Fresh iPhone Apps for January 2012

Jan 31, 2012
Tech

Manage the relationships you have with your contacts list, and keep track of when you interact with important people both professionally and personally, with VIPOrbit, today’s top Fresh iPhone app. The app just got a big update and now even supports Siri. If you don’t happen to have Siri, that’s okay – Evi, a low-cost alternative to Apple’s new app, has your back, at least for a few things like searching the web. Lovecraftian turn-based strategy title Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land kicks off today’s games offerings, followed by the simple but well-made runner title, Robo Ring.

VIPOrbit update (iPhone, iPad) $4.99

If you’re a heavy iOS user in your professional life, you might want to invest $5 in VIPOrbit, a contacts manager that keeps lots of data on the people you meet so it’s always on-hand. The app links your contacts and calendars, allowing you not only to keep all a person’s contact information, but also a timeline of when you’ve talked, had meetings, made notes and ticked off items on your to-do list related to that person. You can also set VIPOrbit to keep track of that information automatically.

VIPOrbit just got a big interface update, making it easier and quicker to use. It also now includes group emailing and task management capabilities within your “orbits,” and it even supports Siri for all you savvy iPhone 4S users out there.

Evi (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

You’ll need an iPhone 4S to get access to Apple’s new Siri voice-activated personal assistant app, but if you’re one of the millions of people who hasn’t upgraded to the latest and greatest iPhone, there are alternatives. One of them is Evi, a low-cost Siri-like app that doesn’t have all the capabilities of the Apple-made voice-activated software, but which is pretty robust nonetheless.

Evi is designed to search the Internet and answer questions you ask it, using plain English. It’s pretty good at getting your meaning, too. If you ask where the nearest Mexican restaurant is, for example, the app can find it for you and return an audible answer, just like Siri. It can’t take dictation, but Evi offers a low-cost alternative to the popular Apple app, and it has definitely helped me fake like I was a super-cool iPhone 4S owner.

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land (iPhone, iPad) $4.99

A turn-based strategy game based on the role-playing game series of the same name and the classic H.P. Lovecraft novella, Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land puts you in control of a team of British soldiers and investigators tasked with stopping a German cult from summoning an ancient evil during World War I. In each round of the game, you’ll move your troops around grid-covered levels, fighting enemy soldiers and completing objectives as you build out the game’s story.

Call of Cthulhu features fully 3-D graphics with Retina display support, as well as an original Lovecraft-inspired story set in the world of the well-loved game franchise. There’s also Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Robo Ring (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Robo Ring is something of an endless runner title, in which you play a ring-shaped robot moving from left to right on the screen over a track. The game works pretty well because of its simplicity: A slider control on the right side of the screen allows you to make your robot larger or smaller. You’ll need to snag stars by expanding or contracting the ring to make them hit your robot, while avoiding obstacles that stick to the track or hang from the ceiling.

Smack too many of the obstacles and your game ends, but every star you snag restores a little bit of your life bar. Robo Ring works because it actually requires quick reflexes and a deft touch, despite being pretty easy to grasp. The more stars you rack up, the higher your score gets, and Robo Ring keeps track of your progress on its Game Center and OpenFeint leaderboards.

Shakespeare in Bits: Hamlet (iPhone, iPad) $7.99

Got an English exam over Shakespeare’s Hamlet coming up, or just an interest in understanding one of the most studied plays in the English language? You’ll want to check out Hamlet in Bits, an education app that packs of wealth of resources about the play including a complete, unabridged original version that you can read right on your iPhone or iPad.

Hamlet in Bits also includes three hours of professional audio recordings of performances of Hamlet, as well as animations showing the play’s various scenes. You’ll be able to read along with the text as you watch or listen to the dialog being spoken, and Hamlet in Bits also includes character biographies to keep you up to speed with who’s who in Shakespeare’s tale of murderous intrigue. The app even includes a character relationship map, so you’ll never lose track of why characters are important or what’s going on in the twisting narrative.

Fanhattan update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Entertainment app Fanhattan is a portal for discovering new movies and TV shows across a variety of services including Hulu, Netflix, Lifetime, Crackle, iTunes and PBS. When you fire up the app, you’re greeted with a list of popular new content from the services you use. You can also find more by searching by directors, actors, titles and more; then, Fanhattan provides you other choices you might like based on the things you’re already into.

Fanhattan just got a big update that adds more news services to the app’s content choices. You can see what’s going in the latest entertainment news with the new Fan Feed feature, and from that news you can find new entertainment to enjoy, like TV shows or movies that are garnering a lot of attention (or just got nominated for Oscars). You can also favorite stories, directors, actors, shows and movies to find more content that includes them, making Fan Feed smarter and bringing you even more stuff you’ll enjoy.

Hank Hazard (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Daredevil hamster Hank Hazard needs to show off his stuff, earn points and become the greatest daredevil (hamster) ever. So you’ll need to help him through level after physics-based level, popping bubbles and carefully maneuvering Hank through each puzzle in Hank Hazard, grabbing all stars in each stage before reaching a goal. It’s standard fare for physics-based puzzle titles, but Hank Hazard brings in its own feel and some solid level design to a crowded field.

Each stage in Hank Hazard requires you to meet a special requirement to get a bonus “nut” that kicks up your score. In some levels, you’ll want to finish as quickly as you can to beat a timer. In others, it’ll be the number of “moves” (like taps or actions where you manipulate the level) you need to keep to a minimum. This adds a little bit of variety to each of Hank Hazard’s levels, plus something to strive for to help you climb the game’s leaderboards, care of Game Center.

RoboHero (iPhone, iPad) Free (with $1.99 in-app purchase)

Turn-based strategy title RoboHero is all about planning. Each level has you attempting to navigate to reach a goal of some kind, moving your robot around a grid to avoid hazards, blast enemies and get where he’s going as quickly as possible. To move him around in each stage, you’ll tap the grid to give him commands, storing up to 15 in his memory banks at a time. Once you’ve planned out each round’s moves, you’ll hit the play button to put your robot into motion. Strong planning is the key to keeping him from getting turned into scrap.

RoboHero packs 30 levels and three gameplay modes, most of which his free (after the first 10 levels, you’ll need to purchase the full game through an in-app purchase of $1.99). It also includes an arena mode and a multiplayer mode that allows you to take on as many four other players, or six computer-controlled opponents.

