Archive for April, 2009

Sonic the Hedgehog

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Sonic the Hedgehog

Yes, that’s right, the seminal first Sonic title, in all it’s glory, on the iPhone. Well, almost. If you have a 1st gen phone, you’re going to get some framerate issues and sound stutter, but this is less of an issue on current phones. Other than that, it’s a thoroughly pleasant return to the Green Hill Zone, with decent controls and all of the things that made this brilliant game a system seller, in the first place. The original title was a platform seller, for me, so I welcome the opportunity to play it on-the-go. (1-Star demerit for the software emulation issues outlined above, though. Lazy devs…;))

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Phaze – Futuristic Racing Action

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Phaze

The latest Wipeout clone to hit the iPhone, with 16 tracks and 10 hovercrafts. It was hyped to be the game that would blow Low Grav Racer outta the water…or air, rather…but it’s not all that. While there was annoying wall-drag in the original Wipeout, it seems particularly annoying here and you’ll find yourself popping your shield to mitigate damage from the walls, not the other racers. Which brings up my other point; enjoy the view of the hovercrafts in the above screenshot, as it’s the last time you will see them. You’ll either be well in front of them in Easy mode or well behind them at the top level of difficulty. You rarely see other racers and, since they have no top-view, mini-map track display, it rarely feels like a race either. Another annoying problem is that the tilt controls turn the screen red, when it is tilted too far, for some unexplained reason, so you find yourself tilting until it is red and then easing off repeatedly, which sucks. The feeling of speed is lacking too, unless you hit every boost pad. P.S. – the weapons suck. The devs could build a solid game on this framework, if they would do a balance pass and some polish, but right now it’s not a top-tier title, as was promised.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Parachute Panic

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Parachute Panic

How awesome is that screenshot?!? The art style reminds me of Sketchfighter 4000, which I love, on the Mac. The game is a blast too and it has the same simple, casual appeal of games like Scoops. Guys drop from the plane and it is the player’s job to tap each one to trigger their parachute and then guide them safely to moving ships at the bottom of the screen, using swipes of wind. The timing, direction, and locations of your swipes is the key to success, as well as thwarting the helicopters and UFOs that show up to foil your plans.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Flight Control

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Flight Control

I’m really impressed by this elegant control scheme that allows the player to simply swipe their finger to form a flight path for a plane to land. Swipe again, at any time, to adjust the course to avoid incoming planes. The control is excellent, but unfortunately, there is only one map, no achievements, story, or progression. If they update the game with some of those features, they will have a really solid game here.

Update: Yes! 2 new levels have been added and a full-on leaderboard system; a great casual game just got a whole lot  better.

Update 2: This game has been on my iPhone forever, it has spawned an entire genre of Traffic Control/Routing games, and it still holds up well, to this day.

New York Times Crossword

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

New York Times Crossword

Widely known as the best pen-and-paper crosswords, the New York Times crosswords have also been made available on the iPhone. Purchasing this app, subscribes you the daily crossword puzzle, as well as, a number of crosswords from previous years. What I’ve learned from this app so far, is that I’m a total dumbass, so hopefully you will fare better than I. A co-worker just informed me that they start easy on Monday and get more difficult by Sunday, which is useful knowledge, and also makes me feel a little better. The core interface is fine, tap to get the “across” word, tap again to get the “down” word. It has intelligent letter-skipping, which is nice, and a mode where you just scroll through a list, which is useful when you have cross-entry clues. I’m not a real crossword buff, but I like this app, and it does everything I would want it to do, apart from solving the puzzle for me and sending me and email telling me I’m a freakin’ genius.

Monster Pinball

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Monster Pinball

Let me get this out of the way immediately: I will never be as satisfied with a video pinball game that does not include Funhouse, like the Midway Pinball Collection does for PSP. That is my favorite pinball game IRL and most other games don’t come close to its brilliance. Now to this game.

It is a really solid effort, but it’s not a simulation; it’s more of a fun pinball-esque action title. There are nine tables, all connected by cross-table paths, which makes for zany fun. This is similar to another titles that gets tons of press, called Freeballin’, which I dislike immensely due to it’s wonky physics. The physics are much better in this title, although still not perfect. This game is just good, goofy fun.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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iBomber

Friday, April 24th, 2009

iBomber

This is a really slick, mission-based World War II bombing game, with great graphics, good gameplay, but with just barely enough content for the price-point. There are 12 somewhat similar missions, 3 types of bombs, and a kewl 40’s art style. Not a lot of gameplay diversity, but it does what it does quite well.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Toki Tori

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Toki Tori

This is a really nice puzzle game, in all regards; great controls, good graphics, thoughtful puzzles, and tons of content (80 levels total). The goal is to collect all the eggs. Press anywhere on the screen and your little waddling chick will route there, if possible. Pinch-to-zoom and 2-finger drag to pan round out the elegant controls. You have a number of special abilities at your disposal, depending on the level, but even so, some of the puzzles can be pretty tricky.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Shift

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Shift

The very clever, mind-bending puzzler/platformer Shift, has been ported to the iPhone. Get the keys to trigger the platforms, so you can escape through the exit. Hit the “Shift” buttons, when needed, to reverse the colors and play in the negative space. If you haven’t played the original, get it. If you have played it already, it’s your call, but I’m having a good time playing through it again.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Noiz2sa

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Noiz2sa

Anyone familiar with the top-down shooter sub-genre known as “Bullet Hell” knows exactly how this game plays; you pilot a ship through a near-constant wall of bullets, while shooting down the enemies that spawn them. The art style is outstanding, the sounds are appropriately industrial, and the gameplay is maddening/fun. This is a sequel to another iPhone game, called rRootage, but it is by a different developer. Unfortunately, they didn’t adopt the same control methodology, so like most iPhone shooters, your ship is sometimes obstructed by your finger. Obviously, in a Bullet Hell game, you need to see your ship. This is quite annoying, particularly since rRootage solved the issue by allowing finger placement anywhere on the screen to control your ship, much like Metal Gear Solid Touch controls. Framerate suffers a bit on my 1st gen phone and the level select screen is impossibly difficult to navigate for some reason, so you’ve been warned. Download rRootage for free first, to see if you even like this type of game.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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