Archive for the 'iPhone' Category

Castle Warriors: A simple iPhone Strategy Game

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Castle Warriors from GameResort is a fun little iPhone/iPod Touch battle game that I’ve been playing with for a while. It falls under the Real-Time Strategy (RTS) category. Rather than waiting for your turn, you make decisions in real time as the action happens around you.

castle-warriors-start

In many ways, Castle Warriors is a 3D version of the excellent Galcon. Instead of planets, you have towers. You start with all your soliders in 1 tower; tap it, then tap a target tower to move a certain amount (half by default) of your soliders to that tower. You can move to empty towers or enemy towers this way – if you move your soldiers to an enemy tower then they naturally attack the tower.

castle-warriors-send-troops

There are 2 play modes: a campaign mode where you move through 12 preset battle scenarios, and a quick play mode where you can replay unlocked scenarios with your own settings for battle length, number of your troops, and number of enemy troops. This is a nice touch which adds a degree of replay value to the game. (more…)

Space Invaders Infinity Gene Review: An Arcade Classic Rebooted

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

No game stirs childhood memories for me as much as Space Invaders. Having wasted many hours during the late 70s pouring coins into the Space Invaders machine in the fast food place down the road, I would go to sleep with pixellated aliens marching relentlessly across my vision.

The original Space Invaders has inspired hundreds of similar arcade games over the years (not to mention Human Space Invaders!). The original Space Invaders publishers, TAITO, have released a couple of versions for the iPhone: Space Invaders (a clone of the original) and the marvellous Space Invaders Infinity Gene.

Space Invaders reloaded

This game isn’t just Space Invaders with a few extra bells and whistles – it’s a complete rethink of the game. Putting aside the fact that it’s based on one of the classic arcade games of all time, Space Invaders Infinity Gene is one of the best arcade shooters on the iPhone that I’ve ever played.

The game starts much like the original game, but quickly evolves into a much more fast-paced affair, with all sorts of baddies zooming over the screen. You also get to move your ship up and down as well as the usual left and right (now there’s progress!). It can get quite hectic at times, but fortunately you can move the ship by touching anywhere on the screen, so your finger doesn’t get in the way. You don’t have to worry about shooting either, as the ship auto-fires constantly.

Each level features the old “flying saucers across the top” from the original Space Invaders; however rather than giving you extra points, these drop power-ups when you shoot them. Power-ups increase the strength of your ship’s firepower – very useful near the end of a level (especially as many levels feature bosses at the end). (more…)

iPhone stuck at Apple logo, then apps quit immediately

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Hmm… not a great day for my iPhone last week. Its wi-fi was playing up so I decided to power cycle it. After switching on it hung on the Apple logo for 4-5 minutes. Power cycled again – same problem. Sounds like a common issue. Here are some helpful suggestions for fixing it. Anyway I was lucky – I connected the iPhone to the Mac (with iTunes running) and, after a couple more restarts, the iPhone booted successfully.

I say “successfully” in that it got to the Home screen. But then every third-party app I tried to launch quit immediately back to the Home screen! (Apple apps were OK.) Once again, this sounds like a common problem. Ouch. In my case I managed to fix it by connecting the iPhone to the Mac, running iTunes, right-clicking the iPhone in the left-hand pane and choosing Restore from Backup. It took ages and hung right near the end (I had to yank the USB cable out of the phone to stop it), but after that all apps launched no problem.

If you’re reading this because you have this problem, and the above solution doesn’t work for you, you may need to do a full system restore (as described in the linked discussion thread above).

Nasty. Hope it doesn’t happen again…

Apple’s Favourite iPhone Apps

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

To celebrate the 1st anniversary of the App Store – launched on 11 July last year – the folks at Apple have come up with a list of their top iPhone apps and games. Interesting to see which apps they enjoy using themselves.

I have a few of my own favourite apps to add:

  • Stanza (ebook reader: my most heavily-used app)
  • Galcon Lite (fast-paced space strategy game – still a classic)
  • Tangram Pro (puzzle game)
  • Frotz (interactive fiction engine)
  • TyroTuner (does a great job of helping you tune a guitar through the iPhone’s mic – looks great too)
  • Wolfenstein 3D Classic (A great port of the original considering the limitations of the iPhone’s small touch-screen)
  • BOMRadar (Aussie weather radar app – perfect for seeing where the rain is!)
  • Twinkle (location-aware Twitter client)

What are your favourite App Store apps and games?

iPhone OS 3.0 First Impressions

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

At long last, version 3.0 of the Phone OS has landed. There are already some excellent in-depth reviews, such as the ones on iLounge and Ars Technica, so I won’t go into lengthy details here. Instead, here are some first impressions of the new OS, both good and bad…

