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Command and Conquer: Red Alert

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Will on November 2nd, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: COMES UP SHORT
With skimpy content and slightly watered-down gameplay, Command and Conquer: Red Alert is good - but not great.
Read The Full Review »

Upcoming EA Games: Battleship, Connect 4, and Monopoly Classic

Posted by Will on October 29th, 2009

EA is looking to release three classic board games in time for the holiday season: Battleship, Connect 4, Monopoly Classic.

Battleship

EA will bring a few twists to the classic game of skillful coordinate guessing. You'll use touchscreen controls to battle your enemies in three different modes - classic, salvo, and super weapons. Not wanting to miss out on the social aspect of the game, EA has included local multiplayer (both bluetooth and Wifi).

Connect 4

While EA couldn't quite recreate the joy of pulling the lever at the bottom of the board and watching all of the pieces crash to the ground, Connect 4 will nonetheless be a faithful recreation of the timeless game. Connect 4 will contain single player and multiplayer (local Wifi, bluetooth, and one device sharing). Single player includes classic, challenge, and advanced modes with Powerchips, Max Score, and PopOut. In addition, EA has included 25 unlockable achievements and some fancy visual effects.

Monopoly Classic

While EA has already released Monopoly: Here & Now onto the App Store, they will provide a more traditional experience with Monopoly Classic. Because the cutthroat intensity of property management doesn't quite transfer over to single player mode, you'll be able to play your friends on the go with local Wifi, bluetooth, and single device "pass and play" multiplayer. EA is also including some nice iPhone features such as progressive save, an accelerometer shake to role the dice, and the ability access your iPod library in-game.

Check the jump for more screenshots.

Soosiz

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Will on October 27th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: AMAZING
Soosiz is pure awesomeness due to great graphics, pixel-prefect controls, and gravity-spinning gameplay.
Read The Full Review »

Apple Removes StoneLoops from the App Store at the Request of MumboJumbo

Posted by Will on October 27th, 2009

StoneLoops! of Jurassica is fantastic marble-shooter that Bonnie proclaimed "sets a new standard for Zuma-style match-3s" in her initial review. Have you rushing off to the App Store? Well, don't bother. Recently, StoneLoops was removed from the App Store by Apple and is no longer available for download. As it turns out, this act was perpetrated by MumboJumbo, the developers of the main genre competitor, Luxor.

According to the developer of StoneLoops, Code Minion (full blog post here), MumboJumbo's reason for doing this was StoneLoops's success. In fact, this assertion seems to be largely substantiated. When they both existed as PC games, Luxor far overshadowed the little-known StoneLoops. However, when it came to the iPhone, the tables turned. Code Minion beat MumboJumbo in the race to the App Store, and StoneLoops enjoyed a sustained high rank in the top paid apps list while Luxor languished.

The full story goes like this: a few weeks ago, Apple relayed Code Minion a formal complaint and request to remove StoneLoops from the App Store, originally filed by MumboJumbo. According to Code Minion, the complaint involved "infringing Luxor copyright, confusing customers, stealing Luxor’s look & feel and even stealing their source code!" Most of these claims are simply outrageous, and if you've ever played the two games, the differences are apparent. Code Minion replied to Apple, refuting the claims that they found erroneous and even offering to change a few things on StoneLoops's app description. Code Minion assumed Apple ruled in their favor when weeks passed without any reply, but discovered otherwise when they learned StoneLoops was no longer available in the App Store.

There are several reasons why MumboJumbo's actions are repulsive and hypocritical. First, of course, Luxor is not an original game. All marble shooters are derived from the 1998 Japanese game Puzz Loop, and most established iteration on the formula is Popcap's 2003 game Zuma. In addition, there are multiple other Zuma-like games on the App Store, though MumboJumbo only chose to attack their closest competitor. Ironically, when Code Minion was deciding on a publisher for StoneLoops, they talked with MumboJumbo before settling on Playcreek. MumboJumbo was shown the game, and never expressed any doubts about possible copyright infringement. This incident sets a dangerous precedent in the App Store that could be easily exploited by other developers.

Please note that MumboJumbo has not yet commented on the incident with their side of the story.

