The last thing I was expecting during CES week is that I'd be so excited over two retro re-releases of some classic Windows games from 1991 on the Apple App Store. Go figure.
Yup, SkiFree and Rodent's Revenge have just been r...
Dec 11 //
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: 10 Year Anniversary (iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 4], Android)Developer: Rockstar NorthPublisher: Rockstar GamesReleased: December 6, 2012MSRP: $4.99
Yep, Vice City is back. This new mobile version still features the same sexy 1980s veneer, and still features the wise-cracking mob scumbag Tommy Vercetti (Ray Liotta).
Visually, the game has been updated a bit, and the new look suits the neon and bright pastel veneer quite well. Draw-distance issues while driving aside, the new lighting effects and smoothed-out engine really allow the game to pop like it never has before.
Like the scheme used in the mobile version of GTA III, the controls for Vice City are a little better than you would expect, but still have the standard touch-precision issues. Movement is done by way of a virtual analog stick that appears wherever you put your left thumb. While it might sound great on paper, I've had instances numerous times where I've attempted to run away, only to have the d-pad shift to another spot on-screen.
Outside of movement though -- and barring one unfortunate virtual button placement (the handbrake is near the "exit vehicle button," which can make for some funny mission failures) -- everything pretty much works how you'd want it to, with on-screen buttons for each potential action. Considering everything except the movement button can be sized and placed anywhere on the screen, you should be able to find a comfortable medium.
Although there is controller support on the Android version of the game, the iOS version (which was reviewed here) had no such feature -- so if you're on an Apple device, you'll have to settle for touch controls.
Smaller bonuses are included in the mobile package, such as the ability to autosave (with iCloud save support on iOS devices), the aforementioned customizable layout, a tap-to-shoot targeting system, and the ability to create your own custom radio station using your iTunes playlist. The tap-to-shoot scheme takes some getting used to, but it does work, and everything else also works as advertised.
Outside of these ancillary additions to the anniversary version, by far the best addition is the Mission Retry function that debuted in Chinatown Wars, and was cemented by The Ballad of Gay Tony. Straight-up, I think it's a required function that should be in every GTA going forward.
Nothing is worse than failing a mission a few seconds away from victory, only to start over at the hospital and have to find your way to the mission marker again. It absolutely killed the pacing in earlier games, and this addition alone is a great reason to visit Vice City again.
As far as the core game goes, everything is intact. The soundtrack, the quirky Rockstar charm, the Scarface-influenced setting -- it's all here. I really enjoyed replaying some of my favorite missions from the PS2 classic, and even rediscovered a few new scenarios that I didn't experience originally.
To be clear, there's nothing new content wise in this version, but the sheer scale of the GTA games makes it easy to come across a feeling of freshness. Although the game does show signs of aging even with the updated engine, fans of open-world games should still be able to enjoy Vice City with an open mind ten years later.
If you hate GTA games because you feel like they're too "bland," Vice City is your gateway drug. It oozes more charm than pretty much any game in the series outside of possibly San Andreas (provided you're a fan of hip-hop culture for that entry), and the smaller scale of the city makes it a much more manageable affair. If you're curious about the franchise, this is a great starting point before GTA V hits next year.
Wanna be startin' somethin' All this Grand Theft Auto anniversary talk makes me feel old. It feels like just yesterday I was listening to Michael Jackson, swerving around as Tommy Vercetti, and taking in the sights of Rockstar's faux-Miami setting.
The first episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead will be out on iOS devices this Thursday for $4.99. The studio stated in a blog posting that they've created a new interface to provide a "more intuitive experience with the to...
This is just too damn cute. Tiny Wings creator Andreas Illiger has just announced Tiny Wings 2 in probably the best teaser trailer ever created. Andreas uses a music box to play the theme song of Tiny Wings as the bird flies across the hand-drawn level. So cute!
You won't have to wait long for the sequel as Tiny Wings 2 will be out on July 12 for the iOS. That's next week!
