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.
Though Pitfall! for iPhone and iPad shares its namesake with the classic 1982 Atari game, this 30th anniversary "remake" bears little resemblance to its predecessor. It is, through and through, an infinite runner -- a style of game popularized by fantastic titles like Canabalt and last year's hit, Temple Run. Pitfall! doesn’t push any boundaries or blow away expectations, but it is bigger, flashier, and bolder than others of its kind.
The presidential election season is in full swing, with the candidates vying for your approval this November. But if you're quickly growing tired of the back-and-forth campaign ads and serious subjects at hand, VOTE!!! The Game offers some comic relief. Unfortunately, the relief is short-lived; the game's nothing more than a quick novelty gag, hardly worth the space it takes up on an iOS device.
While there are recording apps for iOS from GarageBand on up, Auria is the very first app to call itself a pro-level Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), and even within the memory and processor limitations of the latest iPad, we’re stunned by what we see – and hear. Auria delivers up to 48 tracks of audio processing power (no MIDI) on the new iPad and iPad 2 (and 24 tracks on an original iPad), with up to 96K audio recording quality, which is an amazing technical feat.
Apple has bundled a weather app with every iPhone and iPod touch ever sold, so creating a paid third-party alternative is either extremely foolish or very brave. To succeed, you’d have to stand out and offer something so different that paying for it actually makes sense. This is precisely what the creator of Partly Cloudy has done. Most weather apps offer a nice graphic of the current weather, along with basic information like temperature and other details. By contrast, Partly Cloudy is very spartan; there are no pretty pictures, just what looks like an unusual clock face.