Monthly Archive: December 2011

Countdown to Christmas Promocode Giveaway: Updated with New Games!

Each day before Christmas we will give away a promo code of an iOS game (apps in giveaway listed below) to two of the contest entrants. We will contact you through the method of contact from which you entered and deliver the promo code into your hands.
If you have won a code you still have a chance to win more throughout the Countdown.

You can enter in three different ways:

  • Tweeting about the site or the contest. Include our account name in your tweet (@TheAppShack) 

Sample Tweet- I just entered the Countdown to Christmas Promocode Giveaway from @TheAppShack!!! Enter here:

  • Liking us on Facebook. (Email us with the name you liked us under)
          • Emailing us at with suggestions and tips for the giveaway or the site in general.

Be sure to follow our Twitter account to stay up to date on what apps are included in the giveaway and who won the latest contest.

Promo Codes you could win:

EPOCH. (2 codes) Universal
Phoenix(1 codes) iPhone only
M.U.S.E (1 code)
More apps will be added to the contest shortly

We thank our sponsors that have generously donated their codes to this awesome contest.

No more Shadowgun codes are available!
Stay tuned for future contests from us, two of them are currently in the works!

‘Lost Winds Review’ – A Gusty New Take on the Platforming Genre

Exploration is what drove our nation to the stature and success we see today. If not for the exploring spirit of Columbus who knows how the world would have turned out. In Lost Winds there is that same spirit of adventure present that really pulls you into the game world.

You play as Toku, a villager who is trying to save the island Mistralis from Balasar, a great and evil being.  Fortunately, you are not alone as a kind wind spirit named Enril joins you on your quest.
Lostwinds incorporates a unique method of control, namely the power of wind.  By swiping and drawing lines of wind across the screen you are able to guide Toku on his adventure. You use the wind to propel yourself onto certain platforms and it is fairly easy to get where you are aiming to go. But its a whole nother story when you try to move objects into the proper position. Many times I have accidentally lifted myself instead of the object or both at once which gets hairy trying to control. But overall the wind propulsion controls certainly do the job when you’re trying to get from a low place to a high place. Movement on the ground is achieved by tapping where you want to go or holding the side of the screen you wish to traverse.
This gusty control method is built on as you progress in the storyline and new ways that you can use it are uncovered frequently. For example in order to burn down a wood barrier you need to kindle a fire with the wind and then create a gust of wind that propels the fire towards the barrier. There is a lot of running back and forth across the map which can be rather tedious to the impatient child or busy adult. But, this really gives you a chance to check out the visuals and live the experience.  Luckily there are plenty of incentives to do exactly that. Scattered throughout each of the games areas are statues that unlock characters that you can pose in Snapshot mode. Snapshot basically allows you to juxtaposition the games characters onto photos from your photo library or onto your friends shoulders in a live picture.  If you are a completionist this is certainly a welcome feature as these statues are very well hidden.
Since there is a tendency to forget where you are or where you should go for a quest there is a implemented map system that is certainly useful to get you back on track.  The save system on the other hand is not that helpful. At various points in the areas you can find huge statues which save your progress once you walk by them. Unfortunately, there are almost none located in the underground dungeon areas of the game which can take a fairly long time to get through. If you are willing to devote a little time to it, you shouldn’t have much of a problem.
Overall this is an awesome platformer that encourages creativity, exploration and most of all fun with the in-game environment that the devs so clearly put a ton of work into. Drop whatever you are doing and pick this up now, you wont regret it.  5 out of 5 stars.

Terra Noctis – 2.99 (Bulkypix + FireFruitForge)

If you’re a regular reader of TheAppShack, you probably know by now that my favorite genre of video games is platformers. Especially exploratory platformers. As I’ve said a few times, Metroid II – Return of Samus is my favorite video game of ALL TIME. These days, my iPod is my main gaming console, and yes, I know how weird that is, and that I am in a very small group of people here, but anyway, I have been hoping that Metroidvania titles would become more frequent in the AppStore. Phoenix Spirit and Grokion seemed to be the only titles within this genre for quite some time, but over the last year or so, Metroidvania fans have grown, or, more likely, have gotten iDevices, and releases like Elemental Rage, Miss Claire Garden, Cordy, Glowfish, Emberwind, BlibBlob, Shantae, SpyCorp, and a few more have added loads of fuel to the fire. Granted, not all of these are TRUE Metroidvania titles, but they do incorporate quite a bit of exploration, and for die-hard fans of the genre, that’s usually enough. So now, when a platformer comes along that has “exploration” mentioned within 5 feet of it, I’m usually one of the first people to jump all over it.

