Download Alien With A Magnet on iTunes!

This one touch puzzle platformer ramps up the difficulty and will toss you into a world fille dwith more than 45 levels along with a time trial gameplay mode. Loads of opportunities for increasing your score and shaving milliseconds off of your best times along with GameCenter support add loads of replayability to this one. Don't miss it!

Download Whril The Squirrel on iTunes!

Whirl The Squirrel has lost all of his precious THINGS to his 'nenemies. It's up to you to race through 18 wonderfully designed levels in this speed-run, racing platformer. Perfect for fans of Sonic the Hedgehog!

Download Evilot on iTunes!

An interesting Lane-Defense title from Syrenaica Development. Help Count Dolfus defend his treasure against the onslaught of knights and adventurers who are trying to steal it away from him. Only $0.99 in the AppStore!

Download Kinetic Damage on iTunes!

Easily one of the best fighting games on the iOS, Kinetic Damage presents an amount of depth that's rarely seen within the genre. Fans and newcomers alike should jump on this one ASAP!

Download Best Park In The Universe on iTunes!

Check out a brawler specifically designed for the touchscreens from Heavy Boat Games and Cartoon Network! 3 worlds, 15 levels and some intense action staring Mordecai and Rigby from CN's Regular Show! Be sure and grab this great little beat-em-up!

Download Liberation Maiden on iTunes!

From Level-5 and Grasshopper, the action packed mech shooter; Liberation Maiden is now available on the iOS! With improved graphics and controls, this is definitely one to dive in to.

Download Eve of Impact on iTunes!

One of the best Missile Defense games available, with awesome graphics, sweet gameplay, and now it's Universal! Check it out!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Neoteria's soundtrack is now available via Bandcamp!

Orange Pixel's fabulous retro shoot-em-up, Neoteria, has just had its soundtrack released through Bandcamp. Gavin Harrison has been chosen to work with OP on more than one occasion, so if you've enjoyed the music from Chrono & Cash and INC, you'll be able to check out those soundtracks on the site as well.

For $0.99, you'll get the 3 tracks included in the game, as well as one extra bonus track. Feel free to take a listen below, and then head on over to Gavin's site and check out more of his music!

Mr. Dreamer [Strapped to a Meteor] - $0.99

Last year, one of the more interesting platform puzzlers hit the AppStore; Deo, from the development studio Strapped to a Meteor. Since the release, they’ve been hard at work coming up with another unique and original game for the iOS, and it’s finally hit the AppStore. What is it this time? An endless runner called Mr. Dreamer. If you checked out our preview of the game about a week ago, then you already have a pretty good idea of what the game is. But if you haven’t, here’s the scoop. 
Mr. Dreamer is a score-chasing, endless runner of sorts. On the main menu, you’re shown a strange little guy who’s stuck in an office cubicle with a stuffed animal by his side, pictures of his family on the walls, and the sounds of a keyboard clicking and phones ringing in the background. Looking bored and staring off into space, one you hit the ‘Play’ button, you’re off into a dream world, running up a two sided pathway in a dream world ripe with candy and sweets. 

What makes Mr. Dreamer unique, as well as challenging, is the flipping mechanic that the game is centered around. Once you start running up this pathway, you need to keep the character up-right. If he happens to go up-side-down, a gauge at the top of the screen starts to drain. Luckily, you’re able to re-fill this gauge by collecting the candies that litter the path. 
The game is split up into different level-like environments. Once you’ve completed one, the game will pause for a second while it loads the next one, and you’ll continue on your journey. This does, unfortunately, take away from the flow and smoothness of the game, but it does keep the original loading time down to a minimum, and the game running as smoothly as it can, though I have experienced some jitteriness while playing, even on an iPad 2. As you make your way up the path in the clouds, you’ll come across special candies. Collect 3 of these, and you’ll speed up, having all of the other candies drawn to you as if you were a magnet, and being up-side-down for this short period of time does not drain your gauge. After the first couple of levels, the game gets even more challenging by introducing bombs that sit on the path. If you’re unlucky enough to run into one of these, they’ll wind up draining quite a bit of your health/up-side-down gauge. Once the gauge is empty, it’s game over. 

