Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Bubbles is maybe the most pointless app out there. It does nothing that you can benefit from. But, it is maybe the most fun for a little child. I have been mesmerized by the beautiful icon and bubbles that appear on command. But maybe the most useful application of this app is to entertain little children. Touch the screen and a bubble appears. Touch the bubble again and it disappears. Drag you finger across the entire screen and lots of bubbles appear. And they move, too. Perfect for a little child. It will keep them occupied for hours just making and popping bubbles. The visuals are great and the bubbles vary in size so it will keep the child entertained just trying to pop one of the smaller ones. I haven't "field tested" it yet, but I'm sure the 2 year old I will be testing it on will love it. Overall, if you have a child and want to entertain him/her with your iPhone, download this app. But other than that, it pretty much is just a fun way to make and pop bubbles. Update coming soon about the field test.
The AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is a free app that allows you to sign on to your account and view your buddy list and set your status. I have heard some people complaining about this app, but I find nothing wrong with it. It has a decent UI, which allows you to navigate through the options with ease, and it has the ability to set Away, Available, or Invisible. Your buddy list shows up in alphabetical order and it shows who is away, mobile, or available. The actual IMing is easy but there is one fix they could add, landscape. I tend to make mistakes typing in portrait and with the keyboard being bigger in landscape, you make less mistakes. There is no lag that I can find, and everything acts just like your AIM buddy list on your computer. AIM is a simple app that is worth it if you have an AIM account. There's not much else to say.
The Facebook app is a great way to stay in touch with your friends and the iPhone site of Facebook is very limited. Basically you can write messages and set your status on the website, but with this app, many more possibilities are opened. Well actually, only one more is opened and that is Facebook chat. The app version of Facebook.com is limited in that you only have a status update feed instead of a total news feed. But what makes the app great, is that you can chat. The iPhone Facebook site won't let you do that and I find Facebook chat to be one of the best features available in the new app. Granted, you can still send messages and update your status, but the chat is just great. Another thing about the Facebook app is that it has a decent UI that is easy to navigate. Everything else is pretty much the same as iphone.facebook.com. So this makes this app score low in innovation but it does have some other nice stuff as mentioned above, so this app scores a mediocre rating. If you have a Facebook account and you like to chat with your friends online, this is a great app for you. But other than that, don't bother unless you just want to fill space.
Yes, I'm reviewing the free Light app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Do you know why? It's because this app has saved me from stepping on my dog at least 4 times, tripping and falling on the stairs twice, and it has even saved me from falling into a pothole. OK, the last one was fake, but the others actually happened and Light really has saved me. This review is going to be simple and to-the-point as the Light app does one thing: it turns your screen white. This makes your iPhone turn into a valuable light in the dark when you need to find something or when you're just walking. Some developers are charging money for a different version of the Light app. Honestly, who the hell pays good money to turn your screen white? It's good that's it's free, but I wouldn't pay a dime for it. Some of the paid light apps turn your screen different colors which actually reduces visibility as white is the brightest color. To finish up, let me say that the Light app is a great app to have, but don't pay a dime for it. It's free and it should stay that way. It's great and all, and it does it's job, but that can only account for half of the 10 points it takes to be perfect. I can't give it any higher as it does nothing else. But it does do it's job perfectly and this app should be on your iPhone anyways.
Tap Tap Revenge (or TTR) is a Guitar Hero like app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that uses tapping instead of buttons. TTR has (or will have) a variety of songs to choose from, also like guitar hero. Also, TTR has a tournament mode and two player mode that will set this game apart from any other mobile GH-like game. The game is straight forward: Tap one of the three lines when the dot comes to the line at the bottom. As of now, I believe that TTR is the only GH-type game in the app store at the moment. And it will stay that way for some good reason.
1. Graphics: I have accumulated around two 5 gallon bucket's worth of droll over these graphics. Some of you may remember the original TTR, for jailbroken iPods and iPhones, that was called Tap Tap Revolution. If they switched the names, it would be perfect as the current version is much more revolutionary. The old TTR had OK graphics. Current TTR's graphic's are some of the best, if not the best, in the App Store. The lines in the game are like lightning bolts and they are polished to beyond belief. Even the dots are pretty. This whole game has been polished visually for a long time in preparation for the App Store launch. You have to try to believe.
2. Gameplay: The gameplay for TTR is going in good, even though it does have some bad points. The gameplay is exactly like GH in that you tap to the beat. But my only problem is that as of now, the dots you are supposed to tap, aren't exactly in line with the beat. At times they are, but for the most part they kinda off-beat. This maybe a problem that will be fixed with future downloadable tracks or it is just a way to even get through and pass one of the tracks (the tracks so far sound like they would be impossible if it was on-beat). Overall the gameplay is great, but that's not even the best part...
