Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top iPad Games of the Week

iPad Apps Reviewed

Trucks and Skulls HD: It’s Angry Birds for metal heads and testosterone junkies. Who doesn’t like to smash nitro-burning monster trucks into heaps of giant skulls on “Sunday, SUNDAY?!”

Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children for iPad: Grow a small village in your iPad, even when you’re away from your device. How will you lead your tribe?

Moffee RPG Dice HD: Take your dice games (think D&D, Magic: The Gathering, etc.) to the next level with this iPad dice simulator.

Trade Nations: Make a village on your iPad, then grow it into a thriving city. Assign jobs to your citizens and take in the eye candy.

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

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!

New iPad Reviews

Trucks and Skulls HD ($1.99)

You’re a total wimp if you play Angry Birds. There, I said it. Once you play a few levels of Trucks and Skulls, you’ll realize that you’ve gone soft, at least when it comes to the physics puzzle apps you’re playing these days.

Lobbing cooing birds into snorting pigs is all well and good. The developers over at Appy Entertainment are betting you’d much rather launch nitro-burning monster trucks into giant skulls, who explode into mushroom clouds of radioactive goodness when they’re trapped between falling objects or rammed by your vehicle.

I had you at monster trucks, didn’t I?

The concept is identical to that miffed bird game. One or more skulls are encased in various glass and wood structures on the right side of your iPad. You’ll need to adjust the angle and velocity of your available monster trucks to send them up your ramp and across space, bounce into obstacles, then crash into said structures or skulls.

Did I mention that when skulls are successfully crushed or hit they explode into crazy mushroom clouds?

The all-metal soundtrack, though repetitive, sets the stage for hours of testosterone-boosting app enjoyment. As you play, you’ll unlock a series of trucks, each with distinct armor, speed, payloads, weapons, and more.

Pro tip: Watch where you aim, because many levels are loaded with lava, which tend to swallow your falling trucks. “That’s right, Trucks & Skulls is LOADED with lava… because EVERYTHING is BETTER with LAVA!”

The icing on the lava? The game comes with a ridiculously full-featured level editor. Name and create your own levels, then send them to your friends. Take that, Angry Birds.

Sorry birdies. There’s a new physics puzzle king in the App Store. Don’t miss it!

Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children for iPad ($3.99)

Has this ever happened to you? You’re living on an island, and set off to explore one day. After entering a nearby cave, you slip on some rocks, fall into a fast-moving river, and end up in a crystal clear pool on the other side of the island. This isolated spot is thick with kids. Orphan kids.

Where are their parents? And why are they so willing to work and do research for you, learning how to survive and thrive as a cohesive village?

First off, you should know that the game supports up to five villages, so your entire family can enjoy this instant iPad classic. It’s perfect for kids and adults alike. Once you’ve settled into the game, you’ll need to pick up and drop your villagers onto structures, trees, and other spots to set them to work.

Tweak their skills to increase production and building speeds, research new technologies to fight disease and hunger, and watch for prompts along the way to discover the secrets of the island and where the heck all the parents went to in the first place.

There’s puzzles galore, tons of collectibles to be found, and fresh surprises each time you load the game. Once you’ve got your village humming, remember that your residents will continue making progress on their given tasks over time even when your iPad is turned off.

Check back at least once a day to keep the kids happy, fed, and working hard to survive and thrive in your little paradise.

With so many “play it and forget it” games in the App Store, Virtual Villgers 2 is a welcome, kid-friendly addition to your family iPad(s).

Moffee RPG Dice HD ($2.99)

It’s rare that a game app does more than one thing really, really well. Enter Moffee RPG Dice HD.

For less than the cost of a single 20-sided die purchased from your local card or comic book store, you can bring a full set of high-resolution gaming dice to your next D&D, Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, or standard board game experience. Plus, the app acts as its own standalone game, though a bit thin in content to be sure.

Opening the app, you’re confronted with a few choices. Which dice do you want to add to the screen? Choose from standard 4 and 6 sided dice, or choose to employ 8, 10, 12, or 20 sided dies.

Once on your screen, you can choose from several playfields (think fire, ice, soil, and water) to place your dice upon, then tap the screen to roll, or give your iPad a shake. You can even tilt your device to roll the dice around on the screen.

Whether you need to keep score during your next Magic game, have to roll a 20D to see whether that Magic Missile gets through your shield during your D&D crawls, or need a die to work your way around a Monopoly board (lost your original die, too, didn’t you?), this is one useful app that you’ll come back to time and time again.

Trade Nations (FREE)

Farmville and We Rule addicts will feel right at home in Trade Nations. All the usual game play elements are a finger-press away: Build homes, farms, and other structures, earning coin and amassing resources that are used to expand your fledgling nation.

And just when you think you’ve played this game before, you build a new home and out pops a citizen who’s itching to get to work. You’ll need to carefully assign each resident to specific tasks, from chopping wood, farming crops, and more. Plus there are mines to be sunk and minerals to be harvested, and sheep to be shorn for wool.

Adding a second person to each resource location will allow you to set one person to harvest, and other to ferry the items to a stockpile. Be sure to set this up with each resource, or you’ll need to reload the app frequently to do this manually.

As you progress, you’ll open up lots of new building possibilities, and be able to convert sets of resources into other items, which spin off even more crafting opportunities. Be sure to take advantage of the game’s new social invitation module known as the Friend Map. You can easily mine your Twitter followers and email address book to invite others to become your Friend and help you in the game.

Taken together, the employment and crafting trees set Trade Nations apart from all the other wanna-be social farming/village game apps. This depth rewards serious gamers with lots of time on their hands with an ever-expanding list of choices and decisions that make this gaming experience truly addictive and rich.

The only downside? To speed things up, the game offers sets of needed resources and other items for sale for real-world cash. Buyer beware before you set your kids loose in this virtual nation. You can certainly enjoy the title without boosting your experience in this manner, but you’ll need to be patient and thrifty, both in the real-world and in your virtual Trade Nation.

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