Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

Rafter – iPhone Game Mini-Review

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Rafter is a physics based puzzle game from Punflay. I came across this game after the developer commented on another review I posted. They – very kindly – offered me redeem codes so that I could try, and I assume review, their game. I went to the AppStore to look at Rafter and, I must admit, my first impression was that this was not a game I would have purchased on my own. I was tempted to take the code, but I wanted the freedom to do an unbiased review. This does not mean I won’t ever take free stuff (Apple? iPad?). But iPhone apps are usually very inexpensive, so I prefer to buy anything I think I might review. Rafter sells for just $.99, and I bought it.

RafterHelpLets start with the look of the game. I mentioned above that I didn’t think I would have purchased this game if I had not been asked to, but why? It is designed to look like Leonardo Da Vinci sketches. The result, at first glance, is a lack of color, and punch, in the AppStore screen shots. Don’t we all pre-judge applications based on those screen shots? I am happy to report that those sample images don’t do the game justice.

When you first launch Rafter it presents you with a screen asking if you want to enable OpenFeint. I had no plan on sharing my score, so I declined and started looking around.

The in-game info screen states:

Rafter is inspired from the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. This game not only utilizes the skills of the player it also takes on his creative problem solving ability.

That seems about right. The game consists of 51 levels that must be finished in order, each getting progressively harder. Each level presents you with a red target that is obstructed by platforms, gears, swinging hammers and more. Your job is to hit the red target, and you are given two tools to accomplish this feat. Circles and rectangles. To draw one of those objects, you first select the object type and then drag your finger inside a pre-defined area at the top of the screen. This took some getting used to since my finger blocks the drawing area, making it difficult to draw small objects. Within the first few minutes I was reminded of Touch Physics by Games4Touch. Rafter, however, is more complex with some excellent levels. I was at level 34 by the end of the first day, and I quickly finished the game on day 2. That’s not a ton of gameplay, but it was addicting while it lasted.

During the game I was confused by some of the physics. I would create rectangles that, when dropped, would bounce – forever. I could see this happening with a circle, but with rectangles it was just weird. Also, some game levels have fans that can blow your objects across the screen. Cool effect, but getting them to work was not always easy. Circles appear to not be effected at all, and rectangles seemed like they had to be exactly perpendicular to the air flow to catch the air. Now, I am not a physics person, but I would think the airflow would have effected some of the rectangles I dropped that passed by the fan at 45 degrees.

RafterLevel24For scoring, each level has a timer and your score is based on the speed at which you solve the level. When I was finished with the game I went looking for my score but I could not find it anywhere. Remember, I had declined the OpenFeint option at the beginning because I had no plan to share my score. It appears that it is required, even to see your own score. That’s odd, very odd. I must be missing something. I did really want to know how I did, so I decided to enable OpenFeint. Having declined it at the start, when I clicked the Scores link I was again presented with the option to enable it, which I did. My score was not very good – hey, I said I was not a physics genius. I scored 2446 which appears to have placed me 157th on the list.

The game is well designed and, at the price, is a great buy. If you like puzzle games, and specifically physics type games, you should try Rafter. It passed the biggest test. I did not want to stop playing, and I was left wanting more when I was done.

Colorbind – iPhone Game Mini-Review – Updated

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

If you like puzzles then the iPhone game Colorbind by Nonverbal is something you should get. However, if you only like the easy ones then stop reading now and move on with your day. As a point of reference, I used to love the Myst adventure game series. Almost everyone I know gave up on that series long before finishing, claiming the puzzles were ‘too hard’. What about you? Are you up for the challenge?

Colorbind is a bit difficult to describe. Their own description starts by saying it’s a “relaxing but challenging puzzle game”. Relaxing? I think not. Addicting would be a better term, and I know of few addictions that are relaxing. The game consists of 84 levels with 10 additional achievements. Basically it is a connect the dots game, but it’s well thought out. Each level will present you with various colored ‘paper’ ribbons on a graph paper looking screen. There will be dots placed around the screen matching each of those colors. The idea, using your finger, is to drag the ribbons and connect the matching color dots. It sounds so easy, and on some levels it is. Don’t be fooled. They get really hard at times. If you get stuck on a level you can reset it by shaking the phone gently. A double tap displays a menu with options for resetting, or quitting the level. While dragging a ribbon, if you turn, the ribbon will fold to make a corner. You cannot capture a dot on a corner.