The graphics and animations are very well done, as you might expect coming from the developers of the wildly entertaining Deo. The sounds as well as the music fit the game perfectly, and the dreamy graphic look creates a great atmosphere. Sadly, there’s only this one gameplay mode, no other power-ups, no unlockables and no special abilities. Having a more difficult timed mode, or more power-ups along side the special candies would have greatly increased the gameplay, as well as the replay value.
But priced at $0.99 and being Universal, Mr. Dreamer is something the endless runner genre has yet to see, and for that fact alone it’s definitely worth picking up for the dollar, as coming across a unique runner these days is something that hardly ever happens. GameCenter is supported, but unfortunately, at this time, there is no leaderboard, and no achievements to collect, though I’m sure this will be fixed in a future update. Strapped to a Meteor has definitely kept with creating something out of the ordinary with Mr. Dreamer, and after the little issues get ironed out, will be a game that (hopefully) winds up pushing the genre forward with new and interesting ideas sprouting out because of it. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Incoboto [Fluttermind] - $3.99

The puzzle genre seems to be one of the most expansive genres of video games right now, reaching out and being merged with other genres and unique ideas week after week. Back in February, newcomer Fluttermind’s first iOS title, Incoboto, hit the AppStore, and gamers were exposed to one of the most unique, atmospheric and incredibly immersive action puzzlers to ever be released. And a couple of days ago, it was updated to include iPad 3 retina support, making it one of the most graphically stunning games available for the iOS. 

Incoboto is the story of a little boy named Inco, living in a dying Universe, who awakes to find everyone he’s known dead and gone. Luckily, he’s not completely alone. That day, a sun named Helios approached Inco, saying he was hungry. Tired of staring off into space, watching the Universe die, they set off on their journey. Clues are left everywhere pushing him in the direction of The Corporation. The company who’s built, produced and basically rules everything, everywhere. 

Movement is simple; touching on either side of the screen moves Inco in that direction, and tapping on the screen or swiping upwards causes Inco to jump. You’re also able to choose a joypad control scheme which gives you left/right buttons. Still, a tap or swipe upwards is required to jump. When you run into an object that can be fiddled with, read or picked up, a finger will appear above it, and to interact with it, you just need to tap under the finger. In order to drop an object, you tap Inco, to throw an object, you need to draw a line from Inco in the direction you want to throw, and to scan objects, you press two fingers down on both sides of the object. 

Each level contains a certain amount of Starpieces, which you need to figure out how to collect so that you can feed them to Helios. Once you do, he will have enough power to open up the next Stargate so that you can progress to the next level. There are also 50 Star Charts lying around throughout the game, which you don’t need to collect, but collecting them all will get you a bonus at the end of the game. 

Each world you come across will become progressively more difficult, with more and more objects, hazards, and gameplay mechanics being introduced almost every time you move forward. These include gravity beams, rotating planets, movable platforms, objects which require energy balls in order to run and loads more. The level design, and where all of the interactive objects are placed are fantastic, and very well thought out. 
Graphically, the game is incredibly atmospheric, and combined with all of the clues and other text included in the game, creates a very gloomy and bittersweet environment. The lo-fi ambient music and sounds also help lend a hand to the game’s feeling, and perfectly complete the immersion provided by the gameplay. 

With Incoboto priced at $3.99, it’s a steal, as it’s one of the must have titles available for the iPad. GameCenter is supported, and includes 12 achievements, but once you complete the game, there’s not much replay value there. However, the 6 or so hours it’ll take you to complete the game is 6 hours you won’t soon forget. Fluttermind has created an iOS classic with Incoboto, and if you’re even remotely interested in puzzle, adventure, or darker video games, this is one that you need to check out, and we, here at The App Shack, are eagerly awaiting to hear what Fluttermind will bring to the platform next. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Slash or Die! [PNJ] - $0.99

PNJ has come out with quite a few really decent games over the last couple years. The first game I managed to grab from their studio was Terra - Eternal Chaos, an action RPG. Since then, Real Fishing 3D, Zombie Run, Block Knight! and plenty more have all graced my iDevice. But their latest title, Slash or Die, definitely has that spark that makes it stand out. And even though it’s pretty grindy, and has IAP with expensive items, it’s still a game that I’m enjoying quite a bit. 