Frequency (iPad) Free

You might think of Frequency as a kind of Pandora for video. The app makes it easy to find and watch videos from a variety of sources right on your iPad, but what’s better is that it will create customized channels for you based on your preferences. You can create channels based on your favorite sites, on specific topics and trends, or even just a running list of what your friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

Frequency makes it easy to group videos into channels and see everything you want quickly and easily, but it also helps you search through all that information for the best bits. The app will pull highlights from all your channels that you can flip through more quickly, keep you up to date on trends and allow you to find things you’re already following quickly with its TUNER feature. It also includes AirPlay support, which means you can watch your videos on your other iOS devices, including Apple TV.

Steam Mobile (iPhone, iPad) Free

An iOS tie-in to the uber-popular online video game distribution, Steam allows PC gamers the ability to access their accounts on the portal, talk to friends, view games and trailers – basically everything they can do with the Steam PC app, except for the part about playing video games. But you can still shop for them and purchase them to be digitally downloaded on your computer when you return to it.

Steam lets you search for games, see new releases, read about titles and watch their trailers, all from your iOS device. You can buy games for yourself or for friends, or add them to your “wishlist” for later (or to encourage people to give you gifts). You’ll need a Steam account to access your account through the app, and the system is currently still in beta, so you’ll need to wait for developer Valve to send you an invite. But downloading the app and signing-in puts you on Valve’s list of interested users, which might help fast-track your beta invite.

RAGE HD update (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Last year, id Software released RAGE HD as an iOS title to go along with its first-person shooter, also titled RAGE. The iOS version contains some slick graphics and great shooter controls, making use of both the touchscreen and the built-in gyroscope to make aiming your weapons feel natural. A “rail shooter,” RAGE takes care of the movement in the game (it’s as if you were on a rollercoaster), while you do the shooting.

A big update has just dropped for the title, bringing new content to iOS players. RAGE HD contains two new levels to work through, filled with pesky, murderous mutants. Those levels can be downloaded through in-app purchase, and the game now supports HDMI output so you can play on your TV and iOS 5. It’s also received a host of bug fixes to tighten up the experience.

Baseball Superstars 2012 (iPhone, iPad) Free

Gamevil’s yearly update to its cartoonish home run-hitting baseball title has gone freemium in Baseball Superstars 2012, but the core of the game will keep fans of the long-running series happy. Like other titles in the Baseball Superstars series, you’ll manage your team and play against others, both computer controlled and online, where you’ll do the pitching and the hitting for your team.

Baseball Superstars 2012 features HD graphics and online play that allows you to take on other players as well as trade your baseball team members with your friends. It also features a story campaign you can work through on your own with multiple endings, and Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Paper Monsters (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Platformer Paper Monsters has a lot in common with the PlayStation 3 game LittleBigPlanet, including a similar art style and protagonist. You play a hero made up of cardboard, running through a 2-D platforming world and searching for hidden objects to collect in each one. The more exploring you do, the better you’ll be able to discover the things you need to buy new stuff for your hero, as well as pull down the best scores in each stage.

Paper Monsters’ best feature is its smart level design. You’ll find warp tunnels that rocket you into caves or the clouds, or take you into areas visible in the distant background. The game includes 16 big levels across four worlds, and includes Game Center support as well as Airplay mirroring, allowing you to play the game on your other iOS devices.

Ant Raid (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

As bees, snails and other critters attack various ant royalty strongholds, the only hope of the tiny insects and their queen lies with the battlefield abilities of one commander: you. In Ant Raid, you command a battalion of ants, tapping their groups and assigning them to attack enemies on the screen to destroy them. Ant Raid is partially an action game and partially a strategy title, scratching the itch for both and using simple, easy-to-pick-up touch controls to do it.

A former iPad-only offering that just made its way to the iPhone and iPod Touch, Ant Raid packs 100 levels spread across two game modes. There’s also a lengthy campaign (it stretches on for 60 levels) and a challenge mode, as well as Game Center support that’ll provide achievements and leaderboards to reward your command skills.

One Epic Game (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Endless runner One Epic Game will probably feel a bit familiar to you. It’s a lot like other entries in the genre, notably Monster Dash, although the game features levels with definitive ends that makes it a little different from its counterpart from Halfbrick. It also separates itself with its comic book art style and a number of power-ups that change the way the game handles, like lots of different guns and a short-term jetpack.

One Epic Game includes three game modes: a comic-like story mode, the pick-up-and-play freeplay mode, and a challenge mode that ups the difficulty of the game. It also includes five big worlds to run through and plenty of enemies to blast for big points.

Doozy (Visual Calendar and Tracker) update (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Doozy takes your standard task manager app and ups it with stat tracking and a visual element to help keep its users on task. First, you set up your list of priorities like you would in any other to-do list app, marking down the things you need to do and when. Then, you can track any kind of progress you might be making (one example is weight loss) over time, to help you keep at it.

The app can present the data you input in several different ways, including graphs and charts that let you track your progress. And a recent big update adds a lot more features as well, including Dropbox syncing, RSS feeds, notifications and reminders, new icons and lots of other enhancements.

OneSchool (iPhone, iPad) Free

College students will find a lot of useful information on-hand in OneSchool. The app is an aggregation of public information about a university – local restaurants, class offerings, bus schedules and routes and more handy info – combine with a bit of social networking to allow users to interact using a Wall feature and create groups to contact one another.

OneSchool is a little limited right now, with only eight colleges represented, but the developer behind the app is working to add more as demand for the app comes in. If you happen to go to one of the covered schools, however, you’ll be able to take advantage of a great deal of useful information. OneSchool is meant to be handy and searchable no matter where you are.

Breakout Boost+ (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Following up the popularity of Breakout Boost comes Atari’s Breakout Boost+, a new version of the brick-breaker title. Like the earlier version, you control a paddle at the bottom of the screen with touch controls, sliding it around to bounce a ball up into groups of bricks at the top of the screen. The more you break, the higher your score, but if you let the ball bounce past the paddle, you’ll lose it.

Unlike its freemium counterpart, Breakout Boost+ requires an up-front payment of $0.99 to download and packs 100 additional levels that didn’t appear in the earlier title. It also has lots of power-ups that can turn the game in your favor, plus achievements and leaderboards care of Game Center.

Frederic – Resurrection of Music Complete (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Take on the role of a resurrected Frederic Chopin and take on musical combatants the world over in rhythm title Frederic – Resurrection of Music Complete. In each of Frederic’s levels, you’ll need to tap away at the keys of a piano to match notes that appear on the screen. Hit lots of them in time and you’ll move a bar that measures your progress against your opponent, filling it with green. Miss too many and the bar goes red. You’ll need the bar to be more than 50 percent green in order to win each level.

