Tag Archive | Games

Cut the Rope Creator ZeptoLab Plans Four New Games in 2013, TV Show in 2014

cuttherope-feature

ZeptoLab CEO Misha Lyalin doesn’t play cards, except for bridge. His Moscow-based games company, though, is playing a more random card game.

“We’re fortunate enough that we got dealt an amazing card, and it’s called Cut the Rope,” Lyalin said of ZeptoLab’s hit series. “But we still have to build up everything else. With one card, you go into the game, and everybody has a hand, and you have nothing.”

That “everything else” includes two other games, Parachute Ninja and Pudding Monsters, which combined with Cut the Rope’s three titles have generated more than 300 million downloads across all platforms since 2010. The company also licenses enough merchandise to choke even Cut the Rope’s voracious star, Om Nom: Toys, apparel, food, board games, a digital comic book and an ongoing animated Web series.

And that list is growing. In an interview with AllThingsD, Lyalin said ZeptoLab is planning four new games for this year: Two new Cut the Rope games and two completely original titles. The company is also working with Sony Pictures Television to develop a TV show, to start airing in 2014.

(Also coming soon to a TV near you: A half-hour animated TV series based on Zynga’s social game FarmVille, not to mention Rovio’s Angry Birds TV shorts, a few of which have already aired on Nickelodeon. Whether the new generation of videogame-related shows can live up to the artistic excellence of the “Super Mario Bros. Super Show” remains to be seen.)

The CEO declined to go into detail about the TV show, other than to say that it would be Cut the Rope-themed.

Lyalin said these sorts of licensed products are now a part of the expected path for game companies that have a hit on their hands.

cuttherope-app

And that’s telling. Once, the iconic games that were able to command extensive lines of merchandise were only available on a few devices approved by their publishers (think Mario on Nintendo’s consoles or Sonic on Sega’s). Now, stuffed Om Noms are both an extra revenue stream and a form of advertising for the Cut the Rope brand, which freely follows users across different devices and different operating systems.

However, Lyalin stressed the need to keep releasing new games above all else.

“We’re a gaming company, first and foremost,” he said. “That is where our strength is from.”

So, where are those games headed? With its fans primarily on mobile devices, ZeptoLab hasn’t yet tried to break into the troubled home-console market, but Lyalin said he hasn’t ruled it out. In particular, he said, Android-based game consoles (such as the forthcoming Ouya) are “a given,” since the company’s games are already on the Android OS.

His bigger philosophy, though, is refreshingly frank, if not terribly complex: A lot of platforms where ZeptoLab might go won’t survive. But, Lyalin said, if they can attract an audience in the short term and potentially expand Om Nom’s reach, then that’s enough.

Microsoft’s Xbox 720 Kinect motion sensor specs leak

Kinect for Xbox 720

I expected the focus today to all be on Sony and the launch of the PlayStation 4 at 6pm EST. But Microsoft is stealing some of the attention away by allowing its next-generation Kinect sensor specs to leak.

It’s expected that the Xbox 720 (codenamed Durango) will ship with a second-generation Kinect motion sensor in the box. But how has Microsoft improved on the original?

According to the spec leak VGLeaks has been handed, the new sensor is all about higher precision motion tracking of a larger area. Kinect v2 will still be focused on the same depth range (0.8m to 4m), but has had its field of view (FOV) increased to 70 degrees horizontally and 60 degrees vertically. So it is capable of viewing a much larger area and now no longer needs the tilt function because of it.

In terms of what Kinect v2 can detect, Microsoft has improved things considerably with better color and depth streams. The color stream has increased to a resolution of 1920 x 1080 captured at 30fps, while the depth stream is 512 x 424. For comparison, the original Kinect had a 640 x 480 color stream and 320 x 240 depth stream. Overall this means the new sensor is capturing at a much higher resolution (better accuracy) and can detect objects that are up to 3x smaller. Microsoft has also added an Active Infrared stream to the device. It streams at 512 x 424 and 30fps, and will allow the Kinect to better cope with a much wider range of lighting conditions.

