Now Playing: Valiant Hearts – The Great War for iPhone and iPad

It is 1914 and you are in the middle of World War I. You are an ordinary soldier, thrust into the power struggle between great European countries, to serve as fodder for protracted battles on the ground.

The App Store’s Editor’s Choice of the week Valiant Hearts: The Great War relives the confusion and nightmare of the war, told through the eyes of ordinary folks called upon to serve their country. Just as war, in its broadest sense, is just the game of the generals, it is ironic to see the game make out of a high stakes ‘game’ that cost lives.

You’ll readily see that in Valiant Hearts, it’s the journey, not the destination that matters. To some extent the game captures the fear and feeling of unpreparedness for war, as your character has to be fast enough and agile enough to dodge bombs and machine fire, quick enough to think of a way to get into enemy territory without being seen, etc. These are achieved through mostly simple puzzles, with a handy hint system that tells you what to do if you’ve failed the challenge too many times. Oftentimes, the handy visual dialogue box that pops up is all that you need.

Valiant Hearts wisely uses ambient noise and occasional bursts of music (amid the gunfire and shouts) to keep things from feeling too still or relaxed. The background music, a melancholy piano, further highlights the story’s context – war. The handdrawn art is just lovely and textured. The characters mumble and bark instructions in French – which you don’t need to know, but adds a touch of authenticity to the scene. (Ironically, the voiceover of the main characters, such as French uncle Emile, are done in English) Speaking of authenticity, major events reveal historical trivia now and then, which is pretty useful to know. The story continues in downloadable episodes in the form of in-app purchases (IAP), which you can buy at your own leisure.

If you are looking for difficult puzzles, Valiant Hearts might not be your cup of tea. Puzzles in the broader context of a historical adventure are mainly there to move things along. In the early part, you will find a fair bit of Angry Birds type gameplay to hurl bombs and bottles and whatnot. Some puzzles just require you to move along.

While the game is nearly flawless, I find that handling the touch screen controls can sometimes be a hit or miss experience. Characters are a bit slow in their movvement, putting the emphasis on precise timing and moves. This is fine but sometimes it bogs down and sometimes slows me to a grinding halt.

Valiant Hearts is overall, more of an immersive experience than just a plain old adventure. It’s a heartbreaking story that is all too painfully familiar since it is grounded in history. It takes us to an oft forgotten place and time where ordinary people were caught up in something much bigger than themselves, and through grit, grace and sometimes sheer luck, survived.

Check out the report card below:

appSIZED rating: 5 out of 5

Link: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Compatibility: Universal for iPhone and iPad

Price: $4.99

Ver: 1.0

Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft

Review copy provided by the developer/publisher.

 

 

 

 

 

FREE for a limited time: Heroes of Kalevala and Unstoppable Gorg for iPad

Just wanted to give you guys a heads up that two excellent games are FREE this weekend. These are old favorites of mine and have stunning graphics and solid gameplay.

Heoes of Kalevala is not your typical match three game – it is in fact, one of the very best out there. It comes with a story culled from Finnish mythology featuring eight (8) distinct heroes and a village building mechanic, keeping you hooked on finishing levels to populate your village. It landed in appSIZED's list of Top 10 Games and Apps for 2010 together with 10tonsltd's other game Miriel's Enchanted Mystery.
Link: Heroes of Kalevala HD (for iPad)
Developer: 10tonsltd
 
Unstoppable Gorg is a one of a kind tower defense game with loads of personality and a really tough learning curve. What's nice about its is that you rotate your towers along a certain path to fend off incoming enemies from all sides. It's pretty tough. In between you have B-movie black and white clips that perfectly capture the retro sci fi vibe of the 1950s. In 2012, it was selected by appSIZED as one of its Top 10 games for the year.
 
Developer: Futuremark Oy
 
Enjoy!

 

Now Playing: Sentinel 4 – Dark Star for iPhone and iPad

It's been a while since indie developer Origin8 came out with a sequel to their award-winning tower defense (TD) series, Sentinel. However, Sentinel should be familiar to those who've been gaming on the iPhone and during the time when tower defense games were just starting to shine. With a long absence from the TD scene, does Sentinel 4 – Dark World measure up to the TD games that have come out since its hiatus?