Frederic contains nine levels to play through, each remixing a Chopin classic in a new and modern way. The game also features an hour of fully-voiced motion comics to tell its story, and Game Center support for leaderboards and achievements to help you measure your skill level.

Oscars (iPhone, iPad) Free

The nominees for the 84th Academy Awards are due out today, and if you’re a movie fanatic you’re going to want to be at the ready with the official app of the awards show, Oscars. The app makes it easy to keep up to speed on all that’s going on with the famed award show, from the nominees this week to seeing Academy Awards through the last 100 years of cinema.

Oscars gives you the ability to watch trailers of nominated films, view specials on the people who have received nominations, learn about stars’ fashion and more. And during the actual show on Feb. 26, you’ll get a unique perspective on the proceedings by choosing which camera angle you want to see as the awards are taking place and getting exclusive footage from the Governor’s ball after the show.

Mobile MORE Field Guide to Life (iPhone, iPad) $6.99

There are a lot of apps in the iTunes App Store that can help you when drinking by teaching you to recognize when you’ve had too many or stopping you from making a bad decision with your text-messaging powers, but there are a lot fewer for those trying to recover from alcoholism. But there is the Mobile MORE Field Guide to Life, which helps those in recovery stay on their path with tools and inspiration on the go.

The Field Guide to Life provides quite a few useful features to help with recovery, including a sober counter, a daily inspirational message and sobriety challenges to help get you through small increments of time like days and weeks. There are also social features like a 12-Step Meeting Finder and a community support system that lets you program important people into your app like a sponsor, who can be instantly notified with the app’s “Get Help Now” button.

Time of Heroes (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Turn-based strategy title Time of Heroes gives you an army and sends you into battle. As you work through the game’s story, you’ll command two kinds of forces, heroes and units. While units can be any kind of soldier, like melee, infantry, flying and mounted (each with their own strengths and weaknesses), heroes command those groups and give them special abilities. They also are highly powerful and give you an advantage on the battlefield.

In each Time of Heroes fight, you’ll move your forces around the field, taking into account terrain, unit type and other factors to win your victories. It’s a slow and deliberate game, perfect for classic strategy fans, and it has a solid art style and interesting story as well.

Puzzlejuice (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Puzzler Puzzlejuice combines multiple puzzle games to create a title with a slick look and a lot of interesting ideas. Part of it is similar to Tetris, in which you arrange falling blocks to form rows. Part of it has you matching colors to make larger groups, and part of it is a word search – because forming words out of the letters that appear on your falling blocks is the only way to clear them and score points.

Puzzlejuice contains three game modes. An easy mode, a “core” mode that has you surviving as long as possible, and an “extreme” mode that amps up the difficulty. It’s also a great game to play with a friend because it allows you to separate the tasks, with one person handling blocks and the other letters. Puzzlejuice includes Game Center support to bring online leaderboards and achievements to the title, and it has an on-board dictionary to help you with the word portions.

Wordy: The Logophile’s Primer (iPhone, iPad) Free

For the word-loving iOS user, Wordy is a nice addition to your app library. Every day, the app provides you with a new word of the day, providing the definition, thesaurus entries, synonyms and other information.

You’ll get lots of vocabulary words out of Wordy, and the app is specially designed just for the iPhone. It packs information from lots of different sources, including Websters, The American Heritage Dictionary and The Century Dictionary, and is great for users who want to expand their knowledge of the English language.

Earth-Now (iPhone, iPad) Free

Education app Earth-Now brings all kinds of data about the planet to one place, casting it as a touch-sensitive globe that you can spin and zoom-in on. Earth-Now presents various bits of information laid out over the globe that show the state of the planet like carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, global temperature, ozone density and “vital signs.”

Earth-Now is full of climatology information and gets its information from science compiled by the Earth Science Communications and Visualization Technology Applications and Development Teams at NASA. It’s easy to get a space-eye view of the planet and see all the app’s information in just a few seconds.

Triple Town (iPhone, iPad) Free

Part match-3 game, part city builder, Triple Town is quite an addictive freemium title. The premise is similar to other games in the match-3 genre, such as Bejeweled. You place three objects of the same type next to each other to score points, but in Triple Town, each group you make of an object creates a new, better object: grass groups make bushes, bush groups make trees, tree groups make houses.

The goal is to keep adding to your settlement for as long as possible by making groups, filling the grid with objects. If you get into a bind, you can use coins you accumulate through each round of the game to purchase objects you need, like extra trees or houses. Once you run out of moves, you can start all over again and see how big your city can become.

Niko (iPhone, iPad) Free

Niko is a platformer with some interesting physics-based gameplay mixed in. You play Niko, a cat-like character working to save his friends. You do that by heading through the game’s levels, leaping and sticking to walls and other platformers in order to reach things you can collect throughout the game. Your goal is to flip switches and collect as many coins as you can in order to track up a high score in each level.

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A freemium title, Niko comes with its first six levels for free, with more available through an in-app purchase of $1.99. Each side-scrolling level has multiple paths through it, and you’ll need to explore thoroughly to discover each one’s secrets and get the best score you can on each stage.

Team Stream HD (iPad) Free

Sports nuts will want to check out Team Stream HD, the new iPad offering from sports website Bleacher Report. Like its website and iPhone app before it, Team Stream brings curated news stories from the web for sports fans about their particular teams. All the news is curated by Bleacher Report editors and comes from multiple sources.

While Bleacher Report has a lot of fans of its iPhone app, the iPad app is really where it’s at. The site’s designers have used the extra space of the iPad’s screen to make for a better viewing, reading and navigating experience, and the new app includes a dashboard area that is always up to date with the latest headlines from Twitter, Bleacher Report and other sources. It’s like having your sports teams’ news rooms right on your iPad.

All Yoga (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Get into yoga or perfect your techniques and poses with All Yoga, and app filled with pictures of yoga poses to help you replicate them. The app is pretty simple to operate and contains an easy base idea: you can use the poses to help you learn new techniques, and string the images together to make yourself a routine, without a lot of messy interface or extraneous functions.

All Yoga also has presets that will help you reach your yoga and workout goals, created by professionals. You can use preset pose sequences if you prefer, and the app will also allow you to add your own poses as you see fit. All the poses include detailed instructions and information about them, too, so you’ll never feel lost as you try to do things.

Smash Cops (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Criminals have taken to their cars and sharp drivers are needed by the police to take them down. That’s where you come in – behind the wheel of your cruiser, you’ll need to take down fleeing suspects in Smash Cops by, as you might have guessed, smashing their cars. You do that by carefully closing the gap and then using your ram ability to hit suspects in the side or front, stopping them in their tracks or sending their cars flying.

