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Hungry Gows Review

By Rob Rich on March 11th, 2013
Cute or not, when there are too many colorful blobs running amok they need to be dealt with.
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Monsters Ate My Condo Review

By Jason Wadsworth on September 23rd, 2011
It's part physics balancing game, part matching game, and part monster movie, but it's all amazing and so much fun to play.
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Burn the City Review

By Jason Wadsworth on July 13th, 2011
The gameplay might see familiar, but the experience is literally on fire.
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Rolando Gets Reprieve - Topple Will Return As Well

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 30th, 2009

Yesterday we reported on a plan by ngmoco:) to remove Rolando from the iTunes App Store once Rolando 2 had been released. Today, I spoke today with Clive Downie, VP of Marketing from ngmoco:) and we've got some good news for Rolando fans.

After reading our article and others relating to the proposed plan to pull Rolando from the iTunes App Store and the response from consumers, ngmoco:) have decided to rescind the plan to remove Rolando. Rolondo will remain on the iTunes App Store and Topple, the original, will be coming back as well.

To understand why this all happened and why the plan was hatched in the first place, it's important to understand the climate that publishers on the iTunes App Store are currently working in.

The App Store is a whole new environment in which to run a software business. Apple has full reigns over what's allowed and how you can operate. That's great for Apple, their app store, and their devices. But it's non-standard in the software world and not so great for publishers. It's particularly difficult considering that Apple does not publish full guidelines on what is and isn't allowed and has even been known to change it's mind without telling anyone.

Then there is the sheer volume of new apps launched every day in the app store. Currently the app store is averaging over 300 new apps in the store every single day. That's more new titles per day than most platforms see in a year. Just a staggering number.

At this point, the app store is less than a year old and has had over 57,000 apps approved. Some of the standard practices of marketing software just don't apply to a volatile and chaotic market such as this. Trying new things, finding what works amid the chaos is the key. That's what ngmoco:) is doing.

For ngmoco:) the question was become how do they best launch a sequel in the iTunes App Store. There's very little history on how to do that. One method they wanted to test was to remove the prequel to see what impact that would have on the launch of Rolando 2. What happens if you launch an episodic title into the app store without the predecessor there. It was learning they thought was worth doing.

That was the plan, until they started hearing from consumers. Consumers didn't like the idea of it. It can be a big concern to a user who has purchased a copy protected digital file when they discover they may not be able to download it again if something happens to their copy. Since all that was really purchased was a bunch of bits, if it's no longer available, it can seem to the consumer like you've lost your purchase.

What the consumers said was the they didn't care about the test, they want their Rolando and Topple to remain safe. That's what ngmoco:) have decided to do.

So due to the consumer feedback, Rolando will stay in the store and we will see Topple return soon as well. Since Apple provides no way for customers of the apps, people who have already paid for the app, to get it any other way than for the app to be live in the store, this is what's required.

I think we can call that a lesson learned. But maybe not the lesson they were looking for.

Mr. Downie made it clear that ngmoco:) will continue to test the market, figure out ways to best navigate the turbulent seas of the app store. In addition, they will continue to innovate, as they remain laser focused on developing the best games for the iPhone OS platform.

As a closing thought, Mr. Downie wanted to remind us all that after the dust has settled over this Rolando issue to remember that Rolando 2 is coming out really soon and it looks fantastic. He's right about that -- we got a chance to see it recently in it's nearly complete form. It's looking very impressive.

When we asked if the release date was still July 1st, his response was "let's hope so."

ngmoco:) Announce Rolando 2 Releases on 7/1, Will Pull Original Rolando From App Store

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 28th, 2009

When the release date of Rolando 2 was announced, ngmoco:) also indicated that Rolando, the original, was going to be pulled from the app store when the sequel goes live. It's an odd move, very smart, and yet wrong at the same time.

I recently asked Neil Young, CEO of ngmoco:), why the original Topple was no longer in the App Store, his comment was "We pulled it, trying something." Short response and at the time I didn't think much of it. I assumed they were planning on trying some new marketing technique with it. Turns out they were testing a fundamental business idea in preparation for the Rolando 2 release. Something new, something that really may change the way we think of games in the app store. Apps aren't forever anymore.

