TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games You Should Play This Week

Alto's Adventure, Grudgeball and Swap Heroes 2 are our favorites

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

  • Alto’s Adventure

    Alto's Adventure
    Alto's Adventure

    While magnificently designed, Alto’s Adventure is also a rare runner game that incorporates objectives other than simply moving forward and earning points. Play as the snowboarder Alto and make jumps on difficult courses while leading your team through the frozen wilderness — and don’t forget to rescue those llamas.

    Alto’s Adventure is $1.99 in the App Store

  • Bob’s Space Adventure

    A modernized 8 bit-style arcade game in which you take a character through space to blast aliens. The developers have even organized a championship with a cash prize, so as you go fight off wave after wave of baddies before finally being outnumbered, you might actually put yourself in the running for a cool $100,000.

    Bob’s Space Adventure is free in the App Store

  • AdVenture Capitalist!

    Adventure Capitalist
    Adventure Capitalist

    AdVenture Capitalist! is a great little game about humble beginnings at a lemonade stand. Gradually grow your operation until you’re at the top of the capitalist chain. If you’re any good, you’ll be able to expand your empire to include other shops and operations — just remember to keep track of them all. It’s SimTower for the capitalist set.

    AdVenture Capitalist! is free in the App Store

  • Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere

    Grudgeball
    Grudgeball

    Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere

    Play as the characters of Cartoon Network’s much-adored Regular Show in the dangerous game of Grudgeball. Picture it as a game of dodgeball against all of your camp counselors. You can fire at opponents, block their balls, and counter-attack. However, the real fun is unleashing each character’s special Grudgeball move, as well as playing against friends using the same device.

    Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere is $2.99 in the App Store

  • Swap Heroes 2

    Swap Heroes 2
    Swap Heroes 2 Swap Heroes 2

    One of the more endearing RPGs available for iOS, Swap Heroes 2 has players assemble a team of heroes to go on quests. The game is slow-paced, but as you engage in a series of battles against opponents and complete a variety of missions, you start to feel like a ringleader of an old school gaming squad. It’s not as customizable as most console-based role playing games, but it has plenty of options for choosing your own path toward the final battle.

    Swap Heroes 2 is $2.99 in the App Store

TIME Video Games

The Order 1886 Review: Sony’s Exclusive Blockbuster

Ready at Dawn

Ready at Dawn's latest revisits the "interactive movie" concept with mostly positive results

“When you play a game, one moment you’re just controlling it and then suddenly you feel you’re in its world,” said Nintendo luminary Shigeru Miyamoto in a recent interview, adding that playing a game is thus “something you cannot experience through film or literature.”

What to make of developer Ready at Dawn’s gloomy, Victorian, supernatural pastiche The Order: 1886 then, a game that frequently takes player control away?

On the one hand, The Order: 1886 is an interactive drama (or what we might have called an “interactive movie” back when Under a Killing Moon and Phantasmagoria were in vogue) that spends Hideo Kojima quantities of time in the driver’s seat. It’s a kind of participatory film with occasional bursts of third-person action, in other words. But are games only games when we’re manipulating the action? Is player agency the be-all, end-all? Or is there something potentially fascinating when simply watching what happens is a large part—or most—of the experience?

All I can tell you is that I generally enjoyed The Order: 1886‘s hybrid approach to whatever it is we want to call what we’re doing these days when we play/receive/experience/watch a game. In fact the more I delved into Ready at Dawn’s Arthurian legend retelling, the more I appreciated the way the studio seemed to know just the right moments to step forward and tell its story, then back away to let you maneuver through its James Bond-meets-Nikola Tesla ballistic scenarios for yourself.

Ready at Dawn

If there’s one thing The Order: 1886 does very well, it’s providing that sense of continuously inhabiting a detailed world. Call it a PlayStation 4 tech demo if you like, it’s still an achievement: the render complexity of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within finally realized in realtime, any lingering benefits of pre-rendered cutscenes extinguished in one gorgeously shaded and illuminated swoop.

