App Store Review: Galaga Remix

1 06 2009

Addictive recreation of an old-time favorite.


Galaga Remix was created by Namco, and it is a brilliant remake of the original arcade game. Galaga Remix includes an updated version as well as the original 1981 Galaga. The old version of the game does allow you to reclaim a captured ship so you can have double the firepower with dual ships like in the old arcade game, however this app really shines with the updated version. The new Galaga’s graphics are much easier on the eyes, and includes new boss battles, multiple upgrades for your ship, and plenty of levels.

The rest of the review is after the break. Read more…

Military Application of Consumer Goods

27 04 2009


In the United States over the last half century a large amount of consumer goods were originally government sponsored military devices that trickled down to the consumer market. Think GPS, handheld radios, Toughbooks, Nextel cellphones, Roomba, the internet, and modern computers started originally as a military project. All of these things started out in the hands of Uncle Sam, and then went on to the consumer market to become what we know today.

However, now the military has started to look at consumer goods and apply them for military usage. The iPod Touch is starting to become integrated into the US military. They can be used (soon) to help soldiers communicate with the local population. Snipers use a calculator on the iPod to make better precision shots. The reason they are looking into consumer products is because consumer products are made to be cheap. To have a military standard device capable of less than what a $230 iPod can do can be twice or more the price purely because less of them are made. Because iPods are made to be mass produced, they end up being cheaper to configure the iPods (like add a screen protector or case) then it would be to have a military specific device.

This of course benefits us as consumers because if the government starts buying something on the cheap, it requires less of our national budget to buy military goods, which in turn means either less taxes, or more welfare for the needy.

The US military has always had a problem with their development cycles for new products they need. If the military wanted a iPod touch like device for soldiers to use in order to communicate with locals, they would put out a contract to engineering firms around the country to design something. The thing would end up being bulky and durable, but would most likely be limited to just communication features. And on top of that, it would take 5-10 years until the device was finalized and accepted by the branches in order to start deploying them. This is on top of what I said earlier, compared to the consumer market there would be a very limited number of these things made, meaning their price would be through the roof. And if they ever wanted to upgrade or modify it, that would be another 5-10 years cycle of intense research and development with a large amount of expenditure.

At this point, hardware isn’t the issue, software is all the military really needs to worry about. There are plenty of things we at home already use day-to-day that can be retrofitted to survive in harsh environments and that only really need new software to do what they need.

App Store Review: Flight Control

13 04 2009

I know this is a bit late for a review but better late then never!


Flight Control, created by Firemint, is an addictive little game where you draw the flight paths of different aircraft to their landing strips, basically you are an air traffic controller. There are 4 different types of aircraft, a blue helicopter, a yellow Cessna type plane, and two different kinds of red jets, one being faster than the other.


The graphics are simple but clean. There isn’t any in-game music while you are directing things, and you can’t listen to music and the game sounds at the same time. The game sounds are helpful, they warn you when aircraft get close to each other, and ding whenever you land one, but if you are playing a long time it is better to listen to music. Otherwise, the game keeps track of your statistics (most likely aircraft to crash, most planes landed, last game’s planes landed) so you can see how you’ve improved.

This game could use some improvements, like a fast-forward, especially at the beginning. Every time you restart, you have to wait a long time for airplanes to show up, which makes the start of each run very slow. Otherwise, the graphics are a bit simple, a plane or helicopter landing just shows them fade away as opposed to actually landing. When there is a mid-air collision, they just blink to show they have hit each other. It would be more interesting (and a better finale to each game) if they exploded. Lastly, a few more gameplay elements would be good, like if they had clouds float over the airport to make it harder to see what is going on. However, all of these minor faults don’t hurt the game enough to avoid buying it.

Flight Control is addictive and entertaining, and it only costs $0.99, which is a great price for this game! You can pick it up from the App Store here.

App Store Review: Time Crisis Strike

30 03 2009

This week I got to play through Time Crisis Strike for the iPhone. This game has a great nostalgia effect on those of us who’ve played the arcade version.


