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Robot Bros. – 1.99 (108km Studio)

Robot Bros. is the new puzzle platformer from 108km Studio, a small indie studio founded in 2010. The goal of the game is to get all 3 stars in each of the levels, and then make it to the exit. 4 of the 5 robots all have a different ability, while one has no abilities. One can drop a certain number of ice blocks in a stage, another can throw fireballs to get rid of ice blocks, there’s a robot with a rocket pack, and finally, a robot that can make portals. Throughout the levels, youaregiven chances to change which robot you’re controlling, by hitting the robot icons at the top of the screen, kind of playing like Babylon Twins.
One pretty major gripe I have with Robot Bros is the controls. You can’t drag your finger from the left button to the right button and have your robot change directions, it will just keep moving in the direction you were first going. To change directions, you need to pick up your thumb, and press the arrow. Also, if you try and use a power in the air, which you can’t, but pressing the button will bring your robot to a halt, and make him drop straight down. The jump button is sometimes unresponsive as well. There’s some minor animation gripes too, like the rocket pack robot can change directions in the air, but he’ll fly backwards instead of turning around, and it seems like the fireball robot is the only robot that has a decent ability animation, bringing his arms back, and flinging the ball forward does look pretty cool though.

It would have been nice if all of the robots had as much detail as the fireball robot does. The rocket robot seems to fly up backwards when you first take off if you‘re pressing a directional button, and it takes a second for him to start going in the direction you want him to go after that. There were also a couple of levels in the game where some ice blocks would disappear and end up half way across the level, this also happened with my characters twice while playing. It would also be nice if once you got one of your characters to the end of the level, if the game automatically switched to one of the other characters in the level, instead of making you hit one of the robot icons. These are some issues that should be taken care of pretty quickly if you ask me.
The game is not very challenging. You’re able to zoom out in each of the levels, seeing almost the entire level. The objective pretty much stairs you right in the face after you see the whole level, meaning the only challenge is really just making it through the level while struggling with the controls. It took me about an hour and half to make it through all 36 levels. I really think the developers could have done a lot more with the game, especially considering they have a robot that can make portals! Right there should scream extra challenging. But I couldn’t help but feel let down. The graphics aren’t too bad, but could use some polishing up, and I didn’t experience any lag or crashing. There’s no in-game music, except for little clips after you beat a level, orwhen you die, which kind of bothered me, but I’m a sucker for game music.
In Robot Bros, the idea is nice, but it seems like there could have been some more attention to details. Mainly with the controls. But for the companies first platformer game, it does show promise. I’m giving Robot Bros 3 out of 5 stars, with the hopes that some updates can make this a game that controls well, gives it more levels, with more of a challenge, some in-game music, and squashes the bugs. GameCenter or OpenFeint support and some achievements would be a welcome addition as well. If you are a puzzle platformer fan, it’s not too bad of a game to pick up. It did keep my attention throughout most of the game, and it’s only $1.99, and is Universal. There really is a lot of potential here, but it seems that that’s all it has right now.


Thor Blitz, $0.99 (by Heitor Barcellos) Universal


   Hello all, I am Frost and going to start with the game Thor Blitz, by one man developer Heitor Barcellos.

   Basically, Thor Blitz is a match-3 game and its obviously inspired by the nordic god of thunder, Thor, who is at war with the Olympus.

   The game plays as a normal match-3 game, theres falling pieces and you have to match them on the bottom of the screen, having multiple pieces like triangles, squared blocks, diamonds and more, a lot more. The sword on top releases the pieces, always falling in groups of 2. You control the sword by tilting your iDevice. While the pieces are falling, and by the way to do it really fast, i heard 1.1 fixed this, but i wish it could be slower, being sometimes frustating at later levels… you have to drag them wherever you want to place them, if you can, and lets you flip the pieces on mid air on once placed on the gound, but you have limited moves, because theres a bar shaped like a sword that limits your moves, making your brain work faster. The point here, as many other match-3 games is to “form horizontal, vertial or L-shaped chains of three or more pieces”… also, you can make combos with 4+ chains to collect Diamonds, if you collect the required 3 diamonds, you will cast a super power called Thunderbolt, wiping out the screen. While this is the bigger combo possible, theres also lower one like earth or aqua combos (is all about making combos to survive), all being flashy and bringing some effects to enlighten it a bit although the game looks solid, in full Retina Display.

