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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

GaiaOnline: a place to hangout and play Flash games

Posted by Appgamr on July 30, 2009

Create a GaiaOnline avatar today!

Create a GaiaOnline avatar today!

GaiaOnline is an online world based on anime (Japanese cartoons) and arcades of free Flash games.  If you like YoVille, you’ll love GaiaOnline.  The community is on the young side: older than Club Penguin and Neopets, younger than SecondLife, cheaper and more feminine than core game MMOGs., Sony’s new MMOG, is probably the most similar.

Habbo Hotel and GaiaOnline tend to have the same users.

If you love anime and are between 10 and 15, interested in drawing and cartoons, this might be a community for you.


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Review: Booyah Society, the iPhone/iPod Touch “Life Game”

Posted by Appgamr on July 28, 2009

Earn points for routine tasks.

Earn points for routine tasks.

I wanted to be the first to review Booyah, the iPhone/iPod Touch apps that give you points for the game of life.  You get points for Facebooking and Twittering; completing a five mile run; calling your mom; getting on an airplane, etc.

Booyah creators call it “the first social game based on your real-life achievements.”  It comes with built-in Facebook and Twitter communications, your own customizable 3-D avatar to represent you, interactive calendars, point systems for the various things on your calendar.

Booyah creators have impeccable game credentials: World of Warcraft and Diablo II design bragging rights.  For casual gamers, this means the Booyah folks are beloved for addictive, if warlock- and dungeon-filled, action games.

Pet Society is about getting points for activities with cute imaginary animal avatars: cuddling, feeding, grooming, visiting activities.  In some ways, Booyah is an online game influenced by reality TV.  It assumes people will be interested in people doing everyday things, but some people get more points than other people because of how they play the life game.

I tried testing Booyah just now, but the links to iTunes on were broken for the iPod Touch.  Booyah currently supports iPhone.  Will check back again.

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Review: Battlefield Heroes (Free, Paid Upgrades), EA

Posted by Appgamr on July 16, 2009

Get and customize your own square-jawed Royal British Hero!

Get and customize your own square-jawed Royal British Hero!

Battlefield Heroes: I like it.  If you have ever watched the History Channel or Saving Private Ryan, marveled at the Band of Brothers and what The Greatest Generation fought through, you should play Battlefield Heroes, EA’s first big free massively multiplayer online game, set in a fun, animated Normandy countryside.

Compared with Sony’s Free Realms, the wildly successful free game that is best described as a cartoonish, girlish World of Warcraft, Battlefield Heroes is a manly, artistically marvelous interactive World War II European fighting fantasy appropriate for all ages.

It took *one hour* for me to sign up, download browser plug-ins, and tolerate a few minor login issues.  However, once I logged in, I was completely immersed and drawn into this vivid, cartoonish world with a sophisticated, British sense of humor and graphics.  Battlefield Heroes is NOT a World of Warcraft copycat.  It is the first mainstream immersive game that does not depend on anime, monsters, and recycled ideas.

It’s an elegant and entertaining interactive world of Royal British and Nazi flavored fighters and villians, with military hardware and transport including guns, jeeps, tanks, airplanes.  Minor quibble: the keyboard controls are not intuitive for novices.  If Battlefield Heroes can make keyboard controls more obvious to use, for steering jeeps and tanks, for fighting, for healing wounds, the game will be even more fun.

Ease of Install: D

Keyboard Controls: C

Fun and Potential: A

Cost (Free): A

Entertainment Value: A-

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Review: Mafia Wars (Free), Zynga, Facebook

Posted by Appgamr on July 13, 2009

Cue Sopranos music.

Cue Sopranos music.

What is the most popular game on Facebook?  In my social network, it is Mafia Wars, the free Facebook game published by Zynga, also known for its Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Game.  Anecdotally, the most popular Facebook games are Pet Society (Playfish), Restaurant City (Playfish), Mafia Wars (Zynga), Texas Hold ‘Em (Zynga), each with distinct audiences.

Zynga games appeal to transactions-oriented folks and Playfish games appeal to easy-going hanging out and sharing folks.

