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Let's wind the clocks back to 2009, as really, to appreciate what Angry Birds has become, I think we need to go back and appreciate what Angry Birds was. The App Store was a crazy place. The "gold rush" was still in full effect. Publishers like Chillingo were trying to stake as large of a claim as possible in this brave new world brought about by the impulse-powered instant gratification of downloading a 99¢ game and the exploding popularity of the iPhone.
Chillingo was incredibly successful in pooling together a library of games we called "AAA titles" at the time. iDracula [ $2.99 ] may
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look incredibly archaic by today's standards, but back then, it was among the cream of the crop. In late May, Chillingo spun off a new brand called, which per the original press release was intended to "carry casual games and software applications in the Apple App Store. This new brand will fully complement Chillingo’s existing catalogue of AAA innovative titles."'s aisle in the App Store was (and still is) an odd assortment of ultra-casual games and apps ranging from the SAT Vocabulary Builder [ $1.99 ] to sliding block puzzle games like Pic n' Mix [ $0.99 ]. Reading between the lines of Chillingo's own distinction between the AAA Chillingo and brands, it wasn't difficult to see why Angry Birds [ $0.99 ] was relegated to the non-AAA brand when it launched, as the late-2009 1.0 version of the game really wasn't anything that special. Or, as we mention in our original review which almost seems laughable now:
When you see a game with a name as nondescript as Angry Birds, it's pretty hard to get excited. Even after playing through the first few levels, I was enjoying this game, but failing to see the real appeal.
The original release had a barebones array of birds, 63 levels, no leaderboards, no achievements, and no, really… anything else. Angry Birds wouldn't even strike it big until months later in early 2010, when Chillingo announced that the game had been downloaded over half a million times. Whether that sales surge was a result of Chillingo's marketing prowess or creative consulting as a publisher or the product of Rovio's hard work seems to be a matter of perspective, and the answer to that question depends more on who you ask. Regardless, Angry Birds has yet to let go of a position on the top ten iTunes sales charts.
The Angry Birds kingdom expanded into the Angry Birds empire with the self-published release of both Angry Birds Seasons [ $0.99 ] and Angry Birds Rio [ $0.99 ] over the next couple of years. Since then, Rovio has grown further yet, and now days it's difficult to find a platform that doesn't have Angry Birds on it as the brand has made its way to the browser, smart TV's, and even feature phones being sold in emerging markets. Think about that. People in African countries rocking series 40 Nokia phones have Angry Birds.
Despite Rovio's unprecedented levels of success, recently it has been hard to dispute the argument that the Angry Birds formula might be getting a little stale. I've always been excited to play through the levels added in new updates, but for a while now I've felt like I'm just going through the motions of figuring out the weak points in the pig defenses, launching a bird, collecting my three stars, and moving on. This lead to the inevitable question of what could Rovio do in a sequel to not only revitalize the brand to players who have grown bored, but also provide a big enough twist on gameplay to make it worth having a fourth installment in the series?
It turns out the answer was to head to space.
Angry Birds Space [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] is close enough to the rest of the Angry Birds family that anyone even vaguely familiar with the games will be able to hop right in. It features the same premise of flinging birds in a big slingshot into dastardly egg-stealing pigs, but this time, your shots are assisted by a dotted line coming off the front of the slingshot to make the aiming process a little more transparent. The boss battles from Rio even make an appearance.

