Well it certainly turned out to be another super week of new app releases with a couple of well-crafted adventure games, a unique golfing sequel, a fresh take on chess from a talented indie, a couple of apps for the kiddos and a digital adaptation of a neat 2014 Carl Chudyk game with multi-use cards.
Kicking things off this week we have Flappy Golf 2, the sequel to Noodlecake’s fun 2014 mini golf/Flappy Bird mashup in which players race to get their ball into the hole. The twist is that you aren’t swinging clubs, setting shot strength or even using those signature wacky powerups; you simply control your ball by tapping either the left or right side of the screen to flap your ball’s wings to fly it in that direction. Featuring many of the courses from Super Stickman Golf 3, in the solo mode you will be trying to land in these crazy holes using as few flaps as possible, earning bronze thru gold star ratings based on meeting certain flap number goals. In either the online or local multiplayer the action gets really frenetic as you race up to 3 other players to the hole in 9-hole showdowns. The number of flaps doesn’t matter here so let those wings go nuts and try to beat the other players. Based on per hole player standings (as well as completing daily challenges) you’ll earn eggs which can be used unlock silly new looks and trails for your ball. The prefect game to pick up and play when you have just a couple of minutes kill, definitely worth a download!
This next game seems like it was made with me in mind, because as the title suggests, I suck (an understatement) at chess. Really Bad Chess, the latest offering from the über-talented Zach Gage (SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing, Sage Solitaire) is not (as the name way have you believe) bad at all, but instead a fun twist on a classic strategy game which helps level the playing field for bad players and actually makes chess fun again for those of us who tend to find ourselves outmatched from the very first move. The rather awesome thing about RBC is that each player’s pieces are randomized at the start of the game, so you won’t always have the standard starting positions, nor the typical distribution of pieces (8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 1 king and 1 queen). Instead, you may start with four queens, or a whole front row full of bishops, the randomness of the pieces makes this game so much more interesting, eliminating the tediousness of starting a new game with lots of pawn shuffling and getting right to the good bits. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people who love chess as it is, but for me it’s more frustrating than fun and I gave up on it years ago. Who knew that just adding simple twist would make me actually want to play it again. Bravo Mr. Gage! There is a ranked mode as well as daily and weekly challenges, and a freeplay mode. The game is free with a $2.99 IAP to unlock some optional additional features and get some undos. It’s all against AI opponents at the moment, I’m not sure if there are plans to add a multiplayer mode.
King seems to finally be taking a break from cloning itself with yet another match-3 game and instead released a free-to-play Rummy card game called Shuffle Cats. Set in a version of 1920’s London inhabited by anthropomorphic cats, the game plays much like the classic game of Rummy, but at a quicker clip and with speedier win conditions to try to make it more suitable for fast, mobile real-time multiplayer matches on the go. There are various unlockable powerups accessible once you’ve leveled up enough and while the game is free-to-play, after the first 10 levels, the per-match cost in in-game currency skyrockets up. The in-game currency looks like it may become a bit of a nuisance in the very near future, but for now this is a pretty fun, quick playing Rummy game with a cute theme.
The first of two point and click adventures I will be covering this week, The Man from Hmmbridge is a fairly brief (about 2 hours) but well-designed adventure which follows the adventures of a smart and motivated secretary named Hum, who is on a quest to discover what happened to Principal Hmmingway. He mysteriously disappeared from the local University and she needs to track him down by searching for clues and talking to suspects who would otherwise benefit from his disappearance. The game has a nice retro feel with nice hand-drawn cartoonish illustrations. It almost has this sort of Johnny Quest vibe to it. Hmmbridge is not too difficult, but there are some interesting puzzles and I really liked the mobile-friendly interface that the developers used, as it made it easy to look closer at collected items to see if they reveal clues and there is this sort of centrifuge-like tool that you can use to combine items. If you enjoy point and click adventure games I think you’ll like this little tale and I hope to see more games released in this series in the future.
Now we’ll take a moment to look a couple of titles aimed specifically at kids.
First is Tinkerblocks – code, create, play, the latest offering from the folks at urbn; pockets. It is a visual coding app, a sort of electronics toolkit for girls and boys aged six and up. Meant to introduce children to the concept of coding, this open play app allows them to build their own projects by dragging components from a library which can utilize your iOS device’s camera to snap a photo, record video, record audio, use the accelerometer for motion detection and more. They simply drag these objects into a line to form a program and depending on how deep they want to get, they can even create subroutines and loops and control certain actions based on conditions and variables. It reminded me a bit of The Everything Machine by Tinybop. The app presents a fun way to let kids experiment and learn the basic core concepts in programming through play. There are a few sample projects to get you started and these can be edited and customized, or you can start from scratch. My older daughter (age 9) had a little trouble just jumping in on her own, but with a brief introduction by me, she started to understand how it all worked and was able to explore on her own. This could be a fun parent/child STEM project for a rainy day that will get your child’s tinkering juices flowing.
