Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ultimate Mortal Combat 3 brutalizes our iPad Games of the Week

Whether it was at the arcade or back at home on an early console (N64 anyone?), Mortal Combat was the ultimate action kung-fu game of last century, letting us “finish” our opponents in crazy-gory ways, and sending our parents into fits of worry over our glee at each bloody kill. It was the first game I recall actively seeking out combo sequences in gaming magazines and from friends to master each finishing move, committing each to memory where those math lessons were just taking up space. (Oops.)

Bloody arcade action isn’t all we have in store for you this week. Hospital Haste HD will help you cure the ills of incoming patients and our healthcare system inside a free, fun app, while Carcassonne brings this European-classic to our iPad’s after a very long wait. Finally, Dog vs Cat is the perfect free game for your summer travels with the kids.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


Ultimate Mortal Combat 3 for iPad
“Finish him!” Relive the brutal combos and brutal finishing moves of this 20th Century classic on your tablet.

Hospital Haste HD
Fresh out of med school, you’ll need to keep your wits about you to heal the incoming patients in this well-made freebie.

Arguably the best board game available on the iPad to date. Put all 71 tiles to use to take over the land and put your Meeples in the right spots to win.

Dog vs Cat -- Fish Guard
Cats love fish, and the dog is out to stop every feline from eating these little chickens of the sea. Perfect car trip app for the little ones!


Ultimate Mortal Combat 3 for iPad ($.99)

It’s time to put the original Mortal Combat 3 app behind us. With a much-needed revisions, crash-fixes, and better button response times, the Ultimate for iPad edition finally lives up to our Mortal Combat expectations of yore. Back in the day, this black-cartridge 2D fantasy fighting game was the pinnacle of “bad boy” titles for the N64 and other platforms.

Taking control of one of 13 different fighters, it’s up to you to battle your way through your opponents to reach the dreaded Shao Kahn. Each player brings a fresh set up combo moves and crazy-gory finishing animations, and the button response times are finally close to being spot-on to allow for near-console quality gameplay. Add in same-iPad, head-to-head action (get cozy, you’ll need to get close to one another), wifi multiplayer hook-ups, and an expert “take on Shao Kahn” mode to rack up high scores, and you’ve got yourself a near-perfect Mortal Combat experience for your iPad.

Hospital Haste HD (Free)

Do your kids want to be doctors or clinic administrators when they grow up? Good, because Hospital Haste HD will give them a real taste of in-taking patients, treating their odd diseases, cleaning up after them, then sending them on their way. You’ll need to get patients to their rooms – STAT – then bring them a chart, medicines, and let them heal. Once they’re well again, they’ll take off, leaving dirty linen to clean up. You’ll need to be alert and precise in your moves to serve each patient; take too long, and off they’ll go, bill unpaid, dirty laundry to be done. An excellent, free time-sink for any road trip this summer.

Carcassonne ($9.99)

As an admittedly addicted Xbox player of this classic title, I was happy to see the iPad version hit the App Store so I could take the app on the road with me this summer. And the new version, while not as deep as its Xbox cousin, does provide the basic flavor of the original on my tablet.

The goal of Carcassonne is to put 71 different tiles to use to take over the land, then place your Meeples in the right spots to win. Each tile gives you a piece of road, structures, cloisters and fields to place. You’ll want to get them close together, with each landmark aligning to maximize your point gains. The real fun comes in pieces ever-larger cities together, placing Meeples inside, then closing off the walls for maximum size and points when complete. Since, like most games, your pieces are given to you in random order, you’ll need to be tactical with each and every placement, holding your breath while your four opponents place their tiles in turn.

Do the tutorial – twice – to be sure you grasp the importance of your Meeples placements. They’ll make the different between a so-so round and supreme victory. Trust me.

Dog vs Cat -- Fish Guard (Free)

Free and fun? Sign me up! The cats are crashing the kitchen, desparate (as always) to reach the fish bowl of goodness on top of the fridge. As the dog of the house, you’ll need to strap into little Timmy’s toy helicopter to hover nearby, your bone machine gun at the ready to pop the balloons each kitty is floating on to reach the fish bowl.

Your kids will get a ton of laughs from this little gem, watching the little kitty’s fall from various heights as your bones pop their rides. Paced in little chapters just like Angry Birds, it’s a free, fun little app that’s a must-install before your next summer travel spree. Go, dog, go!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pirate Subs! explodes into our iPad Games of the Week

Fill your summer with these casual games without breaking the bank!

