Video games are an ever-evolving medium, and as such, certain genres seem to fall out of style as the years pass. The match-three tile puzzler – arguably perfected by PopCap with Bejeweled 3 – isn't exactly redefining the interactive experience, but Alien Hive proves there's still room for innovation in an otherwise well-worn, casual-focused concept. Blending two simple gameplay ideas with a relaxing, cartoonish aesthetic works – for the right player.
Our iPhones can do so much right out of the box. With the exception of a few games that we can't live without, most of our favorite apps are merely better versions of the stock apps that come installed with iOS: Fantastical, Tempo, Clear, Camera+, etc. CaptureAudio is no exception, serving as an upgrade for one of the least-popular iOS apps, Voice Memos. It wouldn't be too hard to improve upon Apple's barebones sound recorder, but CaptureAudio's fantastic interface and versatile indexing features make the built-in option look downright useless.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is more than the average add-on piece of downloadable content so prevalent in video games these days. Blizzard approached the second iteration of its massively popular real-time strategy game as a trilogy from the start, each portion allowing you to delve deeper into the gameplay and backstory of StarCraft's three warring factions. Heart of the Swarm is a beautiful dive into the slimy muck of the Zerg, and the centerpiece of an inevitable conclusion to a three-part story.
Getting marooned on a spooky alien world full of creepy crawlies and other unfriendly inhabitants might sound terrifying, but it turns out to be a welcome detour from the dull depths of space in Capsized+ for iPad. Exploration and survival in this beautifully hand-drawn 2D platform shooter make for a satisfying balancing act, one made all the more interesting by the diverse ways you can traverse and interact with the harsh planetscape.
Developed by Angry Birds creator Rovio, The Croods is a village-building game inspired by DreamWorks’ latest CG animated film. With these two studios behind it, you might expect the game to be a sure thing, both as a promotional tool and as a fun iOS game for all ages. Instead, this freemium title isn’t the least bit charming, and all it seems to want is your money. Your objective is to create resources for the prehistoric Croods family by trapping, taming, and caring for wild animals, but the game downplays its characters in favor of a hollow gameplay approach.
Like Angry Birds Star Wars before it, Star Wars Pinball pairs the beloved sci-fi franchise with a proven mobile framework. In this case, it's the excellent Zen Pinball, which serves up original digital tables that look and play like the real thing. Available as a universal standalone app, Star Wars Pinball delivers a great table based on The Empire Strikes Back, complete with moving sections that take after film scenes. Additional tables are sold within, and all can be purchased and downloaded within the main Zen Pinball app, though this is the only way that iPhone 5 players can currently experience the tables in full screen.
NightSky is the kind of game that drops you into its world without a whole lot of explanation. Start a new file and you'll see a luminescent sphere, your charge that must be navigated over various physics-based environmental challenges. But you don't need much else to go on, really. In the opaque opening, you wonder over the origins of this mysterious object. Is it alive? Is it a crystal? The answer is unknown. You'll soon find out how effective a premise it is for the game’s atmospheric, ethereal tone.
Keeping up with comic books has been utterly transformed by apps like Comics by Comixology, as you no longer have to hit the comic shop weekly to snap up new issues, wait for graphic novel compilations, or read on your computer screen. Nearly every new notable comic is right there on day one, ready to be purchased and read wherever you please in sparkling digital quality. Marvel Unlimited acts as a complementary kind of service, eschewing new releases and individual purchases in favor of all-you-can-read access (via subscription) to much of the publisher's deep archive of books older than six months. It's a novel and promising approach, though where and how you can read the offerings are current roadblocks to its success.
It's amazing what a simple change in perspective can do. Dropping the third dimension of typical sims in favor of a side-scrolling approach made the original Super Stickman Golf a revelatory mobile experience, both with its puzzle-platform single-player courses and the raucous speed-based multiplayer showdowns. Considering the ample success of the debut, Super Stickman Golf 2 expectedly doesn't mess with the formula too much, employing the same mechanics while adding fresh courses, customization options, and another gripping multiplayer mode.
As the saying goes, the best camera is the one that’s with you. In our case it's an iPhone, so we tend to pounce anytime a new and potentially better camera app pops up on the radar – although few can top the modest simplicity of Apple’s built-in Camera paired with a good third-party image-editing app. The latest to land on the App Store is Zitrr Camera, an oddly-named but feature-packed solution that claims to do it all for little money, but stumbles when it comes to the one thing we want most from a camera app: Retaining original resolution from start to finish.