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FREEday 5/11/12 - "Gonna Get Me Some FREE Time, FREE Time"

Posted by Rob Rich on May 12th, 2012

Oh yeah, we’re all over the place this week. But I consider that a good thing. It means more of a variety, in addition to all the money people won’t be spending. It’s a win/win as far as I’m concerned.

Directional - We all know about block-clearing puzzles. Match 3, tapping on groups and so on. This one’s a bit different in that players have to swipe the screen in a given direction to clear blocks with arrows (up, down, left, right) on them. It’s an interesting take on the genre, and with two modes (classic and expert) it’s bound to be something of a time-occupier.

Dora - It might be simple, but how could I not want to try a game about a malfunctioning engine of destruction that’s fallen in love with an inanimate household object and just wants to be left alone? I know, right?

Balloon Getaway - Here we have an iOS rail-shooter (think Panzer Dragoon) set in a world full of dirigibles. It’s a genre that I feel is sorely lacking on the App Store, so it’s nice to see a new one from time to time. And if the three available levels don’t feel like enough, there are always more to be had through in-app purchases.

Punch Hero - I can’t help but think of this as a more interactive version of Fighter City. Gamevil has really been pushing the hand-to-hand combat lately, huh? Still, a free game involving customizable (visually and statistically) boxers and plenty of other expected social freemium stuff is certainly worth a look.

Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering - Okay, first off it’s important to note that this game will only work on the iPhone 4 and higher, as well as the iPad 2. That being said, it’s a good-looking action RPG. Five different mercenaries to choose from, lots of magic spells, plenty of equipment, and so on. It’s just a shame that slightly older devices aren’t supported.

Matching Set - Clear out tiles by connecting matching pairs, all under an Egyptian theme. That by itself sounds fine, but each game is restricted by a time limit. A time limit that can be increased by quickly clearing out more tiles. If that doesn’t scream “Massive Time-Eater,” I don’t know what does.

Animator Free - Maybe this kind of thing has faded into obscurity since my generation (god saying stuff like that makes me feel old), but do kids still play around with making flip-books anymore? Remember those? Drawing little cartoons one page at a time, in sequence, then flipping through the pages quickly and getting no small amount of joy from watching the rudimentary animation? Anyone? It better not just be me who thinks being able to do stuff like this on my iPhone is cool.

FREEday 4/20/12 - "I Will Choose a Path That's Clear, I Will Choose FREEwill"

Posted by Rob Rich on April 20th, 2012

Believe it or not, I actually really enjoy making these lists every week. It’s like a weird little iOS scavenger hunt. I feel like I’m finding little hidden treasures (and some not-so-hidden) to share with everyone. Makes me feel all special. So yeah, more free games this week. Several of them are pretty cool, too.

Bloody Western - In a world full of custom character-heavy freemium PvP iOS games (and lots of abbreviations), it’s important to have a theme that stands out. I’d say a graphically violent Old West stands out. Bonus points for getting to choose between being a law man or outlaw. Also dusters.

ILLUSIA 2 - I’m not entirely sure why Gamevil always releases cool games for free, but I’m not going to complain. And if they want to make the more refined (and gorgeous) sequel to one of the App Store’s premier RPG-platformers available at no cost, they’re more than welcome to. In fact, I think we should encourage this behavior by downloading it.

Kingdom Age - Build and run a kingdom. Fight rival players. Plenty of quests to complete and areas to explore. All of that’s pretty cool, but what I’m really interested in is the whole fantasy theme. What with all the monsters to fight and 100+ (!) units to command. Could be worth a look-see, I think.

A Bird’s Journey - Okay so I’ll admit it, I’m totally noting this one because of the visuals. I’m a sucker for interesting art styles, everyone should know this by now. Shut up! At least it looks cool. And it’s free.

Downhill Xtreme - Know what this reminds me of? The classic PlayStation title 2 Xtreme. There’s just something incredibly pleasing about beating the crap out of people while racing down steep inclines. Being able to do so while on the go just makes it more awesome.

Avon’s Flight - Yes, it’s another top-down SHMUP. Yes, I know there are a number of these on the App Store already, and a good many of them are free. But how many of them have space-bullets that are affected by gravity? Never mind that it’s technically a ridiculous concept because there really isn’t any gravity in space to begin with, it mixes things up and makes what could’ve been more of the same into something much more unique.

FREEday 3/30/12 - "FREE Your Mind and Feel the Passion, Baby"

Posted by Rob Rich on March 30th, 2012

I'm so proud of myself. This week I managed to compile a sizable list of freebies without resorting to freemium city builders or anything with zombies in it. Well okay, the jury's still out on Monster Factory ENG (there might be zombies in there) but the rest are assuredly zombie free. I think. Yeah. No. Yeah. Definitely maybe.

