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Gaming iPhone iPod Review

Tap Tap Revenge 2

Tap Tap Revenge 2

Tap Tap Revenge 2 hit the App Store two nights ago, the application is the sequel to the wonderfully successful Tap Tap Revenge.

The sequel is very similar to the first version but there have been some improvements. The new game features over 150 free tracks to play with more tracks added every Thursday. The game has a whole new game engine which debuted with Tap Tap Dance, which makes for a much better 3D experience. Tapulous has also introduced “tap and hold” and “multi-tap” features in the higher levels.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 has 3 ways to play with your friends, Challenge mode lets you email your friends challenging them to beat your score, a progress meter lets them know how they did compared to you and Tapulous will let you know how they did. The two player split-screen mode which was so well done in the original is even better now, it has a brand new look and now has a progress meter. You can also use a vastly improved online play option.

The game also has career achievements but from what I have seen of the game there is no benefit from doing them except for the ability to show off how good you are at (or how much you play) the game.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 has some decent improvements over the original but I’m a little worried that it will end up being used the same way Tap Tap Revenge did, not at all. I haven’t played Tap Tap Revenge since about a week after I downloaded it, there just isn’t enough depth to the game. Maybe if you could unlock songs instead of being able to just download all of them it would be a little different. Or better yet if it featured a career mode similar to Guitar Rock Tour‘s. For fans of the original it is must have, otherwise it might not be that compelling.

Luckily the game is free so even if you don’t end up liking it you really only spent a little time and some hard drive space on it.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 – Free
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Categories
Apple Gaming iPhone iPod Review

Zen Bound Review

Zen Bound 1

Zen Bound is a fantastic game from Secret Exit. The game is described as “a calm and meditative game of wrapping rope around wooden sculptures,” and that is exactly what it is.

The challenge in the game is to wrap the rope around the wooden sculpture so that a certain percentage of the sculpture is wrapped up. You can see what areas are wrapped based on the color change on the statue but you can also see your progress at the top of the screen.

There are three goals that you can reach for each statue, 70% completion, 85% completion, and 99% completion. Flowers blossom on a tree (where all of the various levels live), up to three flowers will blossom for each level (depending on which goal is reached). There are lanterns up the tree that light your way once enough flowers have blossomed. According to the in game help “once you reach the top of the tree, things will be different,” but I haven’t quite reached the top of the tree yet, I’m about 5 or so flowers away from doing so.

Now to wrap the rope around the statues Zen Bound uses a very simple control scheme, you just drag your finger around on the screen to spin the statue, if you want to rotate the statue just use two fingers and rotate it. You may also tilt your iPhone to change the angle of the rope.

The game is incredibly addicting and more difficult once you reach the higher levels, trying to fit the rope into tight corners gets complicated when the statue is split up into several different parts that all rotate together.

The music in the game which is an original score by “Ghost Monkey” and is available to all customers in 320kbit MP3.

The game has 51 levels with an additional 25 levels to come this month.

What is so memorizing about this game is how wonderfully simple it is, that isn’t too say it is easy because it can be hard, but the concept of the game is incredibly simple, anyone can pick up and enjoy this game very quickly.

Zen Bound is the kind of game that you can play for 5-10 minutes and then put down again, it doesn’t take long to complete a level but the replayability appears to be pretty high, it is well worth the $4.99.

Zen Bound – $4.99

Categories
Application Gaming iPhone iPod Review

Review of Tap Tap Revenge For the iPhone

If you remember my review of the iPod game Phase you’ll remember how much I love rhythm games. Tap Tap Revenge is just that, music plays and as notes come down from above you must tap on them as they cross over a line, if you hit it on time you get points, if you miss, you lose points.

Currently Tap Tap Revenge has 17 original tracks to play throughout 4 different difficulty levels. The game has new tracks all the time and they are all free. Unlike Phase Tap Tap Revenge doesn’t use tracks from your iTunes Library (because iPhone applications don’t have access to those tracks) so they had to create they’re own original tracks for the gameplay.

The gameplay is very simple, as I explained above the classic notes coming at you and you have to tap on them as they cross over a line, but in Tap Tap Revenge they also have “shakes” which are arrows that come at you and as they cross over the line you have to move the iPhone in the direction the arrow is pointing making use of the accelerometer (you can also turn shakes off, as I have).

To keep the game interesting, the makers of the game have periodic contests to create Tap Tap Revenge videos or simple highest score wins contests giving away prizes such as iTunes gift cards.

I have had a lot of fun playing this game but what I consider to be the best feature in the game is the two player mode, which let’s you play the game with a friend, head to head style. One player uses controls on one side of the iPhone while the second player uses the other side (I’m not sure how this would work using an iPod Touch since the iPod Touch doesn’t have a built in speaker).

