Blog Archive

MMAHQ – Tragedy

photoWhen tragedy strikes, depression hits and you start to go into autopilot. It’s the only way we can cope with hard times, and these times are quite hard. Thankfully nobody I know is dead, hurt, wounded in the line of fire, or probably even hungry at this hour, but a good friend of mine has left me for four years. That good friend is the Winter Olympics.

Now that there is no speed skating, downhill skiing, hockey, or even curling on MSNBC, I’m completely reliant on apps to run my life. Last night I used Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock so I could at least be woken up gently. Unfortunately I set it up to only let me sleep for 5 hours, but I was awake… sort of. I was having awful dreams of Lindsay Vonn crashing, Bode Miller cutting flags, and Canada winning the hockey gold medal, but I guess my sleeping patterns looked pretty decent for a short nights sleep. How would I know though, I’m no doctor.

Eating is the toughest part of being so down in the dumps. Some people are emotional eaters, some people starve themselves, I just want to eat something expensive. It’s true that being sad isn’t conducive to my budget, but man do I eat well. I reviewed OpenTable last night because it is really the best app for my current needs. I could use Zagat To Go to find a more professional review, and I may in fact use it still, but OpenTable not only shows me where to go, it also reserves me a table.

Continue reading MMAHQ – Tragedy »

MMAHQ – The Return

It’s been a few weeks/months since the last MMAHQ, but I feel that there’s no better day than today to mark its return. For those of you who are too young to remember the glory days, I’ll recap. Monday Morning App HQ is a weekly article that covers the news that I find most interesting from the weekend and beyond. There really aren’t any set guidelines for the article, and I always take article requests… the funnier the topic the better. Well here it goes. Enjoy!

Girlie Apps No More

daisymae1I felt a great disturbance in the force this weekend. Not sure what the problem was, I went straight to CNN and found that there were no disasters to be aware of. I called my family and thankfully found that everything was alright. I thought to myself, “maybe that Mario Sounds app was #1 in the App Store”. Nope. I did find the culprit though. What I felt was the collective groan from every preteen and teenage boy that owned an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Apple, in a move which I’m sure makes their lives infinitely easier, pulled “girlie apps” from the App Store.

That means no pasties, no big boob editions, no strip teases… nothing. Most developers have only good things to say about the situation. One prominent developer said, “”As a game developer, I think this opens the top spots for quality games to be seen. Any spot that opens up for good content to be given a chance to shine is a great move for the iTunes market.” The situation is a bit different though for others.

Continue reading MMAHQ – The Return »

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

Christmas Time Is Here!
Christmas is in just four days, and the best gift of all is definitely a new iDevice for your loved one. Sure, you could give a plain ol’ iPod Touch or iPhone, but wouldn’t he/she be so much happier with an iDevice loaded up with a few apps? Here’s 4 that I think everyone should have.

1. Tweetie 2
Whether or not the person you are buying your iDevice for uses Twitter or not… they will very soon. They may scoff at the idea now, but the ability to Tweet about your surroundings with text message ease makes the idea far more attractive. Being the best of its kind, Tweetie 2 is the way to go for all of your narcissistic Twitter needs.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-10-09 :: Category: Social Networking

2. Midomi Sound Hound
It used to just be called Midomi, and it used to be absolutely free, but given the fact that Shazam charges too, I figured I’d go with Midomi for my recommendation. Like Shazam, Midomi can tag a song out of midair, but it goes one step further and pulls songs that you sing or hum into the mic. Is “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” stuck in your head, but you can’t think of The Byrds? Pull out Midomi and start humming. Warning. If you are entirely tone deaf, this really won’t do you much good.

$6.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Music

3. Yelp
Sure, it’s an old, no-fun app, but it is an app that I use on almost every vacation I take. Just select ‘near me’, choose ‘restaurant’, and then pick. It’s that easy. If you need a bit more excitement in your life, I’d go with the even older UrbanSpoon, which does the same thing but leaves the selection process to the phone itself. Watching the slot machine selection process is great though.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Travel

4. Need For Speed: Undercover
I know I’m going to get flack for this, but here is my rationale. If you are pre-loading a game for this iDevice, I’m assuming that the person is somewhere between the ages of 13-18, and that they like games… otherwise they would probably just go buy their own games. You could certainly take a gamble and buy an RPG like SEED, Zenonia, or Inotia 2, but RPG’s really don’t show off the system like other games do. Remember, this is the game that people are going to show of to their buds and say, “Pshh, eat that PSP”. Personally, I would go with a tower defense game, but there is nothing sexy about tower defense. To show off the full graphics capabilities of the iDevice, I would go with a full speed racer. Most would probably say that Real Racing is the way to go here, but as a show-off piece, it falls in one crucial area… cut scenes. Sure, the cut scene does nothing to enhance the gameplay, but if you really want to stick it to your UMD toting, PSP playing friend, just show them that your iDevice can roll with a game complete with full motion video. NFS: Underground really is the most complete video game on the device, even if it may not be the best.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-05-05 :: Category: Games

Vector TD
Speaking of Tower Defense, Candystand just put Vector TD onto the iPhone. Sure, it’s not the prettiest thing you’ll ever see, but if it’s anything like the web version, it will be fun. I’m just now downloading it to my iPhone, but I’ll hopefully have a review up soon.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-18 :: Category: Games

Big Dollars
For all the stories I hear of iPhone devs struggling to make ends meet, it’s good to hear a success story or two every once in a while. According to a recent Reuters article, Tapulous says that it is pulling in a million dollars a month from its ‘Tap Tap Revenge game series. According to the article, “Earlier this year, research group comScore said the game had been installed by one-third of Apple app users.”

Having only 20 employees total, the guys over at Tapulous are certainly doing well for themselves. They aren’t the only ones though… Lima Sky, the dev behind the Top 10 Paid App stalwart, Doodle Jump, recently announced that they have passed a million downloads. While they aren’t pulling in a $1mil a month, they are splitting all the profit between its 2 employees, Igor and Marko Pusenjak. Merry Christmas indeed.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-03-27 :: Category: Games

Big Finish
Well that’s all I have for this week. I hope all of you have a great holiday weekend… just don’t eat so much that you won’t be able to read 148apps on Monday. That just wouldn’t be good for anyone.

Dear 148apps reader,

I’m sorry to inform you that I have been compromised. I’ve tried over the past few months to be as impartial as possible towards the iPhone, but I in fact suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome … you know, where after a certain time of captivity you start to love your captors. My biggest regret in the world is exposing the masses, particularly you, dear reader, to hurtful propaganda. For that, I am sorry.

I am also sorry for beginning this story at the end… it is a cheap tactic to get people sucked into reading worthless babble (which this absolutely isn’t). My enlightenment all started when I was brought to the attention of a recent report done by Strand Consults, “one of the leading authorities on mobile technologies, revenue models and distribution strategies”. These wily Scandinavians recently put out an article titled “How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?” and a report titled “The moment of truth, a portrait of the iPhone”, both of which have changed me forever.

Stockholm_syndromeThe first article, “How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?”, discusses “the approach that Apple and the iPhone fans have had to the product, and the energy they have spent defending the product despite the shortcomings and limitations of both past and present versions of the iPhone”. The article then goes on to list 20 things that iPhone owners have been defending since the inception of the device, simultaneously exposing how warped our feeble minds really are. I mean, once I get my mind past the fact that the Apple has cultivated an App Store that has over 100,000 apps and that the UI is so simple that my little sister can use it, I do realize that I should’ve called it a day when I couldn’t use MMS. I mean, this is a phone first and foremost. It pains me to learn of the shroud that was placed over my eyes for all this time. The fact that I’m not using a “real smartphone” that can run background apps, like a Blackberry, is inexcusable. Sure I may have to carry a Nintendo DS and an iPod to get the same feature set, but specialization really is the way of the world. Would you want to buy a car that makes you breakfast? Of course not! That new car smell would be gone in weeks! How about a toaster that doubles as a coffee maker? Absurd.

The followup report, at this point, is just too much to grasp. Titled, “The moment of truth, a portrait of the iPhone”, it is sure to expose truths that I simply cannot handle.

In the report we take a close look at the 10 largest myths about the iPhone:

1. The iPhone drives data traffic into mobile operators networks
2. The iPhone helps operators attract new customers
3. The iPhone is good business for mobile operators
4. The iPhone is dominating the mobile services market
5. App store is a huge success that has revolutionised the services market
6. There is money to be made by developing applications for the iPhone
7. It is iPhone customers that are generating the majority of online mobile surfing traffic
8. The iPhone has a large market share
9. The iPhone was the first mobile phone with a touchscreen
10. The iPhone is a technologically advanced mobile phone

For fear of going on suicide watch, I have refrained from ordering the full report, although it is free.

Once again, I’d like to offer you my most sincerest apology. I have been compromised by the dreaded iPhone Syndrome, and am not entirely sure of what to do next. I am thinking of submitting myself to a VH1 celebrity rehab show, preferably one with Dr. Drew… he’s the best.

As the strand report has so eloquently put, “the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.” I, being on of the talking media heads behind the product, should be ashamed. Please find it in your heart to forgive me.