It comes packed with the familiar family of birds, with some minor modifications. All of the birds got a cosmetic upgrade, with snazzy looking space outfits. More importantly, some of their functionality has changed. For instance, the new version of the yellow bird doesn't just dash forward. Instead, tapping on the screen sends it homing in on that specific location, even allowing for complete trajectory changes in flight. The force exerted by the bomb bird seems to focus more on pushing things rather than destroying them, and a new freezing bird turns anything inside of its blast radius into ice, allowing for easy cleanup with blue birds.
The magic of Angry Birds Space comes from the physics tricks Rovio is able to pull off by leaning on the gravitational fields of the various planetoids that make up many of the levels. Birds shot into space fly straight as an arrow, as obviously, there isn't any gravity to make them do anything differently. Gravity fields are indicated by faint blue halos, and completing each level (particularly with three stars) involves the intelligent mastery of both zero gravity as well as the (potentially) multiple gravitational pulls of the different planetoids that the pigs have set their forts up on.
This varying gravity system allows for some incredibly elaborate level design, including puzzle elements that would never have been possible with the "traditional" gravity model of previous Angry Birds titles. One early level that exhibits this in a particularly clever way involves the introduction of the bomb bird. Players are faced with a bunch of pigs hanging out and being smug on a gravity-rich planetoid.
There isn't a clear shot to be had between the slingshot and the pigs themselves, as there are all sorts of asteroids littering the top half of the screen. Completing the level actually requires delicate use of the bomb birds to gently push the asteroids down into the gravity field, at which point they come smashing down on the pigs. Other levels involve shooting your birds to catch the rim of a gravity field, placing them in an orbit of sorts to slingshot around to hit an otherwise unreachable target.
The truly interesting thing that I've found is that this gravity mechanic has allowed for some incredibly creative ways to complete levels. The comparison may be a bit of a stretch, but in Scribblenauts Remix [ $0.99 ] the way to truly have fun in that game was to come up with the most absurd and imaginative solution to each puzzle. Sure, nearly every level can be solved by equipping yourself with some wings and a gun, but there's just a certain sense of satisfaction to be had when you figured out how to somehow work Cthulhu into your solution. Similarly, while most levels in Angry Birds Space often have a fairly clear-cut solution, I've been having way more fun coming up with the most convoluted flight paths for my birds, with personal bonus points awarded for as many orbits as possible before expertly slamming whatever bird I fired into a pig.
Some other changes have been made to Angry Birds Space, namely, the addition of a new in-app purchase system. In previous games, the Mighty Eagle is a one time 99¢ purchase which allows you to skip one level every hour. The Mighty Eagle also adds an entirely new (although not necessarily immediately apparent) game mode where you can go back to previously completed levels and fire off the Mighty Eagle shooting for destroying everything on screen.

Unfortunately, now not only is the Mighty Eagle a consumable item, but it also doesn't automatically skip a level. When you fire out the sardine can, the Mighty Eagle can totally miss, leaving whatever smug pigs are left on screen laughing at your failure. Additional Mighty Eagles are awarded in small quantities by just playing the game. Alternatively, 20 Mighty Eagle shots can be purchased for 99¢, with additional packs of Mighty Eagles ranging all the way up to 980 for $19.99.
Out the gate, Angry Birds Space comes loaded with two level packs: "Pig Bang" which serves as more of a tutorial for the new space-centric physics and "Cold Cuts" which introduces the new freezing bird. A third (very difficult) level pack entitled "Danger Zone" is available via a 99¢ unlock, and if you even find yourself vaguely enjoying the two included packs, the third one is basically required.
This raises the question of what is going to come of the future of Angry Birds updates, as the tea leaves of this IAP-unlocked level pack can be read in numerous ways. Angry Birds has been known by its seemingly never-ending stream of free content via updates, and I find it to be a little hard to believe that Rovio would put a stop to that with Angry Birds Space. My gut is telling me that future updates might follow a path of offering up a free pack and an optional ultra-difficult paid pack like "Danger Zone" for hardcore players… But, we'll have to wait for the first update to land to know for sure.

If you're playing on a new iPad, you'll be happy to know that the HD variety of Angry Birds Space comes with crisp Retina Display-friendly graphics. Neither the HD or standard versions are universal, so, having the optimal Angry Birds Space experience requires some App Store double dipping if you want to play on both your iPhone and iPad. Sadly, there still doesn't seem to be any way to sync progress between versions of the game, so, in that regard, there isn't much point in buying it twice anyway.
Angry Birds is the unlikely candidate with meager beginnings that somehow managed to redefine both mobile gaming and the levels of financial success that are possible in the mobile space. The brand is known worldwide, and the series is enjoyed by everyone from hardcore gamers, to celebrities and athletes, to my own father who couldn't possibly be more of a non-gamer. Angry Birds is the Super Mario Brothers of mobile devices, and Angry Birds Space is so successful in redefining the Angry Birds formula that everyone should give it a try.
App Store Links:    Angry Birds Space, $0.99     Angry Birds Space HD, $2.99 (iPad Only)
TouchArcade Rating:
Boss fight! Again, the Space King is terrorizing the universe in some forsaken contraption. One strategy for Cold Cuts level 2-30 is to use the Red bird to trigger the TNT along the bottom. The debris should cause a cascade … Continue reading →

