Codemasters has a seasoned pedigree when it comes to racing games, and it shows with F1 Challenge for iPhone and iPad. As the name suggests, F1 Challenge is an officially licensed Formula One game, but this top-down racer’s real draw is its unique control scheme. Instead of virtual buttons dedicated to left and right steering inputs, F1 Challenge uses a vertical slider to control the angle at which your speedster approaches each track’s hairpin curves.
One of the true rewards of playing a monster-training game is the ability to create your own cool-looking creature and customize it to your liking. Monster Adventures not only lets you decide what such a beast looks like, but its mash-up of role-playing and roguelike genre elements makes each play session an exciting and slightly addictive foray into its vibrant world. Monster Adventures starts you off with a basic creature, and it’s your job to train it and enter it into tournaments to bring pride to your village.
Survival and dependence take on new meaning in Duet, an abstract minimalist game of two tethered dots navigating a perilous world of unforgiving white shapes. It’s full of contradictions — the game is both brutally hard and beautifully meditative — and will leave you tearing your hair out, but Duet offers up something special beyond its intense challenge.
Crafting homemade costumes and prepping for nocturnal adventures to forage for sweets is a favorite youthful tradition every fall, and Double Fine's charming Halloween-themed role-playing game is well timed to get us all in the spooky spirit. Costume Quest expertly captures the sense of imagination and wonder that made trick-or-treating with friends back in the day such a blast. But far more than a grand fetch quest full of tooth-rotting bliss and crazy getups, this cartoonish romp throws giant robots, goblin warriors, and supernatural shenanigans in to sweeten the pot.
Virtual ANS is a happy aural mutation unlike anything else on your iPhone or iPad. While it bears a resemblance to the longtime Mac-only wonder MetaSynth, it’s a lot easier to fall into from left field, not to mention much less expensive. The app is a software recreation of an extremely rare Russian synthesizer (of which only one remains in existence) that used light and optics as the foundation of its synthesis engine. Time is plotted from left to right, pitch is mapped vertically, and onto this grid you'll use a variety of basic drawing tools to "paint sound," essentially.
Who expected one of the year's most intriguing games to be about fonts? Type:Rider features an odd premise, being an experiential side-scroller inspired by the history of typography, but it mostly soars due to excellent production values and inventive levels based on the fonts themselves and the processes and techniques around them. As a pair of dots, you'll roll through striking stages that spotlight paths built on the backbone of the fonts themselves.
All day long, our phones tell us what to do. Even before we turn them on each morning, a constant stream of badges, banners, and alerts keeps us apprised of our appointments and deadlines, pestering us with so much information that it becomes all too easy to tune it out. Begin attempts to cut through the clutter with a unique take on the to-do list. Instead of collecting tasks and prompting you when a due date is near, Begin boils your life down into 48-hour chunks. By focusing only on what you're doing today and tomorrow, it might actually help you accomplish something.
Despite securing the official (and lucrative) NASCAR license, Eutechnyx’s most recent offering on the App Store isn’t a racing game, strictly speaking. Instead, NASCAR: Redline is more like a career management sim: as a fresh-faced rookie in the Sprint Cup Series, you must win races to finance new car parts and pit crew training sessions to climb to the top of the standings. Unfortunately, some of the mechanics feel unclear, while in-app purchases for this premium game seem unnecessary and frustrating.
Designers and Photoshop pros from an earlier generation will remember the venerable Kai’s Power Tool Photoshop plugins, and even though they’ve been M.I.A. for years, one of the wackiest of those plugs – the Fractal Explorer – has been reincarnated as Frax, a seriously cool graphics toy and perhaps the single most impressive bit of graphics code we’ve yet seen on iOS. Available in separate iPad and iPhone versions (iPad reviewed), Frax is a full-screen, interactive fractal playground, with a very fluid, straightforward interface and a decent amount of customization possibilities for generating a wide variety of truly attractive fractal graphics.
Strategy games may be popular on iOS, but too many perform a tired juggle of microtransactions and abstract gameplay that cranks out forgettable games that mainly differ by setting. Machines at War 3 marks a welcome departure from all of that. Its tactics may be simple, but its Command and Conquer-inspired real-time strategy (RTS) stands so far apart from similar offerings on the App Store that it's well worth the price of admission.