   The game has some depth, because you gain experience, gaining levels (and here is where the God of War influence kicks in), and some levels brings you new powers and adding runes, actually being like normal pieces, to the mix, ramping the difficulty up quite a little as you progress. I wish there could be some explanations for each of them, like Pigs on Trees, who does an outstanding job at that because they just show you the piece, leaving you wondering what it does. Some of them to help you, like Mjölnir, Thors hammer, that wipes an entire line or the multi-metal can, who can be combined with anything… also added are other regular pieces, called Runes to add more difficulty to mix them together. There are also bad powers, like the Hades Touch, inverting controls.

   There two game modes and a tutorial. The game modes is Story and Ragnarok, the fist one being the normal game, unlocking runes and progression through levels and the latter is a endless survival mode with everthing unlocked from the beginning and is quite challenging. The tutorial could be more explanatory with the power-ups , but i guess the dev wants to surprise you while playing… Replayability is good because you want to see whats ahead, and unlock new runes and powers, so this gives this game a “one more time” appeal. Theres also one leaderboard with your total points for both modes to compare youself with the rest of the world, and 6 achievements.

   I think you have already have an idea of this game in mind, but you dont know how it controls… well, an update just hit the AppStore, bringing bug fixes, a shiny new icon and calibration, and all they are welcomed and much needed. Now tilting works, it has been finely tweaked, but to our behalf, because before was so slow and now its perfect, fast and precise. Dragging works well, but sometimes in later levels, when you have all those runes and pieces and the pace is getting up, some pieces will swap by mistake. And by the way, dragging hasnt been completely fixed like tilting. It still needs some work, but if you are into this match 3 games, you will ignore it completely and have a good time with this Thor Blitz. So if you are a harcore fan of the genre and craving for your next game, this may be your new game, for $0.99 is already a bargain given the hours and hours you will dive into it.

iTunes link:

Here are some promo codes for the fastest to enjoy:

TTNELWE4YR9Y
EWWJR7E33YPJ
W7HFWRLXWFW7

   If you werent fast enough to get a promo code, we will give one more away in our Twitter giveaway, follow us at @TheAppShack

   Please remember to leave an iTunes review with whatever you really think about this game, Also you can check their website for any more games from this developer at hbstark.com


4Towers-0.99 (LambdaMuGames) Preview

Tower Defense games have been  becoming increasingly common since the beginning of the App Store.  Anomaly: Warzone Earth radically changed the tried and true formula by putting you in the place of the attacking forces.  How will this new tower defense game hold up to the new standards of customers and how does it improve and change the genre? Find out after the break!
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Thank you for watching Channel 9 News now back to the story of the day. A local game company called Lambadu Games has released their game into the loving hands of Apple.  Unfortunately the expected release date is not in fact the 18th but the 25th which is a surprising and heartbreaking development to us all. The good news is that we will be able to give you a detailed look at what is actually in this game so it will be just like you have it on your device except you wont and we will….just saying… Anyways this seems to be a very good remix of the genre and I feel will be well received in the gaming community.
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The first amazing change they introduced is the fact that it is played in the vertical position(that means up and down) which is always good because it makes you look like your doing work or something else you should be doing.  On the playing field you have a few places where you can set your towers.  You cant just set them anywhere and I imagine that you will be forced to strategically choose where you want certain towers to best win the round.  Another interesting innovation is the fact that you can place a tower next to a  tower of a different type and influence it to have a different attack like a slow splash attack for instance.  New towers are introduced through the course of the game  and you combine different towers to form entirely new ones.  After you beat a level you get BioMatter which you can use to buy things in the inventory shop that will upgrade all your towers on the field.  In order to gain their benefits you have to equip them in the slots which also adds more strategic elements to the game.  Overall this is definitely a nice turn on the genre and reminds me a lot of GemCraft except more fun and better visuals.
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There are 3 different modes to play through Novice, Veteran, and Elite.  I assume there are different levels after you complete each mode but there is a possibility there are not as well.  Regardless that will give you a opportunity to stock up on the BioMatter and earn new powerups.  As far as replayability goes you can try to score a perfect on each level which can be very difficult as it is very likely a lucky enemy will slip past your carefully planned defenses.  One of my favorite things about the levels was that there is a huge boss  at the end of each of them so you always have to be thinking of the endgame and what defenses you should put up.
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Overall, this is a excellent take on the genre and quite a few new features make the game fun and enjoyable to come back to. Combined with excellent retro graphics and a lovely shop system this game will find itself on your device for a very long time. You can play it on all devices as it is a Universal Game.  Its coming soon to an AppStore near you on the 25th! I rate it a 9/10.


