24 Must-Play Indie Games for Your iPad

24 Must-Play Indie Games for Your iPad (photo)

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With the iPad 2, Apple’s made the experience of playing games on their handhelds even more attractive. The company’s second stab at a tablet delivers a faster, lighter device with a sharper, brighter screen. The touch sensitivity feels improved, too, making it perfect for the flood of games that continue to assault the App Store. Indie game-makers are finding great success with iOS games and, in no particular order, we’ve picked out a few of the best and most intriguing for all you new iPad owners to check out.

1. “Tiny Wings
Developer: 10tons Ltd.

It’s Kinda Like if “Angry Birds” + Slalom Skiing Made a Baby:
Like “Angry Birds”, “Tiny Wings” finds joy in trajectory physics. Unlike the irritated avian, however, the arcs don’t end with a concussion, but a graceful landing, followed by an incline that sends the bird back into the sky. Where “Angry Birds” is violent, “Tiny Wings” is peaceful.

Why It’s Worth Your GBs:
Most of us cannot unfurl a yoga mat in the office or play the sounds of a trickling brook during a 3 o’clock conference call. Instead, we have “Tiny Wings”, a Zen-escape confined to the dimensions of our iDevice. The goal is to get a just-woken big-boned bird to flutter across as many islands within a couple minutes. Using the bird’s weight, the player presses the bird into the downward slope of the islands’ hills to gain speed, before letting go in the curve of valley and sending the bird up towards the clouds. This mechanic is repeated over-and-over, the skilled player gradually learning when and where to land the bird for optimal speed. There is a leader board along with unlockable score multipliers, but the game is best experienced as a frivolous, relaxing diversion. Who needs goals when you have a catchy tune in your ear and the virtual wind on our face?

2. “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP“Developer: Capybara Games

It’s Kinda Like if ‘The Legend of Zelda” + “Punchout!!” Made a Baby:
Here is a game made by people whom love games, retro ones particularly. The fantasy setting and rhythmic battle sequences channel “Zelda” and “Punchout!!”, respectively, but there are enough winks and nods here that it’s a surprise the app doesn’t break its neck.

Walk in the Woods from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery on Vimeo.

Why It’s Worth Your GBs:
What artist Craig Adams has created in “S:S&SEP” is a warm and tangible adventure game. The genre has always been about clicking, and by updating it for the iPad – providing a beautiful, reactive environment that begs to be clicked, poked and tapped — it feels not just fresh, but correct, like this is how these games were meant to be experienced all along. As if everything before this was held back by unsuitable hardware. The game does have its faults. The puzzles can be repetitive and the dialogue grating, but the quibbles take a backseat so long as the player willingly dives head first into the pixilated towns, valleys and creepy caverns.

3. “Ten Pin Shuffle
Developer: Digital Smoke, LLC

It’s Kinda Like if Cosmic Bowling + Shuffle Board Made a Baby:
“Tin Pin Shuffle” is actually three games in one, all which would do well in a local pub or a cruise shop lounge. The first is tabletop shuffleboard. The second is 10 pin bowling with a shuffle puck instead of a bowling ball. And the third is a curious mix of the two, plus poker. Strikes and spares reward cards, and the person with the best five-card hand at the end of ten frames wins. You can practically hear grandpa downloading it already.

Ten Pin Shuffle.jpgWhy It’s Worth Your GBs:
“10 Pin Shuffle” is a remnant of the early days of iPhone development: a straightforward take on a popular bar game. Though it’s polished, it is unlikely this will be your go-to app when showing the iPad’s graphical power. What the game does have going for it is the multiplayer. With two iPads and a WiFi connection, players can go head-to-head in all three modes. The game is so intuitive, that even the most stubborn non-gamer should feel at home slinging the puck. Think of the app as an investment for those long annual car rides with the in-laws.

4. “Battleheart
Developer: Mika Mobile

It’s Kinda Like if “Castle Crashers” + “Dungeon Siege” Made a Baby:
What elevates “Battleheart” above the app store’s dank dungeon of mediocre role-playing games is the ease of use. The game takes full advantage of the iPad’s touch interface, abandoning the irritating virtual d-pad used regularly in similar games from mega-publishers. More importantly, the game streamlines the genre, making it easier for casual iPad gamers to experience. Rather than weight the player down with confusing menu systems that require hours of tinkering, “Battleheart does most of the heavy lifting for the player. The menu is simple, sparse and fast – something rarely said when describing a strategy RPG.

Why It’s Worth Your GBs:
Since the player doesn’t live in the game’s menu screen, more time is spent in the game’s many battles. Winning a battle requires some pre-fight strategy. Casual gamers should think of it like setting up a board for Risk or Stratego. The player must select a party of four characters that compliment one another’s talents. For example, a cleric can heal a knight, while he charges into a scrimmage. Or a witch can play offense from a distance, while a Viking (yes, a Viking) fights close-range. Simply drawing a line controls most actions. Want the Viking to attack the goblin? Draw a line from the former to the latter. It is easy to learn and pretty to look at, a good game for the whole family — assuming you’re willing to relinquish it.

5. “Death Rally
Developer: Remedy Games

It’s Kinda Like if “Micro Machines” + “Twisted Metal” Made a Baby:
The cutesy cars of the 8-bit days careen into the violent vehicles of the 32-bit days in this remake of a game designed originally for PC. Call it a highway pile-up of every kart racer released in the last two decades.

Why It’s Worth Your GBs:
We hear plenty about the iPad’s graphical potential, but we rarely see it. With “Death Rally”, developer Remedy Games have taken a proven game – though graphically outdated – and painted it, waxed it and washed it to a shine. The cars, which speed forward automatically, look like Micro Machines designed by Todd McFarlane, and their environment, a wasteland of dilapidated cities and scorched bone yards, is a beautiful sight during those rare moments the race slows to a manageable pace. Controlled from a bird’s-eye-view, the game is significantly easier to steer than racing games that put the camera in the driver’s seat. And for those that struggle with steering, the arsenal of bullets, rockets and mines should help you cross the finish line first — with no competition remaining. It’s brash, but light; dark, but funny; and updated regularly.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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