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Skyworks Delivers on Mobile Arcade Games

February 26, 2009 by Dorothy  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

With Arcade Bowling Lite in the number 4 position among free apps and Arcade Bowling and Arcade Hoops Basketball selling in the top 50 among paid apps, Skyworks is making a mark with their games for the iPhone/iPod. We took a look at a few of these games and were pleased with what we found. None of the games are too complex or require too much thought or skill, but they deliver when it comes to quick easy fun.

skyworks4 100x150 Skyworks Delivers on Mobile Arcade GamesArcade Bowling and Arcade Bowling Lite brings the ever popular Skeeball game to your device. Each round that you play gives you the typical 9 balls to roll. To pick up your ball, touch the bottom of the screen and then flick your finger forward to roll the ball. The speed and direction of your finger affects the speed and direction of the ball. Once the ball is launched, you can further fine tune its direction by tilting your phone.

Arcade Bowling is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store. The lite version is free.

skyworks2 100x150 Skyworks Delivers on Mobile Arcade GamesArcade Hoops Basketball and QB Pass Attack Football are similar games with a similar goal.  Which one is better?  Depends on which sport you like better.  In both these games, the object is to throw a ball as many times as you can into a goal before the time is up.  Time starts when you throw the first ball.  Grab a ball by touching one of the four balls at the bottom of the screen and throw it by flicking your finger toward the goal.  Once again, speed and direction matter.  Both games have classic and progressive games.  The progressive game moves the basketball backboard forward and backward in Arcade Hoops and gives you four quarters of play in QB Pass Attack.

Arcade Hoops Basketball is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.

QB Pass Attack Football is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.

skyworks5 150x100 Skyworks Delivers on Mobile Arcade GamesWhile still simple and easy to play,  X’s & O’s Football is the most complex of the group.  When you launch the game, there are two football teams of 5 players each on the field.  You choose from a finite number of pre-designed plays.  Then, tap the screen to hike the ball.  The players will carry out the play.  Your job is to tap the screen where you want the ball tossed.  If you time it right and tap the right spot, the pass will be complete and your team will try to run the ball down the field for a touchdown.  It is a fun way to play a simple game of football on the go.

X’s & O’s Football is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.

App Review: Blox by Synx.us

February 26, 2009 by Jeff  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

photo 22 200x300 App Review: Blox by Synx.usBlox is a fast-paced game that requires quick reflexes.  Although this game is quite simple, it is also very entertaining.  The object of Blox is to try and swipe as many squares off of the screen as you can, within the one minute time limit given.

In Blox, there are four types of squares. Each square has a different direction arrow on it, and each direction is associated with a different color.  For example, green goes with the up arrow while the yellow goes with the down arrow and so forth. The four colors are blue, green, red, and yellow. These colors give the game a more friendly looking interface, as well as help you distinguish between the blocks.  When you begin the game, the squares slide on the screen one at a time from the direction that their arrow is pointing.  You must push them back off the same way they came.  It quickly becomes confusing as the squares appear on the screen faster and faster.  This game can be played for hours on end, competing against your friends to get the highest score.

We put this game in the hands of a young child, who loved playing it and trying to beat his personal best.  Because it does not require skills beyond understanding what an arrow means, this is a great game for even the very young.

Note: Hand-eye coordination is required.

Blox is available on the iTunes App Store for $0.99

Meteor – Brick Breaker by Mobile Stream

February 25, 2009 by Dorothy  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

Meteor is a game that draws upon elements of many other games that we have all played before.  The combination of them yields an amusing result.  The setting is space and you are in your space ship.  Like most other brick-breaking games, the object is to destroy all of the bricks on the screen to move on to the next level.  To destroy the bricks, you launch a ball at them and keep it in play by hitting it off your ship’s rounded deflector.  The contour of the deflector actually helps you to have more control over the ball than in some other brick-breaking games.  That is just the beginning of the game, though.

Just in case breaking the bricks is not enough of a challenge, some levels add space ships that try to get in your way.  Some of which actually shoot at you, which can make hitting the ball impossible.  In playing the game, I have often found myself choosing between missing the ball and losing a life or trying to hit the ball and getting hit by the ship’s missile in the process and losing a life.  To aid you in your progress, there are several bonuses that fall out of some of the bricks.  These bonuses can change the speed of the ball, the power of the ball, the number of balls, and the size of your ships deflectors.  You can also get guns/missiles from one of these bonuses, which allow you to speed up your progress by shooting bricks and enemy ships.  Be careful not to miss the ball while you are shooting, though.  You will lose your missiles when you do.  Also, you cannot carry them to the next level when the one you are on is complete.

meteor2 200x300 Meteor   Brick Breaker by Mobile Streammeteor3 200x300 Meteor   Brick Breaker by Mobile Stream

To add to this challenge, there are several different types of bricks.  Some are harder to destroy than others and some cannot be destroyed at all.  They just get in the way of you hitting the others.  The controls are simple enough.  There is a slider bar at the bottom of the screen with which you can move your ship from side to side and if you touch the screen above the slider bar it fires the ball or the guns on your ship.  The difficulty comes in paying attention to and controlling so many things at the same time.  There are plenty of levels to keep you busy playing for some time, and you can pause a game and come back to it later.  This game is good entertainment for all ages.