Sincerely,
Chris Hall

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

logo_large_2009BestAppEver
We did it last year, and we’re doing it again… but bigger. 148apps, along with a long list of writers of other publications, have started the nomination process for BestAppEver 2009. The goal of the awards are to single out the best of the App Store, not the most popular. With the App Store as large as it is, there are so many apps that slip through the cracks, so hopefully we’ll catch all the great apps that you (and I) haven’t played yet. Be sure to head over to bestappever.com to nominate the apps that you think should win.

Big Sequels
Monkey Ball 2, Inotia 2, Labyrinth 2, Dragon’s Lair (Space Ace sequel at heart)… I think I’d like to call December the month of the sequel. Being the holiday season and all, it seems that many of the bigger devs are banking in on peoples willingness to buy things, and what better way than to work off of a proven template. Hopefully before the end of the month we’ll see Real Racing 2: Hybrids, Doom 2, Fieldrunners 2, Flight Control 2: Air Force, and the inevitable I Am T-Pain 2: T-Wayne. Life would certainly be good.

662397_3Ongoing Sales
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been keeping track of some of the great holiday sales going on right now in the app world. We have a daily article that Bonnie aptly calls, “Daily Double”, because it tracks the daily sale from the Appvent Calendar and EA’s 12 Days of Christmas. EA’s fare has primarily been apps from over the summer, while the Appvent Calendar is all over the board with some quality apps that most people have never heard of. Be sure to check daily for the sales… you won’t want to miss them.

Out Of Left Field
Out of nowhere last week came geoSpark, a game created by the brilliant minds at Critical Thought (geoDefense Swarm) and Imangi (Harbor Master). While the game hasn’t quite grabbed me in the same way that either geoDefense Swarm of Harbor Master did alone, I keep coming back for more. I liken geoSpark to the McRib. It’s not something that you think you really want at that moment, but you know deep down that it will be more satisfying than anything else on the menu. I have a feeling that by Christmas I’ll be having nightmares of stars and swirls running into each other, and possibly of being afraid to leave my finger on the home screen for too long for fear that my app icons will gravitate towards one another. Go ahead and buy this one now… you won’t regret it.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-05 :: Category: Games

More Sales
burgerWhile 148apps is certainly not a food news source, I feel that it is important to inform you all of the greatest food sale ever. I mean, what respectable Apper doesn’t consume inordinate amounts of fast food every week? Whataburger, the home of the soon to be extinct A1 Thick’n Hearty Burger, has started their own 12 days of Christmas. Every other day until Christmas, Whataburger is sending out a coupon to those who have signed up (sign up here) for a free item of their choosing.

“We are thankful for our loyal customers and understand how hard they are working this year to make ends meet,” Preston Atkinson, Whataburger Restaurants, LP President and COO, said. “This is our way of helping them make their money stretch a little further this holiday season.”

Merry Christmas Whataburger!

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
The App Store, home of all the apps that we love so very much, has this list of top selling apps that is totally out of Apple’s hands. Usually the list is populated with apps that they advertise on their home page, but sometimes, for some reason, bad apps slip in. I guess this is the ultimate sign that the people buy what they truly want, unfortunately, in this case, the people truly wanted Pocket Girlfriend during the first week of December. Seriously guys… this is sad. It’s so sad that I’m refusing to put a link to the app.

Note To Will Raskin
“Sunday’s national game on Fox, mainly Cowboys-Giants, earned its highest preliminary rating on the network in three years.” says SI. There’s a bright side to everything right?

Monday Morning App HQ

Black Friday Awesomeness
b8296271e316a596640a5b7adb69884bFirst off, I hope that everyone (in the US) had a great Thanksgiving. It was a fairly standard Thanksgiving this year I think… the Cowboys won, the Lions lost, there was far too much turkey consumed, and everyone patiently awaited for the shopping madness the following day. Black Friday 2009 turned out to be a bit of a drag for normal stores, but was a fantastic day for App Store customers. On Black Friday we posted an article with all the sales that we could find, including sales from almost every major developer in the App Store. It was especially great for those of you that were looking for a new GPS app, as we found 6 different GPS apps significantly reduced in price. Some of the sales are still going I think… and with Cyber Monday being today, we may see a few more go on sale. Boy do I love consumer holidays!

More Black Friday Awesomeness
Being the consumer all-star that I am, I went out and braved the masses on Black Friday. It was quite crowded, but I really wasn’t there to buy a ton (although I did get suckered into a cashmere sweater… don’t judge me), I just wanted to go out and see if there were any huge deals out there. Because I’m an App nerd, I thought that it would be fun to use Red Laser to see if the prices were good or not. I had never really used the app much in the wild, and was really shocked at how well it worked. Next time you’re going out to buy something, I’d definitely recommend checking out Red Laser… there’s a reason it’s been in the top 10 for so long.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-05-13 :: Category: Utilities

How To Stop Piracy
I’ve been thinking about how I would stop piracy if I were an app developer. Sure, you could go into a bunch of tricks and gimmicks that hurt the user experience, or you could just throw up an advertisement. Now most people think that advertisements should only be in free apps, but why? Why can’t a developer be out to make a bit of money to support the App Store’s obsession with 99 cent apps.

pirate_flagI just got an email from iTankster (who, oddly enough is based in Rosenberg, TX… right down the highway from where I am), saying that their newest app, iTankster, will have an advertisement.

“iTankster has a single advertisement from the sponsor in the menu screen of the game, featuring in both the legally paid as well as the resulting pirated versions. This will ensure that even the pirates will see an advertisement. The developer is hopeful that the pirates will support the game by either clicking on the sponsor advertisement or by paying for the game later. While placing of an advertisement is bound to cause a controversy among some users who feel that if they paid for an application it should be advertisement free, the vast majority understand that in today’s world with rampant piracy developers have to look at alternative means to earn revenue for recovering the cost of development.”

Rock on iTankster. By no means do I support piracy in the App Store, but if you do in fact steal a game that has an advertisement, it really is your civic duty to click on the ad. It’s just good karma.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-11-20 :: Category: Utilities

Another Word On Ads
Sorry to get on my soap box here, but I really think that people need to rethink their repulsion towards unobtrusive ads in paid apps. I don’t want it to get annoying, but is a small ad on a paid app really that big of a deal? Just think, because of that ad, that developer may make twice as much money, giving him/her the opportunity to make an even more developed app in the future. I myself would like to see every developer become absurdly rich… most of them are really great people with some great ideas for bigger and better apps.

And seriously, if the market demands apps that are less than $3, why not let a dev make a few bucks on his/her project that could’ve taken 100+ hours to complete.

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
You know, being right around Thanksgiving, I’m going to choose to be thankful this week that the App Store, and all of the apps in it, exist. The moral high ground feels good sometimes.

Fact For Will Raskin
Did you know that prior to this last game, Oakland was 3-0 when playing in Dallas? Weird.

Monday Morning App HQ

Picture shamelessly stolen from JustJared.com.. they made the list too!

Picture shamelessly stolen from JustJared.com.. they made the list too!

Ariel Foxman = Awesome
If you haven’t heard yet, Ariel Foxman, the Editor in Chief of InStyle Magazine, put out a list of his 6 favorite websites in the November issue of the magazine. Shockingly, 148apps was on the list, making Ariel Foxman my new favorite person in the fashion world. I was quite partial to the Victoria’s Secret models before, but none of them have ever done anything for me. Thanks Ariel! (Ariel, if you are reading this, I’d love to do a short little interview about your favorite apps… a celebrity app advice article would be amazing!)

Thanksgiving
Whether you are stuck with your in-laws or are in for an entire day with that crazy uncle, turkey day is upon us. My family started fairly early this year and, in true Texan style, fried up a turkey with Creole butter marinade last night. It was oh so good, but I have a strange blackout headache from it now…. quite unfortunate.

While I love the traditional Thanksgiving day food (for those of you that aren’t in the US, we spend the whole day eating turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, some kind of green vegetable casserole, and about every pie conceivable), there is far too much extended family interaction for me. Besides the annual football games and the random hour after dinner running around trying not to pass out from a tryptophan overdose (Wikipedia tries to blame the ‘after food coma’ on carbohydrates and alcohol… fools), most of us are stuck. Fortunately, being an iPhone owner, I can escape into my little world of apps. The great American eating festival brings with it the greatest shopping day on Earth, black Friday, where everything goes on sale… and if last year was any indicator, even iPhone apps. Yay! We’ll have a running post on Friday for apps that are on sale/free, so be sure to check in throughout the day for some great deals.

steel-pantheriTunes Store Problem
Having a vested interest in the App Store (it is directly tied to my employment), I would really like it if Apple put a bit more into app promotion. I mean, they’ve done some great things to make the App Store as big as it is, but they need to go a bit bigger. What they need is to put some apps on the iTunes Store front page. Why can’t the recent launch of Call Of Duty: World At War: Zombies (come on Activision, let’s shoot for a shorter name next time) be next to the frightening picture of Rihanna trying to scare me into buying her newest album? What makes the newest single of the week, “Death To All But Metal” by Steel Panther (awesome!) better than the also free Eliminate Pro? It’s a pretty big deal to make the front page of the App Store, but it would be entirely different to make the front page of the iTunes Store.