Slash or Die has you controlling Blade, a super powered being who’s the only hope for Earth once Machines, Aliens, Ghosts and Demons start invading. There is only one gameplay mode, but you’re given an option for Hardcore Mode once you complete the game, which definitely does add to the replay value as well as the difficulty, and with 24 challenging missions, there’s enough content to keep you busy for a while.

Controls are simple; a left/right slider bar and jump + attack buttons. Your character basically stays in one spot on the screen the whole game, and the slider bar controls which way he’s facing, as well as how fast he goes. Forward increases your speed gradually over time, while facing backwards slows him down. As you make your way through each level, enemies will come at you from both sides, and you’ll often be faced with the decision to either attack an enemy in front of you, but risk a bad attack, causing the enemy to fly backwards instead of die, or maybe even miss the enemy, in order to be able to turn around and hit an enemy coming at you from behind, or turn around, and make sure you get the enemy behind you, and risk not being able to turn back around quick enough to hit the enemy in front of you. Mob control winds up being a core aspect of the gameplay. 

The graphics are top notch, looking fantastic on retina display, and the 4 environments that you’ll guide Blade through each have their own look, as well as enemies and objects. The character design is a huge plus in Slash or Die!, with 4 different enemy races, and a total of 22 separate enemies, each having their own unique way of moving and attacking. There are also various objects which Blade will need to either dodge by jumping, or slash through as he’s running through each of the levels. These various objects generally come at him quicker than the enemies, so keeping an eye out for them is a big priority. If you don’t, chances are these are what will cause most deaths. The animations are also very well done, with the running, attacking, and jumping as well as the explosions and each of the enemies attack animations all look fantastic, and definitely add to the look and the feel of the game. 

With Slash or Die! priced at $0.99, and being Universal, it’s a great title for fans of runners and hack-n-slash games. With GameCenter support including 2 separate boards, one for your Stylish Points, and another for your Max Combo, along with 25 achievements to try and grab driving the replay value alongside Hardcore Mode. Slash or Die! is easily my favorite PNJ title next to Terra - Eternal Chaos, and if this is any indication of the direction PNJ is going in in the future, it’s definitely looking bright. 

Blazing Star [SNK + Dot Emu] - $2.99

After the release of Metal Slug 3 by SNK and Dot Emu, a lot of gamers have been hoping for more ports of classic SNK titles. However, I don’t think anyone really expected to see another title so soon. This time around, SNK and Dot Emu have brought the fantastic old-school SHMUP, Blazing Star, to the iOS, and it’s just as faithful a port as Metal Slug 3. 

For those of you who have never played the original Blazing Star, it was originally released in Arcades back in 1998, and is the sequel to the other fantastic Arcade shoot-em-up, Pulstar. Blazing Star includes 6 different pilots + ships, all having their own type of shot, and special shots, offering up quite a bit of varied gameplay. The ships with the stronger shot types tend to move slightly slower than the ships with the weaker shots, leaving it up to the player to find the ship which best suits their style of play. 

Included in the game are 7 stages, each getting progressively more difficult as you progress. Luckily, just like in Metal Slug 3, you’re given continues, and can also choose to play in Mission Mode, which lets you play from the last level you reached in Arcade Mode, so that you’re able to experience playing all of the 7 stages, as well as practice certain stages after you get use to the gameplay and start to go for high-scores. Also included in the game, same as Metal Slug, is the option to switch from pixilated to smooth graphics, add scan-lines, and choose to play in 4:3 or 16:9 ratio. Also available is the ability to play in 2 player co-op mode via Bluetooth, which, like with Metal Slug, is a fantastic addition. 