3. Multiplayer: Yes, TTR has multiplayer. You may think, "how is that possible?". The answer is you take two sets of lines, and put them at opposite ends of the iPhone. It looks like the iPhone has been cut in half diagonally and each set of lines takes up one of the triangles. The surprising thing is however, it works! Not only does it work, it works well. Both player have a clear visual to what they are supposed to tap and it is great fun for a boring day with a friend. This might be the defining feature of TTR that makes it the #1 downloaded free app in the App Store.
4. User Interface: The UI is very nice in TTR. It gives you clear options of what to choose and has a home and back button. I have never gotten lost in TTR's menus like I have in some other games. Overall, it is a great UI that is simple and polished, and deserves some mentioning.
5. Free: You would think they would charge for a game like this. Nope. It's 100% free. Need I say more?
1. Nothing: Yeah, that's right, nothing!
Overall this should be on your iPhone even if you have loads of money that you can spend on the App Store. This game is worth every penny even though you don't have to spend even one of them. Hell, even the icon is worth spending $1.99 at least. This game IS the best free app in the App Store. Final.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Aurora Feint The Beginning (or AFB) is a free app that is downloadable in the App Store now. AFB is a puzzle style RPG in which you can collect crystals and use them to "smith" new abilities and learn new spell books. AFB is similar to most popular puzzle games (Bejeweled 2, Trism, etc.) in that it incorporates different colored squares that you have to match up in sets of three. The blocks represent different elements and they slowly rise towards the top. When you get too close to the top, the blocks start to rattle in that column or row. You move the blocks with the touch screen on the iPod and iPhone. Unlike Bejeweled, you can move blocks across the entire row they are in. You can even slide blocks off the edge of another block if you are getting too high or you see a move. But there are also some bad parts of AFB, but majority rules so the good points are going first.
1. Controls: The controls on this game are simply amazing. You may think "how can a puzzle game have amazing controls?". Your answer lies in the accelerometer. The accelerometer is fully used in the controls in that you can play in either portrait or landscape modes. The gravity shifts when you move from one view to another so it can be used to your strategic advantage. If you see a move but a some other block hinders the way, you can shift views to work around that obstacle. A true strategic player will constantly be shifting from portrait to landscape and back again. The controls might be the winning feature of this app.
2. Graphics: I can honestly say that the graphics are very polished in terms of the blocks. The blocks are what you will be looking at most of the game, so it is very important that they look good. It may seem odd that I'm praising a puzzle game for its graphics, but they look very polished and sharp.
3. Gameplay: Like I mentioned earlier, the gameplay is phenomenal. The controls really help this by having the ability to shift the board and the ability to move blocks across entire rows. This brings the gameplay over Bejeweled in the fact that Bejeweled can only move block up or down or across one space. Also, there is no adjustable gravity in Bejeweled, so that also helps AFB. You will be spending 95% of your time in the smith or mining (both are forms of the same type of puzzle) and thus the rest of the game doesn't need to have much gameplay.
4. Challenge: There are some complicated challenges you have to complete other than the unlimited puzzle. In these challenges you must complete sets of 3 of each block type listed at the top, with each set earning 3 blocks. I tried one of the easier challenges and it gets hard with the time limit and lack of the needed blocks appearing. This makes for a fun and challenging game.
5. Free: It's free. What can I say?
1. Laggy: AFB does get laggy at times, but this is normally translated to a block that just is stuck at the enlarged state moving blocks puts them in. This is fixed the second you move another block so this isn't really a problem for me.
2. "False Claims": The developers of AFB claimed to have a RPG type puzzle game. I haven't noticed much RPG type anything other than the store and inventory, neither of which affects a person's character. The only real RPG part is at the beginning when you choose either the moose or elf. I haven't noticed any other involvement of your chosen character except maybe a 1.1x multiplier instead of a 1.0x the other character had.
As you can see, AFB is one of the best free apps, if not the best, to be in the App Store. Though some wonder why it's free. Is it just to suck gamers into the AF franchise? I think this is our answer and I believe that more AF games are coming. But at a cost. Enjoy this while you can folks, because this may be slapped with a price tag once the developers realize how successful this app is.
Monday, July 14, 2008
This app is available for free in the App Store and is also one of the best games out on the iPhone today. It's a very simple game in which you are an arrow traveling through a field of cubes, and the objective is not to hit any of the cubes. It seems very simple and straight forward, because it is. But that's what makes it great. Since this game is SO simple, I'm not going to list the good and bad points of it. I am however, going to tell you some of the good points of Cube Runner.
1. Controls - Unlike SMB, these controls are pickup and play, and they aren't that innovative, but they handle extremely well. You just lean your iPhone from side to side to control the arrow. That's how simple the controls are.