Let’s get on this Apple.

Great Idea of the Week
On a whim, I downloaded Touch Tone Hero yesterday and the feeling of nostalgia sort of blew me away. It’s basically a rhythm based game, much like Rock Band and DDR, but it uses a touch tone dialer for the music. Instead of seeing buttons fly down the screen, you see numbers that you have to dial. The best thing about it though is that it makes no attempt at being polished or anything, it just makes the regular touch tone sound when you hit the numbers. The only problem that I have with the app is that it uses an image of a candy bar style phone as your dialer and screen. Since I am using a phone already, why not let me play with the iPhone phone interface? With a more polished app image and a more iPhone-like interface (making it look like a native app), this one would be a must have, if only for the gag value. Regardless, it is funny, so try it out if you’re looking for some quick entertainment.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-11-18 :: Category: Games

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
Nothing in the world makes me throw up in my mouth quite like an unholy combination of an app, a washed up rapper (don’t tell him I said that!), and an athletic beverage. Well kids, it happened. Moderati Inc. (of Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em Romplr: Remix fame) put out the “50 Cent “Baby By Me” sound lab” that is littered with Vitamin Water advertisements. I know it’s free, but someone should really be paying me for being exposed to this crap. The best part is that it’s on the front page of the App Store in the New and Noteworthy section. Good job Apple.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-11-16 :: Category: Music

Poor Will Raskin
Although the Cowboys won yesterday, it was a tough game to watch. You know it’s bad when I’m up for a beer run in the middle of the 3rd quarter. Maybe they’ll play better on Thanksgiving… maybe.

MMAHQ Tuesday Update

david-abernathy-bedtime-chartBoys vs. Girls
After learning yesterday that girls, in Steve’s world, should be doing math flash cards, I was welcomed to the ‘Apps For Boys’ iTunes essentials page today. With awesome (monster trucks!) on top of awesome (Transformers!) apps on the page, we, as a gender, are also supposed to be doing math. Ah, but there is a difference. I’m writing this with the assumption that the “Apps For Boys/Girls” pages are written for smaller kids and not high-schoolers. My sister calls them ‘tweens’… whatever that means.

Looking at the description of the math apps that are assigned to the genders, I see one very obvious difference. If you look at ‘Math Flash Cards’ the math app recommended for girls, it says that “Math Flash Cards is a fun to use math drill application that looks just like paper flash cards. This app is perfect for your kids to help keep their skills tuned over the summer.” Sure, that’s great… stay fresh over the summer. Perfect, Summer is only what, a year away? The boys on the other hand were given Mathemagics – Mental Math Tricks, which, in its description lets you, “Prepare for the math section on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, or any other standardized test. Don’t waste time with a calculator on the few tests that allow them. Use Mathemagics as a tutor to quicken up your test taking abilities.”

Wow, so good luck girls… with your silly flash cards. We’ll be studying for the GRE at age 11.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-03-03 :: Category: Education

Unity and Storm 8
zombies-live-splashYesterday, I posted an article about Ranvensword that mentioned Storm 8 in a negative light. I got an e-mail rather quickly explaining the situation. Here’s part of the post on their forum that explains the situation.

Here’s the background: You may recall that in August 2009, some users noted that Storm8 games contained software code that for some users collected mobile phone numbers upon opening the application for our massively multiplayer online role‐playing games (MMORPGs). However, Storm8 was not using those numbers for any purpose. Nor did we ever provide them to any other company.

We determined that these numbers were being collected as the result of legacy code (old, obsolete code) in the games. The legacy code had been included early in the software development process as a potential way for Storm8 to identify specific devices; however, we later determined it was more suitable to use the device’s Unique Device ID instead. Once Storm8 was alerted to this issue in August, we immediately took voluntary, proactive steps to satisfy our user community and we quickly made available updated versions of our games without that legacy code.

Storm8 greatly values its relationships with its millions of users and with Apple, and our goal is to continue making our exciting gaming experience available. We know that users are continuing to play Storm8 games, but need the ability to access the iTunes store to upgrade the applications in order for Storm8 to best serve our user community. We are actively working with Apple to help resolve these issues, and will keep you informed.

In short: Current game versions do not download, store or use iPhone® telephone numbers when a game is opened, and Storm8 has no plans to download, store or use iPhone® numbers in the future unless the user expressly authorized the download in advance. We are committed to continuously enhancing your gaming experience and customer satisfaction through planned new launches and ongoing upgrades.

So kids, buy your Storm8 games without worry. ‘Zombies Live” wants you!

Toxic
The Holy Grail for an average developer is to get on the front page of the App Store. Developers can plug away for countless hours on their masterpiece, only to have Apple put their rival app on the front page, making it the clear cut champ. So with thousands of developers just praying for the day that they will reach the front page, how do you think they feel today. What happened today you ask? Today was the day that I went to the page, and in the huge scrolling screen at the top, saw ‘It’s Britney!’. I don’t even want to go into the details of the app… I just want to shake my head in shame. Sorry struggling devs, your hard work is just no match for Britney Spears.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-11-15 :: Category: Music

Monday Morning App HQ

No iPhone?
photo_firstcolonymallAs I said in MMAHQ last week, I am in Sugar Land, TX for the month of November, living it up with the townies. For those of you who don’t know, Sugar Land is the anchor suburb of the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metro area, and was rated by CNN/Money as the third best city in the United States. You would think that in a well to do suburb with a ton of kids, you would see an insane number of iPhones. I live in Phoenix most of the year, and everyone I know there has an iPhone (maybe because they all work or worked at various Apple Stores…). Not seeing someone with an iPhone is almost confusing to me. I mean, how in the world would I communicate with people without it. Some people claim that using the phone feature is the answer, but their 20th century thought process is as foreign an idea to me as cheese on apple pie.

I’m rambling… it’s a bad habit. So, to get to the point, I’ve discovered that nobody in Sugar Land, except for my dad (who still can’t grasp the concept of an app), has an iPhone. Something is wrong, and I can really only think of two people to blame. Being a Sugar Land native, I of course blame myself first, but the real culprit is the local Apple Store in the First Colony Mall. The recently red-shirted Apple employees need to step up their game and pump out some iPhones! The gauntlet is thrown. Tell every Apple employee you know to shoot an email to the store manager over there so that they know that they need to be on their A-game.

Unity?
unity_tI was sad to hear Friday that Ravensword, Chillingo’s new, amazing looking RPG/adventure game, along with a bunch of other games that were made with the Unity engine, were rejected from the App Store. The official word is that,

Ravensword like many other Unity games have found themselves caught in the crossfire between Apple, Storm8, and API calls which exist inside of all Unity games. The same APIs were used by iMobsters developer Storm8 to solicit contact information from players. While Ravensword and other Unity-built games do not collect information from users, Apple rejected the game and others as a measure to prevent such from happening again.

Fortunately for us, the API’s have been removed and the game has been resubmitted. Hopefully we’ll see its release soon… I’m itching to play.

Who Wants To Go To The Probowl?
Gameloft, to coincide with the NFL season that is well underway, launched an “NFL 2010 Twitter League Contest”. According to the email I received, “NFL fans need to answer trivia questions on this site: http://www.nfl2010game.com/TwitterLeague/
Contest Details on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsVX4Hq5ahY”.

Typically, contests like this amount to very little, but the 1st place winner gets 2 tickets to the Pro Bowl, plus airfare and hotel accommodations in Miami. I think that a 148apps reader should win it. Let me know if you do.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-05 :: Category: Games

Metallica Mad
Knowing how much Metallica hates pirates (remember Napster?), I wonder how mad they are about pirates in the App Store. Do you think that they even know that they have an app?

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-27 :: Category: Games

This Weeks Sign of the Apocalypse
The new “Apps For Girls” iTunes essentials page makes me laugh. I totally understand the need for the market to open up to girls, but what really qualifies as an app for a girl. According to Apple, girls are interested in only a few things: puppies/kittens, looking like a princess, and math. Wait, what was that? Math? Yes ma’am, on the list of “Apps For Girls” lies ‘Math Flash Cards’, a “fun to use math drill application”.

So while the boys of the world are playing Doom while trying to sound like T-Pain, the girls are going to be looking like princesses while learning math. I’m not sure where this is going, but it sounds to me like an evil scheme concocted in Pinkie and the Brain.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2008-12-12 :: Category: Education

I Just Can’t Drop It
I’d love to know how ‘Math Flash Cards’ got onto this list. Imagine… you’ve created yourself this great math drill app, targeted towards school kids of all genders. You sell a few apps on the store, and then Apple calls you with a great opportunity. “Hi One Moxie, this is Apple, we’d love to put your app in the “Apps For Girls” list.”

The End

Monday Morning App HQ

Food For Thought
Over the past few weeks/months/years, I’ve heard a good deal of rumors regarding the iPhone going to other carriers such as Verizon, or maybe even T-Mobile. I’m not here to debate whether or not this will happen, but whether such a change would be good for the App Store. With more and more people being exposed to the iPhone, we’ll see more and more people buying apps, creating a huge market base for developers. Here’s where it gets tricky though. With more and more people buying apps, will the larger companies (EA, Gameloft) start putting real advertising money into the system, only to edge out the small guys? There was a time, not all that long ago, where indie devs, many of which are developing for the iPhone today, were creating PC games.