NEWS – The CheeseMan Cometh.

Recently, the AppStore has seen it’s fair share of Super Meat Boy influenced platformers. But Hicham Allaoui’s upcoming game, CheeseMan, is the first to add something all of us SMB fans have been begging developers to add for months; VIRTUAL CONTROLS. This slight, but seemingly very important addition to the game, should be what we’ve all been wanting in a Super Meat Boy clone. The graphics and gameplay looks surprisingly polished as well. At the end of this month, The App Shack will, very proudly, be able to have a first look at how CheeseMan plays. And we’re going to be telling you all about it. How it controls, how the physics work, if the level design is up to par, or beyond, and just in general, if you really should be as excited as you think you should be about this up-coming game.
Keep checking back around the end of August, and beginning of September when we will be the first review website to proudly present –
THE SUPER CHEESEMAN PREVIEW+REVIEW!!!
If you would like to stay upto speed with this game and news from the developer, you can follow Hicham Allaoui on Facebook and Twitter, and also be sure to check out his website.


Pixel Ghost – 0.99 (Eggcode)

The AppStore is a hub for retro gaming goodness. Gamers in their 20’s and 30’s have been buying their childhood back a couple bucks at a time, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Eggcode’s latest game, Pixel Ghost, is their first addition to the retro platforming genre, and it brings with it some interesting mechanics. Pixel Ghost is not your traditional left and rightplusjump button platformer, instead, you drag the screen, moving the level left and right, while your character bounces off of the floors and ceilings of the stage. This may sound like heresy to NES era gamers, but Eggcode has taken some pretty big risks while putting Pixel Ghost together, and it works out surprisingly well.
The graphics are great, and very well done. Eggcode has decided to put the game inside of a TV screen, inside of your iPod screen, and since the iPod screen isn’t as big as the game’s TV screen, the game pans up and down depending on where your ghost is, to show more of the level. This risk with the graphics has paid off. It really adds to the retro feel of the game, and doesn’t hurt the gameplay at all. There’s also blocks that trail your ghost as it moves through the levels. They don’t do anything, but they look very cool, and I think were a nice addition to the graphics. The controls, swiping left and right to move the level, work surprisingly well, and are actually veryaccurate. They didn’t feel quite right at first, and I’m still hoping that they add some buttons to move the level in a future update, but after playing the game for a while, it does grow on you.

There’s plenty of hazards to keep you on your toes as you move throughout the worlds, trying to make it to the blue X at the end of each level. Spikes, guns, birds, blocks that disappear after you bounce on them once, and holes in the floor and ceiling. But there’s also some power-ups that will help you manage the tougher parts, like invincibility, and additions to your clock to help you grab a higher score. Coins litter the levels, and are also a major part of getting that huge score. Getting them all in each level will drain your clock, and prove to be quite a challenge, but it’s worth it if you’re trying to max out your score on a level. This would be more of a driving force ifGameCenter or OpenFeint were added to the game, but as it stands now, you’ll just be trying to beat your own scores on each of the levels. Hopefully an online leaderboard will be added in the future, but some might see this omission a pretty big oversight on the part of the developers.
Even with what some people might consider bad decisions on the developers side, this game is really surprisingly good. The graphics are, and work out, great, and the controls work out very well. It’s a pretty solid entry to the retro platforming genre, and a game that you won’t want to miss out on if you’re a fan. The soundtrack is also very nice, and adds to the retro feel of the whole game. For $0.99 it’s another buck you’ll be happy you spent trying to buy back your childhood memories. 25 challenging levels spread across 5 worlds will keep you busy for a while, especially if you’re interested in getting every coin in every level. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a good challenging game.


