New Release: GRID Autosport

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If you're a car person, GRID is probably an essential buy. While many mobile racing games strive for a more casual, arcade-friendly experience, GRID is all about realism. Original developers Codemasters spent a long time trying to make the handling of every car feel true-to-life, and while I can't speak for the accuracy of how it would actually feel driving these cars on these tracks at high speeds, it feels right.

Many of the courses in GRID are directly based on famous real-world circuits. Courses not based on real racetracks, such as the city locations, still match the feel of the locations. You'll be driving on these tracks in a variety of real-world licensed cars, for that added dose of realism.

Grid screenshot

Porting studio Feral Interactive really went all-out with this iOS version. GRID has lost absolutely nothing in its transition from console to mobile, and in some ways, actually looks better than it in its previous life on the PS3 and Xbox 360. This shouldn't be a surprise - modern iOS devices easily outclass previous-generation consoles. But far too often, developers seem to struggle to take advantage of this power, and release games that simply show off what the hardware is capable of. GRID bucks this trend.

Quite simply, GRID is a breathtakingly beautiful game. Installing the optional (but free) DLC texture packs make it even more beautiful, but either way, you're looking at one of the best games ever seen on iOS.

GRID city driving

Unfortunately, GRID doesn't quite run as good as it looks. Despite limiting itself to only the most powerful iOS devices available, GRID is capped at 30fps, and occasionally stutters trying to reach that. This is unfortunate - modern iPads run natively at 120fps, and racing games, in particular, really benefit from a high frame rate. Maybe future updates will solve this problem.

Perhaps the best part of GRID is one thing it did not gain in its transition to mobile - a new business model. There are no freemium currencies here, no wait timers, no ads, no nonsense. This is a serious, console-class experience. For a one-time fee, you get the whole game. There are quite a few DLC packs available with additional content, but in a welcome break from expectations, these DLC packs are entirely free. Yes, you can install all the extra courses, cars, and HD textures you want, for no added fee.

If you're a fan of racing games, GRID is an essential buy. And if you're a believer in premium, console-class games, GRID is one of the best examples yet of a real-deal, top-flight, no compromise console game on mobile.

Sonic 2 is Free as Part of Sega Classics

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Sonic 2 joins the original Sonic as part of Sega Classics. Classics is a marketing initiative where beloved games from throughout Sega's history are released on mobile and made free-to-play, with an optional in-app purchase to disable ads. Some of the games in Classics are emulated, others are rebuilt from scratch to run on modern hardware.

There isn't a whole lot to say about these classic Sonic games that hasn't already been said. You've probably already played these games - they're among the best 2D platforming games of all time, and they virtually defined gaming in the late-'80s-early-'90s. They established Sega as a major player in the world of gaming, and Sega is arguably only alive today because of the franchise these games spawned. If you've never played these games, you should download them immediately.

These games are timeless masterpieces, and I'm not going to try to sell you on them. Instead, I want to talk about what makes these particular versions of Sonic so special, and why these mobile ports are the definitive versions.

Sonic 2 Gameplay

There have been many releases of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 over the years. Name any game system, handheld or console, and there's a good chance one or both of these games have appeared on it[1]. But the iOS versions are notably different from all previous releases. They're unique in that, unlike every other release, the iOS versions of Sonic, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD were rebuilt, from the ground up, specifically for iOS. A little history:

The year is 2009. Sega released both Sonic and Sonic 2 on the App Store. These original releases were poor quality, struggling to maintain 30fps on Apple's most powerful devices, and lacking any modern features. Quality aside, the ports are successful from a sales perspective, and Sega is eager for more. They ask the community: which game should the bring to the iPhone next?

Developer Christian "Taxman" Whitehead, a longtime Sonic fan, and participant in the Sonic modding community, has an answer. In his spare time, he rebuilt Sonic CD himself, as a fan project. It runs on his own custom game engine, which perfectly replicates the physics of the classic Sonic games, down to the tiniest detail, at vastly greater performance than the poor-quality emulators Sega has been using. Whitehead shows off his custom version of Sonic CD, running at 60fps on an iPod Touch. The community wanted Sonic CD, and Whitehead wanted to work on it, but Sega went silent.

Two years later, and we've heard nothing more about Sonic CD or Christian Whitehead's engine. Everyone assumes the project didn't work out. Then, almost out of nowhere, Sonic CD hits the App Store.

