Contributing Writer with the 148Apps Network since November 11, 2009
The iPhone & iPad have taken interactivity to new heights. As a result, they've given us one of the most exciting gaming platforms in quite some time. There's a lot of exciting news & apps for fellow technophiles & gamers to digest, so please consider this my modest contribution. Thanks for reading!
A Nation divided. North vs. South. Brother vs. brother. The Civil War stands as one of the most tumultuous times in American history. It helped shape the future of a nation, and has been the source of many fascinating retrospectives, across all kinds of media.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the America Civil War, the History Channel has released The Civil War Today for the iPad, bringing us a very modern, interactive window to the past. The app is structured as a slick-looking, tablet newspaper, with visual representations of many historical documents, photos, maps, newspaper clippings, etc.
With this format in mind, The Civil War Today is set to have daily updates for the next four years, from April 12, 2011 through April 26, 2015, as a pseudo, real-time recounting of the events that occurred 150 years to the day. You will be able to follow the events of the past like they were happening today, and with all the graphical and technical embellishments that the iPad has to offer.
The app offers a variety of content such as quotes of the day, letters & personal diaries from 15 people who experienced the war, photo galleries, battle maps, newspaper broadsheets, articles & video on featured topics, etc. There’s also a daily North/South casualty counter that highlights the ebb and impact of the war, as well as daily quizzes. The Civil War Today supports Game Center, where you can earn achievements for interacting with all these elements of the app, as well as twitter integration that simulates sending a message via morse code.
There’s no doubt that The Civil War Today is an ambitious project, and it feels very much at home on the iPad. It is a decidedly modern take on historical events that aims to provide a bevy of interesting content and educational value that not just history buffs will find entertaining.
Remedy Entertainment, best known for the Max Payne series of videogames and Alan Wake, recently unleashed Death Rally to the app store. Death Rally is a top-down, combat racing game, and is actually a remake of the company’s first title from 1996. It features a single-player career mode where you can earn money to upgrade vehicles and their accompanying weapons. The core goal is to win races by any means necessary, including wrecking your opponents. There are a few cameo appearances along the way by John Gore of Minigore fame, Barry Wheeler from Alan Wake, and videogame legend Duke Nukem himself, all as boss racers.
From the onset, Remedy released Death Rally as a universal app, and has promised regular, free updates. It has since quickly climbed the app store charts, and the first update has just arrived short of two weeks. Along with bug fixes and other technical enhancements, version 1.1 includes:
-Unlock the power of the Wraith, a fast and furious NEW SPORTSCAR!
-STRIKER: Dish out massive damage with a weapon that fires multiple rockets!
-LASER SIGHT: Aim and destroy the enemy with more accuracy than ever!
-ALL NITRO CHALLENGE: Do you feel the need for speed?
Remedy has hinted at more updates to come very soon. Besides new tracks and cars, the addition of multiplayer has been promised (both local and online), as well as an appearance by a certain Mighty Eagle. The game originally shipped with 5 vehicle and 5 weapon types, all of which can be upgraded, as well as 5 core track types that are rotated and re-used throughout.
For anyone interested in the original PC game, Remedy has issued a free, re-release of it that has been tailored to run on modern hardware. You can download it from the Remedy Entertainment website.
8tracks is a site that lets you create and share digital mix tapes. Self-described as “handcrafted internet radio,” 8tracks allows users to upload the music files of their virtual playlists so that others can then legally stream their handiwork. This capability has now been expanded to the iPhone, as 8tracks Radio has been launched to the app store.
Some features of the 8tracks Radio app include:
Listen to user-curated mixes
Follow your favorite DJs and play their mixes through the Mix feed
Search for mixes containing your favorite artists
Browse hundreds of popular tags like alternative rock, sleep, sad, chill or dubstep
Listen to mixes everywhere – on your commute, at the gym or at home via AirPlay
The core philosophy behind 8tracks is that user-created playlists will trump those that are algorithmically generated. The online mixes that you submit to the open community via the website, along with accompanying cover art, must contain at least 8 tracks, with no more than 2 belonging to a specific artist. Listeners can then search by a variety of methods, and 8track offers select mixes curated by various notable sources such as SPIN, Pitchfork, Metric, Threadless, etc.
So, remember those days when you were mad at your parents, and you just broke up with your girlfriend, and you expressed yourself in the ultimate angst-ridden mixed tape? Uhm, yeah. Me neither. That was a friend of mine. Have any personal mixes that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments…
It’s been 4 long years since Italy gloriously hoisted the FIFA World Cup and proclaimed themselves the kings of soccer (football, futbol, calcio, etc.). There’s a deep field of 32 teams who will be vying for the 2010 crown and, while you can never count out old stalwarts like Brazil, Italy, and Germany, many countries have a legitimate shot at the trophy and their place in soccer immortality.
