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Robert Corra

Contributing Writer | 148Apps

The iPhone & iPad have taken interactivity to new heights. As a result, they've given us one of the most exciting gaming platforms in quite some time. There's a lot of exciting news & apps for fellow technophiles & gamers to digest, so please consider this my modest contribution. Thanks for reading!

Connect with Robert:
Game Center: shermy808
OpenFeint: shermy808
Twitter: @shermy808

150 Years Later, The Civil War Chronicled Daily on iPad

Posted by Robert Corra on April 18th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

A Nation divided. North vs. South. Brother vs. brother. The Civil War stands as one of the most tumultuous times in American history. It helped shape the future of a nation, and has been the source of many fascinating retrospectives, across all kinds of media.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the America Civil War, the History Channel has released The Civil War Today for the iPad, bringing us a very modern, interactive window to the past. The app is structured as a slick-looking, tablet newspaper, with visual representations of many historical documents, photos, maps, newspaper clippings, etc.

With this format in mind, The Civil War Today is set to have daily updates for the next four years, from April 12, 2011 through April 26, 2015, as a pseudo, real-time recounting of the events that occurred 150 years to the day. You will be able to follow the events of the past like they were happening today, and with all the graphical and technical embellishments that the iPad has to offer.

The app offers a variety of content such as quotes of the day, letters & personal diaries from 15 people who experienced the war, photo galleries, battle maps, newspaper broadsheets, articles & video on featured topics, etc. There’s also a daily North/South casualty counter that highlights the ebb and impact of the war, as well as daily quizzes. The Civil War Today supports Game Center, where you can earn achievements for interacting with all these elements of the app, as well as twitter integration that simulates sending a message via morse code.

There's no doubt that The Civil War Today is an ambitious project, and it feels very much at home on the iPad. It is a decidedly modern take on historical events that aims to provide a bevy of interesting content and educational value that not just history buffs will find entertaining.

Death Rally Update Hits App Store

Posted by Robert Corra on April 14th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: BLAST FROM THE PAST :: Read Review »

Remedy Entertainment, best known for the Max Payne series of videogames and Alan Wake, recently unleashed Death Rally to the app store. Death Rally is a top-down, combat racing game, and is actually a remake of the company's first title from 1996. It features a single-player career mode where you can earn money to upgrade vehicles and their accompanying weapons. The core goal is to win races by any means necessary, including wrecking your opponents. There are a few cameo appearances along the way by John Gore of Minigore fame, Barry Wheeler from Alan Wake, and videogame legend Duke Nukem himself, all as boss racers.

From the onset, Remedy released Death Rally as a universal app, and has promised regular, free updates. It has since quickly climbed the app store charts, and the first update has just arrived short of two weeks. Along with bug fixes and other technical enhancements, version 1.1 includes:

New car:
-Unlock the power of the Wraith, a fast and furious NEW SPORTSCAR!

New weapons:
-STRIKER: Dish out massive damage with a weapon that fires multiple rockets!
-LASER SIGHT: Aim and destroy the enemy with more accuracy than ever!

New challenge:
-ALL NITRO CHALLENGE: Do you feel the need for speed?

Remedy has hinted at more updates to come very soon. Besides new tracks and cars, the addition of multiplayer has been promised (both local and online), as well as an appearance by a certain Mighty Eagle. The game originally shipped with 5 vehicle and 5 weapon types, all of which can be upgraded, as well as 5 core track types that are rotated and re-used throughout.

For anyone interested in the original PC game, Remedy has issued a free, re-release of it that has been tailored to run on modern hardware. You can download it from the Remedy Entertainment website.

8tracks Brings Virtual Mix Tapes to Your iPhone

Posted by Robert Corra on April 13th, 2011
+ Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MUSICAL VARIETY :: Read Review »

8tracks is a site that lets you create and share digital mix tapes. Self-described as "handcrafted internet radio," 8tracks allows users to upload the music files of their virtual playlists so that others can then legally stream their handiwork. This capability has now been expanded to the iPhone, as 8tracks Radio has been launched to the app store.

Some features of the 8tracks Radio app include:

Listen to user-curated mixes
Follow your favorite DJs and play their mixes through the Mix feed
Search for mixes containing your favorite artists
Browse hundreds of popular tags like alternative rock, sleep, sad, chill or dubstep
Listen to mixes everywhere - on your commute, at the gym or at home via AirPlay

The core philosophy behind 8tracks is that user-created playlists will trump those that are algorithmically generated. The online mixes that you submit to the open community via the website, along with accompanying cover art, must contain at least 8 tracks, with no more than 2 belonging to a specific artist. Listeners can then search by a variety of methods, and 8track offers select mixes curated by various notable sources such as SPIN, Pitchfork, Metric, Threadless, etc.