My b-school friend Mark is addicted to Mafia Wars.  He just won a Mafia Wars award “Dependability” for playing every day for seven days.  Mark is a senior manager at a large organization; I think he’s acting out turn by turn mob hits and grand larceny for one hour every night.  If he were paid actual $$$ for 7 hours per week, 4 weeks per month, 12 months per year, it starts becoming big bucks quickly.

Mafia Wars is a choose-your-own Sopranos adventure that lets you go at your own pace.  In my opinion, it is an interactive graphic novel or book.  Its unique appeal is that it can involve your Facebook friends and family members in the storytelling.  You’re sharing your entertainment and making it open to your friends at their option.

Zynga offers a Facebook game called Fashion Wars, which is similar in concept except set in the cutthroat Project Runway style fashionista world.

In comparison, Playfish’s Pet Society and Restaurant City are about hanging out in cute, colorful interactive worlds and giving your friends cuddly animal hugs and delicious pizzas.

Readers, which Facebook games do you prefer, those of Playfish or Zynga?


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Review: Grey’s Anatomy the Video Game (Wii, PC, DS), Ubisoft

Posted by Appgamr on July 13, 2009

Seattle Grace's finest listening to the Chief.

Seattle Grace's finest listening to the Chief.

Grey’s Anatomy the Video Game is a dream come true for anyone who has uttered the words “McDreamy” and “McSteamy.”  Re-live the first four seasons of Grey’s Anatomy as one of the Seattle Grace surgeon interns, counseling love-lorn Meredith, ogling Sloane and dissing Calli for shacking up with George.

Available on the Wii, PC, and Nintendo DS.

Give us your thoughts on this video game based on the popular TV show by clicking on the red LEAVE A COMMENT link below.

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Review: Castle of Magic (Free, $4.99), Gameloft, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on July 9, 2009

Duh, duh, duh, DUH!!!

Duh, duh, duh, DUH!!!

Anime on your iPhone/iPod Touch?  It doesn’t get easier than Castle of Magic, a Super Mario Brothers style obstacle course game.  You are a cute, blonde elf with a cape that lets you parachute up and down the forest and medieval castle challenges, over which you run, skip and acquire gems and coins.  You look like you stepped out of a Japanese anime movie.  You are occasionally accosted by trolls but you can skip or fly over them.  Many different levels, puzzles, and challenges.  Cute beeps and boops sounds.

Try it for FREE at the iPhone/iPod App Store.

To be honest, I like it but don’t love it.  The blue and gold colors don’t naturally appeal to me.  Further, I don’t love anime, the Japanese cartoon style found everywhere from Gaia Online to Saturday morning cartoons.  You know it’s anime by looking at the large, doe-like eyes and brassy colors.

Rolando and Rolando 2 feel more modern, with their rich colors, proto-3-D stylings, and motion detection (or acceleromator) features.  Moreover, Castle of Magic, though slick and satisfying on the iPhone/iPod Touch, doesn’t use motion-detection and finger flicking in original, fun ways.

However, casual gamers who enjoy classic graphics and themes will probably love Castle of Magic.  Gaia Online fans, folks who love Japanese anime or cartoons, might also love Castle of Magic.  It’s a well-executed, easy game with lots of levels.  Thumbs up.

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Review: Crazy Planets (Free), Playfish, Facebook

Posted by Appgamr on July 2, 2009

Love Pet Society?  Addicted to Restaurant City?  Crazy Planets is your new habit, brought to you by the Facebook game master Playfish.

Find Crazy Planets in the Facebook Applications area, in the lower left of your Facebook profile.  Type in “Crazy Planets” in the search box.  Or, find it at  Be the first in your social network to rope everyone into this fun, light, space exploration action game.

Crazy Planets must have soft-launched recently because I haven’t read or heard about it.  Unlike Pet Society and Restaurant City, you aren’t nurturing a cute little pet or feeding your friends with food creations.  Instead, you are a cute space fighter who must visit strange planets and kill robots by blowing them up with cute bazookas and grenades.

It sounds violent but it isn’t.  It’s about as violent as Star Wars, Star Trek, or the arcade classic Space Invaders.  Blowing up cute robots without muss or fuss probably isn’t what most moms want their five year olds to be doing.  However, I’m a nonviolent wuss, and I thought Crazy Planets was OK and as sanitized as a blow ’em up game can get.  It’s a nice stress reliever and a way for gals, moms, vegetarians, peaceniks, and the alien-loathing public to understand why blow ’em up games and G-rated shooters can be fun.

