Posts Categorised: News

Block party: Noodlecake puzzler Joinz hits the App Store

Even E.T. plays it!

Even E.T. plays it!

If there’s one thing the App Store is lacking, it’s solid single-player puzzle games. Seriously, sit back and think about it. Are there any out there? I know I can’t think of one.

Noodlecake Games, makers of PT-favorite time-waster Super Stickman Golf, is putting a stop to this travesty today with the release of new endless puzzler, Joinz. In Joinz players have to form Tetris-style shapes from blocks on a grid. Blocks can be slid in a line to form shapes, which removes those blocks from the board. Every time you move a block and don’t create one of the shapes, however, new blocks enter the puzzle. Eventually, new colors are added, shapes get more complicated and the difficulty skyrockets.

Even if that description doesn’t trip your trigger, try this on for size: it’s $2 with no IAP or ads. That should be worthy of your attention at the very least.

Check out the trailer after the break.

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Robo-stop: Android Netrunner online tools going offline — is the mobile version imminent?

Break the ice.

Break the ice.

PT reader Grzegorz writes:

FFG has been lately issuing cease and desist letters to a number of Android: Netrunner sites. Maybe an online version is being made by FFG after all?

Hmmm. Online tools for setting up and playing games of Android Netrunner like NetrunnerDB have been allowed to exist in an intellectual property grey zone for years now, but as Grzegorz tells us, they’ve been getting letters from board game publisher Fantasy Flight’s legal department requesting that they de-rez.

We’d heard some buzz that FFG was working on a mobile version of the hugely popular cyberpunk head-to-head card game back in January when I inventoried the prospects for digital editions of Board Game Geek‘s top 10 games, and Fantasy Flight have sent out clear signals that they’re getting back into iOS gaming this year with announcements of the Witcher Adventure Board Game and BattleLore.

That’s not exactly an airtight case for it, but I’ve got a tingly feeling that mobile Netrunner can’t be far off. Maybe this is just down to Fantasy Flight’s legal droids having some extra time on their hands, but the last time we saw a clear-out of unofficial online ports of games, it was in advance of Goko’s launch of the ill-fated HTML 5 Dominion back in 2012.

I’ll ping a note over to FFG, but their PR department is quieter than a Scientology silent birth, so don’t bet on me hearing back.

Watch Fantasy Flight’s video introduction for the Netrunner board game after the jump.

UPDATE: Pocket Tactics amigo Austin Walker offers a more conservative take on these developments. Poop.

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Looks like we’ve got us a convoy: Galaxy Trucker coming to iPad this month — and it’s awesome

It's not uncharted. You lost the chart.

It’s not uncharted. You lost the chart.

Dave was right, everybody. I shan’t ever doubt him again.

Neumann has been raving to me about Galaxy Trucker for almost as long as I’ve known him. When he speaks of the forthcoming Galaxy Trucker iPad game, his voice gets all whispery, like a little kid trying to talk about Santa without the Saint of Surveillance overhearing.

Dave’s enthusiasm is moderately infectious, but I’ll admit that (maybe because I haven’t played the board game) I wasn’t totally sold. Until last night. That’s when Dave and I got our press preview builds of Galaxy Trucker, and wow — this game is tip-top.

Galaxy Trucker for has been in the works in-house at board game publisher Czech Games Edition since at least early 2013, and the protracted development cycle mixed with a studio that had never shipped an iOS game before wasn’t exactly a potent grog of confidence. But you can pour that right out. Galaxy Trucker is a great iOS app for a really exciting game and it’s going to go over huge around here.

In Galaxy Trucker, you and your opponents are placed before a random pile of spaceship parts out of which you must assemble a functioning star freighter — in real time. You’re all pulling parts out of the same pile, and there’s a bonus for finishing first. Once the ships are complete, you head out into space dealing with random events that can blast parts off your ship or provide you with a bonus when (if) you reach your destination. It’s a beautiful balance of strategic planning and absolute chaos, and I instantly fell in love with it. For his part, Neumann has wrapped himself and his iPad in a waxy cocoon and from which no sounds have emanated all day — pretty sure he likes it, too.

It’s not just the quality of the game, as that will be no surprise to fans of the board game. The Galaxy Trucker app is great. There’s a significant single-player campaign with a lot of content. There’s a robust online multiplayer suite that sports async and synchronous matches with lots of toggles like chess timer limits and tile selection. The whole thing is steeped in a wonderfully charming sense of humour. This is one hell of a good game.

CGE told me today that the game has been submitted to Apple for approval and release is soon — before the end of September, they expect. I’ll be sure to let you know when it drops. And when Neumann comes out of that cocoon.

More screenshots after the jump.

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The trouble with tribulations: Rapture World Conquest is out for iOS

We cannot condone bouncing of the seventh variety.

We cannot condone bouncing of the seventh variety.

Good news and bad news, chums. Bad news: The Rapture is here. Worse news! If you’re reading this, you didn’t get beamed up. The good news, I think, is that the sudden decrease in population means that real estate prices should be falling and we can all move into bigger houses. Let the chosen ones enjoy heaven — I’ll be enjoying my 3-bedroom flat in Clerkenwell.