I don’t want to create a ruckus or anything, but I just hope that you remember the little guys out there. The revenue numbers are all pointing towards an EA domination, but there are some really great small dev apps out there fighting it out in a 99 cent low bid war. Buy some apps… heck, go crazy and buy some $2 apps, the devs would certainly appreciate it.

Life Consuming
ImperialSugarI’m spending the month of November in Sugar Land, TX, my hometown, because I have a job that lets me make interesting life decisions… such as this one. I was on the way to dinner with my mom the other night when I got a push notification for Words With Friends. I figured that I’d just let it go. Then I got another… and then another. Soon, I was enveloped in 8 Scrabble games, forgetting about all life around me. At first I claimed that it was all part of my job, but after cheering out loud because of placing a 105 point word against Bonnie (she’s still winning the game… it’s driving me insane!), my mom gave me the evil eye that only a mother could give. I now realize that I am officially obsessed, and had to take Sunday off, so I’m very sorry for all of those who have been waiting 30+ hours for me to take my turn.

Needless to say, you should go and purchase Words With Friends right now. I’m always up for a good game (Chris148apps), but if you want to truly experience life on the edge, play Bonnie (bonniee).

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-19 :: Category: Games

I Like Jelly!
If you didn’t realize yet, Jelly Car is the #1 app in the App Store, both in sales and revenue. Being a 99 cent app, it had to of sold a mess of copies to beat out Rock Band in revenue, so good for Walaber… wait…what?!?! Disney? Walt Disney? Disney of Miley Cyrus and to a lesser extent Mickey Mouse fame? Yes sir. The guys at Walaber must’ve made some fat loot on that deal.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-11-07 :: Category: Games

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
Wal-Mart. No, it’s not the fact that there is a free (talk about rolling back prices) Wal-Mart app out that inexplicably cracked the top 10, but it’s the fact that there are enough iDevice fans that would download such a thing.

Due to its alarming popularity, the app has been bombarded with bad reviews in iTunes, leading one kind soul named Doccowboy to write, “Rate the app, not the company. This is not a place for people to be on your soapboxes.” He then went on to give the app 3 stars without writing anything about the app. Mr. Doccowboy, sir, I think you just bypassed reviewing the app and reviewed your own soapbox comment. I don’t want to pick on you, but there is an above average chance that you resemble the man below.
276

Stay classy my iDevice touting friends.

The More You Know
If you click on the title of the article, you are taken to a place where you can leave comments. Please leave comments.

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

It’s a fairly big week in the app store for game releases. Maybe the developers and Apple are teaming up to scare us reviewers (get it, Halloween… I thought it was clever) into working overtime to get all these reviews done. Just to name a few of them, we now have Doom Classic, Command and Conquer, Eliminate, NBA Live (last week), Asphalt 5, and Alice in Bomberland running wild in the app store, most of which are just dying for a review.

3611242150_3ac9ac99a6

Productivity, Lost

I must say that working for an app review website is just about the best thing ever, but there is a major drawback. The reason half of the apps were made was to completely wipe out productivity. Some of the apps that are self proclaimed ‘master time wasters’ are in fact master time wasters. Every once in a while I’ll download something, you know, for work, and it’ll just decimate my productivity. This time, the culprit is ‘Words With Friends’, a Scrabble-like game that takes me back to my days of playing Scrabulous on Facebook. The game is paced however fast you and your opponent choose to play, and you get a handy push notification when it’s your turn.

If you ever want to play, my SN is chris148apps. Let’s make a pact though that if you beat me, you won’t tell too many people… I have a reputation to maintain!

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-19 :: Category: Games

There will be a new iPhone… shocker

I love reading Apple rumors, and today I found one that blew me away (brace for it). There may be a new iPhone sometime in 2010. Over at Gizmodo, they have pictures, from a seemingly reputable source, of what they are calling the ‘iPhone 4 Generation Midboard’.
500x_iphone_4g_midboard-1

Does anyone else see that Verizon logo in the bottom of the left panel? No? Am I just trying to start something?

My US pride is hurt
ngmoco:), the only company happy enough to put a smiley face in their name, made me quite sad last week. While waiting for Eliminate to grace my iPhone, I discovered that the Canadians… CANADIANS!!!(????)… got the game first. What, first the Winter Olympics, now Eliminate? What’s next… more new games, the iPhone, the next Taco Bell taco?

They can't have it!

They can't have it!

Worried about the devs
I’ve talked to quite a few developers in my time, and they all seem to have a similar concern. They are just not sure how they are going to make any money in the app store without breaking into the top 100 apps, and even then are worried that the 99 cent pricing structure ruins their chance to make any money at all. After taking a look at the top grossing apps in the App Store, I can see why they are concerned. Only one app in the top 20 is made by an ‘indie’ dev, and the game, Pocket Devil, is just a knock off of Pocket God. Maybe EA’s $9.99 price scheme is really the way to go, as they have 9 of the 20 top grossing games out there.

This weeks sign of the apocolypse
There are so many fantastic apps in the App Store, but while digging through the list of top grossing apps, I found that the 28th app on the list is ‘Truth or Dare – 18+’. This makes me sad.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-07 :: Category: Entertainment

Monday Morning App HQ

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!
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38012483-913d332f4b66420140ec0536954cd95c.4ae53344-full

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.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-10-02 :: Category: Games

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.
FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-10-24 :: Category: Games :: Puzzle

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-10-24 :: Category: Games :: Puzzle

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!

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-21 :: Category: Games

Monday Morning App HQ

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.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-19 :: Category: Games

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:

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-17 :: Category: Games

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-07 :: Category: Games

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-01 :: Category: Games

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.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-12 :: Category: Games

Monday Morning App HQ

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.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-08-22 :: Category: Games

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.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-23 :: Category: Games

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.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-09 :: Category: Games

Monday Morning App HQ

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.
$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-02 :: Category: Games

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.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

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.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-02 :: Category: Games

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

Random musings of the App Store

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2 Billion Apps Served

Apple announced recently that over 2 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store. Notable is the timing; this announcement comes only six months after the download of the billionth app, which occurred 9 months after the App Store was launched. This indicated exponential growth of the store. Obviously these numbers are a bit inflated from a developer’s perspective because they seem to include free downloads, but the numbers also indicate that among the user base of 50 million, the average number of apps downloaded is 40, a surprisingly high number. In contrast, the average number of times one of 85,000 apps has been downloaded is only about 2350, hardly a safe bet for business prospects when you consider that most apps are $.99 and that Apple takes 30% of sales. In addition, these numbers are disproportionately eschewed by the top 100 apps; my guess is the median would be much lower. Despite all of your various incompetencies in managing the App Store, Apple, I have to congratulate you on a truly unprecedented event.

Critical Contrast

No matter how experienced we are here at 148apps, no two reviewers agree about every game. That’s why I thought it would be nice to offer some separate best app lists, just so you’ll know what we think is worth buying right now.

Will’s Top 3 Current Apps (games):
1. iBlast Moki
2. Meteor Blitz
3. Unify

Will’s Top 3 Apps of All Time:
1. Rolando 2
2. Real Racing
3. Space Invaders Infinity Gene

Chris’s Top 3 Current Apps (games):
1. geoDefense Swarm
2. Orbital
3. Aera

Chris’s Top 3 Apps of All Time:
1. Orbital
2. Fieldrunners
3. Need For Speed: Undercover
A special mention has to go out to geoDefense Swarm, as it may enter the top 3 after a bit more time spent on my iPhone.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse of the world being fair and just. By Chris Hall
This space is usually reserved for calamity, but this week we have one instance of people being quite rational. Family Guy: Uncensored appeared in the app store this week for an insanely high app price of $4.99. I’m not against spending $5 on an app, as I do quite often, but this one is just bad. How can you have a Family Guy game with absolutely no voices, only text bubbles? Even a simple “giggidy” would’ve been appreciated given the premium app price, but I suppose that Glu Mobile just figured that the Family Guy license alone would bring customers. Apparently the people aren’t biting though, as Family Guy: Uncensored is nowhere to be found in the top 100 apps.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-23 :: Category: Games

Apps of the Week

Robocalypse: Mobile Mayhem
The strongest App Store Real Time Strategy game yet comes loaded with an extensive single player campaign, online multiplayer, and a humorous and engaging story. The game covers all of the proverbial RTS bases while forging a unique identity. My main complaint about the game is the lack of the ability to minutely control your troops, you must place “action flags” that attract your troops but don’t allow for the same degree of precision. Besides this quirk, however, the game is highly recommended.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

geoDefense Swarm, by guest writer Chris Hall
I usually don’t work myself into MMAHQ, but I have found a new love. geoDefense Swarm (gDS) may be the best tower defense app in the app store, and with a crowded field of apps that include Fieldrunners, The Creeps!, and Sentinel, that is saying something. Unlike so many apps in the tower defense genre, including some of the iPhone greats, gDS is genuinely challenging from the start. The graphics are great in a Tron sort of way, and the sound effects are surprisingly effective. This game is not only my new favorite tower defense game, but it may be my favorite iPhone game… period.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-14 :: Category: Games

Monday Morning App HQ

Random musings of the app store

App Alluvion

This week’s only news story also has the sign of the apocalypse and the apps of the week built in – handy, eh? Over a 24 hour period, 453 new games were released! What happened Apple, did someone finally wake up? This is a great disservice to developers, as it’s exceedingly hard for an app to get noticed when so many other good games are released on the same day. Sure, developers can set release dates, but if they do, their app is placed on the latest releases section in iTunes according to approval date not publication date, therefore burying it beneath the first page and limiting valuable exposure. Please fix this, Apple! Anyway, enough ranting, here are some of the most notable releases this week. We’ll try to have reviews for as many as we can in due time, but until then, here’s a quick rundown:

Hybrid: Eternal Whisper

Gamevil’s action-RPG follow-up to Zenonia certainly has great aesthetics and a nice online component, but for me so far, the story has been too intrusive and the gameplay mediocre. At $5.99, you may want to wait for our review. Upon playing more, the gameplay has proven more fun and the story’s role is minimized. Recommended!