Each challenge in Smash Cops requires some skillful driving, whether you’re avoiding cones, catching up to crooks or responding to emergency calls. Touch controls make the driving pretty easy to get used to, and quality 3-D graphics make Smash Cop look great. It also includes Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

SoulCalibur (iPhone, iPad) $11.99

A favorite video game title from way back in 1999, SoulCalibur hits the App Store and brings a new fighting game series to the iPhone and iPad. Originally available on the Sega Dreamcast, SoulCalibur mixes the 2-D fighting game style of Street Fighter IV and similar franchises and throws in a few 3-D tricks. Also: every character has a unique weapon that changes his or her fighting style.

SoulCalibur includes 19 characters to choose from, each with a unique stage upon which to fight. The game includes all the game modes that appeared in the original, including the standard arcade mode, time attack modes, a practice mode and a survival mode. It also has Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Jazz: Trump’s Journey (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Platforming game Jazz: Trump’s Journey tells a story that’s a little above and beyond what most games choose to portray. Set in New Orleans, Trump’s Journey is a parallel story to that of Louis Armstrong. As you jump through levels, avoiding obstacles and searching for secrets, you’ll pursue Trump’s love of music and help him on his quest to form a group.

Trump’s Journey features old-style cartoony graphics, a jazzy soundtrack and music-inspired abilities and play mechanics. It also includes Game Center support, as well as integration with Twitter and Facebook to make sharing your progress and the game’s story easy.

Cytus (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Minimalist rhythm game Cytus is designed with a mind toward keeping things simple and its gameplay approachable. There aren’t a lot of frills to the game, but its interface benefits from it. Like other music games in the App Store, it relies on asking players to tap along to the beat. A line moves up and down on the screen to keep the rhythm, with spots that need to be tapped in time with the music appearing around the screen. Where they’re spaced vertically lets you know how fast you’ll need to tap.

Cytus contains more moves than just tapping, though, with markers that will need to be held down or slid along tracks in time with the music in order to count. The more marks you hit in time in a row, the greater your running combo and the higher your score. The game also packs nine difficulty levels and Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Sweet Shop (iPhone, iPad) Free

Sweet Shop joins the freemium genre with another management simulator, this time putting players in the roll of a candy store owner. Your goal is to brew up new candies for your customers to buy, earning coins to purchase new ingredients, expand the shop, and become more successful.

The more successful your shop becomes, the more experience you earn, which will allow you to purchase new things like mascots and customization for your shop. Sweet Shop includes Game Center support for achievements and friends lists, and customers will often challenge you to mini-games that will give you the opportunity to earn coins and other bonuses for your shop.

GroupShot (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Photography app GroupShot might help save a few shots for you iPhone photographers out there. It’s a nifty little app that lets you take multiple photos and switch some of the subjects between them. The example used on the app’s iTunes App Store page is one of a family sitting in the grass, with three different photos taken of them. In no single photo is everyone looking forward and smiling. With GroupShot, you can take the best of each photo and combine it to make one good shot at the end.

GroupShot makes editing easy, as well. Just highlight the area of the photo you want replaced with your finger and select another shot you want to replace it with, and the app does all the work. You’ll just need several shots with your subjects, like family members, in the same relative places for the app to do its magic.

Moonit (iPhone, iPad) Free

With Valentine’s Day approaching, social networking app Moonit might be a good way for some iPhone and iPad owners to meet new people – potentially to spend a romantic holiday with. Moonit is geared toward helping you find local people through astrology, matching your sign to theirs to test compatibility related to when you were born.

The app makes it easy to connect with people, but it also gives a detailed “date of birth analysis” to determine just how astrologically compatible you might be with others. Once you’ve found someone you’re interested in meeting, the app contains chat tools that allow you to interact. The more people you meet, the more stickers and badges you unlock for use within the network, as well.

Monkey Quest: Thunderbow (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Sure, there are a lot of Angry Birds-alike games in the iTunes App Store, but the best ones add their own spin to the festivities. Monkey Quest’s addition: explosives. Lots of them. You play a monkey fighting off scorpions with a bow that fires explosive arrows. In order to take out all the enemies and rack up the biggest score, you’ll have to put your explosive attacks in key positions to demolish structures, snag bananas and set off chain reaction.

Monkey Quest packs several dozen levels to play through, and the game will continually outfit you with new weapons to help you bring the mayhem to your enemies. It includes Game Center support for achievements ad leaderboards, and it links in with MonkeyQuest.com, giving players unique gifts for the website’s game that can’t be earned any other way.

Scramble With Friends (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

The latest in the “With Friends” series from Zynga With Friends comes Scramble With Friends. It takes a page from the previous titles in Words With Friends and Hanging With Friends, Scramble With Friends has players taking turns as they challenge other players over the Internet and on Facebook. Where Words With Friends tapped Scrabble, Scramble With Friends is more akin to Boggle.

Each player takes a turn identifying as many words from a bank of scrambled letters as possible. You identify the words by tracing your finger over the letters in order. The more words you find, the better your score will be, but you only have a limited time to come up with your combinations. When you’re done, you wait for your opponent to do the same, and then tally up the scores.

Numberlys (iPhone, iPad) $5.99

Numerblys is something of an interactive storybook for kids, telling the story of the development of the alphabet. Combining reading, narration, computer-generated animation and interactive elements to tell the story portrayed in the app. Readers can follow along with the narration, as well as take part in the story in a few cool ways.

With a black-and-white aesthetic for most of the storytelling, the interactive elements of Numberlys are made to stand out by coloring them red. When a red object appears on the screen, you can tap it or otherwise interact with it to advance the story, recreate a moment, or make other actions happen. It’s a pretty neat game/movie/book hybrid in an app that kids should get a kick out of.

Banters update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Seems like there’s a social network for everything in the App Store. You can share photos, share videos, share status updates and share your current reading list with the help of the Internet and an iPhone app. Banters expands your social networking capabilities even more, making it easy to share quotes among your friends.

A big update has just come through for Banters, allowing users to see featured quotes from all users right on the front page of the app, as well as those quotes shared by their friends in particular. Banters is sort of akin to Twitter, in that it includes small quotes that users can see and respond to within the network, but with less clutter. The posting process has also been simplified, with limits on messages removed, and more to make Banters work better for everyone.

Blockwick (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Slide puzzler Blockwick is a simple enough concept, but in practice has all kinds of complexity built in. The game is all about moving colored blocks so that they touch blocks of like colors. You’ll have blue, red and yellow blocks to contend with, sometimes all at once, and your goal is to maneuver lots of blank blocks out of the way so you can match the colored blocks to defeat the level.