The only thing I would like to see add to this game (other than the obvious, more songs) is either a better visual confirmation or an audible confirmation that you hit the note at the right time. There are small fireworks-like animations when you hit it at the right time but that happens underneith your finger so you can’t see it. In other rhythm games they have a small sound that plays every time you get it right but I suggest a color change (maybe to green) across the entire bar at the bottom when you get the note right, you could also go with another color when you miss (such as red).

Overall the game is great and easy for anyone to jump right into, more songs are surely coming and should give you hours of more play.

Tap Tap Revenge – Free

Categories
Application iPhone iPod Review

Review of WordPress Application for iPhone

Early this morning Automattic’s native iPhone application, WordPress was released.

The app doesn’t have too many features other then being able to create posts, save local (as in, on the iPhone) drafts, editing, posts, and changing of post status.

I haven’t seen any major bugs, the one that I did find though is that when you choose a category there is no back button, you tap at the upper right hand corner to go back, where there is no button, it isn’t very obvious. It was very easy to set up with both of my self hosted blogs and also works with WordPress.com blogs.

You can also insert photos that are in your iPhone’s library which is nice but it is difficult to place the image exactly where you want it.

The two features I’d like to see added is the ability to do links and the ability to moderate comments. In the future even you could install a plugin on your blog that could notify you with the push notifications feature that will be supported by the iPhone in September.

App Store

Categories
Gaming iPhone iPod Review

Moto Racer for the iPhone Review

Moto Racer for the iPhone is another game that has some pretty frustrating game play (like Super Monkey Ball and in my honest opinion, Cro-Mag Rally). The game is just a motorcycle game with checkpoints and a timer, when the timer runs down your motorcycle stops.

Moto Racer has 3 racers and 10 tracks all set in different places with great scenery, the sound effects are good but the music gets a little repetitive and sometimes annoying.

The major flaw with this game is that it is difficult to steer, because of the fact that when you tilt the iPhone it is less like turning a steering wheel and more like actually tilting the bike it is tough to get used to (and I’m still not used to it and it was purchased on Friday last week). Luckily the game allows you to select a difficulty level which really only adds more time at the beginning of the race, but sure does help out when you have a hard time steering.

Between each race there is a still frame from a scene which makes me think that the game might of (at one time or another) had an actual story line but there are no words on the screen to let you know what is happening and their is no voice over explaining it either (which makes me seriously wonder why they are even there).

The second flaw with the game is the missing multiplayer. When you boil the game down it really is just you racing against the clock on 10 different tracks, there is no story and after you beat the 10 tracks there is nothing to do. If multiplayer existed you could get many more hours of playability out of it but since it is missing those hours don’t exist.

The only other suggestion I would give to the developers of this game is to add actual races, not against the clock but against AI racers. There are other racers in the game which you can punch while driving beside them but they don’t seem to serve any real purpose since the clock is the only thing that matters.

The problems I have with the game could easily be fixed by the developer updating the application and truly it is a pretty fun game. I’ve spent many hours with it and even though it can be frustrating at times I still come back to it to attempt a race that I haven’t beaten yet.

Moto Racer – $9.99
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Gameplay video and screenshots after the jump

Categories
Application iPhone iPod Review

Review of Byline for the iPhone

Update: With the 1.0.1 update to Byline Phantomfish has added the ability to mark individual new items as read/undread by swiping across them in the list, they have added a share button, and a “Mark All as Read” function (really big deal to me).

I was really hoping that Google would release a Google Reader client that runs native on the iPhone but unfortunately that may not happen. But, Byline is here to fill that void.

Byline is a pretty simple reader but what makes it great is that it syncs to Google Reader and caches items locally to be read offline and when you get back to an area with a connection Byline will sync those changes back to Google Reader.

Byline will even download the full webpage linked to by the RSS items instead of just what is enclosed in the RSS feed, that means you can choose to have Byline download pages from your new items, starred items, and notes (more on that later) to be viewed offline (full web pages).

Now back to the notes feature. Notes allows you to use a bookmarklet in your browser to save a web page like a bookmark but leave a little note with it, that of course is saved on Google’s servers. Byline will look at those notes and treat them just like items in RSS feeds so you can basically save any web page you want to Byline to be viewed offline.

