Blog Archives

Tiny Towers Review (iOS)

iTunes Link

The new hot sim game on the iOS platform is a mix between Game Dev Story and The Sims with it’s retro art style and addictive gameplay. From iOS developer NimbleBit who people might know as the developer of Pocket Frogs or Dizzypad, have finally hit it big with a perfect mobile game in the simulation genre. They have nailed the delicate balance for a freemium game, providing the option for a quick build out with the purchase of the valuable in game currency of ‘bux’ but also dolling it out in a non frustrating fashion over time.

The aim of the game is to build up your tower with a variety of residential, commercial and retail levels. The great thing about this concept is there is a lot of variety with the different types of stores you can build. You can build either a retail, food, service, recreation or creative level and it will randomly pop up a shop once the construction period is over. For example the retail stores I have are a game, bike and record store and for food stores I have a vegan and froyo store. Now to staff these stores you have to build residential levels, when people move in you can assign them jobs but each person has different strengths in each type of field. Each person also has a dream job and when you match a person to their dream job you get 3 extra bux, which you can spend to speed up processes in the game. The micro management comes in the optimisation of putting the best employees for the job which gives you discounts on the inventory costs.

Bux can be spent to quickly construct a level, instantly fill up an apartment space or restock a shop’s inventory. The only thing I didn’t think was reasonable was the cost of 1 bux to move a level but it’s not that much of a problem. The other currency, coins, are used to purchase inventory and levels. Coins are received from selling items at the stores or by trading in bux, i.e. 50 bux for 100,000 coins. If you want efficiency tips for getting the most bux and coins out of the game read Maurice Tan’s article at Destructoid.com.

Unlike some other sim games, there is a limit to how much of the currency you can accumulate when you are not playing the game. Because the inventory at the shops will deplete this neatly brings about the need constantly check the game to see if an item is out of stock (there is a notification option to help you with this that is not on by default). The other smart aspect of the game is limiting the boredom factor by alway giving you something to do. There is one elevator which you control by moving it to a visitor’s desired level and usually you just get some coins for doing this. But every so often there is a VIP that arrives which do things like knock off some construction time or a celeb who makes everything sell faster on the floor you drop them off at. There are also missions that pop up to find a certain person in your tower in exchange for an extra bux. The elevator is also the way you populate your residential apartments but it can get frustrating in later levels because the drop off level is random.


The pleasant music and sound effects mixed with the vibrant retro graphics make this game such a joy to play. Tiny Towers by NimbleBit is the next best sim game to come out for the iOS platform since Game Dev Story. It makes the developer a prime acquisition target for casual mobile developer hungry companies such as Zynga or EA but I hope they stay independent and churn out more sim games in the same way Kairosoft has with the their games.

Free iOS App of the Day – Baseball Superstars II Pro and GAMEVIL Sale

iTunes Link

GAMEVIL’s Baseball Superstars games have been very popular mobile games even before they were put out on the iOS. It provided the base for them to expand as a mobile developer with a wide portfolio of games such as Zenonia, Illusia and Kami Retro. I guess they are also celebrating the App Store’s 3rd anniversary by giving away Baseball Superstars II Pro their latest Baseball Superstars game. In addition to the freebie GAMEVIL are having are sale with all of their app’s down to 99c.

Even though I haven’t played a Baseball Superstars game yet, I’m pretty sure I’m going to like it. It’s a fully featured 2D baseball sim game with a deep career mode with lots of customisation and management options. I always drawn to the RPG aspects of these type of sports games and the vibrant Japanese animated style looks great. If you don’t believe me or don’t think you would like this sort of game give it a go anyway, it has a flawless 5 star rating with over 14,000 raters.

Free iOS App Alert – Death Rally

iTunes Link

Death Rally is a game that I already have and can recommend without doubt, it must have done very well since it was released earlier this year for them to offer it free for the day. It is a top down action racing game that originally came out on the PC in 1996 developed by Remedy Entertainment, a Finnish game development company who are known for creating Max Payne and Alan Wake, and Mountain Sheep who made the popular iOS game Minigore.

Death Rally for iOS is a modern remake that retains the classic action and tension of the original game while controlling pretty well given that it is controlled by virtual joysticks. The weapons are the most enjoyable part of the game with vehicle destruction tools such as bumpers, mines, missiles, sniper shots, machines guns and my favourite a burst of homing missiles. I’ve completed the game, maxed out everything and have even played it through some more on the iPad since it is a universal app. The developers have done a good job of continuously updating the game to add new vehicles and maps which keeps you coming back. If you miss the free download window pick it up anyway for 99c, it’s worth it.