Select, cut, copy and paste

A clipboard was one of my most wanted features, and it’s wonderful to finally see it in action. To start with I tried selecting a paragraph of text in Safari, at which point Safari bombed out and returned to the Home screen. Oops! Not a fantastic start. However I tried again with a different page and it was fine. It’s relatively easy to use, considering the constraints of a small touch-screen: tap and hold to bring up the magnifier, then release and choose Select, Select All, or Paste:

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You can also double-tap a word to select it, then choose Cut, Copy, or Paste:

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To change a selection, tap and drag its end markers:

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(more…)

Underworlds review: A fun, if short, iPhone RPG

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

I enjoy the odd Mac/PC role-playing game such as Baldur’s Gate and Diablo, so I thought I’d see what RPGs are available for the iPhone. There are a few out there, including Vay (which I hope to review soon), but the one that caught my eye was the recently-launched Underworlds from Pixel Mine. So I took it for a spin.

Underworlds is in many ways a “Diablo lite” for the iPhone. It’s an isometric 3D hack-and-slash affair, with a single character that you move around various dungeons, killing monsters and picking up goodies.

Click image to enlarge

The graphics look great, even on the small screen, and the sound effects and music are suitably atmospheric. There’s a good range of scenery, items and monsters (although the monsters are very much of the “evil undead” variety) and the game is generally fun to play.

Click image to enlarge

(more…)

Flight Control review: A fun casual iPhone game

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I’ve been having a bit of fun with Flight Control over the last few weeks.

In this simple but attractive game your job is to land incoming aircraft by dragging out flight paths towards the two runways and helipad. Sounds easy enough, but once several aircraft appear onscreen it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid them crashing into each other.

Fortunately you can plot a new flight path for an aircraft at any time. Even allowing for this, though, the game quickly reaches a frenetic pace as you find yourself redirecting several aircraft each second. What’s more, the four types of aircraft all travel at different speeds (the helicopters are frustratingly slow!), which makes timing the landings even trickier. (more…)

Zen Bound review: A relaxing iPhone puzzle game

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I recently bought the game Zen Bound for my iPhone, which has been the subject of much gushing praise amongst various review sites recently, and has been collecting a few awards too. Here’s my take on the game.

The basic idea of the game is simple: You wrap various 3D wooden and metal shapes in a rope of limited length. The rope “paints” the shape where it touches it. When enough of the shape is painted you get a dot; paint even more and you get two; paint 99% of the shape and you get the full complement of three dots:

The number of dots you get determines how many flowers will open on the tree you’re currently moving up. You need a certain number of open flowers to move up to the next level of the tree.

There are two trees: the Tree of Reflection (mainly animal shapes) and the Tree of Challenge (geometric shapes). Each tree has plenty of puzzles to keep you busy (I haven’t made it to the top of either tree yet), and the fact that you need to score well on early levels in order to move onto higher levels adds an element of challenge to the game.

(more…)

iPhone data loss (not happy)

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

I just had a somewhat unsettling experience with my iPhone 3G (OS 2.2.1).

I was down the pub and ready to fire up Stanza while waiting for my next pint, when I saw that the Stanza app icon had vanished from my Home screen. Flicking through my other 7 Home screens I saw that around three quarters of my installed apps had simply disappeared from each screen. Where there used to be 16 apps per page, there were now 3 or 4.

At first I thought there was a bug preventing the app icons from displaying, so I re-”bought” Stanza from the App Store there and then. The appĀ  appeared to reinstall from scratch, so I guess the original app had disappeared completely. The new icon appeared and the app worked correctly. (Lexcycle must have released a new version of Stanza recently, because the app icon was different.) (more…)

iPhone OS 3.0: Apple picks up the ball

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Back in October I suggested that Apple was dropping the ball with iPhone features and falling woefully behind the competition. Frankly I was getting a bit fed up with a phone that, while beautifully designed, lacked basic functionality like copy and paste.

Most cheery, then, to read about Version 3.0 of the iPhone OS – due around June/July – which addresses a good chunk of my October wish list:

  • Text selection – check
  • Cut/copy/paste – check
  • Flash – well you can’t have everything
  • To Do lists – hmm, doesn’t look like it at this stage
  • Syncable notes – check
  • MMS – check

I’m particularly pleased by the way they seem to have implemented my #1 want: text selection and cut/copy/paste. It isn’t easy selecting tiny text with a touch screen. Apple’s solution of letting you manually drag the start and end points of the selection until you get it right seems like a brilliant idea. They’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this. It also lets you copy not just text, but HTML and images too. I can breathe a big sigh of relief now. (Shake-to-undo is also a nice touch.) (more…)