First, forget Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard, and those other moldy oldy pirates. Today’s ocean-going swashbucklers are better organized, hunt in packs, and use the latest submarine technology to plunder unsuspecting victims. That’s the premise of Pirate Subs, which brings a fresh dual-attack mode to your Apple tablet, along with an eerily familiar soundtrack (Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?)

The rest of our weekly roundup is a 100% free set of “quick to pickup but hard to put down” sports-related gems, offering table tennis, running, and baseball experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


Pirate Subs!
Tap then swipe your way through a never-ending stream of pirate submarines. Torpedo’s and cruise missiles at the ready!

World Cup Table Tennis HD
Away from your favorite ping pong table? Get your fix in this free, fun app.

Run Run Dash!
Take the role of an 8-bit, pixelated Cary Grant, dodging falling bids and grabbing power ups. Run, run, dash!

XLARGE “X-Baseball”
Another 8-bit freebie, offering a clean, easy baseball experience on-the-go.


Pirate Subs! ($.99)

If you’ve seen the new X-Men movie, then you’re ready for Pirate Subs! In this dollar menu explosion-fest, you’ll tap on underwater pirate subs to launch them above the water (no magnetic super powers necessary), then swipe across the airborne swashbucklers to send a deadly cruise missile into their hulls. BOOM! Rinse and repeat.

Avoid the whales and dog-paddling polar bears to keep the game going, and combine your attacks into multiple explosions to boost your score. The game goes even deeper, offering five ways to destroy your foes. Classic mode is a never-ending mode to kick things off. Next is timed mode, where you get a single minute to rain death on the subs. Expert mode cranks things up to 11 in terms of toughness, while Zen mode takes the underwater animals out of the mix so you can’t accidentally kill a creature.

Cheat mode, folks, is where the real fun lies. Turn off gravity, attack only mini-subs, invincibility, crazy-huge uber blasts, and more await. No score is recorded when you cheat, but the fun factor is boosted by 10,000%. Trust me.

World Cup Table Tennis HD (FREE)

I’ve worked at several Internet startups over the years. They all sported at least one ping pong table. I’m happy to report that despite my ho-hum table tennis skills that this new free app does an excellent job recreating the whole paddle and little white ball experience.

It’s you against a disembodied opponent, and you’ll need to simply drag your finger around the screen to get your paddle in the right place at the right time. Your iPad will decide when you’ll smash a return or drop a shot in just the right spot. AI mode was a blast, while head to head lets you play against a fellow human on the same device. Career mode opens up a set of countries to play against, with some players much better than others. Tournament Mode lets you pick a country to play for, then blast your way through a traditional set of brackets.

Finally, Arcade Mode folds up half a table which is marked with specific spots to hit with your ball. While some shots go awry for no reason I could discern, overall this is a freebie that will feed your need for ping pong goodness anywhere.

Run Run Dash! (FREE)

Taking its cues equally from two Hitchcock movies (an 8-bit, angry Cary Grant if he ran from “The Birds” anyone?) and Pixar’s “Bird On A Wire” animated short, this freebie will have you dodging dive-bombing blue birds while running from side to side, gathering power ups and generally trying to stay alive.

With squished 8-bit graphics and an 80’s electronic soundtrack to round things off, there’s a ton of fun to be had in this freebie. How long can you avoid the inevitable? New birds continually land on the wire above, and you’ll need to bring your A game to dodge them all. A poolside time killer that’s worth an install, even if you find it isn’t your cup of tea. Run, run, dash your way to the App Store!

XLARGE “X-Baseball” (FREE)

Another 8-bit gem that will appeal to arcade game baseball fans and iPad owners in general, XLARGE X-Baseball is a hoot from start to finish. (And, trust me, there’s not much difference between the two!)

You’re at the plate, facing a pitcher and open ball field. Above you, birds cross your field of view. Below them is a happy crowd of spectators. Tap the screen anywhere to swing the bat; land a solid hit, and the ball will cruise up into the air and take out a bird. Score! That’s all there is to it. How many birds can you take out before you strike out?

