Archive for Game Life

Ticket To Ride For $1.99

I have blathered in the past about my love for both board games and the awesomeness of the Ticket To Ride franchise on iOS. So I am pretty much obligated to tell you that the iPad version of Ticket To Ride is on sale today in the app store for a measly $1.99. That’s right, less than 2 bucks for an downright amazing implementation of one of the best board games on the planet. Get it.


A long time ago in a personal computing environment that now seems very far away, there was a game called Core War. Two players would each write a “program” in a stripped-down kind of assembly language and the goal was to try and crash the other player’s code while protecting your own program from whatever cyber nastiness the other guy was doling out. Both programs would be loaded into a virtual computer and run simultaneously, and whichever one kept running longest was the winner. It was great fun for hardcore geeks but completely unapproachable by anyone else, and that’s a shame because the learning opportunities in that sort of thing are innumerable.

That, however, was then and this is now and now we have Cargo-Bot. Cargo-Bot is free (as in beer) for the iPad and is the latest in a long line of “programmable” puzzle games that owe their genetic roots to Core War. Take the original idea of writing a program to win a game, give it a dash of the all-time classic Sokoban, and wrap it all up in fun graphics with an easy-to-grok drag and drop “programming” interface and you have a definite winner.

If you have an iPad and have even the faintest interest in puzzle games you should grab this now and take a peek. Cargo-Bot is approachable, fun, and has a lot of depth for a seemingly simple concept. Anyone can have a good time with this, but for younger kids it has the added bonus of being an excellent way to teach both logic construction and process analysis. Interestingly, it was also completely created and coded on the iPad itself with a wildly intriguing new programming app called Codea. Methinks that is a bit of a peek into the future right there.

And did I mention that it’s free? Free, fun, and educational. Sort of like Sesame Street without all the touchy-feely bits. Enjoy.

Hero Academy Redux – Enter The Dwarves

The fine folks at Robot Entertainment have released another excellent update to the already-excellent Hero Academy. They have added a third team – the gadget-loving Dwarves – to the roster and they have done some rebalancing of the existing teams to keep the gameplay both interesting and fair. Adding a new team is great … but taking the time to manage and tweak the existing content is definitely going the extra mile. This is not something that purveyors of free games usually do. Full-scale props to the gang at Robot for decidedly exemplary behaviour.

They have also ginned up an excellent how-to-play and strategy guide, and have added a full slate of GameCentre achievements including the awesome (but only if you have seen this comic) “Three Minutes” entry.

If you haven’t grabbed this game yet and you have any interest at all in turn-based online player .vs. player strategy gaming, get it now. It’s free – free to download, free to try, and free to play if you are content with the starting team. But now that the “Dark Elves” expansion is on sale for a measly ninety-nine cents (sorry, Lifehacker users, I know that is way to expensive for you) there is no reason not to grab at least one expansion – for less than a buck you get a top-quality game with endless replay value, double the base functionality with the addition of the Elves, and no ads or distractions.

You could do a lot worse for a buck.

Get the game, get the Dark Elves, and then get online and start playing. I’ll be out there waiting …

Hero Academy

Hero Academy is the absolute pinnacle of “digital crack”. Summary: Free turn-based small-unit tactics game with classic sword-n-sorcery characters, power-ups, and a global pool of players. The new in-game tutorial video is very good, and there are a plethora of on-line strategy guides of if you need more help. There are low-priced in-app purchases of cosmetic and variety items, but if you are Lifehacker-cheap you don’t need to buy them to enjoy the game.

Even quicker summary: Totally and dangerously addictive. Get it.


Short and sweet: Gesundheit! is one of the best games for iOS devices, period. And you should get it. It is visually intriguing, fun, silly, interesting, challenging, engaging, and wildly addictive. And this week (that is to say, until November 27th) it is a measly 99 cents for either the iPhone/iPod version or the visually enhanced iPad version. If you have both devices you should really buy both – a buck-ninety-eight for something this good is a steal. Lifehacker readers excepted, of course.