Sometimes that leads to overindulgence. You can pick up items and glean vague plot-related details, for instance, but they’re window dressing (and at best worth a few PlayStation 4 trophies). The Order: 1886 isn’t an adventure game where you sleuth for clues to solve puzzles, but hefting objects for admiration’s sake alone feels like a missed opportunity. I spent a fair lot of time perusing doohickeys, papers and photographs, finding nothing gameplay-related, and wondering if I’d missed the point (or joke).

But there’s undeniably something more intimate about this sort of carefully controlled, story-emphatic, single-player approach that’s absent from freeform games: the shifting abilities (sometimes you can walk, run, climb, shoot, sometimes one at a time, sometimes all together) that ironically increased my involvement with my surroundings, and the way the studio uses the game’s slower pace to unpack the characters and plot.

Ready at Dawn

Not that Ready at Dawn’s design choices are unimpeachable. The story, however well told, feels a bit too Underworld in an era of hackneyed monster mashups. The quicktime events are as derivative and lifeless as quicktime events have ever been, and the only minor innovation–having to swing the camera around to unmask which button to push–feels like a pointless tack on.

That goes double for all the repetitive input. Game studios still haven’t figured out that asking players to jam on a button to make whatever mechanism work (like moving an elevator) is a cliched and frankly impoverished substitute for actual interactivity. If, for instance, you’re going to make sending Morse Code integral to the game, great, but if you’re just asking me to tap out a few letters on a control surface once and for novelty’s sake, then as Hume said, to the flames.

I’m also a little conflicted about the game’s gunplay. A few of the weapons are halfway interesting (in particular a monstrous thing that lets you fire combustible powder, then ignite it with a followup flare). The enemies are more than competent, and the difficulty spikes satisfyingly brutal. But there’s something a little formulaic about the way enemies appear during these sequences—like pop-ups in a carnival game, the deadlier heavies arriving only after you’ve passed a threshold, making battles less about learning to react shrewdly than pattern recognition.

Ready at Dawn

But then I also love the way low cover obscures your view during shootouts, encouraging you to seek taller cover (you can see more, standing and shooting around corners), or to find cover that’s a mix of both so you can alternate fluidly. I love that snipers won’t shoot until you pop up, that if you’re not using cover judiciously bullets can hit and knock you into the open, that shotgunners flank at close range and that you can dodge grenades.

A word about the ending, which didn’t work for me. As spoiler-free as possible, I can say it comes down to a choice, or the lack of one, and at the only point I wanted the freedom to choose. I get that Ready at Dawn needs to tell its story, that as far as its concerned the choice made is the only one possible, but boy oh boy that ending…it’s the one place where auteurism and agency feel most like matter touching antimatter, and not in an artsy or revelatory way.

Some players are going to buck Ready at Dawn’s approach no matter what I say, and by all means steer clear if “interactive drama” isn’t your thing, but I submit that’s the wrong place to raise bulwarks. The Order: 1886 has flaws enough without conflating personal taste and flawed presumptions about game design—though it’s also a promise, assuming Ready at Dawn gets the go-ahead to make a sequel, of what this sort of author-player partnership could yield, better tempered, down the road.

3.5 out of 5

Review using the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

Read next: This Museum Is Building a Video Game Hall of Fame

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TIME Video Games

This Museum Is Building a Video Game Hall of Fame

US-ART-MOMA-VIDEO GAMES
Emmanuel Dunand—AFP/Getty Images An employee plays the video game Pac-Man (1980) during an exhibition preview featuring 14 video games acquired by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, March 1, 2013.

And it'll be in Rochester, New York

The Strong museum has collected more than 55,000 video games and related artifacts from the history of gaming — but only a few titles will be inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, which the museum officially launched on Tuesday.

“Electronic games have changed how people play, learn and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography,” said G. Rollie Adams, president and chief executive of The Strong museum in Rochester.

Gaming enthusiasts can nominate their favorite titles via the Strong’s website until March 31. An international committee of tech journalists and scholars will then select games based on their longevity, global reach and iconic status. Lacking those qualities, a game can still make the cut if it had a notable influence over other games or “society in general.” Not the most scientific measure, but a fun exercise in ranking nonetheless.