Kinect spec comparison

The latency of the sensor has been reduced significantly, with the new rating being 60ms compared to 90ms of the existing Kinect. Microsoft has also moved to using USB 3.0 rather than 2.0 in order to cope with the extra data being collected and passed to the console.

From the player’s point of view these revisions mean that Kinect v2 will be capable of tracking up to 6 people at once. It will also be able to better track skeletons, so open and closed hand states are recognized, more of your body’s movements and positions (sideways on to sensor, for example), and it can better handle standing and sitting players as well as big differences in player heights.

As for the Kinect unit itself, apparently we should expect a device that looks very similar to the original Kinect. It will still be separate from the console and connected via a cable, and the best place to position it will be above your TV if possible.

Dragon Quest X finally coming to Wii U on March 30

With Dragon Quest VII managing to sell 836,654 copies in its first week on sale in Japan there’s clearly still a lot of interest in Square Enix’s RPG series. So Nintendo will be very happy after revealing that Dragon Quest X finally has a release date for its ailing Wii U console. That date is March 30.

DQX was originally revealed back in September 2011 as an MMO that was set for release on both the Wii and eventually the Wii U. It then launched in August last year, but not without upsetting gamers in Japan due to the requirement of a 70 minute install. At the time, a Wii U release date wasn’t revealed, and we had to wait until September only to be told it would see a Spring 2013 launch.

Now we finally have a launch date, and Wii U owners can look forward to experiencing the MMO with visuals enhanced well beyond what the Wii could handle. The game will also be playable using the Wii U’s GamePad.

Dragon Quest X box art and prepaid card

After the recent poor sales of the Wii U console, Nintendo is set to take full advantage of a high-profile game such as this. Japanese gamers who have yet to purchase the machine will have the option of buying a Dragon Quest X Wii U Premium bundle, which includes the console, game, 1,000 yen prepaid card, and five in-game super health orbs. That bundle will cost $452, whereas the game on its own will be $75 and ships with 20 days of access.

As DQX is an online game, it requires an ongoing subscription be paid, which in Japan can be bought as 30, 60, or 90 day options. The Wii version also required the purchase of a 16GB memory card, but that isn’t the case for the Wii U version, although hopefully Nintendo/Square Enix will let you transfer your game from the Wii to Wii U. If you purchase the Wii U console bundle Square Enix is allowing access to the beta of the game from March 6 as an added incentive to pick it up early.

Nintendo will be hoping this game helps to jump start sales of the Wii U in its home territory, but it’s a shame it’s not a brand new Dragon Quest game exclusive to the platform. It’s also unfortunate Nintendo doesn’t have a similar title getting ready to launch to spark interest with gamers in the US and across Europe.

Now read: Nintendo announces new Zelda, Fire Emblem/Shin Megami crossover

‘We Are the World’ plus Modern Warfare 3 – must be North Korean propaganda

In yet another unfiltered look at the kind of media that North Koreans are exposed to, a new propaganda video from the totalitarian nation has surfaced, bringing with it a most unsettling mix of anti-American messaging, footage from the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and an instrumental version of the song “We Are the World.”

The video, which was originally posted on North Korea’s state-controlled news website Uriminzokkiri and then uploaded to LiveLeak, starts off with a young man drifting off into sleep. His dream is filled with visions of a space rocket circling the planet before eventually revealing a decimated New York City. The caption on the screen mentions clouds of smoke billowing over the United States, according to the translation provided on LiveLeak.

The end of the video concludes that the boy’s dream will “surely come true” one day, noting that North Korea will eventually achieve a “final victory.”