So, remember those days when you were mad at your parents, and you just broke up with your girlfriend, and you expressed yourself in the ultimate angst-ridden mixed tape? Uhm, yeah. Me neither. That was a friend of mine. Have any personal mixes that you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments...

iMockups for iPad Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Robert Corra on October 19th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: NICE DESIGN
Endloop Studios’ iMockups brings rapid user interface design to the iPad, and it does so with a rather slick and efficient package.
Read The Full Review »

Aqueduct Review

Posted by Robert Corra on August 17th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: Kieffer Bros.
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar


The last thing I needed was another pipe-building puzzle game. Or so I thought. Aqueduct is the latest app from the Kieffer Bros., makers of excellent puzzlers such as Abca (formerly Lexic), and it breathes new life into some over-utilized genres. By combining a pipe-building motif with sliding block style gameplay and sprinkling in a variety of special tiles, Aqueduct brings just enough originality and polish to the mix.

Each level in Aqueduct is essentially a large grid on which you need to move and connect a series of blocks that have different shaped pipe segments on them. The goal is to connect the pipes so that there is a closed loop from the water source to the drain. This is easier said than done, as there are various obstacles in your way such as unmovable blocks, conveyor belts, warp portals, and locked gates triggered by floor switches. The levels themselves have various tight corridors, or even large chunks of empty space, that need to be navigated skillfully, sometimes with the use of moveable bridge blocks. Unlike most pipe-building games, the tube segments cannot be rotated, and there isn't the timed threat of slowly advancing water. The real star of Aqueduct is the strong, spatial element of the game, as you need to skillfully maneuver the blocks in physical space to unblock, decipher, and build the perfect waterways.

Aqueduct was released with a whopping 140+ levels over 6 chapters, and has since received 2 more chapters to bring the total to over 190 levels. The first group of 23 levels serves primarily as a tutorial, introducing you to all of the obstacle types that you'll be encountering. After that, it's basically more of the same, although progressively harder. With each level solved, you unlock the next 3, and you must complete a chapter to get to the next. Because of this no nonsense structure, where progression is your sole reward and the basic bag of tricks is revealed early on, Aqueduct loses a bit of its excitement after a few chapters. The clever level designs and core mechanics, however, are always top-notch, and they offer up a welcome challenge when you need to scratch that puzzle-solving itch.

With Aqueduct, initial looks can be deceiving. It's a somewhat no-frills, yet highly polished package. Aqueduct innovates in some tired territory, and offers a lot of stimulating content in the process. Besides having been quickly updated with new levels, it was also upgraded with universal support across all iOS devices, which only adds to the quality and value of the game. So, although my gag reflex was initially triggered by the thought of more pipe themed puzzles (I'm looking at you Bioshock), I'm glad I suppressed that instinct. Aqueduct's mix of pipe-building, sliding tiles, unblocking, and special hazards, is a truly holistic effort. It's good fun, too.

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PAC-Match Party

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Robert Corra on July 22nd, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: MID-LIFE CRISIS
Pac-Man gets the match-3 treatment for his 30th anniversary, and the results are mixed. The game is aesthetically pleasing, but is otherwise lacking in features and excitement.
Read The Full Review »

Favorite 4: Apps for the World Cup!

Posted by Robert Corra on June 11th, 2010

It's been 4 long years since Italy gloriously hoisted the FIFA World Cup and proclaimed themselves the kings of soccer (football, futbol, calcio, etc.). There’s a deep field of 32 teams who will be vying for the 2010 crown and, while you can never count out old stalwarts like Brazil, Italy, and Germany, many countries have a legitimate shot at the trophy and their place in soccer immortality.

What's different this time around? Well, this is the first World Cup to take place in the continent of Africa. Many of the players and coaches have changed throughout the years. But, as far as my fellow iPhone enthusiasts are concerned, the biggest difference is that this is the first World Cup to take place since Apple's miracle device was born. There are several cool apps for just about everything these days, and the World Cup is no exception. Here are 4+ apps that every soccer fan should have on their iPhones over the next month of soccer nirvana...