There are two control schemes, one includes a joystick, and the other offers up 1:1 relative touch controls. You’re able to move the two shot buttons as well as the joystick to anywhere on the screen you like, which is a huge plus, especially when playing on the iPad. 
Unfortunately, a lot of players are having problems getting use to the ship speed. The way the game was made, making stronger ships move slower, this means that the ships will not move as fast as you can move your finger across the screen, and because of this, a lot of players have had problems getting comfortable with the gameplay. Also an issue is the joystick. The dead zone that you’re able to touch is fairly small, and results in the ship’s movement being pretty jerky, and hard to control. Another issue some have been having is that in order to fire, you need to constantly tap on the shoot button. Fortunately, SNK and Dot Emu have stated that they are adding an option for ship movement to be sped up, as well as an auto-fire option. But not to worry, for those of you who have come to love the game in the past, and are accustomed to the ship’s movement, and the firing mechanics, the new control set-ups will have a separate leaderboard, leaving the hardcore players boards safe and sound. 

Graphically, Blazing Star looks amazing. The animations and 2.5D graphics look incredible on both the iPhone and the iPad, and the music is exactly as it was over 14 years ago; hard-edged, and full of energy. The GameCenter integration definitely adds to the already high replay value that almost all SHMUPs inevitably include, having boards for all 4 difficulty settings, as well as 15 hard to snag achievements. 
Being Universal, and priced insanely low at $2.99, Blazing Star is a game that all SHMUP fans need to check out. With it’s slick graphics, awesome gameplay, and fantastic scoring system, it sits along-side the other heavy hitters like Dariusburst and RayStorm, as one of the best non-Cave shoot-em-ups available for the iOS. Hopefully SNK and Dot Emu will keep porting over amazing classics from the past and making them available via the AppStore (here’s hoping for The Last Blade!). Having them available at any time and in our pockets is simply amazing. 

Walking Dead: The Game [Telltale Games] - $4.99

If you’ve been reading the reviewers here at TAS for a while, you’ve come to know that Point & Click games were have never really been a favorite of mine. That is, until I had the extreme pleasure of playing Machinarium, Yesterday, and Myst. And now I can add one more title to that very short list of P&C games that I’ve come to love; Telltale’s Walking Dead: The Game. A survival/horror adventure game, originally released for PC and MAC, ported over to the iOS. 

Now, I haven’t had the pleasure of playing the PC version of Walking Dead, and I don’t watch the TV show, mainly because my wife hates any sort of horror entertainment. I do, however, read the comics, and have come to really enjoy them. But when I heard that Telltale was going to be the team releasing the game on iOS, I was pretty skeptical. Their previous releases have been kind of hit or miss; Back to the Future - blah, Sam & Max - loved it, Law & Order - meh, Puzzle Agent - great. But after seeing the trailer, I was ready to be impressed, and after playing the first episode of Walking Dead: The Game; I am. 

For those of you familiar with The Walking Dead, the game does not follow Rick his group of survivors. Instead, an entirely new storyline has been done for the game. You follow a convict, Lee, convicted of murder, as he tries to make his way to Mason, Georgia to find his family after being in a car crash that freed him from incarceration. On his way, he runs across a little girl, Clementine, who’s parents are somewhere in Savannah, GA, and whom you try to protect, as well as others who eventually make up the group of survivors that you’ll be following. 

Controlling Lee is what really makes the game stand out as one of the best Telltale games to hit the AppStore. As you meet people, and get thrown into situations with zombies, you’ll need to make quick decisions regarding dialogue and actions. Instead of feeling like the game is controlling what you do, it’s more like you’re controlling the game, having an impact over what the other characters think of you, as well as who lives and who dies. What’s even better? These choices are apparently carried over across all of the episodes, so they stick with you throughout the entire game. 