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Unify

Zach Gage’s first iPhone game is a very stylish Tetris variant with OpenFeint integration. Instead of blocks falling from from the top, the fall into the middle from both the left and the right, where you have to manipulate them using multi-touch controls. Match four or more of the same color to clear blocks. The game starts out slow with only black and white, but quickly becomes challenging with the addition of more colors and faster scrolling. From my time with the game, I can say it’s one of the more fun puzzle games on the App Store.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Aera

This beautiful flight sim had our editor Chris in a frenzy before its release. From initial impressions, it seems the game delivers on the hype, but if you don’t want to shell out the $2.99 now, Chris will have a review up very soon.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Aves
Aves contains some truly magnificent animations and entrancing binaural audio, but with its simplistic gameplay, it plays more like a tech demo. Still, if you want to see some really cool technology, it’s worth the $.99 price of admission, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Ghost LLC’s future projects.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Above and Beyond Air Combat

Young developer Josh Rosen’s followup to SciFly is a totally different beast. It’s still an arcade plane flying game, but it shines with OpenFeint integration, a huge level of customization, open-world gameplay, and shiny graphics. In any normal week, this would easily earn the app of the week award.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Robocalypse – Mobile Mayhem

Robocalypse is a humorous and strong entry into the RTS genre, which is relatively weak on the App Store. Featuring a lengthy campaign and full online multiplayer, Robocalypse is a safe bet for RTS fans.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Alley Gator

Alley Gator is Glu’s entry into the quick $.99 games category with accelerometer-based gameplay.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-09-19 :: Category: Games :: Family

Champion Archer

From the guys who made Sparta comes a port of an addictive online flash game.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Against the Fire!

Meridian’s followup to their smash hit Alive 4 Ever is a similar survival shooter but with theme of a fireman putting out water monsters.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Dungeon Hunter (pulled from the App Store)

Otherwise known as Gameloft’s Diablo clone, Dungeon Hunter was said to be very impressive, but was unfortunately pulled due to a bug in the game. The game should be available for download again soon.

Castle Warriors

Castle Warriors is another nice addition to the RTS genre on the App Store. The gameplay is similar to Galcon and the graphics are very nice overall.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Super Shock Football

After App Store giants Gameloft and EA turned out full football sims, you would expect Chillingo, publisher extraordinaire to follow up with one of their own, right? Instead, developer Steamroller studios has produced a light-hearted throw back to vintage vibrating football games that is ultimately more suited to the iPhone than either Madden or NFL 2010.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Underground

This Chillingo “shmup” is very stylish but adds little to the genre gameplay-wise.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-16 :: Category: Games

Scarecrow

Scarecrow is Ezone’s take on Doodle Jump and also the latest 3rd party game to incorporate ngmoco’s plus+ network.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-19 :: Category: Games

Apps of the Week

iBlast Moki

iBlast Moki is the best puzzle game on the iPhone, period. This physics-based puzzle game contains challenging gameplay. The goal is to, using bombs and eventually other elements like balloons, get all of the mokis to the exit of the level. It sounds simple, but some of the levels are head-scratchingly devious. There is almost unlimited replay value with over 70 levels, Plus+ integration, and a full-featured level editor/sharer.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games

Meteor Blitz

By the same token, Meteor Blitz is the best top-down space shooter for the iPhone, surpassing even the famed Isotope. The dual-stick control scheme is incredibly fast and responsive, the graphics are simply stunning, and the gameplay is livened up by the inclusion of RPG elements and many different weapons. The game also features superlative pause and auto-save functions.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-15 :: Category: Games

Wow, so many great games, and I’m sure I’m missing a few. Of course, I won’t expect any good game releases for the next month couple with reports of month-long approval times.

Monday Morning App HQ

Random Musings of the App Store

New iTunes brings fresh App Store

Among the goings-on at the 9.9.09 Apple event was the release of iTunes 9.0 which included a redesigned App Store. To sum up the changes in one word – “clutter.” It seems as if Apple has challenged themselves to fit as many app icons on one page as possible. There are some nice changes, but they are masked by the overall clutter. Top 100’s are now top 200’s, though looking over the lists now causes eye damage. There is now a top grossing app list, though it is hidden at the bottom of the page and used in conjunction with the top volume list making it confusing for all. Tabs at the top of iTunes are nice though the drop down App Store categories are initially hard to find. One of the new iTunes is the ability to organize iPhone app icons from iTunes. Though it’s not perfect, this new feature is infinitely preferable to organizing on the iPhone itself.

Gameloft clones

Gameloft is really wearing thin on me with their clones. GTA is more of a genre now, so I was ok with Gangstar, but with their COD4 clone (Modern Combat) and Soul Caliber clone (Blades of Fury), I’ve had enough. These games certainly show off the iPhone as a gaming platform, but there comes a point when I just can’t get excited about exact clones of existing games. These aren’t rough clones either, they’re almost indistinguishable. Gameloft is a talented developer, but in order to start making memorable games, they’re going to have to show the creativity involved in creating games like Sway and Gomi, two indie darlings. For now though, all the upcoming Gameloft games are clones, including a Diablo clone, a Mario Kart clone, and a Halo clone.

Exciting upcoming games

In contrast to Gameloft, here are some trailers for some games I’m really excited about. Enjoy!

iBlast Moki:


In addition to clever physics-based gameplay, iBlast Moki boasts 70 levels and a fully featured in-game level editor. Gozilab, the developer, has been notified that the game could not be posted because the price was included in the App description, but this was fixed so hopefully iBlast Moki will be making an appearance on the App Store soon.

Hybrid: Eternal Whisper:


Gamevil, the developer of the famed Zenonia, has submitted their stylish action RPG to the App Store so hopefully we’ll be seeing Hybrid soon.

Ravensword: the Fallen King


Crescent Moon games has estimated a submission date of September 30 for their 3D open-world adventure RPG.
Contest Winner

Well, you were all horribly wrong, but sf49lu wins the $15 gift card for being the most detailed in his wrong predictions. Congratulations, Chris will email you your winnings as soon as he stops watching football.

Apps of the Week

Sadly, there were no apps good enough to be deemed worthy of this award. Blades of Fury was lacking, Madden was disappointing, and I haven’t gotten a chance to play Dexter yet. See you all next week!

Monday Morning App HQ

Random musings of the app store

GTA: Chinatown Wars coming to the iPhone

Last week, as most of you know, Rockstar Games announced that it was porting its critically acclaimed GTA: Chinatown Wars to the iPhone. Not only is this great news for fans of the game, though we do already have the superb Gangstar, but it also shows how seriously the iPhone is taken as a gaming platform. Rockstar is not a company to make gratuitous ports for every platform available (I don’t think the Wii will be getting GTA anytime soon), so this upcoming port shows that Rockstar believes in the power of the iPhone. If Rockstar will port GTA for the iPhone, what other big-name developers will follow? The days of the iPhone being a phone that you could play some gimmicky accelerometer games on are over. Sony, I would be afraid.

New ngmoco FPS trailer, now called Eliminate, reveals the use of micro-transactions

Ngmoco has released a new trailer for their upcoming Eliminate, and while the game is looking awesome, most people are fixating on another detail: you will only be able to play so many matches online for credits in one day, and if you want to play for credits again without waiting a day, you have to buy an “energy pack” using real money. So what’s the big deal? Well if you ask me, as long as ngmoco doesn’t abuse this, nothing. Here’s the kicker: if you run out of energy, you can still play online, you just won’t win credits. So the only people who will buy extra energy are the perfectionists who have to show how good they are. For people like me, who just want to play a game to have fun (isn’t that what a game is for), you can play however much you want and still have fun. So really, this is a great idea as long as two things hold true: the game is not originally priced above $6.99 and the amount of energy you get per day is reasonable. What do you guys think? Sound off in our comments below.

C64 Emulator finally approved by Apple

After months of back room deals, Apple rejections, and Apple non-communication, Manomio has finally gotten their superb C64 emulator has been approved! Obviously this won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re one for nostalgia, at $4.99, it’s worth picking up because of the high level of polish and solid controls. The emulator comes with five fully licensed games, but no BASIC emulator as was originally included, though it’s apparently suspiciously easy to enable the BASIC if you’re SSH savvy. Future games will be available via DLC at prices to be determined by the original IP holders. Next up, Manomio, a legal Atari emulator (I wish)!

