Monthly Archive: June 2012

Explodables Lite!

Explodables, one of our favorite high-score chasing arcade titles here at The App Shack, developed by Mark Peach, definitely hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves. Finely tuned, driven by an exceptional scoring system and accompanied by fantastic graphics, Explodables is one of the few titles to get a perfect 5 out of 5 score in our review. Well, now you can check out the game for yourself, and see why we’re so impressed with this title by downloading the newly released Explodables Lite.
In it, you’re able to play through 6 stages, and take on the exclusive to the lite version gameplay mode, Time Blast, which has you trying to get through 5 stages in the shortest time possible, getting the highest score you can. It’s definitely one of the best tap-based arcade titles available for the iOS, and one that everyone should have on their device.

LostWinds, FireHawk and more go free for a limited time!

Seems like every week, more and more high-quality apps are getting price drops. It’s a shame the developers are basically forced into doing so, but it’s also something that makes the AppStore that much more special. If you’ve yet to pick these titles up, make sure you do!!

Fall of Angels [Kevin Mitchell] – $2.99

It’s not too often you can come across an RPG title which is unique and has an interesting story. Winner of’s ‘Most Addictive’ Game Award for 2012, Fall of Angels, developed by Kevin Mitchell (who previously worked for Eurocom Entertainment Software and IBM) and Lee Pattison, is one of the few RPGs available in the AppStore which falls away from the typical cutesy plots and cartoonish graphics resulting in a terrific turn based/real time RPG with a memorable story, unique graphics, and great gameplay. 
Starting off, you’re shown a cut-scene with some sort of object appearing out of nowhere and  shooting through the sky, crash landing somewhere off in the distance. Next, there’s a dialogue sequence between a soldier and commander who’s forces are trying to break through the borders of the land where they believe the object has landed. You come in during the battle as Sariel, a member of CEL, an elite worldwide force working for the religious powers within the world of Fall of Angels. 
The controls are presented nicely, and easy to use; A floating joystick, run button in the lower right corner, and the menu button in the top right. Battle controls are clean and also very simple to use; Tap on the character you want to use, tap on the action, Attack, Skills, Action or Items, and then tap on the enemy you want to take action against. If you would like to use your typical attack, you can just tap on your character 3 consecutive times, and he’ll automatically attack the enemy. 
The fighting is Turn-Based, but only to an extent. Your character’s can only attack after a cool-down, but there is no break in the battle. If you don’t attack right away, you could wind up being hit numerous times before you get a hit in. This makes the battles more action oriented, and pretty unique. Each of the battles you enter is basically voluntary. You’re able to see each of the enemies and animals on the map, so there are no hidden/random battles. 

Graphically, Fall of Angels looks like an old-school PC title; 2D sprites set against 3D environments. This does make for some hard to find pathways that are hidden behind trees or walls, but I’ve never wound up feeling lost or stuck. The environments are nicely detailed, and easy to tell apart. Animations are decent enough, though the running animation looks pretty weird, and some of the stances that the characters take look awkward. But it consistently gives you the feeling of an old-school RPG, which I absolutely love. 
As you make your way through the game, you’ll be able to collect tools which you can equip and use to complete puzzles, and side-tasks, as well as collect various objects. The interactive puzzles are a nice addition to the game, and even though they take you out of the core gameplay, they don’t distract from the immersion. 

Priced at $2.99, but on sale at the moment for $1.99, and available for the iPhone/iPod, you’ll need to play in 2X mode if you’re on your iPad, which is kind of a bummer. The environments don’t wind up being pixilated, but the character sprites do. Hopefully an HD or Universal version will be released in the future. The developers have said that Fall of Angels is only the beginning of a wider story arc that’s already been written, which is great to hear. The AppStore could definitely use more RPG titles like this. If you’re a sucker for old-school RPG games, Fall of Angels has one of the most interesting stories you’ll find in an iOS title, and interesting combat+puzzle mechanics. It’s one you should definitely check out.

