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Random musings of the app store
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alley Gator is Glu's entry into the quick $.99 games category with accelerometer-based gameplay.
From the guys who made Sparta comes a port of an addictive online flash game.
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.
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 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.
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.
This Chillingo "shmup" is very stylish but adds little to the genre gameplay-wise.
Scarecrow is Ezone's take on Doodle Jump and also the latest 3rd party game to incorporate ngmoco's plus+ network.
Apps of the Week
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.
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.
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.
I did an app review a few weeks (months?) back about a game that I just didn't feel lived up to its potential primarily due to controls that I didn't feel were perfect for the iPhone. People bombarded me with flack about it because they said that the games controls were perfectly fine, but one comment stuck with me to this day. Someone told me at some point that they could spend a few hours with the game not even shooting bad guys, but just flying.
Now there are games that I have experienced this. Some of the old Microsoft Flight Simulator games, X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, and Midtown Madness (driving), all fit the bill as games that I just wanted to be left alone, but they all were displayed on a large screen and I usually had some kind of huge joystick or driving wheel on my computer desk. The size of the iPhone and the typical nature of playing on it just don't seem conducive to that type of playing style.
Well yesterday I got an e-mail about a new game called Aera. I thought, ok, here we go again, another iPhone flying game. I would certainly let someone else review the game because obviously the genre, on the iPhone, just isn't for me. On a recommendation, I watched the youtube video and was astounded.
The flow of the game, along with the graphics are just beautiful. I have to say that Aera may be the first game of its kind that I think that I would want to fly around endlessly doing dogrolls and loops. According to the developers, there are mission modes, a free flight mode, and even some multiplayer that will include capture the flag and duel. I haven't done much investigating yet, but hopefully Aera will be out soon, because now I want to finally fly on my iPhone.