If Cold War is any indication, the Sky Gamblers series may have reached maximum altitude with last year's stellar Storm Raiders. Sure, there's still plenty of high-flying dogfighting action to be found in this latest entry, but there's a legitimate question as to whether this fourth outing on iOS is running on fumes after so many entries in a relatively compact span of time. Thankfully, Cold War does bring some fresh ideas to the table, and the online multiplayer still provides the best aerial combat on the App Store. But the core campaign experience of Cold War is a bland and tired-looking stroll through what is an otherwise fascinating portion of American history.
Easily one of the more adorable iOS game offerings of late, Sky Tourist certainly doesn't skimp on innovation. A young boy's airborne journey through a diverse medley of colorful cosmic realms – while tethered to twin rockets – proves to be a wild and imaginative ride. But beneath its bubbly charm and unique ideas, frustration lurks throughout this upward adventure, waiting to pounce right at the moments when you're starting to have fun.
Like a cross between the critically acclaimed PlayStation 2 hit Shadow of the Colossus and Forbidden Forest for the Commodore 64, A Ride Into the Mountains asks you to hop on your pixelated horse and shoot odd floating monsters with arrows until a distant relic regains its luster. This shooting mechanic is core to the experience, involving an Angry Birds-like slide gesture whereby you pull back and drag to aim and fire — with a bigger gesture needed for longer shots. Most enemies must be hit in a particular spot, too; otherwise arrows are ineffective. It's basic, but tough to master under duress from enemies and their projectiles.
Our iPhones make it easier than ever to keep our budgets in check. There are an abundance of spending trackers in the App Store that will alert us when our bills are getting out of hand, but they're really only as smart as we make them. Constant vigilance is required to catch errant charges, and if you're not careful, fees and fraud can pile up and siphon money from your wallet. BillGuard looks to take human error out of the equation. By leveraging the power of crowd-sourcing, the app scans every credit and debit card transaction and alerts you to anything that looks suspicious.
For many, video games are an opportunity to live out a fantasy. And in the case of Bloodmasque, it's possible to actually watch yourself take on the role of a vampire hunter (via a photo-snapping feature), hacking and slashing your way through a macabre version of 19th-century Paris. But after the initial amusement of seeing your own head atop a game character wears off, Bloodmasque struggles to keep things interesting
Ever wanted to make the Internet bend to your will without needing a degree in computer science? The folks at IFTTT have made that dream a reality since 2010, and now have a way to do it from the palm of your hand as well with the new iPhone app. IFTTT is an acronym for “if this, then that,” a statement familiar to computer users with basic programming knowledge. It’s also a web-based service that makes it possible to connect disparate services using a trigger and an action, known as a “recipe.”
Back in the video-game heyday of the ‘90s, it wasn’t uncommon to see high-profile titles get releases on portable systems as well as home consoles. The former ports were invariably watered down — handhelds could at best make a valiant attempt at capturing the spirit of whatever the game was, but the chunky hardware just couldn’t quite get there. Surprisingly, the iOS conversion of well-regarded shoot-'em-up Sine Mora feels like a throwback to those days.
Pac-Man is in the midst of a renaissance right now; between multiple video games built to support an upcoming cartoon launch, the character is headed in a lot of different directions at once. Pac-Man Dash! is his latest iOS incarnation, and it's an endless runner with some enjoyable gameplay mechanics — and also a few missteps in its approach to in-app purchases.
It's hard to keep track of the seemingly countless photographic editing tools on the App Store, but Tangent actually brings some new tricks to the virtual light table, combining some very appealing graphic design elements together with a really slick, effortless interface, making it easy and enjoyable to add visually pleasing effects to any picture.
There's a trend these days toward smart calendars. No longer is it enough to just keep track of our appointments; apps like Tempo and Horizon combine our important dates with weather forecasts, contacts, and emails, and even Apple is getting into the act with directions and traffic reports in iOS 7. On the surface, Cal – the first in a planned suite of productivity apps from the creators of Any.Do – seems too simple to compete with this new class of calendar. But while it won't blow you away with powerful features, its slick interface and attention to detail show that smarts aren't just about artificial intelligence.