Thanks in no small part to the perpetual success of Angry Birds, the puzzle game has mutated its own amazingly popular block-breaking sub-genre. Not content to simply ape the competition, Toy Story: Smash It! takes that concept into three-dimensional space, and in doing so makes for one of the best games of its kind on iOS devices. It's a simple concept that makes great use of a familiar property: Buzz Lightyear lobs balls at toy block play sets in Andy’s room, attempting to knock over all of the squeak-toy aliens in as few throws as possible.
Shaking up the classic hard-boiled detective story formula with a supernatural twist, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller's gritty adventure game yarn about a psychic FBI agent makes a bold attempt to set itself apart from the status quo. Colorful language and violent encounters punctuate this tightly wound murder mystery geared towards more mature players, but while Episode 1: The Hangman has some pretty intense high points, it gets bogged down by dull stretches and technical issues.
As it stands, 2013 isn't looking like a particularly stellar year for games based on the Aliens franchise. Alien vs. Predator: Evolution is not quite the high-profile disaster that Aliens: Colonial Marines was on other platforms, as it does a valiant job of creating a longer-form brawler for iPhone and iPad – but the game is sadly plagued with consistent crashes and occasionally infuriating mechanics. Somewhere under the problems, there may be a really enjoyable title here. But without some polish, Evolution will remain a mediocre allusion to a beloved old PC game.
It's surely difficult to craft the follow-up to the most spectacular iOS racing game ever produced, and doubly so when ditching a price point for a divisive free-to-play model. Electronic Arts attempts both with the anticipated Real Racing 3, and largely succeeds on both fronts, delivering a hugely impressive free racer. You've never played a free mobile racer that's half as robust or refined as Real Racing 3. Building upon the fantastic previous iteration, the game pumps even more gloss and detail into its simulation, providing a great sensation of speed and realism as you blast through real-world tracks in licensed super cars.
Gun Bros 2 is Glu Mobile’s latest take on the twin-stick shooter formula, which maintains much of the same action-packed approach as the original while adding new elements. Unfortunately, nearly everything added here has sullied the Gun Bros experience, and feels misdirected and actively anti-consumer. In the game, you'll make your way through arena-style levels filled with oncoming waves of enemies, which you can dispatch using the two virtual sticks that respectively let you move and fire weapons.
If your kids just can't get enough Nickelodeon in their lives, a new iPad app will keep the fun going all the time, wherever you go, all with a swipe-friendly user interface and more than 1,000 bits of content.
Taking a break from the bubbly and colorful tones of Beat Sneak Bandit and Bumpy Road, Simogo's latest iOS game veers off into much darker territory, offering a completely different yet equally rewarding experience. While it starts off innocently enough, Year Walk quickly spirals out into an enthralling puzzle adventure steeped in haunting imagery and supernatural mystery. It keeps you guessing at every turn, but locks you in its grasp with smart challenges and heavy atmosphere. The best part is that your detective work doesn't stop once the end credits roll.
As anyone who works with audio for a living can attest to, the human ear frequently plays tricks on the mind. For example, is it really possible to hide secret messages inside music recordings? If all things audible fascinate you, then you’ll love a new iPad app dedicated to demystifying this and other “auditory illusions.” The San Francisco-based Exploratorium recently followed up their debut Color Uncovered app with a new offering called Sound Uncovered. The free iPad-only app is billed as an “interactive book,” which allows the user to participate and learn from all kinds of acoustic phenomena around us that’s equal parts fun and educational.
You don't have to be a great artist to have a good time fiddling around with DrawQuest. This goofy little social art app for iPad encourages you to draw something new everyday by giving you a prompt to follow, and then pitting you against other artists to see who can come up with the most clever sketches. It's a cool way to jump-start your creative spirit, but the real fun comes from sharing your creations with the game's thriving community and voting on your favorite doodles.