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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.

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 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.

Completed Games: ModNation Racers (PS3)

Developer – United Front Games

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date – May 19th 2010 (EU)

United Front Games (UFG) is a new video games development studio started in 2007 in Vancouver Canada with former members of the EA Black Box and Rockstar Vancouver. It is pretty clear that the former EA Black Box members were hired to work on ModNation Racers while ex Rockstar Vancouver members are working on the next True Crime game. In collaboration and with much support from Sony, ModNation Racer was being touted as the kart racing equivalent to Little Big Planet with a focus on user generated content. As a kart racer it is pretty close to a true modern reinventing of the stale kart racing genre dominated by Nintendo’s MarioKart. However the game has garnered a reputation of having some of the longest loading screens on modern consoles (which they have somewhat fixed or made more reasonable with subsequent patches).

Some of the features:

  • Very customisable i.e top user-generated downloadable characters: mario, spiderman, monopoly guy, bender,  joker etc. Vehicles: scooby doo van, A team, ecto 1, batmobile etc.
  • Graphic style compared to LBP but more kid fantasy than indie/DIY style.
  • Sideswipes, shields, traps, spins, and air bonuses in addition to standard boosts, drafting and weapons.
  • Single player incentives: Objectives and tokens.

Finished single player races, collected all tokens, played a bit multiplayer for a total of around 15+hrs.

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.

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

Tech Recommendations – Western Digital My Passport Essential

Previously I had been using a larger 500GB external hard drive which needed to be powered separately. This much smaller HD is usb powered and is a lot less of a hassle to use. If you are looking for a portable HD you will most likely end up with one of these since it seems to be the most marketed one out there. The features it has are the preloaded software to manage CD images, encryption and backup. There very little you can do to differentiate in terms of features so it all comes down to design, price and perception of quality. I got the 500GB WD My Passport Essential for AUD 165 which is mid range with prices for 500GB portable HD ranging from 150 to $200. You can go for the cheaper brands but there is always a risk of HD failure. I feel safer with a Western Digital HD but in reality there probably isn’t much of a difference.

Tech recommendations – Logitech LS1


I was looking around for a new mouse and had 3 requirements. It had to be cheap, corded (Sick of having to plug in a USB receiver and replacing batteries) and have at least 2 function buttons. I ended up picking up one of Logitech’s most basic mice, the LS1. It is a simple corded mouse which only other features are the tilting scrollwheel and rubberised grip. It was AUD 30 and I think it is a better choice than the standard Microsoft corded optical mouse since it is more compact for using with a notebook.