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-05 :: Category: Games

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

Smule’s “I Am T-Pain” is the number one paid app in the entire app store. Enough said.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-09-04 :: Category: Music

Contest!
This, week, as a first for MMAHQ, we’re holding a contest where you can be the lucky winner of a $15 iTunes gift card! To enter, simply comment on this article with your prediction for what will happen at the 9.9.09 Apple event on Wednesday. What will the new iPod Touch look like? Will any huge games come out (like Madden)? Will Steve Jobs be there? The winner will be the person who has the most accurate or funniest prediction will be deemed the winner (that’s right, this is completely arbitrary)! Hopefully we can get some good participation, and if all goes well, we might have some more contests later on.

Apps of the Week

Modern Combat: Sandstorm

Modern Combat is the most visually impressive title on the iPhone to date, bar none. Models are good, textures are sharp, and everything is fully and accurately 3D. Not only this, but Gameloft actually nailed the controls, a first for an FPS on the iPhone. The gameplay, specifically the AI and level structure leave something to be desired, but Sandstorm remains a great accomplishment nonetheless, and it comes with a solid recommendation at the low price of $6.99.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-02 :: Category: Games

Samurai: Way of the Warrior

Samurai is one of the coolest games I’ve played on the iPhone. It’s a hack-and-slasher with great graphics, perfect controls, and gratuitous blood! Controls involve different combinations of swipes, and the gameplay is actually somewhat strategic – you have to balance small attacks with huge combos, because if you miss a huge combo, you leave yourself very prone to an attack. Execute moves correctly, and you might be lucky enough to see the body of the opponent samurai stop, then fall on the ground in two pieces, with blood squirting across the screen. Samurai comes with both a story mode and an endless or “dojo” mode. My only complaints about this game are that once you figure out the controls, it’s too easy – there’s an uneven difficulty curve, and that it does get repetitive at times. Still, I found myself playing this $2.99 gem much more than Sandstorm. Expect a full review soon, but until then, you really have to see a video to appreciate the awesomeness of this game.


$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-01 :: Category: Games

That’s it for this week, tune back in next week for the winner of the contest and some more MMAHQ. Have a great week!

Monday Morning App HQ

Random Musings of the App Store

Gameloft setting new App Store upper limit?

Gameloft’s two most recent premium games, Gangstar and Modern Combat: Sandstorm (supposedly due for imminent release) are both priced at $6.99. These are certainly at the highest quality level of the App Store, so normally Gameloft would price these at $9.99. Gameloft has stated, however, that they have priced their games lower because consumers are unwilling to pay $9.99. While Gameloft is probably doing this with their best interests at heart, it could have unintended consequences for developers of AAA titles everywhere. If new Gameloft games are debuting at $6.99, other developers will be pressured to price their premium apps accordingly. While this may be good for the consumer in the short run, it could lead to deflation of app values and discourage premium game production, as you will have to sell a lot more units at $6.99 than at $9.99 to turn the same profit. It seems the guys behind Real Racing, Firemint, are the only ones with enough cojones to steadily price their game at $9.99, and (I think) it’s paying off.

Geared takes over number one app spot

To my joy, a game app has finally taken, from Camera Genius (boring), the number one overall paid app spot. Chris found Geared to be a nice little game in his review, and while not to say that it isn’t deserving of the number one spot, the App Store still works in mysterious ways to me. This is a game that had no hype, no big name developer or publisher, and that isn’t at all the best game on the App Store, even at its price point. Perhaps a well-done lite version is the answer? In any case, congratulations to Bryan Mitchell; good work!

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-09 :: Category: Games

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

This week, we know the apocalypse is coming because… there is no app of the week. It seems that since at least March, each week has brought at least one AAA title, but this past week has been something of an oddity. We saw some games that are decently fun (Geared, Ramp Champ, and Alive 4 Ever), but in the end, I decided nothing was App of the Week quality. Rather than besmirch the MMAHQ name with some mediocre apps, I sadly leave this week blank. However, I reserve the right to update this column in the middle of the week if some stellar apps make their way to the app store (Hint – think Sandstorm).

Well folks, that’s it for this week. Have a great week, and hopefully app-wise, it will be more interesting than the last.

Monday Morning App HQ

Random musings of the App Store

Apple, you might want to improve your approval process

It seems that news comes out, on a weekly basis, that demonstrates how bad Apple’s approval system is, and this week was no different, with two notable stories. First, the Google Voice app. In the FCC letters, Apple claims AT&T has nothing to do with this, but it simply reeks of their interference, though on the technical side, it was rejected because it duplicates an already existing native feature – the phone. Why then, are there so many “Text Free” apps. Apple simply has no consistency. Apple, however, revealed some interesting nuggets of information: about 8500 apps are submitted each week, Apple employs 40 full-time app reviewers, and each app is reviewed by two separate people. Some rough number crunching by Jeff, our head honcho, reveals that the average time a single person spends reviewing an app is 5.6 minutes. This is simply atrocious, and frankly explains a lot. More and more, it is showing that Apple struck gold with the App Store, but was in no way expecting it and has no idea what to do. The next news story is the saga of Spotify, an awesome internet radio app. Apple has done absolutely nothing, and the app is still in limbo after several weeks in review. Obviously, Apple believes Spotify is a great app, so great in fact, that it will hurt iTunes store music downloads. Much like in the case of A.D.D., the answer here is simply more transparency. Come on, Apple, at least let the developers know what is happening so that they might speed the process. And of course, make up your mind! Have the cajones to either approve it or reject rather than leaving it rotting in app purgatory.

Race for the best Kart Racer

Konami's Krazy Kart Racing

Konami's Krazy Kart Racing


Gameloft's Shrek Kart

Gameloft's Shrek Kart


Gameloft seems to be going head to head with other developers lately, and kart racing is the latest iteration of this. Both Konami (Krazy Kart Racing) and Gameloft (Shrek Kart) have Mario Kart style racers due out soon on the App Store. Simply based on screenshots and video alone, I’d say the edge goes to Gameloft. The graphics in Shrek Kart are much nicer (Krazy Kart graphics are somewhat blocky and the karts look like they’re hovering due to the lack of a shadow), and the track design looks better for Shrek Kart. From the video, Shrek Kart looks to be a very competent Mario Kart-like game. I typically dislike the gimmicky use of movie characters and the like in games, but Shrek Kart looks like a can’t miss.

Free “Knights Onrush” promotional game

In a nice promotional move, the folks over at Moregames have released a free supplement game to their hit “Knights Onrush.” Though we thoroughly enjoyed Knights Onrush in our review, the promotional game is nothing like it. It uses the same characters, but rather than a Castle Defense game, it is a side scrolling hack-‘n-slash with some nice RPG elements and best of all, a jump button. It’s a typical highscore affair, and while the game is glitchy, it is rather enjoyable. The game will likely climb the free app charts and gain some publicity for the main game, and Moregames even hints at the fact that they might give the game a premium paid version. I applaud this great marketing move, which is good for both the developer and cash-strapped iPhone gamers!

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-22 :: Category: Games

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-06-03 :: Category: Games

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

The Mobile Navigator app is steadily hanging in the top 100 paid apps, at a whopping price tag of $69.99. Personally, I’m waiting for a $.99 sale.

$59.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-07-22 :: Category: Navigation

Apps of the Week

Gangster: West Coast Hustle

Gameloft has truly achieved a milestone for the iPhone with their immensely impressive GTA-style game. This game features a fully explorable 3D sandbox world with plenty of ways to get your hands dirty. The story missions are entertaining, graphics are rich, and best of all, the controls are fantastic. If Gameloft sticks to a mantra of light on innovation, heavy on quality, while producing games like this at such a bargain price, you won’t hear any complaining from me.

$6.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-20 :: Category: Games

Sonar Ruler

If you’re like me, then you love showing off cool, unique things that only an iPhone can do. The latest and greatest of these apps is Sonar Ruler. The concept of Sonar Ruler is simply so cool I didn’t believe it at first: by using sonar technology, you can simply point your iPhone at a (large) object and just like that, find out how far away it is. Sounds futuristic, right? Best of all, if you use the app correctly, its measurements are actually fairly precise, within an inch usually. No, it’s not going to replace a ruler or measuring tape, but it’s pretty freaking awesome.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-05 :: Category: Utilities

That’s it for this week’s MMAHQ. I hope everyone is enjoying the column, and have a great week!