Bulkypix has announced a new game for iOS devices, scheduled to launch on July 5. It's called Hasta La Muerte, and it's a billing itself as a unique "survival-platformer" with art game elements.
As an emissary of d...
On iOS, you've got your auto-scrolling runners, fairly straightforward affairs that require careful tapping to avoid oncoming obstacles. Decent enough in bursts, games in this genre tend to suffer from uniformity. You've als...
Just as the solar eclipse is peaking in Japan comes news that Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is set to be released in Japan! Superbrothers and Capybara Games will be releasing one my favorite iOS games of all time in...
"Shoot straight, conserve ammo, and never, ever, deal with a dragon." -- Street proverb
Legendary designer Jordan Weisman (under his new company Harebrained Schemes) has launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a new game b...
When I said, "Take my money Replay, take it now," in response to the announcement that Replay Entertainment had acquired the Leisure Suit Larry property for the purposes of remaking the series, I was being figurative. Replay...
In a conference call today, social gaming megalith Zynga has announced the acquisition of OMGPop, the developer responsible for the wildly popular Draw Something for iOS devices. According to a post at the Wall Street Jo...
Electronic Arts is closing down the servers for a number of games, including a few that required paid online passes to activate. A representative told Beefjack that dwindling activity on the games is the reason, and that "les...
Square Enix has revealed that iOS RPG sequel Chaos Rings II is launching worldwide on March 15. It's also got a launch trailer, which you can stare at above.
I shall certainly be looking forward to this. I really dug t...
SEGA Japan has opened up an official site for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, and filled it with juicy screenshots for you to gawp at like a big bloody idiot. If you hate official websites, however, don't worry. We have the ...
Yakuza and Binary Domain creator Toshihiro Nagoshi has made a bold claim -- stating that handheld and mobile systems will dominate the next generation of games. He also believes that the PC market will continue to grow and he...
Zynga appears to have given up on copying its own games over and over, and has moved on to the straightforward plagiarizing of other peoples' work. Dream Heights is Tiny Tower to the core, the only difference being Zynga's in...
Rayforce is now out on the App store for iPhone and iPod users. It's the classic shoot 'em up you remember, but there are some new features like the obvious touch controls. Additionally, you can view the game in the origin...
Jan 13 //
Regular Show: Nightmare-athon (iOS)Developer: Cartoon NetworkPublisher: Cartoon NetworkReleased: December 20, 2011MSRP: $0.99
Nightmare-athon is a relatively simple score attack game, based on the Halloween episode "Grave Sights." Zombies have taken over a live screening of Zombobcalypse, and it's up to slacker protagonists Mordecai and Rigby to fight them back and protect the audience.
Gameplay takes the basic form of a static arcade shooter, a'la Space Invaders. Mordecai and Rigby are positioned on the left hand side of the screen, while increasingly challenging waves of zombies stumble in from the right.
Holding a finger on the heroes allows one to slide them up and down, while tapping anywhere else on the screen will have Mordecai toss a bowling ball at the oncoming undead. During combat, a gauge will steadily fill, allowing players to unleash Rigby by swiping the screen. Rigby will run across the field along a diagonal course, taking down zombies with his stick for a limited period of time.
Pickups are dropped at random, allowing the temporary use of more powerful weapons such as discuses, javelins, or even a Skips-driven golf cart that smashes multiple zombies in a row. Outside of these powerups, there really isn't a whole lot more to the game. As waves are cleared, the zombies absorb more damage and grow increasingly numerous, but otherwise you can experience everything Nightmare-athon has to offer in one session.
Every now and then, Mordecai and Rigby may spout phrases from the show, but the use of such phrases feel cynical and forced, which is at odds with the fact that Regular Show is one of the more honest and genuine cartoons on TV. To hear the characters state quotes out of context for the sake of it is a little embarrassing, really. Still, the graphics are pretty nice, resembling the cartoon perfectly.
