Rovio’s new “Stars” label was designed to snatch up and release indie games with promise, but we weren’t sure quite what to expect from the Angry Birds maker's publishing efforts. As the first of the so-called Stars, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage luckily lives up to its lofty billing and sets a high bar for those to follow. It’s a quirky, inventive, and colorful physics puzzler that deserves every bit of visibility the mobile publishing giant can give it.
From the very first version, Instagram became a fixture on our home screen and throughout our days, and in the nearly three years since, we've used it constantly to share a small window into our daily lives – and peer into those of our pals, as well. Vine essentially used the Instagram template to deliver a similar social sharing experience with video earlier this year, but with the new 4.0 release, Instagram one-ups its biggest competitor by adding its own video-sharing ability, with many additional features giving it a notable advantage.
Imagine waking up in a strange house and having no recollection of what happened to your wife, your friends, your job, your home, and the rest of your life as you know it. Only by meandering through the darkness and stumbling upon grim clues can you begin to piece together the horrific tale that lies at the heart of Home. But exactly what that tale is depends on the choices you make and how you perceive each twist you encounter along the way. An experiment in interactive storytelling, Home is equal parts unsettling and puzzling. It's an absorbing – albeit terribly brief – journey that will ultimately leave many of your burning questions unanswered.
Throw a virtual rock inside the App Store and you'll hit any number of titles touting support for venerable Microsoft Office documents, but all of them have one problem: They're not from the folks in Redmond. That situation has finally changed with the arrival of the poorly named Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers, a free mobile companion for Microsoft's productivity suite. While the app mostly performs as advertised, it has Achilles' heels on both feet: First, it's limited to users of the company’s $9.99-per-month Office 365 service, and second, it's only for the iPhone and iPod touch – at least for now.
Very few educational math apps have recognizable characters, but the newest such iOS edutainment game from JumpStart features animals from the Madagascar series of animated films. Madagascar Math Ops balances education with fun by rewarding good math skills with an Angry Birds-like physics game, in which you hurl the penguins – who are wearing jetpacks – at obstacles in order to free the other animal characters.
Pairing Disney's biggest original iOS hit with the company's most iconic character, Where's My Mickey? XL delivers another breezy physics puzzler that challenges you to guide a stream of liquid to the cartoon mouse. Skillfully utilizing a classic Mickey Mouse aesthetic with animated cut-scenes, the game maintains the winning gameplay formula that propelled Where's My Water? and licensed follow-up Where's My Perry?, though a lack of challenge makes it less memorable than expected.
The original Kingdom Rush is one of the App Store's most enticing time sinks – an original tower defense affair that delivers countless hours of challenging entertainment and remains atop the crowded genre on iOS. Kingdom Rush Frontiers, available in separate iPhone (reviewed) and iPad releases, makes little effort to reinvent the formula. It's the same core strategic experience that we loved last year, albeit with fresh terrain and tower upgrades, plus a couple of light twists along the way. And considering the immense quality of the original, it's tough to argue with that approach.
Previously only available on the iPad, Evomail's iPhone client gets a running start with a simple, beautiful UI that feels right at home on the smaller screen – so much so that we wonder why the iPad version came first. Its interface is filled with visual flourishes we love about this new generation of email clients, with circular avatars, smooth animations, and crisp fonts that make it a joy to use, but a few stumbles stop it from being as good as it can be.
Waldorf is a German synth company with a pedigree that dates back more than a couple of decades, and specializes in a branch of sound generation called "wavetable synthesis," which blends sampled sounds and synthesized filters together for slick sonic goodness. Its new iPad app, Nave, is a bold monster, with tons of deep programmability, and a thick, gorgeous sound that truly rivals hardware synths that cost more than the highest-capacity iPad.
A computer may still be the desired platform with which to have a true multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) experience, but when you’re on the go and have a hankering for some genre action, your phone is quickly becoming the next best option. No stranger to online games, Zynga is the latest developer to throw its hat in the mobile MOBA market with Solstice Arena, a free-to-play title that provides the ideal balance of portability and strategy without skimping out on what makes the style of play so fun to begin with.