Monday Morning App HQ

Random Musings of the App Store

More stupidity from Sony

An interesting article over at PocketGamer this week reveals some measures Sony has been taking to combat Apple’s wildly successful (but far from perfect) App Store and to make their virtual download service, the PSN, more appealing for both consumers and developers. Sony might be doing fine with consumers, as the reported top limit of 5 euros is less than the App Store imaginary limit of $9.99, so if consumers managed to stomach the outrageous price of $250 for the PSPgo, they should be pleasantly surprised with the game pricing. The question is, however, will there be any games worth buying. The upper limit of 5 euros is simply awful for developers. For any quality games that are worth buying to a consumer, the volume of sales just needed to break even is immense. This is one of the biggest problems of the App Store, but it has managed to get away with it – for now – because of the huge reach of the store – there are simply a massive amount of consumers who are willing to buy a lot of games. I can’t imagine the PSPgo will sell as many units as the iPhone and iPod Touch combined, so I can’t imagine how hard it will be for developers to turn a worthwhile profit. Just ask the Google Android – the entire Android store probably has seen less downloads than any of about 500 iPhone apps. To make matters worse though, Sony is taking huge control over the games, requiring a two week QA test and regulating release dates, further discouraging indie development. Sure, most people don’t see the iPhone in the same light for gaming as the PSP (though I could recommend you a couple of titles that might change your mind), but with the new insanely powerful iPhone 3GS and help like this from Sony, Apple might just eat away at Sony’s share of the portable gaming world.

Snood arrives in the App Store
snood
Last night, Snood, a classic PC/Mac Bust-a-Move clone, was released by EA into the App Store. Despite some strange Facebook requirements, a quirky landscape interface (the game is played entirely in portrait view), and the fact that it’s an EA port, Snood has made it to the iPhone in all its highly addictive goodness… with online multiplayer nonetheless! Best of all, there’s not even a stupid cross-over promotional Pocket God pygmy in sight! A friendly warning: I lost many hours of productivity on this game back in the day. I’ve not spent enough time with the game (ok, basically none) to give it a recommendation, but we’ll try to have an official 148apps patent-pending review up soon (or not…I didn’t get that checked out with our editor, Chris. He might have some sort of strange anti-Snood bias).

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-17 :: Category: Games

App Store Fire Sale

It seems that in the App Store lately, everything must go! Developers have been slashing their prices to new lows, some even making their games free for a limited time. Rather than typing more, I thought I’d let our fancy boxes do the talking, so here are some notable price drops:

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-03-27 :: Category: Entertainment

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-06-29 :: Category: Games

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-05 :: Category: Games

(Full disclaimer: I really don’t like NFL 2010)

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-03-10 :: Category: Games :: Puzzle

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2008-12-11 :: Category: Games

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-06-08 :: Category: Games

$3.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-05-08 :: Category: Games

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

Hmm, why does this look so familiar?

Hmm, why does this look so familiar?


The game Ricky is currently sitting at the number 33 spot in the App Store. The description tells me that if I like Super Mario Bros, then “surely I will like Ricky.” Well Ricky, the only thing I’m surly about is your game. Ricky is a blatant Mario rip-off (ported horribly I might add). The hills have eyes, the main character is an italian plumber, and oh yeah, the icon is the 1up mushroom. Really Apple, you saw no possible copyright infringement going on. It just makes you wonder how apps like this get through while quality games like iMech and A.D.D. are held up in the approval purgatory for months.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-12 :: Category: Games

Apps of the Week

This week was a great game week, and while I was hoping Duke Nukem 3D would hold a spot on this list, unfortunately the controls are among the worst I’ve seen for a big title on the iPhone. Nevertheless, a duo of great games, one new, one old, made my list for the apps of the week.

Spider: the Secret of Bryce Manor

Spider, a beautiful, elegant game

Spider, a beautiful, elegant game


Spider is simply a work of art. The main gameplay, spinning webs to catch and eat bugs, is very compelling, especially with fantastic touch controls, but what makes Spider truly great is the multi-faceted story. The story is a human one that rivals many novels, but it is told through subtle clues found throughout levels. Items of seemingly little consequence can fill in a crucial missing piece. To top things off, Spider comes with many secret area to levels plus a secret room that it will take a true adventurer to unlock.
$1.99
Released: 2009-08-10 :: Category: Games

Civilization Revolution
Earlier in this article, I mentioned the addictive nature of Snood, but that is nowhere as addictive as the classic turn-based empire building game Civilization. Once I start a game of Civilization, I literally am not capable of doing anything else until I’ve finished the game. The iPhone version is slightly watered down, making it more accessible to newcomers, and it does have some interface/control issues (no performance issues over here on my iPhone 3G), but it’s still Civilization, and it’s still awesome.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-10 :: Category: Games

That’s it for this edition of MMAHQ. Next week, I hope to have some super secret exclusive content for you all that I’ve been working (or should I say waiting) on. Enjoy your week!

Monday Morning App HQ

Random musings of the App Store.

Retro Invasion

Retro games are appearing in the App Store in droves! Pac-Man Remix, Q*Bert Deluxe, and of course, the incredible Space Invaders Infinity Gene. All of these are updated in some way from the classic games. Q*Bert has updated graphics, Pac-Man Remix has updated graphics (though they are still not too hot on the iPhone) along with power-ups that sometimes feel gimmicky, and Space Invaders is a complete re-imagining of the classic game. Of these, the only game that really captivates me is SIIG. In my opinion, retro games are retro for a reason – frankly, they’re boring and outdated. However, the concepts are still good, and if they’re updated for modern gamers, they can turn out like SIIG. To go with these retro games, there are plenty more on the way: Snood, a classic match-3 shooting game, TAITO’s Bust-a-Move, and most importantly, Pac-Man Championship Edition. Pac-Man CE, for XBLA, is, along with SIIG, one of the best re-imaginings of a retro game I have ever played and, if the controls are changed from Remix, should translate fantastically for the iPhone.

Pac-Man CE, a great re-imagining of the classic game

Pac-Man CE, a great re-imagining of the classic game

Gameloft coming on strong (maybe)

Along with NFL 2010, Gameloft has an upcoming FPS, Sandstorm, and a GTA knockoff, Gang$tar in the works. These games are particularly of note because it seems as if Gameloft is attempting to directly compete with other developers. NFL 2010 was notably released before EA’s upcoming Madden 2010, and at a lower expected price point – $7.99 compared to $9.99. Sandstorm seems to be in line for direct competition with ngmoco’s upcoming FPS (as yet unnamed). Gang$tar looks to have a huge advantage on current App Store GTA-a-likes with a fully roam-able 3D world. If I was a betting man (ok, I am a betting man), though, I would count on the other two games losing out. If there’s two things Gameloft games have in common, with the notable exception of Castle of Magic, it’s lackluster, on-screen controls, and uninspired gameplay. Gameloft seems to put all of the genre “requirements” in their games, without doing anything truly unique to make the game their own. They seem stubborn about their controls as well, always opting for mediocre on-screen d-pads or joysticks, rather than attempting any innovation for the iPhone. NFL 2010 is a solid football game with licensing, and I’m sure Sandstorm will be a decent FPS. However, neither if these titles, probably, will be great.

Get out of my games, stupid pygmy

Get out of my games, stupid pygmy

Games requiring 3.0 software

I wanted to briefly address a common complaint springing up various places: games requiring 3.0 software or higher. Developers are excited to utilize 3.0 features and making their apps 2.2.1 compatible takes a lot of time, resources, and extra testing. Look, I know that the update is $10 for iPod touchers (whoops, that sounds weird), but that’s really not a lot for a major software upgrade, and if these stubborn users don’t update soon, they’re going to find themselves left out in the cold for some of the App Store’s best apps and games.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

First Doodle Jump, now Harbor Master; the Pocket God pygmies are invading other games! It was bad enough that I had to look at those stupid pygmies while playing Pocket God, thinking I would eventually like it. But no, that wasn’t enough, now they have to ruin games that I actually play! I really want to kill a pygmy, and in a way so that they can’t be magically dropped from the sky a few seconds later.

Apps of the Week

Gomi

Gomi, an app of the week!

Gomi, an app of the week!

Last week, I previewed Kevin Calderone’s new game Gomi, mentioning the staggering amount of content. Now, the app is out, and not only is it huge, but all that content is actually worth playing! In Gomi, you clean up the world by eating pollution and the like while spitting (?) out trees and flowers. You have to eat smaller things to build your appetite, eventually building up to shopping malls and the like. The regular levels are great, the boss battles are challenging and clever, and the game is seemingly endless with 140+ levels, eight mini games, achievements, and online scoreboards. At the low price of $1.99, Gomi is a unique game and a highly recommended bargain. Expect a full review soon (sorry, I’m on vacation).

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-08-06 :: Category: Games

BargainBin

BargainBin is an app that allows you track other apps; creating wish lists with target prices and viewing the newest apps, updates, and price drops. BargainBin recently was updated with two major improvements: a nice UI update and a killer feature: push notifications. Now, whenever an app you’re tracking reaches your desired price, you’ll instantly receive a push notification without ever having to open the app. Finding the App Store’s best deals has never been easier!

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-03-26 :: Category: Productivity

Well, that’s it for this week, and I’m still loving writing this column! Apparently, I messed up the links for the previous articles, so commenting was impossible. This has been fixed, so hopefully this week my begging for feedback/comments will succeed!

Monday Morning App HQ

Random musings of the app store.

