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, 12 October 2012
iOS App of the Week: Ivy the Kiwi?
Ivy the Kiwi? was launched to acclaim on Nintendo DS and Wii in 2010, but the game was originally released on Windows Mobile (Japan only) — so its launch back onto the mobile platform is only appropriate, really.
You control Ivy, a little red Kiwi chick who has hatched all alone and sets out in search of her mum, eggshell and all. It's a 2D auto-scroller, where you have to draw vines to allow Ivy to climb blocks in her path or to sling-shot launch her forward — fun gameplay, but nothing particularly new by now. However, the children's-book style of the art and storyline makes it super-sweet.
Holiday season is coming up, and you know what that means: long car journeys with restless kidlets. Toyota Playground is a fun way to alleviate boredom, with a number of cool little activities and a personal touch. When opening the app for the first time, the player is asked to create a family — this family then populates the games. The little stick figures to choose from encompass a wide range of interests and personality types, too, which was pleasing to see.
Once in, players can colour in pictures; do jigsaw puzzles, either presets or their own artwork; play a game called hide and seek, which means finding family members in a variety of colourful environments; and create a scrapbook, from where kids can email their coloured-in drawings to family and friends. We can see it providing many a much-needed hiatus for parents.
This auto-side-scroller is a little bit different to many others we've seen in that it's the environment that you control. The egg-shaped White Rabbit is running late — and running from Alice — but Wonderland is full of perils. You have to guide the rabbit through to safety by sliding the block environment up and down to create a path. Enemies can be killed by placing them next to other enemies — but if you put them in the bunny's way, he'll lose health.
It's not as easy as it sounds — it'll definitely keep you on your toes.
Big Fish's Drawn trilogy — the first episode was released at the launch of the iPad — is finally coming to a close, with the last game hitting the app store. Like the previous two games, it's beautiful to look at, and the gameplay combines point-and-click mystery puzzling with hidden object scenes. Big Fish is well known for this kind of game, and it executes them excellently; our only regret is that there will be no more in the series after this.
Zombies, Run! is a fantastic exercise app that puts you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse as a form of motivation. But it's not very specific. This new app (is there going to be a series?) is a Couch to 5K sort of deal, giving you a proper training plan, with detailed instructions on when to walk and when to run on your constitutional to get you up to a 5K routine — and includes the story elements and ability to play your own music, which we know and love from the original.
Rovio usually sticks to physics-based games, so a cookbook makes a nice change, even if it's still riding the Angry Birds gravy train. This cookbook, featuring animations of the iconic characters, contains 41 recipes for eggs. (There sure are a lot of eggs in here this week.) These include the basics, such as how to poach, boil and fry an egg, all the way up to hollandaise sauce. Some recipes aren't centred around eggs, such as fried rice and burgers, so it looks like it has some pretty nifty variety. Still ... it's an Angry Birds cookbook. Not sure how to feel about that one.
Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston were childhood staples for us (and many of you, too, I would imagine). The Fighting Fantasy interactive novel series turns 30 this year (Warlock of Firetop Mountain was released in 1982), and Ian Livingstone has teamed up with Tin Man Games for the latest in their series of game-book adventures for mobile: Blood of the Zombies. Mobile seems a particularly apt medium for this kind of storytelling, and we're stoked that Livingstone is on board. Although the title was released as a stand-alone book, there are some extras exclusive to mobile: new death endings, coloured illustrations, alternate artwork, difficulty levels and achievements.
"Insane megalomaniac Gingrich Yurr is preparing to unleash an army of monstrous zombies upon the world. He must be stopped and his undead horde defeated. In this life-or-death adventure, the decisions you make will decide the fate of the world. Can you survive or will you become a zombie too?"
Last week, we saw Plague Inc, which had you playing on a global scale; and so too does Global Outbreak, but that's about where the similarities end. You are playing as a human against a zombie outbreak in a top-down 3D shooter. Well, more specifically, you're the head of a mercenary outfit, and you're taking on the walking dead. You have to monitor the global situation and send in ground troops to halt the spread of the virus (by killing zombies) in bloody battles. The best thing is probably its utilisation of geolocation — to centre the gameplay around your actual physical location in the world.
A little bit Wipeout, a little bit Frequency, Skyriders is the kind of racing game I can get behind. Although, perhaps it's not "racing" per se, there's only one vehicle on the track: yours. The aim isn't to beat other spacecrafts, but scores: collecting scores and boosting multiplyers to earn upgrades, all set to a boppy electro soundtrack. It's not a bad little game, but it's let down a smidgen by the controls: we tried both button and tilt controls, both are a bit sluggish and could use a tweak.
If Dolphin is your alternative mobile browser of choice, we have excellent news. The developer has just released Dolphin Jetpack to make the browser even faster — five to 10 times faster, it claims. It has a number of high benchmark scores under its belt; and it certainly seems to live up to its boasting from what we've seen.
A harshly buzzing alarm clock in the morning can be such a depressing way to wake up. Morning Bird replaces it with the lovely sound of birdsong ... and then does something so heinous we think it just might be genius. In order to turn the alarm off, you have to correctly answer three randomised quiz questions about birds.
Google Calendar has arrived for Android. It seems odd to us that Google services can not be on a Google OS, but it's nice when they finally do show up. Calendar gives you access to your Google Calendar and syncs to the calendar on your phone, so that you can see all your appointments in the one place. It allows you to also create, edit and delete events; email all guests at once; snooze events; use predefined messages or write your own emails from directly within an event; and pinch-to-zoom. Aces!