The complexity emerges with puzzles being filled with those blank tiles that come in various sizes and shapes. Some puzzles will be filled with tiny bits that need to be moved clear, requiring players to be able to see several moves down the line in order to be able to get blocks where they need to go. The first 60 puzzles in Blockwick are free. After that, more sets are available, each for a $0.99 in-app purchase.

Darkness Rush: Saving Princess (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

A side-scrolling running game with Unreal Engine 3 graphics, Darkness Rush puts you in the role of a monster-type character: either a werewolf or a vampire. Your character runs through each level, dodging obstacles, collecting coins and earning crystals that go toward allowing you to transform into your bestial form. Once you’ve done that, you’re superpowered and can really start to do some damage.

As you plow through the game, you’ll destroy things like runes to regain magic power and dodge spikes and fireballs in order to keep yourself going. Coins you collect along the way can be used to purchase items that can get you further, and you’ll also attempt to complete mini-challenges along the way. It’s a bit like a horror story version of Jetpack Joyride, and it’s fun in all the same ways.

OnLive Desktop (iPad) Free

Streaming video game company OnLive has a new app out that brings your desktop computing experience to your iPad. It’s called OnLive Desktop, and it works similarly to other remote desktop apps by giving you access to your computer remotely on your iPad. The difference here is, OnLive has added a whole lot of functionality to give you the ability to use more of your computer’s resources than other remote desktop apps like the ability to work on Microsoft programs such as Word or Excel.

OnLive boasts that its Desktop app will also be able to support higher-intensity media viewing from your desktop to your iPad. You’ll be able to watch videos from your computer remotely and even play PC games on your tablet. The app also lets you transfer documents between devices.

USPS Mobile update (iPhone, iPad) Free

The official app of the U.S. Postal Service has just gotten better, adding new capabilities that make use of your iOS device’s camera to make shipping, purchasing and tracking easier. Now you can use your iPhone or iPad’s camera to scan barcodes, allowing you to instantly track packages when you have a USPS tracking slip, without the hassle of having to enter long strings of numbers.

As always, the USPS app also allows you to do all kinds of things like find local drop boxes for mail, estimate shipping costs, look up zip codes and order supplies to be delivered straight to you. The app even lets you schedule package pickups to save you a trip to your local post office.

Bit-1 (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

A fast-moving platformer with an 8-bit aesthetic, Bit-1 casts you in the role of a robot searching for your kidnapped beloved. In each stage, you’ll want to rack up as many points as you can by taking out enemies and collecting the coins they drop, using your on-board cannon. You’ll also jump obstacles, avoid death from falling into pits and spikes, and collect power-ups that make your weapons more powerful.

Bit-1 has a bit of a Super Mario Bros. feel and moves at a pretty fast clip through its 25 stages. Earning tons of points in each stage by fighting off enemies and collecting coins can also allow you to see how you stack up against other players, thanks to Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Hatchi (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Remember Tamagotchi, that virtual pet toy kids kept on their key rings back in the 1990s? Well, Hatchi brings those toys to your iOS device, complete with their low-res, pixel-y screens. You’ll care for your Hatchi from the moment it hatches, feeding it, playing with it, keeping it clean and teaching it stuff. When its energy runs out, you’ll have to put it to sleep, but if you don’t keep an eye on it, it’ll become unhappy.

You’ll need to give your Hatchi regular attention to keep it from kicking the bucket, but if you’re especially good at raising it, your Hatchi will eventually evolve. How you care for it will determine what it becomes in the long run, and the creature will go through several stages of growth along the way. It’s not a super-complex digital animal to take care of, but Hatchi should scratch your nostalgia itch and be pretty fun to boot.

MoPho: Prints and Products (iPhone, iPad) Free

Create printed mugs, T-shirts and other cool stuff from your iOS devices’ camera roll using MoPho. You’ll need photos on your iPhone or iPad, so snap some or import them, from iTunes, Picasa, Facebook or Flickr. Once you’ve got your shot, you can pick what items you want to create and submit your order. Once you pay using a credit card, your items will be shipped to you or wherever you want as gifts.

You can add photos to your products, preview and edit them before you buy, then add as many as you want to your cart to have them custom made. Checking-out is done within the app, and MoPho provides 24/7 customer support in case you have any issues.

Calendr (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Calendr, a calendar app, has an interface that doesn’t include much in the way of frills, opting for a streamlined look instead. Where it excels is the many ways it can sync with other apps and services, including Exchange, iCloud, Google and others. It’s optimized for use with one hand, and allows you to quickly search through your events and appointments with ease.

Another handy function Calendr affords users is the ability to share your events with others, as well as to quickly edit or delete them as needed. The app also can give you hints and reminders about your upcoming appointments to keep you up to speed on what you’ve got going on.

ZDAY Survival Simulator (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

An old-style text-based role-playing game, ZDAY Survival Simulator throws you in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. As the epidemic spreads, you’re given choices of how to approach each situation that comes up. Do you search an abandoned house for supplies and risk a zombie attack or do you keep moving? Flag down a suspicious military helicopter or hide until it passes? Your choices determine how well you’ll survive and how far you’ll make it when the inevitable happens.

Throughout ZDAY, you’ll find weapons, encounter people you can add to your group, and fight numerous zombies, all of which help determine whether you’ll make it and all of which are affected by your choices. When you’re done with the game, you can share your results on Facebook or Twitter to see how your stats stack up against your friends’.

Pixel Land (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Those familiar with Super Mario Bros. will recognize the level design inside Pixel Land – it’s a shot-for-shot recreation of the classic platforming title from Nintendo. The difference between Mario and Pixel Land, however, is that Pixel Land uses only 64 pixels to form the picture on the screen of your iPhone or iPad. That means, on an 8×8 grid, you’re not controlling Mario, you’re controlling a simple square. So while the game is similar to other platformers, its low-resolution presentation makes it quite a bit harder.

Everything you do in Pixel Land earns you points, from smashing enemies to crunching bricks, so you’ll want to play it a lot like Super Mario. It’s not for everyone – having basically no graphical fidelity really does make it difficult to know what’s happening, and the game requires some precise actions with its touch controls. But for those who like their games tough and weird, Pixel Land isn’t a bad bet, especially for just a buck.

Star Marine: Infinite Ammo (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Video game fans will remember the Contra series from years ago, originally on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Star Marine: Infinite Ammo is an iOS answer to that game, capturing the old-school graphical aesthetic and feeling of side-scrolling shooters in the same vein. As a star marine pitted against hundreds of murderous robots, you need to bust out of captivity and destroy all the enemies you can, using twin-stick shooter controls as you run through each level.