Earthworm Jim

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Will on October 26th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: GROOVY!
Once you get adjusted to the controls, Earthworm Jim is a top-notch platforming experience.
Read The Full Review »

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 26th, 2009

iShoot developer reveals screenshots of second game

Ethan Nicholas, the developer of the Worms-like game iShoot, was one of the early App Store success stories. After making reportedly over $800,000 in five months, Nicholas quit his day job to devote himself full-time to developing games. Nicholas will hope to avoid becoming a one-hit-wonder with his follow-up game. Recently, he tweeted pictures of the upcoming game, and though no other information is known, it appears to be a free-roaming hunting game. Good luck Ethan!


My newest addiction
Every once and a while, a simple game in the vein of Doodle Jump will grab me and inexplicably become a new addiction. Right now, that game is Canabalt. Canabalt is a super stylish game in which to escape from aliens, your hero runs along rooftops. All you control, with simple taps, is when your character jumps. Though it lacks online leaderboards, there is twitter bragging and it's definitely got that "just one more try" appeal. There's also a free online flash version.

Wii award winner "Groovin' Blocks" arrives in the App Store
On the heals of the announcement that the fantastic Wii-ware game World of Goo was coming to the iPhone, Groovin' Block, a Wii port, snuck onto the App Store. Groovin' Blocks is a match 3 Tetris variant with a twist - blocks dropped in beat with the music rack up a multiplier and sometimes unleash powerups. While Gamespot loved the Wii version, the iPhone iteration seems mediocre so far. In any case, you can judge for yourself with a free lite version.


This week's upcoming app that looks freakin' sweet:

Rally Master Pro is one of the best-known and most impressive mobile games of all time, and now it's being adapted for the iPhone by Fishlabs. Expect Rally Master Pro sometime in November. Until then, enjoy the official trailer:


This week's sign of the apocalypse:

Tony Romo successfully completed an entire NFL game without a single turnover. This is UNHEARD of.

App of the Week

Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim is a classic game that most have heard of, with great action-platforming gameplay and humor in spades. Gameloft has lovingly adapted it to the iPhone with superb graphics remastering. While the controls aren't great, Gameloft did the best they could, and the controls aren't a deal breaker. Grooooovy!

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 19th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store.

Apple now allows in-app purchases in free apps

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely heard that Apple is now allowing in-app purchases in free apps. Yes, this creates many possibilities including the extinction of lite versions and new app store charts, but I think that none of these possibilities will come to fruition, for one simple reason: DLC simply won't be widely implemented. One reason, and the reason I think developers have been loathe to implement DLC so far, is the public perception of DLC. The average app consumer is wary - perhaps rightfully so - of DLC, and automatically assumes DLC is there to rip off the customer. I think developers will even be aware of this when making free apps with DLC, as the fear of being nickeled and dimed could lead poor public perception, starting with bad iTunes reviews, which will be open to anyone who clicks the "Get App" button. In addition, I think consumers simply purchase less through in-app purchasing. Once you already have an app, that app can become boring quickly in this ADD app store, so instead of purchasing more content for that app, you are likely to impulsively buy a completely different and new one.

Rock Band released

Last night, EA mobile's Rock Band was released onto the App Store. Sure, it's got that EA polish, but is it really worth 10 times more than Tap Tap Revenge 3, its $.99 competitor. Early indication may be no. While Rock Band features four different instruments, they are all similarly tap-based. The gameplay is fairly unchallenging but fun, and the background graphics are very repetitive and there are no special backgrounds for songs as in TTR3. In addition, the game comes with an anemic set list of only 20 songs, compared to over 100 free songs for TTR3. DLC packs for Rock Band are scarce so far and come packaged as two songs for $.99, the same as TTR3. I think the Rock Band game itself is better than TTR3, just not ten times better.

Free ngmoco:) games!

Largely as a promotion for their Plus+ network, ngmoco:) has made three of their older games free. These are the full versions of the games, now including the excellend Plus+, and they're all worth checking out:


This week's upcoming app that looks freakin' sweet:

There are a few good turn based strategy games on the iPhone, but the Battle for Wesnoth could just blow them all away. Here are a few features:

Over 200 unit types in six major factions, all with distinctive abilities, weapons and spells
Experienced units gain powerful new abilities as they advance.
Bring your battle-hardened troops with you as you fight through campaigns
Hundreds of campaign scenarios available, easily download user-made content
Day/night cycles, fog of war, racial traits
Cross-platform multiplayer


The Battle for Wesnoth has not been submitted, but you can download a free PC/Mac/Linux demo here.