What’s different this time around? Well, this is the first World Cup to take place in the continent of Africa. Many of the players and coaches have changed throughout the years. But, as far as my fellow iPhone enthusiasts are concerned, the biggest difference is that this is the first World Cup to take place since Apple’s miracle device was born. There are several cool apps for just about everything these days, and the World Cup is no exception. Here are 4+ apps that every soccer fan should have on their iPhones over the next month of soccer nirvana…
FIFA World Cup
If you want a game that has all the pomp and circumstance of the tournament, EA’s FIFA World Cup does a good job of incorporating all those elements. As the only officially licensed game, FIFA World Cup lets you choose from 105 different countries on the quest to qualify for the competition and capture the trophy. There’s also a Captain Your Country Mode, where you become a virtual pro on your favorite team and try to guide them to victory. FIFA World Cup may not be the greatest game of soccer that you’ll play, but it has all of the official stadiums and requisite fanfare of the world’s greatest sporting event, including some amusingly blocky-looking fans. Soccer enthusiasts may also want to try X2 Soccer 2010 for perhaps a better simulation of the game, and Soccer Superstars for a more arcade-like approach. Neither have the spectacle of the World Cup license, but they are amongst the best soccer games in the app store at this time. Keep an eye out for Pro Evolution Soccer as well, as the legendary series will soon be making its debut on the iPhone.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-04-30 :: Category: Games :: Action
ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup
ESPN is the official home of the World Cup in the United States, and is offering an iPhone app that can be used to follow all of the latest happenings. Included in the free app is News, Live Scores, Schedules, Video, Stats, History, etc. For a robust $7.99 more, ESPN is promising Live Radio Streams of all the matches, timely in-game video highlights, expert analysis, premium alerts/notifications, and live play-by-play commentary. It remains to be seen if the upgrade is worth a purchase, but it is nice to have all this information included in a handy & attractive app. As an alternative, the Associated Press is offering a World Cup specific app for all of the latest soccer news, and Univision, the official Spanish language provider of the World Cup in the United States, is offering a comprehensive app of their own. It wasn’t that long ago when Univision was the only place to watch much of the best soccer, including the World Cup. Now where can I get a sweet Andres Cantor “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLL!” ring tone?
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-03 :: Category: Sports
World Cup Trivia Challenge
Want to show off your stunning, yet normally useless amount of World Cup knowledge? World Cup Trivia Challenge lets you do just that in a surprisingly good game. Choose your side and play through a trivial facsimile of the World Cup including qualification, group stage, and the knock-out stage. Better yet, take on your friend at the bar in a head-to-head match of true fandom. Get 3 multiple choice questions right and you score a goal, but every wrong answer counts towards your opponent’s tally. Go back and forth in a timed match to see who scores the most goals, with a tie game going to a true/false penalty shootout. World Cup Trivia Challenge is a modest game, but it has some clever ideas and is just fun. It’s a great time-waster between matches, and an excellent way to score some hard-earned bragging rights.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-31 :: Category: Games
The most important app for this World Cup, however, is hands-down Vuvuzela 2010. If you don’t know about vuvuzelas before this World Cup, you will very shortly. A vuvuzela is a type of horn used by soccer fans, and it is especially prominent in South Africa. The crowds in South Africa will be blaring these horns during every second of every match. It may very well end up being one of the most distinguishing and memorable characteristics of the tournament. The deep, droning sounds of hundreds of vuvuzelas is reminiscent of a swarm of bees, just louder and more obnoxious. There were calls to ban the horns for the World Cup, but they’ll be there and they’ll be ever-present. If you don’t get to pick one up for yourselves, Vuvuzela 2010 does a great job of replicating the experience. Just pick the color of your horn to match your favorite team, turn up the volume as high as it can go, and shake or tap your phone. The effect is pretty genuine, and quite amusing. You might not be able to be at the World Cup in person, but Vuvuzela 2010 brings you that much closer. I suggest blaring it when people least suspect it, for maximum effect. ---
So, now that you and your iPhone will be prepared for the 2010 World Cup, who’s going to win? European champions Spain may be the prohibitive favorites, but I’ll go out on a limb and say England takes out Argentina in the finals. Okay, I put like zero thought into that, but it would be an interesting final (remember the Falklands?). Besides, England has an Italian coach, so that can’t be bad. Who do you think will go all the way? Post a comment if you have an opinion, or if you’ve found some other useful apps that all World Cup lovers shouldn’t be without…
Curling is the Ground Hog Day of sports. When the Winter Olympics roll around every 4 years, it’s like curling is discovered for the first time. Queue up the morning talk show hosts, with their witty banter about this quirky “new” sport and their curling 101 segments. It happens time and again. There’s a buzz around the water cooler about curling, with viewers finding it somewhat funny yet oddly compelling. Most people that take the time to watch a match are often hooked for the two weeks or so that make up the Olympics. It’s my assertion that everyone loves curling, but is just too afraid to admit it!
