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Dr. Mac: Rants & Raves - iPhone/iPod touch Game Prices Slashed by Freeverse!
Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 at 1:00 PM - by
As some of you have surely realized by now, in addition to penning the occasional Rants & Raves column for MacObserver I'm also the Reviews Editor for our sister site -- iPodObserver. As such I have dozens upon dozens of iPhone and iPod touch products in the queue, waiting to be reviewed. In that queue are four games from Freeverse Software -- Flick Bowling, Moto Chaser, Big Bang Sudoku, and Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab -- that I just learned are on sale at reduced prices for a limited time.
How long will the prices stay reduced? Therein lies the rub... when I asked my contact at Freeverse, he said, "The prices will probably be good for the next week or so..."
Anyway, here's the deal: I love a sale and I suspect most of you do as well. So since these games will only be sale priced for a limited time I'm going to show and tell you a bit about each of the four games in this column to insure you'll have plenty of time to take advantage of the reduced prices if you so desire. (A fifth game, Big Bang Board Games, is also on sale. But I only bought it this morning so I don't have much to say about it yet. I will, however, show you a few pictures.)
I currently have three bowling games on my iPhone Flick Bowling is the most polished and the most addictive of the three and now it's a bargain, too. At its original price ($4.99), I might have told you to try one of the less expensive bowling sims -- such as iBowl (free) or 300 Bowl ($0.99) -- before forking out five bucks for Flick Bowling. But at $0.99, it's a no brainer. If you like bowling games, just do it.
To play, you select one of six characters. Then you can play a practice game (the fastest kind), play against a computer character, or play against another human. To bowl, you select a ball, move your player left or right to aim, and then flick the screen with your finger or thumb to roll the ball down the alley. If you roll a strike or a spare you have the opportunity to watch a replay.
Now, repeat those steps nine times and...
The physics are generally quite good, though I can't for the life of me pick up an 8-10 (or 7-9) split to make the spare. As far as I can tell you can't put any spin on the ball either, which would be nice and more realistic. Still, it's a lot of fun and I find myself playing again and again when I have a couple of minutes to spare. At $0.99 you can't go wrong.
Moto Chaser is a simple motorcycle racing game. You control your bike by tilting your device to the left or right. Each level has a number of checkpoints; you have limited time to get through each. If you fail to pass a checkpoint in time, it's Game Over, man...
Every so often the point of view shifts and you can watch yourself catching some air.
An onscreen Gas button controls your speed (lower left) and a Punch button (lower right) appears when another cyclist comes into punching range.
When it was introduced it was called Moto Racer and cost $9.99. The name changed to Moto Chaser and the price dropped to $5.99 a few weeks ago. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd have recommended it at either of those prices but it's somewhat addictive and fun in a slightly repetitive way. In my humble opinion it's worth at least a buck.
Big Bang Sudoku
I'm more of a word guy than a number guy and I don't usually play Sudoku for pleasure. But my wife does. A lot. Of the five or six iPhone Sudoku apps she's tried she says this one is as good as any. I've played a few myself and I'm pretty sure I'd be happy with this one if I were a Sudoku fan. But I'm not, so rather than try to review something I'm not qualified to review, here is a link to a review of this and other Sudoku games by someone eminently qualified, my friend Dan Frakes writing for Macworld (Review: Best Sudoku apps for iPhone and iPod touch).
Here are a few pictures of Big Bang Sudoku in action:
Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab
Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab combines five similar but different puzzle games in a single iPhone/iPod touch app. All of the games have objects dropping from the top of the screen. You tap to rotate or reorder them, and you flick to move them left, right, or down. Every so often the level increases, objects drop faster, and new colors or patterns are introduced. The games end when the objects pile up and touch the top of the test tube.
Color Reaction has you match clusters of colored balls as they drop from the top of the screen. Match up four or more and they all disappear.
In Hex Bonding you try to assemble complete rows of hexagons; when (if) you succeed, the row disappears. (As you can see in the following image, I kind of suck at this one...)
Test Tube is a lot like Color Reaction, but instead of falling clusters you have falling lines. And instead of rotating when you tap them, their order changes. Match four or more to make them disappear.
Mission Mode is a combination of all three games, switching from one to another each time you complete a level. Or you can play in the special "versus" variety and try to beat a monkey opponent playing the same pieces you're playing.
There are over 15 power-up objects such as a timer, laser, bomb, deadweight, virus, super wave, and more, that appear from time to time in all of the games to add variety.
Finally, there's a Zen mode that's non-competitive, with no scorekeeping or levels, plus haiku and soothing music.
I love that all of the games have ghost images of the falling objects that appear at the bottom of the tube to indicate where the objects will land. That's very helpful. And the touch controls are excellent although they can sometimes be frustrating. To wit, I occasionally can't tap fast enough to rotate or reorder the balls or hexagons. But that may just be my big fat (and slow) fingers; mostly gameplay is silky smooth and quite enjoyable.
I've only had this app since yesterday but I've already wasted countless hours on it. In fact, just now I was trying to capture the images shown above and found myself playing for over 20 minutes! In a nutshell, if you like Tetris-style puzzle games you'll love Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab. Again, it's a bargain priced at under a buck.
Bonus: Big Bang Board Games
Big Bang Board Games offers Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, Mancala, Reversi, 4-in-a-Row, and Tic-Tac-Toe. You can play against the computer (with unlimited undos) or against another human.
I have to confess that I'm not very familiar with this game yet -- I only bought it a few minutes ago so I could show you these pictures:
In the short time I've had this game I found placing and moving the playing pieces felt easy and natural. But although it looks good and seems like fun, I've only played it for a few minutes so I'm not sure just how good it is or how much fun it will be, much less whether or not it's worth the reduced price ($2.99 vs. $7.99).
So you're on your own for this one.
The Bottom Line
Flick Bowling, Moto Chaser, Big Bang Sudoku, and Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab are bargains at $0.99. You can't go wrong with any or all of them for a buck apiece.
Big Bang Board Games is probably worth three bucks, but since I've only spent a few minutes with it I can't be as enthusiastic as I am about the other four.
One last thing: It's uncertain just how long these prices will remain in effect, so if you want 'em, may I suggest you buy 'em sooner rather than later.
And that?s all he wrote?
Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit www.boblevitus.com.
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