The other kid-friendly app that I wanted to mention is My Town : Grandparents. This is the 14th title in the popular My Town series of imaginative play apps. Both of my girls love these apps, but my 7 year-old daughter is especially fond of these My Town digital dollhouse experiences where she can make up stories and use her imagination to have fun adventures with the characters and surroundings. What kid doesn’t love to visit o Grandma and Grandpa’s house? This latest app includes 9 new locations from a woodworking area to Dad’s old bedroom. Your kids can plant flowers, meet Grandpa’s friends (as well as a whole cast of new characters) and even find a ghost (this is my daughter’s absolute favorite part!). If your kids are fans of these types of apps or the My Town series, they are going to love visiting the Grandparents.
iLondon was just released a couple of weeks ago, but iClassics Productions is already back with another brilliant new interactive fiction app, The interactive Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Their longest story yet, instead of a collection of multiple short stories, this app is a richly presented version of the classic (and spooky) Washington Irving tale of a quirky small-town teacher named Ichabod Crane and his run-in with the evil headless horseman. As one has come to expect from an iClassic title, the app features gorgeous illustrations and animations as well as a very cinematic credit sequence which elevates the experience to new levels of polish. There is also an amazing score that enhances the story and does a great job of ratcheting up the suspense and tension, especially in the story’s final climactic scene. It has been a long time since I read the full Sleepy Hollow tale and this is probably my favorite iClassic treatment yet. Perfectly timed for Halloween, The interactive Legend of Sleepy Hollow is currently on sale for $2.99 at launch (reg $4.99).
Yay! It’s another digital card game. SilverBullet Games has done a nice job translating the Carl Chudyk card game Red7 to the digital realm. Originally published by Asmadi Games in 2014, Red7 has a classic feel to it, but also some unique rules and mechanics. It is played with a deck of 49 multi-use cards where at the end of each turn you must be winning the game or you are out. There are 7 different (hierarchical) colors of cards, each of which has a specific rule, like “highest card wins” or “most even cards wins” and there are seven cards of each color, numbered 1 through 7. On your turn you have three choices, either you can play one of the cards in your hand as a new rule (so that you are now winning based on this new win condition) or you can play one of the cards to your personal tableau such that playing this number makes you the winner (based on the current rule), or you may play one card to your tableau AND one card to change the rule. You’ll have to make some tough decisions on which cards to keep for their numerical value and which to play for their colors/rules, leading to some rather nice strategical choices. Once you get the basic gameplay down, there are some optional advanced rules you can enable at will to change things up and add more depth. The app features a nice watercolor aesthetic and is really well laid out, making it easy to see all pertinent info at a glance. If you are new to the game, there is a detailed interactive tutorial to get you started. The app offers both single player against AI opponents, as well as online and local pass and play multiplayer for up to four players. I bought the physical game when it first came out, but haven’t gotten it to the table nearly often enough, so it is awesome o have it right on my iPhone and iPad anytime I want to play. Warning, this neat little card game can be habit-forming.
Finally, that brings us to an absolutely hilarious new point and click adventure game called Infamous Machine. Despite creating a working time machine, Dr. Edwin Lupin is ridiculed by the scientific community. Upset and ashamed, Lupin travels back in time to steal the credit for famous works done by geniuses like Beethoven, Newton and da Vinci. When they realize what’s going on, Lupin’s hapless and wisecracking research assistant Kelvin with the help of fellow researcher Lise, travels back in time to try to set the timeline straight and help the geniuses finish their masterpieces to regain due credit. The only problem is, because history had already been altered, he doesn’t always know exactly what he’s trying to accomplish leading to some humorous situations. The game has that classic Lucas Arts style with fantastic cell-shaded art and an intuitive touch-friendly interface (no dragging required). The dialog in this game is absolute perfection, with so many funny and timely pop culture references and even some fourth wall breaking, you are going to want to go through each and every dialog tree. A real treat and a stellar PC port, the game feels like it was made for iOS and I highly, highly recommend this one. Easily one of the top point and click experiences I’ve had this year.
And I think that will do it for this week…enjoy!