FireFruitForge has been working on a little game that’s going by the name Terra Noctis (originally named After Dark, if any readers out there heard of it a while back, but they decided to change the name so as not to run into any legal issues). It’s a retro inspired platformer, with influences from Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, and has quite a bit of exploration thrown in as well. There are 3 difficulty levels, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare, with the harder difficulties having more enemies, more traps, and less platforms.
There are 40 levels spread across 4 different worlds. Each level has a 100% completion rate available for it; to get a 100% completion, you’ve got to find all 15 of the red fairies scattered throughout the level, the large gold coin, usually hidden in a harder to reach area of the level, and grab 5 orbs, each with a letter in them, spelling out S-C-A-R-E. There are also blue fairies in each level, which you can collect, and use to buy items in the game’s shop. In the shop, you’re able to buy extra lives, as well as power-ups that you can equip and use as many times as you like until you loose a life, or complete a level. All of the items in the shop are very reasonably priced, all between 80 and 150 fairies. If you explore a little bit in each level, you can usually get around 200-350+ fairies in each level. All of the levels are also re-playable after you beat them, so if you get stuck, you can go back and play some previously completed levels, and buy some items to help you.
The controls for Terra Noctis are set-up like most platformer games on the iOS. You’ve got your left/right arrows in the bottom left corner, and then your bottom right corner has your duck/smash/option button, and your jump button. While standing on the ground, your duck/smash/option button is used to duck, while in the air, it can be used to make your character, Allen, curl his legs up, and smash down into the ground, which can break certain blocks, and be used as an attack, and when in front of a cave entrance, can be used to enter the cave. Your jump button is pretty self-explanatory, and you are able to double-jump, or fall off of a cliff, and use your 2nd jump while falling, which does come in handy quite a bit. You are able to throw projectiles as well, and this is done by tapping and holding on the play area, and then dragging your finger to aim where you want to throw your projectile, having it fly in the direction chosen when you lift your finger. Tapping on the play area while you‘re in the air will allow Allen to throw a projectile straight forward, which works perfectly for taking out enemies on higher up platforms. The controls are tight, and very responsive. Actually, they’re probably some of the most responsive controls for a non-speed run platformer within the AppStore. The movement arrows could go to be a tad bit smaller, but they are very transparent, so they don’t really get in the way. Would just be nice to have it look a little slicker.
Now, once you start up the game, choose a difficulty, enter the first level, and start making your way to the end of the level, you’ll notice immediately that the level design is very well thought out. You’ll have quite a bit to look forward to as you make your way through the game, because it only gets better as you progress. The level design throughout the game is actually some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The amount of time and thought that must have gone into the design is apparent pretty much every step you make. Not to mention how much time must have gone into testing the levels to make sure jumps were just right, and everything got lined up perfectly.
Another aspect of the game that jumps right out at you once you first start playing are the graphics. The colors that have been chosen, the details that have been included, the backgrounds, objects throughout the levels that you can interact with, and objects that you can’t, there is not one thing that looks like it doesn‘t belong. The entire Terra Noctis world is mind-blowing. Smooth, modern graphics and textures that still hold a retro feeling within them, making it feel old-school while still being graphically impressive by the standards of today’s iOS games. This, along with the awesome back-ground-music, and smooth as butter animations for everything from walking and flying, to the fairies life like movement and particles of dust traveling through the air comes together to create one hell of an immersive environment.
On top of everything else, the amount of enemies you’ll face while making your way through the game is just perfect. Once you get through the first world, and start on the second, you might start to wonder if you’ve seen all the enemies there is to see, and then one will pop up that you haven’t run into previously. Then another, and another. To make things even more impressive, all of the enemy designs are incredibly well done, and fit perfectly within the game. There are also bosses at the end of each world, all of which are amazingly well done, with battles that change up the gameplay quite a bit, and throw an extremely high scoring situation at the player.
It’s clear, after playing the game, that Terra Noctis is very deserving of it’s $2.99 price-tag, if not more. Being Universal, including iCade support, the amount of content, especially for 100% completionist fanatics, and the OpenFeint leaderboards, 24 hard to snag achievements, as well as top scores for each level that are shown at the level select screen, should keep any gamer, even platformer fanatics, busy for quite some time. It’s easily one of the best platform games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and the amount of work, time, effort, and testing that has gone into Terra Noctis, shines through with every single frame of the game. After being able to play this for the last two weeks, I can very confidently say that it is my #3 favorite game of 2011, right under Space Tripper and Anomaly Warzone Earth. With Normal difficulty very reminiscent of the difficulty in old-school Mario games, Terra Noctis is great for all gamers, and is HIGHLY recommended. FireFruitForge has given iOS gamers a phenomenal piece of art all wrapped up in a tightly controlled, highly enjoyable, modern/old-school mesh of a video game. Everyone with an iDevice should grab it as soon as possible