The graphics and animations are extremely well done, and incredibly reminiscent of the comics. The environments and objects are very well crafted, and create an incredible atmosphere. There have been times when I encountered some slowdown and general jerkiness, even while playing on my iPad 2, though not enough to really take away from the games fantastic immersive quality. The voice acting is another aspect which I found myself consistently being impressed by. All-n-all, it’s extremely well put-together. 

Priced at $4.99 for the first episode, and giving players the option to purchase the next 4 episodes for $14.99, it is a bit pricy. Especially considering there’s only about 3 hours of gameplay in the first episode. But if you’re a fan of the series (comic, TV, or both), this is definitely a game you should check out. Even if you’ve never seen an episode of the show, or read one comic, it’s still a fantastic Point & Click adventure game that deserves to be experienced. Once you complete the first episode, it definitely leaves you wanting more. Walking Dead: The Game has set a new standard for Telltale games, and one that I hope they live up to in the future. 

Spy Vs. Spy [Robots and Pencils] - $1.99

Remakes of old classics, as well as ports of old-school titles happen to be something I find very hard to resist, and in the AppStore, there’s more than just a few of these titles available. The most recent one to hit my device is Spy Vs. Spy, originally developed by First Star Software in 1984 for the Atari, Commodore 64, and Apple II computers and ported over to numerous platforms, this time around, has been remade by the fairly new Canadian development studio, Robots And Pencils. 

One thing that absolutely love about this version of Spy Vs. Spy is that it includes the original Atari version alongside the remake, and you can change to the retro version before starting any level simply by hitting ‘Retro’ on the level select screen! Now, Spy Vs. Spy is a blast to play, especially when you’ve got another player. I can still remember staying at a friends house when I was a kid, up all night playing this game. And you guessed it; this iOS version of Spy Vs. Spy includes both Local (through Bluetooth) as well as Online (through GameCenter) Multiplayer. 

If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing Spy Vs. Spy, it’s an old-school arcade type title that has you playing as one of the Spy characters trying to collect 4 different items that are hidden inside of different rooms. While you’re doing this, the other Spy character is also trying to find these 4 different items. Included, of course, are various traps which you can set up in order to spoil the other players progress. These include water buckets on top of doors, hidden bombs and guns attached to strings on doors and more. 

There’s a couple of ways you can play Spy Vs. Spy. As you make your way through each collection of rooms, you can either search for the briefcase, which lets you hold all of the items at once, or, you can search through all of the rooms, looking for each item one at a time, and then figure out where to hide it until you’ve found all 4 items, either way, you do need to find the briefcase before exiting the level, but this way, you’re able to trap wherever it is that you’re hiding your items, and you don’t run the risk of running into the other Spy with all of the items on you. Once you enter the room where the other Spy is, you drop all of the items that you’re holding and they go into the nearest hiding spot. Then you either need to get out of the room as quickly as possible, or fight, and beat up, the other Spy so that you can leave with all of the items that you‘ve both collected. There’s also a third option; you can sit in the room with the exit door, and wait for the other Spy to collect each of the 4 items, and then beat them up when they enter. Doing this is risky, and isn’t recommended unless you have no other choice. There’s also an added search going on along-side the search for the 4 items; looking for stars. Each level has a possible 3 star ranking, and however many stars you find in each level is what your ranking will be. All of the stars and items can be seen on your map, which is readily accessible in a slide-out menu with all of your traps. 