Alien Space Retro-FREE(OwensGames)

Vector graphics are one of my favorite types of graphics you can see in a game.  Though I was not born anywhere near the 80’s when they were most popular I still appreciate the beautifully minimalistic design.  Alien Space combines that with a unique blend of dual stick shooters to make this a very intriguing game.
This game is actually the second iteration of another app released by the same developer except with a change of graphics. 
It is not clear what the main story of the game is but thats where you let your imagination think something up. Besides you cant just daydream about the cute girls at your high school 24/7!  The game comes packed with 30 levels and a nice survival mode.  You have the option of buying 4 new weapons and a extra game mode called Lost In Space.  The extra game mode is particuluarly interesting as there or no enemies or weapons and you have a extremely damaged ship that even the slightest collision will cause it to blow up.  You are located in the worst possible place to be with a damaged ship;a asteriod field.  Your energy is constantly depleting causing you to search through the field to find life giving crystals in order to stay alive.  
The gameplay is usually fast and frantic and perfectly fits into that 5 minutes of rest time before being bugged by a idiotic coworker. You are always on the move either blasting enemies into smithereens or dodging asteriods when escaping from your opponents.  Asteriods can be broken for credits and health so its always beneficial to try to hit them as well.  The controls are very tight and responsive and dont hinder the gameplay. A feature I especially liked was the fact that you can choose one light weapon(faster firing/light damage) and one heavy weapon(slow firing/heavy damage) before each level.  Currently there are 6 weapons with various levels of upgrades that affect the look of the weapons fire.  In the level you can then choose which one to use and switching between the two of them in mid-battle is a cinch.  Another nifty option is that you can change the games color scheme from the option menu.
Overall this is definitely a steal for only 0.99 and definitely eats up the time that you could be doing something productive with.  Next time you are looking for another quick 0.99 fix this should be on the top of your list.
Link :http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alien-space/id447275812?mt=8&uo=4


Cado HD- 2.99 (ClearCut Games)

Cado HD [$2.99 (iPad Only)] by ClearCut Games is the latest physics-based game to hit the App Store. The first thing you’ll notice when playing the game is that the graphics in the game look pretty nifty. They look like they were hand drawn by a sharpie. That’s actually really cool if you think about! In this game you guide Cado, a ball shaped character with an eye to it’s destination which is the portal. Guiding Cado is actually very simple. All you have to do is use the 2 touch controls in the game to rotate left or right. There’s no option for tilt controls which is actually good. This game takes a lot of precise movements which you couldn’t do if you were tilting the device. As you progress through the 40 levels (20 more to come in a future update) you

start to notice sharper turns and spikes that make you restart if you run into them. That’s why precision is key in completing the levels. Throughout each level you can collect the star that’s hanging around. It’s not required to collect it to move on, but it does give you a reason to come back to the game and try to get it. In the later levels there’s a key that you must collect. The portal is usually inaccessible because it’s locked until you retrieve the key. Thankfully this game does not have a time limit because I would always lose. You really need to take your time and be patient especially later in the levels. I really like the part in the main menu where it gives you your Cado game playing stats. It will tell you things such as how many times you’ve died, rotated to the right, rotated to the left, total wins, and how to get rich quick. Well not the last part, I wish though! I actually got the privilege to test Cado while it was in beta. I sucked at it! I only collected about 20 of the 40 stars in the levels. That’s probably do to the fact that I tested it on an iPod Touch. Playing it on the iPad was a completely different story. I’m actually great at it on the iPad! I completed the entire game with the star for each level in just under

an hour. The game definitely needs that update with the 20 levels pronto! Also, Game Center support really needs to be included to make the game feel complete. Overall the levels were very well designed and the game provides a fun experience that I couldn’t put down until I completed everything there was to complete. My final rating is 4 out of 5 stars. You can check out Cado HD for iPad for only $2.99 by ClearCut Games here. Don’t have an iPad? Well don’t worry then! Cado for $0.99 is available for iPhone/iPod Touch here. Happy rotating!