Whitehead's Sonic CD release is amazing. It runs perfectly on all iOS devices. It includes an expanded feature set, tons of bug fixes from the original '90s game, and tons of additional bonus content. Arguably, it was the best release of any Sonic game, for any platform, ever. Better yet, because it was originally released for the obscure Sega CD system, it is one of the least-played games in the classic 2D Sonic catalog.

Because of these factors, Sonic CD's iOS port was a huge success. It immediately became the best Sonic game on iOS, and was eventually ported to all of the major game consoles, PC, and Android[2].

Sega and Whitehead followed-up Sonic CD by updating Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, with the assistance of co-developer Stealth's development studio Headcannon. Gone were the poor-quality emulators, replaced with brand new, completely rebuilt, versions of the classics. These versions gained all the performance improvements and bug fixes that could be expected from the improved engine, but also included numerous new features. Knuckles and Tails were added to the original Sonic and Sonic 2, and an incomplete level that was cut from Sonic 2 was finished and re-added back to the game.

Sonic-2-Knuckles

After these ports, Whitehead and Stealth attempted to convince Sega to approve development of a similarly-updated port of Sonic 3, and even released a video proof-of-concept. Sadly, it wasn't going to happen[3]. Sega had other plans.

Whitehead and Headcannon's work on the mobile Sonic releases was so good, Sega trusted them with development of a brand new Sonic game using the new game engine - Sonic Mania. Mania has gone on to be the highest reviewed Sonic game in over a decade. It is, in fact, arguably the best game in the entire series. And it wouldn't exist without the engine Whitehead used to port Sonic CD to iPhone back in 2009. But that is a story for another day.

Unlike with Sonic CD, the updated versions of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 were not ported to any other consoles, or to PC. The only way to play these versions of Sonic is on iOS and Android. For whatever reason, rather than porting these versions of Sonic to other consoles, Sega has reverted back to using emulated versions everywhere else. And unfortunately, even though Android has these updated versions of the Sonic games, only the iOS versions support the Gamevice (yeah, we're hoping they fix that, too).

As it stands today, the best possible way to play Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 is on iOS. And although these games work with touchscreens, they're best with a controller. And the Gamevice is the best controller you can get for iPhones and iPads. So we're in an interesting position where the very best way to play two of the very best games of all time is on your iPhone or iPad, with a Gamevice. And on top of all that, the games are free to download now, with a one-time fee to remove ads.

If this isn't enough of a reason to give Sonic a download, I don't know what is.


  1. Oddly enough, Sonic was one of few games ported to the iPod - the one with the click wheel. This version of Sonic was released in 2007 and sold through iTunes, and predated the iPhone and the App Store. You touched the click wheel to move, tapped down on it to jump, and attempted to touch the bottom part of the wheel to roll. It cost $4.99, and was unplayable. ↩︎

  2. Although Sonic CD was ported to Android, it seems to have been removed from the Google Play store. Here's hoping Sega reuploads it eventually. ↩︎

  3. Sonic 3 and Knuckles is almost never re-released, even in emulated form. The exact reasons for this are not known definitively, but might possibly have to do legal issues involved with its soundtrack, which might have been written by none other than Michael Jackson. It's all very mysterious. Which is unfortunate, because Sonic 3 and Knuckles was my favorite game in the original series. ↩︎

New Release: Morphite

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Morphite, an incredible new sci-fi action/exploration game, was just released on iOS, as well as PC and a variety of consoles.

It is impossible to talk about Morphite without mentioning the game that serves as its obvious inspiration: No Man's Sky. Both are space exploration games, both feature procedurally generated planets, both are played from a first-person perspective, both require you catalog procedurally-generated plants and animals with a scanner - it's clear that Morphite wouldn't exist without No Man's Sky.

morphite_1

With that said, Morphite is no mere clone of No Man's Sky. Morphite brings something No Man's Sky mostly lacks: a clear focus and direction. Where No Man's Sky is all about exploration and wandering, Morphite both a directed storyline and a clearly-defined (and fully voiced) protagonist. It also features a more action-oriented gameplay style, with a focus less on exploration and more on Metroid-style action-platforming. I don't want to understate what a difference this makes - to many people, Morphite's presentation as a more traditional "game" will actually make it preferable to No Man's Sky.

