Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.
Friday, 9 November 2012
iOS App of the Week: My Little Pony — Friendship is Magic
Upon learning that Gameloft was making a My Little Pony into an official game, two things were immediately known: it would be a town-management sim and there would be IAP. The first was good news; the latter, dubious.
So, My Little Pony — how good, I wondered, can a show for little kids really be? Turns out, it's really freakin' good. I wouldn't say I'm a pegasister or anything, but I like it, I'm glad it's in the world and I think all my nieces and nephews should have it on DVD. And, I've been glued to this game since I downloaded it. (Not literally, although my tube of superglue had a red-hot go.) It's done a really good job of capturing the show, including the actual voice actors and a storyline true to form. It's also great in that there's stuff to do without spending money — there are mini-games to play to level up your ponies and lots of cool quests. I kinda' love it. If anyone wants to add me, my Gameloft ID is "crankytrousers". Just, you know, sayin'.
As far as isometric real-time RPG hack-and-slash goes, Wraithborne — by fantastic developer Crescent Moon Games — is pretty darn great. The visuals are absolutely stunning, built on Unreal 3, and action is really fun to play, using a choice of left joystick and right button controls or tapping the screen to move, attack and defend. You play as the Wraithborne and it's your job to save the world, cleansing it of monsters by using a combination of physical attacks and runic magic. It's really nothing we haven't seen before, but it's executed so well that it will fit wonderfully in with your stable of mobile RPGs.
This little game from Lego is just adorable. It's actually eight little games that are based around Lego bricks and the power of the imagination. In each game, the brick becomes an object — a piece of cheese that you have to protect from mice, a hammerhead shark you need to guide through the water, a hot-air balloon busting clouds. But if you have a favourite lucky Lego brick, you can snap it with your phone's camera in-app, and use your own Lego to play the games. Not deep, but still cute, and perfect for younger players.
What's the opposite of single-player RPG? It's probably not multiplayer sci-fi, but that's what we have in this next app. Up to 8 players can get into a top-down space shoot-out (if there such a thing as "top-down" in space, and has anyone ever noticed that in most TV space battles, all the ships are oriented the same?) where you battle for the galaxy. Killing enemy ships and destroying asteroids gives you gems, with which you can purchase upgrades. And there's also single-player missions, for those who have no friends. That's not us. We have heaps of friends. Really.
There are social networks for taking photos, social networks for video games, for sharing activities. CareSpace is for those who are taking care of other people. Say you have an ill or disabled family member, CareSpace allows you to set up a private social network where you can keep up-to-date with what's happening with that person, and get support from each other — as carers can experience elevated stress levels. It's a great way to keep everyone connected — even family or friends on the other side of the world.
On first glance, there are some apps that look very unprepossessing, but when you think about it, you realise how potentially useful they can be. Tally falls into that category. It's very easy to lose track when you're counting something. With Tally, all you have to do is tap on the screen for every unit you count, meaning that you don't have to worry about keeping track — especially if some rapscallion thinks it hilarious to start shouting random numbers at you. You can create and name multiple tallies, such as "Jelly beans in the jelly bean jar" or "number of green cars on George Street at 7am". Unfortunately, you can't use it to count two things simultaneously. Maybe someone should make that app.
Android app of the week: McBank: Puzzle of Money + Freedom
Every now and again, something will come along and take an item, concept, etc, that we are familiar with and do something really interesting with it.
Such is the case with McBank. At its core, it's a match-3 puzzler, but it's the anti-capitalist cladding around that core that makes the game so intriguing. The world is controlled by McBank. Grey workers are chained to grey machines; you enter terminals and perform match-3 puzzles to decide their fate. Will you set them free? Or will you chain them to your own will? Coupled with strange, unsettling art, McBank is a game that will keep you coming back, not just for the gameplay, but to see where its strangeness will lead.
Dragon Raid is ... an endless flyer? Sort of. But you get to play a dragon, and that's pretty sweet. You tilt to control your giant, scaly avatar, burning up human settlements and war machines as you go, avoiding their slings and arrows as best you can. That's pretty much it, but destruction and burning as a dragon is a pretty fun thing to do in our opinion.
Here comes Angry Birds again. This time, it has lightsabers, blasters and Jedi powers, and characters from the original three Star Wars films nicking off with the Pig Star in order to defeat the evil Pig Empire. If you like Star Wars, there's no guarantee that this is the game for you. If you like Angry Birds, then the cleverness and humour of the integration with the films make it tremendously good fun.
Now this is a jet racer. Across 22 stunning tracks, you take to the skies as a high-performance pilot, racing against your peers in a battle to the death. The controls are tilt-based and excellently calibrated, and it's all low altitudes at high speeds, meaning you have to contend with not just your opponents and hitting checkpoints, but obstacles, such as buildings, mountains and canyon walls. It's a little bit pricey — but it's worth it.
Oh sure, you can get one of those retro Polaroid filters for your phone's camera, but we'll be over here, channelling One Piece with a set of super-dynamic manga-style black-and-white photo filters. Guess who will be cooler. Yeah.
Downloading files to your Android device can be a bit of a pain — as demonstrated by the proliferation of download management apps on Google Play. Loader Droid is another — but it's a pretty darned decent one. It can download any file type and includes a bunch of neat features that streamline your downloading, including automatic pause if your device loses connection; resumable downloads and automatic resume; the ability to decide which connection to use for each download; and split downloads for faster times.