Meteor is $2.99 in the iTunes App Store.  There is also a free version.

App Review: iDracula – Undead Awakening by Chillingo Ltd

February 24, 2009 by Jeff  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

photo 23 150x100 App Review: iDracula   Undead Awakening by Chillingo LtdiDracula is a third person shooter game with easy controls and smooth gameplay. This game begins with a man and a simple gun. The goal of the game is to stay alive as long as possible while various types of monsters try to kill you. As you kill the monsters, they leave behind a variety of upgrades and guns. Each gun has a different speciality to help you go farther in the game. As you fight off monsters and collect omens, your class rank increases.  Game control is incredibly smooth and easy on the touch screen. In order to move around the level, you use the wheel on the left of the screen like a joystick. To aim and shoot your gun you use the wheel on the right of the screen.

There are two types of levels, survival and rush. In the survival gameplay, the monsters come at a normal pace and gameplay is easier. The rush gameplay makes the game much harder. In this mode the monsters run at you as if the game is in fast forward. Once all of your life has been drained, your final score is recorded. There is a section for the survival game and one for rush gameplay. This page also tells you how many omens you have collected and what your class rank is.

photo 23 300x200 App Review: iDracula   Undead Awakening by Chillingo Ltdphoto 24 300x200 App Review: iDracula   Undead Awakening by Chillingo Ltd

If you are looking for a fast paced high speed adventure, this game is for you. You will be entertained for hours with this simple but exciting new app.

iDracula is available in the iTunes app store for $0.99 (Sale Price)

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App Review: Kitty Kannon by Stix&Stones

February 20, 2009 by Dorothy  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

The new app Kitty Kannon delivers  exactly what the name promises.  It allows you to shoot a kitty from a canon and see how far the kitty goes.  You aim your canon by tilting you iPhone/iPod and then fire by swiping a finger across the screen as quickly as possible.  The faster you swipe, the faster the kitty shoots out of the canon.  Then, you just sit back and watch the kitty’s fate unfold.  What goes up, must come down, right?

kitty kannon5 300x200 App Review: Kitty Kannon by Stix&Stoneskitty kannon2 300x200 App Review: Kitty Kannon by Stix&Stones

When kitty comes down, he will land either on the grass, a dog, a springboard, yarn and knitting needles, or a mine.  If he lands on a mine or springboard, he will be shot back up into the air with increased  speed.  If he lands on a dog, he gets eaten.  If he lands on the yarn and knitting needles, he is impaled.  The grass doesn’t change anything, he simply bounces like a rubber ball.  The kitty often goes so high that he is off the top of the screen.  Never fear, the kitty is not lost.  There is a sign at the top of the screen that keeps track of how high the kitty is in feet so that you know when he is coming back.

If you get an especially high score, you can upload it and compare scores with others playing in your area.  The only thing I objected to was that you had to create an account complete with your email address.  There is not much skill to the game.  Just launch and watch.  It is, however, rather amusing, I must say.  That having been said, this game may not be for cat lovers.

Kitty Kannon is $0.99 in the iTunes App Store.

App Review: Bebot – Robot Synth by Normalware

February 19, 2009 by Jeff  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Music

photo 162 150x100 App Review: Bebot   Robot Synth by NormalwareBebot is an ingenious music app.  It basically turns your iPhone/iPod Touch into a synthesizer.  You touch the screen to play notes (up to four at a time). The notes are arranged on the screen from left to right.  At first glance, it may be difficult to tell where you need to touch for each note of the diatonic scale.  However, there is a way to turn on a grid to mark the notes for you, making notes much easier to find.  When you slide your finger horizontally on the screen, the pitch goes up and down.  When you slide your fingers up or down on a given note, it changes the timbre (or roundness) of the pitch. To add to the audio effects, Bebot the robot reacts to the notes you play.  He leans forward or backward depending on the pitch being played.  He also opens and closes his mouth as if he were singing what you are playing.

By double tapping the arrow icon in bottom right hand corner of the screen, you can bring out the options bar, which presents you with a plethora of ways to change the sound the program produces.  There are four wave modes to choose from: Bebot, Pulse, Theremin, and PWM (pulse with modulation). Each of these modes changes the basic sound of the notes. Once you have chosen which mode you would like, you can play around with the other effects.