FIFA World Cup

If you want a game that has all the pomp and circumstance of the tournament, EA’s FIFA World Cup does a good job of incorporating all those elements. As the only officially licensed game, FIFA World Cup lets you choose from 105 different countries on the quest to qualify for the competition and capture the trophy. There’s also a Captain Your Country Mode, where you become a virtual pro on your favorite team and try to guide them to victory. FIFA World Cup may not be the greatest game of soccer that you’ll play, but it has all of the official stadiums and requisite fanfare of the world’s greatest sporting event, including some amusingly blocky-looking fans. Soccer enthusiasts may also want to try X2 Soccer 2010 for perhaps a better simulation of the game, and Soccer Superstars for a more arcade-like approach. Neither have the spectacle of the World Cup license, but they are amongst the best soccer games in the app store at this time. Keep an eye out for Pro Evolution Soccer as well, as the legendary series will soon be making its debut on the iPhone.

ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup

ESPN is the official home of the World Cup in the United States, and is offering an iPhone app that can be used to follow all of the latest happenings. Included in the free app is News, Live Scores, Schedules, Video, Stats, History, etc. For a robust $7.99 more, ESPN is promising Live Radio Streams of all the matches, timely in-game video highlights, expert analysis, premium alerts/notifications, and live play-by-play commentary. It remains to be seen if the upgrade is worth a purchase, but it is nice to have all this information included in a handy & attractive app. As an alternative, the Associated Press is offering a World Cup specific app for all of the latest soccer news, and Univision, the official Spanish language provider of the World Cup in the United States, is offering a comprehensive app of their own. It wasn’t that long ago when Univision was the only place to watch much of the best soccer, including the World Cup. Now where can I get a sweet Andres Cantor “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLL!” ring tone?

World Cup Trivia Challenge

Want to show off your stunning, yet normally useless amount of World Cup knowledge? World Cup Trivia Challenge lets you do just that in a surprisingly good game. Choose your side and play through a trivial facsimile of the World Cup including qualification, group stage, and the knock-out stage. Better yet, take on your friend at the bar in a head-to-head match of true fandom. Get 3 multiple choice questions right and you score a goal, but every wrong answer counts towards your opponent's tally. Go back and forth in a timed match to see who scores the most goals, with a tie game going to a true/false penalty shootout. World Cup Trivia Challenge is a modest game, but it has some clever ideas and is just fun. It's a great time-waster between matches, and an excellent way to score some hard-earned bragging rights.

Vuvuzela 2010

The most important app for this World Cup, however, is hands-down Vuvuzela 2010. If you don't know about vuvuzelas before this World Cup, you will very shortly. A vuvuzela is a type of horn used by soccer fans, and it is especially prominent in South Africa. The crowds in South Africa will be blaring these horns during every second of every match. It may very well end up being one of the most distinguishing and memorable characteristics of the tournament. The deep, droning sounds of hundreds of vuvuzelas is reminiscent of a swarm of bees, just louder and more obnoxious. There were calls to ban the horns for the World Cup, but they'll be there and they'll be ever-present. If you don't get to pick one up for yourselves, Vuvuzela 2010 does a great job of replicating the experience. Just pick the color of your horn to match your favorite team, turn up the volume as high as it can go, and shake or tap your phone. The effect is pretty genuine, and quite amusing. You might not be able to be at the World Cup in person, but Vuvuzela 2010 brings you that much closer. I suggest blaring it when people least suspect it, for maximum effect.

So, now that you and your iPhone will be prepared for the 2010 World Cup, who's going to win? European champions Spain may be the prohibitive favorites, but I'll go out on a limb and say England takes out Argentina in the finals. Okay, I put like zero thought into that, but it would be an interesting final (remember the Falklands?). Besides, England has an Italian coach, so that can’t be bad. Who do you think will go all the way? Post a comment if you have an opinion, or if you've found some other useful apps that all World Cup lovers shouldn't be without...

Oh, and Go USA! Forza Italia! Viva Oranje!

Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone for iPad Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Robert Corra on May 24th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: ROUGH START
Sam & Max's debut on the iPad is good but not great, due to some serious performance issues.
Read The Full Review »

Mirror's Edge for iPad In-Depth Review

Posted by Robert Corra on May 17th, 2010
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Developer: Electronic Arts
Price: $12.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
iPad Integration Rating: starstarstarstarstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar


In late 2009, we first reported the surprising announcement that Mirror's Edge would be receiving an imminent release on the iPhone. Although the game did indeed look very far along, it was soon delayed and went underground for the next few months. Mirror's Edge has now resurfaced, and it has surprised us again by actually being an iPad launch title. Luckily, it was worth the wait.

Mirror's Edge first hit the videogame scene in 2008 as a console game that featured revolutionary first-person, free-runnning gameplay. The game featured a HUD-less interface that smartly used color in the generally white-washed environments to help guide you along. While the game garnered much critical success for its fluid, momentum-based gameplay, and for attempting something new, it wasn't necessarily a hit with regards to sales, and the property's future seemed somewhat in doubt.

