Posts Categorised: News

Swords into plowshares: The end of Infinity Blade comes this week

"The noise of a large pot galloping in the fire, mixed with the rumble of a gigantic tom-cat purring."

“The noise of a large pot galloping in the fire, mixed with the rumble of a gigantic tom-cat purring.”

Paradoxical though it may seem for a game franchise called “Infinity Blade”, Chair Entertainment’s 4-year-old series is drawing to a close. “All good things must come to an end, even the Infinity Blade trilogy,” the developers said on their blog last week. “On September 4, Chair will release the final content update for Infinity Blade III, titled Kingdom Come.” The update will include one final quest to defeat “one very pissed-off dragon”, presumably the scaly chap in the screenshot up there.

We’ve never written too much about Infinity Blade around here. The battles in the swipe-controlled action games are simple affairs that I never really felt like I was in control of, like a modern spin on laserdisc games like Dragon’s Lair. But Infinity Blade games are a bit of a national treasure for iOS: the first game was unveiled at the Steve Jobs-hosted Apple event in 2010 and there’s a whole universe of spun-off novels, a web video series, and customised collectible figurines 3D-printed from your in-game character.

This is surely not the end of iOS games from Epic Games subsidiary Chair, though. We’ll keep our ears to the ground for what they’re doing next. A video retrospective of the Infinity Blade series is below.

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The ol’ one-two-end turn: Bullseye Boxing, a turn-based pugilism sim

A killer, a chiller, and a thriller.

A killer, a chiller, and a thriller.

I tried to box a few times in my youth and found that, despite my enthusiasm for watching it, I had no particular talent for actually performing the sweet science. With the advantage of age, I can see the root of my deficiency so clearly: boxing was an RTS. What I needed was turn-based boxing. Get me in the ring with Floyd Mayweather for some turn-based boxing. I get the first turn, though. And a baseball bat.

Solo developer Jonathan Bell has written in with a solution to my problem: Bullseye Boxing, a turn-based boxing sim for Android. I’ve asked him to get cracking on a time machine to restore my youth and he’s told me that he’ll get right on that. Bullseye is Bell’s first game but he’s an experienced developer of guitar instruction apps. Boxing, guitar-playing… Jonathan Bell is basically the 1950s ideal of a cool teenager. I’m sure his next game will be a sim where you have to smoke a Lucky Strike down to the filter in the high school boys’ restroom without getting caught.

In Bullseye, you build up your boxer with attacks, blocks, and special abilities, then get in the ring with 30 AI opponents to win the three boxing association belts in the game. It’s an actual game with no IAPs or similar boondoggles. Bell tells me that there’s hopefully an iOS version of this coming soon.

Make it terrain: Rubicon tells us of Ultimate War Game’s map editor

Make your own Mount Hexmap.

Make your own Mount Hexmap.

Paul Johnson revealed Ultimate War Game to us about a month ago, the final installment in Rubicon’s long-running series of lighter turn-based tactical titles. What he had to show back in July was mostly just the scale of the game, which will be the biggest of any of Rubicon’s offerings to date.

He got in touch last week to reveal a little more about what’s coming — namely random map generation. The previous Great Little War Games were all played out on pre-built terrain, but Ultimate War Game will offer infinitely varied maps and the ability to do the Amerigo Vespucci thing and craft your own.

“When we ship the game we’ll probably give access to the map editor which allows you to tailor a landscape in fine detail,” Johnson tells me. “We’ll be using the very same tool to make the mission maps when we start on the campaign stuff, so everything needed will be there.

“We’ll also add something that uses a phrase you can type in as a seed to make a totally random map, like they do it in Worms and other games. That way players can share good ones amongst themselves and not have to spend all day dragging sliders about just for a quick ruck.”

After the jump, a (very) short video showing off UWG’s base-building, another new feature that’s in the works. Ultimate War Game will be out for iOS & Android later this year.

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Ten towns to go: Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition announced

The Icewind Dale Business Improvement Board really prefers you use the name "Refreshing Breeze Dale".

The Icewind Dale Business Improvement Board really prefers you use the name “Refreshing Breeze Dale”.

Here’s the first big announcement to be trumpeted at PAX: Icewind Dale is getting the same makeover and tablet port that fellow D&D RPG Baldur’s Gate got back in 2012.

Besides running on modern PCs and mobile devices, Canadian devs Beamdog say that the isometric RPG includes both expansions to the original and will have new content including new character classes and loot, plus cross-platform co-op multiplayer. Another first is that, unlike the two previous Baldur’s Gate remasters, Icewind Dale is coming to phones as well as tablets.

The original PC game from 2000 is the favourite RPG of many D&D heads that I know, and the remake of Baldur’s Gate got top marks from our man Phil, with Clancy being similarly enthusiastic about BG II. I wonder how well this is going to work on phones, given that the UI was a bit of an owlbear to wrangle on a larger device, but hey — more D&D on your mobile.

There’s video after the jump, y’all, and there’s more details at IcewindDale.com.

Hat-tip to PT‘s Master of Whispers Pitta.

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The ninetieth degree: New StarCrawlers gameplay trailer

The Aristocrats.

The Aristocrats.