Regular Show: Nightmare-athon is what it is -- a quick little distraction cobbled together to promote the show and make a quick buck. With that in mind, it does its job well enough, and certainly isn't badly made. It's just rather flat, soulless, and incredibly repetitive. While it's a decent waste of five minutes, even the most hardcore fans of Regular Show can find something better to do with times.
The phrase, "not bad, but not good either" is a worn and tired cliche. Sometimes, however, it's the most pertinent thing to be said. Oh, that and the fact you can also just play it for free online.
Regular Show may very well be the best cartoon series on television right now, rivaled only by Adventure Time. Taking the "disguised adult jokes" ball from Rocko's Modern Life and running halfway around the world with it, the...
Ripoff games on iOS are nothing new, with no shortage of developers willing to trade their integrity for a handfull of dollars. Mole Kart is an almost beautiful in its utter, unapologetic, shamelessness.
As you can see...
It's been quite some time, but the second episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has finally been unveiled. The first teaser trailer made an appearance on GameSpot (skip to 1:16 in the video above) and it's already announced some s...
Dec 27 //
Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary (iOS, Android)Developer: Rockstar North, War Drum StudiosPublisher: Rockstar GamesReleased: December 15, 2011MSRP: $4.99
Grand Theft Auto III effectively defined an entire genre of game, one so popular that many games today still desperately attempt to ape its success. The open-world "sandbox" style of game may seem like a dime a dozen today, but back in 2001, the idea of a living, breathing, 3D city was staggering. We're used to it now, but opening up such a game on an iPhone or iPad goes some way toward bringing that magic back.
As the silent Claude, players are busted from a prison transport van and let loose into Liberty City. An increasing variety of missions unlock as players undertake jobs from a rogue's gallery of nefarious crooks, but they can always earn money by driving taxis, posing as paramedics, or just beating people to death and robbing them. Doing these things still carry that simple, often sadistic, satisfaction that it had a decade ago, with GTA III proving once again that being the bad guy is jolly good fun.
The 10 Year Anniversary edition of GTA III is more than a simple port. The game has been enhanced with fresh graphics, improving the look of characters and vehicles. While the game is still obviously dated in the visual department, the higher definition and richer textures make for a far more visually appealing game than fans are used to. Nothing has been skimped in the shrinking process either -- radio stations are all present and correct and cutscenes are fully voiced. This is Grand Theft Auto III in its entirety, only better looking, and tweaked to work with touchscreen controls.
The touchscreen controls, however, are something of an issue, providing by far the biggest barrier toward enjoying this updated release. Despite a range of control options that make use of both the screen and the iOS device's accelerometer, there's no comfortable way to play the game. Be it walking or driving, every control scheme has its own set of unique problems, contributing to a more difficult and frustrating experience.
There's no fixed virtual movement pad while walking, the screen instead placing one where you put your thumb. While such input can work in certain titles, I feel this particular game would have benefited more from a definitively placed pad, as allowing it to appear anywhere in such a densely packed screen often leads to one's thumb dragging off the device while trying to walk. The camera is also unhelpful, wildly swinging to accommodating the player's awkward movements. Manipulating the camera means placing a finger on Claude and dragging in a desired direction. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess how much the interface can get confused between walking and camera controls.
While driving, one can either use virtual direction buttons to steer, or physically tilt the device, but either choice will be problematic. The buttons are too sensitive, causing vehicles to swerve violently left or right, while the accelerometer isn't sensitive enough, requiring exaggerated tilts in order to turn a corner effectively. Coupled with the game's already hyperactive and unrefined physics, this can lead to some annoying driving indeed, especially when racing against the clock.
Grand Theft Auto III requires a lot of patience and practice to play on an iOS device, because despite claims of optimized controls, there are similar games on the iPhone with far more effective interfaces than the one presented here. However, those games lack the one trump card Grand Theft Auto III has that cannot be beat -- it's Grand Theft Auto III. Despite the dodgy controls and the very real frustrations present, this is still one of the most outrageous and entertaining games ever developed, and the sheer novelty of carrying it around inside a phone is worth the price of admission alone.