Winning titles will be unveiled at an induction ceremony at the Strong in June.

TIME apps

The Best iPhone Games You Should Play This Week

King of Thieves, Radical and Run Bird Run are our favorite iPhone games of the week

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

  • Run Bird Run

    Run Bird Run
    Run Bird Run Run Bird Run

    While Angry Birds may dominate the absurd bird-based genre, games like Crossy Road and Run Bird Run are starting to steal the spotlight. Players control a square bird by tapping their screen left or right in order to avoid falling boxes. It’s simple, almost mindless, and yet lots of fun to play. Unlock different levels, characters, maps, and a variety of comical cube-shaped creatures to keep the game interesting.

    Run Bird Run is free in the App Store

  • King of Thieves

    King of Thieves
    King of Thieves

    One of the few non-puzzle, non-shooter player-vs.-player games available for iOS. Play as a tiny cubed thief trying to steal gold from others while remaining undetected. The more you steal, the more money you have to buy disguises to better rob your friends.

    King of Thieves is free in the App Store

     

  • Radical

    Radical
    Radical

    Radical combines old-school concepts of barebones design and simple obstacle avoidance. Guide a small triangle through a series of openings without hitting the side of the wall. See if you can swipe your triangle from one side of the screen to the other in order to avoid crashing. It’s a simple arcade-style game that can keep you busy for long stretches of time.

    Radical is available free in the App Store

  • Cava Racing

    Cava Racing
    Cava Racing

    Cava Racing is a well-designed racing title that has the feel of an arcade game, with the desolate look and coloring of a Mad Max movie. Players rotate their phones in order to steer ships around corners that can spell doom for your vehicle. Use boosters to try and crush the best times for each race. The gameplay is incredibly fast and high-quality.

    Cava Racing is $1.99 in the App Store

  • Darklings Season 2

    Darklings
    Darklings

    A sequel to a well-received first attempt, Darklings Season 2 takes players through a surreal universe to fight enemies and conquer maps. Players use special powers to battle enemy darklings, who have stolen the stars from the world. It’s a remarkably detailed and well-animated game worthy of the first.

    Darklings Season 2 is free in the App Store

TIME Apple

Apple Just Made This Huge Change to the App Store

Apple Productivity Apps
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A shopper tries out the new Apple iPhone 6 at the Apple Store on the first day of sales of the new phone on Sept. 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

It will change the way you preview apps

Apparently the App Store isn’t open carry.

Apple is making some developers of violent video games censor screenshots of their titles for the App Store, Pocket Gamer reports. Several iPhone game developers told Pocket Gamer they had to blur or remove images of guns before Apple would approve their apps to go online.

Here’s what the result looks like for developer Warchest Limited’s Tempo:

screen520x924

Apple has long had a written policy of keeping violent images out of the App Store so it can maintain its 4+ age rating. However, the company hasn’t always enforced that rule as strictly as it appears to be doing now. It’s unclear why Apple is now suddenly asking developers to adhere to its guidelines.

TIME Video Games

5 Things to Know About Evolve’s Humans vs. Monsters Multiplayer Mayhem

The 4v1 online game drops Tuesday for PS4, Xbox and PC

I’m lukewarm toward competitive online-predominant shooters, but Evolve‘s quick pitch sounds interesting enough: four players with unique abilities dash through smallish levels and cooperatively square off against a giant Lord of the Rings-like troll-creature–a monster who’s vastly more agile and powerful, who evolves into an even deadlier thingamajig over time, and who can tap one very nasty bag of tricks.

The highbrow word to describe that is “asymmetric,” meaning lopsided, though here it’s still a carefully balanced kind of lopsided. That makes it different from conventional equal-sides shooters, though not new to gaming outright: the Splinter Cell games pioneered asymmetric multiplayer, and Fable Legends (due later this year) is doing more or less the same thing, only in a fantasy setting, pitting four heroes against a villain Dungeon Keeper-style.