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Review: Hanx Writer for iPad

 

 

Hanx Writer for iPad may seem like a quaint idea to most, but for those e who grew up with a manual typewriter long before Microsoft Word became a household name, Hanx Writer brings back memories and then some. The app, incidentally, was commissioned and endorsed by no less than award-winning actor Tom Hanks who is a typewriter fanatic.

 

Back then, typing was a challenging and frustrating experience. You needed to be extra careful when typing things – how soft or how hard you bang the keys means the difference between a smooth looking typewritten page and a page with out of place keys or smudged letters.

I can go on all day about the perils and terrors of typewriter ribbons gone threadbare and paper incorrectly inserted, but I'm not here to wax poetic about a bygone era, I'm here to talk about how Hanx Writer fares as a throwback app and as a notetaking/mini word processor.

The fun part about having a 'pretend' typewriter like Hanx Writer is that you get to enjoy the perks of typing manually without the corresponding headaches. The fun part of typing then was hearing the clickety clack of keys and watching words being hammered out on the page with a couple of quick strokes – the less than fun part was dealing with jammed keys, smudged letters and uneven typing. Nowadays, typing with a keyboard is a muted experience while a touchscreen computer is almost silent.

For a free app, you get to enjoy the experience of typing on a 'pretend' typewriter, complete with the clicking sound of the individual keys as you type and the ringing sound when you've reached the end of the line and have to move to the next. For the full-blown typing experience, you can even turn off the 'modern' way of correcting mistakes (read: backspace). However, it would also be nice to see keys a bit out of place just like what I was used to when I typed too hard. For select upgrades, you can try out new typewriter themes or styles or just get the entire pack for $5, which includes more ribbon colors, justify alignment, a title page with the option to put a picture, etc.

Hanx Writer makes typing on the touchscreen keyboard fun, but I've tried pairing the app with my trusty bluetooth keyboard and the experience has been seamless.

My only gripe with the app is that sharing options are limited. For now, you can only “share” or export your work in PDF, which you can of course open in other apps such as Goodreader and other PDF readers. It would be nice, however, to have other file saving options such as .txt or .rtf formats.

For a free app that you can straightaway enjoy without shelling out real money for in app purchases (IAP), Hanx Writer is a fun and engaging typing experience that is more than just a trip down memory lane. I can envision it to be my default writing app just to get those creative juices flowing. Check out the report below:

appSIZED rating: 5 out of 5

App: Hanx Writer for iPad

Link: Hanx Writer for iPad

Compatibility: iPad only

Price: FREE

Ver.: 1.0

Developer/Publisher: HitCents, Inc.

 

 

Now Playing: Guardians of the Galaxy – The Universal Weapon

Marvel Studios' latest flick, the amazingly good Guardians of the Galaxy movie is now out in theaters and enjoying critical and popular acclaim. The iOS game, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon, on the other hand, was released a few weeks prior to the movie's launch and is currently on sale for a limited time to celebrate the film's opening weekend. Featuring a funny, ragtag group of space not so do-gooders straight out of a Marvel comic book, the real challenge of GOTG: The Universal Weapon is to be just as good as the movie. Check out the review after the break!

Now Playing: Royal Envoy – Campaign for the Crown HD for iPad

Ah, politics. Whether in the real world or in Royal Envoy's fictional kingdom, it's dirty. Playrix Games' third and latest installment, Royal Envoy: Campaign for the Crown takes on politics as a mysterious person named Swindler (with a name like that, would you trust him?) seeks to capture the crown through election. Election … in a monarchy? Invoking some ancient law, Swindler has challenged the king to an election and is hell bent on sabotaging the King's chances of winning.

This is where you step in, as his consultant/adviser/builder. Thanks to a highly effective misinformation campaign, most of the kingdom is in shambles due to charlatans tricking and deceiving people into destroying their home and introducing themselves as envoys of the King. Your mantra is rebuild and damage control in a wide variety of missions.

The Swindler starts out with an approval rating of 100% while you have to start from scratch to save your King.