Once you get used to the annoyances, all the fun of GTA III is still in place. You have to work a little harder for it, but it's all there. All except for cheat codes, unfortunately, which means that you can't spawn a rocket launcher and go crazy like you used to. With a little luck, future updates may bring these back, because let's face it, one of the best things about GTA III is dropping a tank from out of the sky and crushing cop cars.
For a mere three bucks (Edit: This is a current sale price, regular price is $4.99. Sorry!), Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary is very much worth picking up, even if its controls could use an overhaul. Once you get used to its awkward input, the sheer joy of riding through Liberty City is nigh impossible to deny, and the improved visuals certainly help. At the end of the day, few games are as iconic and amusing as this one, and to carry it in your pocket is something truly quite special.
We live in a privileged age indeed. Less than years ago, something like Grand Theft Auto III was amazing to behold on a home console. Its size, sense of freedom, and explosive production values were so amazing, one ...
This hot looking iOS game was released earlier in the month and I can't believe I missed it until someone showed me a link. It's called Battleduty Modernfield 3 and, despite 2/5 average user rating, it looks pretty awesome.&n...
Jetpack Joyride is free for a limited time right for the iPod, iPhone and iPad! The runner style game sees you avoiding obstacles and collecting coins through the use of a jetpack that happens to be a freaking chain gun.
Seriously, Jetpack Joyride is stupidly addictive and you're a horrible stupid face if you don't even try the game. You jerks.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Grand Theft Auto III is now available on iOS for $4.99. The game that popularized the sandbox craze is regarded as a classic these days, and while later GTA games would replace the silent Cl...
If you're finished with Batman: Arkham City and sad that you've got no more bat-themed gaming to do, fret not. Batman: Arkham City Lockdown appeared on iTunes last night without herald, and is yours to download for $5.99.
Those wondering what Electronic Arts' acquisition of Popcap means for the studio's stable of popular games have had their questions answered today. Bejeweled 2 + Blitz will be swiped from iTunes and its two modes split into t...
[Every week (until I get bored), Art Juice takes a recent videogame story and provides an unremittingly artistic slant, telling us a little something about ourselves in the process ... whether we want to know the truth or not...
I still remember Halfbrick when they were just a tiny little Aussie studio with an obscure game about skeletons. Nowadays, these guys are mobile powerhouses, with Fruit Ninja being one of the most recognized games on the mark...
Electronic Arts is resurrecting Theme Park on iOS, but if you think that's Bullfrog's charming little simulation game has returned, you're in for a sour awakening. EA has made it a "freemium" game, which wouldn't be so bad if...
There are hardcore gamers out there so proud of their self-styled character trait that they shall defend it jealously. For indeed, it is they who get to judge whether or not others are worthy of being called gamers, it is th...
Dec 02 //
Infinity Blade II (iOS)Developer: ChAIR EntertainmentPublisher: Epic GamesReleased: November 01, 2011MSRP: $6.99
The first Infinity Blade had a story that was merely hinted at, shrouded in mystery and vague allusions. This time, there is a lot more meat to the plot, but despite fully voiced cutscenes and a cast of actual characters, much is still left to the player's imagination. Infinity Blade II picks up where the first game left off, with the God King defeated and the hero in possession of his titular sword. To go literally any further than that would be to spoil things, but rest assured that things get very shadowy, very quickly.
Cutscenes are now voiced in English, rather than the invented language of ChAIR's fantasy/sci-fi universe. In some ways, this leads to a disappointing loss of mystery, as familiar voices lead to a less exotic and alien world. Nevertheless, the acting is impressively strong, and one particular character (who shall remain nameless) is performed with such delicious pompousness that it makes up for any letdown that might be felt. In any case, there's still plenty of oddness to go around, fake languages or not.