Lovers of right-angle-only turn-based dungeon crawlers are holding their collective breath for the eventual release of Legend of Grimrock on iPad. But if you prefer your RPGs with nuclear missiles and not magic ones, StarCrawlers (which we talked about here and on RDBK earlier this year) is getting closer to release on PC, after which there’s hopefully a tablet version in the works.

San Diego-based devs Juggernaut Games are going into PC early access in November, and back in February they told me that the game had been built on iPad originally, and they hoped to return it to the platform whence it came after the desktop version is done.

Besides the sci-fi theme, a major point of difference for this dungeon crawler is its reliance on procedural generation: the dungeons are different every time you play, and a “Narrative AI” creates missions for your party based on previous decisions you’ve made and which factions you’re in good with aboard the derelict colony ship Stella Marin. My favourite thing about a sci-fi dungeon crawler? No spiders. The spiders in Grimrock freak me out, man.

A gameplay video is below (dig that Mass Effect-flavoured soundtrack), and you can track Juggernaut on Twitter.

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I got pig iron, I got all pig iron: Steam coming to tablets next year

I got cows, I got pigs, I got sheep, I got mules, I got all live stock [Image by John Moller]

Martin Wallace is one of those board game designers who’s work is criminally underrepresented in the digital medium. Sure, you can play Brass in a browser (and it works great), but where are the native apps of his other classic board games? Why can’t I play Automobile, Tinner’s Trail or Liberté? More importantly, where is his magnum opus Age of Steam or its slightly streamlined cousin Steam?

The answer is over at iOS Board Games where they’ve snagged an interview with Alex Yeager of Mayfair Games indicating that Steam is coming next spring/summer to tablets, presumably both iPad and Android.

Steam is a pick up and deliver game in which players must build networks of rails between cities and then deliver cubes from one city to another. The trick comes in supplying cities with goods that they actually want and having both a rail system and locomotives that are capable of delivering each good. Make no mistake: Steam is beefy. It will be the heaviest euro game available for digital, surpassing even the robust Agricola in terms of complexity. That said, it’s also incredibly rewarding and one of my favorite board games ever.

Check out the interview with Alex Yeager of Mayfair Games after the break.

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Papers, spasiba: ALFA-ARKIV is a document thriller unlike any other

Death is not the end in Carcosa.

Death is not the end in Carcosa.

We didn’t talk about ALFA-ARKIV when it came out a couple of weeks ago because I had seen a few screenshots and, frankly, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was supposed to. Now I’ve played it, and I still don’t quite think I know. But I am deeply intrigued by it.

I’ve sunk about 45 minutes into this thing, and I don’t want to make any judgements about its quality yet. Hell, I don’t know if it’s a game. In ALFA-ARKIV you’re a hacker who’s stumbled across the document drop of a Chilean revolutionary who’s trying to unravel a mystery about the lone survivor (and purported accomplice in) an Islamic extremist suicide bombing in a Russian puppet state. Who is she, and why did she survive?

The gameplay, such as it is, consists of poring over the documents in the cache, looking for clues that you can relate the AI-controlled people you meet in the in-game chat. Sometimes you’re looking at official police incident reports, sometimes hand-scawled diary entires, and occasionally videos: surveillance of suspects and propaganda reels from ISIS-like mujahideen. The production is slick and ALFA is trying hard to cast a convincing spell. The app acts like a new OS for your device, trying (like Republique did) to present you with a plausible portal to this game’s universe from your couch.

This is not a game to be played on a coffee break or while waiting for an elevator. It’s as demanding of your attention as an interactive fiction game like 80 Days. I can’t say yet how interactive it is, though — maybe there’s some puzzles waiting beyond the point where I jacked out — but I do know that ALFA-ARKIV is a absolutely unique experience. It’s not remotely afraid to tangle with touchy contemporary issues like surveillance and Islamic extremism. How insightful it is on those matters I don’t know just yet. But it’s got moxie for even attempting.

ALFA-ARKIV is iPad-only and it’s free to try; there’s an IAP to unlock the whole game after an introductory segment. Watch the trailer below.

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Not just another Mötley Crüe tribute band: Heavy Metal Thunder coming to iOS next week

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You had me at Mr. Wiggles

You had me at Mr. Wiggles

As a teenager, I dealt with my insecurities and troubles the way most teenagers in the 80′s did, I grew a spectacular mullet. This has absolutely nothing to do with Heavy Metal Thunder, the new app from Cubus Games, even though it sounds like it should. Seriously, Heavy Metal Thunder sounds like a terrible set you’d see at the county fair, headlined by Warrant or Faster Pussycat. That said, I did have a pretty awesome mullet.

Instead of a app that lets you hire a one-armed drummer or replace your lead singer with a pale imitation who only got the job because he can’t drive 55, Heavy Metal Thunder is a sci-fi adventure that puts you in charge of repelling an incoming alien invasion. After saying it out loud, I guess the whole sci-fi thing does sound a lot better, especially since Heavy Metal Thunder is interactive fiction in the same vein as the gamebooks from Tin Man Games or inkle. Honestly, the screens and trailer for this one look a lot closer to Tin Man’s take on digital IF.

Heavy Metal Thunder releases on September 3rd, so we can probably expect it next Wednesday night. I’ll be spending the weekend playing the hell out of this one, so I should have a review ready at launch.

Trailer after the break.

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