Eager Beaver [Chillingo] – $0.99

Chillingo is quite possibly one of the most well-known publishers of iOS games, and for a very good reason. They’re constantly releasing high-quality, polished titles. Last week, along with Disco Kitten, they released Eager Beaver, developed by Gamagio, a puzzle title which has you helping a beaver build dams. 
When I first saw the trailer for Eager Beaver, I didn’t think I’d like the game too much, but after completing the first world (10 levels), I was hooked. The goal of each level is to use rocks to build up a barrier which blocks off the water from reaching the right side of the screen. Using fewer blocks results in a higher score. This gets pretty challenging, even towards the beginning of the game, once teeter-totters, mines, the water current, floating wooden barrels, and fish which can knock over your barrier, and disrupt where blocks land are introduced to the gameplay. 
There is no time limit, which is nice, and lets you completely focus on how you want to build up your rock dam. The controls are also simple and easy to use. Each rock is automatically picked up with a crane at the top of the screen, and then you’re able to touch down on the screen, and drag the crane to where you want it, while picking your finger up from the screen releases the rock. Adding to the difficulty, however, as the crane is holding the rock, the rock spins clockwise, so you’ll need to make sure that you let go at just the right time so that you can match rocks together perfectly. 
Each of the 5 different worlds has 10 levels, and each of the levels has an available 3 star ranking. Though to reach worlds, you do not need to complete all of the previous levels, you just need to get a certain amount of stars, which is great for a puzzle game like this, as it’s never fun getting stuck on just one level. To get 3 stars, you’ll need to build the dam with a certain number of rocks, leaving the rest of the rocks un-used. This does add to the challenge, as well as replay value, especially if you’re driven by high-scores or achievements. GameCenter contains a leaderboard for your total score, and 18 hard to snag achievements, giving players plenty to try and complete even after finishing the last level. 
Graphically, Eager Beaver is well done with very nice and vibrant environments, each with their own items, hazards and plenty of variety in the atmospheres. Physics, animations, and inertia are all very well done, and highly polished. Even the movement of the water and the fish’s underwater breathing is animated, and these little touches add a ton to the all around feeling of the game. 
Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and having loads of fantastic gameplay+replay value, it’s definitely a title that stands out within the physics puzzler genre. Seeing more levels, or even another gameplay mode would make it an outstanding title, but as it is now, it’s one of the better puzzler titles I’ve played in a while, and I’d certainly love to see more from Gamagio in the future. 

Crazy Hedgy’s much anticipated 2.0 update hits the AppStore TODAY!

Cybertime’s first iOS title, Crazy Hedgy, is by far the best 3D Platformer available for the iOS. The tilt controls are perfect, the graphics are fantastic, and the gameplay is beyond outstanding. Over the last 6 months, fans of the game have been waiting for the 2.0 update to hit the AppStore, and today, our patience has been rewarded! Check out what’s new in this MASSIVE Version 2.0 Update for Crazy Hedgy;

With this new update, Crazy Hedgy has also gone on sale for $0.99! So if you don’t have this amazing 3D platformer yet, now would be a perfect time to pick it up! Don’t miss out on this amazing game!!
Once a new trailer for the game is posted up, we’ll be sure to share it with you all!

WarGames: WOPR [Be-Rad Entertainment] – $0.99

Match-3 games are almost as abundant as runners in the AppStore, which makes it hard to find titles within the genre that really stand out. Luckily, there are those few that do. Be-Rad’s latest release, WarGames: WOPR is definitely a title that stands out above the rest. Officially licensed, WarGames centers around the 1980’s Movie by the same name, with you taking control of the WOPR computer.
WarGames: WOPR only has one mode; the Campaign. It takes you through the story of WarGames from the computer’s perspective. You’ll go up against each of the movie’s characters, gaining special powers, and pieces of the launch code. 
WarGames is played by connecting groups of 3 or more symbols in order to use that action. On the board are missiles, satellites, + and $ symbols. The missiles attack your opponent, satellites go towards filling up a percentage which, when it hits 100%, gives you a special option, usually giving you health, an extra attack, or placement of power-ups on the board. The “+” symbols regenerate health, and the “$” symbols give you money, which you need in order to use your power-ups which you’ll gain as you progress throughout the game.
As you complete stages, you’ll earn RAM. This RAM is used to purchase and upgrade Tactics, or usable power-ups, which you can use in-game with the money you gain while playing, and Mods, which are permanent bonuses like gaining money with each turn, spawn a powerup tile when clearing chains of 12 or more, gain money instead of health when health is already at 100%, things of this nature. You are able to buy more RAM through the IAP, but it isn’t required to complete the game, and is mainly there if you want a super-powered up computer, or just feel like donating some money to the developers. 
The graphics are a simple, retro inspired, minimal style, and the animations fit very well within that fashion. However, the music is more modern, but accompanies the style of the game perfectly. The User Interface is clean, simple and responsive, and with no time limits, you’re able to thoroughly think through your moves, which, like most other match-3 games, does involve some strategy. 
WarGames: WOPR is Universal and priced at $0.99. It is supported with GameCenter, having a leaderboard for most Nukes, along with 8 Achievements. It’s also got iCloud support, which is fantastic, considering some of the levels are incredibly challenging, and sharing the saved data between devices is a real time saver. As far as Match-3 games go for the iOS, WarGames is definitely one of the best. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s one title you should check out.

Project 83113, Blobster, Avenger and Monster Shooter: The Lost Levels go FREE for a limited time!