ChAIR has evolved the gameplay to provide a very recognizable base, but expanded in every single way. Infinity Blade II presents another series of one-on-one duels against increasingly challenging monsters, with players blocking, parrying and dodging until breaking the enemy and fighting back with elegant touch-based swipes. This time around, however, the minions of the Deathless have taken off their gloves and put up some real resistance, with punishing new attacks and varied patterns that make them far harder to predict.
The player's defense tactics have been given a bit more balance to ensure that players that safe, familiar routines cannot be depended on. If players dodge too much, the hero can become exhausted and grow far less effective. Opponents will also frequently attack with fists and shields so parrying is no longer completely trustworthy, and many attacks can also break through shields to stop anybody planning to "turtle" their way to victory. The penalty for sticking to one tactic is ever-present, and an impressive job has been done of ensuring that each battle feels less formulaic and more dynamic. Tougher creatures are not afraid to feint at times, perhaps raising a sword and tricking the player into parrying, only to surprise with a sneaky boot to the face. These moments test the player's ability to break free of instinct and muscle memory, yet again keeping would-be heroes on their toes.
The more intense combat is appreciated, but it doesn't come without its share of fresh grievances. For one, the difficulty spikes can become quite a surprise once the first "real" boss has been defeated, and the need to grind increases exponentially as a result. Enemies do far greater damage than usual, even with decent armor, and it's not long before they get access to powerful elemental weapons that sap one's life swiftly. Not to mention, the shield becomes practically useless in the latter stages of the game, as almost every single enemy will attack through it and do major damage. This wouldn't be problem if it didn't happen so quickly, encouraging players early on to start a whole new game while retaining their character progress, just so they can be strong enough the second time around.
Fortunately, players do still keep all their equipment, levels, and boosted skills upon death, respawning into a new "Bloodline" to begin each quest anew. After all, nobody is expected to beat Infinity Blade's bosses on the first encounter, with a potentially infinite cycle of death keeping players going until they're strong enough to conquer the latest challenge. Instead of simply going through a palace and defeating the God King, players must this time go through a castle with multiple paths, taking down over four major Deathless before rescuing a "man" known as the Worker of Secrets. As it was with everybody's favorite God King, the defeat of any one of these Deathless is accompanied by a sense of jubilant satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment, especially if it's one that's put you in the ground several times running.
Outside of combat, there is now a ridiculous amount of new equipment to find, alongside old favorites like the Holiday Helm and Ladyfinger. As before, each piece of equipment collects experience points which are drained into the player characters' XP pool, allowing him to level up until the equipped item is "Mastered" and can gather no more. The balance between collecting powerful gear while collecting experience points remains, and with so much more stuff to grab, dedicated gamers will take a damn long time before having a hero at maximum capacity.
Weapons are now split into three types, with the familiar sword and shield being joined by dual blades and heavy weapons. Dual blades attack more swiftly, allowing for greater combos, and allow the player to duck incoming attacks rather than block them. Heavy weapons include axes and maces, and deal huge amounts of damage. Players won't be able to dodge with heavy weaponry, but can block attacks in multiple directions to better stagger the opponent. Gear now comes with various shaped slots that can be fitted with gems, because we need even more loot to gather. Gems possess extra perks, such as improved item drops, elemental damage, or greater defense bonuses, and can fit into any slot of the corresponding shape. They can also be removed from discarded weapons at the cost of gold.
The inventory has been given a slight overhaul, with items now split into better category menus for easier browsing. More powerful items are bought with in-game gold, which can be purchased for real-world money or earned honestly throughout the course of battle. New "supply" items, such as health regen potions and prize wheels, provide a little more aid and can -- if bought for a very high price -- make the boss fights far less difficult. As if that wasn't enough, there are new locked chests that can be opened by finding keys in the game world. It's a small addition, but the fact it was tossed in just to make things interesting speaks volumes about how serious ChAIR took this sequel.
