Must. Dig. Deeper. With its cool retro 2D aesthetic and exhaustive range of open-ended adventuring pursuits to follow, Terraria is a habit-forming romp through massive 16-bit-inspired worlds filled with secrets to explore, crazy stuff to build, and an absurd level of components to collect and build with. Minecraft fans, take note: This is a similarly addictive and creative experience, albeit one viewed through the lens of the Super Nintendo era of gaming. Far from a straight port from the previous PC and console releases, this portable version of the indie hit packs (almost) all of the wonder and depth of the original, alongside a few really excellent tweaks that make playing on iOS a real treat.
On home consoles, Madden NFL 25 celebrates the series' titular anniversary with yet another quality entry built around a strong, refined core. Irritatingly, on iPhone and iPad, the game of the same name is by and large a nightmare of free-to-play roadblocks, initially limiting access to most of the on-field plays, charging in-game coins for some of those that are available, and requiring slowly-replenishing energy to even play the game. But the saddest part is that such limitations surround what's ultimately not a very good representation of the sport.
There are more than 150 million iPads in use around the globe, but accessing Mac or Windows desktop applications from them can be an exercise in frustration. The folks behind Parallels Desktop have come up with an ingenious solution to this situation, but only for those who can afford the rather daunting per-computer subscription fee. Together with a Mac or Windows-based agent, Parallels Access “applifies” desktop applications to make them iPad-friendly, complete with audio.
As iOS apps become ever more sophisticated and feature-laden, it’s nice to see some creative developers opting for a more barebones, streamlined approach to app development. Loop is a notable example of a program lacking a long list of features, instead delivering a tool that serves as a solid introduction to the mechanics of cel animation. But as refreshing as that focus on simplicity may be, it also keeps the app from being particularly useful.
Apartment living isn’t always the easiest thing. Between bills, managing limited physical space, and juggling a social life, ambition, and sanity, one’s existence in a hundreds-square-foot box is tough enough to maintain alone. Now imagine looking after 10, 20, or even 50 residents, all with their own faults and goals – not to mention keeping up with the maintenance and improvement of the building they live in. This is the task Dream House Days asks of you in assuming the role of apartment manager.
The impending arrival of iCloud Keychain has thrown a spotlight onto apps used to store sensitive data, including our longtime favorite, 1Password. The folks behind lesser-known contender Passwarden have seized this opportunity to overhaul their own app, but they haven’t gone far enough quite yet. Like 1Password, Passwarden stores login, credit card, and other data with 256-bit AES encryption, with the option to sync it between OS X and iOS. Although the core functionality is largely the same, Passwarden’s freemium business model is a real kick in the teeth.
With a virtually endless number of camera apps available for enhancing photos or applying vintage effects, how can a newly released challenger hope to cut through the noise? Virtual cloning is a good place to start. WonderCam is the latest free app to offer real-time effects for photos and videos. In addition to traditional distortion, filter, and desaturation tricks, the app converts photos into comic book frames (complete with word balloons) or can even put a subject’s face into that of a historical figure or celebrity.
Flipping the script from Hutch Games' earlier Smash Cops entries, Smash Bandits spotlights the raucous fun of the getaway, tasking you with creating as much chaos as possible for the TV cameras while evading destruction via aggressive police cruisers. What begins with knocking over orange cones and slamming into cop cars soon turns into commanding a speedboat or briefly manning a tank as this free-to-play affair shows more of its open-city offering. And while the freemium design does limit the action a bit, it thankfully doesn't ruin the fun.
By the eighth entry across nine years, you usually know what to expect from a game franchise – and in the case of Gameloft's Asphalt, that typically meant solid but inconsistent production values, and decent arcade-style racing action that never quite matched the flashy console games it emulated. It was "pretty good – for a mobile racer," but Asphalt 8: Airborne finally sheds that qualifier, and essentially feels like a reboot in terms of quality. It's actually rather amazing, especially for a mere dollar.
The words "battle train" immediately bring to mind that cool scene from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, wherein Max and his hardscrabble crew are strapped into an armored doom-train, fighting off psycho marauder goons in post-apocalyptic hot-rods. While nowhere near as gritty and ultraviolent, Lionel Battle Train takes that core premise and spins it out into a fun, though sometimes also frustrating rail-bound combat adventure.