The best social game apps for iOS Device (Part 2) - SteamScope, Blockwick, Pinball Arcade

4/13/2012 5:21:20 PM


This is a curious little game. Steamscope tasks players with navigating through a set of tubes, pipes, tunnels and hallways. The aim is to go as far as possible without hitting any objects, which sounds simple, but is easier said than done.

This progression is made increasingly tougher as the camera rolls and twists to confuse your sense of direction the further you go. And if that isn't hard enough, there are coins to collect along the way. It's basically an endless runner/cave flyer from a first person perspective. And depending on your ability to stomach motion sickness, it can be a nauseating experience as you endlessly descend further into your device.

Like any sickness inducing amusement ride, the key is to focus on one spot and use your peripheral vision to collect coins and avoid objects. Movement is controlled by tilting the device or using a virtual thumbstick. Each has its advantages, tilting is quick and responsive, and the thumbstick is great for fine control. But tilting can be unwieldy and the thumbstick a little slow.

If you're able to take in the 3D environments they do in fact look quite spectacular and carry a lot of atmosphere and detail. But more often than not these will just be flying by and you won't have time to take in some of the intricate design choices. The levels are varied and challenging but they can be long and even with the inclusion of checkpoints, sometimes too long.

Description: SteamScope

Boss battles are a little more varied but unfortunately for me, my motion sickness tolerance levels aren't as high as the average person's and I often needed to rest my eyes and take a break from my plunge through the endlessly weaving pipes. It's a trying game in more ways than one. While the levels are challenging, so is the endurance to see each one through.


Blockwick is your new favorite puzzle game. This title takes simple block slide and matches gameplay and gives it a new coat of paint. Instead of moving the blocks to a specific goal or area, players must move each matching block next to one another to make their mysterious symbols glow and complete the level.

The challenge is in moving various other clear or neutral colored blocks out of the way and getting your various, Tetris-inspired blocks together across the game board. Obstacles vary in size and the solutions for completing each level are numerous with an open and unrestricted feel to the gameplay.

Each level is different and takes time to work through but all are highly satisfying with a deep sense of achievement once completed. The first 60 levels come free with the option of buying more in app, and by that time Blockwick will firmly have its hooks into you. There are a total of 240 puzzles with each additional 60 costing 99 cent.

These get increasingly more challenging. So if you've made your way through the first 60 for free, what awaits you is worth the price.

With so many levels on offer you'd expect a little repetition, but surprisingly Blockwick never overtly feels like its retreading old ground as the levels are remarkably different. The various shapes and sizes of the blocks themselves help and this forces players to continually evolve the way they approach the game, so there's never a feeling of getting stale or bored.

Puzzle games like this are a dime a dozen, yet games like Blockwick are few and far between. It's an incredibly intelligent app and its execution is superb. Any puzzle gamer will find this challenging and a lot of fun to play.

Description: Blockwick

Pinball Arcade

Oh what a glorious game. Anyone who grew up with arcades and pinball machines will find this incredibly enticing. FarSight Studios has done a tremendous job of replicating the sights and sounds of classic pinball machines and this really feels as close to the real thing as possible, especially with an iPad.

Pinball Arcade features a range of classic machines from different eras. Of course the main goal is to achieve the highest score but what as iOS game can do that real machines can't is offer achievements and objectives to give the experience an extra twist. Part of that is to give a history of each machine, view a flyer and discover every objective available on the chosen machine in a comprehensive instruction manual.

You start out with just one machine, Tales of Arabian Nights, with three more available as an in app purchase. The machines all vary in layout and themes based on real life machines chock full of pinball goodness. And even though I'm not a fan of in app purchase, at least you get to try each machine before you buy. Each one is intricately recreated with a lot of detail in the graphics and effects with the sounds and bright lights providing the atmosphere.

The physics are occasionally unforgiving and seem to straddle the reality/video game challenge lines but on the whole it's not too bad and of course it's not likely we're going to get accurate real world physics in a game like this. The controls are predictably simple with each flipper controlled by touching the bottom left or right of the screen with a nudge function by either shaking the device or touching the top right or left of screen.

Description: Pinball Arcade

These respond quite well and the gameplay is balanced and faithful to the real thing. There might be a little lag here and there, unfortunately, but most of the time, even with a multi ball run or trying to put together a combo, the game rarely struggles especially since its initial release there have been numerous updates.

Visually, this game is an art form as the original machines themselves were dazzling pieces of art. Each machine has been painstakingly recreated in pixel form with a high degree of detail capturing the sounds and the atmosphere perfectly. The gameplay is great and the online tournaments and extra challenge modes available make this certainly worth the price of admissions. I'm not a fan of the in app purchases but luckily, this nostalgically speaks to the kid inside me who can get enough of this pinball wizard.

Description: Pinball Arcade

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