Gameplay: 


Candy Boy – 0.99 (Colorbox)

It’s not too often we see a game come around and show us something new, but with Colorbox’s latest release, Candy Boy, they’ve shown that they have got some very creative minds in the studio. It seems that with each release, this small developing company gets more and more popular. After the releases of Arena Arcade, Dalton-The Awesome, Rooftop Escape, Rip Off, the ever so popular Wave-Against Every Beat, and Twins Candy, I wasn’t surewhat to expect. But this time they’re giving us a mixture of platformer and match-3 gameplay. Candy Boy hits that oh so sweet spot of genre mixing that makes us gamers wonder why something like it has not been made before.
You’ll play as Casper, a boy obsessed with candy who has woken up one day to find out there’s a group of candy hungry worms eating all your precious, mouth watering sweets, and it’s your job to stop them. You start off every screen sized stage with a certain number of candies, and end up using these candies to make groups of 3 or more, create candy towers to climb up on, and take out each of the worms hiding amongst the candies. You’ll also be dodging enemies and trying to get off of some platforms before they break.


There’s quite a bit of old-school platforming to do in Candy Boy, which means there’s virtual controls and the games physics to try and get use to as well. Colorbox has done a pretty decent job giving us responsive and tight controls, though not as tight as League of Evil, or Mos Speedrun, but more like the controls in Elemental Rage or Castle of Magic. The physics are really nice as well, and don’t make the game feel weighed down or floaty at all. Moving platforms are decently sized, and collision detection is great, so you won’t be standing on air or falling through platforms. You might have slight problems using the candies as a climbing tool, and some of the thinner platforms in the mid and later levels, but it’s nothing you won’t get use to after doing it a couple of times. There’s also 3 coins in each stage you can try and grab if you’reup for more of a challenge, and grabbing every one in each stage will unlock worlds faster, as they’re opened up when you collect a certain number of them. All of this makes for some pretty neat level design, and challenging moments in the game.

The graphics are very polished, very cute, and the animations are great. The music and fx also fit this cute world very well, and can be turned off in the main menu if you don’t care for game music. With over 100 levels spread across 4 different worlds, Candy Boy should offer plenty of gameplay to keep even hardcore gamers busy for a while, especially with the GameCenter leaderboards, one for each world, and the 13 achievements they’ve given us to try and unlock. And as with every other release from Colorbox that I own, I know Candy Boy will end up staying on my iPod for a very long time. It’s getting 5 out of 5 stars from me, and you can nab it in the AppStore for the very low price of $0.99.



SqueezeBastard – 0.99 (Zxh Games)

SqueezeBastard is a new action-puzzle game from the relatively young studio of Kxh Games (Zombie Revenge, Doodle Rush, Mini Rocket). You play as a girl who needs to save herkidnapped pet from monsters that have taken it hoping for a ransom. But what-do-ya-know, you’re broke! Now it’s your job to squish monsters by pushing blocks at them in order to save your cute little pet from the hungry monsters who are dying to eat it.