Blasting robots earns you points, and the more you take out in a row, the higher your score climbs. Earning points eventually converts to gems, which you can use to upgrade your weapons and items to become a more effective fighter. Star Marine also includes  Game Center support, delivering achievements and leaderboards for players to see how well they perform compared to other players around the world.

Run Roo Run (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

The next title from Scribblenauts Remix developer Warner Bros. is Run Roo Run, a side-scrolling one-touch arcade title in which reaction time is everything. You play a kangaroo navigating the Outback, jumping over obstacles to reach each level’s goal. The key is just planning your jumps in order to avoid hitting the things in your way; the faster you complete each level, the better your score. But if you hit an obstacle, you’ll be sent to the beginning of the level and your time will increase.

Each time you beat a chapter in Run Roo Run, you’ll unlock harder “Extreme” versions of the level. Each level also has something new with which to contend. One throws bouncy rubber tires at you that you’ll need to clear larger obstacles, for example. The game includes 420 levels right now, with 10 new levels due each week in free updates. There’s also Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Hero Academy (iPhone, iPad) Free

Turn-based strategy title Hero Academy takes a page from other popular games in the App Store, like Words With Friends. Each player gets a series of things they can deploy on a battlefield as they take on another player in an online multiplayer battle, like magic spells, weapons and characters such as knights and archers. Those forces fight off the other player’s forces, and each tries to destroy a pair of crystals owned by the other with their troops. The first to knock out both of the other player’s crystals wins the game.

You can expand your roster of fighters with additional teams that you can get through in-app purchases, and Hero Academy lets you play multiple games with multiple opponents simultaneously. It also allows you to challenge your friends through Facebook and Twitter, and chat with during battles with your challengers in real time.

Zombie Wonderland 2: Outta Time! (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Arcade shooter Zombie Wonderland hit the App Store some time ago, tasking players with keeping zombies from overrunning a building, blasting them through windows and cleaning up the mess before the night passed. Zombie Wonderland 2 maintains much of the same mechanics from the first game – protecting buildings, earning different weapons and lots of cartoonish zombie mayhem – while throwing in a little bit of time travel to mix things up.

There are a number of varieties of zombies you’ll have to deal with through the course of Zombie Wonderland 2, and you’ll have to earn various new weapons to take them on during the course of the fight. You’ll fight in Egyptian pyramids, Viking halls and Samurai dojos as you jaunt through time, and you can measure your progress and your skills with Game Center achievements and leaderboards.

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Magisto (iPhone, iPad) Free

Magisto is for iOS movie directors, the kinds of people who like to use iPhones and iPads to shoot video. It’s designed to make editing and finalizing videos you shoot with your devices quick and easy. You shoot the video, then choose a soundtrack and the app does the editing for you, automatically kicking out a finished project.

Once you’ve got your Magisto movie, you can easily share it with others using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube integration. The app also uses facial recognition to make “tagging” people seen in the videos on social networks even easier. The app works by analyzing your videos and selecting the best parts to cut together, so it gives the illusion that you’ve actually edited the film, without you having to do much work at all.

Phraseology (iPad) $1.99

Text editor Phraseology is designed for writers who use their iPads as more than just a tool for watching videos and surfing the Internet. The text editor is designed to make writing on the tablet as simple and easy as possible, keeping the interface minimal and providing the ability to save unlimited drafts, track your word count as you write, and quickly and easily cut and paste lines of text to rearrange them.

Phraseology also includes a lot of other cool features, like a readability analysis, AirPrint support and integration with dictionary and thesaurus app Terminology. The app is even set up to edit HTML if you need to, and developer Agile Tortoise promises Dropbox support in the future.

Life is Crime (iPhone, iPad) Free

Free-to-play massively multiplayer role-playing game Life is Crime has made its way from the Android neck of the woods to Apple’s iOS platform. In it, you’ll rise through the criminal ranks, starting as a lowly thug to become an underworld kingpin. Life is Crime plays similar to other casual-type games in the App Store, requiring you to use your resources in order to complete “missions” and build your reputation as a criminal.

The more you play, the stronger you become in Life is Crime, and you’ll be able to battle other players in menu-based battles for supremacy. You’ll also need to protect your turf, which the game builds from real-world locations around you. Those locations also make it easy to find nearby players and interact with them in the game.

Ice Wings: Skies of Steel (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Take to the skies in Ice Wings: Skies of Steel as a fighter pilot in this top-down shooter. Ice Wings has you flying over levels filled with obstacles that you’ll have to dodge using its tilt controls – the further you get, the higher your score. You’ll also have to fight off enemies like helicopters to score additional points, but hit anything and it’s game over.

The more points you drag down in Ice Wings, the more you can unlock through the course of the game, including additional aircraft to fly. All the planes have different stats and handle differently, and you can use any of the ones you unlock to take on the game’s randomly generated, infinite cityscape. Just note that you’ll need a newer device to play: the game won’t work on iPhone 3GS or older devices.

Hipmunk Flight & Hotel Search update (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Travel app Hipmunk was already a pretty great thing to have on your iPhone or iPad. It’s designed to help you find the travel options to get you where you’re going with the least amount of grief, by checking for the right pricing options, the fewest stop-overs and other criteria. It’s minimalist design also makes it extremely easy to use.

Now Hipmunk has applied what worked really well with finding flights to finding hotels, too. You can search through your destination city for hotels by where they’re located and what they cost, in order to find the best fit for your travel needs. Hipmunk will also show you where all the hotels in an area are located by laying them out on a map, making the decision easy.

Call of Duty ELITE (iPhone, iPad) Free

The biggest video game franchise on the planet recently got a new feature called Call of Duty ELITE. It allows players of the insanely popular first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to track tons of statistics in the game to help them play better, and to connect with other players through lots of social networking features.

By accessing your free ELITE account through the app, you can see where you get killed most in each of the game’s levels, and where you do the most killing, to help you improve. You’ll see your best weapons, other players’ weapon choices, and learn all kinds of new things to make yourself better in multiplayer. You can also interact with other players through groups, clans, messaging and lots more. It’s the entire Call of Duty ELITE service, available on the go.

Space Kiwi (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Cartoony action game Space Kiwi is a bit like lots of other running-type titles in the iTunes App Store. The game has you controlling the titular Space Kiwi as it flies over the landscape, collecting coins and fighting enemies along the way. Tilt controls get you around obstacles and keep you collecting what you need, while you’ll need to be quick on the draw to shoot down things the Kiwi can crash into and stop his flight.