Time Crisis Strike is a rail-shooter, fire-and-duck game just like his arcade brothers. Your goal is to stop the evil Wild Dog from his new (unknown) plot to cause mayhem. It’s a single campaign with 3 stages totaling 23 screens, and you face off against about a half dozen different types of enemies. Controls are simple, touch where you want to shoot, tilt the iPhone forward to duck and reload, then tilt it back to stand up and continue to shoot.


This game is a lot of fun, especially because it’s Time Crisis. Its graphics are good, and the music and sounds are all great. There were no noticeable bugs or gameplay issues, the game was very well polished. They also have five unlockable “Crisis Missions”, which each challenges you to accomplish a specific task, like only shoot the yellow soldiers. Overall the Time Crisis feel of the game is great, although it does lack the light-gun and foot-pedal, it is a great port to the iPhone.


The only drawbacks to this game are that even though you have a tilt-meter for ducking, sometimes it feels like a button would be much more useful. Otherwise, the game can feel short if you only play through the arcade mode once, but honing your skill at this game can be very entertaining, plus the unlockable challenge missions, or you can challenge friend to see who can get the highest score.

Fans of Time Crisis absolutely have to get this game. Otherwise, if you just want a good rail-shooter, Time Crisis Strike is the way to go. You can pick it up from the App Store for $5.99

Newer, Smaller iPod Shuffle

11 03 2009


New to the list of Apple’s recent product revisions is the now smaller $79.00 iPod Shuffle. They sport 4 GB storage in a 1.8″ x 0.7″ x 0.3″ housing weighing less than an ounce. It can play for about 10 hours from a full charge, and as always is compatible with Mac and PC through iTunes.

Apple quietly updated the iPod Shuffle today, closing the online store early in the morning and reopening it with the new iPod. The iPod Shuffle is much like the his older cousins, small, sleek, and uses a clip to hold on to whatever you want. The Shuffle comes only in two colors, silver and black aluminum, and the clip is made of shiny stainless steel.

The major feature Apple is pushing for this new iPod Shuffle is VoiceOver, which can tell you the song you are playing (without interrupting the song), recite playlists you have loaded onto it, and warn you when your battery is low. This is a great improvement over the old shuffle, where you were stuck with one playlist, and there was no way to find out what song you were listening to. However, the computerized voice may get on your nerves if you are sensitive to it.

Lastly, when you buy the shuffle, you are stuck with Apple’s earbuds. They have removed buttons from the actual device, and have placed them on the right side earphone cord. Although this is handy, if you don’t like Apple’s earbuds, there is nothing you can do about it until an adapter comes out, and that adapter will be a separate purchase. Not to mention the controls you will have to memorize a combination of controls just to use it, take a look:


Pros: VoiceOver, Smaller, Long Battery Life, Very Nice Look

Cons: Proprietary Headphones, unknown Adapter price-tag, VoiceOver voice can be irritating, only 2 bland colors (black and silver)

If you plan on buying an iPod, the Shuffle is the cheapest and does music like all the other iPods. You lose out on the screen and video that the 8GB $149.00 iPod Nano would give you, though if you only want the music in a small package, Apple has the answer in a fashionable package.

RSS, why no full text???

29 11 2008

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication is a great tool for staying on top of the latest news. But a growing trend is hindering this protocol.

I love the fact that my RSS reader allows me to quickly browse through all the blogs I read,—plus it wirelessly syncs up with my iPod Touch (Thank you NewsGator/FeedDemon/NetNewsWire)—however, lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. A few feed publishers have begun offering only a short summary of their articles, requiring you to click a “Read More..” link(I’m calling you out Ars Technica), forcing you to open the page in a new window. The reason this bothers me so much is that the whole reason I use RSS is that I want all the content from multiple blogs in one place. Having to open up the article in a new window is frustrating, but it’s even worse on my Touch, where I can’t quickly switch back and forth between windows. Of course, to add insult to injury the article isn’t pre-fetched, slowing me down even further.

