Nintendo released Super Mario Run 2 for the iPhone and iPad just in time for the weekend. The update for the Mario runner game lets you unlock more levels without paying by completing a Bowser challenge, adds new Yoshi colors for Toad Rally and makes it easier to win rally tickets, and improves overall game play. You can download Super Mario Run for free, and unlocking all of the levels costs US$9.99 as an in-app purchase.
Aspyr announced Thursday that it will be bringing InnerSpace to the Mac. InnerSpace is an exploration game where players, “soar through the skies and dive through the oceans, and the secrets of Inverse will reveal themselves.” Players can also uncover artifacts throughout the game world that upgrade your vehicle and reveal clues about past civilizations. I’m writing about it today because I think it’s gorgeous. Initially crowdfunded through KickStarter, Aspyr is partnering with the developers to bring it to both PlayStation 4 and Steam (for Mac and Linux). Pricing hasn’t been announced, and the game is expected later this year.
Futurama is back! Or, it will be thanks to a new game that’s coming from TinyCo. What we know right now is the game is called Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow and it’s coming soon. TinyCo is working with the animators from the Futurama TV series, and Matt Groening—the guy who created Futurama and The Simpsons—says he loves it. The game developers say we’ll have more info in the “near future,” which we assume comes sooner than Fry’s defrosting. Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow will be available for iOS and Android, plus you can keep on top of the latest announcements by signing up at the game website. And seriously, shut up and take my money.
My free time over the weekend was taken up by a new iPhone and iPad game that just came out called Hidden Folks, so now I’m ruining your productivity, too. It’s a clever hidden object game with it’s own charm thanks to the hand-drawn graphics and sound effects that are clearly some guy who decided his mouth is a complete foley studio. His ba-doo-be-doop, skrintch, and pop sounds are important to the game, as are the little animations. Tapping objects triggers actions sounds and actions. Sometimes that’s clearing away a bush or moving a boat, and can reveal the elusive objects and characters you need to find. Hidden Folks is great for a quick diversion or a couple hours exploring new levels. You can get it for your iPhone and iPad at Apple’s App Store for US$3.99.
Get ready for Pokémon GO Gen 2 and 80 new monsters because Niantic plans to give us more characters we gotta catch by this weekend. The new monsters come from the Pokémon Silver and Pokémon Gold video games, so if you’re tired of the gobs of characters already available you’ll have plenty more to keep you roaming around your neighborhood. Niantic also rolled in new evolutions and Evolution items to collect, new berries, new avatars, and more. The updates are free, unlike the time we’ll all spend hunting for Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile.
You may known of my penchant for tower defense games, but I also have a not-so-secret love for arcade scrollers. The good news for your time-sucking pleasure is that I found a new one called Photon Strike. It’s a solid vertical scroller for iPhone an iPad (I played on iPad) with good graphics and fast action. In fact, it’s very fast. It’s similar to others in the genre. You have to steer your ship (with your fingers), firing as long as your finger is on the screen. Waves of enemies fly around the screen, and you have to shoot/avoid them. Powerups are available throughout each level, and you get credits for each enemy you destroy for buying upgrades. It’s free to download, but for real-world cash, you can get yourself a whole heap of credits. You can also watch videos for free credits. Every five waves there’s a boss at the end. It’s ad-supported, but the ads go away with any purchase (the ads are not obnoxious). That said, this is the kind of game where I’m happy to pay to unlock ads to directly support the developer.
OK, Nintendo fans, you have another game to take up your free time: Fire Emblem Heroes. The fantasy-based role playing game (RPG) puts you on a quest to save heroes from different worlds and stop the Emblian Empire’s evil rule. The game is based on the Fire Emblem game franchise and pits you in battles and duels as you explore. Unfortunately, you’ll need an active internet connection to play, just like Super Mario Run because Nintendo seems to think we’re all clever hackers out to steal their game. Fire Emblem Heroes is a free download for the iPhone and iPad, and it includes some in-game purchases.