All the while, an ethereal song that is supposed to promote world peace and civility plays in the background. Perhaps the most interesting part, though, is that the depiction of a bombed New York City, as Kotaku discovered, is actually just footage from Modern Warfare 3.

north korea call of duty propoganda

So, the video uses a song that was produced in the United States, with footage of a video game that was produced in the United States, essentially promoting the destruction of the United States. Irony, anyone? Hopefully the USA never actually gets bombed, because if it does, North Korea‘s propaganda machine could lose some serious creative talent.

Now read: Play the first ever video game developed in North Korea

Wordish on iPad: Simple, Fast, Addictive Word Game

Wordish for iPad

Wordish is a new word game for the iPhone that is very simple and lots of fun. Even though this is an iPhone app the nature of the game and the very bare bones interface mean that it works great on the iPad too.

I’m a big fan of word games on the iPad. My long-time favorite is Word Ladder but I always have a number of different ones installed to play on my own, with my daughter, or against friends and random online opponents. Wordish is very much at the most basic end of the spectrum when it comes to word games, and you certainly won’t find any strategic elements to the game as you do in Letterpress for example.

Instead this is a very quick no frills sort of word making challenge.

Here’s how it works:

You tap Start and you get a set of 8 randomly selected letters. A timer starts and you have 90 seconds to make as many words as you can. Longer words earn more points and you lose points if you enter a ‘gibberish’ word.

Wordish Game

And that’s all there is to it – again, very quick and easy to play. When you finish a game you can send a challenge to a friend via email or to anyone out there via Twitter and Facebook:

… or post a challenge on Twitter or Facebook – for others to pick up. Your opponent is given the same set of characters to play with. The result is sent back to you.

On Facebook, results are posted as comments to your “Challenge-post” making it possible to compare everyones scores.

Challenge Friends

The game also asks if you want to auto-post your scores to Facebook. I opt out of that so as not to spam my friends and also to save embarrassment when my scores are not so great.

It uses the built-in dictionary to determine whether words are valid and can be played in the following languages:

– English
– French
– German
– Spanish
– Portuguese
– Italian
– Swedish
– Danish
– Norwegian

Honestly when I first saw this game I didn’t think it sounded very exciting, but from the moment I installed it I’ve found it seriously addictive. It’s a lot like a favorite savory snack you can never have just one of. I find myself continually saying ‘just one more try’ – sometimes to make up for a bad score, sometimes to try to beat a particularly good score, but I’m always wanting to have another crack at it.

I also enjoy Wordish because it’s the ultimate gap-filler sort of game on the iPad. Because it’s so fast and easy to play, it’s a great time killer during a commercial break while watching TV or when ou’re waiting for a meal to finish cooking or just about any time you’ve got a free minute or two.

I’d love to see it made a universal app with an iPad version – and Game Center support would be nice too.

Here’s an App Store link for Wordish; it’s priced at $0,99.

Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author – for information about our review policies please see the About page.

Review: Little Labyrinths by ByteSize Games

Sometimes a simple maze game where the main goal is just to get out of each level can actually be entertaining, as long as the game is constructed well.  My big concern with Little Labyrinths was that it was going to be too easy since you basically trace your way out of each maze with your finger.  It turns out that with the right game play mode this is not only challenging but can get quite addicting.  Thankfully Little Labyrinths has 6 game play modes to choose from, and in the right combination these can be rather rewarding.  Just make sure that you have a “big kid’s” game to quickly switch to when someone wants to know what you’re doing.

Avast Me Hearties

 

The basics are simple: you have a who that has to find a what in a where.  How you accomplish this makes all the difference in the world.  You start off only being able to select the mouse, the hunk of cheese, and the inside a wall options.  As for game modes you’ll start with classic, which basically lets you traverse maze after maze until you run out of time.  For each run you’ll get judged as “quick” or “not-so-quick” and bonus points will be doled out accordingly.  This also helps determine where the timer starts for the next run.  Along the way you can collect gold, stars which earn you extra points and hourglasses that give you a bit more time.