Byline will also append a badge on the icon in the homescreen with the number of unread items. Here is where my issues come in, by default Byline will only grab the 25 most recent items and only 25 items so if you (like me) have about 500-1,000 new items a day from RSS feeds the dock will only show 25 and (from what I can see) it is only possible to cache 25 new unread items on the phone. Here’s an example, I am about to get on an airplane but I’d like to read all my RSS feeds from my iPhone while on the plane, I open up Byline and wait for items to be downloaded. I put the phone in airplane mode and get on the plane, but when you open up Byline it will only show you the 25 most recent items when it synced last meaning those other 475-975 items are unreadable until I get internet access again.

I’m sure these problems will be fixed with upcoming updates to Byline but it is still pretty frustrating. The other issue I have is the price (which I’ve mentioned in my review of Enigmo) $9.99 is too much to ask for this application, it really should only cost between $2-5. I don’t know if this is just developers testing the waters to see how people react to applications but boy is it frustrating to not be able to test an application out without paying the full price, in other words if there was a demo version available for free charging $9.99 might not be such a terrible thing.

But, if you spend a lot of time reading RSS feeds and Google Reader is your feed reader of choice this is a great app for you, especially if you are using an iPod Touch or spend a lot of time without cell service.

Byline – $9.99
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More screenshots after the jump

Categories
Application Gaming iPhone iPod Review

Enigmo For the iPhone Review

I’ve spent almost as much time with Enigmo as I have with Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, and that’s a lot of time. So if you don’t already know Enigmo is a physics based game where you use different pieces to bounce, slide, or deflect water droplets around obstacles and into their corresponding container.

It is a fairly simple game to grasp but as you get up to the higher levels they seem to get more and more complicated adding more obstacles and different colored water droplets.

Before experiencing this game on the iPhone I did spend some time with the Mac version, which surprisingly enough is practically the exact same game. Except in the iPhone version you use your tapping and pinching to move around the screen while as on the Mac version you use your mouse to do the same thing.

There are 8 different pieces used to make the water droplets go where you want to and it is pretty easy to understand how they work and what they do. Using your finger to drag the object around or selecting it and using the orange circle that appears around it to rotate it felt very natural.

One great feature Enigmo has (which I wish was added to Super Monkey Ball) is the ability to save your game after every level (in Super Monkey Ball it saves after 10 or so levels).

The game is very fun and I actually suggest it to anyone but I do have two problems with it. Being precise while moving and object or rotating it is a little difficult and sometimes I found myself having to zoom out and pull my finger away to make the orange circles larger so that I could do those precise rotations but what happened then is that the orange circle would obstruct my view of the water droplets and where they are going.

The only other issue I have with this game is its price ($9.99). I really think that someone needs to talk to these developers about the price, I’ve already spent $85 in the app store and thats about $45 then I wanted too initially. The reason I spent that much is because there are so many applications that cost me $9.99. I think that Apple’s game Texas Hold ’em ($4.99) has the right idea of being priced a little bit lower. I think Apple had the right idea way back when they first introduced games for the iPod, each one was priced at $4.99 which felt very fair compared to the amount of time I actually spend with the game. If I can beat the game in 2 hours I don’t want to spend $5 per hour on it, that seems a little steep to me.

Enigmo – $9.99
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More screenshots after the jump

Categories
Apple iPhone Review Video

iPhone 3G Reviews Come In

The big 3 finally came out of NDA today and released their iPhone 3G reviews. I’m sure there are others with the device but of course since Mossberg, Pogue, and Baig write for the 3 biggest papers in the nation they get first shot at it.

“But it’s not so much better that it turns all those original iPhones into has-beens. Indeed, the really big deal is the iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store, neither of which requires buying a new iPhone. That twist may come as a refreshing surprise to planned-obsolescence conspiracy theorists — and everyone who stood in line last year.” – David Pogue, New York Times

“If you’ve been waiting to buy an iPhone until it dropped in price, or ran on faster cell networks, you might want to take the plunge, if you can live with the higher service costs and the weaker battery life. The same goes for those with existing iPhones who love the device but crave faster cellular data speeds. But if you already own an iPhone, and can usually use Wi-Fi for data, you probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it’s worth getting the new hardware.” – Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal

“It’s cheaper, faster and a lot friendlier for business. Apple’s blockbuster smartphone already had nifty features such as visual voicemail, a splendid built-in video iPod and the best mobile Web browser I’ve ever used. With GPS newly added to the mix, this handheld marvel has no equal among consumer-oriented smartphones.” – Ed Baig, USA Today

Categories
Cell Phones Review Video

HTC Touch Cruise Hands On Video

PhoneArena got their hands on a HTC Touch Cruise and was able to show it off on video.

Personally the phone looks pretty good but it looks a little big and clunky (although I could be wrong, I’ve never held one myself). It is a decent looking design but unfortunately Windows Mobile isn’t exactly the best mobile operating system and therefore I don’t think I would ever use one.