More importantly, I don’t understand why Ars would choose this format. They were never in print media; they started as a technology blog that caters to technologists who are on the go and want information quickly. Why would they want to slow down their readers, much less force them to work to access their content? Furthermore, even the newspaper industry, which has traditionally provided only snippets of text, is starting to relax its death grip on its content. For example, The Guardian has started releasing full text in its RSS feeds.

So, to all content publishers out there remember, readers want information on their terms, not yours. This includes letting your readers selectively subscribe to your articles, which has been a request by many readers on other blogs during this election season, who think that tech blogs and politics do not mix, (cough lifehacker cough). Really, just give the readers what they want.

Keep a look out for my next post coming up in the next few weeks.

Nuevasync: Over the Air Syncing of Calendar and Contacts for your iPhone or iPod Touch

29 09 2008

Love the cloud? Always accessing your Calendars or Contacts from several places? Tired of having to connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to your computer to sync your contacts or calendar? Updated: NuevaSync has added new features! Learn more about them here.

Well, now you don’t have to. The easiest solution to this problem would be to hook up an exchange server to your iPhone so that it stays in sync, but unless you’re an enterprise user, you probably don’t have access to one. It’s not worth setting one up and, if you’re a Google user, you want your info synced there, not your work place. That is no longer a problem, thanks to a free service called Nuevasync. Nuevasync creates an exchange account running only the mobile protocol, and can sync your contacts and calendar with Google.

I originally found out about Nuevasync from a Lifehacker article offering Nuevasync as a Mobile Me alternative. I use Nuevasync with my iPod Touch, so no matter where I am or how I want to look at my data, I have access to it. It also makes it easier to enter a lot of data onto your calendar, and lets you easily import from web sources. Just add it to your Google Calendar and in about 5 seconds, it will show up on your iPhone (as long as you have service or Wi-Fi). This is especially helpful if you use shared calendars in a group setting, such as a family calendar or a group project calendar, by using Nuevasync you will always know that you have the most up to date version. The only catch is that currently, Nuevasync can only sync calendars that you have edit permissions for (there is a tool to help you figure out which ones those are, the link is after the jump) and they get merged all in to one calendar on your iPhone (they stay separated on Google Calendar).

Nuevasync was started in November 2007. Amazingly its creators David Boreham and Thomas Lackey never expected the high volume of users Nuevasync receives now. The original Nuevasync was designed as a Windows Mobile sync solution using Google Calendar and Plaxo (an online address book and social networking service) as data sources, but now Google Contacts as well as the other two are supported. Once Apple announced that they would be introducing Exchange server support with the 2.0 firmware upgrade, they got a beta copy of the firmware and began testing using an iPod Touch. They only expected a few iPhone users to be trying the service. Two days after the launch of the iPhone upgrade, Nuevasync’s servers were heavily hit, their user count had doubled. After that, Nuevasync began to drastically scale their code to support the new workload. Because of this, most of the planed new features had to be delayed. The two most requested new features are the ability to select which Google calendars are synced (including public calendar syncing) and for multiple calendar support. Both of these features are currently in development and is expected to be ready for testing within the next fe
w weeks. After that, the next feature to be released will be push email support from Gmail.

Probably the biggest reason people don’t currently use Nuevasync is that when you add an exchange server, all of your calendar and contact data on your iPhone gets erased, but the easiest way to avoid this is to sync your iPhone with Google via iTunes. I’ll walk you through the entire process to show you how you can have over the air syncing, without losing any of your data. Take a look after the Jump!

Read more…

Apple Rocks Out with Updates to the iPod Nano and Touch Lines (and colors for the iPod Shuffle)

9 09 2008

At an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts today, Apple announced revisions to both its iPod Nano and Touch lines. Both updates were in line with what many analysts and journalists had predicted, including Digg founder Kevin Rose’s predictions for the new widescreen Nano. Additionally, prices across both lines were dropped substantially.

