Bank shots are even better when you shoot them on purpose! With Neon Tango, Freeverse conjures up the spirit of classic, vector-line arcade games. This unabashedly retro shooter features typical, blast-anything-that-moves gameplay that would normally cost you an afternoon pumping quarters into a cabinet. And even though Neon Tango never feels completely original, its high standards make for some fun shooting.
As the Portuguese battle the mighty French, those aren’t mere numbers rising from our avatars. They’re people! Thousands of people! The exciting, and sometimes upsetting, national narratives of world history form the setting and mechanics of Europa Universalis 3, the latest strategy title from publisher Virtual Programming. But don’t worry—the game and its expansion pack, Napoleon’s Ambitions, are more of an exercise in strategic domination than a history lesson.
A zoomed-in view lets you watch the orcs bleed. You’ll have to zoom out, though, to place the towers. Orcs coming. Must kill orcs. Towers kill orcs. Must buy towers. Orcs drop cash. Buy more towers. Kill more orcs. Orcs come faster. More to kill. Kill, kill, kill.Hordes of Orcs is enjoyably primal. If you enjoy games like Beach Head 2000 for their repetitive killing, you’ll find a lot to like about this game, which should also thrill anyone whose favorite buildings in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness were the guard and cannon towers.
Why can’t we just raid a tomb once in a while without having to leap for precarious ledges? Lara Croft trades Indiana Jones’s whip for a pair of big guns. The two characters end up in similar adventures, however, stealing priceless artifacts from around the world. But unlike the creakier Dr. Jones, Lara uses her athleticism to vault through traps, off walls, and over pits. This acrobatic style makes Tomb Raider Anniversary an exciting game, even though it occasionally frustrates.
We like traditional Scrabble for its physical feel almost as much as the crossword game itself. We carefully arrange letters between turns, sometimes petting a groove into a treasured tile like rubbing Buddha’s belly. Scrabble for the iPod loses that physical touch, but it brings the game to turbulent flights and the family truckster without the danger of losing tiles under the seat.
Free-wheelin’ rally racing is way more fun with a gamepad or racing wheel. Most racing games are fun because you rub shoulders—and wheels—with other cars, trying to outmaneuver foes to the finish. Colin McRae Rally Mac instead pits you against times of other drivers, losing that in-the-moment thrill. Depending on the mode, a “ghost” car outline might represent another racer, but physical collisions are impossible. However, the game has so much else, it still places as one of our favorites. Tight controls, imaginative off-road tracks, and punishing but rewarding competitor times make this technical racer a winner.
Apple displayed games at its iPhone SDK event, with EA, Sega, and Apple itself unveiling upcoming products. Sega will release a tilt-sensitive version of Super Monkey Ball, its marble-in-a-maze franchise. Apple showed Touch Fighter, an OpenGL space-pilot game where you lean the iPhone to steer and tap the screen to fire. And EA announced plans to bring a version of Spore to the iPhone. Release dates aren’t available for Super Monkey Ball or Touch Fighter, but EA is targeting a September release for iPhone Spore. In addition to the creature simulation, EA has “other [iPhone] games in early stages of development,” according to EA spokesperson Trudy Muller. While Apple announced that all iPhone products would also work on the iPod touch, EA didn’t offer any comment about Spore’s specific phone-free compatibility.
Great game mechanics inspire decades of imitators, and Bubble Bash for the iPod clearly follows Bust-a Move. You might also remember the basic idea as remixed in Snood and many others: erase on-screen bubbles by firing new ones, matching three or more of the same color. Using a light touch to aim with the click wheel, Bubble Bash pulls off this core gameplay, adding a few of its own flourishes.
The latest iPod game, Pirates of the Caribbean: Aegir’s Fire, runs aground immediately. Like nearly every other licensed videogame, this sailing adventure feels like a cash-in, looting unsuspecting iPod fans. While the first few ship battles are briefly fun, Aegir’s Fire is mostly tedious, repetitive, and frustrating.