I have all kinds of notebook apps on my iPad. Some are brilliant handwriting emulators, while others are slick and skeuomorphic with carefully crafted UIs; some do a few things really well, and others do a bunch of things solidly enough. But I certainly didn't think I needed another one. Scrapnote has made a strong case for sticking around, though. It might look plain -- launching the app simply presents a library of staple-bound notebooks -- but its tools are powerful and versatile enough to handle most anything I threw at it.
Before Adobe Photoshop Touch appeared on iOS, ArtStudio was considered the go-to image editing app, with the best selection of editing tools available on the iPad, including some decent artistic paint brushes. In its most recent revision, ArtStudio has undergone a radical interface overhaul, ultimately looking a lot like a desktop graphics tool, and making critical controls -- such as the extensive layer options, including blend modes and layer masks (the latter missing in PS Touch) -- more accessible. The result is a slick, smooth program that proves worthwhile to vets of Photoshop or any other full-featured image editor.
Warping classic Arthurian legend into a more twisted tale of demons and deception proves a silly but sufficient foundation for high-gloss hack-and-slash adventure in Wild Blood. Gameloft's latest Unreal Engine 3 powered beauty pits you as a burly Sir Lancelot, who must carve his way through unholy hordes to stop a crazed King Arthur that has unleashed hell upon his kingdom in a fit of jealous rage. While this slick slaughter fest is heavy on the eye candy, it doesn't measure up quite as well in the slice-and-dice department.
"What's on TV tonight?" isn't quite as easy of a question as it used to be. With so many ways to watch our favorite shows and movies, just about anything can be on whenever (and wherever) we want -- it's just a matter of narrowing down the options. Filtering through it all just got a whole lot easier with NextGuide, a dramatic reimagining of the classic TV guide. Instead of an unwieldy list of unwatchable channels, you get vivid programming squares that span many common sources of entertainment, like cable TV, iTunes, Netflix, and even Hulu Plus.
The App Store has an originality problem. Too often, developers ape the exact themes and mechanics from top-selling games, creating a sea of never-ending cartoon birds and temple chases. But despite the incredibly familiar mechanics driving Marvel's new Avengers Initiative, there's no denying the satisfying crunch of a Hulk fist smacking a Skrull. Sure, it's a bit of a knockoff, but the best examples of imitation lead to great new ideas.
Depending on whom you ask, there's a sentiment in some circles that the Japanese games industry is struggling to maintain relevance. While traditional Japanese role-playing games don't clinch the Western market quite as tightly as they once did, The World Ends With You stands as a prime example of the genre's staying power. Actually, it's one of the best role-playing games – regardless of region – we've played in years.
Toddlers and preschoolers love to draw, and the App Store has no shortage of solutions for keeping little ones busy doing just that. Squiggles! for iPhone is one of the latest, but goes much further by actually bringing your little one’s work to life, complete with animation and sound.
The end of the world is rarely a beautiful thing. Bastion bucks the trend with a story-rich, action role-playing adventure set in a colorful fantasy landscape that easily makes for one of the most visually striking post-apocalyptic tales I've ever encountered. But the unusual way this quest to salvage the remnants of humanity unfolds is even more memorable than its stunning design. Nearly every action you make -- from simple combat maneuvers to the choices you make as you play -- elicits a clever narrative response that ties the magical journey together in a very personal way.
Whenever I have a random thought while using my iPad, there are plenty of places to quickly jot it down. But if I have the makings of a real idea, I generally want to keep it somewhere safe so it can it germinate and someday reach its full potential. Concept understands that great ideas need room to grow. While it might seem like just another variation on the digital notebook, it's actually more of a skeuomorphic mind mapper, adorned with scraps of paper, sticky notes, and mini Polaroids that keep track of your thoughts (and your thoughts' thoughts).
Platformers often come with an expectation of nostalgic bliss -- that starting the game will bring back feelings of blowing into a large plastic cartridge. Mikey Shorts nails its 8-bit-inspired aesthetic. It looks like an HD-infused Super Mario Bros. and sounds so Eighties that it should have the faint noise of a Metallica album behind the chiptune score, as if it's creeping in from behind the closed door of an older sibling's bedroom. The simplicity trickles down to the controls, which consist of a two-way directional pad and jump and slide buttons.