Dark Meadow: The Pact - I still have fond memories of the original game, but when they toss extra content into the mix I can't help but get excited about the new stuff. The fact that the game is also available in a free-to-play model now sweetens the deal for everybody. It's a bit hefty in size, but it's definitely worth checking out.

Cordy Sky - The original Cordy was a whimsical (and quite well-made) platformer. This little spin-off is more akin to a vertical jumper, but that's no reason to expect any form of diminished quality. Seriously, it's looking great and it's free. Why the heck not?

Tree World - This one's pretty good from what I hear. It might not have much in the way of adult-oriented staying power, but Tiny Tower + Pokemon? Yes. Absolutely yes.

GangHound - Okay, this one's definitely not friendly for all-ages but it offers plenty of action. Upgrades, missions, daily rewards and rivalries, too. It seems tailor-made for those who are getting a little tired of all the G-rated iOS offerings out there and just want to shoot stuff in a gloriously bloody fashion.

Armado HD - Roll a young armadillo around a number of varying environments as he attempts to play the hero. Armado HD also sports some nice visuals and the choice between accelerometer and touch controls. It's everything the original is (literally), but dressed up to make better use of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. In other words, it's prettier. Also free.

Monster Factory ENG - It's hard to get specifics from the poorly translated description, but Monster Factory ENG is a defense-centric game with some fairly interesting looking visuals. And since it's free, no one really loses out on much if they take the time to check it out. "... like a chief" indeed.

FREEday 3/16/12 - "FREE as a Bird, it's the Next Best Thing to Be"

Posted by Rob Rich on March 17th, 2012

My apologies for the semi-zombie theme for this week. I swear it wasn't intentional. But since it's all said and done anyway, what's the harm in taking a look? Of course, even if it's too difficult to accept the inclusion of the Living Dead there are three more games of a decidedly classic variety to mess around with. Best part is, when they're free we don't lose anything in the looking aside from a little time.

Zombie Jombie - What's this? A collectible (and trade-able) card game with zombies as the good guys? And players can fuse and train their zombies to make more powerful zombies as they attempt to take down the evil humans? Heck yeah!

Samurai vs Zombies Defense - Okay so zombie-themed action defense games are a reasonably common thing these days, but not many of them look this good. Or feature feudal Japan as a setting. But the most alluring aspect by far has to be the ability to play Pachinko to earn rare items. I mean come on, it's Pachinko!

Greedy Bankers: Bailout! - Taking the Arcade Mode of Greedy Bankers and making it into a stand-alone freebie could be seen as some form cop-out, but I'd consider that an unfair label. If anything I'd call it a clever attempt at hooking frugal iOS gamers once they get a toe in the door, then presumably yanking them inside for drinks and possibly a vacation slideshow. Seriously though, puzzle games are virtually synonymous with mobile devices and being able to nab a good one for free is always cool.

Action Mahjong - I'll admit I'm not all that big on Mahjong, but throw in some unnecessarily cute chibi/anime cartoon characters and dress it up with some cheesy special effects and I'll certainly give it a shot. What can I say? I like the idea of taking somewhat mundane analog games and accentuating them with ridiculous things. If nothing else it tends to make the proceedings more interesting.

Gold Rush Classic - It's a familiar puzzle concept that's been replicated throughout the years, but that's because it's pretty much always fun. Players must sort through a bunch of different pieces of train tracks and set up a path from start to finish. If the tracks aren't lined up right (i.e. there are dead ends) in a timely manner, the train crashes. Simple, but a proven formula. With trains, no less.

FREEday 2/24/12 - "I'm Running FREE, Get Out of My Way"

Posted by Rob Rich on February 24th, 2012

Maybe it's because the month is winding down or perhaps it's just a coincidence, but I found a good deal more interesting-looking freebies this week than usual. Not that I'm complaining. Anyway, here's this week's helping of games that don't require cash to enjoy.

Dark Summoner - Online dark fantasy social games. Typically good stuff. At the very least it tends to be quite popular. So it stands to reason that a free online dark fantasy social game with three different factions to choose between, over 350 kinds of monsters to collect and use, gorgeous artwork, planned monthly events, and free updates (naturally) miiiiiight be worth looking into.

Quantum Legacy - Being able to jump right into an action-heavy 3D space shooter is cool. It looks pretty nifty, claims to have "simple and innovative controls," is free, and overall seems like a decent way to kill time with no cost. But Quantum Legacy really caught my attention because the hero's ship is called the "Omnithias." I mean come on, that's hilarious.

Small Street - Everyone loves to build their own cities; the evidence of which is plastered all over the App Store. With such a saturated market, it's nice to see a game that takes things down to a more intimate level. Say by putting players in charge of a few dozen buildings instead of hundreds. Customizable citizens are a nice touch, too.

