Got a free Thunderbolt port? Elgato’s dock will hook you up. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
The more I use my MacBook Pro for work and play, the more I need to plug stuff into it. It’s got only two USB 3 ports along with its two Thunderbolt ports and HDMI out. Other docks, like the Kanex dock we reviewed a while back, use up one of the two USB ports, and they don’t provide video out capabilities.
With Apple’s Thunderbolt protocol, though, you can get stuff like video and audio out that requires a lot of bandwidth. The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock is just what you need if you aren’t using either of your MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt ports, as it gives you three more USB 3 ports, an HDMI out to connect your favorite high-def monitor, a microphone and headphone port, and a gigabit Ethernet port as well.
It’s kind of everything you need in one sleek package.
Here’s a quick, funny, and surprisingly challenging word game for movie buffs.
Plot Twistz by Adrenaline Punch Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
Plot Twistz presents you with a slightly modified plot to a famous film, and your job is to figure out the name of the augmented movie. You get the answer by changing one letter of the original title, which doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be surprised.
Have you ever experienced that giddy feeling of good fortune when a slot machine starts pouring out quarters, or a winning poker hand lets you put your arms around a big pile of chips and pull them towards your side of the table? Dragon Coins, a combination arcade “coin-pusher” and casual RPG, recreates that feeling every time you play.
Dragon Coins by Sega Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone and iPad Price: Free
It’s a dangerous precedent. Dragon Coins literally piles on the treasure when you’re on a roll, emulating the psychological appeal of casinos. As long as you are able to put the game down from time to time, or grind out low-level battles to earn extra experience, you probably won’t end up mortgaging your home or draining your kid’s college fund to pay for this game.
I’ve been playing video games for almost 30 years. I like to think that I’ve developed a certain level of hand-eye coordination and an ability to recognize patterns and learn rules reasonably quickly.
Spirit Run: Fire vs. Ice by Lunagames Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
But Spirit Run: Fire vs. Ice, a new endless runner from developer Lunagames, made me question all of that. Suddenly, I was transforming when I wanted to jump, and jumping when I wanted to slide, and just falling the hell off of things that I normally wouldn’t.
That isn’t to say that it’s a bad game; it’s actually quite good. But be prepared to feel like a monkey trying to do algebra. You know, if that’s a thing that one might call upon monkeys to do.
Here’s yet another artsy, minimalist puzzle game you’ll want to check out.
Bicolor by 1Button SARL Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: $0.99
Bicolor gives you some colored blocks with numbers on them, and your job is to swipe them around to make the entire screen a single color. It sounds easy — and it typically is, if I’m honest — but it has moments of beauty and elegance that make you forget that it isn’t challenging you. And it’s fun enough without the head-scratching because, like all minimalist puzzle games, it’s about calm, man.
And as long as you keep that in mind, the two of you will get along just fine.
Every once in a while, something drops into the App Store that makes my Grinch heart grow three sizes. So after I take the pills my doctor gave me to keep me from dying when that happens, I spend some time with the game and see if it’s any good. And this one, which a 7-year-old boy designed, is actually pretty fun.
Greedy Ladder by 18th Day Limited Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
Greedy Ladder is a new free-to-play game in which you play as one of eight boys or girls (the differences are cosmetic) climbing a ridiculously tall ladder in one of six major cities. It’s a racing game: The goal is to reach the top as quickly as possible while eating healthy foods that will speed you up and avoiding junk food and inedible objects that slow you down.
All proceeds from the game go to charity, apparently, so that’s pretty cute, too.
Magic squares have always vexed me. I understand the concept — arrange a grid of numbers so that the rows and columns add up to predefined values — but actually doing them is beyond me.
Equilibrium by Bavlos Boutros Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
So maybe I’m not the best person to review Equilibrium, a new iOS game that is nothing but magic squares for days, but I think I can put my own incompetence aside to recommend it. It has great presentation, a good challenge and is as accessible as can be.
Anyone — even a fat plumber — can run around and jump on things. But what if progress depends on being in two places simultaneously? Or three? Or five? Mario can’t even handle that. Unless we’re talking about the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games with all the mini-Marios.
Instantion by Finjitzu Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: $1.99
Which we’re not.
Anyway, the hero of Instantion can be all those places. Let’s focus on that. Because it’s a fun game.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a sucker for a good word game, and here’s a new multiplayer offering with an interesting idea behind it.
Catena by Fusee Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free ($0.99 upgrade)
Catena is all about you and your opponent making a chain of words. One player starts, and then the other has to come up with another word that uses one or more of the last letters of the previous entry. For example, if I played “wholesome,” my opponent could play “somewhat” or “metric” or anything else that continues the chain.
It has a few hiccups along the way, but it’s mostly a good time.