Double Fine is a studio known (and beloved) for incredibly eccentric affairs, like Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and Stacking, but by contrast, Dropchord seems remarkably straightforward. It's an arcade-style high-score game released under the guise of a music game – which makes sense given its fantastic electronic dance soundtrack and visualizer-inspired look – but the beats and gameplay feel disconnected. So it's not a rhythm game; that's not a problem. However, the game approach itself never provides as strong of a hook as the presentation, feeling more like something to occupy you while you watch and listen rather than a central pull of the experience.
With a 24/7 news cycle constantly spitting headlines every which way, staying informed can be a daunting task. A bunch of apps have tried to solve this problem in unique ways, but the better they are, the quicker they seem to get acquired, shut down, and folded into other services. Wibbitz just might be the next candidate for a headline-grabbing mega-sale. With a delightful interface and spot-on article summaries, Wibbitz creates beautiful mini-videos of the day's news, combining photos, graphics, and fonts into a stunning package.
Riptide GP2 is a straightforward racing game on a platform full of them. Piloting jet skis – called “hydros” in the game – is a fun twist on the typical four-wheel affair, but the structure will be familiar to anyone who’s browsed the iOS racing scene. Luckily, the water effects contribute a real sense of speed and pace when combined with Riptide’s responsive controls, and there's loads of single-player content to enjoy.
If you could reduce the 20th century optical artist Victor Vasarely to his essence and jam him into your iOS device, you’d end up with Isometric, a sparse design app with a single creative element: the rhombus. There’s an old design adage, “less is more,” that seems to be the underlying philosophy of this universal app, which presents an almost Zen-like simplicity (in terms of interface and toolset), challenging you to make the most of its one basic building block. While this limitation is meant to be a creative motivator, we found it to be a little, well, limiting.
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.
When you launch Algoriddim's djay 2 (reviewed on iPad; also available separately for iPhone/iPod touch), you'll be met with the same virtualized turntables that you remember from the first go-round. Whether you've ever scratched a record – or used the prior version, for that matter – your fingers will immediately know what to do. And it's even more fun this time around. The new dual-turntable interface turns up the volume on the realism, polishing the rougher edges and adding grooves to the digital vinyl that correspond with the rhythm of each song. And the color-coded waveform layer feature proves a killer addition to this excellent sequel.
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.
There are many solutions for storing photos and videos in the cloud, and Stream Nation is the latest to offer a range of affordable options. Users are initially given 2GB of free storage for photos (JPEG, TIFF, RAW, and others) or videos (MOV, AVI, MPEG, or even MKV), which can be uploaded from Mac or Windows applications or via the free, universal iOS app. It's a slick and secure app overall, though we encountered a handful of drawbacks during use.
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.