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10 Most Anticipated Titles 2012

From what we have heard and seen so far, 2012 is going to be one hell of a year. Let’s just hope all of the great games we’ve been hearing about release before the world ends. Here’s our 10 most anticipated games for 2012 (that we know of now).

#1 Legendary Heroes (Legendary Heroes)

Haven’t heard much about this one other than that it plays like League of Legends or DoTA. Going of the video, this game is nothing short of awesome.  It will be releasing sometime in early 2012, and it will be free-to-play.  Don’t let this keep you away from the game though, just remember that League of Legends is free-to-play and is great.  We’ll have all the details on this one as they come.

#2 Paper Monsters (Crescent Moon Games/Robotsvswizards)

This is the platformer that I’ve been waiting for for the longest time. The quality of the artwork and the original garageband-made music seem to create a unique and lovable experience. And, it seems reminiscent of the Mario games, which is a huge plus. The video is some old footage and the game has evolved since then.  Paper Monsters will be launching early 2012.

#3 League of Evil 2 (Ravenous Games)

It’s pretty obvious that I like League of Evil. Not only was it our Game of the Year, but it is still my favorite game, hands down.  From what I’ve seen, the second installment looks like it will be just as good as the first, if not better. The pixel art is out, and all of the artwork is now being done by hand. Can’t say much about gameplay yet, but judging from the screens this is going to be one hell of a game.

#4 Kids vs. Goblins (Crescent Moon Games/Stolen Couch Games)

The line drawing control mechanism was really brought to life by the Mika Mobile masterpiece, Battleheart.  In Kids vs. Goblins, this tactic is taken to another dimension. Literally. This game looks really good, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

#5 Infinity Of God (CalviGames/Chillingo)

This God of War inspired game looks like another step up in terms of iOS graphic quality. It’s being made with the Unreal Engine, so lets hope it doesn’t fall victim to the bugs that are associated with the engine.

#6 Oceanhorn (Cornfox & Brothers)


This adventure game is brings back memories of the old days of classic, Zelda-style RPGs. Explore the world, solve puzzles, and kill the ancient sea monster named Oceanhorn.  Forget grinding, I’m on a boat.

#7 Raid Leader (Crescent Moon Games/Red Zebra Games)

Raid Leader seems to have somewhat similar gameplay to Kids vs. Goblins but has an entirely different appeal. From what we can tell so far, this game will be one awesome real-time strategy game (if that’s what they call them). The info we have so far is that there will be EPIC BOSS BATTLES and unique perks and abilities. Early 2012 launch for this one.

#8 Last Knight (Crescent Moon Games/Toco Games)

Looks like 2012 is the year of Crescent Moon Games.  Last Knight is being developed by Toco Games, and judging from the screens it looks plain amazing.  In terms of gameplay, this will be an endless “rider” with some jousting and ragdoll physics along the way. Count me in!

#9 Lightopus (Appxplore)

I recently finished beta testing this game, and it really was a pleasure to play. The atmosphere created by the game’s music (headphones help) and artwork is amazing. The video somewhat shows how the controls work, and also what kind of gameplay you will expect. No matter what you will have a blast playing this game, and that is why it’s on our list.

#10 2013: Infected Wars (Action Mobile Games)

This zombie shooter is shaping up to be quite the killer. The game will sport third-person shooter action with both single player and online co-op play. Online co-op is very rare on iOS especially in a game like this. Not much solid info on 2013: Infected Wars yet, but we’ll be back when there’s more.

These 10 games certainly aren’t the only ones that we are looking forward to, but there needs to be a cut-off to the list somewhere. Either way, we’ll try to review all of the great games in 2012.  I hope you enjoyed the read.

Developer of the Year: 2011

Over the course of the year, we have seen new developers rise and reach fame, and we have seen big name developers break their base and collapse in ruin.  Quite a bit went down in the iOS world during 2011, and for me, the year was nothing short of a groundbreaking earthquake with enough tremors and aftershocks to knock you off your feet.  Nonsense talk aside, the purpose of this article is to crown the iOS Developer of 2011! This is a big achievement and it has been a hell of a competition. Every developer has been considered from the one-hit wonders to the weekly credit drainers.

I know you are dying to hear who won, and let me give you a few hints. This developer started life under the wing of big-shot publisher Chillingo. After releasing their first title, the team moved on to more ambitious projects and has evolved into a publishing company of its own.  This development team now produces its own original games and helps others perfect their projects.  From epic, open-world RPG’s to simple yet hardcore ball rolling games, and even a side-scrolling brawler, this development team has provided the some of the best games in 2011.  I am proud to announce that the 2011 Developer of the Year is Crescent Moon Games!

Here’s a link to all of Crescent Moon’s games. The first game released by Crescent Moon Games was Ravensword: The Fallen King which was published by Chillingo. You can find that here.  Remember all Crescent Moon Games are on sale this week for $0.99 or less. Check out this post for all the links.

