OWFI: Online, Wii, Facebook, iPhone Games

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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Coming Soon: Dead Space Extraction ($60), Wii, Visceral, EA

Posted by Appgamr on July 1, 2009

Scared guy hiding behind terrified lady.

Scared guy hiding behind terrified lady.

When I got Dead Space on the PC a few months back, I was told to play with the lights on, during the day.

Well, I didn’t think it was *that* scary.  It’s a dark, life-threatening jaunt into a haunted spaceship filled with vicious tentacled monsters reminiscent of the alien menaces in Alien and Aliens movies.

Dead Space is at the vanguard of a genre known as survival-horror.  Dead Space developers watched a lot of horror movies and studied corpses killed in traffic accidents to tell the story.

Experience this new genre inspired by horror movies.

It’s coming out on the Wii in September 2009.

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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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Review: iPuppy, (Free, $1.99), MASQ Interactive, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 30, 2009

Pet your puppy, stat!

Pet your puppy, stat!

Addicted to Nintendogs?  Love Pet Society on Facebook?  Raised on Neopets?

Throw away you DS and get your fix with iPuppy, the iPhone app that lets you raise, pet, feed, and tend to a cute yappy dog in your pocket.  For now, iPuppy, is the best pets app you can get.  Comes in Chihuahua, Siberian Husky, and Schnauzer, for now.  However, though the 3-D effects are pleasant and it’s a nice substitute for Nintendogs, the globally best-selling DS game several years running, it feels a little primitive and unimaginative of the iPhone’s capabilities.

Initially, you are granted $500 and use that budget to buy your pet treats, clothing, and toys.  This is the main design for Pet Society on Facebook.  However, for most pet owners, playing with budgets, like figuring out how many $20 dog bones you can buy with $250, isn’t why they keep a pet.  We keep pets for the rewards of gaining Doggy and Kitty’s eternal love when we give them simple things like a cuddle, a pat, a cookie, strokes of the brush, a bubble bath, a walk, a hug.

Artistically, I think iPuppy could be even more realistic, with bigger, close-up graphics, more ambitious and creative uses of colors for the pets and accessories.   The other artistic direction would be cartoonish avatars a la Pet Society, produced by Playfish.

iPuppy is OK for now.  I think the next big game based on pets will focus more on owner and pet bonding.  Pets will grow based on time, love, and interaction, not economic transactions.

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Review: Tap Tap Revenge 2.6 (Free), Tapulous, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 29, 2009

Tap tap tap your way to music.

Tap tap tap your way to music.

No iPhone game review site would be complete without a mention of the innovative, wildly popular free music app Tap Tap Revenge and its most recent incarnation Tap Tap Revenge 2 or 2.6.  I’ll call it TTR2, for simplicity’s sake.

Tapulous, a Silicon Valley start-up, is the company behind Tap Tap Revenge 2.

Comparing this landmark iPhone game to Guitar Hero and Rock Band is most useful.

In TTR2, you tap the iPhone’s display as if it were a guitar, following lighted buttons that stream toward you in beat with the music as in Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

TTR2’s result: the music lover’s portable, social plaything for competing and participating with music.  There are options for you to find your friends and compete with them.

If you like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, you have to download Tap Tap Revenge 2.  You should also download Pandora, the free radio app, if you haven’t already done so.

If you aren’t crazy about rhythmically tapping your fingers on a tiny glass rectangle, an imaginary guitar for an imaginary audience, or you aren’t a huge music fan, you won’t care for this.  You know who you are if you ever played air guitar or had Van Halen posters on your wall.

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NYT declares iPhone/iPod Touch the next video game frontier

Posted by Appgamr on June 29, 2009

Casual gamer lady loves Fish Tycoon and Jelly Car games on the iPhone.

Casual gamer lady loves Fish Tycoon and Jelly Car games on the iPhone.


Re-post from New York Times, Huffington Post-style.  Casual gamers are ladies on the go wanting to pick up and play for 5 minutes.  Reporter mentions one of the ladies is in her 50s.  Compare with core gamers who are mostly male and in their teens and 20s.  Gameloft is already grossing $20M in iPhone games.  EA, Nintendo, Sony are all paying attention.

Nice PR spot for iPhone developer Firemint, producer of Flight Control.  Fish Tycoon and Jelly Car games on the iPhone are also favorably mentioned.

Jenna Wortham and New York Times.

Published: June 28, 2009

The iPhone has sent rivals scrambling, first to duplicate its glassy touch screen, then its successful mobile application storefront.

Now it is the video game industry that is sitting up and taking notice. Playing games, it turns out, is one of the most popular things to do with an iPhone. Of the 50,000 programs available for the iPhone and iPod Touch through Apple’s App Store, games are the largest category, about 20 percent of the offerings, according to the mobile analytics and advertising company Mobclix. The company also said that more than half of the billion downloads from the App Store are games.

That plethora of games, most of which are free or cost as little as 99 cents, are available in seconds via wireless download, which is driving the expansion of the audience for mobile gaming, said Tuong H. Nguyen, an analyst with Gartner Research who tracks the industry.

“Like many other features of the iPhone, it introduced the possibility of gaming on your phone to a whole new group of consumers,” Mr. Nguyen said.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: 3-D Rollercoaster Rush (Free): Digital Chocolate, iPhone

Posted by Appgamr on June 29, 2009



Want a rollercoaster in your pocket?  Get 3-D Rollercoaster Rush FREE from the iPhone.  3-D Rollercoaster Rush is a somewhat clunky name for a compelling rollercoaster game that accelerates and moves according to your control of the iPhone’s motion detection.  It is an upgrade from Digital Chocolate’s earlier 2-D Rollercoaster Rush.

Digital Chocolate is part of the old guard in mobile games; the iPhone is just another mobile platform.  I wonder if Digital Chocolate ported Rollercoaster Rush from another mobile platform instead of creating a new game customized for the iPhone.  In my opinion, it doesn’t take a genius to say the game would be more compelling in the first person than in the third person, meaning you see the falls and climbs on the rails close-up, in your face, get scared by the speed, twists, sounds of possible sudden death, rather seeing the little people shriek and bounce, like a Rolando on rails.

ngmoco is part of the new guard, recently immersed in the latest AAA games.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a first person rollercoaster game with the perspective and art of a first person racing game like Need for Speed, plus the motion detection capabilities, personalization, and maybe social aspects, of the iPhone?

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