The all new iPod Nano 4G

The all new iPod Nano 4G

The new Nano has returned to the taller and narrower shape of its 1st and 2nd gen predecessors. Taking design cues from both the iPhone and the current gen Aluminum iMacs, the Nano is aluminum and glass, and features a new widescreen display that pushes the click wheel to the bottom of the device. In addition to the new display and design, Apple has dramatically improved the UI, which mimics the look and feel of the iPod Touch and iPhone interface. In line with these changes, an accelerometer has been added that switches the display from landscape to portrait, from song list view to coverflow, and allows the iPod to be “shaken” to shuffle. Finally, the new Nano’s come in the widest array of colors ever offered, a total of nine, including newcomers to the Apple line yellow and orange.

The new iPod Touch G2

The new iPod Touch G2

Updates to the iPod touch were not as drastic, but did include a few new features. The look of the device has been changed slightly, tapering off the ends and thinning down the body in general. It is also has a new contoured stainless steel body, possibly made to differentiate itself from the more plastic based body of the iPhone. New features include a built in receiver for the iPod + Nike software that has been touted at many a Jobs keynote, integrated hard button volume controls and a built in speaker.

Both of these new models include Apple’s new “Genius” playlist system that automatically creates a playlist based on your personal music tastes. The iPod Nano 4g will sell for $149 and $199 for the 8 GB and 16 GB models respectively. The iPod touch will now sell for $229, $299 and $399 for the 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB models respectively.

Finally, while not announced, Apple has added four new colors to the iPod Shuffle lineup. The price still remains unchanged, however, at 1GB and 2GB for $49 and $69 respectively. Stick with for continuing coverage!

Reports from an iPhone 3G and iPod Touch running firmware 2.0.1

4 08 2008

Here are some notes from the 2.0.1 firmware update installation.

Here are my notes, in chronological order since installation:

Downloading the firmware took about 7 minutes on a 20/5 Mbit/s connection. Fairly slow for Apple’s servers, probably due to heavy traffic.

My iPhone update took about 20 minutes. Note that I recently synced and backed up my iPhone with my computer about one hour prior to the installation.

This update WILL disturb a previously jailbroken 2.0 device, but will not brick it or fail to install the update on a device that was PWNED using the latest PWNAGE tool.

Things seem to be snappier. No Apple application crashes yet, no sign of sluggish performance.

Now trying third party applications. Installing an update on the device from the App Store still relocates applications to the back as if they were never installed.

After over 12 hours of extensive use, we have found 2.0.1 is a great improvement to the buggy 2.0 firmware. However, there are still some outstanding issues.

More updates coming soon.

A comprehensive guide to iPhone firmware 2.0 Gaming (SDK)

16 06 2008

With 26 days until the launch of iPhone 2.0 , we have a whole extra month to check out what the future has in store. Below, we’ve compiled a guide to all of the games that are headed for the App Store.


Spore on the iPhone

SimCity and The Sims creator Will Wright’s next big thing, with a development cycle rivaling that of the construction of the Great Pyramids. The full game has been heralded as the second coming of gaming, featuring a heavy emphasize on user created content, and procedural generation. It has been announced for the PC, Mac (via a Cider port) and a variety of console platforms, notably the Nintendo DS. Both the iPhone and DS versions appear to be a faithful recreation of nothing but the first stage of the game, in which the player controls a microscopic version of his future creature, that build that foundation for the rest of the players evolution.
Demo at Apple SDK announcement
Additional info

SEGASuper Monkey Ball

Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone

A puzzle platformer that made its debut as an arcade game, it’s wild success made it a good choice as a launch title on the GameCube, Super Monkey Ball and its sequels have become a staple of the child focused console game market. The game has featured multiplayer since it’s release on the GameCube, the existence of a multiplayer feature for the iPhone version of the game, has as of yet, been unconfirmed. However, the control scheme is very similar to that of the Wii title, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, in which the Wiimote is held parallel to the ground and tilted in the direction the player wishes to move.
Keynote Demo
Interview with SEGA’s Ethan Einhorn
Additional info

PangaeaEnigmo and Cro-Mag Rally

Enigmo on the iPhone

Long time Mac exclusive developer Pangaea has added two of its most popular games to the foray. Enigmo is a puzzle game, in which players must manipulate the movement of an unknown liquid into a tank, using items such as bumpers, sliders, accelerators, and sponges. Cro-Mag Rally is a third person racing game, not unlike Mario Kart, in which players race through different periods in ancient history. The Mac version features networked multi-player, though this feature is unconfirmed for the iPhone build.
Additional Info