Cutout Fighter - I'm usually not big on fighting games, but the ones I do enjoy tend to have some kind of visual gimmick associated with them. Clayfighter had claymation, Killer Instinct used cutting-edge (at the time) CGI, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had Jill Valentine (*swoon*), and now Cutout Fighter taunts me with its paper-focused presentation. I'd say I'm bothered by the temptation, but the game is free so I really don't care about giving in.

Save the Cubes - Cubeland is in peril after a mishap at the local chemical plant, so players will have to Save the Cubes. Save cubes from "infected" cubes. Yes, it's a physics-based zombie game. With nothing but cubes. Color me intrigued.

HUNT THE MONSTERS - A princess is nuts for monsters. The king wants to make the princess happy. The subjects... well, they're just along for the ride. Catching monsters earns gold, gold buys better weapons which can help nab more monsters, and the whole thing feeds on itself until the monster book is full.

FREEday 2/17/12 - "FREE Feels a Lot Better than I Thought it Would"

Posted by Rob Rich on February 17th, 2012

It's that time of the week again. Time to get ready to enjoy the weekend, collect a paycheck, and kickback with some iOS games that don't cost a dime. I mean, We've all got bills to pay, right? So why not keep them as low as possible with a healthy amount of App Store frugality?

Fairway Solitaire - Big Fish Games - Golf, gophers, and... playing cards? I guess so. Big Fish Games' take on the classic single-player affair has certainly seen its fair share of buzz (no pun in intended). Which isn't too much of a surprise seeing as it's all super-colorful and addictive. The only thing needed to make it "perfect" is an extremely cheap price tag. Oh wait, it has one of those, too.

Clockwork Brain - Insanely Fun - Mini-game challenges are always popular, and people apparently love to "train" their brains. I blame Nintendo for that one. But thanks to them we have games like Clockwork Brain to pass the time and flex the neurons. Plus it's got a robot in it. Robots are cool.

Trigger Knight - Weird/experimental games always intrigue me. Especially when they involve RPG elements and classic JRPG-inspired visual designs. That, and the concept of a "survival RPG" that utilizes split-second decision making and a single-tap interface just sounds neat. And hey, it's free so there's absolutely no harm in checking it out.

Dancescape - Hmmm... A puzzle game where the puzzles are dance moves. And players have to guide a character through the ruins (and traps) of an ancient civilization. With dancing. Why it's just insane enough to work!

Stromfeld - In a world full of shmups, what's the harm in adding one more to the library? Silly of me to ask, I know, because there isn't any harm in doing so. Especially when it's free. Also it looks kinda cool and features "endless gameplay." Not a bad deal.

Let's Bowl 2 - Set 'em up and knock 'em down using a number of unique balls, each with their own unique performance, through all manner of wacky and colorful alleys. Throw in upgrades that can be purchased with "bowling bucks" and it's a pretty cool freebie we have here. Just don't judge it by the catch-phrase. It's kinda... yeah...

FREEday 2/10/2012 - "None of us are FREE if One of us is Chained"

Posted by Rob Rich on February 10th, 2012

Shooting and strategy seem to be the two key themes in this weeks FREEday. I honestly didn't plan it that way, it just sort of happened. Although I suppose it's not that bad. They are two incredibly popular kinds of games for iOS devices these days. Then again, just about anything that lends itself to quick bursts of playtime do quite well for themselves, too. No matter the intention, here's a list of free games. Enjoy.

Farmkill - Zombie survival games. Yessir. But before writing off Farmkill as just another shambler slaughter consider this: players can raise volatile (literally) animals to fight off the horde. In addition to the expected defenses and numerous firearms. I have to admit, it's an interesting idea. Although now I keep thinking about chicken nuggets for some reason...

Battlefield 3: Aftershock - iOS users seem to enjoy multiplayer first-person shooters, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that EA decided to bring what is arguably their biggest FPS of 2011 to Apple devices. What does come as a surprise is that it's a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter. Allow me to repeat that: it's a free multiplayer first-person shooter derived from one of EA's largest 2011 releases. Let the downloading commence.

Robot Troopers - Robot Troopers takes the idea of task-management and robots it up a notch. Or two. Players will be taking control of an assembly line, cranking out an army of autonomous forces while simultaneously training the new recruits. A robot foreman's work is never done.

Suitor Shooter - Protect the princess from the unworthy while getting the prince(s) to the castle. In essence, players are bombarding a horde of "evil," flower-toting fiends with delusions of dating from a dirigible. While not bombarding the good guys, of course. It's an unorthodox approach to dating to be sure, but it sure makes for an interesting game.

FREEday 1/27/12 - "FREE is the Way, I Got to Be"

Posted by Rob Rich on January 27th, 2012

With all the freebies that have been flying around each week, it's a wonder we haven't run out. Then again, how many hundreds of apps and games are released each week? Yeah, I suppose when I think about it that way it's no wonder we're still going strong. Strong with savings!