When you earn enough money, or you decide to break down and boost your booty via IAP, you’ll be able to start unlocking additional whos (the character you play), whats (the item you’re looking for) and wheres (the location you’re playing at).  Of course this is all fluff as it does not affect game play at all, but at least it gives you something to work towards and it helps shake things up a bit. More importantly is the ability to unlock additional game play modes.  I would suggest freeing up Zen mode first.  The lack of pickups makes it kind of dull, but you get 25 coins for each maze no matter what and it only takes a few seconds to run through a maze, so it’s a quick way to earn lots of money.

Move Into The Light

 

Additional modes include 3 minute mode (yep, you get three minutes to complete as many mazes as you can), speed mode which is like classic except there are no pauses between runs, torch mode which adds the bonus stress of dimming light to your obstacles, and kids mode which is basically Zen mode but less interesting and worth less money.  Game Center is supported and each of the game play modes has its own leaderboard.  There are also 69 achievements to earn just in case you need something else to keep you occupied.  Control is simply a matter of drawing a line with your finger where you want your character to go, and you can adjust the sensitivity to your needs.

The visuals are decent enough, with each character, item and location having a distinct look.  I do like the fact that a dashed line is drawn over the path that you trace so you can see everywhere you went.  The sound effects are pretty good as well, with each character making its own noise as it moves through the mazes.  The different items have a unique noise when they are picked up as well.  Even better is that each game play mode has its own music, and there is even a separate track played during the results screen.

Find The Eggs

 

If you’re one of those people that can’t admit that they can enjoy a kids’ game or feels that they need more than a simple one mechanic offering, Little Labyrinths probably isn’t for you.  However, if you’d like something simple that you can use to kill a few minutes here and there but isn’t solitaire, this would be a great choice for you.  There’s enough variety in the game play modes to keep most people happy, and it’s designed just right to jump in and out of without ever having to worry about what you did last time you played.  It’s also very kid friendly, and probably even a good game for you to play with your kids.  Just be warned that you might find yourself spending more time with it in one sitting than you’d expect.

Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link

This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 running iOS 6.0.1.

What I Played this Week – GPP, Atomic Frogs and Dead Trigger!

This week I played 3 awesomely cool games at the $1.99 level and below…Galactic Phantasy Prelude is a space shooter RPG in the same class of game as Galaxy on Fire 2 (SD version recently went free and hit #1 in nine countries). Atomic Frogs, a physics puzzler that requires deft timing and aim to launch your frogs through the various obstacles. Last is a free to play shooter called Dead Trigger, which brings the joy of shredding Zombies to iPad in exquisitely detailed apocalyptic strokes. So, without further adieu, let the WIPTW game review madness commence!….

If you like space opera, with a lot of backstory, features, multiple avenues of advancement (play it safe, or play a pirate), Galactic Phantasy Prelude might be your game at a mere 99 pennies. Though GFF is not free to play, you can still advance via IAP, which kind of rankles. I wish developers would decide on one model and stick with that. Make the game free with IAP or make the game paid without it. Other than that somewhat annoying aspect, GPP does a great job in almost all areas. You complete game missions and ad-hoc challenges, and in between can either be an honest Joe or Jane and run merchandise between planetary systems, engage in mining (boring), or go to the dark side and steal from other hapless victims fun.

So far the early combat experience is very predictable, but I admit to not having advanced that far past the first few levels. The graphics just plain pop on this game. Kind of a cross between typical 3D engine and anime-style imagery, the shading and perspectives are outstanding and unique. In-game music is a quaint tinkling for a 3D space shooting game, and better fitted to a platform type (or maybe just redone completely). Your character is a space orphan become stolen ship captain, and his best friend crewmate going on a grand adventure. The story and plot development is mindly interesting.

The crew aspect is cool. Any weapons or equipment you acquire for your ship need crewman to operate and maintain, so you have to recruit them in the various stations you visit. Crew get upgrades in ability as you advance (I assume translates to better battle performance), and lot’s of little details like this are nicely peppered throughout, from full customization of weapons and support gear all they way up to developing a full fleet of ships to explore and exploit the galaxy around you. The game played well on both my iPad mini, and my iPod touch 4G.

