Controller Rumors for the Apple TV 4

The rumor mill appears to be heating up about a new Apple TV. We've been hearing stories about one for a long time, but those stories have generally neglected to mention any specific details about gaming.

9to5mac's often well-informed Mark Gurman has something more concrete.

One of the next Apple TV’s tentpole features will be near-universal Siri control, a feature hinted at in Apple’s invitation to the event. But the other will be deep support for gaming, representing Apple’s largest-ever effort to lure players from traditional consoles. In addition to the convenience of downloading games directly from the Apple TV’s built-in App Store, and controlling many of them via a new bundled remote control, Apple will also support more complex, console-style Bluetooth game controllers with the pressure-sensitive buttons and joysticks previously introduced for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

If this is true – and I'd bet it is – it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Ever since MFi controllers were originally unveiled, I'd assumed they were destined for the Apple TV.

Apple currently has a library of almost 800 MFi controller compatible games already on the App Store. Porting these games to the Apple TV will be trivial for developers. Assuming the new Apple TV launches in the near future, it could come with one of the largest launch game libraries in the history of console launches.

Even for iOS gamers with no interest in the Apple TV, its existence still means good news for controller enthusiasts. Developers will now have a motivation to add controller support to their iOS games: the Apple TV will heavily favor those games. And once controller support is added to the Apple TV version of games, there would be no reason not to include it in the iPhone and iPad versions.

Apple’s Next Event Coming September 9th

It’s that time again, ladies and gentlemen. New iPhone day is upon us! September 9th, Apple takes the wraps off what they’ve been working on. New iPhones are a given, but what else? Will there be iPads, Macs, a (long overdue) Apple TV update? In less than 2 weeks, we will know.

Apple TV September 9th Event

WWDC is the equivalent to Xmas for Apple nerds like myself. New iPhone day… maybe not quite so big, but still something special. We should get the day off from work.

New Release: Addicting Train Puzzler ‘Tiny Trackz’

Great news for puzzle game fans: veteran iOS developer Strange Flavour just released their newest game, Tiny Trackz.

The puzzles here are straightforwardly presented, and will be familiar to anyone who’s played the Professor Layton series: You have various train cars, each needs to be rearranged into a precise order, and you have a limited amount of track space with which to shuffle your cars around. You have to carefully slide your train cars around, making careful use of the available space, and reassemble them in the prescribed order.

Puzzle game fans don’t have a lot of options when it comes to MFi controller supported games. It’s a genre that lends itself particularly well to the touch screen, so we don’t see a lot of games like this outfitted with controller support. The good news is, controller support works great here – the game plays great on a big TV screen over AirPlay, and is perhaps the only puzzle game on iOS to do so. Kudos to developer Strange Flavour for filing this relatively empty niche.

Tiny Trackz is available right now for a one-time purchase price of $2.99. There are no freemium components of any kind – developer Strange Flavour experimented with trying to make ethical free-to-play games using a system they called Play Nice, but have decided to entirely abandon this model in exchange for fairly priced premium games that will never go on sale or go free. So if a fairly priced, polished, premium puzzle game with full MFi controller support sounds good to you, give Tiny Trackz a download now!

Apple Game of the Year ‘Badland’ is Getting a Level Editor

This is an unexpected piece of good news: Badland, recipient of Apple’s coveted Game-of-the-Year award for best iPad game in 2013, is set to receive a major update. Among other things, this new update includes a full-featured level editor. In fact, this is a polished up version of the same editor developer Frogmind used to create the game’s original levels.

The level editor is currently in a closed beta test, and will be released soon. Anyone interested in beta testing should sign up on Frogmind’s beta homepage.

If you missed Badland before, now’s a great time to catch up on a classic. The game is available now for a one-time price of $3.99 – no IAPs or freemium cruft here. I loved the game whenI reviewed it, and I have no doubt you will too. It’s one of my favorite iOS games for co-op play, and supports multiple MFi controllers on one device.

Crossy Road Meets Pac-Man in ‘Pac-Man 256’

The killer releases just keep coming. So maybe Final Fantasy VII, despite its status as one of the most acclaimed games in the history of the medium, isn't your thing. Maybe you aren't a fan of racing games, and AG Drive's top-notch visuals aren't enough to woo you into a download. Well the good news is, there's something completely different, but no less incredible, available for free right now: Pac-Man 256.

There are a lot of Pac-Man games out there, but this is something else entirely. The developers behind this are the same ones behind the excellent (and also controller supported) Crossy Road.

Think of this as a sequel to both Crossy Road and Pac-Man. That's exactly what it feels like. It combines the pellet-collecting and ghost-dodging of Pac-Man with the endless isometric stages of Crossy road. It also works incredibly well. Seriously – this is one of the best Pac-Man games ever made.