After a few weeks of ADW Launcher, I have finally switched back to a theme from, in my opinion, the superior GO Launcher named Color Box EX. The last few themes have revolved around darker themes that didn’t involve much color but Color Box EX, as its name implies, breaks that mold. As stated in previous posts, consistency and continuity are one of the biggest factors of a great theme.
The best themes are those that smoothly blend unsupported app icons in with the custom themed icons. Color Box EX does this better then any theme that I have reviewed so far. The colorful icons are a
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treat and fit nicely in with the chosen background. Color Box EX places existing and unsupported icons into randomly colored tiles that blend in perfectly with the default embossed ones. This turns the app drawer into a veritable bag of Skittles as opposed to the usual mindless crawl of mismatched icons. Going along with the colorful layout is the simple yet brilliant multi colored bar along the bottom of the screen below the dock. This neat accent plays perfectly off of the dark, textured background that comes default with the theme, and the candy colored icons really pop when placed against this great wallpaper.
Contrasting again to the bright, boxy containers are the app drawer and home screen icons. These wire-framed, glowing blue logos stick out and note the difference and importance of the command they represent. The 2 dollar price tag does not bother me at all because it is obvious looking at Color Box EX that a lot of personal care was put into this theme and I was really impressed with it from the moment it started running. The great play between the dark, textile background and the bold colorful icons combined with the perfect continuity throughout make this a theme that is well worth checking out for those with GO Launcher.

Theme Thursday: Color Box EX is a post from: Android Rundown

Trust not the Machines. Today, your toaster placidly browns your bread; tomorrow, it'll attempt to toast your skull. I, for one, don't welcome our inevitable machine overlords. Techpocalypse is a co-op strategy-survival game that will educate you on the best ways to dispatch the Machines--but the project needs funding to get off the ground. That's where Kickstarter comes in.

It’s funny to think that the endless-running genre barely existed a few years ago. But since Canabalt, Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride and their ilk appeared you can...
Jazz: Trump’s Journey Review is a post from: My iPad Games
Adventure platformers that require extreme precision have always been a hit and miss in touch gaming. This due to the reason that almost always, physical buttons are needed to get a better feel on how hard or soft you are pressing the buttons.
That’s why it is always refreshing to see and play a game that is different from this — Jazz: Trump’s Journey ($2.99 via iTunes)  is a story of a young jazz player named trump in his quest to gain fame, love and self-discovery in the old 1920′s New Orleans.
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However, before he can achieve that, he must win a local band and your job as the player is to guide Trump into levels, collecting musical notes, pictures and band members as you progress.

At first glance the game is obviously inspired by the 20′s black and white silent film — the stages however are colored but still follows the same film-reel style of presentation.
Usually, you only see three virtual buttons on the screen, left, right and jump. Early in the game, you will also gain access to Trump’s trumpet that can stop time on certain elements in the game thus, giving you a fourth button. Up and down buttons appear when you are on a ladder or rope and a grab button is available for moving blocks when Trump is near them. The buttons are so strategically placed that these buttons do not hinder your view of the iPad screen all without sacrificing the comfortable hold of the device.
The levels strat off really easy, but it gets pretty difficult where you need to be extremely precise with the jumps early on. The game compensates for this with a lot of checkpoints and unlimited lives.

 And all that  Jazz!
As expected from a game that focuses on a musician, the background music is just stellar. While Trump is still alone and is looking to find his first band member to recruit, you will only one trumpet (albeit extremely well played) playing. As you collect band members, though, more musical instruments are added into the score, making it a really good chill out music.
The icing on the cake is the beautiful story behind it. I will let you find out about it, but it is all about finding comfort in your own race.
To wrap up, Jazz: Trump’s Journey is a masterpiece every gamer that grew up playing Mario should play this. (And that means pretty much every gamer out there.) I extremely recommend this game. 5/5
Download Jazz: Trump’s Journey ($2.99 via iTunes)
So, I have a confession to make. I was prepared to dislike Baseball Superstars 2012 [Free]. You can blame Homerun Battle 2 [$4.99/Lite] for that one, as it had left me deeply distrustful of freemium sports games. Nonetheless, driven by Air Penguin [99¢/Lite] inspired optimism and the extravagant amount of praise that had been lavished over the franchise, I ended up downloading it anyway.
I'm glad I did. Though not what you would call 'your must-have game in the event of a zombie apocalypse', Baseball Superstars 2012 is still kinda awesome. Depending on how much you like your baseball, it
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might even be extremely awesome. There's a part of me that wants to be the cranky curmudgeon and witheringly observe that Baseball Superstars 2012 is, while a competent product, just a souped-up version of the one from the previous years, but I can't. The rest of me is too busy cultivating my digitized athletes.