Free iOS App of the Day – Gravity Hook HD

iTunes Link

From Canabalt creator Semi Secret Software, Gravity Hook HD is a vertical platformer where you use a grappling hook to climb up via a variety of floating spheres and mines. I was actually considering buying it yesterday when I saw the ad while playing Canabalt but decided against it when I saw the price was $3.99. So it was great timing that the price was dropped but I would have had no problems buying it if there was a 50% price cut instead.

It is a universal app coming it at 15 megabytes with an unlockable classic mode that renders everything in 16-bit like graphics. There is possibly more unlockables but I have just started playing it. So far I’m having a lot of fun as this is the perfect sort of mobile game, simple to pick up and play as well as being addictive and high score driven.

Pick it up, it is free for the whole weekend.

Free iOS App of the Day – geoDefense

itunes Link

I remember playing the heck out of this game when it came out back in 2009. It’s a fairly traditional tower defense game but the draw is the vector graphics and unique range of weapons. It can also be pretty tough and chaotic at higher difficulties making it an addictive game. Like Geometry Wars you will see colourful bits flying all over the place giving it a very satisfying feel and something interesting to look at while you wait for your towers to defeat a wave. Definitely worth picking up as this is one of those games that rarely goes free (first time if I’m not mistaken). If you like this also pick up the sequel geoDefense Swarm ($1.99) which switches the playing field to a hex layout making it more tactical and tough.

Free iOS App of the Day – Legendary Wars & Imaginary Range

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imaginary-range/id429362380?mt=8

Released by the massive Japanese RPG developer, Square Enix, Imaginary Range is a free interactive comic interspersing art, story and music with minigames.  The project was overseen by Motomu Toriyama, director of FF13, scenario/story by Souki Tsukishima, the author of the novel Emeth: Ningyo–tsukai no Shima, with the art by Toshiyuki Itahana who was the character designer for the FF Chronicles games.

Square Enix have already released some interesting well done games on the iOS devices, like Chaos Rings and Song Summoner, as well re-releasing Final Fantasy 1-3. Imaginary Range is different in that it take advantage of the strengths of the system instead of emulating a console experience. The first mini game is a Flight Control derivative where you guide missiles at an enemy and direct helicopters to the landing pad.

It is an universal app but there is a HD version if you want a higher resolution for your iPad.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/legendary-wars/id413423472?mt=8

Free for the day to bring attention to their newly released 99c iPad version. A high quality action RPG game similar to PvZ but evolving on the concept with direct control over units. Haven’t had the time to play much of this yet but there is already a lot of praise for this game on the internet. Better yet it is done by an independent team, Liv Games, consisting of eight members developing games for iOS devices.

Free IOS App Alert – Chu Chu Rocket and Panopticon

http://itunes.apple.com/app/chuchu-rocket/id392785292?mt=8

Dreamcast fan favourite Chu Chu Rocket is free today for iPhone and iPod touch, while the iPad version remains priced at $5. Originally developed by Sega’s Sonic Team and lead designer Yuji Naka Chu Chu Rocket is a puzzle game where the aim is to lead mice (Chu Chu) to rockets by placing arrows. There are also cats on the stages you have to avoid or direct into holes in the stage. There is robust multiplayer modes which made the original game so unique as it was one of the first online games for consoles. While the game is better suited for the iPad due to the need to precisely place arrows on a grid it is still definitely playable if you don’t want to pay $5 for the iPad version.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/panopticon/id414149499?mt=8

Next up is Panopticon an iPad only game which I thought was also worth mentioning. It instantly felt unique as it utilised the large screen area of an iPad and multi-touch to create a puzzle game of a different kind. The aim of the game is simple enough as all you have to do is drag discs to matching holes but the catch is that you have to do this by moving all the discs at the same time. There are obstacles you have to avoid as well while working out how to best move the discs all at once.

Free IOS App of the Day – Drop7

ITUNES LINK

One of the early puzzle games on the IOS platform that gained critical praise for it’s fresh take on the falling block puzzle genre. Developer Area Code was recently bought by Facebook gaming giant Zynga and so the game has been re-released as Drop7 by zynga with a free ad supported version as well as a paid ad-free version. However right now the ad-free version is currently free for a limited time and anyone who hasn’t picked it up should definitely give it a go. It is a universal app and works great on any compatible Apple device.