Also, there are a ton of Crescent Moon games coming in 2012 like Paper Monsters, Kids vs. Goblins and Raid Leader. We’ll have more on that here in a bit.

Congratulations again to Crescent Moon Games for winning the Game of the Year award! We hope you guys continue to make awesome games.

Best Games of 2011

With December coming to a close and a new year just around the corner, it might be helpful to recap the best games of the year.  This list will in no way encompass every awesome game that was released this year, but I hope it will help you pick up some games that you will enjoy.

First, my game of the year is…League of Evil by Ravenous Games!
There isn’t much you need to know about this game other than that it is a retro platformer, and it’s pure genius. With an iron fist, punch the brains out of evil scientists in 160+ levels brimming with action. Ravenous Games has poured so much love into this game and it shows.  Since its release in February, League of Evil has received more than enough updates to keep it fresh to this day. Also, word has it that League of Evil 2 is in the works! We’ll be back with more on that as we get it.  Until then, grab League of Evil and punch some evil scientists.
!!!THE TOP 5!!!
#1 (essentially GoTY Runner-Up): Pocket RPG (Crescent Moon Games/Tasty Poison)

Crescent Moon Games and Tasty Poison nailed it on this one.  Put simply, Pocket RPG is the best dungeon-crawler on the App Store.  Tons of loot, destructible environments, awesome skills, hordes of enemies, character upgrades…I mean what more can you ask for?  The game is simple enough for anyone to enjoy it, with dual stick controls and randomized dungeons optimized for pick-up and play, yet it is deep enough to satisfy even hardcore gamers. With 3 different classes to use and boss battles that actually require skill, Pocket RPG won’t be leaving my iDevice anytime soon.
#2: Glowfish (MumboJumbo)

Looking at the icon, you might be thinking “Wow…the #2 game is a baby game?”, but don’t worry Glowfish is in no way a baby game.  From its amazingly vivid environments to its simple yet intuitive controls, Glowfish has everything you can ask for in an iOS game. This is one of those hidden gems in the App Store that you just can’t pass up.  This is more than a game, it’s an experience. And it is one that you don’t want to miss.
#3: Bike Baron (Mountain Sheep/Qwiboo)

When Bike Baron was unleashed on the App Store, I was shocked by how easy it was to dump time into the game.  Immediately after its release I wanted to try it out for a bit, and before I knew it over 3 hours had passed by! This game is extremely addicting.  That’s the bottom line.  Of course with joy comes grief, and if you stick around until the last few Joker levels, you will face a LOT of grief…and you might end up using some Rogahn or some other hair regrowing product.  Despite the grief, Bike Baron is an epic game to be played on your epic device.
#4 Terra Noctis (BulkyPix)

Terra Noctis released just a week ago, but it already feels like a classic to me. This is one of the greatest iOS platformers in my mind.  Tight controls, Mario-esque features (like ground-pounding!), sweet retro artwork, and plenty of levels to play through all put this game up higher on the must-have list.  It’s sad that the game has not received as much recognition as it deserves, and we hope the developers stick with this one and continue to keep it fresh.
#5 Junk Jack (Pixbits)

There are several world building games out there on the App Store, but only one of them – no not even the official Minecraft port – gets it right. That one is Junk Jack.  Despite having quite the learning curve, Junk Jack is plays like a dream. You essentially have 3 alternate worlds at your fingertips in which you can do whatever you please. If you feel like it, go punch some trees. Maybe you want to build a castle. Well, make a pick-axe and get to it. There’s nothing holding you back in Junk Jack. With any luck you might even find some hidden treasures. If you decide to give Junk Jack a try, pay attention to the notes you find and never give up. Have fun fighting the mobs!
I hope you enjoy all of the games on the list. I know I didn’t cover all of the great games out there, but these are the ones that I have especially had fun playing. It’s been a great year in the iOS world, and next year will be even better. We’ll be back with more reviews here at the App Shack. Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year!

Ice Wings: Skies of Steel (MF3D)