This week's sign of the apocalypse:

Ngmoco:) has recently been tweeting about, and advertising in their games, Epic Pet Wars, another dumb code-sharing text-based MMO. I thought you had high standards ngmoco:)...

App of the Week

Shrek Kart

Last week, I disappointedly reviewed Cocoto Kart Online, which simply wasn't up to snuff. Happily, Gameloft's Shrek Kart has provided a great karting experience. While the controls could still use some additional tuning, they aren't nearly as awful as those found in Cocoto. Though there is no online multiplayer, the single player mode has enough content. The graphics are unbelievably crisp, the track design is good, and the Shrek license is actually used pretty well. At $4.99, it's the best Mario Kart-esque game on the App Store.

Ngmoco takes full advantage of Apple's reversal on DLC in free apps with Eliminate and Rolando 2: Chapter 1

Posted by Will on October 16th, 2009

Ngmoco will take advantage of Apple's reversal in decision on allowing DLC in free apps, and they will probably be among the first to do so.

First, In conjunction with Apple's announcement, Ngmoco announced that they will be making their upcoming FPS Eliminate free. The main draw of Eliminate is the thorough online component, with 4-player death match over Wifi or 3G. In the game, you have a certain amount of "energy." While you are energized, playing online earns you credits, which improve your online ranking and can be used to buy upgrades and armor. However, your energy runs out after a few online matches, and while you can still play online while de-energized, you won't earn credits. You can simply wait a certain amount of time (this has not been announced yet, but think somewhere from 1-2 hours), after which your energy will be refilled, or if you're really cutthroat, you can purchase more energy using DLC. This is the only as yet confirmed use of DLC in the game; upgrades and armor will still be bought exclusively using game credits, though extra maps may be available for purchase.

Overall, this looks to be a brilliant move on ngmoco:)'s part. I would be shocked if the game does not quickly climb the App Store charts and reach #1 on the top free games list. This popularity will ensure a huge online community, and there will likely rarely be a waiting time for a match. The downside, of course, is the stress on ngmoco:)'s servers, but with their infrastructure, I imagine they'll be able to handle it. Within the online community, there will almost certainly be an ultra-competitive subsection who will frequently purchase more energy, and this is how ngmoco:) plans to make money.

For more information on Eliminate, see our preview. The game was submitted to Apple about a week ago, and this new development will not affect its release.

In addition, ngmoco has just released a free version of the incredible Rolando 2. This free version includes chapter 1 of the saga, and essentially serves as a lite version of the game with the full version built in. After finishing chapter 1, you can purchase additional chapters for $.99, with the exception of the last two chapters, which come bundled together for $1.99. Strangely, the total price of all the DLC is $4.98, making it cheaper than the standalone version of Rolando 2 which retails at $5.99. With Apple's former restrictions lifted, these "hybrid" lite versions could become commonplace.


Cocoto Kart Online

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Will on October 14th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: NOT QUITE
Cocoto Kart Online holds potential with a great online component, but it falls apart due to ghastly controls.
Read The Full Review »

FIFA 10 by EA SPORTS

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Will on October 12th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SOLID
FIFA 10 has a poor interface, a strange glitch, a high price tag, and average graphics, but delivers where it matters - gameplay, thus becoming the best soccer experience on the iPhone yet.
Read The Full Review »

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 12th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store

Alchemize App Store Pricing Protest

This weekend, in a protest against supposedly 3400 emails complaining about the $2.99 price of their app Alchemize, Schiau Studios raised the price to $39.99 for the weekend. Yes, it's a hilarious protest against whiners who complain about spending a few bucks, but Schiau is not entirely in the right. Alchemize was originally priced at $9.99 and then quickly lowered until it was only $.99 for a short time. I can't blame people for waiting for another sale. If Schiau truly wanted to protest App Store pricing, they would have come up with a fair price, stuck to it, and never changed it amid protests. By acknowledging the whiners, Schiau has granted them some legitimacy.