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but when it comes to videogame collections of winter sports, curling is almost always the best game in the package. It almost single-handedly saved Deca Sports on the Wii. Heck, it was even the best event in the Sonic at the Olympics app that was recently pulled from the app store, although that’s not really saying much. I’ve gone as far as importing the Japanese game Minna No Curling for the DS (later ported to Canada as Curling DS) in order to get my fix of virtual curling.
The iPhone has a few curling apps in its arsenal as well, and would seem like an optimal platform for the stone-sliding sport. I found and played a total of 3 dedicated curling games in the app store, so here’s a look at how they stack up…. Continue reading Winter Olympics = Time for Curling! »
Until just recently, app store downloads over EDGE or 3G have been limited to 10MB in size. Shoppers can now proceed to download files up to 20MB before having to use a Wi-Fi connection or iTunes on their computers.
The cap has been in place to presumably temper data usage on AT&T’s network, and many developers have sought to keep their applications under the previous 10MB limit in an effort to never discourage a sale.
The quiet increase to a 20MB cap size is now in effect for both app store and iTunes over-the-air purchases, and arrives fairly close to the impending release of the iPad.
Gizmodo recently reported that Sega will be releasing an official Sega Genesis emulator application. The Genesis, or Mega Drive outside of North America, is Sega’s legendary 16-bit console. Sega has previously ported individual games to the app store, such as Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, with mixed results. The Genesis Ultimate collection will act as a single entry point with an in-app store, functioning essentially as a virtual console. The app is scheduled to arrive sometime in February, and is planned to be free of charge. Space Harrier 2 will come with the base app as well, and the initial list of purchasable games are as follows:
• Sonic the Hedgehog: $5.99
• Golden Axe: $4.99
• Ecco the Dolphin: $2.99
• Shining Force: $2.99
Apple is notoriously cautious when it comes to emulators, making sure that everything is properly licensed and 100% legal. Just ask Manomio, who had to comply to Apple’s understandably strict regulations to release their Commodore 64 emulator, C64. As the console manufacturer and publisher of the titles in question, Sega should have a lot less of the same concerns.
What remains to be seen is how these older titles will hold-up when making the transition to iDevice, with updated virtual controls, etc. The value proposition is also something to consider, as my local Gamestop carries console and handheld versions of Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection for $19.99 new, $10 used. These versions include 40+ and 30+ of the best Genesis titles respectively, making the price of some of the initial titles look steep in comparison. You can’t argue with the base price of free though, and the ability to pick and choose what you’d like to buy. I’d be interested in some gems like Ristar or Streets of Rage 2 myself, Altered Beast definitely not!
We recently reviewed iSamJackson, and found it to be one of the best soundboard type apps you will find in the app store. Our editor Chris liked it so much that he’s foregone all verbal communication, and speaks only through Sam Jackson. To be honest, we hardly notice the difference…
Hot on the heels of the app’s success, Heatwave Interactive has announced “The Perfect iSamJackson Line” Contest. Fans of Sam Jackson can submit what they think would be the ultimate thing for him to say. All entries are being collected on the iSamJackson website until February 18, 2010. Although there is no guarantee that the winner’s line will be recorded and added to the app, there are some prizes up for grabs for the top submissions, including…
– Grand Prize (1): 8GB Apple iPod touch preloaded with iSamJackson
– Runner-Up (4): Custom limited edition iSamJackson iPhone cover
The iSamJackson app comes with 150+ original soundbytes recorded by Samuel Jackson, and can be had for roughly the price of a Royale with Cheese. You’ll find a retort for almost any situation, and there is an in-app store for downloading additional themed packs. iSamJackson is available in both Explicit and Clean versions, although there’s really only one choice for the full Sam Jackson experience.
The big game publishers such as Electronic Arts and Gameloft have a reputation, deserved or not, of rarely updating their titles. EA’s Madden NFL 10 definitely doesn’t fall into this category, as it just received its fourth update since being released in September. As far as updates go, this is a good one, and it has a particularly timely addition. You’ll see what I mean…
First off, a Hard mode been added for those who’ve mastered the game. The difficulty can be toggled between Normal or Hard via the Options screen.
Another addition is the ability to save a multi-player game. If you’re bluetooth session with a friend gets interrupted, you can save and resume at a later point.
The final addition is the ability to download a special Playoff Mode, FREE of charge. This mode features the 12 teams that are currently battling it out in the 2009 NFL playoffs, and can be installed via the in-game Madden Store. You can select one of the 12 teams, and then play your way through the playoffs from the official Wild Card match-ups to the Super-Bowl.