Space Kiwi packs 60 levels to play through, with arcade-style difficulty that ramps up to keep providing lots of challenge. It also packs a cool, cartoonish art style and lots of enemies to fight off along the way.

Kingdom Rush (iPad) $2.99

Kingdom Rush joins the App Store’s tower defense offerings with a cartoony, epic fantasy-inspired style and lots of strategy to go around. Like other tower defense titles, the game is all about setting up defenses to take out enemies before they can get into your base.

The game is packed with challenge, dishing out various different tower types that all have different upgrades and abilities to use in your strategies. There are also some 30 different types of enemies that will test your battle acumen and 50 achievements to earn to really stretch your skills.

Shoutz (iPhone, iPad) Free

Social network Shoutz is all about sharing videos among mobile users. Rather than posting text updates to the Internet as you would on other social networks, Shoutz has users making short videos that they can post to the Internet. You’ll see your friends’ videos and they’ll see yours. Then you can comment on each other’s posts.

Shoutz is designed for mobile users to view, so it makes shooting videos easy. It’s also easy to comment quickly, “Re-Shoutz” with your friends through the network and more. Shoutz also plans to roll out fresh new content in an update this month, and if you sign-up now, you can get updates for when the new content is available.

Scribe (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Editing text when you’re out in the world can be a really handy function for your iPhone to have, which is why snagging Scribe can be pretty useful. The app is a minimalist text editor designed for the iPhone and iPad, giving you the ability to write text and save it when you need to, without a lot of other functions to get in the way.

Scribe supports both iCloud and Dropbox to let you save your work using an Internet connection, and you can also save files locally. It uses iOS’s cut-and-paste functions to make it easy to do HTML editing, if that’s your thing, and includes useful bits like undo and redo functions, word counts and AirPrint support.

Tongue Tied! (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Side-scroller Tongue Tied! has you controlling a pair of dogs with an interesting relationship – their tongues are tied together. Despite the implications, both canines seem fine with the situation, and even use their elastic tongues to gather bones and work their way through the game’s levels. That’s where you come in. As the two dogs walk the path from one side of the level to the other, you pull one or the other to launch him into the air, using the second dog as an anchor and gathering coins from all over the place.

Tongue Tied! has a cool cartoon art style and atmosphere, giving it the air of the Saturday morning shorts from years gone by, and 50 levels of goofiness to play through. It contains 30 special challenges to up the difficulty, and there’s also Game Center support so you can track how well you manage your tongue-tied dogs as compared to players all over the world.

Walkabout Journeys (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Another side-scroller with a unique art style, Walkabout Journeys stars a strange group of clowns (apparently) out on a stroll together. Trouble is, the screen tracks forward but the terrain doesn’t always cooperate, which is where you come in. You’ll need to rotate your iOS device in order to open paths forward for the group so they can keep moving. Send them too far back or forward, however, and you’ll lose them, and lose points, too.

Walkabout Journeys has 16 levels that cover each of the seasons and a great look about it. Its gameplay is pretty simple, but different levels can require fast reactions in order to keep your group alive and moving forward. Walkabout Journeys also just picked up a few new Christmas-inspired levels for the holidays, as well.

My iStory (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Think of My iStory as a journal that’s more than just your thoughts on paper. Sure, you can write text journal entries, but you can also add a whole lot more to them than that. My iStory lets you tell the story of a day or month (or whatever) through the use of text, photos, videos and even sound and music. And My iStory is designed to make it easy to either keep your stories private with the use of a passcode, or share them with the world by posting them to Facebook.

The app includes such features as a search ability to find specific stories or elements, and you can use My iStory to create an e-book or slideshow of your entries. The app even lets you pull photos from your Camera Roll to quickly make journal entries based on the dates they were taken, and you can add things to your shots like word bubbles to help tell your story.

InstaFlow (iPhone, iPad) Free

InstaFlow is a great app for Instagram fanatics. It’s designed to make exploring and searching through Instagram photos easier and more intuitive, dividing photos into “stacks” to keep them organized. You can quickly page through your own photos or the photos of your friends, or flip through popular photos from around Instagram and see the ones you’ve marked as your favorites.

Options for getting around in InstaFlow include items like a search field and lots of information about each photo, including its Instagram comments. Each time you tap a photo, you’re given more stacks of related photos, so you can theoretically keep flipping forever. The app is designed to be easy to navigate so you can get maximum enjoyment out of your photos and those of others.

Dragon Wrath (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Similar to titles such as Super Mega Worm and Grabatron, Dragon Wrath puts you in the role of a freshly-hatched dragon who comes into the world to find his mother slain and his treasure horde looted. It’s time to get revenge on the humans who have ruined your life before it has even begun in this side-scrolling arcade title, in which you’ll snack on Medieval soldiers and blast them with magical dragon fire, acid, frost or lightning breath.

Over time, you’ll unlock new fighting moves that let you bring destruction to the humans. You can customize your dragon’s color and abilities to make it your own, and the game includes 37 levels of mayhem plus achievements. Its developers also promise Game Center support in the near future.

Legion of the Damned (iPhone, iPad) $4.99

Exercise your brain with turn-based strategy title Legion of the Damned. You control a group of forces that you’ll have to move around the game space that’s divided into hexagonal tiles, attacking enemies and capturing flags. Each unit you control has strengths and weaknesses, and using them together effectively is key to victory over your adversaries.

Legion of the Damned is an adaptation of the novels by author William C. Dietz, and packs 16 campaign missions in which you’ll use your forces to fight off aliens bent on the destruction of humanity. There’s also multiplayer support for up to four players with a pass-n-play mode, online multiplayer for four players, a custom map-builder and Game Center support.

Super Crate Box (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

A port of the popular indie PC game, Super Crate Box is a pretty old-school concept, similar to the original Mario Bros. arcade game. Each level is an enclosed square area in which players jump around various platforms in a side-scrolling set up. You carry a gun and have to defend yourself from hordes of enemies that fall from above, with the goal of collecting crates, which appear on the screen one at a time. Each crate houses a new weapon so you’re constantly switching between various power-ups in order to raise your score.

Super Crate Box is a pretty simple concept, but deceptively difficult, because you’re constantly jumping all over each level to grab your next crate while trying not to get killed. You’ll unlock new levels, weapons and characters the more crates you collect, and you can compare your best scores to other players using the Super Crate Box’s Game Center and OpenFeint leaderboards.

Legendary Heroes (iPhone, iPad) Free

Real-team action-strategy title Legendary Heroes is a lot like the free-to-play massively multiplayer PC game League of Legends, and that’s a very good thing. Each level is a battle for control – you face off with a team of three heroes against an enemy team and its heroes, attempting to take over your enemies’ territory while they fight to control yours.