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Apple MacBook Air Review

First MacBook Air Reviews Hit the Net

The MacBook Air was announced last week and will be shipping next week so what will Apple do to keep people talking about them this week? How about having reviewers post their reviews today? Sounds great!

There were 3 posted today:

Wall Street Journal
“beautiful, amazingly thin computer, but one whose unusual trade-offs may turn off some frequent travelers.”
“MacBook Air’s screen and keyboard were a pleasure to use.”

Newsweek
“When I slip it in the sleeve of my backpack where my six-pound MacBook Pro usually travels, the pocket still looks empty”
“diminutive dimensions pretty much evaporate the eternal quandary of whether or not to take your computer along with you.”

USA Today
“remarkably sturdy-feeling machine, especially given its size and weight”
“Jobs told me last week that Apple considered [adding 3G mobile broadband] but that adding the capability would take up room and restrict consumers to a particular carrier. Through a USB modem, he says, you can still subscribe to wireless broadband with your favorite carrier.”

Categories
Cell Phones Review

Samsung x820 Review

This year I purchased the Samsung x820 cell phone for my girlfriend for Christmas and she offered to write up a review of it for me so that I could put it on my blog. So here is what she had to say about the phone:

“I got it as an early Christmas present. When I first saw it, it reminded me of a tracphone. I then took it out of the box and found it was the thinest device I have ever gotten my hands on, other than my iPod nano.

What I didn’t like (not in any particular order)

  1. The interface is completely different than my previous phone (the Razr).
  2. Even though it has a better camera it takes too long to take a picture (unless my patience is just too short).
  3. When I send a text message I want to type the message, choose who to send it to and hit send. To send a message once I have typed it, I have to go to options -> send only -> options -> phone book -> options -> send.
  4. The service compared to my old phone isn’t quite as good.
  5. I can’t use ringtones transfered over bluetooth for my alarm sound.

Things I like (not in any particular order)

  1. It’s very thin
  2. Better quality screen
  3. When you take pictures with the camera you can add frames and effects to the picture as you take it.
  4. I can get easy access to the camera by simply holding the button on the side of the phone down for a couple of seconds.
  5. Better sound quality

All in all I think its a good phone, it’s very sleek. It’s so awesome how thin it is! Even though I’m still getting used to it I would recommend trying it.”

So there you have it. Just to let everyone know, we are planning on returning it, not because it is a bad phone but because of the service. The phone is only a Triband GSM phone instead of a Quadband which means that the phone is incapable of getting service at her house, which is kind of a deal breaker.

Categories
Apple Gaming iPod Review

Phase for the iPod, A Review

I recently purchased the brand new iPod game, Phase. Now I don’t really make a habit of reviewing video games on this blog but I had to make a special exception for this game.

Phase is a game made by Harmonix, you may know that name from a little game called Guitar Hero. They also made another couple of games that you may not have heard of called Amplitude and Frequency (the reason I mention those is because they are basically the same game as Phase).

The basic idea behind Phase is that notes come towards you on the screen and you have to hit the |<< button for notes on the left, the select button for notes in the middle and the >>| button for notes on the right when they reach the targets at the bottom of the screen. When you are able to hit the notes back to back you eventually build up multipliers, getting you more and more points.

The song that you play is split up into different checkpoints, in each checkpoint you have to get a certain number of stars, you collect stars by hitting notes at the right time and using the scroll wheel to hit what are called sweeps (pictured below).

If you are unable to collect enough stars you lose lives, when you run out of lives the song is over.

So let’s really get into what makes this game so fun, the problem with other games by Harmonix, like Guitar Hero and Frequency is that you can’t pick any song you want to play, you can only choose from the songs that come on the game. With Phase you can play the game with any song in your music library, all you have to do is drag the song into the “Phase Music” playlist (added when you downloaded the game) and iTunes will analyze the song and now when you sync the game to your iPod the song will be added to Phase.

I’ve played the game on Easy, Medium, and Hard, you can unlock harder difficulty levels by playing through Marathons (which are basically just 5 songs back to back). The game is a little challenging at times when playing on Hard (which is what I play on now) but for those who aren’t really into gaming Easy or Medium may be better suited for them.

I really suggest just about anyone with an iPod that can play games should spend the $4.99 on this game, it is the best game that I’ve ever played for the iPod. I really think that the game has great game play and is fairly challenging. The idea that you can expand the game play endlessly by just adding new songs to the Phase Music playlist just means that the $4.99 you spent on the game should get you hours and hours of play time.

Purchase Phase here.