Playoff Mode also conveniently gives you the ability to simulate up to a selected week of the playoffs. We decided to put Madden 10 to the test, Jimmy the Greek style, by simulating this weekend’s games. The screenshot below shows the predicted winners…
So, what do you think? Will Philip Rivers get out-dueled by the inexperienced Mark Sanchez? Will the Ravens defense come up short against the well-rested Colts? Will Brett Favre deny the Cowboys their first road playoff win since 1993? And will Kurt Warner stave off retirement for one more week? Or is Madden 10 just full of you-know-what…
It’s not surprising that Gamevil, makers of the Zenonia and Hybrid: Eternal Whisper series, would have another action RPG up their sleeve. What is eye-catching, however, is the art style of their new title, Vanquish: The Oath of Brothers. Billed as an “Artisitc Action RPG”, Vanquish features striking ink and wash painting graphics.
An initial teaser trailer of the game was released, and the presentation is indeed very stylish. Not much of the game itself can be seen, except for a brief glimpse of side-scrolling fighting on horseback. You can view the trailer below…
Along with the new trailer, Gamevil has put out a call for 25 beta testers. Anyone interested can apply on the Gamevil website. All submissions must be received before midnight January 17th.
We recently got our hands on iSaidWhat?!, a smart new audio tool by Tapparatus. The app lets you record what your friends are saying, and then rearrange it for your amusement. Billed as a way to embarrass your buddies, iSaidWhat?! works surprisingly well when put to the test.
The first thing you’ll notice about iSaidWhat?! is the overall polish and cleanliness of design. It is an expertly crafted front-end. You can easily record anything and save it within the app. iSaidWhat?! shows you the waveform of what you’ve recorded, and you can then zoom to and cut select pieces using a very simple interface.
Once you’ve extracted and compiled a variety of snippets, iSaidWhat has an arrange mode where you can choose from words or phrases within any of your recordings in order to construct a new saying. The goal is to string together funny new sentences at your friend’s expense, although you can use it to combine any sounds you’d like. Once you’ve created your masterpiece, you can then share it via a variety of ways, including Twitter and Facebook. There is also a script mode that lets you type up a message beforehand that you’d like someone to read while you record.
iSaidWhat?! operates rather seamlessly from recording to sharing. It is a tad too easy to accidentally lose a recorded message at first, but you soon get the hang of saving your sound bites immediately upon taking. For my testing purposes, I recorded some bits of an interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and pretty effortlessly rearranged them to have him proclaiming his love for Apple. Childish for sure, but fun nonetheless!
While iSaidWhat?! may be somewhat of a novelty tool, it delivers on everything it promises with a high level of quality. You can see it in action via the screenshots and demo video below…
OpenFeint has described their service as “think XBOX Live meets Facebook.” They’ve quickly become the social gaming platform of choice for several game developers, even with competition from the likes of Scoreloop, Agon, and ngmoco’s Plus+ network. OpenFeint has now released a free standalone app that gives you a central location for tracking all of your gaming accomplishments, and for interacting with the rest of the community. These features were previously only accessible from within each individual game.
With the new OpenFeint app, you can see your progess, as well as that of your friends, across the entire inventory of OpenFeint enabled games. This includes global, friends-only, and personal leaderboards, as well as specific game accomplishments. You can send challenges, participate in forums, and chat/IM. There are several features to manage your profile, such as linking your account to Twitter or Facebook for the incorporation of your profile picture and friend lists. The OpenFeint app also showcases a free/lite app everyday, shining the spotlight on that particular developer.
With hundreds of games already supporting their service, and the intent to eventually bring their community features to Android as well, OpenFeint may be steadily emerging as the de facto standard for social gaming on the go.
The one thing that made the holidays that much more special this year was the Appvent Calendar promotion. Blacksmith games, makers of Plushed, organized the event that offered a free app every day during the month of December. Appvent Calendar was such a smashing success that Blacksmith games has now joined forces with ICS Mobile, Tapjoy, and OpenFeint to create freeappaday.com. As the URL states, one free app will be given away every single day! You will also have the ability to set up email alerts based on your genres of interest.
While the site is currently active, only ICS Mobile’s Navy Patro Coastal Defense is displayed as the January 1st selection. Blacksmith has teased January 18th as the date that will truly kick-off the stream of free apps. They’ve also announced that the Appvent Calendar will be returning on April 1st for the Easter season.
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App Entertainment is celebrating the new year by offering all of their apps for $0.99 between January 8-10. This includes their flagship app, FaceFighter, which lets you create virtual sparring partners using pictures of your friends. Good times! FaceFighter received a favorable review from us back in June, and is currently nominated for 2009 BestAppEver in the categories of Best Productivity Killer and Best Use of Bluetooth.
The other titles on sale are the light-hearted puzzle game Zombie Pizza, and Appy Newz – Scandal Maker!, which has also been for BestAppEver in the Best Photo Manipulation App category.