Catan In Your Pocket

Like many of my geek brethren I have a serious love for board games. Back in the day when I lived in a dumpy house with my university cronies and eventual bandmates we played board games almost every night. At its core board gaming is cheap and fun, and if you pick the right games it also leads to lots of shouting at each other – something that has a lot of entertainment value on its own.

Two of our favourite games were Acquire and Cosmic Encounter. These two games are considered to be forerunners of the “German Board Game” genre, with lots of player interaction, minimum amounts of luck, and boards and pieces that are fun to play with and manipulate. These basic concepts are the ideas that allowed the Germans to revolutionize board gaming and go beyond the typical North American “roll the dice and go around the track” gestalt and get into some seriously fun shit.

Which, in a very roundabout and overly biographical way brings us to Catan (otherwise known as The Settlers Of Catan) for the iPhone. It is an insanely good realization of the game, with an excellent tutorial, easy-to-parse attractive graphics, and a really really good interface. This game is an absolute must have if you are a fan of Catan, a fan of German-style games, a fan of board games in general, or just want to have fun. The only limitation on the thing is that it is strictly one player against either 2 or 3 computer opponents – but since the whole point here is that it gives you a chance to play when you can’t round up some meatspace opponents for actual tactile play, that is probably a restriction that most people can deal with.

The game is on the high side of the iTunes Store price range at $4.99 – but at less than the price of a big-ass latte, that is pretty damn good value. And you will be playing with this for a lot longer that it would take to slurp back some venti choco lactose-free mocha caramel double no-whip thingie down at Staryucks.

If you have never seen the way the typical game of this genre plays and want to know what you are in for before spending your five measly bucks, the publishers of the Catan games have a semi-hokey but fun web site that gives tutorials in all of their games (the same tutorial that comes in the Catan iPhone game, actually, so if you go through it on the web you can skip right into the play when you do buy the game).

So yeah, buy this. You won’t be sorry.

Word Ace

I am a complete sucker for innovation – especially in gaming. If it is new and cool and different and fun, I will be the first in line to pluck my simoleans down for a title. Everything from Animal Crossing to Guitar Hero to Boom Blox – I’ll search it out and be more than happy to pay. So when something that reaches up into that part of the stratosphere and it is free … well, you can connect those dots for yourself.

And when you do connect those dots, you end up with Word Ace – a combination of a word game and poker that is 100% winner-winner-chicken-dinner. The guys at Self Aware Games took scrabble, mixed it half-and-half with hold ’em poker, added a dash of really slick on-line play, in-game chat, and an achievement system, and they brought it in at the low low price of free. So yeah, that works for me. Big time. The game is available for the Palm Pre and the iPhone and if you have either of those devices you need to take a look.

You can find all the details here (note: that is an iTunes store link) and see what else the gang at Self Aware is up to over here.

Super Awesome News

Guitar Hero 5 has PETER FUCKING FRAMPTON on board.

Really, I don’t need to say anything more.

Wario Land : Shake It

There is a new Wario title out for the Wii, and it is loaded with seriously cool old-school 2D platforming goodness. For the most part it is 2 buttons and a D-pad, the way things were meant to be … but with a bit of a twist involved. Or in this case, a shake.

Nintendo has posted a promotional and game-play video to YouTube and in keeping with the general gestalt here, the video has a bit of a twist too. You will have to watch to see what I mean. Very clever indeed.

More Wurdle

There is an update available now for Wurdle, and it has a feature that is either really cool or really annoying, depending on how competitive and/or irritable you are. When you are done a game, you now have the option to see all the words you missed and should have found if you weren’t such a fenderhead. The feature is fun, but also rather humiliating. If you have Wurdle already, you need to grab this update – there are other goodies in it, including a more responsive “shake” – and if you don’t have Wurdle then you really need to spend the three dollars and get it now.

Wurdle rocks.