I’ve always loved the Lego suite of licensed games more than most people do. They’ve always been the perfect storm for me: a unique combination of geekiness, humor, and obsessive collection and completion. Every time I pick one up, I don’t stop playing it until I’ve unlocked every character, found every collectible, and beat every secret level.
Lego The Lord of the Rings by TT Games Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad Price: $4.99
Needless to say, I am a fan.
The iOS version of developer Traveler’s Tales sweded version of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy is out now; the epic 1.3-gig game contains Lego recaps of all three Lord of the Rings films, over 90 characters, and all the soon-to-be-dead orcs, goblins, and Uruk-Hai you can tap. And while the game is every bit as cute and collectastic as the other ones I’ve played, its easily confused controls bog it down a little.
That’s not to say that it’s unplayable, but you’ll have to muster all of your fandom and patience to really enjoy it.
Disney’s mobile gaming efforts are surprisingly good! Stack Rabbit joins Where’s My Mickey and Where’s My Water as another easy-to-use app designed for children, but with enough appeal that adults can find plenty to enjoy. In Stack Rabbit, you play as a kindly rabbit trying to take care of his sister’s children while she’s on vacation. To do this, you have to hastily stack veggies on your head and hop away before the snoozing guard dog wakes up.
Stack Rabbit by Disney Mobile Category: iOS Games Works With: iPad, iPhone Price: Free
Each round you’re limited to a certain number of stacks and have to gather matching sets of vegetables to clear the level. The poor overworked rabbit can only carry so many vegetables at once so planning out your matches is a must unless you want to sacrifice time by dropping all the food you’ve collected.
Blocky Roads is kind of a weird game. It has block-based voxel graphics like Minecraft or the lesser-known Zelda clone 3D Dot Game Heroes, but rather than being an open-world construction title or a sword-and-shield adventure, it’s a game about driving cars in a 2.5D environment and picking up coins and treasure chests.
Blocky Roads by Dogbyte Games Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad Price: $1.99
And once you’ve picked up enough coins, you can upgrade your cars to get better at driving around the 2.5D environment and picking up coins and treasure chests. Or you can use those same coins to unlock a new level full of even more coins and treasure chests. And so on.
I don’t need a game to constantly encourage me and tell me how well I’m doing or how good I am at playing it. I don’t need a game to take me by the hand and lead me along through its twists and turns. And I definitely don’t need a game to take pity on me if I’m not good at it right away.
Octagon by Lukas Korba Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad Price: $1.99
And that’s a good thing because Octagon, a new twitchy arcade title by (mean) developer Lukas Korba, isn’t interested in doing any of that. Octagon wants to hurt you. It wants you to feel terrible and incompetent, and I have reason to believe that it’s actively trying to get me to break my phone.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s still fun. But holy crap, is it difficult.
If you’ve ever wanted to make viruses fight, Pathogen will help you realize your dreams. Pathogen is a board game that has you infecting tiles to eventually take over the entire playing field. You can play versus the computer in an increasingly difficult campaign mode or challenge your friends.
Pathogen by Gameblyr, LLC Category: iOS Games Works With: iPad, iPhone Price: $2.99
Perhaps I’m not quite as good at “Go” as I thought I was, but Pathogen’s difficulty is undoubtedly the first thing you’ll notice. The computer in the campaign is prepared to take advantage of your mistakes at every turn.
I’ve frequently been so close to winning a match only to have the computer claim victory because I forgot to take over one of its pieces butting up against my wall of viruses.
It’s been a little while since I reviewed a fantasy game with a branching plot, so I picked up Sorcery! 2, a new title from developer Inkle Studios and designer Steve Jackson, co-founder of Lionhead Studios (maker of the Fable series of role-playing games for Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles) and writer of the gamebooks on which this franchise is based. Not the Steve Jackson who created the GURPS tabletop RPG platform, but that’s an amazing coincidence.
Sorcery! 2 by Inkle Studios Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad Price: $4.99
Sorcery! 2 is the second (duh) in what will be a four-part adventure series, and it’s equal parts visual novel, RPG, and gamebook. And it all takes place in a beautiful, hand-drawn world with multiple paths and interesting old men to talk to. I mean, I don’t think you only talk to old men, but I spent about an hour with the game, and I did talk to some old men of varying crotchetiness. And a restauranteur who may or may not have been a star-spawn of Cthulhu.
Wedge Lock Bracket by Maclocks Category: Locks Works With: Retina MacBook Pro Price: $59.95
Older MacBook Pros — those that don’t have a Retina display — have a Kensington lock built-in, but in an effort to save space and make the new models really thin, Apple did away with that, as well as things like FireWire, traditional hard-disk drives, and the optical drive.
That poses a security risk. If you work in a public place, or you frequent to Starbucks to get stuff done while on a caffeine high, then you need a way to prevent your MacBook Pro from being stolen when you leave it unattended.
And I think the Wedge Lock Bracket, which screws into the bottom of your MacBook Pro and almost looks like it’s a part of it, is the best and most elegant solution.
Your school experience might have differed from mine, but I remember one day in Industrial Arts (read: Shop class) when the teacher announced we would all be designing and building bridges. And at the end of the week, we would see whose construct could hold the most weight.
Project Peon by Digital Fury Category: iOS Games Works With: iPad Price: Free
Now, I’m not a trained bridge-maker — in fact, none of us were because we were ninth-graders — so I knew that the next week would be among the longest of my young life because all I knew about structural engineering was something vague about triangles. Triangles are good, I think. Anyway, my bridge sucked. If I remember correctly, it snapped in half and then somehow caught fire.
And I’ve never felt that same sense of personal failure again … until I played Project Peon, an iPad game hitting the App Store today.
When going out in the evening, I don’t need all my shopping loyalty cards, my library card, or stacks of other such plastic ephemera mucking up the smooth line of my pockets, so I tend to opt for a less is more approach: my debit card, my ID, and a couple of dollars in cash.
FabFolio for iPhone 5S/5 by PureGear Category: iPhone Cases Works With: iPhone 5, iPhone 5S Price: $29.99
I’ve always wanted a way to carry these few things together with my iPhone, foregoing wallet altogether for a unified experience, but have always found other wallet cases too bulky or restricting.
PureGear’s FabFolio, however, reaches that delicate balance between useful, good-looking, and thin. It’s definitely worth a spin in your pocket if you’re looking for something to fill a similar need.
The genre of tower defense has been fairly represented on iOS over the past several years, with notable entries like Fieldrunners and Kingdom Rush turning in fantastic examples of fixed and variable path classic tower defense gameplay.
RoboMouse HD by Xin Jiang Category: iOS Games Works With: iPad Price: $1.99
iPad-only RoboMouse HD, then, is a new, well-balanced entry to the genre, and while it brings nothing innovative to the table, it’s adorable and provides a solid set of features that make it an essential entry to any tower defense fan’s gaming library.