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Somyeol Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on December 7th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: FUN-YEOL
Somyeol is a challenging yet enjoyable indie puzzle platformer.
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Indie Puzzle Platformer Somyeol Coming To iOS This December

Posted by Jennifer Allen on November 9th, 2011

Everyone knows that the best work is done when there's a tight deadline looming. OK, this isn't the greatest of things to say or the best way to lead a life, but I know I find I work so much harder nearer to deadline day. Kids: you shouldn't do this, it's bad. Honest.

Regardless of any of this, there's an entire game design ethos behind working intensely for short periods of time, namely the Global Game Jam. It's an event that happens all around the world in which people come together to make a video game from start to finish within 48 hours. Sometimes, some fantastic gems come out of this Jam.

This time round, it's the turn of Somyeol, a game coming to iOS this December. Previously made for the PC during a Global Game Jam in Germany, Somyeol is a 2D platformer in which players must get the Somyeol people to their goal in as short a time as possible. Sounds easy, right? The twist is that there are numerous Somyeols to control at any one time and they each have their own abilities.

Check out the preview trailer below. It's certainly looking interesting already.

SpaceChem Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on October 13th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CEREBRAL
There's nothing else like SpaceChem. It's a cerebral pleasure but one that may intimidate some.
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Band of the Day Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jason Wadsworth on September 21st, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: VARIED DISCOVERIES
Discover and explore a new band through tons of content every day.
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Phone Story Censored, Apple Needs New Definition of Objectionable Content

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on September 16th, 2011

Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander hit it out of the park this past week in her interview with developer Paolo Pedercini of Molleindustria about their game Phone Story. The game was submitted to the App Store, then pulled by Apple, citing app store violations. These include restrictions in the developer agreement against depictions of child abuse and "objectionable or crude" content. The other two app store violations include prohibitions against paid apps donating to charity. The app continues to be available for Android smartphones.

The game is essentially a documentary-like commentary on the smartphone hardware industry, an industry that the iPhone created and plays a major role in. The developer is, essentially, bringing awareness of the life cycle of the smartphone that we are using to play the game on to users who may or may not know the facts of the matter. Like any good documentarian, the developers elucidate the facts, put them into an art form, and release it to the public. Their website includes more facts, as in this page about Coltan, an essential mineral for electronic devices, and the focus of one of the minigames in the app.

This kind of awareness raising can only be a good thing. While I am not an expert on Apple's approval process, I can see how one of the mini-games can be construed as "depicting child abuse," as guards with guns are placed with a tap on the screen to keep the young looking workers digging up coltan. However, I think Apple needs to start looking deeper at the process of approvals on games that are clearly artistic or documentary-like in nature. I'm sure it's a tough call sometimes, but perhaps there could be a secondary process? I'm sure even the most concrete approval clerk could look at a description like the one on the Phone Story website and see that this is the case:

"Phone Story is an educational game about the dark side of your favorite smart phone. Follow your phone's journey around the world and fight the market forces in a spiral of planned obsolescence."

If Apple continues to want to be the arbiter of what gets published, and wants to be the front runner, they need to come up with some way to allow these types of games to get through. Would they pull a magazine app that reproduced the sort of information that is conveyed through gameplay? Let's hope not. It's my sincere hope that Apple works its way around this issue, both for Phone Story and for future indie games that have a clear humanitarian focus. Protecting users from hurtful content is one thing, censoring the fact that these things do exist, in the very market, is another, and as such, suspect.

NyxQuest Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on August 12th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: EXCELS ITSELF
Occasionally inaccurate controls don't stop NyxQuest being an excellent indie platformer.
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Swords & Soldiers Trailer Released

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 23rd, 2011

A new video for Swords & Soldiers, a much anticipated title from Chllingo, has just been released.

Developed by Ronimo Games, Swords & Soldiers has previously been a great indie hit on the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 3 and both Windows and Mac platforms. It's now set to be released on the App Store this Summer. The game involves three factions - Aztecs, Vikings and the Imperial Chinese - fighting it out in order to gain the powers of the gods. It's a quirky yet cutesy tale promising a compelling single player campaign with the ability to unlock bonus games also.