Atomic Frogs is a somewhat goofy but interesting physics game. The graphics however are smooth, and everything else in the right place for a problem solver. First, the idea behind the game…specially enhanced frogs that have been zapped with radiation and special jumping powers escape their lab in an eternal search for atomic water to jump and frolic in. Your job is to aim them and time their atomic blasting power, which will destroy guard robots and other barriers. The ultimate goal being to roll the frog onto a switch that releases the toxic water the frogs crave.

As you advance through the levels, you have to use different frogs for different aspects of the puzzle. Some melt metal, and some expand and float upward before exploding. On-screen taps activate the special powers. If you like games like Cut the Rope or similar puzzlers, this is the same caliber and style.

Dead Trigger is just good old-fashioned zombie-killling fun! If you read the iTunes reviews, you may note the recent complaints about game progress not saving between versions. The game is free to play, but many of the better weapons may require IAP (or viewing advertisements) to build up enough gold to earn, which is admittedly a downside, and especially so, if your hard won progress get’s blown away. Might want to keep that in mind before upgrading.

The game graphics were honestly stunning on my iPad mini, and the point is, well?… Mindless zombie murder on a massive scale! You traverse the various urban settings, shooting crap out of the approaching hoard, while trying to evade their attacks (some of which are surprisingly fast). You find power-ups and bonus items along the way. Effects are as real as any 3-D game I’ve experienced on iOS, and the game gives plenty of ways to level up without opening up the wallet (try the everyday free gold mission, for example). You can also earn gold by liking the game on Facebook, etc… Have to face the fact that this is the new “free” on the app store, but hey it is an awesome game! Madfinger should address the progress save problem, though (which I have not confirmed). 

That’s it for this week’s edition of WIPTW… You can grab the games at the links above, and don’t forget to return to iPhoneLife for more great reviews, news, tips and more! Cheers!

Beta Battle: MechWarrior Online vs Hawken

MWO Hawken

For whatever reason, the powers that be have bestowed upon us a wealth of giant robots this coming holiday season. If you’ve been waiting for some quality mech on mech action in the gaming space, you stand on the verge of several great titles coming to a variety of platforms.

If you’re of the PC gaming inclination, a couple of these titles have offered some really exciting beta programs. While it is hardly fair to judge a game by its beta, I feel like two of these titles have come far enough along to get a pretty good idea of which style of gameplay you might favor. So, I took a look at the upcoming MechWarrior Online and Hawken PC games to see which game had what I needed.

Hawken

Being the new kid in town is awesome if you’re a mech game. You can make your own world, your own rules, and your own robots. Gameplay can be as sci-fi or as fantasy as you want, and in the end no one can fault you because you’ve managed to create a game that involves blowing up robots.

Hawken puts you in a crazy dystopian future world that isn’t exactly earth. The beta allows you access to a few kinds of gameplay that make the whole title feel like a first person shooter. The game is developed using Unreal, which has proved itself may times over as an engine well-suited to the FPS-style of gameplay.

Hawken is fast paced, designed for constant movement, and seemingly constant shooting. Very much like a traditional FPS, you rush to an objective and shoot your way to the goal. Especially in “siege” mode, where the objective seems to be to siphon enough energy from the battlefield to power a massive ship that will cruise across the sky and attack the enemy base for you. If missions aren’t really your thing, you can always enjoy some good old fashioned deathmatch and fight until your mech overheats or is blown to pieces by the enemy.

Hawken

Hawken’s mechs are unusual to say the least. In the mech upgrade and design stage before the beginning of each match you are offered some basic bolt on tools, which are mostly just swapping one gun out for another or changing the paint scheme on your mech. The process feels very similar to how you would choose a character in an FPS, where you pick the armor color and weapon loadout. There’s very little time spent making your mech particularly different from any of the others on the field.