Baseball Superstars 2012 is engaging in all the right ways. The core gameplay mechanics are incredibly easy to learn, but not so easy to master. As the batter, you'll basically have to ensure that your batting reticule is within the general vicinity of the ball before you smack it with all your virtual, training-augmented might. Here, you'll have the option of choosing between the usage of the D-PAD or the device's accelerometer; I personally recommend the latter. Things are even easier for the pitcher. To lob your balls, you swipe your finger across a grid-like area on the screen. Different pitches will naturally require a different set of motions.
Strangely enough, what makes Baseball Superstars 2012 work is the metaphorical packaging. For example, while the various modes are little more than different ways of approaching the aforementioned elements, there's still an ungodly amount of things to do. Want to be be a batter? Fire up 'My Batter' and enjoy a ten-year career. Prefer pitching instead? Load 'My Pitcher'. Would you rather micromanage a coterie of little athletes? 'My Team' will be your game mode of choice. The list goes on. You'll get to also dive into challenges, missions, engage in asynchronous multiplayer battle royales and fine-tune your little league of winners.
Visually speaking, Baseball Superstars 2012 is definitely the best-looking of the pack. The resolution is higher, the interface is cleaner and the sprites look like they were manufactured by a man-hwa artist. The writing, unfortunately, still leaves much to be desired. Aside from the overall aesthetics, one of the biggest changes here is the inclusion of the overworld. No longer will you be trapped in the stadium at large. Now, you'll be able to roam the somewhat scenic-looking town that rings in. In between matches, Baseball Superstars 2012 will allow you to do everything from engage in a fortune-telling session to helping out in a hospital to training in the park. Some of these activities will decrease or increase various statistics, others will add to your modest bank account.

Along the way, you'll also bump into an assortment of big-breasted characters, many of whom will engage you in peculiar conversations. To be honest, few of the encounters made any sense to me. What do aggressive female characters with a penchant for romance books have to do with baseball? While I appreciated the effort, this aspect of Baseball Superstars 2012 felt tacked on and a little awkward.
That aside, there's not much to dislike about Baseball Superstars 2012. Heck, even the IAPS are not constantly forced down your throat, something that is a rarity with this business model. Gamevil has done a fine job improving on each iteration. Baseball Superstars 2012 might not redefine mobile gaming but it'll certainly be a worthy addition to your collection of games.
App Store Link: Baseball Superstars® 2012., Free (Universal)
TouchArcade Rating:
As you probably know, Angry Birds on Facebook includes never before seen Power-Ups, but what are they and how do you use them? Well, this guide (and Q&A) will be your one-stop-shop to understanding this awesome new addition to Angry Birds. Continue reading →


Game design competitions with the Unreal Engine are fairly commonplace these days, but Epic Games may have just issued one of the most unique challenges to date. The company wants studios to make a new game for iOS, with the Unreal Engine, based on the Fighting Fantasy games.

Toot Toot ABC is a cute game by Australian based company Game Labs that introduces preschoolers (ages 1-4) to their ABCs and 123s. Children play one of three darling trains who live in an colorful, interactive World. Kids encounter various animals while learning their alphabet and numbers. With three adventures to choose from there is always something for the little ones to explore.
Kids can pick from the ABC adventure, 123 adventure or take a break and race against other trains. During the ABC adventure, kids match animals with their corresponding letter. In the 123 adventure, kids coun
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t animals by dragging them in the train cars. What makes Toot Toot ABC extra unique is the use of exotic – or at least Australian – animals; I have officially learned of the numbat’s existence.
One of my favorite aspects of Toot Toot ABC (besides its Australian animal theme) is the brightly colored, interactive World the trains live in. See the red apples on the tree? Click one to have a little snack. Want to show your train some love? Tap his bell and he makes noise. Need a break? Take some time to pop balloons floating around the screen. Children like to explore their surroundings as a way of learning and Toot Toot ABC takes that into considerations when designing their educational World.
Toot Toot ABC also helps children develop fine motor skills. For example, in the 123 adventure, the child needs to be able to click an animal, hold the screen, and drag the animal to the train car for it to be counted. The controls for Toot Toot ABC are responsive and accurate enough for young children to control but not so responsive there is no challenge.
As a new mother I am looking for fun, new age, technological tools to help my daughter learn as she grows and reaches new cognitive and physical developmental milestones. She may not be ready for Toot Toot ABC yet, but it is definitely a game I will keep in mind when the time comes. This cute, colorful, educational game is too darling to pass up for $2.07. I really hope Game Labs continues to develop other educational games for various developmental levels.

Toot Toot ABC Review is a post from: Android Rundown