Developer Website

GameLoft – Multiple

GameLoft Titles for iPhone

GameLoft is rapidly becoming the EA of the mobile phone gaming market. Based out of France, the company has over 4,000 employees and posted a revenue of $140 million in 2007. Though the company mainly develops games for the Java, BREW and Symbian platforms, the company has announced plans to publish no fewer than 15 titles for the iPhone. The details posted so far suggest that GameLoft will stick to its strengths and develop mostly casual titles.
Brain Challenge
Chess and Backmaggon
Bubble Bash

Int13Crazy Cart 2

int13 Crazy Cart 2

Another French mobile developer, Int13 has created a slick cart racing title for the iPhone. Rather than use tilt controls for movement like most developers, Int13 has opted for a multitouch steering wheel. A step in the right direction if you ask us; until the accuracy of the iPhone accelerometer is proven, our guess would be that it’s going to be fairly unreliable for accurate controls.
Announcment at MacRumors
Video Demo on YouTube

iDDoom 3, Doom Arena

A homebrewed copy of Doom for Jailbroken iPhones

John Carmack of iD game was one of the first game developers to openly declare his frustration with Apple’s 3rd party apps quarantine, back in the summer of ’07. The announcement of the SDK however seems to have filled his heart with warm fuzzy joy, and has hinted that he may be working on a title for the iPhone. In a post on Slashdot (http: SLASH SLASH www.Slashdot DOT com… hehe) Carmack wrote “…The ability to distribute larger applications than the over-the-air limits and effectively market your title with more than a dozen character deck name, combined with the reasonable income split make this look like a very interesting market.”
Re:Mr. Carmack are you still around?
Quake 3 Arena ported to iPhone/iPod Touch

Digital Legends EntertainmentKroll

Kroll by Digital Legends

This N-Gage developer gained loads of positive press at WWDC last week with their demonstration of third person sidescroller Kroll. Following in the footsteps of Ready At Dawn’s God of War, this title promises to bring a hardcore gaming flare to a market that so far has seen mostly casual titles. Thank the gods Jobs decided to let these guys on stage rather than yet another “casual” title like say…

PopCap Games Bejeweled, Zuma and Peggle

Surprising many, Peggle’s release in February of last year yielded a firestorm of critical acclaim and mainstream success. The addictive arcade title lets players choose one of ten playable characters as they try to clear 55 stages of peg destroying madness. The game received several awards, and was named one of the Top 5 most addictive computer games of all time by MSNBC. In an Apple press release, PopCap CEO confirmed that his company was developing multiple titles for the iPhone, including Peggle
Peggle for iPhone confirmed
Apple press release


The arcade classic, pacman

Ah PacMan, where would we be without you? This arcade legend has defined the gaming industry for decades, and has been ported to almost every kind of electronic device ever made. It is fitting then, that Namco would jump at the chance to add yet another check on its list of platforms supported. Like PopCap, Namco pledged its support in Apple’s press release following its iPhone SDK announcement, confirming both PacMan and Galaga for the App Store.
Namco, PopCap, THQ Pledge iPhone Support

IG FunRe-Volt and BioShock

BioShock: 2007 Game of the Year

Nothing good can come of a developer most comfortable making crappy licensed games on the BREW platform, getting the rights to horribly rape publish the 2007 Game of the Year, BioShock. IG Fun has already revealed their plans to make a BREW version of the game, but revealed to Pocket Gamer that they had plans to develop an iPhone version. Though they have yet to show any footage of the game, the developer has demonstrated an internally developed game called Re-Volt on the iPhone that looks like an unintuitively controlled Unreal set game, with enemies that have animations uncomfortably similar to the spider Splicers from BioShock.
Latest on BioShock Mobile
Re-Volt first-person shooter for iPhone
IG Fun’s Official Website

This list was compiled through research on the internet. As we uncover more information, we will bring it to you. However, if you know of a developer or game we missed, or would like to tell us more about your game, please contact us!