Today’s app releases are all a pretty big deal. Leading the pack is iPhoto, an app shown off at Apple’s announcement event for the new iPad on Tuesday. It's designed for the graphical capabilities and upgraded camera of the new iPad, but you can get it today and use it with your existing iOS devices to edit and browse your photos. But given that it’s Thursday, there are also a bunch of new games on the menu. First up is Lightopus, an arcade game in which you guide an octopus around, freeing light-based organisms and using them as weapons against enemies. Next is Cavorite 2, a side-scrolling puzzler that’s all about moving blocks around stages to activate switches and blast through walls. Finally, Monster Flip messes with the conventions of match-three titles, requiring a new way of thinking to master its arcade puzzler gameplay.
iPhoto (iPhone, iPad) $4.99
The latest in Apple’s iOS apps is designed to maximize the full potential of the new iPad’s upgraded camera and Retina display, but since the device won’t be available until March 16, iOS fans will have to make do with using iPhoto on their existing iPads and iPhones. That’s okay though, because iPhoto packs a ton of image browsing and editing features that work on Apple’s late-generation devices, too, allowing users to make some very cool things out of their mobile photos.
Multi-touch editing capabilities mean iPhoto makes it easy to crop, burn, dodge, adjust and otherwise edit your images without the need for a desktop computer or a dark room. It’s easy to import photos from your computer that you didn’t shoot with your iOS devices and edit them in iPhoto as well, and images can be saved to the camera roll, sent straight to your photo stream or uploaded directly to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks from within the app.
Lightopus (iPhone, iPad) $2.99
Arcade title Lightopus is something of a visual dance. The colorful game is all about saving light-based life forms that are trapped underwater in round zones. As the lightopus, a glowy squid-type animal, it’s your job to crack open shells and free the little plankton-like animals and lead them to safety. The more you save, the more points you earn as you flee each stage. But you can also use your followers to take down enemies and since you have no real defenses of your own, you’ll need to sacrifice a few of them for your own survival.
As you swim around in Lightopus, utilizing the game’s touch controls, you’ll also need to hunt down stars, which multiply your score and allow you to access new areas. Searching for stars and power-ups is always a trade-off between long-term survival and high score, because if enemies hit you, you’ll lose health. Lightopus also includes Game Center support, which provides achievements and online leaderboards for players to climb.
Cavorite 2 (iPhone, iPad) $1.99
The follow-up to the smart side-scrolling puzzler Cavorite, Cavorite 2 offers a lot of the same kinds of challenges as its predecessor, with some new ideas thrown in. Each puzzle is about pushing around blocks to activate switches, climb obstacles and open doors. Trouble is, some of the switches are on the ceiling of the level, or located on high ledges. But you can access them (and a lot of other things) using an anti-gravity gun that lets blocks float, and you along with them.
Cavorite 2 packs 63 new puzzle levels, and challenges that didn’t appear in the first game, like navigating water by swimming. You’ll also have to deal with blocks that behave in new ways, like exploding to blow open walls, in order to solve puzzles. You’re scored by how fast you complete each puzzle, and you can track your progress using Game Center’s leaderboards and achievements.
Monster Flip (iPhone, iPad) $0.99
Monster Flip is a tricky match-three title. Like similar games such as Bejeweled, the goal in the game is to match up groups of similar objects by switching them with adjacent ones to make vertical or horizontal groups of three or more. In Monster Flip, however, you don’t switch the monsters with their neighbors, you switch them in groups of three that rotate end-over-end. It’s a minor change that requires a whole new way of thinking about the puzzles.
There are other obstacles that pop up in Monster Flip as you work your way through each stage by knocking down a requisite number of matches. Some monsters come with a timer and have to be matched and eliminated in a certain number of flips, for example. Monster Flip includes four different game modes to challenge you, and a great art style to boot.