Another week has flown by here at Steel Media towers. It's been busy for everyone. Some of the editorial team have been at our regular show in London, Pocket Gamer Connects. Some of us haven't. We've all had our noses pushed right into the grindstone though.
So here's a small slice of the amazing content that you might have missed out on across the SM empire. If you see some stuff you like, make sure you keep checking back on all of our sites. We're pretty damn good at what we do, and no mistake.
The world changed significantly in 1978. The first computer bulletin board system was released, Apple III was under way and, most recognizably, TAITO's SPACE INVADERS made its way into arcade games rooms around the world. Some 32 years later, it's back. iPad style.
TAITO Corporation, the original manufacturer and distributor of the classic game, announced that Space Invaders HD (iPad edition) as been released. Here's what TAITO had to say:
While remaining a faithful recreation of the beloved arcade classic, the graphics and sounds in SPACE INVADERS HD have been specially optimized to take full advantage of iPad’s hardware. Not only are familiar tricks like the Nagoya Attack present and accounted for, the game also includes a treasury of bonus materials, such as rarely seen design documents from the original 1978 game’s development.
Graphics have been optimized exclusively for the iPad, making it "a more impressive gaming experience than the iPhone/iPod touch edition" - something we awarded proudly with 4.5 stars. You can see our review here.
The price for this nostalgic goodness? $4.99. Available to download now.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene really was one of the best games to come out on the iPhone in 2009. It was simple to play, didn't demand a ton of time all at once, and looked and felt beautiful, in a spooky, System Shock 2 sort of way. If you haven't played it yet, download it as soon as you can.
Just today, Taito released an update for the game that adds some really neat things, most notably the ability to play the game as a side scrolling shooter and the ability to purchase unique levels and new ships that are based on other arcade classics like Darius, Metal Black, and Night Striker.
Check out the newly updated promo video that Taito put out. If it doesn't make you want to re-download the game, I don't know what will.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene is easily one of my favorite games of the year. It's an amazingly wonderful re-imagining of the Space Invaders world, one of the oldest video games around.
Space Invaders was originally released in 1978 and I can't count the number of quarters I dumped into the machine down at the neighborhood pizza shop. So while my love for SIIG might be a little tainted with nostalgia, it still stands as a fantastic game. The method of play in this game is basically the same as the original. You are shooting at advancing aliens -- the twist here is that the game evolves from the original Space Invaders to a progressively different and more interesting game as you score more points and progress through the levels by filling the evolution gauge. With each filling of the gauge, the game evolves into a new one bringing increasing weapons and level changes.
This update brings, much like the Fieldrunners update, integration with OpenFeint. This allows you to compare your score with your OpenFeint friends and also includes new achievements to work toward. While the first version of this game was amazing, it left me wanting more. This new update adds new levels to work towards as the evolution gauge fills.
Here's a video demo of the game from Taito.
One of the interesting feature of this game which I all but ignored in the first release is the Music Stage. In this stage you select a song from your device music library and play a level that's specifically tailored to that song. Each song generates a different level. With this update you can rate and share your favorite Music Stage levels with friends.
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.
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
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
Chris's Top 3 Apps of All Time:
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.
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.
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.
[caption id="attachment_15283" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Minigore = Mini content"]
[/caption]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.
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
[caption id="attachment_15285" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="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:
[/caption]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.
Wow, they actually let me write a second Monday Morning App HQ. Hopefully everyone is enjoying the column, and feel free to post feedback.
Being a Phoenician, I realize that when the weather gets over 105 the brain starts to shut down. I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure what's going on is a common case of your brain either melting out of your ears, or baking inside your skull. Usually this heat is reserved only for the brave souls in the deserts of Arizona, but recently it was brought to my attention that Seattle hit the mind melting mark... and some of their houses have no AC!!!
The only thing that prevents "brain melt", and this is proven, is to check out new iPhone apps. Here's a few that I've been messing with this week that are sure to keep the grey matter in your head.
Local Eats I love Yelp and Urban Spoon, but my palette has become a bit too complex for random food... I need to eat the best of the best! Fortunately for me, I found Local Eats, an app that only tells me where the good places are. The interface is pretty simple, only showing you the Top 100 restaurants in your area and the best food in your immediate area.
Now this next feature won't help most of you, but the lucky citizens of New York recently got an extra special feature. This press report says it all.
Available for the iPhone 3G, the new iPhone 3GS and BlackBerry Storm, users simply pull up the mobile offers on LocalEats -- which range from a percentage off the final bill to free dessert or hors d'oeuvres with purchase -- and present them to their waiters before ordering. Café des Artistes, for example, is offering 10% off the final bill. Many of New York's finest restaurants and foodie favorites have signed on, including The Four Seasons, Daniel, Babbo, Rosa Mexicano and dozens of others across the culinary landscape. A full list of restaurants is available here.
I can't wait until these coupons reach my city... I need some discounts! Local Eats is currently the #1 paid dining app and the #2 paid travel app in the app store. I really can't recommend it enough.
Space Invaders - Infinity Gene
My favorite game this week (besides Baseball Sluggers... I'm still hooked) has been the new Space Invaders game from Taito (check out Ritchie's review here). It's really hard to pin down why it's so amazing, but I'll give it a shot.
Imagine playing Space Invaders, but give yourself total freedom of movement and a variety of bizarre weapons and power-ups. Then put the game world inside of System Shock 2 and let you completely control what you want to listen to in the game. The game is eerie yet accessible, familiar yet insane, and sure to provide you with one of the best experiences that you will find on your iDevice. I definitely haven't beaten the whole game yet, but I'm slowly pounding through it with some syrupy Houston rap in the background. I tried Tom Waits for a while thinking that "Clap Hands" would work well, but after a while I just wanted to put the game down and sing in my best raspy Tom Waits voice. Not a good plan.
My favorite iPhone game. Ever. If I wasn't such a civilized individual, this statement would be filled with expletives to help you understand how kick ass this game is. But you should just buy the game and insert your own expletives here.