Well, I took a break from blogging over the summer and what better time to get back into the mix than with yesterday’s announcement of the iPhone 5 by Apple. Those that know me understand that I’m quite a gadget junkie, and even though my addiction began way before the iPhone, in the past few years the iPhone and IOS devices have garnered much of my attention. So, what’s my take on yesterday’s announcement? I can safely say that it’s the best iPhone ever made. But, I don’t think it’s the best smartphone anymore. Let me explain.
Anyone who knows me or has followed some of my blog posts know that I’ve always felt the biggest lacking in the Apple IOS lineup is a good stylus or pen. Fortunately for Apple, there are ingenious companies like BoxWave and Wacom that have created styluses to offer the best pen-like experience to be had on an IOS or Android device. Today, I have in my possession BoxWave‘s latest offering, the BoxWave EverTouch Capacitive Stylus!
In the old days, before the explosion of mobile devices, we didn’t have to worry about screen size that much. Nope, in those days, most humans had monitors that were typically about 800×600 pixels and possibly 1024×768 pixels. Designing an application or web page in those days meant that if you kept to those confines, you’d be ok. These days, that’s not really the case anymore.
I returned late last night from the Voices That Matter IOS development conference in Boston. It was one the best conferences I’ve gone to in recent memory. The conference isn’t a large venue; hosting about 200 or more attendees, with two tracks on various IOS topics. It was this smaller size that I got to meet some great developers. I learned a lot, and I’m currently in the process of trying to digest it all into a trip report. So, stay tuned for that.
Two years ago on September 15, 2009, a company called 5th Cell released a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS, while puzzle games aren’t a new thing to the Nintendo handheld, this one stood apart from the crowd due to it’s unique gameplay mechanic. The game is a 2d side scroller, where you control a boy names “Maxwell” who can summon objects from his notepad. Summoning objects on the DS was a simple matter of typing out the object you wanted on the lower screen and it would appear in the game world. The game boasted an enormous vocabulary of things that could be summoned, and everything that was summoned could be interacted with; for example, summoning a Helicopter would allow Maxwell to fly. The open nature of this game mechanic allowed for a variety of fun and creative ways to solve the games 220 puzzles. To round out the experience, the game also boasts a very cute art style and it a very catchy soundtrack.
Yesterday, 5th Cell, released their IOS version, which is universal for both iPad and iPhone (Hurray!). It sports some of the new IOS5 cloud features, which makes it’s way to IOS devices today. For example, save games are now exchangeable between devices. However, the game doesn’t have as many levels as the Nintendo version (I think it has 50), and the notebook is a separate screen which sort of takes you away from the game to summon an object, but all the gameplay elements are still present. Overall this is a fun and enjoyable game on the iPhone and iPad, If you’ve never played Scribblenauts before, or even if you have, this is a nice game to add to your IOS library. The game is currently selling for $4.99, which is about $10 cheaper than the Nintendo DS version.
Today was the big day, Tim Cook made his debut appearance without the esteemed Mr. Jobs, to announce all the new things that Apple has had up it sleeve. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the new iPhone has been a long overdue addition to Apple’s technology lineup. Unfortunately, this event wasn’t televised or streamed, so I had to rely on liveblogs from the Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) and Engadget to keep me informed this afternoon. The event was held at 10am PST, and the liveblogs began rolling around 1pm EST. I won’t go into gross detail about what happened at the presentation, if you want, Engadget had some great coverage with photos, so you should head over there if you want all the nitty gritty. But the big things were the announcements of the new iPod Nano, iPod Touch, IOS 5 features, and lastly, the new iPhone. The iPhone 4S is the new model for this year, and the only new model, no iPhone 5, as the internet rumor mill surmised.
This week is quite a week for games. The folks over at the Humble Bundle are running their charity event again, Humble Bundle #3. If you don’t know what that is, its basically a charity event that raises money for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play, at the same time it offers exposure to independent game developers and a chance for them to make a few dollars too. This Humble Bundle includes the following games: Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, VVVVVV, Hammerfight, And Yet It Moves, and Steel Storm. You also get a promo to play Minecraft until August 14. As an additional bonus, anyone paying above a certain minimum (currently $5.20) can also get the games in the previous Humble Bundle, which includes, Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans. All told, that’s 11 game, not counting the time limited Minecraft promo, quite a deal indeed!
Today also marks Square Enix’s release of Final Fantasy Tactics for the iPhone, for $15.99. The price seems steep in comparison to other games on the Apple App Store, but this is a port of the latest Playstation Portable (PSP) version, and at half the price of the PSP version! For those unfamiliar with the series, Final Fantasy Tactics is a turn-based strategy game that’s been around since the Playstation One days and set the standard for just about all turn based strategy games that have come out since. Square-Enix has also made a very strong showing on the Apple platform, by making quality ports of their Final Fantasy games, and even a new game series called “Chaos Rings”. So Final Fantasy Tactics should be pretty darn good. My only reservation is Square-Enix has the habit of releasing separate iPhone and iPad versions, instead of a universal version, which means I will need to buy the iPad version separately when it comes out later this fall, and I don’t relish the idea of buy the game twice… Even with this in mind, I’ll probably still pick this up.
My first game console was the Atari 2600, so it holds a special place in my heart, and it’s one of the platforms I emulate the most. It’s not that I play the old games heavily, it’s more for the nostalgia value and the occasional distraction. Atari has released their greatest hits on various platforms over the years (NDS, Gameboy, PSP, etc), they even released 2 dedicated consoles that look and operate like the original Atari console. Now Atari has released their Greatest Hits app for the iPhone and iPad. It’s free, but here’s the catch, you’ll need to in-app purchase the games. You can get groupings of the games or just buy all of them outright for $15.
If you were around during the Commodore Amiga days you might remember a popular sci-fi sports game called Speedball. It was a mix of Rugby and Football in a futuristic setting. The players were all clad in armor and the field was even metal. It was a fast paced game with two teams pitted against each other to try and score at each other’s goal at the opposite end of the arena. It’s not a revolutionary concept, but Speedball’s execution was well done. I’m not a big sports fan, I don’t watch football or rugby for that matter. But something about this game was plain fun. It might have been the futuristic metal setting, but the original Speedball sits in a fond place in my memory.
There is not shortage of games on Apples iTunes App Store, it is after all the biggest category of Apps available. So to become number one on the ranking takes something special. Angry Birds has been on the list for a very long time, and to my surprise this past week, I noticed that it wasn’t anymore! I had to find out what usurped Angry Birds from the top spot. Behold, it’s a little game called “Tiny Wings”. If you haven’t bought it yet, I’d recommend doing so, why? Because it’s a great example of a simple idea done very right.
Tiny Wings, doesn’t have a deep story about betrayal, vengeance, or anything that dramatic. It’s just a cute little bird with little wings that dreams of great flight. What transpires is a game where you essentially slide down hill to gain speed for prolonged flight. Of course, there are challenges. You must maintain your distance from the impending onset of night. The game keeps score for how well you slide, how far you go, how high you go and how many coins you collect along the way. This simple premise would be easily dismissed, if it weren’t for the execution. The game’s character is cute, and well animated, but it’s the backgrounds and visuals in conjunction with the masterfully crafted music and sound that makes this game shine! It’s a colorful world that changes with each play through, so the game always looks different. There’s not much more to say, you need to experience it for yourself, and at a dollar, this little game is a no-brainer. In a sea of so much competition, to come up on top with something so simple is quite an accomplishment, Bravo!
Click on the image below to purchase Tiny Wings!
no images were found