Pac-Man 256 is a free download, and an inoffensive one at that. Much like Crossy Road, you'll actually get the most enjoyment from this game by not spending any money. Even if you're deathly allergic to free-to-play games, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single thing to complain about here.

The Incredible ‘AG Drive’ Updated for Full MFi Controller Support

This just be the biggest release week in MFi game history. I already covered the newly-ported Final Fantasy VII. Next on the docket: a major update to one of the most incredible iOS games ever: AG Drive.

I'll be honest, I was actually preparing to write an article trying to figure out what happened AG Drive's developer. After promising an MFi controller support update many months ago, the developer completely shut down all communication. I'd assumed they'd been purchased by a major company – one look at AG Drive, and you'd know that this isn't a crazy assumption, as it's far more graphically impressive than pretty much anything on the App Store.

So yeah, I'd actually given up on this app ever being updated for MFi controller support. But here we are.

It doesn't get much more "instabuy" than this. This is the best racing game on iOS. It's a showcase for what the platform is capable of. It looks as good as an Xbox 360 or PS3 game. It plays smooth. It supports Metal, MFi controllers, all the bells and whistles you'd hope an iOS game would. Just buy it already, and be sure to show it off to all your android-owning friends.

‘Final Fantasy VII’ (!!!) Out Now with Full MFi Controller Support

I sure picked a good time to go on a 12-hour road trip. Yesterday was one of the biggest release days in the entire history of MFi controller compatible games, and I was too busy driving to write about it! Let's correct that now.

First up is one of the biggest games in the history of gaming, and one of the most anticipated ports in iOS history: Final Fantasy VII. Yes, that one. It's out on iOS. Right now. It fully supports MFi controllers.

This is usually where I'd write up a short blurb about whether or not I recommend the game, but the fact is, I've never played Final Fantasy VII before. I know that many people consider it the best RPG of all time, and I know that many others consider it highly overrated. I'm greatly looking forward to spending many hours making up my own mind1!

So while I can't leave a definite recommendation yet, I can say tentatively that this port of FFVII is based on the well-regarded PC version, with its improved graphics and performance. It features full MFi controller support, iCloud saving, and universal compatibility. It's fully premium, with no ads or spam or any of that crap.

This is Final Fantasy VII, apparently ported with a lot of care to iOS. If you've played the game already, you already know if that makes it an instabuy or something to avoid. If you haven't (like me), there has probably never been a better opportunity to give it a try!

  1. Sure would have been nice for it to come out ONE day earlier – I could have played it during my stints as a passenger on my road trip! Ahh well, I spent a few hours revisiting the world of Legaia with my Gamevice instead. 

Deal Alert! Half Off for ‘Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered’

Better act fast on this one! Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy is currently available for $4.99; half-off the usual $10 price tag.

This game was the predecessor to the excellent PlayStation title Heavy Rain. It's an interactive adventure game with a rich story, detailed graphics, and full voice acting. If any of that sounds good, don't hesitate for a second to grab this at the newly discounted price.

Apple Drops Price of SteelSeries Stratus XL to $49

If you've been wanting to grab a SteelSeries Stratus XL, nows as good a time as any: Apple has quietly dropped the price to $49.99. At the same time, they seemed to have removed the regular Stratus from their online store.

I reviewed the Stratus XL, and while I found it to be much improved over its predecessor, I didn't particularly like it. It wasn't anywhere close to being worth $79.99 – it seems Apple now agrees with me on that point.

For what it's worth, I'd still take one of the Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i pads over the Stratus XL any day. The full-size C.T.R.L.i may be $10 more, but it is a far better controller. Even the Micro C.T.R.L.i doesn't suffer from the same crippling trigger sensitivity issues that plague the Stratus XL.

But if the Stratus XL is the controller you've been lusting after, now is a great opportunity. No telling how long Apple will keep this controller in stock – the regular Stratus is gone – so better act fast.

Coming This Month: ‘Worms 4’ for iOS

PocketGamer has the scoop on the latest entry in the classic turn-based strategy game Worms.

Factions, a big single player campaign, smaller levels, quicker gameplay, refined controls, and a premium price… that all sounds good to me! Lets just hope they fix the crippling framerate issues the iOS games have always suffered from.

When I was a kid, I'd spend hours up with friends playing Worms Armageddon from sunset to sunrise. The series has dropped in quality over the past decade, but these games are still worth playing.

Every time a new Worms game comes, I get my hopes up that they'll recapture the feel of the older games. Maybe this will be the time. The game will be out within the next few weeks, so we don’t have too long to wait.