Seems like a lot of FANTASTIC games have been going free lately , and here are 4 more that you can add to your device at no charge to you. If you don’t have these already, they’re great games to check out, especially Project 83113, which is sitting comfortably at #2 on my favorite games of 2012 list right now. If you’re a platformer fan, Blobster is a nice one to check out, and Avenger is heavily influenced by Castlevania. Monster Shooter: The Lost Levels is a great dual stick shooter that feels like a cheat version if you’re familiar and use to playing the freemium version of Monster Shooter. So go ahead, spend some of your bandwidth, because these games are all worthy of snagging. =o)

Uplink [Introversion Software] – $4.99

Hacking based games have always been a favorite of mine, and they really seem to fit very well on the iDevice. Hacker Evolution, Digital Heist, The Hacker, The Hack Run Trilogy… but none of these have really done for me what Introversion Software’s Uplink has done. A perfect port of the PC version, Uplink’s fantastic story, user interface, graphics, music, gameplay and paranoia are just as addictive as they were 10+ years ago using a mouse and keyboard. Though not very realistic, it captures the essence of ‘Hollywood Hacking’ like that shown in Hackers, Swordfish, Sneakers, and other ‘Hacker Inspired’ films, which makes for a much more interesting video game. 
Uplink’s story revolves around the Andromeda Research Corporation, which is creating a computer virus using artificial life research that can destroy the Internet. Another company, Arunmor, is trying to create another virus that can destroy Andromeda’s virus. You’re able to choose between Arunmor and Andromeda, or you can just focus on completing every mission you can while the story goes on without you. 
You start off joining the Uplink Corporation who provides work for hackers by matching missions with skill levels and providing both the hardware and software that’s needed to do the work. Once you create a user account with the company, you’ll need to prove you have what it takes to work for them by completing a test mission. You are able to activate the tutorial for this, which walks you through, step by step, showing you the basic mechanics of the game. There’s also a ‘Help’ section on the Uplink Corporation’s mainframe which gives you information about security systems and software, as well as anything else you might have questions about throughout the game. 
Once you complete the test mission, you’re able to sign in to the Uplink Corporation and view the ‘Mission List’. Here is where you’ll be able to accept jobs from companies based on your user level. Completing missions raises your level and gives you credits which you can use to purchase more software and upgrade your hardware. Starting off, you’ll have a bunch of missions which have you copying and deleting files, but once you raise your level, you’ll be altering documents, destroying entire libraries of data, and even outing other hackers. 
The user interface for a hacking game like Uplink is extremely important, and Introversion Software has done a great job making the game easy to navigate and understand. On the top of the screen, you’re able to see the date, and your IP address, as well as fast forward time which comes in handy if you’re waiting to have better hardware installed, or are waiting for more missions which fit your level. 
There’s also a CPU Usage bar , which is pretty much like a Task Manager, showing what applications are running, and how much power they’re using. You can also send more power to a specific application, making it run faster, or take power away from one that doesn’t require as much, like your Trace_Tracker (which lets you know when you’re being traced), so that you can give more power to your file copier, password breaker, or any other applications that might need to be sped up. 
In the top right corner is the world map, showing all of the networks which you can connect to. Here is where you’ll bounce different connections off of different networks, making it harder for companies to trace your IP address. 
Along the bottom of the screen are your icons used for starting up applications, reading e-mails, reading your accepted missions, checking out your level, credit amount, installed software and what hardware you currently have. Tapping on the satellite in the bottom left corner pops up a menu which separates your applications by type; Utilities, Drivers, Security, Crackers, ect. To start an application, all you need to do is find it in the list, and tap on it. Once you get further along into the game and need to change information, or enter names to search for, a keyboard pops up on the bottom half of the screen. It’s responsiveness is fairly quick, so you’re never stuck waiting for the keyboard to pop up, taking up time while you’re being traced, which is great.
Uplink is priced at $4.99, and only available for the iPad. If you’re even remotely intrigued by hacking, or into hacker games, Uplink is one of the most entertaining titles, on any gaming platform, that you can check out. Sadly, there is no GameCenter integration, which means no achievements, which would have been a fantastic addition to the iOS version. A leader board for total number of completed missions would have been great to have as well. But the gameplay doesn’t suffer from the lack of a leaderboard and achievements, and still gives players the drive to keep coming back, completing more missions, and progressing further along with the plot. It’s a must get for fans of the genre, and at the current price, is a steal. Hopefully Uplink will sell well, and get some much deserved attention so that Introversion Software can port over more of their fantastic titles to the iOS. DEFCON, Darwinia and others would be fantastic on the touch screen. 

