Tower defense games have been around for a while, but Tesla Wars manages to make the game play feel new. Hurling bolts of lightning at your enemies from the game’s central Tesla coil is entertaining and works smoothly with the iPhone and iPad’s touch interface. Tesla Wars eschews the usual strategy elements that are common in these sorts of games, focusing instead solely on the action — and letting you buy a series of upgrades that make your tower even stronger. It’s violent, but its a cartoon violence. And, admittedly, it’s repetitive, but if the game play hooks you, it can chew up several hours of your time.
Texting and driving are a dangerous combination – and Don’t Text Me deserves some measure of praise for attempting to address it. Notifying contacts that you’re driving or working (or otherwise unavailable) is an easy process, but it overlooks a couple of major issues. While it’s easy to ask friends not to ping you, it’s ultimately their choice — and if they do, you’ll receive those texts without any interruption. Just as importantly, if you’re frequently in and out of the car (or in class or meetings) and use this app regularly, friends may get frustrated with the frequency of the messages.
There’s a lot to like about Chopper 2, which makes it all the more frustrating that the game has such a steep learning curve. It’s well-polished, has a very clean interface, and offers a wide variety of missions and environments. (All totaled, there are 36 missions in 12 areas ranging from city rooftops to deserts.) It’s not only fun, it’s a great way to show off what the iPad can do, as the gameplay can be outputted to a TV and it can be integrated with the iPhone as well (the iPhone becomes your controller). In many ways, Chopper 2 blazes new trails for developers…
The concept behind Promini isn’t a complicated one, but it’s one that has worked well in other games. The game tries hard to capture the special qualities of Lumines, but never quite gets there. That’s due, in part, to the soundtrack, which doesn’t seem an integrated part of the game, and the control issues. It’s still tremendously entertaining, though, and the game play is very addicting.
With a wide variety of games, the Tickle Tap Toddler Pack does an excellent job of maintaining the attention span of young players while teaching them something in the process. None of the five games is a dud, but Sound Shaker and Sort Slider are the standouts. While there’s not a lot of educational value in Sound Shaker, it’s a fun game that will delight young ones with its silly noises. Sort Slider, meanwhile, teaches as it entertains. While other apps may only interest toddlers for a short while, the diversity of options here will keep them engaged for a long time.
AirAttack HD is the best air combat shooter in the App store. Anyone who enjoyed Capcom’s arcade standard “1942” (or any of its follow-ups) will instantly recognize its style and appreciate the similarities. Its eight missions will keep people entertained for a long time — and are different enough from each other to prevent any feelings of repetition. While sections are a bit overly difficult, the game lets you pick up from your last checkpoint, so there’s never a real penalty for losing.
Puzzles on the iPhone are a concept that just makes sense – and My First Puzzles gets it right. It’s an incredibly polished game that’s easy for children to pick up and play. As a child selects a piece with his or her finger, the others fade away, removing all distractions as players find the right spot for it. Though there are only 12 puzzles for kids to choose from — a number we wish was a bit higher — the replay value of the app is incredibly high. Your kids won’t get bored, even long after they’ve figured out how to solve the puzzles.
It’s nice to see an app like KIDFIT, which encourages children to not only move, but teaches them proper exercise techniques. It’s a shame, though, that the app’s interface doesn’t cater to that same audience. While it offers a wide variety of exercises, it crams up to 10 on the screen at one time, making it a challenge to select the one you want. The videos are a good idea to supplement the sometimes too-technical instructions, but the aspect ratio seems stretched, which can be distracting.
GREEN EGGS AND HAM is an impressive, loving adaptation of the children’s classic. It brings the book to digital form in whimsical fashion with easy-to-grasp controls and well-voiced characters. Oceanhouse Media has previously successfully transitioned several Dr. Seuss works into apps, including One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat in the Hat, and they haven’t lost their magical touch.
Plunderland is a side-scrolling game, like early Sonic or Mario titles, that always keeps you moving forward. The premise is pretty basic: Sail from port to port, pillaging as you go, battling the English army, sharks, sea monsters, and (if you choose to engage them) island natives. It’s simple to learn, graphically appealing, and lets players interact with the environment to an impressive degree (much like Pocket God).