Backyard Monsters: Unleashed expertly adapts Kixeye’s popular Facebook game for iOS, putting you in charge of a horde of deadly fiends as they build a mighty fortress and wage war on neighboring clans. The beasts are on the scary side of cute, morphing sweet and colorful character designs into something out of a nightmare — which rather adheres to their particular brand of destruction.
Confused demonyms notwithstanding, Romans from Mars is a fairly straightforward iOS offering from Sidekick Games: waves of green-skinned centurions are attacking your ramparts and you, a lone ballista operator, are tasked with holding them off. The Roman deity Jupiter supplies intermittent spells — an earthquake here, a lightning bolt there — but the bulk of Romans from Mars consists of launching huge arrows as quickly and accurately as possible against increasingly complex hordes of aliens. Unfortunately, it devolves into mindless tapping, while the free-to-play approach makes upgrades prohibitively expensive before long.
With a laser pistol in one hand and a glowing sword in the other, charging through long corridors filled with killer robots, oozing slime creatures, and alien freaks sounds like a good time. It is — at least to an extent — in Echo Prime. This sci-fi brawler from Robot Entertainment (Hero Academy) is a high-energy tap-fest that balances smart controls and formidable challenge. The satisfaction that comes from cleaving through droves of foes in a successful run dampens during longer play sessions, however, due to intense repetition that'll leave your wrists aching.
Newly exclusive to iOS 7, iMovie 2.0 is a big leap forward for mobile video editing. Apple nixes the movie theater motif of earlier versions in favor of a more streamlined UI here, making it easier than ever to create slick projects complete with slow motion, titles, and transitions. And unlike earlier versions that sometimes behaved sluggishly, iMovie 2.0 offers 64-bit support for the iPhone 5s and upcoming iPad models, accomplishing every task with breakneck speed. The app even eliminates older pain points with audio: Fade ins and outs are now adjustable, and audio from video clips can now be detached or inserted on its own.
Ember is the successor to the five-year-old LittleSnapper, and in classic Realmac style it offers powerful tools in a finely crafted interface. At its core, Ember helps you collect and organize images, whether they are screenshots destined for documentation, or inspiration you’re collecting for your next website design. Built around a clean, smart file browser and an excellent set of organizational tools, Ember is a bit of a niche product, but if you need its feature-set, the $50 price tag shouldn’t be a deterrent.
Accessing files on the Mac has been a work in progress since the beginning of OS X. For proof, just look at the evolution of Finder windows and the Dock. Falling somewhere between those familiar fixtures, Desktop Shelves offers a new way to help keep digital clutter at bay.
Tweetbot 3 embraces everything good about iOS 7. Where many of our favorite apps have undergone simple facelifts to align with the new, lighter style, Tapbots understands that iOS 7 is more than the sum of its fonts and colors. As a result, Tweetbot's interface is more alive than ever before, with rich transparencies and playful transitions that create a full and immersive experience. It starts with your timeline – the background and navigation bars have been completely bleached, with the only blasts of color coming from the blue links and icon accents, plus the new circular avatars.
It’s entirely possible to overlook Even Up. In an app marketplace hellbent on grabbing your attention with busy free-to-play arcade distractions and Helvetica-and-clean-lines brainteasers, Even Up is so unassuming you might mistake it for a simplified Sudoku board. Seemingly taking its design cues from picture slider puzzles, solving each grid requires combining all numbered tiles on top of each other in sequential order until the screen is clear. You can push any numbered tile to a matching one on the grid as long as its path is clear – from there the combined tile’s number will be one higher than whatever it was originally.
Rosetta Stone’s products immerse you in the language you are learning with its innovative teaching method and lessons that force you to think like a native speaker. Rosetta Stone Arcade Academy, a free-to-play iOS educational game, attempts to build on the foundation of the computer-based language courses by introducing some gaming components as it teaches you the basics of Spanish. The result, unfortunately, is a frustrating experience that often distracts more than it enlivens the process of learning.
Camera Plus 3.0 — not to be confused with the similarly named Camera+ — is unique among third-party camera apps. Rather than outnumber competitors with filters and effects, developer Global Delight instead focuses on improving the actual process of taking pictures, while still letting you easily enhance those already on your device. Indeed, the only filter or effect gimmick to be found here is “Pix’d,” which intelligently and automatically enhances new or existing images with just a tap – and does quite a nice job, we might add.