Since then, a simple flash game was released based off of Mirror's Edge. As a 2D side-scroller, it successfully captured some of the basic thrills of the console original, and hinted that we hadn't seen the last of Mirror's Edge. With the release of the iPad, we now have the latest riff of the game in our hands, and it sits very comfortably between the fully 3D first-person title and the strictly 2D side-scrolling experiment.

Mirror's Edge for the iPad takes place in the same futuristic dystopia where everything is sanitized and all communications are monitored. Our female protagonist, Faith, is a member of a group of underground messengers known as "runners". As such, Faith has to traverse all manners of dangerous rooftops and city locales to evade the authorities and complete her quest.

When you first start Mirror's Edge for the iPad, you are greeted with the same signature look and familiar theme song from the original. The visuals and overall user interface are very slick and extremely polished, and the music is strong throughout. The game itself sports attractive 3D character models and perilous environments on which Faith catapults herself in 2D side-scrolling fashion.

With all of the aesthetic trappings in place, the game needs to control well in order to capture the action of the original. Using a set of very intuitive touch controls, Mirror's Edge for the iPad does just that. A simple swipe to the left or right sets Faith into motion. An up swipe triggers a jump, and a downward swipe causes Faith to slide. As more difficult sections are encountered, you can perform a wall run by using another, well-timed up swipe during a jump, as well as a roll when attempting to land from a long drop by down-swiping appropriately. There are other wall climbs that can be effortless performed, as well as boost jumps, ramp slides, zip-lining, etc., that all help convey the sense of speed and motion that defines the series. When you can string a number of these moves together, building momentum and flying through the environment like a virtuoso bad-ass, the game really comes together and the sense of movement can be exhilarating.

There are times when the general design of a level or the over-abundance of enemies to fight, which was the Achilles heel of the original, brings the fluidity to a halt. Combat in this game is luckily not the main focus, but it has has been improved upon and is fun when not too many enemies are present. The timing required to pull Faith's attacks is very forgiving, especially due to the slow-motion employed when near an enemy, and you can do such things as a flying drop-kick, a slide-takedown, and a gun disarm. Mirror's Edge for the iPad does away with letting you handle a gun, which is definitely an improvement, as you were very much penalized for doing so in the original game. While the combat isn't terribly obtrusive and it never gets old drop-kicking a guy in the face, it still slows you down enough to put a crimp in your free-running fun.

Faith's story, which is unfortunately told through boring scrolls of text reminiscent of Star Wars, takes you through a total of 14 levels, 2 of which are more-or-less tutorials. You'll be traversing a variety of rooftops, buildings, and sewers, and strewn about the levels are a number of hard to find/reach messenger bags. You can replay the levels to collect these bags as well as earn badges, Mirror's Edge's version of achievements, which then unlock wallpapers, etc.

As you complete all the levels of the game, you unlock Speed Run mode for all of them. You can earn 1-3 stars per level depending on your time, and there is a leaderboard where you can post your times, as well as download another player's ghost to race against. As for multi-player, Mirror's Edge for the iPad has two modes called Race and Rivals. Both of these modes use a split-screen, head-to-head setup. Race Mode lets you compete in a sprint to the finish on any of the game's levels, whereas Rivals Mode has you collecting the most number of messenger bags on any of 4 virtual levels. While a diversion at best, these modes can be fun, especially Race Mode with combat enabled.

While Mirror's Edge for the iPad has its faults, primarily a lamely told story, the occasional confusing level, some unnecessary combat, and a short campaign, it definitely succeeds in being a fun and impressive game. As far as launch titles go, it is one of the best of the bunch because of the intuitive control and signature style. The sense of speed and fluidity of motion that are conveyed when the game is hitting on all cylinders makes for some exciting gameplay. I won't go as far to say that the Mirror's Edge series is a better fit in this 2D style, as it can't convey the immersive qualities of the more finicky, first-person experience, but it works incredibly well as a straightforward action game. When boiled down to these basics, Mirror's Edge on the iPad may be a bit on the short side, but it's long on fun.

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Drift Sumi-e Review

By Robert Corra on April 15th, 2010
Line-drawing, ink & wash paintings, and drift racing are melded for a pretty, albeit shallow experience. Drift Sumi-e is too rough around the edges to be considered a true stroke of genius.
Read The Full Review »

Winter Olympics = Time for Curling!