Plethora of New Releases out tonight!

Because of the Appstore freeze that is occurring on the 22nd through the 29th a lot of new releases are being unleashed today rather than the typical Wednesday night releases. The typical time zone rules do apply though as the U.S. will receive these games at 11:00 at night.

M.U.S.E- By Ayopa games

Dungeon Hunter 3 – By Gameloft 
Lost Winds – By Frontier Developments
Review posted on the 21st
Mega Man X – By Capcom
Terra Noctis – By Bulkypix (Already out)

Note: Links will not lead to the U.S stores as it is not available there. These links lead to the NZ Appstore. Post will be updated with the U.S. links once they are out.

M.U.S.E. (Ayopa Games/Lab Rats Studio)

M.U.S.E., the long awaited arcade-style, third-person shooter by Lab Rats Studio and Ayopa Games, has finally launched in the App Store. In the wake of several other amazing shooters that have been released this year, like Shadowgun and Modern Combat 3, M.U.S.E. may seem inferior in terms of graphic quality. But in the end, there is so much that sets this game apart from its competitors that you really can’t deny how fun the game is.
You play as Sid Tripp, a freakishly ripped agent for the government agency M.U.S.E. Your goal is to stop Physcosis, a villain who is pushing for world domination. The story of M.U.S.E. is told during the game through comic style cut scenes. These provide a nice break in the action and are very well produced.
The first thing about the game that I need to note is that the visuals in M.U.S.E. are not quite top notch. Although they are highly detailed, some aspect of the graphics is out of place making the game seem a bit flat.  I don’t want to be too critical, and even though some of the textures are a little rough, if you put the flatness aside the visuals actually match well with the arcade nature of the game.  The color scheme creates a mood of destruction and conveys this feeling of a corrupted world. Now, that is just my opinion, but hopefully you will appreciate the artwork that way as well.
In terms of gameplay, M.U.S.E. effectively combines third-person cover-based shooting with intense non-stop arcade blasting.  Kill your enemies with bullets or grenades, and while you are at it unload on a car and watch it burst into flames. One of the coolest features in the game is the arcade-style scoring system. Rack up points and multipliers when you quick kill enemies or when you destroy parts of the environment.  Building on the arcade scoring, a neat feature called “adrenaline mode” boosts the points that you gain through kills and destruction. Basically, when you kill stuff your adrenaline gauge fills up. Fill it up all the way and Sid shoots himself in the leg, unleashing his rage on everything that you point the cross hairs at.  Adrenaline mode puts the game in a sort of slow-mo and enemies are outlined with a thick, flashy red line. This, along with the arcade-style aspect of M.U.S.E., makes the game experience deeper than your average shooter. Also, you can compete with your friends via GameCenter and OpenFeint leaderboards.
The level design is fairly linear, but this meshes perfectly with the non-stop gunning action. This is not a game where you want to lolligag around and sight-see. You want to go into the mission, set your cross hairs, and blast your way through. The linear level design prevents any confusion and makes the game even more of a blast to play.
There is also a deeper side to M.U.S.E. Character upgrades are not often found in iOS shooters, but the Lab Rats went all out.  As you play, you have access to over 80 unique upgrades to Sid and his weapons. Character upgrades range from max health and max speed, to adrenaline time and combo window. Weapon upgrades include damage, fire radius, clip size, and others.  The upgrades are a huge plus for M.U.S.E. and give it an edge over other shooters on the market.
In terms of device compatability, M.U.S.E. runs perfectly well on my iPhone 4, but I have heard that there is some lag on lower devices. For higher end devices like the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, you get to enjoy Air Play mirroring on the big screen. One other neat feature is iCloud integration.
The production of M.U.S.E. has been a crazy adventure for Lab Rats Studio, and they deserve a round of applause for following through with the project and getting it out on the App Store. So you know, just over a year ago, the guys at Lab Rats Studio were students in the game development program at Wake Technical Community College. To Lab Rats, congratulations on the release and I hope you continue to bring innovative titles to iOS. To our readers, definitely give M.U.S.E. a try. This is only episode one, so lets hope future episodes arrive soon.