In the effects category, there are four options you can change: echo volume, echo time, echo repeat, and overdrive. The echo volume determines how loud the echo of what you just previously played, plays back. The echo time is how long it will be before you hear the echo of what you just played. The echo repeat affects how many times the echo repeats itself. One of my favorite features on this app is the overdrive. The overdrive gives you the option to give your sounds a more rugged effect, just as you would turn up the overdrive on a guitar.

photo 151 300x200 App Review: Bebot   Robot Synth by Normalware

The next section in the options menu is the scales category. In the scales category you can change the pitch of the notes and zoom of the screen, as well as opt to show the notes grid mentioned earlier.  You can also change the tuning effects and the scale being used.  The pitch changes how high or low the pitch range of the notes on the screen will be. The zoom allows you to have more or less pitches on the screen at any given time.  To get a larger range of pitches, make sure the zoom is low. The more you are zoomed in, the easier it is to accurately hit the notes you are going for, but there is less you can do because of limited pitches. The Note Grid is the option to show the lines where each note is located. There are three colors of lines: Yellow, Black, and White. These colors denote specific notes (C, D, E, etc.) in the diatonic scale.  AutoTune is the feature that lets you decide how the synthesizer moves from one note to another when you drag your finger horizontally over the pitches.  There are four options, the first of which is no auto tuning or “off.”  Snap tuning makes the synthesizer jump from one pitch to the next.  When fast tuning is selected, the synthesizer will slide from one note to the next quickly.  Slow tuning is very similar to the fast tuning in that it still slides from one pitch to the next, but will arrive at the next pitch more slowly.  Once you have arrived at the desired pitch, you can even add vibrato by wiggling your finger ever so slightly.  At the bottom of the scales section there are 12 squares that represent all 12 notes within a one octave range in the same arrangement you are used to seeing on a piano. By tapping on the squares, you can turn off some notes and leave others on. This is great when there are notes that you know you will not be using (ie. using a pentatonic scale).

One great feature of this app is the ability to play along with a song of your choice from the collection on your iPhone/iPod. Just double tap the start-up button and press play. See if you can play along with the song accurately, harmonize, or just add a little Bebot.

A quick word of advice:  When you first launch the app, Bebot may be little confusing.  At least for me it was.  After a quick visit to Normalware’s website (www.normalware.com), though, all was quickly explained in the videos they have posted there.   (If you are having trouble figuring it out, I highly recommend giving their site a visit.) You can also see the octave feature, which should be coming out soon.

Bebot is a great app whether you just want to watch a robot make funny noises or you are a real musician and you want to jam on a synthesizer.

Bebot is available in the iTunes App Store for $1.99

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App Review: Submarine by Brisk Mobile Inc.

February 18, 2009 by Dorothy  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

Submarine is a fast-paced underwater game.  The object of the game is to steer your submarine around obstacles and through whirlpools without crashing into the rocky ocean floor or the icebergs above.  Once the game starts, the submarine moves forward on its own at quite a quick clip.  Your job is merely to move it vertically to avoid all of the potential pitfalls.  Amongst the obstacles there are also bonuses that appear as something resembling an ice cube.  When your sub touches one of these you are rewarded either with points or with a shield that will protect you against a single collision with another object (As in the first picture below it appears as a cloud of bubbles around the sub.).  Otherwise, a single collision means “game over.”  The good news is that you just start again at the beginning of the level that you were on.  Your points do start over at zero, though.  Also, the obstacles are not always in the same place each time you play a level.  So, you have to stay on your toes.

submarine2 300x200 App Review: Submarine by Brisk Mobile Inc.submarine3 300x200 App Review: Submarine by Brisk Mobile Inc.

You can choose one of two ways to control the sub.  You can use the accelerometer controls and tilt your iPhone/iPod or you can use a touch control system.  Using the touch controls, a finger on the screen pushes the submarine up towards the surface, and no fingers on the screen makes it descend towards the ocean floor.  I found that using the tilt controls worked just fine for me.  You can fine tune the amount of response that you get when you tilt your device in the “Options” section of the game.

There are fifteen levels of game play.  Each one more difficult than the one before.  The first time you play the game, only level one is unlocked.  As you complete each level, the next one is unlocked so that every time you play after that, you can choose the level at which you would like to start.

In playing this game, I found it took a little while to get used to the controls and the speed of the submarine.  It wasn’t long, though, before I was hooked; trying to beat the next level or get a higher score than last time.  Submarine is not very complex to play, but the graphics are great an it is fun and addicting.

Submarine is $0.99 in the iTunes App Store.

[price change: this is now 0.99]

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App Review: Analytics App by Inblosam LLC

February 12, 2009 by Rob  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Utility

analytics app1 100x150 App Review: Analytics App by Inblosam LLCIt is rare when an app comes along that is a must have; a keeper for me. Since we review a lot of apps, we are constantly installing and uninstalling them, trashing pretty much everything we download and keeping only those crucial/keeper apps on our devices.  Enter Analytics App by Inblosam LLC.