This fateful event was brought about the release of Rapture World Conquest onto the App Store, a Populous-meets-Galcon RTS we’ve been looking forward to all summer. You’re the patron deity of a band of people on a 3D globe, providing divine air support for their conquests of all the other peoples of the world.

I liked Rapture quite a bit when I played a preview build a couple of weeks ago, though the sight of in-app purchases gave me a moment’s pause, as I noted in that post. Developer Dan Collier wrote in to assuage my worries after I published that. “Just wanted to reassure you that it’s not going to be F2P,” said Dan. “There’s a few non-intrusive IAPs to let people buy extra gold if they wish.” So there’s some of those sigh-inducing plus signs in-game, but the devs consider them entirely optional.

Rapture World Conquest is $3 on the App Store. We’ll have it reviewed in the next week or so. Trailer follows.

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Cut (features) and deal: Crunch Time, a game dev card game

Petra Promises interned with 22 Cans last summer.

Petra Promises interned with 22 Cans last summer.

There is clearly no better way to start the week than with a game about work. Crunch Time is a card game for iPad and desktops (and a light-hearted one at that) from Spanish developer David Teruel Ledesma where your goal is to ship your game before your opponent does. You can deploy cards to sabotage your rival studio, which undercuts Crunch Time’s marketing claim about “discover[ing] how a video game is really developed”, unless there’s a hidden Spy vs Spy aspect to the games industry that’s being criminally under-reported.

It looks like it could be a lot fun — I’m going to put one of our guys on the case to review it. Watch the trailer below and check out Ledesma’s website where the industrious developer is collecting ideas for Crunch Time 2 already. I’m not sure if there’s multiplayer to this one — I’ll find out.

Update: No multiplayer, says Señor Ledesma.

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Burn unnoticed: Spymaster sneaks onto the App Store

Radio free Europe?

Radio free Europe?

There was no fanfare, no advertising or media push around PlayRaven’s WWII espionage game Spymaster this week, which finally released worldwide after a long Canadian soft-launch. In fact, I didn’t even know it had launched until PT agent GiHub emailed me about it, but it’s out on the App Store and it’s free. But is it worth your time?

I don’t know yet. If you put a Welrod to my neck and demanded an answer right now, I’d say that it probably isn’t. That gives me no pleasure to write, because there’s lot to like about the game: the app itself is of the highest quality, and it’s dressed up with a neat faux-board game graphic design and some lovely music. The UI is fun to poke at and responsive. But the gameplay is a hostage to Spymaster’s free-to-play monetisation scheme, and in the couple of hours that I’ve spent with it, I’ve been regularly reminded that I’m playing a game on a needy cash register.

Spymaster is a game that captured our imaginations when we first heard about it in the spring of 2013, a game where you manage a network of spooks operating in occupied Europe, sabotaging rail facilities and narrowly escaping the attentions of the Gestapo: Football Manager for spies. Then we did an interview this January, and I’m sure you can pinpoint the exact moment in the conversation where Playraven break my heart and tell us it’s free-to-play.

I continued to hold out hope for two reasons: the first being my eternal optimism about all things video games, and the second being the precedent of games like Hearthstone and World of Tanks that make free-to-play work. But the vast majority of free-to-play games are an unpleasant, antagonistic experience, and I’m sorry to say that it looks like Spymaster is one of those. I’m more wary of the in-game monetization than I am of the in-game Nazis, and that probably says it all.

I intend to stick with Spymaster for a while longer to see if my tune changes, and I’ll let you know this coming week if it does. I’ve grabbed a few screenshots as I’ve played, and those are after the jump.

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Silver and gold: 1849 getting Nevada Silver expansion

This is strategy-gamer porn

This is strategy-gamer porn

1849 was the first step toward getting a great city builder on mobile devices. It was a fine game but, as Kelsey pointed out, it’s not giving me a reason to delete Children of the Nile or Pharaoh from my PC. It’s not terrible, but it’s definitely missing something. Sandbox play was added via an update, so that’s not it. Maybe it just needs some new content? We’ll find out next week when the first expansion for 1849, Nevada Silver, releases.

Set 10 years after the California gold rush, this introduces the Comstock Lode and the silver rush in Nevada. It also introduces trains, steam-powered mills and other innovations. All the new cities available in the Nevada expansion can also be played in sandbox mode.

Nevada Silver will be available as a $2 IAP, and will release on September 16. Screenshots after the break.

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Super surprise: Sentinels of the Multiverse releasing in October

Super size me

Super size me

Back in December of last year, Owen asked us all for our most anticipated games of 2014. Narrowing this down to just 1 game seemed impossible, as I was equally holding out hope for 3: Galaxy Trucker, Sentinels of the Multiverse, and Through the Ages. Since then, we’ve learned that Through the Ages is a 2015 release and I’ve played nearly complete builds of Galaxy Trucker on two occasions, so I know that one is going to be hitting the App Store soon. Sentinels, however, has been more of a mystery. We knew it was coming “this fall”, but until GenCon last month, hadn’t even seen any gameplay.

Then, today, this arrived in my Twitter feed:

More details, and some more gameplay, after the break.

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