By Nate Adcock on Sun, 12/21/2008
Astraware has updated and released several titles, and are offering My Little Tank, and their Board Games collection for less than 5 dollars, so go check it out. Also for the rabid hockey fan, Polar Mobile has released an app called "The Hockey News", so go check that out as well. I'm supposed to be working on some WinMo reviews over on the dark side or our site, but got a little burned out and decided to grab a few games at random from the iTunes store. I didn't pick so good... :(
I hate to say it, but Windows Mobile has better games than iPhone and Touch, in my opinion (heresy you say!). Why this is an iPhone blog!!? It's an outrage! Okay, calm down...take a deep breath. In many other ways, there's no doubt of Apple's superiority, but when it comes to games, the app store is just not cutting the mustard. I have awesome WinMo freebie games that simply blow away anything I have played from the app store so far. Maybe I just haven't found the right ones yet (so please feel free to correct me on this), but the most engaging game I have to date for my iPod touch is a freebie called "JellyCar" (which is a pretty simple, but still very cool game). I should say that that's the only title I've found so far that I could honestly say struck me as a product that a developer put some serious time into making, well, truly fun (kind of a requirement for a game). The other issue I have is the game controls for the Touch or iPhone. The tilt-to-steer method just ain't working for me. I usually end upside-down on the couch, or with the unit turned practically sideways. It's near impossible not to overcorrect when steering in this manner. The screen is also often not responsive to taps, which can be disastrous in the middle of game action. Maybe it's because the game market for iPhone and Touch is still maturing, or Apple's coding and hardware restrictions are proving difficult for game developers to deal with, I don't know, but I have so far been pretty disappointed. So, with my whining out of the way, I add a mini-review below of the 2 titles I purchased recently. Both of these games are less than 5 bucks, and can be found by searching in iTunes for the titles.
Fieldrunners feels like what started as a good tower-defense prototype game. Decent cartoon-like graphics, and wave after wave of various and sundry enemies to stop, etc. The weapons have pleasing sound effects, and realistic graphics. Everything good so far. It seems that the developer worked out 2 basic levels, stopped there and decided to publish the game. Fieldrunners uses very simple random movement logic--the enemies come at you in a straight line and then try to snake around your defenses, like some kind of old centipede knockoff. Unless you put something in their path, their trek from one side of the field to the other never varies.The game feels unfinished in many ways. To get past the first field in even the easy mode requires you to survive like 50 levels of attacks on the same screen, which is absurd, because there’s only one other screen to graduate up to. It took me 2 days to unlock the next screen. Level 2 is a little better in that enemies come from 2 sides of the screen, but still follow that straight line logic. They'll snake around your defensive towers, of course, but setting up a concentrated fire zone to funnel them becomes all to easy to beat the game, and then gets very boring. I wish the enemies would at least shoot back and damage/destroy your towers to make it a tad more interesting.
Update: I had to come back and update my comments on Fieldrunners, because at the time I reviewed the game, I admit that I had not played much with the tower-defense genre. Now that I have played a few of these kinds of games on the touch, I want to say Fieldrunners is a better class of game in this category, most certainly. I still would like to see more varied fields to choose from, however.
I love aerial dogfight games and 3-D space shooters. I have not found a really, really good dogfight game for any of my mobile gadgets (some came close, but I have high standards for this category of game), and I have owned almost every flavor of gadget at one point or another. I saw some decent reviews in iTunes for this app, and the price was low. I figured I'd check it out... This game is not horrible, but at best I'd say it's mediocre in terms of aerial combat games, but I like that it gives a lot of play options. The plane’s steering is touchy due in part to my issues with tilt to steer. The graphics aren't "horrible" either, but I can't say they are great. The dog fight sequences are some of it's best moments, but it needs better physics overall. When you can bounce off mountains or the ground with your plane, uhhh, well that's just plain silly. In simulated aerial combat, which should be like real aerial combat, if you hit something, you are dead. Maybe if I get to higher levels or use harder options, that will change. For the good points of the game, and the price, I will recommend it, but also keep looking for an aerial combat game.
A big part of the problem with the overall quality of programs in the iTunes App store (IMHO) is the rating system, which seems pretty bogus to me (a fate that will also plague Android). I see all kinds of patently false behavior going on in the review posts. People encouraging others to vote down a product to lower the price? This is mob mentality nonsense, and Apple should put a stop to it. The shill posts (to raise ratings) are also obvious from the dubious and mindless raving about how great the app is. If Apple wants to make third party apps more legit, and clean out the junk in the iTunes App store, they need to allow software stores like Handango and others provide alternative methods of getting applications. Since it’s a matter of simply bundling the app with a provision file, I don’t see that being a big problem.