All of this sounds well and good, especially if you’re playing in a multiplayer mode. It can be hours and hours of fun. However, there is one big stand out issue with this version of the game; the controls. Instead of using a typical old-school type lay-out, with a d-pad and buttons, Spy Vs. Spy has a floating d-pad, which is very hard to control, and buttons that appear at the top of the screen when you’re face to face, fighting the other Spy. In order to look behind objects, a tap anywhere on the screen does it. It is usable, but unfortunately, the movement controls still need some tightening up, and the buttons at the top of the screen for fighting are kind of awkwardly placed. Hopefully this is quickly fixed in an update, because other than this, it’s fantastic having this old-school hide-and-seek game on our phones/tablets, especially with the online multiplayer. 
Specially priced at $0.99 for launch (originally $1.99), it’s a great buy, and is definitely worth picking up, if nothing else, for the nostalgia value. GameCenter is supported, with leaderboards for each of the 24 levels as well as a board for how many total wins for multiplayer mode, and 29 achievements. The developers are listening to player feedback, and I have a lot of faith that the controls will be handled, but at the moment, it’s kind of hit or miss. Some people can get use to the controls, while others have been rage-deleting the game after getting fed up with them. For $0.99, it’s definitely worth finding out which group you fit into, and if you’re the second, at least you’ll have the game, and be ready to play it once the control issues are dealt with. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shellrazer [Slick Entertainment] - $0.99

The AppStore is a place where, with all the clones of clones and ‘safe’ titles hitting the ‘shelves’,  finding new, original, unique, and interesting games is getting harder and harder. However, they’re still being released, and can still be found. If you’re willing to look. With all of the great releases this week, one of the titles that almost got shoved under the rug, and missed out on is Slick Entertainment’s Shellrazer, a side-scrolling action shooter with great graphics, addictive gameplay and plenty of special power-ups and equipable items to keep you glued to your device for hours. 

Shellrazer contains one gameplay mode, a single player campaign., but even though games like this generally include multiple game modes, once you dive in and take a look at the map, it becomes pretty clear that completing the game will take quite a few hours. There’s 50+ levels to make your way through, all found along a path that twists and winds through pastures, hills, mountains, jungles, beaches and more, and includes quite a few branching paths. Here, on the map, you’ll get your first real idea of how much time and effort has gone into making Shellrazer an extremely polished iOS title. The vibrant graphics and great animations stand out, making this one of my favorite level select screens I’ve ever seen. And it only gets better from here. 

In Shellrazer, you’ll be guiding a War Turtle through swarm after swarm of goblins on the ground, in the air, and in well designed fortresses as he makes his way on his annual march across the land. You’ll start off with a machine gunner who sits on top of the War Turtle, and is able to blast through the enemies. As you progress across the map, you’ll come across many captured creatures that will be able to sit on-top of the turtle as well, and help him out on his journey. 
You’ll soon find out that there’s way more characters than you can equip, and that figuring out which three characters best fit your style of play is something you should figure out quickly. The faster you figure this out, the better, as the coins that you earn by destroying enemies, and making your way through the levels will be required to upgrade your characters, and spending the time to upgrade one character which after a couple of levels doesn’t end up working out can cost you big time. 

Along with upgrading your characters, you’ll also be able to spend coins on power-ups and special stat add-ons. One time use items like ice blocks that slow down the enemies, and electric charges that take out all of the airborne enemies, as well as stat additions like 10% more damage against ground troops, and slow health regeneration are available, and cheap, in the shop. You’ll also pick up tons of them as you make your way through the levels, so purchasing them isn’t required. You’ll even be able to sell quite a few of them to help you upgrade your characters. 

The controls take a little getting use to, as you can either tap the gunners to fire in one constant direction, or you can tap on a character and then drag your finger across the screen, with the gun following your finger. With up to 3 gunners available at once, figuring this out does take some practice, but once you get it, it flows very well, and definitely fits the game perfectly. I couldn’t picture any other control scheme that would work better. 

Shellrazer is one of the best side-scrolling arcade titles I’ve played in a while. The gameplay, graphics, controls, the whole package is extremely polished, and well developed. Priced at $0.99 for launch, it’s a steal, and anyone even remotely interested in the genre should pick it up. Being Universal really helps out as well, as do the 16 GameCenter achievements. However, having no leader boards, and only one gameplay mode kind of takes away from the replay value, but that’s partially redeemable by the 3 separate difficulty levels which could cause you to loose more than just a few hours on the game. Slick Entertainment is definitely a development team you’ll want to keep your eyes on. If Shellrazer is any sort of taste of what’s to come, iOS gamers are in for some awesome gaming.