If you are ready for robot smashing action that does a great job of combining the twitch-shooter skills you built up in Call of Duty with the fantasy elements of a ruined robot siege world, Hawken is exactly what you are looking for.

MechWarrior Online

I doubt that the creators of BattleTech envisioned a future in which their franchise would grow and change so many times that, nearly 30 years later, the concepts they created would be considered guidelines for massive robot combat. MechWarrior Online is the latest in the evolution of that franchise, rebooting the ancient feud between the Inner Sphere and the Clans for an MMO-style action game. The CryEngine 3-based game puts you in a team based assault match with players of every skill level during the beta. You have two choices, kill everyone on the other team or capture their base.

The whole game is based on teamwork, typically achieved through a voice chat system that is built into the game . Matchmaking will put you with total strangers, or throw you into a group of friends if you have paired up before you start a match. Once you are in the game, extra points are given for cooperative attacks like spotting an enemy mech so a teammate can light them up with missiles from a distance. As long as your mech makes it to the end of the match, you walk away with a healthy supply of experience and C-Bills.

MechWarrior Online

MechWarrior Online is incredibly granular. You pay for ammunition used, armor that needs to be repaired, and every single part on your mech. You choose how many heatsinks you have, and where they go on your mech. You choose where on your mech you store your ammo, and whether or not you protect that ammo from exploding if that body part takes a hit. The end result is incredible diversity in the mechs being created, but also a steep learning curve for those who want to just jump in and play.

This is a game for serious mech pilots, ready to build the best machine possible from the ground up. If you’re looking for a game to really sink your teeth and time into, MechWarrior Online is for you.

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed both of these games. Hawken is absolutely a faster-paced and far more energetic experience than MechWarrior Online, but lacks the kind of detail and team oriented gameplay that I have enjoyed in the mech games of the past. MWO’s free-to-play MMO style of gameplay will lure a lot of gamers in, but the learning curve for actually enjoying the game is so much larger than Hawken’s that it’s easy to see some gamers passing over the reboot for something more exciting.

In the end, I felt that MechWarrior Online was the better beta experience. Hawken has a lot of potential to be a great game, but I feel like the experience will become repetitive very quickly, while MWO will provide a lot of variety and a ton of customization to kep players coming back for more.

Left 4 Dead 2 Is Free To Play This Weekend

Fans of the Left 4 Dead 2 game or anyone wondering what the game is like will be able to get involved in this whole experience this weekend via Valve. Players have until Monday morning to get as much free gaming in as they possibly can, looks like the weekend has been cancelled then!

According to posting by the L4D Team on the official blog, they say;

Left 4 Dead 2 is now free to play this entire weekend. If you are new to the Left 4 Dead world, we have a list of tips below. If you have been around for a bit, do not forget we have the Good Guy Nick achievement for you to earn starting today.

Source [Geeky Gadgets]

Sega Plans to Release Hit Arcade Game ‘Crazy Taxi’ for iPad

Crazy Taxi

The “most madcap of cab games” (if that needs to be said given the few cab games out there) is coming to iOS! Gamers with a certain vintage (and an iOS device, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) will rejoice as Sega returns their beloved classic taxi Sim game.

To tease us, there is a very short, entirely too short, crazy short) trailer that we can drool over after the break:

The trailer is long enough to tell us that the original soundtrack appears to be back –which is exciting enough information all on its own.

This new focus on mobile gaming may mean renewed life and relevance for Sega, a company known for making some of the greatest arcade games ever played (consider the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise). Other upcoming titles include Aliens: Colonial Marines and a brand new Sonic title, Sonic Jump.

Announcements like this validate the theory that there has been an increased movement away from console gaming, news that may not be welcomed by Sony (Playstation) and Microsoft (xBox).

Do you have a favorite classic (made by Sega or otherwise) that you wish would come out for iOS?