PSP Minis

Sometimes it's good to take a look at our beloved App Store's rival, the PSP Mini store. The store has launched and two of its biggest name games have already made an appearance on the iPhone (and for cheaper): Hero of Sparta and Fieldrunners. In addition, Chillingo and Mountain Sheep's Minigore is on the way. What do all of these games have in common? In my estimation, they're three of the most overrated games on the App Store. Hero of Sparta had good visuals for its time, but the dull one-button hack and slash affair has so many pre-rendered cinematic animations it's like watching a movie. Fieldrunners has a great art style and was admittedly one of the first open-path TD's on the App Store, but there's only a few enemy types and tower types, and it lacks the depth of the genre luminaries such as Sentinel 2 and Defender Chronicles. Minigore has nice aesthetics as well, but it's an average two-stick survival shooter with little depth, easily outclassed by games such as Alive 4 Ever. Sony, wake me up when you manage to get some good games.

Nimblebit's Freebie Friday

This Friday, Nimblebit lowered all their apps to free in celebration of their newly launched site App Classics! Even if you missed the deal, the apps are still worth buying; Nimblebit is the best in the business at creating fun, short, and addictive games such as Scoops and Textropolis. This move was interesting from a marketing standpoint, and certainly created buzz. In fact, Ian Marsh reported via Twitter that Saturday's sales were double normal and more than made up for Friday's losses.

This week's upcoming app that looks frickin' awesome!

This is the inaugural issue of this feature where I'll be showing off some upcoming games that look awesome (though I've been doing it unofficially for quite some time). This week, we have Jet Car Stunts, an awesome-looking racing game in the vein of Track Mania. The game is due to be submitted within the next week. Enjoy!


This week's sign of the apocalypse

A few weeks ago, Chris used this space to talk about how happy he was that Glu's awful Family Guy cash-in was doing poorly in the App Store. Well, times have changed, and apparently Stewie is enough to make a poor game reach #9 on Top Grossing Apps.

App of the Week

Soosiz

Soosiz is without question the best platformer yet on the App Store. The game uses gravity-centered gameplay, like that of Gomi, but much more fast-paced, to turn a good platform adventure into something extraordinary. The level design is excellent, and the difficulty curve is just right. Controls are great as well. There's only a left arrow, a right arrow, and a jump button, but they are all perfectly responsive and work brilliantly in unison, making you almost forget you're playing on a touch screen.. The graphics are cartoony and playful, and the only big flaw of the game is the sometimes overly-childish music. Other than that though, Soosiz is a magnificent achievement is App Store platforming, and it's one of the most fun games I've played in a while, coming highly recommended.

Mobigame's EDGE Returns to the App Store!

Posted by Will on October 7th, 2009
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED :: Read Review »

After a long trademark dispute with Tim Langdell, Mobigame's suberb game "EDGE" is back on the App Store. Tim Langdell is the founder of Edge Games. Instead of making games for the past 15 years, he has been making a living by suing any game with the term "edge" in the name, effectively trademarking the word. He made no exception to EDGE, and due to the pending legal action the game was removed for the App Store. The game made a brief reappearance but soon disappeared again. Things took a turn for the better, however, when EA joined the fray. Due to a lawsuit regarding EA's "Mirror's Edge," EA petitioned to have the "Edge" trademark thrown out. Whether EDGE's return is due to EA's interference is unclear, but it certainly seems probable.

EDGE itself is a colorful puzzle/action game in which you move a colorful cube through isometric levels. The graphics are ultra-stylish, the music is killer, and the gameplay is fun and challenging. The overall experience is great and would definitely rank on a list of App Store "classics." There has never been a better time to buy EDGE, as updates of the initial version have brought a hefty amount of new levels, and unfortunately we're not sure how permanent EDGE's stay will be.


Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Will on October 5th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BEST RTS YET
Robocalypse is a well-executed, albeit somewhat simplified RTS with a great presentation, intuitive touch controls, and online multiplayer.
Read The Full Review »

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 5th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store.

App Store Pricing Fracas

In what is seemingly a periodic function, the app store community has been in an uproar over the pricing of a game. What was the sin? Pricing a game over the sacred $9.99 mark? Nope, it was the debut of the addictive but simple flash game Canabalt (free demo here) at a whopping $2.99. The game itself, from its great pixel artwork to the catchy in-game music to the simple but "one more time" gameplay, is actually fantastic, only lacking a global leaderboard. Well, apparently there's some unwritten rule that if a game has a free flash counterpart, it can be priced no higher than $.99. Luckily, the average Joe App Store user was able to withdraw enough from their savings account to shell out the $2.99, as it's ranked #78 amongst all paid games. Bargain bin App Store pricing is great for the consumer, but it sure does create some spoiled brats. Hey haters, you know what you can do if you don't like the pricing? NOT BUY IT! But don't go around calling for Semi Secret Software's head.