I found a new tower defense game called Defense Zone 3 Ultra HD. I love the tower defense genre. I’ve written up the Kingdom Rush franchise many times, for instance. Defense Zone 3 is similar, but it uses photo realistic graphics with modern and slightly-futuristic weaponry and enemy soldiers, tanks, and aircraft. Mindless hordes of enemies rush headlong down a path, and your job is to stop them. in some ways, it reminds me of a tower defense game crossed with Galaga/Galaxian. One of the things I like is that it’s difficult. I personally “need” to get through every level without losing a single health point (letting an enemy through), and that is frankly tough. There are only eight maps, but each one is long. Very long. YMMV, but I enjoy lengthy scenarios where I get to keep building and improving my defenses. This game is US$2.99—there are in-app purchases for boosts, too, but I enjoy the challenge of getting through these games without such boosts. I’ve already played this one for at least 10 hours, and it’s burning a hole in the back of my mind even now. Map 4 is killing me. One last note, it’s a hybrid app for iPhone and iPad, but I can’t imagine playing it on an iPhone. Maybe a Plus, but I love this game on my iPad Pro (9.7-inch).
Check out Kult of Ktulu: Olympic. It’s a textual narrative game, but what hit me were the gorgeous graphics backing up the narrative. Players take on the avatar of a young girl named Elena on a ship crossing the Atlantic in the early 20th century. Elena is investigating the Kult in a world built from H.P. Lovecraft imagery. I haven’t played it yet, but it looks lush and delicious. It’s currently in the App Store as a free download with in-app purchases. It’s in Google Play, too, if that’s your poison.
Civilization Vi got its first expansions Wednesday with the release of the Poland Civilization & Scenario Pack and Vikings Scenario Pack. The Polish pack includes the full Poland civilization, which includes the ability to take over tiles by fortifying their borders. The Poland scenario is a 60-Turn game where you defend Poland, Prague, and Vienna from Teutonic Knights and Ottoman Turks! Sounds awesome. The Viking Scenario includes new City-States with new benefits, and a 100-Turn game where you invade England, take Paris, find Vinland, or raid the Mediterranean. I’m slacking off from work just thinking about it. Each pack is $4.99, and is available through both Steam and the Mac App Store version of the game. Civilization VI itself was released in October for $59.99, and Wednesday’s update includes a variety of bug fixes, balance changes, AI tuning, and a new Earth map (standard size).
Feral Interactive announced Friday that ROME: Total War – Barbarian Invasion would be coming to iPad in March! This was originally an expansion for ROME: Total War on Mac and PC—Feral ported that game to iPad late last year. I’ve played ROME: Total War on iPad, and it’s an amazing conversion to a touch interface. Feral and its developers did a remarkable job. Barbarian Invasion was a terrific expansion of the original game, too, and I can’t wait for the iPad launch to suck ever more hours out of my life. 😂 Barbarian Invasion is set three centuries after the campaigns of the original game, and players can play either a barbarian commander out to bring Rome down, or a Roman general defending the empire. The game will be exclusively in the App Store in March at £3.99/US$4.99/€4.99.
Can you kick it old school enough to remember DONKEY.BAS? It was one of the first racing games on DOS, and it was coded by a young tech exec named Bill Gates. Maybe you’ve heard of him. In any event, XVision has recreated this game on iPhone and Apple Watch, and they call it DONKEY.APP. It’s a, “super simple but frustratingly hard retro arcade game, inspired by Bill Gates’ one-and-only DOS game.” The player is a old-fashioned race car, only there are beasts of burden standing on the road. The player taps to change lanes to avoid the beasts, making it a game all about precise timing. It’s not particularly easy, either. Retro gaming is all the rage, and you can revisit this slice of tech history for US$0.99. I’d love to know your thoughts.
Couldn’t snag an NES Classic this holiday season? You can still relive some classic gaming memories with the launch of the original six Mega Man games for iOS & Android, each updated to support touchscreen play.
NVIDIA’s ‘GeForce Now’ service will let Mac and PC owners rent access to a high-end GTX-powered gaming PC in the cloud, with full access to Steam, Origin, and other gaming platforms.
Many hoped that Nintendo’s single in-app purchase approach for Super Mario Run would save us from the microtransaction free-to-play hell that is the iOS App Store. And while heavy marketing from Apple and the Nintendo brand gave it a boost, in the end only about 3% of users are estimated to have paid.
Niantic came through on its promise to release Pokémon GO for Apple Watch before the end of the year. The Apple Watch version is a companion app for the iPhone game that lets you log your walks and runs to hatch new characters, and alerts you to nearby Pokémon and PokéStops.