We've got indies on the brain this week, kicking things off with the awesome iPad version of Flash favorite SteamBirds, which is followed by Shot Shot Shoot, a finalist for Best Mobile Game at this year's Independent Games Festival. We're also tackling the hilariously violent Super Mega Worm, as well as a pair of releases from publishers on the other end of the spectrum: Gameloft's GT Racing: Motor Academy HD and EA's Monopoly for iPad. Ready your App Store password – we're diving in.
SteamBirds started life as a Flash game sensation on PC last year, but the iPad is the perfect home for this engaging flight combat game, which utilizes a unique turn-based strategic approach that translates wonderfully to a touch-based interface. Plus, the iPad version gets a sparkling new visual makeover.
On paper, the turn-based approach – complete with automated, proximity-based fire – seems like an odd fit for a wartime flight game, but SteamBirds pulls it off perfectly across its 30+ missions, giving you a variety of enemy ships to tackle in the process. Your role in the quest is simply to guide your squadron by drawing the path of each individual plane, then press the button to set things in motion and hope your route puts enemies in your firing range without making you a sitting duck. As the missions progress, you'll face a tougher array of foes and have to learn how best to position your planes to emerge from each unique challenge.
SteamBirds was a fantastic point-and-click experience on PC, and it's arguably even better with the touch interface of the iPad. Semi Secret Software has already showed an affinity for updating the app with fresh content – new missions and planes were added before Christmas – so here's hoping the later multiplayer and survival options from the Flash game make their way over to the iOS versions, as well.
Even as a larger chunk of the human population attempts to "go green" and lessen its impact on the environment, it's pretty clear we've done some significant damage to the planet. And in Super Mega Worm's version of the world, the Earth decides to fight back by spawning a Great Death Worm named Wojira (Ed: probably a nod to Godzilla’s Japanese name, Gojira), who rises from the ground and indiscriminately chomps people, police cruisers, and airplanes, while also blasting lasers from its mouth and emitting EMP blasts.
Expectedly, such wanton destruction is your job in this amusing universal iOS hit, which started on iPhone before adding native iPad support. Sporting a charmingly antiquated retro-stylized look and just a couple of input buttons, Super Mega Worm puts you in command of Wojira, who builds up strength and gains those aforementioned abilities by eating the disrespectful humans who let laziness and technology degrade the planet. Super Mega Worm is admittedly a one-trick pony, as your task is to continually eat humans and bust up vehicles without dying, but it's a pretty entertaining approach that's worth digging back into with regularity.
And it sounds as if the game will have even more to offer in the near future, as the App Store listing promises an update with new modes, environments, items, and abilities, which could give this amusing action game extra legs. Plus, Super Mega Worm has frequently been discounted (it's temporarily priced at $0.99/£0.59 as of this writing), so keep an eye out for a cheap listing if you don't have it already.
The App Store houses a handful of worthwhile board game adaptations – particularly the excellent Carcassonne and similarly solid Scrabble – and EA's updated version of Monopoly easily joins their ranks with a comprehensive and customizable take on the enduring classic. And like the iPhone version, Monopoly for iPad was developed by Venan, the studio responsible for the sharp Space Miner and Ninjatown: Trees of Doom!, so it's little surprise that this iteration stands out on Apple's tablet.
Monopoly for iPad sports some aesthetic bells and whistles, with sharply rendered visuals and animated piece movements, but the bigger benefit of this iPad iteration is its ability to properly mimic the real-life board and support four-player games. In the Tabletop mode, you can simply plop down the iPad between all four players and the screen orientation will shift automatically between turns; plus, you can adjust the game's house rules to match whatever weird tweaks your family typically enjoys. You can also play the computer and link up with other players over Bluetooth for local games, even if they have the iPhone/iPod Touch version.
And with the new Teacher mode, you can even learn new tips and tactics for becoming a Monopoly master, should you desire fresh ways to trounce grandma in this bloodthirsty quest for virtual property. Otherwise, Monopoly is the same as it ever was, and this version is unlikely to convince anyone who wrote the game off years past. But if you want a handy and well-made digital version to replace your ratty old board, Monopoly for iPad easily fits the bill.