Morphite is also a beautiful game. It doesn't attempt to mimic No Man's Sky's massive scale and photorealistic textures, which would likely be impossible on mobile, instead opting for a low-polygon aesthetic. This gives Morphite a retro vibe, but one that doens't feels cheap. Colors are vibrant, but not cartoony. Environments strike the right balance between atmosphere and detail. And there are multiple graphics options in the settings to tweak the balance between visual effects and framerate (I personally recommend disabling cinematic effects, which make everything seem washed-out).

morphite_2

Anyways, I've been a massive fan of No Man's Sky since it launched last year - it is one of my all-time favorite gaming experience, and it's one I've put more time into than almost any other games I own. Morphite is its own game, but it scratches a similar itch. I'm looking forward to putting many, many hours Morphite - I'm giving this one a strong recommendation. And if planned features like cloud saving, procedural temples, and multiplayer end up getting added, that recommendation will only get stronger.

Updated: Lunar Silver Star Story

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Good news, RPG fans. The iOS port of the classic '80s RPG Lunar: Silver Star Story was recently updated to support 64-bit devices, sparing it from the list of games and apps that no longer function in iOS 11.

lunarssst_1

Lunar SSST has been well cared for since its iOS launch in 200x, receiving numerous substantial updates. Over the past several years, SoMoGa, the developers in charge of the port, have re-drawn the graphics in HD, enabled iCloud save data syncing, added additional language translations, programmed support for every new iPhone screen size, and - of course - added controller support for the Gamevice. It would have been surprising if Lunar was abandoned in the transition to 64-bit-only apps - luckily, it wasn't.

If you're an RPG fan who somehow missed out on Lunar SSST in the past, now is a great time to catch up on a classic.

New Release: Modern Combat Versus

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Hot on the heels of last week's amazing releases, Gameloft's new multiplayer shooter Modern Combat Versus is finally out of its lengthy soft launch and in wide release on iOS.

Like the rest of Gameloft's games, Modern Combat Versus follows a predictable strategy: take a popular PC or console game, and bring a mobile-focused facsimile of it to a mobile audience that might not be familiar with the real thing.

moderncombatversus_1

Modern Combat Versus is straightforward in this matter. It takes the overall feel of one of the "near-future" Call of Duty games, adds gameplay structure reminiscent of Overwatch or Team Fortress 2, and sticks a timer-based unlock system on pretty much every aspect of progression. Unfortunately, Modern Combat VS does not borrow Call of Duty's epic storylines and incredible polish, nor does it borrow the colorful (and brilliantly balanced) character roster of Overwatch or TF2. Most important of all, Modern Combat lacks any of the the polish and heart of the games it is obviously "inspired" by.

moderncombatversus_2

Anyways, that’s just my opinion. TouchArcade gave this one their Game of the Week designation, and it’s also sitting at number 3 on the Top Free Games chart right now, so a lot of people definitely seem to be enjoying it.

The good news is, you can try Modern Combat Versus out for absolutely nothing, right now. Even if you get fed up of the timer system and quit playing after an hour or so, as I did, you'll at least have received a download's worth of enjoyment. And really, what else can you ask for in a free game?

Gamevice is at NYCC

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As you may have noticed on our recently-revised homepage, Gamevice is at New York Comic Con this week!

We've been sharing a booth with Lionsgate and N-Way, who just added controller support to their new Power Rangers Legacy Wars game. We've got iPads and iPhones set up running the latest build of that game, as well as tons of other Gamevice-compatible games from our catalog.

We're also doing a couple of special things, just for the show. If, after trying out our controllers, you decide you'd like to buy a Gamevice, we're doing a 20% off discount on every model. We're also doing a giveaway for an iPhone 8 Plus with an iPhone 8 Plus Gamevice. All you have to do is head down to the booth and enter your email address and name into our app.

If you have any questions about the Gamevice, if you're interested in trying one out for yourself, or if you'd just like to stop by and say hello, head over to booth 210. I'll be there, along with Joshua, Errol, and Fraser. We’re looking forward to meeting you, and showing off what we’ve been working on.

New Release: The Witness

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After more than a year of anticipation, The Witness is finally out on iOS

The Witness is a modern puzzle game masterpiece, cut from the same cloth as exploration-puzzlers like Myst. You're alone on an island, with the only interaction with the world around you through a series of puzzles. Solving these puzzles is the key to unlocking the mysteries of the world around you.

Every puzzle in The Witness takes the form of a superficially simple maze. Draw a line between one spot to another - easy, straightforward, clear. It gets difficult fast. Each group of puzzles adds its own rules, its own language. The gameplay is in solving the trick behind each puzzle, learning the gameplay mechanic it is teaching you, and bringing it with you to ever more difficult puzzles.