With a fun sound effects track that will take you back to the golden age of Intellivision and the Atari 2600, this is a must-install for old timers and younglings looking for some quick, free fun this summer.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Cube It 3D stacks our iPad Games of the Week

Edutainment: A form of entertainment designed to educate as well as amuse. This week, meet the living definition of the word inside Cube It 3D Free. Brush up on your spatial abilities by simply adding and removing cubes from each structure. Sounds easy, right? It is, up to a point. Perfect for kids as well as adults!

Jumping game fans will fly to heaven after playing Jump and Fly for a few minutes (or hours!), while art and puzzle gamers will find Feed Me Oil HD to be downright slick. Finally, Companions brings top-notch dungeon crawling RPG goodness to our Apple tables. Watch out Detexx, I’m coming for you!

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


Cube It 3D Free
Stack, removed, and add 3D blocks to polish your spatial abilities with this fun, educational app from SlickClick.

Jump and Fly
Diesel’s Puppet’s newest addition to the platform jumper genre is a dollar menu must-have. Jump, jump!

Feed Me Oil HD
This slick puzzler challenges gamers to channel black gold into the mouths of hungry oil-eaters.

Dungeon crawler fans looking for a combo Gauntlet-tactical RPG game will feel right at home in this instant classic.


Cube It 3D Free (FREE)

The next time you have a few minutes to burn, you’ll be faced with a choice: spend it mindlessly blasting some baddies or jumping ever-higher between platforms, or work on your 3D spatial skills.

Cube It 3D Free is one of the first edutainment apps to hold my family’s attention, keeping father and son glued to our shared tablet for more than an hour at a time. You’re confronted with stacked cubes of various colors and sporting different designs. The goal? Make the group on the right side of the screen match the one on the left. You’ll need to zoom in and out, then add and remove blocks to complete the puzzle. It’s a right-brain intensive app that may very well enhance your creativity as well as bolstering your spatial abilities.

Jump and Fly ($.99)

Yes, friends, the good people at Diesel Puppet are serving up a fresh helping of platform jumping goodness, and at a dollar menu price, it’s the perfect companion to your next fast food lunch. All the usual elements of jump game success are here – platforms, clouds, fans, springboards, and other elements to launch you ever-higher, along with a cute main character and (honestly) the most sensitive accelerometer code I’ve ever experienced.

You’ll barely need to tilt your iPad to get this wingless (but not flightless) little guy from location to location. Toss in a hearty helping of moving and time-bomb platforms, the ability to jump through the sides of your screen only to reappear on the other, plus power ups and other helpful collectables, and you’ve got yourself a must-have app that jumps to the top of the heap.

Feed Me Oil HD ($1.99)

Leave it to Chillingo and HolyWater Games to turn our angst over high crude oil prices and channel it into a mind-bending puzzle game that’s two parts art to one part physics game, with just a dash of hyper-realistic oozy/gooey oil (World of Goo anyone?) baked in as icing on the cake. Your goal is simple: Guide time Texas-tea from the broken pipe, across the play field, and into the waiting maw of each hungry oil-eater. That’s right, I said EAT. As in Nom nom.

You’ll employ things like wind, oil magnets, windmills, fans, platforms, and other objects to push, pull, or actively fling the dinosaur and plant remains across the screen. The fewer objects you use to channel the flow, the more points you’ll score. And once your items are in place, you’ll have to tweak them seven ways from Sunday to get the flow just right. With an unround 49 levels to tackle, and four bonus levels unlocked as you earn points/stars along the way, there’s more than enough bubbling crude-goodness to go around for the low-low price of two sawbucks.

Companions ($4.99)

I’ve lost count of the number of dungeons I’ve crawled over the years. Add in never-ending catacombs from titles like Gauntlet, and there’s been more loot pillaged and ranged/melee weapons deployed by my magic users, archers, tanks, and humans that I could shake a stick at.

That’s why Companions was a must-download for this RPG fan, and I’m happy to say that if you’re looking for a Gauntlet experience that lets you control four party members simultaneously, crawling your way through never-ending dark and dangerous underground locations, then this game is for you. Ignore the tutorial and jump right into the campaign, where the difficulty of the controls and action ramp up considerably within the first few minutes of play.

Be sure to take advantage of the tactical pause feature if things get out of control, and the hint system (despite 30 second pauses between each) is sure to get you out of the toughest spots. The main campaign will keep you engaged for weeks to come, while survival mode will challenge your skills to stay alive as long as possible. If you’re willing to tough out the trial by fire introduction to the controls you’ll come to appreciate the top-quality game that is Companions. Have at it!