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Now Playing: Dream Catchers – The Beginning HD for iPad

We have always had a fascination for the secret world of our dreams and how the real and surreal interact in our mind’s landscape while we are sleeping. Dreams sometimes help solve real world problems, others reveal anxieties and fears, while some of us find a fantasy world to escape in.
Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD by G5 Games hints at a new series of hidden object adventure games, with the intriguing storyline of ‘dream catchers’ (although not fully explained) who get caught up in a web of deception and betrayal.
The story, however, begins with the unexplained phenomena of students of a school, including one of its teachers (your sister), falling asleep seemingly without hope of waking up. As you try to piece together what happened, you are also drawn into the dream world with strange scenery, monsters and creatures to defeat in order to wake up.

the zodiac clock

Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD is standard Hidden Object and puzzle solving fare, requiring you to search for objects bit by bit that contribute to activating puzzles in order to obtain objects and tools (inventory items).
Looking for items is a pretty straightforward and simple affair. Some HOGs like to make things more interesting and interactive by requiring you to put together some items in order to find the object on your list, while others encourage you to open a drawer or part a curtain to reveal what’s inside. Disappointingly, Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD doesn’t employ these little gimmicks.
As I have observed with many hidden object games, there isn’t a clear or logical link between objects or tools you need to say, unlock a door or get an object from a tree. In addition, since these are objects scattered across different locations, you really don’t know what you need until you press the hint. Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD is no exception. Thus, in my case, I rely on hints a lot, and more so in this game. Some useful inventory objects show up in sparkly locations, in a seemingly random and arbitrary order.
The game’s art direction evokes some mixed feelings. The earlier parts and cutscenes are a bit hazy and muddled – much like a dream sequence, I know, but some consistency in relation to the regular scenes would be nice. The game would have been more visually appealing if the scenes were less static.
The puzzles are simpler and less varied than most HOGs. Of course, the usual rotate pieces to form a picture and rotate pipes to find your way out can be found in Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD, but I find the execution of some puzzles a bit cumbersome and frustrating.
As what appears to be the first among many in a series, Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD starts off intriguing and promising. However, compared to other HOGs and even G5’s own extensive offerings, this one doesn’t quite measure up. I do hope that future installments of this game will be a lot better in many ways and for its flaws, I will give Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD a pass.
Check out the report card below:
appSIZED rating: 3 out of 5

App: Dream Catchers: The Beginning HD
Compatibility: iPad only
Price: Free (with In-App Purchase of $6.99)
Deveoper/Publisher: G5

 

 

21 Battleheart Legacy Strategies, Tips and Tricks

Having played Battleheart Legacy ($4.99/Universal for iPhone and iPad) for nearly a month now, let me share some of the tips and tricks I learned.

For a more extensive walkthrough, there are plenty of excellent and in-depth resources out there, such as in the Touch Arcade forum, but I hope my own experience will help you out as a starting player. (Check out the review/guide to Battleheart Legacy on appSIZED here)

 

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Now Playing: Battleheart Legacy for iPhone and iPad

Ever played a game where you wanted to be the character who had a little bit of everything? Say, a spellcasting ninja master? Or a knight able to summon the undead? Or perhaps, a humble bard, purveyor of tale and song, yet able to take down long range enemies with a handy bow and arrow? Or do you want to have it all? Hero classes such as barbarian, knight, rogue, ranger, monk, witch, wizard, etc. are farmiliar archetypes in RPGs (role playing games) and are easily defined by the strengths and limitations of their powers and abilities… but in Battleheart Legacy, you can have it all.

battleheart on appSIZED

the original Battleheart

If you played the original Battleheart back in 2011, it was groundbreaking and original. What made it unique was that you could control four (4) of them at once simply by drawing lines from point A to point B, and activating a set of special powers and skills for each one. In Battleheart, you can freely experiment with with the party type system and develop your heroes’ skills, boost their stats with weapons and equipment to get these guys to work seamlessly together. Battleheart, in its own way, changed how we should design and play games on a touchscreen device. While there are many copycats, Battleheart remains unparalleled.

Now, in Battleheart Legacy, you are now a solo player and party-based combat is not used in this game. With Legacy employing a gameplay mechanic different from Battleheart, does it live up to the awesomeness of the original?

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App Review: Goodreader 4 for iPhone and iPad

If there is one app out there that is the best toolbox that you'll find for your iPad/iPhone, then Goodreader for iPad (Goodreader, for short) would be it. As a long time user (since 2010), I have come to rely on Goodreader for the tasks needed for my iPad that are usually only possible using a computer.

Goodreader 4 is said to be an even better version of an already great app. It's currently available as a standalone app or as in-app purchase from one's existing Goodreader app.

Need a toolbox of an app for your needs? Read on to find out!

 

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