Solving puzzles is key to exploring the island. Groups of puzzles unlock new areas, these areas containing even more puzzles. Over time, it becomes apparent that these puzzles, the act of solving them, and the exploration of the island itself, weave together into an intricate narrative - the details of which I won't be spoiling here. Suffice it to say, if the intelligence of the puzzles and the beauty of the island aren't enough to make you want to play, solving The Witness' mysteries probably will be.

thewitness_1

Narrative and exploration aside, In any good puzzle game, the biggest reward you can possibly get is the satisfaction that comes with solving the puzzle - the "ah hah!" moment, where everything falls into place, and you finally understand what the puzzle is all about. The Witness is full of this feeling. Every series of puzzles in The Witness incorporates a unique challenge. Some of these challenges are quite clever, and require a great deal of thought to solve. And solving them feels great, because outsmarting the game feels great.

thewitness_2

The Witness is a rare gem. It won't appeal to everyone, but if you're a fan of puzzles and exploration games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

Welcome to Gamevice

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Hello, my name is Kevin MacLeod, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Gamevice Blog.

Our Mission

The Gamevice Blog has one goal: to provide great content for mobile gamers who want to play console-quality mobile games with a console-quality mobile controller.

We will specifically be covering games with support for Gamevice controllers. We'll be posting preview articles of upcoming Gamevice-compatible games. We'll be covering news about recent game releases, letting you know as soon as a new Gamevice game hits the stores. We'll be posting guides for certain games, covering details about how controllers improve these games, and discussing strategies. We'll be running interviews with game developers and designers. And we'll be giving you behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming Gamevice products.

So why make a blog? Great mobile gaming sites already exist – we read them every day, in fact. Beyond that, you can see mobile games covered on every generalized gaming site - mobile is far from the niche it once was. So what will we be contributing this ecosystem?

The primary difference between us and everyone else: focus. Focus on games with support for Gamevice. Focus on an audience of gamers with controllers, who want to hear specifically - and exclusively - about games which support these controllers.

I've been covering mobile gaming for many years, and I've learned something important: when mobile gamers buy a controller like the Gamevice, they become almost exclusively interested in games that work with their controller. They'll play the occasional casual touch game, sure. But when it comes to premium, console-class experiences, the touchscreen doesn't cut it anymore. Once you go Gamevice, you can't go back to sliding your fingers around virtual joysticks and mashing virtual buttons.

We created a great controller for playing console-class games on mobile devices. We created a great app to track those games. It is time we create a great venue talk about those games.

About the Author

This seems like a good time for me to introduce myself. My name is Kevin MacLeod - formerly of the mobile gaming site AfterPad. I've been an iOS gamer from the begining - since before the launch of the App Store, in fact.

From the moment the first iOS controller was released, I've been fascinated by the world of controller-compatible mobile gaming. I built a website dedicated to controller-comptaible iOS gaming. Since the release of the first Gamevice, I've been convinced that Gamevice is the company best-positioned to take mobile gaming to the next level.

I'm not alone here. Everyone I've met at Gamevice has shared my passions for creating great products, gaming, design, and the mobile gaming ecosystem in general. You'll be reading about the rest of the team on this blog shortly, as well as some of the upcoming products and services they've been working on.

Since joining Gamevice a few months ago, I've been primarily focused on improving the Gamevice app catalog. But from the very start, both myself and the rest of the folks at Gamevice have been interested in making this website. And I've spend a good deal of time thinking about the right way to make this site happen.

Plans for the Blog

I don't want there to ever be a conflict of interest on this blog, so I want to put our biases on the table in advance. First, this is an enthusiast site, not a review site. We're going to talk about good games here. Game review are a great, but in my opinion, they aren't the best fit for mobile gaming. Knowing if a big new game is good or bad only makes sense when people are trying to make a choice between a handful of relatively expensive games. In the world of mobile gaming, choice isn't a problem - discovery is. I'd much rather write articles helping you to discover great games than waste time writing articles on games you'd probably never know about without reading the article.

We're also not going to waste time on games without controls optimized for controllers like the Gamevice. There are other great sites to go to for coverage of more generalized mobile gaming. We read them all, and we aren't here to compete with your favorites. We are here to talk directly to owners of the Gamevice about games that work with the Gamevice. This is an enthusiastic, passionate group of gamers, and they have been underserved. We owe it to our fans to fix that - that is our mission.

In the coming weeks, we'll be launching a series of articles about new and upcoming games, as well as taking the wraps off of our newest products.

This blog is only the beginning of what I hope will become a major resource for Gamevice fans, and for mobile gamers in general. We have thousands of Gamevice games to talk about, with more coming all the time. I'm excited to have the opportunity to tell you all about them.

-Kevin MacLeod