There is no shortage of endless games on the App Store, and there is only one reason for this. THEY ARE FUN.  These days there are so many games appearing on the App Store that it is easy for hidden gems to drift by without a sound.  A new gem that should not be passed up is Ice Wings: Skies of Steel by MassiveFun3D. This newest addition to the App Store brings great visuals, an epic soundtrack, and frantic flying action together in an awesome endless arcade shooter.
The visual appeal of Ice Wings is definitely what caught my eye first. Cool and clean is one way to describe it. The color-scheme and building style really creates the feeling of being in a war-torn environment. Now, this is not to say that the graphics are perfect though.  The textures are a bit rough at the edges, and when you get up to speed some of the enemies look almost 2D. To go along with the visuals, the soundtrack of the game is nothing short of epic. You know the sort of music that you hear in the Call of Duty series that always puts you in the mood for shooting stuff? The best way to describe the music in the game is a mix between CoD and Top-Gun style. This really goes to create an awesome experience while you are playing, and for that I think the composer (Dave Dexter) deserves a big applause.
Moving on to the controls, Ice Wings utilizes a simplistic control scheme. A fixed shoot button (you can place this on the right or left side), finger dragging to move the plane left or right, and an upward swipe to dodge vertically.  My first few minutes playing the game were very frustrating as it took maybe 7 or 8 tries just to get past the first obstacle! Over at the TouchArcade forums, others have had the same trouble, but this is just a matter of getting used to the timing. Your plane is constantly speeding up, so in the beginning you have to wait until you are right up against the obstacle before dodging, whereas later on you have to dodge much earlier. In terms of obstacles, there is a variety ranging from train overpasses, to helicopters and cranes, and some more crazy ones like giant spinning blades and gates that slam shut with a tiny hole to pass through.  When you get going really fast, it becomes really difficult to see the obstacles coming, so you pretty much have to depend on luck. But hey, that’s the name of endless games isn’t it.

There are incentives to keep flying and crashing as well.  When you shoot down enemies you gain stars. These stars act as in-game credits to unlock new planes. Currently there are 4 planes total. The planes each have different stats in areas like acceleration, weight, and damage. This is what will keep you playing the game, and the developers will be bringing more planes in the future.
Speaking of future updates, the first update to the game is currently in the works. This will bring updated controls and hopefully some more customization. Some features that we hope to see in later updates are more obstacles (ie. some that you need to fly underneath), more maps, of course more planes.
This game is everything you could ask for from an endless game. It is nearly non-stop action, it has great visual appeal, it has an epic soundtrack, and it is from an indie developer. All of these are perfect reasons for you to get this game. It is highly recommended from me, and let’s hope that we will see updates galore in the future. Check out the launch trailer after the score:

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.

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.

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.

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.

M.U.S.E. Official Trailer Released!

The awesome upcoming arcade-style, third-person shooter by Lab Rats Studio is launching on December 22nd.  If you haven’t checked out our interview with Lab Rats Studio, be sure to check it out here. Ayopa Games, who will be publishing M.U.S.E., has just released a new trailer. Check it out in full HD.

Our full review of M.U.S.E. will be up within days, so make sure to come back and get all the details about this epic shooter. If you want more info, check out Lab Rats Studios site and Ayopa Games site.  Mark December 22nd on your calendars.

Mini Motor Racing (The Binary Mill)

The racing genre on the App Store has been dominated by games like Real Racing, Asphalt, and Need For Speed.  It’s time to welcome a new top dog, Mini Motor Racing. This masterpiece by the Binary Mill combines crazy arcade racing with visual glory and customization to create a truly amazing gaming experience.
If there is one thing that I would boast about Mini Motor Racing, it would have to be the aesthetics.  This game is a real treat for the eyes as well as the ears. Extremely detailed cars and tracks, along with beautifully fluid menus make MMR a joy to play. The upbeat music fits perfectly with the wacky vibe and the tune has been stuck in my head for the past few days.

Controls are a huge plus as well.  The gods over at the Binary Mill went all out with 4 different control methods ranging from a simple steering wheel, to a slider bar. The steering wheel has been perfect for me so far, but the other methods work just as well.  Also, you can turn auto-accelerate on or off to make the experience a little more realistic. With 4 control options, there is bound to be one that will work for just about everybody.
Moving on to the heart of Mini Motor Racing, there are multiple game modes including Championship, Quick Race, and Multiplayer. Championship mode consists of a whopping 120 race career which goes from normal events to feature cups like the “Fruit Ninja Cup” and the “Holiday Cup”.  Quick race works as it normally would.  You can “quickly” jump right into a race and practice your skills.  Multiplayer is limited to local WiFi and Bluetooth right now, but an online mode should be up and running soon.

To those who love customization, you will love Mini Motor Racing.  The game has over 20 tracks to choose from, all of which are absolutely gorgeous, and 13 cars to unlock.  The tracks are rather short, but they are designed to encourage rough play.  You will inevitably find yourself ramming your opponents out of the way and nitro-boosting your way to first place as you zip around corners.  The cars range in design, but they are all very detailed.  Some upgrades that are available are nitro boosts, top speed, handling, and acceleration. Upgrades are purchased with in-game cash that is earned by winning races. The wide variety of cars and tracks adds to MMR’s long list of awesome features.
Check out the launch trailer for Mini Motor Racing. If our review didn’t get you pumped up for the game, then the trailer definitely will.

I definitely recommend picking up Mini Motor Racing. The standard and HD versions are separate, weighing in at $1.99 and $3.99 respectively.