Evolve‘s novelty grab, then, is the idea that both the players (dubbed Hunters) and the monster can evolve over the course of events, keeping a match’s tactics in flux.

I’m still working out how I feel about Evolve, which arrives for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Tuesday from developer Turtle Rock Studios. But here’s my initial take in five parts:

Playing as the monster feels a little shambolic…

Hey Godzilla, swat some flies! Playing as a hulking giant of a monster, hunting tiny and far more agile human opponents, is like trying to wallop birds with a wrecking ball. That’s as intended, but it takes some getting used to.

You can clamber up anything and quickly leap chasms, even sneaking about and lunging at prey, and you can get a little speedier if you choose certain power-ups at evolution points. But you’re not some spike-spined, gargantuan rendition of an Assassin’s Creed hero. You’re a tank–the tank of all tanks, in fact, and commensurately sluggish.

…but your ability picks let you build the perfect beast

The monster levels up quickly, and forces tough ability-related choices each time. There’s also no room for lallygagging, because you’re vulnerable during transitions. Evolution is therefore as much a locational and subterfuge strategy as a points distribution one.

Do you want the ability to charge an enemy (or, crucially, flee from one) while taking out anything in your path? Lob boulders at significant distance? Leap from high points to smash down on foes? Set the world (and your enemies) ablaze with billowing bursts of fire?

The basics feel a little…basic

You need to feed to evolve, which is a story way of shoehorning in the monster’s evolution mini-game. But the missions tend to play the same: the monster attempts to avoid the hunters while scarfing fauna and leveling up, then either tries to butcher its pursuers, or destroy/defend key objects. Vice versa for the players.

Variations on that theme include levels with destroyable monster eggs (the monster has to defend these for so many minutes), and others staffed with fleeing colonists (the monster has to kill–and the hunters save–a certain number to win). You get 16 levels at launch to stage in, and you can tweak settings like wildlife population, damage output and round length, or add in variables like a monster-spotting patrol ship, teleport gates or secondary monsters (monster minions!).

But we’ve seen a gazillion objective-related riffs in these kinds of games, and none of Evolve‘s leap out, or seem to at this point anyway. In the end, the only novel idea here may be the monster-vs-humans dynamic. Will it be enough to keep players chipping away at Evolve a month from now? A year?

Solo mode is just a multiplayer wrinkle…

Evolve‘s listed in various places as supporting single player. That’s really a misnomer. Is there even a story? I may have missed it, not that I’m sure I need one either way.

Think of Evolve‘s solo claim as part of a multiplayer hub, one where you’re given the option to select and tweak levels populated by bots (that is, computer-puppeted opponents). In that sense, it’s no different from any other online shooter with configurable levels and practice dummies. You can queue up five levels in a “dynamic” campaign, but it’s just a series of chained maps with carryover variables (boasts about hundreds of thousands of cross-relational effects in this mode are the usual mathematical hyperbole).

Don’t expect much from the monster A.I. (or the A.I. hunters), but if you just want to get a feel for each match type’s framework and pacing as well as scout the levels, soloing’s as helpful here as in any other multiplayer game’s practice rooms.

…and yet Evolve may turn out to be the multiplayer game for soloists

The monster hunters come in four flavors: Assault, Medic, Support and Trapper, the first three functioning essentially as you’d expect. The Trapper’s the most innovative of the bunch, able to spring vast Epcot-like containment half-spheres that prevent the monster from simply running away when it’s doing poorly, or needs to feed in private to evolve. The hunter personas come in 12 flavors, each with unique weapons and abilities (I’ve only fooled with a handful so far).

I prefer playing as the monster (or monsters–you can unlock more as you go) because it’s so immediately gratifying. Taking down each monster as part of the hunter team has its moments, but feels like any other lengthy battle of attrition. Laying out an irritating four-player squad of human do-gooders as the monster is endlessly cathartic, though–especially if you, like me, have little patience for the tactical particulars of team coordination.

In that sense Evolve brings two multiplayer mindsets together: the well-coordinating team player type, versus the lone wolf with a penchant for leaping first and looking later.