The controls in SqueezeBastard are relatively nice and minimal. You’re given an invisible floating joystick, and a push button. It is kind of hard to navigate through some of the puzzles, because they’re set-up diagonally, so you might find yourself fighting to get into the right spot at times, which can seem like a pretty big down-fall when you’re weaving your way through the block maze filled with monsters. But once you get the hang of it, it seems like less of a chore, and more of a pretty decent game design. Having the board set diagonally gives the game an extra bit of challenge, especially when lining up your monster killing shots.
The graphics are really good, though the game is not retina supported at the moment, so their true beauty doesn’t stick out like it should. There isn’t a lot of diversity throughout the world of SqueezeBastard, only moving from the forest to the castle, but while moving from stage to stage, you’ll be confronted with different game mechanics that will open up new moves and ways to play. The first additions you’ll see are tiles that move blocks in certain directions for you. Once you push a block onto them, they shoot the block in the direction of the arrows moving on it. This comes in handy for hitting monsters that are around corners that you’re sometimes not able to squish any other way. You should be careful with these though, because sometimes they can shoot a block right back at you. Boxes of explosives are also mixed in with the blocks, and can blow up a nice section of blocks and monsters around it just by pushing them into an edge.
There’s also portals that not only let you through, but also the blocks. Looking to see if a monster is in the right spot next to a portal, you can kill them from the other side of the level. Things like this really add to the game a lot, and make you plan out your attacks more tactfully. Enemies that can break through blocks are also thrown into the mix, and staying out of their way until you can line up a good shot really does add to the challenge.
The scoring could use some more work, as you’re not given any combo bonuses at all. It would be nice to see the developers add some sort of combo for hitting two or more monsters with one block, or killing a certain number of enemies back to back in a short period of time. You do, however, get a bigger score for collecting the jewels that pop up around the stages once you defeat all the monsters in that level. Racing to get them all before the level ends can be pretty challenging. There’s also a treasure chest in each level, figuring out how to open it also adds to the challenge, and quest for a great score. Though all of this kind of seems pointless withoutGameCenter or OpenFeint leaderboards. Achievements would also have been a great addition to this game, and would drive the need to play, and re-playability quite a bit as you are also able to replay previously beaten levels by selecting them at the map screen.
The music and FX fit the cute graphics and gameplay, and the game does play very smoothly. For a puzzle game, it doesn’t really bring any new mechanics to the genre, but what it does have is done very well. You can tell that a lot of time, effort and thought has gone into the making of SqueezeBastard. For $0.99 it’s not a bad or regrettable purchase at all. However, with retina display, and online ranking not put into the game, I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 stars. There’s not a lot of room for improvement within the game, but it’s missing that drive to play it, and re-playability. If they are added in the future, this could very well be a 4.5 or 5 star game. Still worth getting if you’re looking for a good new puzzle game with quite a bit of action to waste away the end of summer with.

Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/squeezebastard/id454921319?mt=8


Art Penguin – 0.99 (Luck-u)

With technology where it is, touch screens, infra-red controllers, it’s not surprising that gesture based games are starting to make their mark on the gaming world. Art Penguin is the second game from Indie Developer, Luck-u. You play as a wizard penguin who was on a flight home with a bunch of other penguins and some cows that was intercepted by aliens. But it seems that the aliens only wanted the cows so that they could drink milk whenever they wanted to, and ended up dumping you on a remote island somewhere in the ocean. You now have to make it through some pretty dangerous areas using your trusty wand to get home safely.
There’s 16 different gestures that you’ll need to memorize in order to make it through Art Penguin’s 2 worlds, each having 12 levels. At first, it may feel like you need to memorize thelevels in order to make it through them all the way, but once you get the hang of the gestures, it becomes a game that you play instead of a game that you need to memorize. Each level is built very well, having the difficulty increase at a great speed, so you won’t feel overwhelmed at first. By stage 3 you might have some trouble remembering which gestures do what. But thankfully, there’s a spell book in the top right corner that holds all the gestures you’ll need to know in order to make it through. The graphics are nice and cute, and the music fits the game very well.
The challenge in Art Penguin comes from being able to remember and draw the shapes quickly enough. There’s some spots where you need to wait to see how big a hole is so that you’ll know if you need a spring, or a ramp, and some spots where you’ll need to draw different shapes one right after the other pretty quickly. You are given unlimited lives, but dying takes you back to the beginning of the stage. There is a pretty good sense of accomplishment once you do make it through each level. This structure kind of reminds me of older NES and SNES games of the late 80’s and 90’s, with the same great feeling after getting to the next stage.
Art Penguin is available in the AppStore for $0.99, and really is the best gesture game I’ve played on any platform. Everything about it is very polished, and feels like it could have been released through a big company, like Chillingo, Halfbrick or Gamevil. The gameplay is actually exciting, which is a word I never thought would be able to be tied to a gesture based game, but with Art Penguin, it’s very fitting. Once you get the gestures down, it becomes a blast to play. It’s also OpenFeint enabled, and has 22 achievements for you to try and nab. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5, and if the occasional wrong item for the gesture drawn is fixed in an update, it would get 5 out of 5 stars.

Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/art-penguin/id449097181?mt=8