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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.

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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.

Recommendations: Critter Crunch (PS3)

Developer: Capybara Games

Release Date: October 2009

Genre: Puzzle

Canadian independent game developement studio Capybara Games has had an impressive rise in popularity with their fresh take on the puzzle genre. Capybara Games started as a mobile game developer and first came into critical recognition with the release of Critter Crunch on the iPhone in 2008. For the PS3 it has been upgraded with a more fleshed out adventure mode, beautiful HD graphics and online multiplayer.

The puzzling premise is simple, feed smaller critters to larger critter and collect the jewels to fill up a hunger bar. You need to feed two critters to pop a larger critter which also pops the connected critters of the same type. I think the key addictive nature of the game is that you are free to move the critters as much as you want to easily set up large combo. The only pressure on you is the occasional addition of new lines of critters moving towards you. The other genius part of the game are the items and special critters which only help you make larger combos. There can be some epic moments where you create a huge chain clearing most of the screen.

The game plays smoothly even online with versus or co-op multiplayer. The great thing about the online versus is that you always have a chance to defeat opponents who are highly ranked if you play smart and get lucky with items. The other modes of the game just add more to do with some harder puzzles and challenges. There is a lot to do here for a cheap downloadable game and is well worth picking up on the PS3 even if you have played the iPhone version.

Next up from Capybara is a PS3/XBOX 360 upgraded version of their critically acclaimed DS game Might and Magic Clash of Heroes. It is another creative puzzle game and should be released sometime this year.

App Recommendation – 7 iPhone Game Impressions

iBlast Moki

A physics puzzle game where you strategically place bombs to blast the creatures to the destination. 50+ different levels, starts getting challenging after 25 or so levels.

Robocalypse

A fully featured real time strategy game that is a port of the well received Nintendo DS title. The 1.5 update added a crucial feature (saving during missions) that makes it much more playable since it takes a more than a couple of minutes to finish a level.

Sentinel 2

A tower defence games that differentiates itself with the inclusion of gates, other non tower weapons (missile attacks, robot drone attacks) and a wide range of towers. You also gain interest on the money you have not spent.

Meteor Blitz

A fun twin stick shooter on the iPhone that is reminiscent of PSN game Super Stardust HD on the PS3. You can upgrade various features of you ship which include speed, boost, cannon/fire/ice weapon and a gravity gun.

Ragdoll Blast

Another physics puzzler, this one involves shooting a rag doll out of a cannon to hit a target. 104 levels, the objects in the world have a great sense of weight and physics.

Ground Effect

A simple but fundamentally well done racer that is like Wipeout or F-zero, runs smoothly and utililises the tilt controls to steer the ship.

Beneath a Steel Sky

A point and click adventure that is not only long (some say 10 hours) but includes voice acting. It is a remastering of the PC version. Amazing value at AUD$1.19.

That wraps up the last 7 games I have purchased for my iPod touch. It should be noted that all where purchased during AUD$1.19/USD$1 sales. I would recommend all of them but it depends on your taste in games.

App Recommendation – Geo-Defense Swarm

Geo-Defense Swarm Screenshot

GD Swarm like its predecessor has been tormenting me with its challenging levels over the past few months. There are 3 difficulty levels each with 10 levels and right now I’m on level 8 hard (pictured above). The difficulty and finite length of each level make GD Swarm such a replayable game. Unlike some other tower defense games it is more of a puzzle game where you have to carefully choose  towers and place them in appropriate positions. The main difference to the formula is the hexagonal grid which play into the importance of tower placement.

Well worth the AUD$2.5 price. (5/5)

App Recommendation – NetNewsWire

In the past I had tried different RSS readers but never used one for an extended period of time. Then Google Reader came along which I have been using obsessively since I’ve started using it. Now an application that I tried using in the past has been upgraded with a killer feature that will finally make me use it, Net News Wire (mac only, FeedDemon is windows version from same company) now syncs with your Google Reader seamlessly. The reason as to why you would want to use a standalone application is that it can be used offline and provides features that can’t be done in a web browser. There is also an iphone/touch version that is also free to use (ad supported).

Completed – Star Defense (iphone)

ngmoco

A visually impressive but standard tower defense game by premier iphone developer ngmoco.

The variation that this game brings are full 3D stages with the ability to perform Google Earth style spinning and zooming. Other than that the standard game play remains the same where you place towers to prevent the attackers from reaching their destination. Sunk around 6 hours into it to complete the 7 stages on normal. Challenge mode provide additional replay value.

7 different worlds, 3 difficulties, challenge mode and a range of towers & enemies. 4stars

star defense1