App Store Starts to See Yearly Updates

We're beginning to see 2010 installments of emerging App Store sports franchises, including Real Soccer 2010, Baseball Superstars 2010, and the upcoming X2 Football 2010. Not only does each of these titles bring notable improvements over the previous installment, but they are also another sign of the iPhone as a true gaming platform. Developers are clearly planning long term and are investing in the iPhone for their latest and greatest games. This trend will reach explosive new heights if EA Mobile joins in by releasing yearly updates to their sports games along with their console counterparts.

Mini Squadron Looks Insanely Fun!

This video of the upcoming "Mini Squadron" put it on my "can't miss" list:


The game looks to have a nice amount of content with 50 unlockable planes and Wifi multiplayer, great graphics, and awesomely frantic gameplay. Look for this one near Halloween.

New Kontender?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a competition for the best App Store Kart racer between Konami's Krazy Kart Racing and Gameloft's yet to be released Shrek Kart. Well now, a completely unexpected racer has entered the fray, Cocoto Kart Online. Cocoto is made by Eurocenter, the makers of such online luminaries as Dinosmash, Ace Tennis Online, and Bomber Online. Cocoto contains a generous single player mode and of course, fully functional online play over Wifi or 3G. Oh, and Cocoto has one thing neither of its competitor's can beat: at $.99 price tag. We'll try to review this one soon but until then here's a video of Battle Mode:


Note: the game can also be played with accelerometer controls.

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

Kyle Orton is now officially a better QB than Tony Romo. That is all. (Truth. -Ed.)

Games of the Week

Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem

The App Store has seen a few, largely unsuccessful attempts at bringing an RTS to the App Store. Now, it finally has one worth playing, Robocalypse. Not only does Robocalyspe deliver solid RTS gameplay (though it is slightly simplified) but also a large dose of humor, nice graphics, a 17 mission long campaign mode, and online multiplayer. It's tough to beat getting a full DS game for only $2.99.

FIFA 10 by EA SPORTS
It is with some reservations and trepidation that I name FIFA as an app of the week, but I do it because of one thing: gameplay, which makes it tentatively the best soccer (football) game on the App Store. Despite a very frustrating glitch that mixes up all your positions in manager mode and roster management menus that occasionally border on unnavigable, FIFA's controls are pretty good - they just take some time to get used to. In addition, EA packed a massive amount of content, including a multitude of fully-licensed teams and several game modes. In addition, FIFA comes through when it comes to gameplay. Unlike X2 Football and Real Soccer, FIFA is realistic. The gameplay is very smooth with a fine attention to realistic detail. No 15-0 blowouts here; goals are hard to come by, and 1-0 results are common, making goals extremely rewarding. The game never feels "cheap," and you only have yourself to blame for your losses. I reserve the right to change my mind on FIFA's place in the soccer game pecking order until X2 2010 comes out, but as of now, it sits at the top.

From Out of Nowhere Comes... Galcon Labs!

Posted by Will on October 1st, 2009

This afternoon, Phil Hassey released a surprise sequel to his acclaimed strategy game, Galcon. Galcon was recently given an aesthetic facelift, and Galcon Labs not only incorporates these aesthetic changes but also adds four new game modes. Oh, and in addition to many AI single player difficulties with random maps there's still fully-featured online multiplayer!

Galcon was one of the earliest strategy games on the App Store and remains one of the best with simple and addictive gameplay. You and an opponent are placed on a battlefield of planets. You each start out with a home planet, and your goal is to eradicate your opponents fleet. To do this, you send out a certain percentage of your ships from one planet to another. Based on the size of a planet, ships will grow at a certain rate. This sounds simple, but the game quickly becomes frantic as players set up satellite planets, fight for key strategic outposts, and eventually wipe their opponent off the face of the galaxy.

In addition to this "classic" mode, Galcon Labs features four new game modes:

Billiards - play in a battlefield of constantly moving planets.
Stealth - enemy ships are invisible.
Crash - ships battle mid-space.
Assassin - each player is designated a target planet. The first player to conquer their target wins.


Currently at only $.99, Galcon Labs is by all accounts a bargain. Expect a full review soon!