Monday, November 15, 2010

Top iPad Games of the Week

iPad Apps Discussed

Dragon’s Lair HD: The 1983 Don Bluth classic arcade game (it’s full of laserdiscs!) makes it way onto the iPad. A must for classic gamers!

EVAC HD: Neon puzzle maze app inspired by Pac-Man with fluid controls that offers a wholly original concept.

Casino for iPad: Play everything from Texas Hold’em to blackjack, slots, video poker, and more. Music and sound effects round out this winner.

Linkoidz: Fresh take on the arcade puzzle genre, challenging you to clear alien baddies from above with your gravity gun. Pray your energy shield doesn’t fail!

Before we dive into this week's reviews: Let's Play Words With Friends on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. My Username is Timothymclain -- click here to get the free app and start a game!

iPad App Reviews

You can read all of my past iPad application reviews at Appolicious -- click here.

Dragon’s Lair HD ($4.99)
A fixture in mall arcades across the U.S. in the mid-1980’s, Dragon’s Lair offered a groundbreaking arcade game experience that can now be had in glorious HD on the iPad.

Created by animator Don Bluth (The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, All Gods Go to Heaven), the game offered quarter-rich players the chance to navigate their way through a hand-drawn animated movie adventure on an extra-large screen.

In many ways, Dragon’s Lair forced the nascent gaming industry to begin moving away from simple sprites and bitmaps to represent the player on-screen to higher-resolution video animations that are the mainstay of today’s next-generation games.

Back in its heyday, the original game was so popular upon release that the laserdisc player at the heart of the cabinet would frequently fail and need replacement.

The iPad HD version offers an identical experience (minus the extra-large joystick and single button controls), complete with newly remastered video sequences transferred from the original high definition film master.

Take on the role of Dirk the Daring in his quest to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe, who’s holding your damsel in distress hostage in a booby-trap laden castle. Using the on-screen controls, you’ll need to time your jumps, steps, and sword slashes perfectly to get past each obstacle in your way.

And that’s where the game, like its original, gets a tad frustrating. You’ll likely need to take a deep breath and replay sections of the game over and over again to better time each successful escape from room to room and trap to trap.

Thankfully, there’s no quarter-munching machine in front of you this time, and I highly recommend playing with the lives set to infinite. I also found myself staring down at the controls just to make it through, and tended to miss much of the animated action as a result. (Getting back into my mid-80’s form will take much more time and practice.)

Best of all, each time you fire up the title and start over, you’re greeted by a truly random and entertaining experience that keeps things moving. There’s humor galore in both your death scenes (and you’ll see many of them) and in the crazy creatures you encounter and defeat along the way.

Despite its age, Dragon’s Lair more than holds its own on the iPad. The title worked perfectly on my iDevice, despite the one-star reviews you’ll see in the App Store. So lead on adventurer. Your quest awaits!

EVAC HD ($.99)
Don’t let EVAC HD’s obvious Pac-Man inspired mazes and controls fool you. This neon-colored maze game offers up a totally original experience, successfully meshing elements of arcade, action, and stealth titles into a wonderfully challenging puzzle game.

With more than 24 levels, it’s your job to navigate your little cube through the mazes, chased by the hyper-vigilant security forces who will take you down if you let them.

You’ll need to manipulate the environment to block the baddies from getting to you, while you focus on getting to the exit to move to the next puzzle. How fast can you get there? The online leader boards give you the perfect excuse to share and boast about your quickest escapes.

Although the controls can take some getting used to, this is one inexpensive game that looks beautiful on your iPad and offers a fresh game play style you won’t find anywhere else.

Casino for iPad ($4.99)
Come one, come all to Viaden Mobile’s Casino! Featuring 11 casino games, realistic graphics, a quality soundtrack and dealer voices, the only thing missing from this gambling experience is spending or losing real-world cash. And that’s a good thing!

Compete on the global leaderboards via OpenFeint and Game Center to be the earn the most virtual winnings.

Current game offerings include: American and European Roulette, Burning Cherry, Coffee Time and Red Dragon Tale slot machines, Casino Texas Hold’em and Poker Three, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Surrender, Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better video poker machines. Craps is slated to be added soon in the next update.

All of the games look great, play fluidly, and offer just enough chances to win to be fun. I’ve found that the roulette table netted me the most winnings over time. Plus, the wheel animation is among the best in this worthwhile app.

Linkoidz ($.99)
Quick – you’ve crashed landed on a decidedly alien planet. As you emergy from your wrecked ship, all you have is a simply gravity gun and unreliable energy shield.

As the alien hordes close in, you’ll need quick reflexes to grab nearby aliens, then shoot them back into place near their friends. Line up three or more of each species and, BOOM, they’ll explode and clear the way. Work too slowly and your shield will collapse, making you the aliens’ next meal!

Fans of Magical Drop will feel right at home here. The controls are super-easy to learn, and with a jaunty space tune playing in the background, you’ll need to work fast to clear the columns of aliens above you, all the while avoiding the obstacles and keeping a close eye on your energy shield.

There are five unique areas to conquer, and four play modes to enjoy: sprint (rack up the highest score you can before your shield drops in a given time), zen (Clear out a set number of baddies without worrying about your shield and maximize your score), endless (clear as many as you can with no time limit), or mission (work your way though the levels then defeat the boss).

If you’re not a fan of puzzle or matching games, I still recommend giving Linkoidz a shot. Here’s hoping someone picks up my emergency beacon soon so I can get off this blasted alien-infested rock!

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