Analytics App makes using Google Analytics a breeze. This app allows you to access all of the data on all of your websites wherever you are.  Simply log into your Analytics account and you are immediately presented with a list of all of the websites that you track using Google Analytics.  Then, tap on the name of the website that you want to see data on.  You then land on a long menu containing just about every type of report that you could want.  The reports are divided into categories of Overview, Visitor, Traffic, Content, and Event Tracking Reports.  Tapping on any one of the reports listed, brings it up in an easy to read format on your device complete with charts that you can flip through and statistics.  Want to see the stats for a different date range?  Simply tap on the “Date” button in the corner and select your new date range.  If you have multiple Analytics accounts you can even switch between accounts by tapping on the settings button and entering in different login information.  This app has a clean design and interface that I thought made it easier and more straight-forward to use than the Analytics website itself.

analytics app2 200x300 App Review: Analytics App by Inblosam LLCchart switching copy 208x300 App Review: Analytics App by Inblosam LLCanalytics app6 200x300 App Review: Analytics App by Inblosam LLC

There is a lot of information presented through the app.  It is very complete and hence a worth while purchase.  If you’re like us you like to keep “in touch” with your websites and this app enables that obsession.  The one problem that I identified, and that others have seen as well, is that it has a bad habit of crashing.  However, that seemed to happen mostly when I was tapping on lots of different things quickly and did not happen so frequently that it prohibited me from using the app.   The developer’s iTunes notes indicate that a fix is already in the approval queue with Apple.  Also, at $5.99 we felt the app to be a little overpriced, but probably not an issue for those that need it.

Analytics App is $5.99 in the iTunes App Store.

One last thing…

This review wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the other Analytics apps as well.  Rounding out the review there is Analytics Pro by Zip Zang Done. This app has 19 reports viewable via their interface.  Pretty much everything you could want.  However, the feel of the app is more of a document/pdf viewer than it is a native app.  The app feels and appears to be an interface to a pdf document created on the fly and downloaded to the phone.  This is likely done in order to save download times and bandwidth, but this interface felt cheap and un-app like.  They have a lite (free) version that you can try out before you spend the 4.00 if you want to see what I mean.

The other app for Google Analytics is called myAnalytics by Felix Lam0uroux.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend any time with this app before we posted this review.  So, we can’t comment on it.  However, if you use it or have any insights on it, leave us a comment below.  If enough people find it worthwhile, then we’ll circle back and give it a good look.

App Review: Crazy Penguin Catapult by Digital Chocolate, Inc.

January 31, 2009 by Rob  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

When we read the name of this app, Crazy Penguin Catapult, we were a little skeptical.  Was this going to be a silly app that gives you a quick laugh and then you forget about it?  We decided to give it a try anyway and were pleasantly surprised.  Yes, the idea of catapulting penguins is still kinda silly, but it works.  When you launch the game, it shows you a quick video of polar bears taking some penguins prisoner.  The object of the game then is for you and your fellow penguins to save the other penguins.

img 0008 300x200 App Review: Crazy Penguin Catapult by Digital Chocolate, Inc.

You are then introduced to the map from which you enter the first level.   Each level begins with the catapulting of the penguins.  The penguins swing from a rope over the catapult in a cave.  When you think the trajectory is correct, you tap the screen releasing the catapult.  The catapult sends the penguins flying.  Don’t release the catapult at the wrong moment or the penguins will go splat on the ceiling or walls of the cave in a cartoonish sort of way.

img 0011 300x200 App Review: Crazy Penguin Catapult by Digital Chocolate, Inc.img 00141 300x200 App Review: Crazy Penguin Catapult by Digital Chocolate, Inc.

Once all of the penguins have been catapulted out of the cave, you move on to the second phase of the level.  On this screen you try to hit the polar bears with your remaining brave penguins.  The penguins fly across the top of the screen.  With one quick tap on the screen, they take a nose dive toward the polar bears below.  The number of polar bears that you hit determines whether you complete the level or not and how many stars you get for the level (1-3).  If you don’t get a perfect score, you can always go back and try again.  As you complete a level, you are returned to the map and the path to the next level opens up.  There are even bonus levels that appear as you progress through the map.

It did not take us long to complete the first map, although successfully using the catapult on a few of the levels proved a real challenge.  If you are looking for a game that will keep you occupied for awhile, this may not be the one for you.  However, if you are looking for a fun way to kill some time, enjoy.

Crazy Penguin Catapult is $4.99 in the iTunes App Store.

A smaller version of the game, Crazy Penguin Catapult Lite, is free in the iTunes App Store.

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