At first glance, those unfamiliar with the game will think Infinity Blade II is more of the same, but the sheer level of improvements made to every facet of the game is quite staggering. ChAIR could have likely released little more than a glorified Infinity Blade with a few cosmetic changes and gotten away with it, but Infinity Blade II has expanded and deepened to a laudable degree. Battles are tougher, exploration feels less linear, and new items to discover make a game that feels much more like a role-playing adventure then ever before. Few console sequels could claim such consistent and thorough improvement, let alone an iOS one.
Of course, no Infinity Blade II review could be complete without a mention of the graphics, which are more gorgeous than ever. When not played on an iPhone 4-S, it has to be said that the animation can get a little choppy, but rarely does it take away from just how beautiful everything looks. The only time the framerate truly aggravates is when the obnoxious Game Center pop-up welcomes you back to the game in the middle of a fight and completely throws the timing off, otherwise I had few issues on a humble iPod Touch 3G.
Infinity Blade's delightfully bleak artistic style has returned in full force, with a series of wonderfully decrepit environments and a selection of monsters that range from intimidating to utterly bizarre. Weapons and armor are a sight to behold as well, coming in a variety of weird and often ridiculous fashions. It takes a real man to roll up to an immortal demi-god wearing only a metal Santa mask and a loincloth, but players can do it if they so desire.
Gamers who were not sold on the original's "Punch Out!!! with swords" gameplay will likely remain unimpressed with Infinity Blade II, but fans are sure to be completely thrilled by the amount of upgrades and improvements on offer, not to mention the developments of its increasingly enigmatic story. The sudden upshot in difficulty can take one by surprise, but the flexibility allowed when restarting Bloodlines means that it's never a real issue. Otherwise, this is the same kind of great combat found in last year's title, but with absolutely everything ramped up to magnificent degrees.
If Infinity Blade was proof that mobile games could be taken seriously, then Infinity Blade II is that very same proof biting any and all detractors on the genitals.
When our future selves look back on the time mobile gaming truly earned its place in this industry, there is no doubt that Infinity Blade will be seen as the first major turning point. Its critical acclaim and commercial succ...
Parismio This is a PSA: Never trust anyone who doesn't wet their toothpaste before brushing their teeth! Those people are clearly evil and their waifus are probably shit too!Lawman Going back to Gravity Rush, I think I forgot how much I love it. The visuals, the interesting designs, the dreamy music, likable characters, and of course, just floating all over the place like it's no big thing. It blends together so well.Gamemaniac3434 One of my personal favorite pokemon. taterchimp I had a rough night and I hate the fucking Eagles, manNiwannabe Okay, here's one last Fuck, Marry, Kill to determine the truest of waifus. Donald Trump, Jed, Dreamweaver. Go.BaronVonSnakPak I don't normally bitch about life on the internet, but I need to vent. It's been a REALLY shitty week. Hopefully life's been treating my fellow 'toiders better.Torchman Mandatory readingJoe Parlock Ursaring is the best pokemon, followed shortly by Meganium. Duh.Roxas1359 Gotta go with Vaporeon as it is absolutely adorable and makes for a great Water-Type.
I'd upload a photo, but my internet is being screwy.
Torchman Regice!Jcan Cool site never heard of beforeTorchman absolutfreak My new least favorite type of team mate in Heroes of the Storm: they guy that declares the game is over after the enemy succeeds on one objective completion.Heat Gengar!! Poison type FTW!
ScionVyse Luxray is the only best Pokemon.The Dyslexic Laywer Quick post your favorite Pokemon!Nekrosys Hell yes. Nekro just pulled this from a Pokemon card booster pack. Don't judge me, I find the game to be fun, even if my deck is terrible.KnickKnackMyWack So I decided to tinker around with some assets in Source Filmmaker and make a still image. Kind of a Jurassic Park-inspired thing with dino assets from that Ark game. Care to offer some comments, critique, etc.?LaTerry I think I broke it...Torchman I have joined the discord group! Now I can call your waifu shit in more than one place!