Minigore Released into the Wild

Minigore = Mini content

Minigore = Mini content

Minigore, a dual-stick survival shooter, has finally been released onto the App Store after weeks of intense hype and anticipation. So what was all the hype about? Honestly, I don’t know. Compared with its survival shooter kin, iDracula (App Info), Minigore is as shallow as a puddle. It has one map, two weapons, four enemy types, and two health points. It definitely has a unique art style going for it, but beyond that, not too much. There seems to be some sort of story, and while it is never even touched on, there will apparently be Pocket God-style episodic updates. I’m sorry, but I don’t like this approach unless it’s done with a complete game. Minigore is clearly not a complete game, and I’m tired of getting incomplete games with promises of updates that aren’t always fulfilled. There seems to be a bit of a logjam cycle going on with apps nowadays – developers won’t add to their apps unless they do well in the App Store, but consumers don’t want to pay for an incomplete app. But hey, it worked for Pocket God (App Info); it went from being a boring, mindless, stupid time waster to a… boring, mindless, stupid time waster. But seriously, Minigore is not a bad game, just an average one that without a bevy of substantial updates is undeserving of the immense hype that preceding it.
FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-30 :: Category: Games

Freeverse joins ngmoco’s Plus+ network

As I touched on last week, there is an emerging social game network competition on the App Store. And, as I loosely predicted (thank you, thank you), ngmoco’s Plus+ network has taken the lead. Freeverse, who may not be my favorite developer but is certainly among the most popular and has a large volume of games, has announced that they will be implementing the Plus+ network in their upcoming action space trader Warpgate, their incredibly popular Flick Fishing (App Info), and presumably more upcoming games. Having two of the premiere App Store developers certainly bolsters Plus+, and could induce a chain reaction of developers braking for Plus+. At this point, OpenFeint may be implemented in more games, but that catalog is very scattered, not all of those games are exactly quality controlled, and some apps were clearly not made for OpenFeint (have you ever tried to go into a Pocket God chat room?). I’m definitely putting my money on Plus+ for now.

From the developer of Trace – Gomi submitted

Bovine Dragon has finally submitted their new game, Gomi, to the App Store. Gomi appears to be a platforming game in which you, as a Gomi, replace the pollution in the world with trees and other natural things. The artwork is certainly unique, and the gameplay looks good, but perhaps the most impressive thing about Gomi is the staggering amount of content. Gomi will have over 140 stages, each lasting several minutes, spread across 8 worlds, with a boss battle for each world that unlocks a new ability. There are also 8 unique mini-games, hundreds of achievements, hundreds of playable Gomis, a complete soundtrack of 17 songs, and online scoreboards for everything. Wow, talk about a complete game! The developer estimates that playing through each stage once, without trying to unlock any achievements
or playing any mini-games, will take over 12 hours. The price for a game of this size? Reportedly just $1.99 upon release. This looks to be an incredible value and if the production values and unique gameplay of Trace (App Info) were any indication, Gomi should be an incredible game.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

Locating sex offenders will be rendered pointless when the ENTIRE WORLD IS DESTROYED!

Locating sex offenders will be rendered pointless when the ENTIRE WORLD IS DESTROYED!

Offender Locator (App Info), an app that locates nearby sex offenders, is currently sitting at #4 overall in the App Store. First of all, are people really that paranoid? And second, if you do find an offender in your area, what are you going to do? Move away? Complain to your neighborhood police patrol? Set up barricades? No, you are just going to be more worried than you were before.

App of the week

So normally, I would list more than one app of the week, but this week, there is basically only one app deserving of the honor, only one game I have been playing all week:

Space Invaders Infinity Gene

Undeniably sweet

Undeniably sweet

I have to admit, after seeing SIIG appear on the App Store, I was skeptical. After all, how fun can a remake of Space Invaders be? It might be fun, but for $4.99? I figured they just slapped some neon backgrounds on the old tried and true gameplay. Well, after reading the 148apps review, I decided to buy the game, and, happily, I was utterly, completely, and unequivocally wrong. TAITO brings a shining example of how to remake retro games for the App Store. The graphics are fantastic, the action is frantic and heart-pounding, the music is techno bliss, and the controls are perfect. The evolution concept and implementation is fantastic, with unlockables aplenty. And on top of all of this, there is the ridiculously awesome ability to generate completely original levels based on your iPod music. I really need some good songs for this mode, so if anyone has any suggestions, post away! This isn’t just a great App Store shooter, this is a great shooter period. Probably in my top three iPhone games ever, and at $4.99, if you’ve ever enjoyed a shooter, you owe it to yourself to buy this game.
$4.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-07-28 :: Category: Games

Wow, they actually let me write a second Monday Morning App HQ. Hopefully everyone is enjoying the column, and feel free to post feedback.

Monday Morning App HQ

Random musings of the app store.

Removal of EDGE from the App Store

Hey Tim, why don't you actually make something?

Hey Tim, why don't you actually make something?

EDGE, a simply fantastic game, has been removed yet again from the App Store, due to a trademark dispute with Tim Langdell. For those who don’t know, Langdell is a leech who hasn’t made a game in over 15 years, instead making his living by suing any game with “edge” in the name. Good thing there’s the IGDA, or international game developers association, whose mission is to “advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community” (from www.igda.org/about). Oh, wait, Tim Langdell is actually on the board of directors at IGDA! So yes, Langdell has attempted to trademark a commonly used word, and has succeeded largely in part to the fact that developers can’t afford to fight costly legal battles and simply want to reach a settlement. Mobigame, EDGE’s developer, hasn’t given in yet, so kudos to them. Langdell may have bitten off a bit more than he can chew, however, as he is attempting to sue EA over their Mirror’s Edge game. One can only hope that EA will cut Langdell down to size and clear the way for future edges.

Apple considering reorganizing App Store

Eight of the top ten games are $.99

Eight of the top ten games are $.99

In their quarterly report last Tuesday, Apple said, regarding the App Store structure: “We’re always looking for ways to categorize apps differently and we have some ideas. We do it by type of apps and top selling apps, and we realize there is opportunity for further improvement and we are working on that. As for price, it’s up to the developers to choose where to set the price. I would think as the installed base grows, it makes sense to have lower prices but that’s totally up to the developer.”

Part of the problem with the App Store is that top lists are organized by volume rather than revenue. This encourages “bargain bin” pricing, as obviously it is much easier to sell a large volume at a lower price. Since the top lists are organized in such a way that apps that make it there tend to stay there, they are all-important. It is very tough to make a profit selling a game at $.99, so this in turn encourages short development cycles with small budgets. Big IP’s like DOOM will always sell at a higher price, but indy developers with AAA ideas may never see their ideas come to fruition due to over-inflated consumer expectations. If Apple decided to have a list by revenue, this would go a long way to curing the woes of the App Store, but it wouldn’t completely fix it. Besides the top lists, the next best marketing tool for a developer is word of mouth, so regardless of price, it can be difficult for an app to gain traction. Apple’s featuring method is arbitrary at best, and their review system is severely flawed, as only those who either hate or love an app review it, meaning an app’s rating is basically dependent on its ratio of five star reviews to one star reviews. Perhaps both requiring users to “earn a reputation” in order to have their rating count and eliminating the rating prompt after deleting an app could go a long way to solve this. On top of this, however, there is currently no list for top-rated games, and Apple could and should implement this easily with a minimum number of ratings benchmark.

Social gaming network competition

The iPhone now has three notable high score networks: OpenFeint, ngmoco’s Plus+ network, and Chillingo’s recently announced Crystal. Ultimately, one will become the network for the iPhone. This will shape up largely like the Blu-Ray/HDDVD wars of old; consumers will not want to have their favorite games fragmented over three different networks, so war will be waged as developers choose which network to implement. I see Plus+ winning, as OpenFeint is largely about superfluous features over interface and usability (I don’t want to chat with people in the middle of my game) and has no large developer backing it, and Crystal has yet to be started. Earlier is always better, and as third-parties start using Plus+ before Crystal is even in any of Chillingo’s games, Plus+ will get a huge head start. Developers will always want to use whoever is “winning.”

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

This is what happens when Apple features Eviro-Bear for two straight weeks

This is what happens when Apple features Eviro-Bear for two straight weeks

Enviro-Bear 2010 (App Info) has now been featured in some context for two consecutive weeks by Apple. Talk about a platform showcase.

Apps of the week

Because productivity is overrated, I chose two games as the apps of the week:

Star Hogs

After my immense disappointment with Worms, I was comforted by the brilliance that is IUGO’s Star Hogs. Star Hogs doesn’t try to be a Worms clone; instead, it brings many new well-implemented twists to the genre like ship/weapon customization and the unique energy system. The online component is fantastic, though there is a notable lack of online players (yet another reason why everyone needs to buy the game). Star Hogs might not have the visual appeal and charm of Worms, but it does just about everything else right, and therefore earns a spot as an app of the week.

$3.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-06 :: Category: Games

Triazzle

Remember those maddeningly difficult wooden triangle puzzles? Well, that’s what Triazzle for the iPhone is, but in this case, it’s even better than the original. Back in the day, you would have to shell out $15 for one of those bad boy’s, but on the App Store you can buy an unlimited number of Triazzle puzzles for just $2.99. Yep, that’s right: infinite puzzles. This, along with exceptional graphics that “come to life” as you solve a puzzle, a great help system, and soothing music, makes Triazzle an app of the week.

Now even better on the iPhone

Now even better on the iPhone

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-17 :: Category: Games

So that’s it, the first Monday Morning App HQ. Hopefully I won’t receive too much hate mail.

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