TIME Video Games

Netflix Reportedly Developing Live-Action Legend of Zelda Series

This June 3, 2009 photo shows a visitor playing "The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks" video game on the Nintendo DS during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
Danny Moloshok—Reuters This June 3, 2009 photo shows a visitor playing "The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks" video game on the Nintendo DS during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

An animated 'The Legend of Zelda' series did air for 13 episodes in 1989

Netflix is already bringing comic book stories to its streaming service, but the company may also be looking to introduce video game tales to its subscribers as well.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix is in the early stages of development on a live-action series based on Nintendo’s long-running franchise, The Legend of Zelda. WSJ cites a source familiar with the project, stating that Netflix is currently looking for writers for the show, and that the project is being compared to Game of Thrones.

A representative for Netflix declined to comment on the report.

The original The Legend of Zelda debuted in Japan in 1986, and has become one of Nintendo’s most commercially and critically revered franchises. Nintendo is currently developing a Zelda game for its current home console, Wii U, while a remake of the Nintendo 64 title, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, will release this month for the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo likes to keep its own franchises squarely within the control of Nintendo, so this report comes as somewhat—OK, total—surprise. The last big live-action attempt made outside of Nintendo with one of the game company’s properties was the 1993 Super Mario Bros. film, which lives on in infamy as a bizarre and disappointing adaptation. Nintendo has shown reticence to turn its properties into films or TV shows since. An animated The Legend of Zelda series did air for 13 episodes in 1989, however—if anyone has said “Excuse me, princess,” to you, that show is the source.

The Zelda game series also has a unique setup for its story, as almost every game tells the story of a new character, often named Link, saving a new princess Zelda. Nintendo only recently released a timeline that put the stories in a chronological order, but each game’s story still often acts independent of the others. Presumably the series would tell the story of a young boy in a green tunic venturing out to save a princess, but Netflix would have dozens of art styles and variations of setting and story to choose from when creating their specific adaptation.

If it’s true, the series would be a huge step forward for Nintendo’s franchises crossing over into other mediums. There’s the issue that Link never really speaks in the games to overcome, but other than that, Zelda is perhaps the most accessible and easiest mainstay Nintendo franchise to adapt into a film or TV show, especially with the increase in fantasy-style shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander.

And if the rumored project never sees the light of day? Well, then Nintendo fans will still have to wait for whatever the Wii U version of Zelda offers.

Representatives for Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Video Games

Katy Perry Is About to Get Her Own Mobile Game Like Kim Kardashian

Katy Perry at the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIV Halftime Show Press Conference in Phoenix on January 29, 2015
Mike Lawrie—Getty Images Katy Perry at the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show Press Conference in Phoenix on Jan. 29, 2015

It'll be free to play for everyone with an iOS or Android device

This week, Katy Perry signed an exclusive, five-year partnership to create a free mobile game with Glu Mobile Inc, the mobile developers that created Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The game will launch on iOS and Android platforms at the end of the year.

Details remain murky about the game’s content, but Glu says it will “introduce players to a digital playground of global success and talent,” according to a press release. With Perry selling over ten million albums and attracting over 60 million followers on Twitter, the 30-year-old’s game is already expected to be a hit like Kardashian’s.

“Katy is arguably the most recognized musician in America following her Super Bowl XLIX Halftime performance this past Sunday,” said Glu CEO Niccolo de Masi. “She is a cultural icon and we expect to translate key elements of her success into an innovative, highly entertaining mobile experience.”

Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show performance was broadcast to over 118 million people, drawing the highest number of viewers in the event’s history.

TIME Video Games

Over 45 Million Copies of Grand Theft Auto V Have Been Shipped

Grand Theft Auto V
Mario Tama—Getty Images A display copy of Grand Theft Auto V sits on a shelf at the 8 Bit & Up video games shop in New York City on Sept. 18, 2013.

10 million copies sold in the last two-and-a-half months

Grand Theft Auto V is on its way up the video game charts.