... I'm sorry. Just ignore me and take a look at this week's list. I'll be sitting over here. In the corner.

Baseball Superstars 2012 - People love baseball. At least, that's what I've heard. So yeah, here's a baseball game. But what about the rest of us who aren't nuts for "America's Favorite Pastime?" Well we have this, too. Because it's absolutely insane, anime-style baseball. Like with unnatural pitching abilities and totally wacky players. That, and the last one was pretty cool, too.

Derby Days - Now I know there are a lot of free-to-play "build X" games around these days, but none to my knowledge combine the concept with horse care. It's usually either or as far as I know. So why not get excited about being able to build and run a horse ranch, while also caring for and breeding horses? If it were possible to trade the diminutive equines with friends than I'd say this is a sure-fire thing. Wait a second, we can do that already? Well then I guess there's no point in holding off on downloading it.

Zombie Battle - Zombies staggering in from the right side of the screen across several "lanes." Seems a tad familiar. This isn't a strategy game, however. It's more of an action defense thing. Sure, zombies have been done to death (har-har) these days but that's no reason to discount this upgradable blast-em-up. Besides, vaporizing the living dead is almost always tons of fun.

2XL MX Offroad - Some people out there might argue about the superiority of dirt bikes versus ATVs. People like that can now have tons of fun with various what-if scenarios thanks to 2XL MX Offroad. People unlike that who don't care much either way can also have plenty of fun with 2XL MX Offroad because it's a crazy motocross-style racer with lots of stuff to do and stunts to (hopefully) perform.

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 12th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store

Alchemize App Store Pricing Protest

This weekend, in a protest against supposedly 3400 emails complaining about the $2.99 price of their app Alchemize, Schiau Studios raised the price to $39.99 for the weekend. Yes, it's a hilarious protest against whiners who complain about spending a few bucks, but Schiau is not entirely in the right. Alchemize was originally priced at $9.99 and then quickly lowered until it was only $.99 for a short time. I can't blame people for waiting for another sale. If Schiau truly wanted to protest App Store pricing, they would have come up with a fair price, stuck to it, and never changed it amid protests. By acknowledging the whiners, Schiau has granted them some legitimacy.

PSP Minis

Sometimes it's good to take a look at our beloved App Store's rival, the PSP Mini store. The store has launched and two of its biggest name games have already made an appearance on the iPhone (and for cheaper): Hero of Sparta and Fieldrunners. In addition, Chillingo and Mountain Sheep's Minigore is on the way. What do all of these games have in common? In my estimation, they're three of the most overrated games on the App Store. Hero of Sparta had good visuals for its time, but the dull one-button hack and slash affair has so many pre-rendered cinematic animations it's like watching a movie. Fieldrunners has a great art style and was admittedly one of the first open-path TD's on the App Store, but there's only a few enemy types and tower types, and it lacks the depth of the genre luminaries such as Sentinel 2 and Defender Chronicles. Minigore has nice aesthetics as well, but it's an average two-stick survival shooter with little depth, easily outclassed by games such as Alive 4 Ever. Sony, wake me up when you manage to get some good games.

Nimblebit's Freebie Friday

This Friday, Nimblebit lowered all their apps to free in celebration of their newly launched site App Classics! Even if you missed the deal, the apps are still worth buying; Nimblebit is the best in the business at creating fun, short, and addictive games such as Scoops and Textropolis. This move was interesting from a marketing standpoint, and certainly created buzz. In fact, Ian Marsh reported via Twitter that Saturday's sales were double normal and more than made up for Friday's losses.

This week's upcoming app that looks frickin' awesome!

This is the inaugural issue of this feature where I'll be showing off some upcoming games that look awesome (though I've been doing it unofficially for quite some time). This week, we have Jet Car Stunts, an awesome-looking racing game in the vein of Track Mania. The game is due to be submitted within the next week. Enjoy!

This week's sign of the apocalypse

A few weeks ago, Chris used this space to talk about how happy he was that Glu's awful Family Guy cash-in was doing poorly in the App Store. Well, times have changed, and apparently Stewie is enough to make a poor game reach #9 on Top Grossing Apps.

App of the Week


Soosiz is without question the best platformer yet on the App Store. The game uses gravity-centered gameplay, like that of Gomi, but much more fast-paced, to turn a good platform adventure into something extraordinary. The level design is excellent, and the difficulty curve is just right. Controls are great as well. There's only a left arrow, a right arrow, and a jump button, but they are all perfectly responsive and work brilliantly in unison, making you almost forget you're playing on a touch screen.. The graphics are cartoony and playful, and the only big flaw of the game is the sometimes overly-childish music. Other than that though, Soosiz is a magnificent achievement is App Store platforming, and it's one of the most fun games I've played in a while, coming highly recommended.