According to our App Store database, Rolando was released originally on December 8, 2008. That effectively puts the lifespan of the original Rolando at 7 months. Is that really all the life Rolando has left in it? I doubt it. One thing is for sure, it's going to be pulled from the app store when Rolando 2 is released.

While Rolando is their product and they have the absolute right to do with it what they choose, pulling it just doesn't feel right. Something about the spirit seems wrong. They aren't doing anything odd with the price to rise up the charts and increase the price to ride the higher exposure as many high profile developers have been doing lately. But they are sacrificing a product and it's customers for increased expose for the next episode. Maybe I'm just being too sentimental, but I want to see the game stick around.

Back to the original test that ngmoco:) did, removing Topple from the app store. I'm not sure that it relates directly, removing Topple, a free app, to see what it does to sales of Topple 2 at $0.99. But there is something obvious to it. By removing Topple, they see if that increases sales of Topple 2, the more recent game.

By removing Rolando when the sequel comes out, they don't lose any sales to the original, cheaper version. When users search for Rolando, they will get just 1 result, and 1 price. That makes sense as a certain percentage people would probably choose the cheaper one, and it removes any confusion of their marketing message for the new game.

What doesn't make sense is why remove one of the best games on the App Store? Rolando may not have been a runaway commercial success, but it is a great game, very well reviewed, and still has some life in it. You know, what about the long tail? What about all those articles that point to Rolando on the app store. They won't point to Rolando 2 automatically -- you'll just get the error on the app store that the app is not available.

This decision is also bad for people who have purchased the original Rolando. The app store is a digital delivery system. The only way to get Rolando is to download it from iTunes either on the desktop or on the device. If you don't have a backup, and you lose it, you'll never get it back if it's no longer in the store. In addition, there have been weekly updates for a while from Rolando, building up to the release of Rolando 2. If you haven't updated in a while, and you wait until July 1, you'll never see those updates.

And what about the people that try Rolando 2 and want more? They know it's a sequel, why can't they get the original. Perhaps the original Rolando levels will be available as in-app purchases in Rolando 2.

It seems as though ngmoco:) is willing to live with a little bit of bad customer experience to try to increase the sales of a new game. Not a great thing, but considering the constraints of the App Store and the very limited ways that developers can operate, it might be the best decision. If nothing else, you have to hand it to them for trying something different and thinking about how to best build a business in the maddening chaos known as the iTunes App Store. It will be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit and do the same. Let's hope not.

I hope we'll see Rolando and Topple back in the store, re-released as classic versions maybe, at some point in the future. For now, I think I'll make sure I have the latest version, do a back-up, and play a little Classic Rolando while I wait for Rolando 2.

Related Apps

Apple Announces iPhone Winners of the Apple Design Awards

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 10th, 2009

On the second night of it's 2009 World Wide Developer Conference, Apple announced the winners of the this years Apple Design Awards. The winners are split amongst the Mac and iPhone applications submitted by their developers for the competition. Winning applications are considered to be the pinnacle of design and user experience and recognize technical excellence, innovation, and outstanding achievement. This year's iPhone application winners along with their award descriptions are:

iPhone Developer Showcase

[img id="icon100x100.png"]MLB.com At Bat 2009 version 1.0.1 from MLB.com (app info)

MLB At Bat 2009 is an innovative, highly connected app that sets a great standard for all other iPhone sports apps to follow.

At Bat 2009 is the fastest, most detailed way to follow baseball on an iPhone or iPod touch. Users can listen live to every regular and postseason game with no blackout restrictions, see real-time scores, play highlights, and stream audio of all games At Bat 2009 uses MediaPlayer for in-game video highlights, AudioToolbox for streaming audio, QuartzCore, CoreGraphics, UIKit, and Core Animation to optimize the user experience, SQLite for data caching and tracking video view history, and SystemConfiguration for reach-ability.