The old version of Drop7 when updated to the latest version will give you the choice to download the ad-free version of the new app. But for some reason it directs you to the ad-supported version. So even if you already own Drop7 download the new version just in case. The only noticeable difference with the release is a higher resolution which makes it look better on an iPad.

Recommendations: List of ipad apps you should probably get

    Apps

  • ibooks
  • kindle
  • pages
  • sketchpad HD
  • numbers
  • remote
  • pcalclite
  • calculator
  • evernote
  • dropbox
  • goodreader
  • xe currency
  • bloomberg
  • new york times
  • time
  • wired
  • bbc
  • skype
  • imdb
  • epicurious
  • urbanspoon
  • airvideo
  • newsrack
  • comic reader mobi
  • comics

Games

  • Tilt to live
  • Real racing
  • geometry wars
  • Plants vs zombies
  • godfinger
  • dizzypad hd
  • mirror’s edge
  • n.o.v.a.
  • angry birds hd
  • zenbound 2
  • pinball hd
  • sam and max

How I use iTunes

When I think about it iTunes is my most used application. I even use it more than a web browser. It is always open playing either music or podcasts. So since I use it so much I thought it would be a good idea to go through the different ways I use it.

Music

iTunes is what I use to manage all my music. Whenever I have new music I drag it into iTunes and let it copy to it’s music folder and organise itself. I’ve a habit of then making sure all the information is 100% correct. Things like having the tracks all numbered in order, making sure the album art is there and the genre is correct. I have a set amount of different genre I use – Alternate Rock, Classical, Electronic, Game, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, J-Rock, Japanese, Punk Rock, Rap, and Rock. And if the album art isn’t there I do a web search for the Amazon page and use the album art there.

Genius

The Genius feature introduced in iTunes 8 and Genius Mixes introduced in 9 are ways of creating playlists just by choosing a starting song. It is made by analysing all you songs and sending this information to Apple. Apple use this information plus the ratings and their recommendation system to create a list of similar songs. It works quite well, for example I have a genius playlist based on Float On from Modest Mouse and it matches it with artists such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, and Arcade Fire. It seems like that it matches artists that you would like based on the song rather than similar music. I don’t use it often since I prefer to just pick an album to listen to rather than songs from different artists.

Playlists

I have a few smart playlists and normal playlists. Smart playlists allow you to specify a range of parameters which then automatically creates a dynamic playlist that updates as new music is added. For example I have a playlist of all music encoded at 320kbps, I used this in a past to pinpoint all the songs I needed to re-encode to a lower bit rate to make some more room on my iPod. Again I don’t use this feature that much but I am thinking of creating a few playlists for different situations i.e. One suitable for studying to.

Movies/TV Shows

I don’t use iTunes as the main way to manage my videos since they would need to be encoded to an iTunes compatible format. However I do use it if I want to have something to watch on my iPod Touch. Right now I have some Battle Star Galactica episodes and a couple of movies. I use the program Video Monkey for the Mac to do the encoding.

Podcasts

I’ve been using the Podcast function of iTunes ever since it was introduced, before this I used a standalone application that probably isn’t around anymore. It does a good job of letting you choose how you want to manage your podcast subscriptions. I have it update manually which allows me to choose which episodes to download and delete in my own time. I delete an episode once I finish listening to it for hard disk space reasons. You can let it do all this automatically if you don’t have the time to organise it yourself. My favourite view is the album art grid view over the crowded list or cover-flow view. iTunes does a good job of managing partly listened podcast and syncing this with your iPod. I particularly like the addition of a half filled circle to indicate a partly listen podcast.

Audiobooks

Having audio files in the Audiobook section does a few changes to how they are played. They are skipped for consideration for the shuffle feature and remember the last play position like podcasts. I have Isaac Asimov’s The God Themselves and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore waiting to be listened. I like to have the album art as the book cover which I also get from Amazon.

Applications

There is not much to this section, its just all your applications you have downloaded from the iTunes store for your iPhone or iPod Touch. More management options here would be useful.

iTunes U, Radio, Ringtones

I don’t use these sections at all but I might use iTunes U in the future if I’m out of audiobooks or podcasts to listen to.

Backup

In the past I kept a smart playlist of the music added since my last backup onto DVD. I don’t do this anymore as I’ve switch to a full system backup using Carbon Copy Cloner.