2. Replay Value - The replay value on Cube Runner is one of the highest in the entire App Store. It keeps track of your high score for that level and it's fun to try and beat you record, over and over and over and over again.
The only other stuff worth mentioning is that the graphics could be polished a bit. Overall, this game is simple, addicting, fun. It is worth the download from the App Store and, it's free. You can't beat that.
UPDATE: Cube Runner is no longer available for download in the App Store. This is because of some errors that occurred whilst playing the game. The developer has stated that he will update Cube Runner and it will return to the App Store once it is revised.
No, I'm not referring to that little white plastic remote you get with you new Mac, I'm referring to the Apple application available in the App Store. The Remote is a free application that allows you to control you're computer's iTunes library over your Home/Office Wi-Fi. It works by you finding your library on your Wi-Fi network, and then going to that library and typing in the 4-digit password that appears on your iPhone. This will not work over the iPhone's 3G or Edge networks.
The Remote is a simple yet awesome app. It can turn your laptop/desktop into a wireless media center. This means that you can start videos with the Remote, along with music. You browse your library like you normally would on you iPhone, and then once you select a song, play it as you normally would. But, the Remote will send a signal to your computer to play that song and you can listen to that song from your iPhone (it plays on the iPhone as well) or from your computer.
This is a great app in that it's free, it does something cool and useful, and you can scare friends with abnormally loud music as they walk by. Overall, download it, try it, and see how you like it. It's free, so don't be afraid to delete it if you don't like it.
SMB for the iPhone hasn't been waking up to rave reviews on iTunes lately, but the game just needs a little love. SMB for the iPhone/iPod Touch is a simple game where you are one of four monkeys inside an acrylic ball. You have to roll around to the finish portal and collect as many bananas as you go. 10 bananas = Extra Life. The game is played in 10-12 level sets. There are two sets for each area: a easy and hard. These levels are totally different from easy to hard, and the first area's easy is really to master the controls. Don't worry about losing all your lives on the first set of levels, it will help you to master the controls. But SMB has it's share of good and bad qualities, but for starters, I'll list the good:
1. Amazing Graphics - The graphics are what really shine on this port of SMB for the iPhone. In the App Store, they may look a bit choppy, but those screenshots must be some sort of beta build as they do not do justice to SMB's true graphics. You wouldn't expect this kind of quality on a phone, but SMB pulled through and made an extremely visually pleasing game.
2. Addicting - I spent 1.5 hours last night playing away at just the first stage on easy. Granted, I was trying to get a hang of the controls, but even then it was addicting and fun. You will get sucked in during a long plane ride or car trip (if you have the juice for you iPhone) and won't want to get off the plane as it may disturb your progress on stage 4.
3. Surprisingly high replay value - Once you get a hang of the controls, this game has a tremendous replay value. Most would think that the tough controls would be a total turn-off, but once you power through the learning process, then this game will be fun from point A to point B. And probably to C, D, E, etc.
4. Controls - I love this game and I have noticed myself ignoring prior reviews of games I love just to avoid second thoughts on the game. But the controls are non-avoidable. The controls aren't a pickup and play kind, unlike what Sega promised us, but they are some of the most innovative controls out in the App Store today. They use the accelerometer in all aspects. For instance, you don't turn the iPhone like a wheel to turn, nor do you lift either side to turn, you use a combination of both. They may be hard to master, but once you do, this might be the highlight of the game.
5. Variety and # of Levels - The levels in SMB will keep you busy on that 17 hour flight to Tokyo and on that 3 week road trip across the US. The levels are all different and they present a variety of skills to be mastered. There are somewhere near 110 current levels to keep you occupied.
6. Challenging - SMB is one of the hardest games to master, yet is also one of the hardest games once you master it. The levels are all challenging and have different obstacles, from no walls on the bridges, to little pinball like contraptions that shoot you away and off the edge if you hit one.
But there are some bad points about SMB that you can't avoid:
1. Controls - Yes, I listed the controls in both the good and bad because they deserve mostly good, though most people will complain during the first couple hours of use. The controls are some of the hardest to pickup and play, and thus most people won't enjoy the game and just get frustrated. If your getting frustrated, remember this: Don't Give Up!!!! It may take you awhile to master the controls, but once again, they are some of the best controls out there.
2. Restarting - This may be the major low point in SMB. If you get a call on an iPhone, and you choose to take it, then your game will be sent back to the beginning of the set of levels you were on. Hopefully there will be a patch to fix this but until then, you will have to endure starting that set of levels over again.
All in all, this game is worth it when you master the controls (Don't give up) but it could be lowered just a hair price wise. Maybe $7-8 would be perfect. But overall, this game is one of the best games in the App Store today.