Using your Facebook profile photos, Crazy Planet customizes to you and your Facebook friends.  Your space fighter avatars will wear your Facebook face picture while walking, jumping, dancing, and falling.

Playfish’s ability to make distinctive, free social networked games is unmatched.  A lot of social games producers are phoning it in.  Playfish continues to delight and innovate in this brand new world of social networked casual games.

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Review: Amateur Surgeon (Free, $1.99), Adult Swim, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on July 1, 2009

Nurse, hand me a scapel.

Nurse, hand me a scapel.

Sick sense of humor?  Grey’s Anatomy fan?  Liked Operation, the classic board game?

Check out Amateur Surgeon by Adult Swim.  There’s a FREE sample to get started.  It’s a fun, perverse game where you are a pizza dude who accidently runs over a hobo.  To save his life, you need to open him up with your pizza cutter.  You re-arrange his bones and innards and have tools like painkillers, scapels, clamps, and stitches.

Good-looking, humorous, and entertaining, it is a bit slow-loading and unimaginative for what it is.  Improvements on this classic doctor game would make better use of sound, music, medical jokes, patient-doctor interaction, gross out surgeries, iPhone specific innovations like flicking, motion detection, conversations and involvement of friends.

Hey, it’s FREE.  Check it out for at least 10 minutes of good times.  I promise to write about better surgery or doctor games I find on the iPhone.

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Review: Hero of Sparta (Free, $0.99), Gameloft, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 30, 2009

Hero of Sparta is an action game for everyone.

Hero of Sparta is an action game for everyone.

++  Loved the movie 300?

Always wondered why some guys sit in their basements and play action-adventures days on end?

For every gal and guy who wanted to relate to brethren who play WoW or pretend to be Greek warriors, Hero of Sparta on the iPhone is the best and easiest way to get started.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with the idea of being a third person Spartan warrior slashing opposing fighters and monsters with a long sword.  The graphics, storytelling, and action are surprisingly high quality for a free or near free game.  Honestly, when folks talk about the iPhone/iPod Touch as the “console in your pocket,” they should use Hero of Sparta as an example.

I have a theory: core games and monster fighting games haven’t caught on with casual gamers, who have had bad experiences trying to set up convoluted PC games or console games.

Casual gamers including myself can’t remember the keyboard strokes, find the challenges too difficult, the joystick controls not intuitive, to have fun with most core games.  Core games’ demanding learning curve turns off busy guys and gals, the casual gamers, who are larger in numbers.  Action-adventure games would have bigger, more diverse audiences if they offer simpler formats without losing drama and fun.

Anyway, I love Hero of Sparta for making it easy and gore-free for me to slash at monsters and advance to the next level.  In 5 minutes, I was able to land on a beach, kill attacking soldiers, use a super-power to defeat two monsters, all in a very nice, forward-moving action story set in ancient Greece.  From Gameloft, a game brand on the iPhone that means high quality to me.  Two thumbs up.

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Review: Flight Control ($0.99), Firemint, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 30, 2009

Have a frosty sundae for landing 52 airplanes today.

Have a frosty sundae for landing 52 airplanes today.

Want to know the best $0.99 you can spend on an iPhone Game?  It’s Flight Control by Firemint, a smart but elegant game that allows you to be a flight controller or traffic cop for airplanes, helicopters, and seaplanes.  Current version offers three airfields, nine aircraft types, regular map, beach resort and military air carrier maps for air traffic direction.  High score boards, peering (i.e., sharing a plane with friends while touching iPhones together), in-game location (i.e., tells you where you are on the map) are part of its features.

Anyone who watches the History Channel, adores Google Maps, or have been infatuated with the skies and air travel, will love this game.  Beautiful graphics, good music, considerate human design make this easy and smart at the same time.

Firemint set the world on fire with this awesome game, a contender for the best iPhone game ever, due to its clever use of iPhone features and engaging, good-looking, “one more game” design.  Look for Firemint’s next game, Real Racing.

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