New Christmas Freebies!

The sales will continue to roll in for a while, but here are a couple stand-outs hot off the press.

!!!Jetpack Joyride!!!

If you missed this from the Facebook promotion, definitely don’t pass this up a second time. Halfbrick has put nothing but genius into this game.


Buy ME

This is an awesome take on the Space Invaders alien defense shooter genre, and it doesn’t take much effort to go and download this now. Go get it.

Mike V: Skateboard Party (Ratrod Studio)

The skateboarding genre is relatively untapped in the App Store. Games like Skater Nation and Skate It shined in their day, but they have since grown old and stale. A new open-world skateboard game from Ratrod Studio has just landed on iTunes and it plays like a blast from the past.

Controls are the selling point for this game. In most games, controls are what make or break the bank, and in Mike V: Skateboard party they nailed it. A joystick controls movement while 4 buttons are arranged in an orbital fashion to pull of jumps, grinds and almost any trick imaginable. Just about everything about the controls can be adjusted, from the size of the buttons to their placement. While the controls are smooth, the player movement is a bit clunky. When you start moving, there will be a bit of a lurch and then you will zoom off. But this doesn’t detract from the whole experience.

Another area that shines in this game is customization. From, looks, to shoes, to boards wheels and trucks, nearly everything about your player can be customized. Even better, almost everything that you change, from trucks to shoes, will affect how you play the game. This alone earns Ratrod Studio a big round of applause because no other mobile skateboarding game has really gone this deep.

In terms of variety of gameplay, Ratrod Studio has done a marvelous job as well.  Any open-world skateboarding game, no matter how great it looks or plays, will bore gamers to death if all you do is ride around in one area with absolutely no goal.  This game excels here in that you have 5 “massive” locations to choose from  along with three game modes, Career, Versus Multiplayer, and Free Ride. The locations are all fairly expansive and although devoid of life, there are plenty of obstacles and ramps to jump over, ride around, grind on, or ram into.  Different themes like the dark indoor skatepark or junkyard and the more pleasant, open community center shake up the mood of the game and add the overall console-like experience. In Career mode, you will play to gain experience and upgrade your character.  Upgrades range from speed and balance to spin, and leveling up these traits will help you dominate in multiplayer. In the Versus Multiplayer mode, you compete against one other player and see who can rack up the most points. Share your scores and domination via built-in Twitter and Facebook integration.  This is a pretty big addition to the other two game modes, and the social aspect gives the game a competitive edge. Free Ride speaks for itself. Just pick a location, and practice your tricks.

From the standpoint of someone who has played almost every console Tony Hawk game along with all of the iPhone skateboarding games like Skater Nation, Skate It, Mike V: Do or Die, TouchGrind etc., Skateboard Party is a near console-like experience. Although graphic quality needed to be compromised a bit to support lower-end devices, they still look better than the older skateboarding games. Also, with all of the features that are included in the game, it is amazing that this is an iOS game. Definitely join the party and see what all the buzz is about. Mike V: Skateboard Party is selling at a mere $1.99.

Crescent Moon Games Holiday Blowout!