Posted by Robert Corra on February 24th, 2010

Curling is the Ground Hog Day of sports. When the Winter Olympics roll around every 4 years, it’s like curling is discovered for the first time. Queue up the morning talk show hosts, with their witty banter about this quirky “new” sport and their curling 101 segments. It happens time and again. There’s a buzz around the water cooler about curling, with viewers finding it somewhat funny yet oddly compelling. Most people that take the time to watch a match are often hooked for the two weeks or so that make up the Olympics. It’s my assertion that everyone loves curling, but is just too afraid to admit it!

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but when it comes to videogame collections of winter sports, curling is almost always the best game in the package. It almost single-handedly saved Deca Sports on the Wii. Heck, it was even the best event in the Sonic at the Olympics app that was recently pulled from the app store, although that's not really saying much. I've gone as far as importing the Japanese game Minna No Curling for the DS (later ported to Canada as Curling DS) in order to get my fix of virtual curling.

The iPhone has a few curling apps in its arsenal as well, and would seem like an optimal platform for the stone-sliding sport. I found and played a total of 3 dedicated curling games in the app store, so here’s a look at how they stack up….

Apple Doubles Over-the-Air Download Cap

Posted by Robert Corra on February 19th, 2010

Until just recently, app store downloads over EDGE or 3G have been limited to 10MB in size. Shoppers can now proceed to download files up to 20MB before having to use a Wi-Fi connection or iTunes on their computers.

The cap has been in place to presumably temper data usage on AT&T's network, and many developers have sought to keep their applications under the previous 10MB limit in an effort to never discourage a sale.

The quiet increase to a 20MB cap size is now in effect for both app store and iTunes over-the-air purchases, and arrives fairly close to the impending release of the iPad.

Battle Blasters

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Robert Corra on January 30th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SHOOT-OUT EVOLVED
Battle Blasters is the sci-fi evolution of the one-on-one shoot-out, and it's a good deal of fun. It seems simple at first, but has some subtle depth...
Read The Full Review »

Official Sega Emulator 'Ultimate Genesis' Coming Soon

Posted by Robert Corra on January 26th, 2010

Gizmodo recently reported that Sega will be releasing an official Sega Genesis emulator application. The Genesis, or Mega Drive outside of North America, is Sega's legendary 16-bit console. Sega has previously ported individual games to the app store, such as Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, with mixed results. The Genesis Ultimate collection will act as a single entry point with an in-app store, functioning essentially as a virtual console. The app is scheduled to arrive sometime in February, and is planned to be free of charge. Space Harrier 2 will come with the base app as well, and the initial list of purchasable games are as follows:

• Sonic the Hedgehog: $5.99
• Golden Axe: $4.99
• Ecco the Dolphin: $2.99
• Shining Force: $2.99

Apple is notoriously cautious when it comes to emulators, making sure that everything is properly licensed and 100% legal. Just ask Manomio, who had to comply to Apple's understandably strict regulations to release their Commodore 64 emulator, C64. As the console manufacturer and publisher of the titles in question, Sega should have a lot less of the same concerns.

What remains to be seen is how these older titles will hold-up when making the transition to iDevice, with updated virtual controls, etc. The value proposition is also something to consider, as my local Gamestop carries console and handheld versions of Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection for $19.99 new, $10 used. These versions include 40+ and 30+ of the best Genesis titles respectively, making the price of some of the initial titles look steep in comparison. You can't argue with the base price of free though, and the ability to pick and choose what you'd like to buy. I'd be interested in some gems like Ristar or Streets of Rage 2 myself, Altered Beast definitely not!

Unleash Your Inner Sam Jackson, Win Prizes

Posted by Robert Corra on January 26th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

We recently reviewed iSamJackson, and found it to be one of the best soundboard type apps you will find in the app store. Our editor Chris liked it so much that he's foregone all verbal communication, and speaks only through Sam Jackson. To be honest, we hardly notice the difference...

Hot on the heels of the app's success, Heatwave Interactive has announced "The Perfect iSamJackson Line" Contest. Fans of Sam Jackson can submit what they think would be the ultimate thing for him to say. All entries are being collected on the iSamJackson website until February 18, 2010. Although there is no guarantee that the winner's line will be recorded and added to the app, there are some prizes up for grabs for the top submissions, including...

- Grand Prize (1): 8GB Apple iPod touch preloaded with iSamJackson
- Runner-Up (4): Custom limited edition iSamJackson iPhone cover

The iSamJackson app comes with 150+ original soundbytes recorded by Samuel Jackson, and can be had for roughly the price of a Royale with Cheese. You'll find a retort for almost any situation, and there is an in-app store for downloading additional themed packs. iSamJackson is available in both Explicit and Clean versions, although there's really only one choice for the full Sam Jackson experience.