iPhone Games – Tiny Wings and Bejeweled Blitz

22 04 2011

It’s no secret that today the iPhone is considered one of the top gaming platforms out there. Certainly overshadowing standard console games in sheer numbers of games, and, without any hard evidence to support it, I’d hazard a guess it has the most games of any platform short of PC’s.
Having those tens of thousands of titles to choose from, how do you pick out the ones worthwhile? Well, I’m here to continue my ongoing series on iPhone games, with two more recommendations.

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iPhone Game Chatter – geoDefense Swarm Rocks my world

16 07 2010

I admit it. I’ve been a fan of the geoDefense games for quite a while (even during geoDefense’s Freak Out period). When Critical Thought Games released geoDefense Swarm, I jumped at it. The new game layout (free form, etc) took a little getting used to, but after a bit, I was hooked.
geoDefense SwarmFor those not familiar with it, these are classic “tower defense” games. geoDefense used a fixed track for the ‘creeps’, while Swarm uses a free form layout. The game play is virtually identical between the versions (Swarm introduces ‘thumper’ towers, while de-emphasizing ‘vortex’ towers. Which is sad, cuz I do love me the vortexes).
The games have a strong ‘retro’ color-vector look to them. That coupled with some smooth, stunning animation makes the play experience pretty exciting. As the towers get more powerful, and more dramatic action is happening, the visuals really ratchet up. The endgame for an endless level is constant nuke-explosions from the missile towers and plasma lasers firing every which way. Kaboom!
Lately I’ve been rerunning Swarm levels and shooting for higher scores. This involves a huge amount of trial and error at the beginning, particularly on the ‘endless’ levels (which I adore).
The trick is to get the score multiplier up as high as possible in the first 10 levels. My best is around 900x by level 10. That particularly run resulted in my best score ever in the Crazy 88 level (‘hard’ ‘endless’). The screenshot here shows the very end of that game, which took about 3 hours to play beginning to end. Naturally, toward the end, it was just a matter of watching the game run it’s course.
Thanks @nsxdavid for making such an awesome game. Can we have some more endless levels please?

iPhone Development Guidelines – Do’s and Don’ts

18 04 2010

First, a disclaimer. I am not an iPhone developer. I am what used to be termed a ‘power user’ – gamer, tool user, critic, yes – but I don’t write iCode. (I do develop, just not on the iphone).
Having gotten that out of the way, I’d like to propose a list of Do’s and Don’ts that every iPhone app developer on the planet should adhere to. This is a list from a USERS perspective – things that irk me to no end.
* DO : Obey the Mute switch! – How hard can this be? If the mute switch is on, then SHADDUP! There’s a REASON it’s called a mute switch! I don’t know how many games I’ve powered up that leave me scrambling for the volume-down buttons when the mute switch was IN THE MUTE POSITION.
* DO : Incremental saves – again, primarily on the gaming front. That little device in your hand? it’s a TELEPHONE. That means people can call you at any time, and interrupt the application. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent 3 hours getting Sir Grinsalot to the top of Mount Bigahonkin and you’re about to kill the Great Gizbo of Durn – grandma will STILL call you at that point, interrupting the game. Save!
* DO : Provide status that you’re doing something. Okay, older platforms are slow, so sometimes it takes time for things to load. Provide some animation or indication that something is going on – a load bar would be best (gives an idea how much longer it’ll take), but even a spinner will do.
* DO NOT : assume that just because you’re on an iPhone, the easiest device on the planet to use, you don’t need to provide directions. Apps are NOT self explanatory, and a link to a web page is not enough. “This button does that, this button does that. Got it? Go forth and enjoy.”
* DO NOT : Link out to a web site without informing the user you’re about to do so! Nothing is more painful than tapping on a “view the high scores list” and have that exit the damned app to start Safari. That app may have taken you 4 minutes just to get to that screen. Now you have to do it all again.
* DO : Provide a rotation lock. Some of us like to read or do games while going to sleep, which does not necessarily mean I’ll be in an upright position. Having the app auto-rotate to what it THINKS is the right orientation is irritating when you have no option to disable this.
I’m sure this list will grow, and I’m open to suggestions as to what to add to it. These are things that have come up in my adventures.
What bits have YOU seen that developers seem to miss?

Addicting iPhone apps : Medieval and Warfare, Inc.

18 03 2010

If you’re looking to preserve some of that spare time you have gobs of, perhaps it would be best to skip this post. Because I’m going to talk about two of the most addicting games I’ve come across for the iPhone. The first is just fun, the other is… well, you’ll see.
This game from Brisk Mobile follows a well know simple ‘castle’ game, as implemented by a thousand flash games on the net. What makes it interesting is the variety of weapons available, the smooth animation, and the delightful artwork. I’ve been playing it pretty much dead on steady for the last 2 months, and have gotten up to level 143 – and it’s *still* challenging. Not sure how they’ve managed it, but they do.
**Warfare Incorporated**
This one has done me in. It’s hard to describe it without using the obvious connection, but… it’s Starcraft for the iPhone.
The game is a recreation of the normal ‘real time strategy’ genre, scaled down and modified to run on the iPhone. You have group unit selects, goals, manufacturing, buildings, and vehicle types. You have upgrades to units and to buildings. But unlike some of the other (rather lame) attempts on the iPhone, Warfare Incorporated has managed to make a decent plotline that, while not particularly riveting, at least keeps the game flow going. With 3 levels of difficulty and about 30 levels for the full game, the single player scenarios are quite engrossing.
To add to the wonder, [Warfare Incorporated](http://www.warfareincorporated.com) allows a form of downloadable content – you can play maps that other players have generated, as well as play against other players in realtime over the net. I personally haven’t explored those options yet, but I look forward to doing my own ZERG RUSH! against other players.
Both Warfare Incorporated and Medieval are available in the iPhone app store.

iPhone Game Review – Geo Defense

30 07 2009

Well nuts. I was all set to write up a Geo Defense review, but gosh darn it if the game doesn’t keep FREAKING OUT ON ME
It’s your standard ‘creeps trying to get to the end, build the towers to stop them, yaddayada”, but with a nice twist of having a retro 80’s look to it (glowing lines, mechanical computer voice, etc).
However, at least once a game, it goes bananas. Stuff flies all over the screen, your defenses stop working, and the game becomes unresponsive. It sorts itself out in about 30 seconds, but by then I’ve probably lost the level. I’m beginning to suspect that this may be heat related, as I’ve seen an occasional twitch in other games as well, generally after I’ve been playing for a while, and cupping the phone in my hand certainly gets it warm. Hmmm.
If these bugs gets fixed, I’m all over the game. But right now I have to say “hold off until an update.”
Edited 8/2/2009

I Dig It – iPhone Digging Game

16 07 2009

It seems like there’s a steady stream of games flowing into the Apple Appstore. Some are awful, some are obviously simple reskinning of existing games, but if you don’t mind sifting through the dross, you can find some true gems. “I Dig It” from InMotion Software is one of those gems.

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