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, 5 October 2012
iOS App of the Week: Catch-22
We really are big believers in the idea that sometimes, it's the simple concepts that really are the best. Catch-22 is simple to the core. Two balls orbit a larger ball in opposite directions; you control one ball at a time, and your goal is to avoid collisions. Touching the screen will make your ball jump, which means you can avoid the oncoming ball pretty easily — but also orbiting the larger ball are coins, which you have to collect to advance stages, so you have to time your coin collection just so. When you collect the last coin, the ball you control swaps — and the other ball will follow the previous path you described for it, jumps and all, meaning sometimes, avoiding collisions means that you don't jump. That's all there is to it — but, given that you're playing against yourself, you can try to strategise each stage to make the likelihood of collision lower.
It's surprisingly tricky — and quite wonderfully absorbing.
Tentacles has been around on Windows Phone for quite some time, and it's just made its way over to iOS. It's a strange game — and stranger still when you consider that it was made by Microsoft — but it's kinda' rad. Professor Phluff, the dolphin-headed mad scientist, in his quest to create the cutest thing ever, has accidentally created a four-limbed monstrous micro-organism. And then swallowed it. As you might have guessed, you control that micro-organism on its journey through Phluff's guts.
You tap on the screen to latch onto the walls of your environment, pulling yourself forward, but the innards of Phluff are rife with dangers: saw blades, monsters, acidic geysers and moving walls that can crush you flat — so it behoves you to proceed with caution. Also, each level contains either a speed or damage challenge. And then there's the way you regain health — by ripping out the eyes of other micro-organisms you find down there. Awesome.
Ever dreamed of becoming a Hollywood stunt-person? Now you can get all the thrills, spills and chills without risking your neck. Stunt Star: The Hollywood Years, from Aussie dev Three Phase Interactive, puts you in the saddle. The aim is to rack up as many stunts and tricks as you can — performing mid-air flips, leaping obstacles and exploding in spectacular fashion. It isn't a cakewalk, though: the game employs some nifty physics, such as realistic acceleration and deceleration, and ramps that slow your speed — make a ramp too steep and you'll lose all momentum.
If you like physics games and explosions (and who doesn't?), you'll love Stunt Star.
When pernicious dwarves steal the crystal that controls your alarm clock, your only course of action, as the king of Baldoria, is to declare war. From Gaijin Entertainment — the dev behind the lauded Modern Conflict strategy titles for iOS — comes … well, a pretty similar game, just set in a fantasy setting. But given that Modern Conflict is fun, well-rounded tower defence, we can't really see any problems with that. Plus — swords.
The first thing we like about Loc is that the dev studio behind it is named after Macbeth. The rest of what we like about it is that it's Rubik's Cube gone mad. That, and evil fairies (well, one evil fairy). The queen of the fairies is holding you prisoner, and you have to escape by beating her locks. These start off as one-dimensional slide puzzles, where you have to complete a path from one square on the grid to another by sliding the tiles; but it quickly becomes three-dimensional, with you having to extend the path across the faces of a cube. It's brain-bendingly good.
Need a new graphing calculator? Mathematics with PocketCAS Pro does it all, from algebra to statistics. You can plot 2D and 3D graphs, solve advanced calculus and algebraic equations or save and print your plots as a document or PDF, all on a specially designed mathematical keyboard. If you want something both comprehensive and functional, you could do a lot worse. And there's even a free version, so you can try before you buy.
This is a rarity for Kairosoft — a free game. Most Kairosoft titles come in at around the five dollar mark, so when we saw a free Kairosoft game, we had to wonder what the catch was.
There wasn't one. Further, the game — Beastie Bay — is kind of like "what if Dungeon Village was Pokémon?" Yeah, you read that right. The answer is: it would be amazing. It has all the building and management we love about Kairosoft games — building and maintaining a town, paying taxes, getting new resources and then managing them, too — and throws in Pokémon-style turn-based battles and monster collection, as well as exploring new territories. If you've never played a Kairosoft game before, this is your chance to see what all the fuss is about. Do it.
We haven't played this one yet (mainly because time is edging towards the end of the pay month), but it looks nifty — real-time, HD combat in the style of Infinity Blade, only with ninjas and samurai. The environments look stunning and everyone loves upgrading gear … right? Check out the gameplay below.
The gameplay of Nightmarium is a litte bit like Fruit Ninja — but a lot scarier. A small girl is blissfully asleep, oblivious to the monsters who are trying to eat her all up. It's your job to keep them away by tapping, swiping and shaking them as they emerge from their dark lairs. But it's not enough to keep them out of the bedroom; once you've cleared the room, an even darker, scarier stage takes over. Luckily, you have a variety of power-ups to help you blast the monsters to smithereens ... but how long can you keep her alive?
Why should iOS 6 users have all the fun? PassWallet is a new app that brings Passbook functionality to Android phones. Just like Passbook, you can scan in your film, airline and concert tickets, as well as store loyalty cards, to keep them all in one handy place. It's not as polished as Apple's app, and probably doesn't work as well in Australia as it does in the US, but it's better than nothing.
Pocket Planets probably doesn't contain absolutely everything you might ever want to know about our solar system, but it can tell you a fair bit. It allows you to view objects in the Solar System in full 360-degree 3D — not just planets, but moons, asteroids and dwarf planets. When you select a planet, an HUD in the top left corner will tell you the distance from which you would be viewing it, for it to appear that size — every planet is to scale. A "Timeslider" — which can be accessed by touching the right side of the screen — allows you to view the planet as it appeared at a specific time and date. Then you can enter the encyclopedia section, which tells you the radius, mass, orbit and rotation of any given object. It a great little learning tool.