Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on March 26th, 2013 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
James Liu sat down with us today, and demoed Boxcat Games’ first iOS game, Nameless: The Hackers. An impressively well-written, story-based twelve hour RPG in the style of Final Fantasy, set in the world of computer security and international hacking. The team is three guys and a bunch of freelance artists, so make sure you check this one out now, in the App Store for a sale price of $1.99.
Released a little over a month ago, sequel to popular Square Enix game Chaos Rings, Chaos Rings II, has received its first major update. Most important of the added features include a higher level cap for both the player and dungeons.
The update, called “My Fang is All About the Magnum!,” increased the dungeon level cap from 100 to 200. So now players will have much more difficult dungeons to work through. To aid those players in defeating those tougher dungeons, the player level cap has been increased to 150. In addition to the increased level caps, the game has also released a hidden boss and unlocked a new P.U.B. side quest for players to tackle.
Another update, schedule for next month, is supposed to further increase the level cap for players, add more special quests, and release more hidden bosses. That update is titled “Give Earthly Desires the Boot!”
Chaos Rings II is a turn-based strategy RPG similar to other classic RPG titles from Square Enix like the prolific and popular Final Fantasy series.
Square Enix sure knows how to keep iOS device owning RPG fans happy. Whether it’s by releasing new games like Chaos Rings or resurrecting old classics like Final Fantasy 1, 2 and 3, JRPG fans are guaranteed a good time.
Why am I explaining all this? Because Square Enix has just announced that one of the greatest RPGs of all time, Chrono Trigger, is heading to the iPhone and iPod Touch sometime before the end of the year!
For the uninformed, Chrono Trigger was a fantastic collaborative effort by the creator of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and creator of Dragon Quest, Yuji Horii. Originally released on the SNES, it’s a lengthy tale of time travel to all sorts of places from the Middle Ages to a post-apocalyptic future and boasts 15 different endings.
No price details or exact release date have been announced just yet but we have got some pretty screenshots to stare at in preparation.
For now, be very excited by the forthcoming release of Chrono Trigger. It’s a true classic of the genre.
A new hybrid form of game and comic is set to be released by Square Enix for iOS devices.
Known as Imaginary Range, the app sets out to allow players to flick through comic pages while also playing through a variety of different game sequences. Games look to be mostly mini-game in nature within a full-color comic book and similarly detailed plot.
The project has been overseen by Motomu Toriyama, director of Final Fantasy XIII, with novelist Souki Tsukishima handling the storyline, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series artist Toshiyuki Itahana in charge of the artwork. With pedigree that strong Imaginary Range is looking rather interesting indeed.
The comic/game is set in France during an attack by an evil creature known only as Omega and it’s down to Cid (yes, Final Fantasy fans, another character called Cid) and Ciela to stop this menance.
Once you complete the story, you can then unlock further comic commentary as well as the ability to play the game separately from the comicbook. If gameplay is anything like the visuals then Imaginary Range could well be something special.
Even better, it’s free to download and an universal app so iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch fans alike can enjoy it.
This week, April 17-24, Japanese company GREE announced a $104 million acquisition of OpenFeint, the social gaming network that operates similarly to Apple Game Center. For consumers, this meanss “faster SDK updates, awesome new products, and network improvements” (official press release). 148Apps Founder Jeff Scottcomments “this acquisition seems to be a win for both parties and will allow OpenFeint to continue to do the great work that they do while letting GREE better benefit from that.”
In other news, Final Fantasy users can rejoice with gladness, for the third instalment of the popular game is now available to download natively on the iPad. “The iPad version of the game features improved 3D visuals and the touch screen controls have been adjusted specifically for the iPad” writesPhillip Levin. “Today, many consider Final Fantasy III to be one of the greatest RPGs of all time.” Follow the link below to get stuck in.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-04-21 :: Category: Games
You Don’t Know Jack picked up the latest Editor’s Choice badge at 148Apps. The comical application that tests how smart you really are, by asking you inquisitive questions designed to question what you’ve perhaps always thought to be true. “Simply put, You Don’t Know Jack is the kind of experience that not only stretches the mind with challenge, but inversely massages it with humor to ease the blow of defeat” writesBlake Grundman. “Buy it for that know-it-all in your life, because sometimes it is just too much fun to see a person put in their place. Rest assured that it will be fun for all parties involved.”
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-04-14 :: Category: Games
You may remember in last week’s column that I mentioned Tweetbot, the new and exciting application designed to challenge the official Twitter app. Since then, Jeff Scott has taken it for an in-depth test drive and is suitably impressed. “Tweetbot does everything you’d expect a Twitter client to do … [and] has a few great unique features aimed mainly at saving you some time [like new gestures].” Although it isn’t perfect, with some animation lag and lack of response at times, Jeff has “been using Tweetbot exclusively on [his] iPhone for almost a week now. Now this review is done, [he] will stick with it.”
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-04-14 :: Category: Social Networking
Episode 81 of The Portable Podcast is available to download, featuring guests Dave Castelnuovo from Bolt Creative. Host Carter Dotson and Dave discuss the mobile industry and the questionable freemium price model that some developers have scrapped in favour of traditional pricing models.
That’s all for this week! 148Apps wishes you a happy spring holiday of your choosing, and we encourage you to check back frequently for the latest reviews and news when it comes to iOS and your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. See you soon!
A few weeks/months back, Square-Enix announced that Final Fantasy 1 & 2 would be coming to the iPhone. Being a Final Fantasy fan, I got all excited, but knew that I would explode unless I pushed such news out of my head. After checking out Square’s Facebook page this morning though, my excitement was renewed because of two new screenshots.
Unfortunately, the release date is still under wraps by the marketing team, but we will certainly know soon enough. Until then, enjoy the new screens!
The hype machine started churning back in January when Square Enix announced iPhone ports of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II. The announcement was an exciting one, certainly; it’s hard to get more classic than the original FF titles! Back then, we only had a few screenshots to salivate over, but now we have quite a few additional screenshots, a trailer…and a promise that they’re “coming soon.” Now you can feast your eyes on the live gameplay shown in the trailer while we wait anxiously for the actual games to hit the App Store. (Chocobos anyone?) Rest assured, we’ll be following these two titles closely.
There are few games that can match the Final Fantasy series for sheer longevity. The original Final Fantasy was released back in 1987, and more than twenty years later, it’s impossible to ignore the series’ impact upon role-playing games. While the series has moved far beyond the scope of the original release, spawning countless spinoffs and sequels, the first two games are where it all began—and these are the ones that Square Enix has announced for an iPhone release. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen some old games ported to the App Store, but it’s definitely an exciting announcement.
We don’t yet know when the titles will be released to the App Store. An announcement along with some screenshots was posted to the Square Enix Facebook page last night, leaving the release date a tantalizing “TBA.” The games appear to be similar to the PSP ports.
Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II promise some classic goodness for old-school gamers, and we’re already itching to get our hands on them. Hopefully, “TBA” means “sometime really, really soon.”
A new expansion pack is now available for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. The Desolations of Smaug is available for free and features new campaign maps and bosses for players to strategize against, along with new armor and weapons for them to collect and equip.