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Posts tagged with "games"

Sputnik Eyes Review: Puzzles in Space

I’m going to let you in on a couple prevailing facts about Sputnik Eyes, a “homemade” game by Shelly Alan.

The first is that the story, at least in my eyes, makes little sense. It includes – but is not limited to – robots, space, planets, constellations, exploration, Earth, scorpions, hearts, and a rocket ship. It’s a hodgepodge of an idea, one that I immediately misunderstood and hardly plays any role in the overall game.

But the second fact is that Sputnik Eyes is one of the most enjoyable puzzle games I’ve played in a while, and one I can’t seem to stop playing. Equal parts charming and challenging, Sputnik Eyes feels exactly like what a puzzler should in 2017: clean, fun, and to the point.

Move Along, Robot Friend

When you start a level of Sputnik Eyes, you’ll find yourself accompanied by a grid and your robot pals. Each stage has a unique pattern, a series of connected lines that form points, sat on by the bots of varying colors. Take a look at the examples below:

Effectively, Sputnik Eyes is a matching game, one that requires you to pair the robot to its respective colored spot on the map. While it sounds easy in theory, the game throws interesting obstacles in your way, like one-way lines and paths that can only be traveled by a certain color. The more you play, the more complex Sputnik Eyes becomes; eventually, each puzzle seems more crowded than the one before it.

From there, the game can be played in a variety of ways. At the most basic level, you only need to complete the level to move on. However, finish the level in a limited set of moves or within the time period and you’ll receive badges signifying your accomplishments. Although badges have no in-game value, they’re a completionist’s symbol of pride.

Carefully Crafted, Wonderfully Executed

I normally like to weave in comments about a game’s design into a review, but much of what makes Sputnik Eyes so endearing is some of its aesthetic choices. One of the best examples is the game’s framing – instead of the game taking up the full screen, it rounds off its corners to give it a distinct look.

Throughout the gameplay and menu navigation, you’ll see carefully crafted animations, character models, and level designs. Motion is utilized exceptionally in Sputnik Eyes, adding touches that make the atmosphere more alive and vivid. And behind it all lies a soundtrack that shifts between ambient and thought-provoking, unafraid to take your attention but simple enough to fade into the background when you’re thinking hard about a puzzle.

All of this is to say that Sputnik Eyes feels created in a way that makes you, the player, feel cared for. When playing, I felt like each piece of the game was built for me to notice, appreciate, and consider as part of the overall experience.

Conclusion

$1.99 and many levels later, I’m thrilled by Sputnik Eyes. Had it been in the earlier days of the App Store, I think it’d be considered a touchstone of the puzzle genre; now, despite the App Store’s continuous growth in its biggest category, Sputnik Eyes still stands out as a must-have for puzzle fans.

If you’d like to pick up Sputnik Eyes, you can do so for $1.99 in the App Store (Universal).


Game Day: Newton

Casual puzzle games that you can pick up and play for a few minutes are a great way to kill time when you’re bored. Since the earliest days of the App Store,1 games have taken advantage of the iPhone’s sensors to create puzzles with realistic physics. Newton, by Binary Games, is a fun and challenging addition to the genre with unique mechanics and gameplay that I’ve enjoyed playing this week.

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Sega Forever Brings Sonic and Other Classics to iOS

Sega has been out of the hardware business for a long time, but still, has some of the most beloved video game franchises around. Today, Sega began releasing classic Sega games under the banner Sega Forever.

The first titles released are Sonic the Hedgehog, which was already available on iOS, Comix Zone, Altered Beast, Kid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II. The games, which are standalone downloads, are free and include ads that can be removed with a $1.99 In-App Purchase. The Sega Forever website indicates that the next title in line for release is Virtua Tennis Challenge, which is currently $4.99 on the App Store and hasn’t been updated since 2013. For iMessage sticker fans, each game also includes a handful of animated stickers of game art.

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Coding on iOS Is More Feasible Than Ever Before

In a series of tweets yesterday, one of the developers behind Codea announced that a new version of the iPad coding app had been approved for release, and this update would enable code sharing for the first time.

Previously we covered the revised App Store guidelines that now permit downloading and executing code inside of apps, but we haven't seen those changes put into practice before now. With version 2.3.7 of Codea you can now import projects from both .zip files and .codea bundles, making it easy to share code with others.

Although Codea is the first prominent adopter of features made possible by Apple's newly-granted permissions, it certainly won't be the last. Other notable programming apps and IDEs like Pythonista and Continuous can follow suit as they so choose. These policy changes, combined with Apple's own entrance into iOS coding via Swift Playgrounds, all of the sudden make iPad a much more attractive programming environment than ever before.

One excellent example of the power of coding on iOS is a game called Starsceptre. Starsceptre is a retro-style arcade shooter that was coded entirely on an iPad using Codea. Creator Richard Morgan wrote the game primarily during his daily commute on a train. “My work commute is basically the only spare time I have, so I needed a way to make games in that time – on the move, on my iPad." The game's trailer is embedded below.

With the less restrictive new App Store policies on coding, and the upcoming power user iPad features in iOS 11, hopefully we will see a lot more examples of apps coded entirely on iPad going forward.


Niantic Gives Pokémon GO Gyms a Makeover and Adds a New Raid Battle Feature

Niantic announced a major update to Pokémon GO today, including new gym gameplay mechanics and a feature called Raid Battle. Gym gameplay has been modified with a focus on how gyms are defended by controlling teams. Each gym will have six permanent slots, each of which must be populated by a different Pokémon.

Niantic is adding a new motivation system too. Over time and the course of battles, Pokémon will lose motivation, making them easier to defeat by rival trainers. Pokémon that lose all of their motivation will leave the gym and be returned to their trainers the next time they are defeated in battle. To maintain motivation, teams that control a gym can feed their Pokémon Berries, which should increase player interaction with the game.

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Game Day: Framed 2

In 2014, Melbourne-based Loveshack released Framed, a comic book-style puzzle game that requires manipulation of panels to guide the main character through a noir spy story. The game struck a chord for its novel combination of puzzles, narrative, and hip, silhouetted spy style. This week, Loveshack released Framed 2, an excellent prequel to Framed that delivers more of what made the original version a hit, but as part of a deeper and more refined experience.

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Game Day: Steredenn

I live near a huge arcade called the Galloping Ghost that’s packed with classic arcade games. I visit once or twice a year and am always struck by how hard some of the early space shooters, like Defender, are. I got the same feeling the moment I launched Steredenn, a fast-paced, insanely difficult space shooter from French indie game studio Pixelnest that is equal parts addictive and fun.

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Game Day: Old Man’s Journey

Old Man’s Journey by Vienna-based Broken Rules is equal parts game and story. You play as an old man who receives a letter that seems to upset him. He immediately grabs a backpack and walking stick and sets out into the countryside on a journey. Along the way, you clear a path for the traveler by manipulating the landscape to solve a series of puzzles. The puzzles aren’t difficult, but they help draw you into the beautiful interactive environment and pique your curiosity about the man’s story. Before long, I found myself completely absorbed by Old Man’s Journey.

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