realMyst [Cyan Worlds] – $9.99

Myst. For a lot of gamers the name conjures up great memories, fantastic gameplay, and one of the most innovative games of the 90’s. The first time I played Myst was in 1999 during my 3 free periods in High School. It took me about two weeks to complete the game, but it’s stuck with me after all these years. I had heard about a ‘realMyst’ which was done in a type of first-person gameplay incorporating free-roam, but I never got the chance to play it. Now, almost 20 years after it’s original release, realMyst has been ported over to the iOS, and I’ve been extremely excited to dive back into the game after all these years, being able to experience it in a new way.
If you’re new to Myst, it was originally a point and click puzzle adventure title done in a first person view that had you thrown onto an island and left the rest up to you. There was no tutorial, no one telling you where to go or what to do, you had to figure it all out on your own. There were clues left in notes around the island, and little clips found in books and strange machines that guide you along and give you backstory. It took me about 10 tries before I actually got into the game because I never knew what to do, until a friend told me where the first note was, and then I was off, totally immersed in the world, exploring the island through the different ‘ages’ solving puzzles, backtracking, gathering clues, and loving every minute of the gameplay. 
The controls fit perfectly with the touch screen, dragging to look around, tapping and holding to move forward, doing a double tap and hold to sprint, and touching two fingers to the screen to move backwards. Everything within the game can be dragged or tapped to be activated, and like most other point & click games, feels like a perfect fit for the iDevice. 
The graphics in realMyst are fantastic. The atmospheres and environments are beautifully crafted, and full of seemingly esoteric structures that eventually come to life before your eyes. Unfortunately, there are some notes within the game that are pretty blurry, and hard to read. There’s also some very noticeable drops in frame-rate and jitteriness while exploring the world. This does wind up knocking you out of the immersion a bit, but it doesn’t really harm the gameplay. Myst is not an action oriented game, no one is chasing you, and you’re not under a time limit to find clues so you’ll never die because you couldn’t move fast enough or because a couple frames were skipped. But it would be nice if there was a way to optimize the game, even at a drop in frame-rate, so that you’re not constantly reminded that you’re playing a game. But it’s easily one of the most graphically impressive games I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The music, ambience and sound effects are also just as fantastic as the graphics, and fit in perfectly with the settings, adding immensely to the atmosphere and feeling of the environments throughout the entire game. 
It might take a while to actually get into the game, and figure out what to do in some parts, but the main thing is to keep at it, keep exploring, keep looking at everything, switching levers, touching books, pictures, and knobs, and you’ll slowly progress through one of the most amazing games to date, and find out why some gamers call Myst an experience that borders on being referred to as art more than a game. realMyst is only available for the iPad 2 and 3rd Generation iPad, and priced at $6.99 for launch, with the price set to go up to $9.99 soon. There is no GameCenter integration, which is kind of disappointing, as achievements for Myst would have been a wonderful addition, and would have added to the drive to really explore every little inch and crevice throughout the entire game. 
If you’ve experienced Myst in the past, realMyst’s gameplay and feeling is different enough that it’s worth checking out again. If you’re new to Myst, realMyst is quite possibly the best version you could check out, and even at the regular price of $9.99, is more than worth every single penny you’d spend on it, even with the couple of issues within the game. Being able to have Myst on my iDevice is still pretty surreal, and I’m going to fully enjoy every single minute I spend exploring and solving the puzzles all over again. It’s definitely one game that every person who calls themselves a gamer should experience, and with this iOS port, it’s yet another opportunity to do just that. 

Lightraycer [Green Ferry Games] – $1.99

Racing games coupled with the iDevice’s accelerometer control option works extremely well. Thankfully, developers are going above and beyond your typical racers, expanding the genre, and creating new and unique games. QuBIT, Protoxide, Axon Runners and others are great examples of this. Green Ferry Games first iOS release, Lightraycer, is another attempt at pushing the genre beyond the typical trends. 
In Lightraycer, you control a space ship trying to outrun a supernova blast by racing along a track through space. The controls are typical of other racers on the platform, tilt to move, but you can also jump by tapping on the screen. With the inclusion of the jump mechanic, Green Ferry was able to include light walls, breaks in the track and falling orbs which slow your ship down. 
The graphics in Lightraycer are fantastic, with beautiful, vibrant backgrounds, a great looking track, and when the supernova gets closer behind you, the sides of the screen start closing in on you with a bright orange and yellow glow accompanying shaking from the blast. Unfortunately, this is pretty much all that the game encompasses. 
There’s only one gameplay mode, one ship, no power-ups, no GameCenter or OpenFeint integration, no objectives, and no real drive to keep playing, or get a better score, which makes Lightraycer seem like a pretty bland and basic title when compared to the rest of the genre. This is made more disappointing by the core gameplay, which has loads of potential, but isn’t taken advantage of. 
Being priced at $1.99, it’s hard to recommend Lightraycer, especially with so many other great racers for the iOS at either the same price or cheaper. Until more is added on to the game, chances are it’s not going to reach it’s target audience, and will fade into the background as so many other iOS titles have, which is unfortunate, because there’s clearly talent behind the game, and unique ideas floating around Green Ferry Games studio which isn’t being fully taken advantage of.