Legendary Heroes has you controlling three characters, each with their own abilities that you’ll unlock over time, but you can only control one of them at any given moment, requiring you to really work your strategy in order to be victorious. It has a robust single-player campaign with lots of challenge, plus 30 levels to play through to keep you busy.

Streetbike: Full Blast (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

There are quite a few racing titles in the App Store, but not too many motorcycle-centric ones. Streetbike: Full Blast corrects that oversight. It’s a 3-D arcade motorcycle racer that uses tight tilt controls to steer your bike. It looks and feels great, and includes a whole lot of racing action besides.

Streetbike features nine “leagues” for you to play through in the campaign mode of the game, as well as a Quickplay mode that gets you into a race without a lot of setup. As you play, you’ll unlock new bikes and tracks, and in some races you’ll even have to weave through traffic to avoid getting taken out as you hit some very high speeds.

Street Wrestler (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Street Wrestler is a side-scrolling brawler similar to popular games of the side-scrolling era, like Streets of Rage or Double Dragon. You play one of four luchador wrestlers and fight off waves of enemies with wrestling moves like punches, kicks, body slams and more to deal with thugs and other enemies that come running to fight you.

The game features a great cel-shaded art style, and the various wrestlers you can choose from each have differing special moves, strengths and weaknesses. You’ll get an arcade-style score at the end of each stage and eventually come up against some pretty tough bosses, as well.

Buffer (iPhone, iPad) Free

Social media fans might have already heard about Buffer, a web app that makes it easy to schedule updates to social networks Facebook and Twitter. Creating an account at bufferapp.com makes it easy to schedule your tweets and Facebook updates, and with the app you can tap your account to rearrange your updates on the fly.

You can also use Buffer to create new social media updates when you’re away from your computer and add them to your schedule. It’s great for people who use social media to promote themselves or their companies, and allows for tweeting and Facebooking regularly without swamping followers with items. You can also add articles you’re reading to be tweeted and shared using Buffer when you add a bookmarklet to your mobile browser.

BookPlayground – Spirit Wolf (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

The story of Spirit Wolf and Mother Moon is an original myth and children’s book, and the app brings a unique style and feel to the story for kids to enjoy. The book takes you through Spirit Wolf’s adventure as she searches for her mother, the Moon, while speaking with other animals along the way.

Spirit Wolf features a great art style and is fully recorded to bring the story to life, allowing the book to be read allowed even when Mom or Dad isn’t handy to do the reading. It also includes an original musical score.

Wind-Up Knight (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Though it’s a side-scrolling “runner” title like thousands of other titles in the App Store, Wind-Up Knight feels more like a platforming adventure game than it does a “get as far as you can” survival fest. As the Wind-Up Knight, you spend each level dodging obstacles by jumping and fighting through enemies, while gathering coins to upgrade your arsenal of weapons and equipment. Timing is everything, but having a good sword and shield is important, too.

Wind-Up Knight is also pretty challenging, featuring 50 “soul-crushing” levels to run through. It features 3-D graphics and a cute art style, lots of hidden objects to find and moves to master, plus Game Center support to provide achievements and leaderboards.

Justin Smith’s Realistic Summer Sports Simulator (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Realistic Summer Sports Simulator’s name is a bit misleading, because while summer Olympic-style sports are involved in the game, it’s neither realistic nor a simulator. Instead, RSSS is a goofy, low-res take on sports games, in which you use touch controls to compete against other players in an attempt to take home gold. In the javelin, for example, you’ll grab and whip your character in order to bounce the javelin through the air to rack up points; in the 100-meter dash, you’ll repeatedly drag your runner forward until you run out of “Power,” and have to wait for the bar to refill before slinging him forward again.

The result is a fun, challenging and altogether weird take on well-known summer sports. You can compete against as many as four friends using pass-and-play multiplayer. RSSS includes four events in its 99-cent download, plus another 10 you can purchase in-app for $1.99.

NBA Game Time 2011-2012 (iPhone, iPad) Free

NBA basketball is finally upon us, and NBA Game Time has been updated for the new season as well. The app is free to download and includes a number of features, like the ability to watch highlights from around the league, get box scores and follow your favorite teams. The app will also give you push notifications about your teams.

With an upgrade to NBA Game Time Plus for $7.99, you get the ability to listen to live game radio broadcasts, get full game recaps and watch in-progress game highlights. Opt for the $39.99 NBA League Pass and you can even watch live games with the app all season. And right now, you can preview the League Pass for the rest of the week to see if it’s something you want.

Commit (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Productivity app Commit is designed to help users commit to accomplishing goals and creating good habits, so it’s great if you’ve got New Year’s resolutions to keep. It’s easy to use, too. All you do is enter your goals into the app and set a time for when you want to be reminded each day to complete them. The app gives you the reminder as an alarm, and when you’ve accomplished the goal, you hit a touchscreen button to tick it off for the day.

Commit helps motivate you by showing you with a ticker how committed you’ve been to your goal. Gaps in the hash mark-filled bar show you when you’ve fallen off the wagon and each time you miss a day, the app resets your “days in a row” count to 0. The longer you keep the count going, the more motivating it becomes, and the whole app is simple and easy to use for maximum effectiveness.

Zenonia 4 (iPhone, iPad) Free

The latest installment of Gamevil’s long-running App Store role-playing series again brings users into a fantasy world in which they can create a hero of their own from one of four classes and adventure through tons of quests along the way. The action-RPG title is all about effective combos, powerful skills and abilities, and mastering combat.

Zenonia 4 takes a freemium model, unlike its predecessors, which means it’s free to download and users can purchase in-game items to make themselves advance faster. It also includes a player-vs-player mode for online play, allowing you to take on other Zenonia 4 fans from all over the world using a Wi-Fi connection.

Gravitarium2 update (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Gravitarium2 isn’t as much a game as it is a touch-based toy for your iPhone or iPad, but it’s still a very cool one. The screen is covered in particles that change colors over time, and as you touch your iPhone or iPad’s screen, you can manipulate them. The changes you can create from the depend on how many fingers you place on the screen at once and how you move them. Gravitarium also includes a menu that lets you set how the particles react and even snap photos of the animations you create.

The app just went through a pretty big update that makes it universal. The best part is that you can actually combine your device with a friend’s and make even cooler animations with Gravitarium2’s multiplayer mode. And because the app is now universal, you can combine two iPhones, two iPads, or an iPhone and an iPad, allowing you to create even more animations.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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