The iPad version is also set to offer a local multiplayer mode to accompany the three campaign modes and Skirmish mode that the iPhone version will already provide.

A release date hasn't been announced yet but we'll be sure to keep on top of this news as and when we find out.

For now, check out the video below to get a taste of what's to come.

Today I Die Again Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on January 21st, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: FASCINATING
Today I Die Again is like nothing you'll have seen before on iTunes. It's a fascinating arty experience.
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The Great App Bake Off Returns!

Posted by Arron Hirst on December 15th, 2009
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED :: Read Review »

They did it last year, and now it's back. The Great App Bake Off 2009. Developers, put down your keyboards, xcode testing tools and virtual paintbrushes, and instead pick up those baking trays and oven mittens, because today my friends, you're about to cook for your pride, your glory and .. cool stuff! Yes, the Great App Bake Off is back. A time of the year for App Store developers to stop, think and ask themselves that all important question: "Can I actually bake a cake?"

But it's not just for developers! Oh no, you can enter too, and there are prizes involved - lots of them. Hosted by Gavin Bowman of Retro Dreamer, also the developer behind the App Store hit Sneezies, The Great App Bake Off is a (so far) annual event which sees anyone from anywhere baking for the fun of it! Here's how it works. You pick an App Store application of your choice, and then you bake a cake which resembles that application. Whether it be in the shape of the app's main character, or a mouth-watering version of the app's current App Store icon - You simply have to bake it and take a few shots of it.

It’s simple: pick an App, bake it, send us the pictures, win prizes.

Checkout these awesome first entries into the contest below. The first depicts the cool App Store icon of the app Story Tracker, and the other sees one of the main character's of Elf Command, come to sponge! .. I mean life!

Once you've done that, there are two ways you can send Gavin and the team your cake entries. You can either e-mail them to appcakes at retrodreamer.com, or you can tweet them as an @reply. You'll find App Cakes on Twitter @AppCakes.

But your awesome bakery efforts will not go unnoticed. Far from it! Apart from the delicious reward of eating your (hopefully) scrumptious creation afterward, you'll be entering to win yourself a tonne of cool App Store goodies, including all of this:

- A £50 iTunes Gift certificate provided by Chillingo
- A $50 iTunes Gift certificate, provided by Antair
- A $15 iTunes Gift certificate and promo codes for Sneezies and Eyegore’s Eye Blast provided by Retro Dreamer
- 2 promo codes for Story Tracker provided by Andrew Nicolle
- Promo codes for Rocket Santa and Star Fusion provided by Bytesize Adventures
- 5 promo codes for Serving Sizer, provided by Creative Algorithms

.. With more on the way!

I'm told by Gavin that he expects this prize pool to grow over the next few weeks, as more and more developers take to their kitchens and get involved, and the contest gets more coverage. Of course, all prizes will be distributed over the best entries when judged in January. The closing date for new entries into The Great App Bake Off 2009 is January 4th .. so get baking!

360|iDev Roundup

Posted by Jeff Scott on March 5th, 2009

The 360|iDev conference has just wrapped up, and it's been a great one. The three day conference which had ticket prices as low as $200 (a steal!), was attended by roughly 150 developers. Talks were divided roughly into 4 different tracks including business, game development, non-game development, and hands-on. Everyone attending the conference we talked to were very impressed with both the organization of the conference and the quality of the speakers.

360|iDev has a sense of community much more so than most developer conferences. The community feel puts everyone at ease and allows greater participation than a larger conference like WWDC. 360|iDev is put on by a duo of part-time conference organizers, they've done a fantastic job, we're already looking forward to the next one.

"Some of the best and brightest iPhone and Apple development community in one conference. It's fantastic. I'm looking forward to the next one." said Keith Shepherd from Imangi Studios, developer of Imangi and Little Red Sled.

The organizers are looking to have another 360iDev conference in about 6 months, this time on the other side of the Mississippi river. I'd suggest following them on Twitter to keep informed of the next one.