[img id="icon100x100.png"]Postage version 1.0.1 from Rogue Sheep (app info)

Postage sets a new standard for attractiveness and ease of use in an iPhone app.

With Postage you create and send beautiful, personalized digital postcards using the built-in camera and Photo Library. Core Animation provides smooth transitions and eye-catching effects while Quartz provides high quality graphics, effects, and text display. With 3G/Edge/Wi-Fi networking, you have connectivity virtually everywhere. And you can easily select recipients of your Postage postcards with Address Book integration.

[img id="icon100x100.png"]Topple 2 version 1.1 from ngmoco:) (app info)

Topple 2 is an ideal model for excellent iPhone game and game sequel design, technology adoption, performance, connectedness, and localization.

Topple 2 combines the features of multitouch and the accelerometer to create a game about stacking blocks and keeping them from toppling over. Local WiFi multiplayer mode enables game play between two players, and a challenge mode where recorded sessions can be sent to others players via email, twitter or facebook. Localized for English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish, Topple 2 uses multiple iPhone SDK technologies including UIKit, OpenGL ES, Bonjour, CFNetwork, Multi-Touch, Accelerometer, Email, and Twitter and Facebook integration.

Perfect Balance: Harmony

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Bonnie Eisenman on May 15th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: Classic Physics Puzzle
Perfect Balance: Harmony is a polished physics puzzler and a port from the flash hit. The puzzles aren’t overly difficult, but it’s still a good game.
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Topple 2

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Perrin Stewart on March 12th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: RECOMMENDED
Ngmoco:) strikes again from their vault of creativity - Topple 2 is here! Read on to find out if they managed to outdo the insanely popular original, or whether it crashed like a pile of poorly stacked blocks in our hands-on review.
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ngmoco Announce Topple Too and WordFu

Posted by Jeff Scott on January 16th, 2009
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: 99 CENT GEM :: Read Review »

Today, ngmoco announced their next two games, Topple Too, an update to the popular and currently free Topple, and WordFu, the worlds first kung-fu word / dice game.

Topple Too, is believed to be a revision of ngmoco's second game, Topple. We looked at Topple a while ago and found it a great game, we gave it 5 stars. We are trying to get more info from ngmoco on what they have in store for this second edition. Topple is currently free and I highly suggest you grab it if you haven't already. Best free game out there.

The second game announced today, WordFu, is a dice/word game was first shown at MacWorld last week. WordFu looks to be a very fun, and comical multiplayer word game using dice with letters instead of pips. Think MotionX Poker Quest for words with a lot of Bruce Lee thrown in. Though ngmoco says that it does not contain MotionX technology, it's a good example of the dice rolling technology.

The goal is to discover as many words as possible, in the time limit, from the dice rolled on the screen. The multiplayer pits you against another player on the wifi network who is looking at the same dice. The real fun part of this game though are the strange and wonderful kung-fu sounds that the game generates when you find words.

These two games are expected to arrive in the App Store within a month.

ngmoco Announces Rolando Release Date - Celebrates With Massive Game Sale

Posted by Jeff Scott on December 15th, 2008

ngmoco has confirmed that Rolando will be released this Thursday of this week, on December 18th. To celebrate the week of the release of Rolando they have put all of their previously released games on sale. They have reduced the prices by $1 across the board.

Hit the jump for details and links.


iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jeff Scott on October 20th, 2008
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: 99 CENT GEM
Topple could be the best game released yet for the iPhone
Read The Full Review »

ngmoco Releases First Two Fantastic Games

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 18th, 2008

The first two heavily anticipated releases from ngmoco have popped up in the App Store:

Finger Maze (FREE) - iTunes Link

Topple ($0.99) - iTunes Link

And after a quick look at both we can see they are both winners. ngmoco, you may have heard, is an indie developer founded by Neil Young previously with EA. They have also recently taken over the distribution rights for Rolando, a game that also looks very promising.

In the short history of the iPhone, there have been few companies that have produced as much anticipation for their applications as ngmoco. Now that they have delivered their first two games, we'll see if they can live up to that anticipation. We'll have full reviews for you this weekend..