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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.
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.
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.
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.
I often wonder about iPhone gaming in its infancy. I get the feeling that developers are creating games in a bunch of different genres, feeling out which genres work, and which don't. It's obvious to me that platformers work fine, along with tower defense, turn based strategy, and the occasional casual game... while 3D shooters struggle due to their lack of proper controls. RTS's are on the fence in my opinion. Part of me wants to say that they can't be done correctly due to the small screen size, but another part of me thinks that the touch screen options are too much to pass up. I've seen games like Warzone Inc. implement the RTS genre on the iPhone quite nicely, but I'm still waiting for that killer app.
Ready to take on this hurdle is Vogster entertainment with their game, Robocalypse. Robocalypse is an RTS in the Warcraft 2 mold, with a good balance between lighthearted graphics and action. Written by Micah Wright and Jay Lender (an ex-writer for Spongebob), Robocalypse offers a full, 17 mission single player campaign on top of 18 multiplayer maps that can be played with 2-4 players. From what we saw of the game, it looks like an extremely funny, well executed RTS... possibly capable of outshining Command and Conquer when it arrives in the app store.
Vogster is expecting Robocalypse to launch Q3 2009.