Welcome to another edition of iSource’s weekly list of Apple accessories and apps. This is our little slice of the internet wherein we promote anything Apple-related that has caught our eye and we think our fine audience might like. Without further delay, here is this week’s picks:
Posted by Thomas
Major Mayhem is a rail shooter I found my roommate playing the other night on his Galaxy S II. It reminds me of Time Crisis and Contra – two games I grew up with – and I spent a few minutes watching my roomie duck into cover from incoming fire, squeezing out a few choice head shots when the timing was right. Then he told me Major Mayhem was also available on the App Store, and so we spent the next 20 minutes playing the same game on different devices.
The combat is cartoony, but feels tight. You have to time your shots to compensate for the speed of your own bullets, the evasive jumps of the ninjas, and the incoming red shuriken (which you can shoot right out of the air – if you’re fast enough). Most of the game plays like a cover-based shooting gallery, interrupted with quick bits of running and gunning. I can’t attest to how much the game changes over the course of its 100+ levels, but it’s still entertaining an hour in, and I’m still using the same pistol I started with. I almost have enough in-game currency to buy a “P99″ that can spit a torrent of bullets, but I could speed the process up by purchasing coins (oh, hi Freemium gameplay).
There’s literally nothing to lose here: Major Mayhem is a free, universal download on the App Store. It’s great for burning through a couple of minutes furiously tapping at pop-up ninjas – it’s just too bad the saved games don’t sync across the iPhone to the iPad.
Growing up I can remember playing Zaxxon with my friends for hours a day over the summer. At the time the gameplay was both addictive and unique exhibiting an unusual 45 degree angle perspective instead of the top down or chase modes typical of one player shooting and flying games. So I was more than just a little bit excited when I saw SEGA was releasing Zaxxon Escape this week. I couldn’t help but think–wouldn’t it be nice to go back in time and capture a little of that joy I experienced in my youth? I mean, who among us doesn’t have fond memories of wasting countless hours trying to master our favorite console games with our buddies?
Unfortunately for me the name “Zaxxon” in the title was about as close as this game got to duplicating or even remotely reminding me of the game I had once enjoyed so much. SEGA clearly is pulling an all to common bait and switch marketing maneuver on it’s loyal fans IMHO. Perhaps I’m taking this a little to personal. However, judging by the comments left in the App Store I’m not alone in feeling a little betrayed.
Having said all of that, Zaxxon Escape attempts to cash in on the wildly popular gameplay of titles like Temple Run where the gamer relies heavily on “reacting” with swiping motions in the face of of imminent doom. Firing your spacecraft is as easy as touching the screen. However, I found myself spending most of my time turning my iPad at drastic angles to pilot through narrow openings as I quickly decide the next direction my agile craft will go next.
In the end Zaxxon Escape is not a bad game at all–especially with a $0.99 price tag. These types of games that reply on fast reflexes and quick decision making are very popular, and are a great fix for filling a few minutes of spare time you may have throughout the day. But if you had any wild visions of going back in time and re-living the most excellent Zaxxon of the early 80′s, then this is definitely not the game for you.
This year’s FIFA 13 builds on the success of last year’s game, making some really nice iterative changes. First, there is the new Skill Move controller, which allows users to decide what cool moves to break out at just the right time. EA also added the ability to turn off First Touch, which caused me to lose out on a lot of breakout opportunities last year. They even added an alternate controls position halfway up the screen. The whole package is just very polished.
Then, there are two big new additions to the game that really make it worth the upgrade. First off, EA added full on local and global multiplayer through their Origins service. Last, but definitely not least, EA made FIFA 13 a single, universal app, compatible with both the iPad and iPhone Retina displays. It was even iPhone 5 compatible right out of the gate. I’ve been critical of EA for some lazy port. missing features, and lack of support in the past, but not this time. FIFA 13 is worth every penny and more.
This is a superb turn-based strategy game that lets you take command of Union or Confederate forces in a series of missions from crucial battles that took place in the year 1863, including some that are part of the epic battle of Gettysburg. There are no flashy effects or bells and whistles in this game. Instead it offers great gameplay that feels like old-school military strategy board games (think Risk times 100), a good and realistic range of unit types (infantry, cavalry, artillery, and commanders), and a strong AI that makes the missions challenging.
For each mission there are difficulty levels of Casual, Standard, and Hard. You can play in Campaign mode (you against the AI) or two-player pass and play mode.
When you buy the game you get two campaigns (sets of 8 missions) for free. The first is titled ‘First Strike’ and is essentially how you learn to play. It walks you through gameplay basics in missions like Advance, Fire, Charge and more. The second is called ‘Hoorah!’ and lets you command the Union army in the battles of Dover, Thompson’s Station, Dutton’s Hill, Stephenson’s Depot and Oak Ridge.
There are also two more campaigns available as In-App purchases for $0.99 each. ‘Rebel Yell’ has you in command of the Confederate army on these 8 missions: Springfield, Big Black River Bridge, Port Hudson, The Slaughter Pen, East Cavalry Field, Wauhatchie, Ringgold Gap, and Mossy Creek. in ‘Victory Road’ you’re leading the Union forces again, in these 8 missions: McPherson Farm, Ambush, Helena, The River, Honey Springs, The Hill, Bayou Fourche, Bayou Borbeau.
I’m a huge fan of military strategy games, and this is the best one I’ve seen yet for the iPad. It’s a universal app, but I have not tried it on the iPhone as I think this type of game is much better suited to the bigger screen.
This week I’m selecting to highlight the productivity app, Key Ring. So named because of its focus on taking those damned little “convenient” barcode loyalty cards from your keyring - grocery, gym, etc. – and storing them in one single, scannable location. After describing this app, you may be thinking, “So what? I can do almost all that on Evernote.” I’m not inclined, however, to clutter my Everynote account with these barcode cards and then sync to various locations laptops, desktops, etc.
So what does Key Ring do? If your loyalty card has a barcode, in just a few clicks of the app, you scan it, label it, and you’re done. If your membership doesn’t have a barcode, you can still enter the numbers manually. The card information is stored in this convenient app and ready to use. For example when you are at the grocery store line, you can display the scannable barcode from the app to get credit for your shopping. Coupons are also available (recently Gannet, the owners of USA Today, purchased Key Ring) and forwarded to you, and you can even share that grocery loyalty card with another Key Ring accountholder.
I have been using Key Ring since June and have removed 17 loyalty cards from my wallet and keyring: they include loyalty cards to airlines, hotels, grocery stores, automotive stores, office supply, hardware stores, and even a pet store. Now the keyring in my pocket has just that on it – keys.
My pick this week is a nifty little game called Rayman Run. Throughout my childhood I played the Rayman games, so this app hold some nostalgic value to me. Anyway, the game mechanics are simple, Rayman, the character you play as, is always in motion, and you as the player must jump, swing and fight. Think of it as a rail game, wherein you are in motion, and fighting off the environment around you. It works well, is very entertaining, and has a tremendous amount of fit and finish. It’s a universal app that works on both the iPhone and iPad and costs just $2.99 on the App Store.