The Rockstar game has shipped over 45 million copies since its release in September 2013, with 10 million of those sold in the last two-and-a-half months following the game’s PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release, Engadget reported Tuesday.

It’s a massive sales figure, but not quite up to Grand Theft Auto V‘s sales following its initial release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 — over 11 million units were sold within 24 hours, with Rockstar raking in over $1 billion in three days.

[Engadget]

TIME Video Games

Is It Really Time to Abandon Sony’s PlayStation Network?

Sony, Microsoft Sony's PlayStation 4 (upper-left) and Microsoft's Xbox One (lower-right).

Is Sony's PlayStation Network as terrible as some seem to think?

It’s tempting to view online services as perennial. You probably paid money for the privilege of using them, whatever the fine print you didn’t read actually says about availability, and you expect the vast province of interlinked devices we call the Internet to operate with the continuity of running water or electricity (never mind the number of power outages I’ve endured living in southeast Michigan).

When things go south, you get mad, the friends you wanted to play with are nonplussed, grumpy cat gets even grumpier–who isn’t fuming?

Thus when something like Sony’s PlayStation Network goes kaplooey, as it did at some point on Sunday, is it any surprise we’re seeing angry, hyperbolic, message-board-like news headlines? Writers jotting off zingers like “Why trust Sony ever again?”

Why indeed. But before we aim our collective invective at Sony or its online gaming peers, it’s helpful to review the pathology. Have Sony’s PSN outages crossed the Rubicon? Is it really time to cancel your online subscription? Maybe take your business across the aisle?

When people think of the PlayStation Network as unreliable, they’re really thinking about April 2011, a monumental mess wherein PSN collapsed and stayed down for nearly a month (followed by further hacks of other Sony services and embarrassing data leaks). Hackers attempted to snatch sensitive personal data, succeeding in pilfering vast troves of essentially innocuous names and addresses. The outage length–a record 23 days–was because Sony had to rethink its entire online security apparatus.

In late August 2014, the PlayStation Network as well as Sony Online Entertainment were briefly disrupted by a denial of service attack (the group responsible reportedly tweeted a bomb threat at SOE President John Smedley as he was flying to San Diego–the plane was consequently diverted to Phoenix). Microsoft’s Xbox Live was also disrupted during this period.

In early December 2014, Sony’s PlayStation Network as well as Sony Online Entertainment were once again briefly disrupted by a denial of service attack. Microsoft’s Xbox Live was also disrupted during this period.

In late December 2014, Sony’s PlayStation Network was unavailable for several days (including Christmas), apparently the victim of a malicious traffic-related disruption. Microsoft’s Xbox Live was similarly impacted.

In early February 2015, Sony’s PlayStation Network was briefly disrupted by another denial of service attack. (Microsoft’s Xbox Live went down briefly in late January–it’s still not clear why.)

Setting aside planned maintenance outages, Sony’s PlayStation Network has thus been unavailable as a result of nefarious activity less than a dozen times. Furthermore, Microsoft’s Xbox Live, while spared the colossal (and importantly, lingering) public shaming Sony endured back in 2011, has been down nearly as often. Both companies have attempted, in various ways, to compensate users for these outages.

Cognitive distortion can make molehills into mountains. The question, given the volatility of a global network susceptible to sudden malicious traffic missiles, is whether companies like Sony and Microsoft are over-promising availability, or whether consumers–obliged, in my view, to see more shrewdly through corporate hyperbole–need to take a dimmer view of what the Internet in 2015 can deliver. Denial of service attacks in 2015 remain a problem to which no company or service is immune.

I’m not apologizing for incompetence (where indeed incompetence can be proven), I’m just suggesting we’ve been sold a bill of goods about online dependability (in our minds, anyway–the fine print says otherwise) that can’t live entirely up to its claims. Not in 2015, anyway.

Is 98 or 99% availability the end of the world? I’m not so sure, though I’d definitely like to see companies like Sony and Microsoft level with us rolling forward, perhaps implementing an if-this-then-that remuneration clause, e.g. this much outage time equals that much compensatory service. At least you’d know the parameters going in.

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