Crescent Moon Games, the publisher/developer behind epic titles such as Aralon: Sword and Shadow and Gears are holding what could be the biggest Holiday sale yet. Nearly all of their titles are on sale for less than a buck. Check out the list:

Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD – $6.99 → $.99
Evertales – $1.99 → $.99
Deadlock: Online – $.99 → Free
Gears – $2.99 → $.99
Pocket RPG for iPhone – $2.99 → $.99
Pocket RPG – $4.99 → $2.99
Rimelands: Hammer of Thor – $4.99 → $.99
Siegecraft – $2.99 → $.99

If I must recommend one, I would say Aralon is the best bang for the buck. For less than a cheeseburger you get an entire world to explore. Not to mention that a recent update just added in new areas and baddies. If you want more of a casual title, definitely give Gears a spin. I don’t think there is a better ball roller out there. I hope you guys enjoy all of the Holiday sales out there. We will be back with more.

Bulkypix and FireFruitForge’s retro platformer, Terra Noctis hits the AppStore tonight!

Last week, we posted an announcement for developer, FireFruitForge’s title, Terra Noctis (being published by Bulkypix). If you didn’t have a chance to read the announcement, you can here. Terra Noctis is a retro-inspired platformer, influenced by the likes of Super Mario Brothers, and Donkey Kong, and has quite a bit of exploration tossed in, which expands the gameplay and level design quite a bit. Well, after obsessing over the game for the last couple of weeks, we’ll finally be able to gush over the game with everyone else.
40 levels spread across 4 worlds, each having 100% completion available. To get it, you’ll need to grab 15 red fairies, which are scattered throughout the levels, the large gold coin, which is almost always hidden in a harder to reach area, and 5 orbs with letters in them, spelling out S-C-A-R-E. You can also track your stats, like how many gold coins you’ve collected, how many enemies you’ve killed, how many fairies you’ve collected, your total distance ran, fallen, and more.
The controls, graphics, physics, animations, level designs, gameplay mechanics, they are all top notch and extremely professional. The story in Terra Noctis is also a high point within the game. The main character, a little nightmare creature named Allen, is attending the local Nightmare School, but with the teachings, he’s still not quite scary enough. Then, after failing a test, he reads a local legend that says “Eat the heart of the scariest nightmare and become a scary nightmare, too.” Here is where his journey begins to become the scariest nightmare in the land.
Terra Noctis will be available tonight at 11PM, EST, and 8PM PST, in the US. It is a Universal app, and is also supported by OpenFeint, as well as having iCade computability. It’s easily one of the best platformers in the AppStore, if not the best, and ranks up there among the best platformers released on all consoles/platforms over the last 25+ years. FireFruitForge has definitely given gamers an exploratory platformer that hits all the right gaming nerves in our little video game obsessed brains. If you’re a fan of the genre, DO NOT let yourself miss out on this amazing game. Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, you should pick this one up, it might just make you a platformer freak.
You can also expect to see The App Shack’s review posted up tomorrow, if you’d like to wait and read some more in-depth information about the game.
You can also get some more info about the game on the FireFruitForge website;
on the Touch Arcade’s Upcoming Games Thread;
TA’s Main Game Thread;
and –
The Bulkypix Webiste;

Countdown to Christmas Promocode Giveaway: Updated with new games

Each day before Christmas we will give away a promo code of an iOS game (apps in giveaway listed below) to two of the contest entrants. We will contact you through the method of contact from which you entered and deliver the promo code into your hands.
If you have won a code you still have a chance to win more throughout the Countdown.

You can enter in three different ways:

  • Tweeting about the site or the contest. Include our account name in your tweet (@TheAppShack) 

Sample Tweet- I just entered the Countdown to Christmas Promocode Giveaway from @TheAppShack!!! Enter here:

  • Liking us on Facebook. (Email us with the name you liked us under)
          • Emailing us at with suggestions and tips for the giveaway or the site in general.

Be sure to follow our Twitter account to stay up to date on what apps are included in the giveaway and who won the latest contest.

Promo Codes you could win:

EPOCH. (3 codes) Universal
Mage Gauntlet (1 codes) iPhone only
Fargoal (5 codes) iPhone only
Saucelifter (2 codes) Universal
Phoenix(6 codes) iPhone only
Shadowgun(4 codes) Universal *Special Rules to win this code
Blobster Christmas (1 code)
Invader Zurp (1 code)
Sleepy Jack (1 code)
More apps will be added to the contest shortly

We thank our sponsors that have generously donated their codes to this awesome contest.

*In order to win the Shadowgun code you have to compose a tweet that says:
Tweet this message and follow both @MADFINGERGames and @TheAppShack in order to win a code of Shadowgun. Enter here: