Bigosaur’s A New Life ($1) is a text and graphic based life simulation game. Within 10 or 15 minutes, you’ll be able to lead a new person from birth to death, with choices made along the way presumably affecting your path. The concept was undeniably intriguing to me, and the game is interesting, too, in one particular way — it is both frustrating and strangely addictive (I don’t get it, either). Each year of your “life” brings you a new decision between two choices. While some of these make sense — for instance, picking an athletic activity over a more crafty pursuit can increase your athleticism, while selecting the other option will increase your craftiness level — others are confusing and don’t seem to make much difference, like choosing between “Internet” and “street map.” There are a number of seemingly unrelated choices, and similarly confusing results. In my most recent simulation, I was a charismatic, athletic, cultured 23-year-old woman who went to Juilliard, yet my first job offer was for a…ship captain? This kind of disconnect makes for a less fun experience. If you play through a few times, you’ll also see too many familiar outcomes — the early death of a spouse, the lost jobs — and the game always ends when you hit age 78 (if you get there). At the end, you finish with a certain amount of points accrued throughout life — happiness, experience, and legacy. Despite its obvious flaws, A New Life is still sort of interesting. It works better as a concept than as an actual experience right now, but this is exactly the kind of game that could benefit greatly from fine tuning in future updates.
The NHL app (free) has been updated to version 8.1 for the new NHL season. The redesigned app isn’t too much different from what fans saw last season, but I’ve found it slightly easier to navigate, and generally more responsive, as well. The Apple TV app has been similarly improved. But as an NHL.TV subscriber, unfortunately, it’s been a mixed bag so far this season. I’ve experienced relatively few buffering issues, and picture-in-picture support for iPad is great. It’s also nice that I’m able to switch between Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone viewing with ease — by comparison, the NFL’s game streaming Sunday Ticket app only allows one device to be logged in at a time. But the NHL game streams have often jumped backwards in time during a game — it’s happened to me on a number of occasions, for no real reason. I’ve also experienced a few issues with out-of-sync audio, which I don’t recall happening last season. The app is improved, but for NHL.TV users, it will be a much better experience if the streaming service itself can become more dependable.
Sago Mini Planes ($3) is the latest game from Sago Sago, long one of our favorite developers for young kids games. If your kids have played other Sago Mini games, they’ll know what to expect with Planes, which is yet another fun, intuitive app for toddlers and preschoolers. Kids will be able to pick from a number of aircraft options — including silly flying machines like a corncob plane — put their favorite Sago characters inside, and take them for a ride. Planes, like all Sago games, is all about exploration. Kids can maneuver planes through the sky to see how they react to different “obstacles,” in a variety of landscapes. It’s hard to go wrong with any of Sago’s apps, which have no in-app purchases or third-party ads.
One of my favorite iOS game developers is Philipp Stollenmayer, aka Kamibox. Stollenmayer excels at creating clever games that are unique, yet intuitive. From Sometimes You Die to Okay? to Burger – The Game and others, Stollenmayer has a knack for making simple games that are perfect for short periods of play, with clean, welcoming design. Stollenmayer’s newest is Zip-Zap ($2), an ad-free game with no in-app purchases. The app’s description is simple: “Touch to contract. Release to let go.” In Zip-Zap, you bounce and swing little mechanical Erector-style pieces through and around short levels to reach a goal. It’s a physics puzzler, but there’s a little more depth and thoughtfulness here than in many games of the same genre. Levels vary in difficulty, but there are more than 100 of them to keep you busy for a while. It’s another fantastic little pick-up-and-play charmer.