Letterpress (iTunes link) is what you might call “the new hotness” on iOS these days. It’s in a similar category as SpellTower (iTunes link), a challenging mobile word game that’s as beautiful to look at as it is hard to put down. Letterpress’ author is the creator of Tweetie, Loren Brichter (currently of Atebits), and famously is credited with inventing pull-to-refresh.
Gameplay-wise, Letterpress is a word game that plays kinda like Boggle-meets-Reversi, with a few twists thrown in. But you probably already know all of this, as Letterpress has seen its fair share of press from major news sources (Macworld, The Verge, Touch Arcade, even The Telegraph among others). So in the spirit of the simplicity of the game, this won’t be an in-depth review, just a few thoughts on the four aspects that I noticed in Letterpress’ beautiful design that are simple, thoughtful, and maybe even sexy.
I played a lot of Magic: the Gathering for a few years back in the 1997 range. I spent a fair amount of time and money on the game, but eventually I ran out of people to play with, and that pretty much ended my Magic career. My wallet was thankful, though I always missed playing. Fast forward a few (quite a few) years to 2012 when Magic 2013 for iPad was released. Card games on the iPad seems to be a natural fit, and I was excited to pick it up.
Firing up the app for the first time, I immediately noticed how many screens there are before I could make it to the main menu. A few weeks ago I mentioned how video game intro videos must die, and it’s never been more true here. But it’s not just an intro video – it’s a whole series of screens that are absolutely useless to the user.
Writing an article about PopCap Games’ Peggle is a dangerous proposition. After conquering my Peggle addiction a year or so ago, diving back in for “research purposes” has definitely brought back a flood of old memories. Peggle is one of the most addicting games that I’ve ever played, and there are a lot of reasons for that.
From a UX perspective, my absolute favorite part of the game is how it progresses at just the right pace. It’s a casual game, sure, so pacing doesn’t mean quite the same thing as it does in an RPG or an action title. But Peggle still knows how to drip you just enough of it’s gloriously sweet peg-busting action to keep you hooked for “just one more level”…
There are plenty of iOS apps that contain drink recipes, but there are very few games that have you actually making drinks on your phone. Bar Oasis is called a “bartender simulation” by Touch Arcade, which seems pretty accurate. It’s a very story-driven game that I guess would have to live in the simulation genre if I had to put it somewhere. You’re put in the shoes of a bartender, tending to your customers while listening to their problems, and of course, making their drinks.
In real life it’s definitely a skill that bartenders have to develop for making good drinks in a hurry, so how does that translate into an iOS game? As you might have guessed, it’s not ideal. There’s potential here, but there are a few quirks that really make it more irritating than it should be. Though at the end of the day, how much do perfectly precise controls really matter if the game is still fun? Let’s discuss…
The first installment in Electronic Arts’ Burnout series was way back in 2001 for the PS2 and original XBox. While a lot has changed over the years, the takeaway of the franchise remains the same: drive fast and blow stuff up, a lot. In the latest iteration, Burnout CRASH! distills this formula to an incredibly simple form, and racing is nowhere to be found – just blowing stuff up. I was super excited to see the game released on iOS because it’s exactly the type of quick and simple game I want to play on my iPad.
Earning in-game achievements (represented here by stars) allows players to unlock more content. Each track in the game features five different stars, and when a player meets a specified number of stars, more content appears. So collecting stars is definitely the driving force for players to progress. Here’s the rub: considering how important they are, Burnout CRASH! doesn’t do enough to show players what stars they have left to achieve.