Several slick apps are available on both devices that deliver a mix of original and classic tables, including many based on beloved characters and properties, and typically deliver a large array of perspectives and options to satisfy even the most avid pinball nut. Some fantastical options exist, like Frogger Pinball and Undead Attack Pinball, but for those players seeking a real-life experience on their iOS device of choice, these six apps can satisfy that need.
Ever since I was first introduced to the tabletop fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering in high school, I've spent countless hours of my existence tapping mana, flinging spells, and sending hordes of bizarre beasts onto the battlefield. The Duels of the Planeswalkers spinoff series did a great job of reviving the classic wizard dueling strategy on consoles in recent years, but Magic 2013 is the first installment to hit a portable device, and it's absolutely fantastic on iOS.
Originally released in 2008 on the PC, The Witcher: Enhanced Edition offers a complex solo role-playing experience, made all the more engrossing by the rich, dangerous world it takes place in. It tells the story of Geralt of Rivia, a gifted warrior who belongs to an order of magic and alchemy-aided monster-hunting mercenaries known as Witchers. While on a mission, Geralt is seriously wounded. He wakes years later in the Witchers’ fortress, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Before his compatriots have time to give him the most basic of information, the fortress is attacked by a group of bandits who steal the secrets to the Witchers’ inhuman powers.
Riding high off of the smashing success of the Temple Run and the theatrical release of Disney/Pixar's Brave, Temple Run: Brave blends the properties for a sharp-looking take on the former's speedy running approach, and aims to attract new players with a family-friendly resin. The beautiful update doesn't come without some issues, though, as the $0.99 price tag raises the barrier to entry ever so slightly over the free-to-play original.
No matter how far technology advances, some things manage to stick around. For Virtua Tennis Challenge, that means doing its best to convince the player that it's not just Pong in a fancy new package. While the graphics are impressive and Sega's modern offering serves up more game modes than the 70's classic, it also falls short in some areas where even the simplest of games have excelled.
Even if you’re suffering from Second World War fatigue after all the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty games of the last decade, Company of Heroes can put a fresh slant on the proceedings. It’s not only the most friendly, accessible, and involving of any strategy game we’ve played, but also the closest you can get to taking part in World War II without straying into first-person shooter territory and thus losing the depth that a strategy game can deliver.
The word “visceral” is thrown around the games industry an awful lot, but in the case of The Darkness II—a gore-filled shooter more than happy to cover your vantage point in digital viscera--the term actually works.
Card battling warfare and real-time tower defense make for a surprisingly great mash-up, but it's the hilariously gruesome moment where Alexandria Bloodshow's stylized Egyptian and Greek warriors start disemboweling one another on-screen in sprays of gore and flying appendages that sticks in my mind. This addictive sequel to Samurai Bloodshow certainly doesn't skimp on the over-the-top gore, though it's the underlying strategy of collecting cards and playing them to deploy units onto the battlefield at just the right moment that held me glued to the screen.
There wasn't a lot of meat to it, but the original Defender Chronicles still managed to steal away hours upon hours of my free time with its alluring fantasy RPG vibe and vertically-oriented twist on traditional tower defense mechanics. Three years later, Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia essentially delivers more of the same, but in heftier, shinier portions. I'll admit: this sequel's lack of innovation is forgivable when the formula is so fun to begin with.
School is out for the year (or nearly so), and kids are more than a little antsy to get out in the sun and dive into a awesome medley of summer activities. While the distraction of friends, fun, and festivities is a welcome change of pace from pencils and books, it also tends to make their minds a little mushy as the year's accumulated knowledge fades slightly. Of course, there are plenty of ways to continue learning through the hot summer months between school sessions without skimping on the fun. Not only will these apps entertain your kids, they'll also help keep their noggins firing on all cylinders until the fall.