ColorbindLevel66On levels with multiple colors there is the additional twist of overlapping ribbons. If two ribbons overlap the same dot, the ribbon on top wins. It took me awhile to figure it out, since the game has few instructions, but the ribbon on the vertical path is always on top. You can complete unlocked levels in any order. As you complete one level, the adjacent levels in the level selection screen unlock. Level 82 was particularly fun, and there are two achievements that might get you trapped.

Colorbind is available through the AppStore in a full version for $1.99, or as a free lite version with 10 sample levels. I suggest playing with the lite version, as with any app, before buying the full version.

Spoiler Alert! If you continue reading, I give the solutions for two of the achievements.

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Apple and “Adult” Apps

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Well, there appears to be a another shift in Apple’s App Store policy. First, they wouldn’t let anything in the store that was provocative. Then they opened the floodgates and thousands of explicit apps started showing up. Then, just a couple of days ago, they banned explicit apps. Today, we hear from CultOfMac.com that there is a new “explicit” category for App Developers when submitting their apps. Does that mean that adult apps are on their way back again?

In a previous rant, I lamented the poorly implemented Parental Controls and App Rating system on the iPhone. To recap, setting Parental Controls Age Restrictions on the iPhone would hide screenshots of apps that have a more “mature” rating, but continued to show the apps with their provocative names and icons (NOT kid-friendly). It also removed unrated apps from the iPhone, including some very kid friendly apps (such as Horse Lover).

My goal was to have Apple completely hide apps with an age rating higher than the setting in Parental Controls. Hopefully, the events of the last couple of days are an attempt by Apple to do just that.

Read more about this ongoing story:

MacRumors.com: Apple Adds ‘Explicit’ Category for New App Store Submissions

CultOfMac.com: Is Apple Preparing To Add An ‘Explicit’ Section To The App Store?

iPhone Streaming Showdown: Qik vs UStream – UPDATED

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

In my “AT&T, The Bars Are a Lie” post I mentioned that I had been testing two iPhone Streaming applications. I have been looking for a way to live broadcast my son’s high school band performances for those parents unable to attend.  When UStream and Qik finally arrived on the iPhone, I was looking for an excuse to play. In the end, I was actually surprised at the differences between the two apps. I should say upfront that my expectations started low. I just don’t think live video streaming, over a cell network, is ready for prime-time. But who am I to pass up the perfect excuse to play with new toys.

First of all, this is not a studio test. I went to a random shopping center, where I was sure I would not be hassled by security, and tried streaming about 45 seconds of live video. I tried to capture the green trees, the blue sky, fast panning, quick light changes and various ambient sounds, cars etc., while I talked.

The goal was to find a clear winner based on:

  • Sound Quality – Clarity and Accuracy
  • Video Quality – Color & Compression Quality
  • Smooth Playback – No Starting & Stopping

Obviously, like with any media, choices will be made depending on the content being broadcast. If one application has better audio, but a lousy picture, you still may choose it if you are broadcasting a concert. If you are broadcasting something visual you may be willing to sacrifice the audio side of things. Let’s take a look, starting with UStream…

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Did The McGraw-Hill CEO Steal The Apple Tablet Thunder? – Updated

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Listen to this CNBC interview with the McGraw-Hill CEO. At around 2:50 in he confirms the Apple Table, along with the fact that it will be based on the iPhone OS. My guess? He might be on Steve Job’s Sh-t list. (Via MacRumors and CNBC)

Update

It get so fun to watch this stuff unfold. Could McGraw-Hill have been pulled from the Apple iPad event because of his comments on CNBC? While I think Apple is more than willing, as it seems they have done in the past to punish someone, McGraw-Hill claims they were not tossed.