I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve resorted to writing reviews to myself via email on my iPhone whenever I get some free time. While I’m alright with “thumb” typing, I’m not like the kids on the bus or the subway, who can tap tap away as they carry conversations with 3 other friends doing the same thing. So when I learned that Catalystwo Limited was working on FastFinga from YouTube, it definitely piqued my interest. You see, the man behind the app is Masatoshi Nishikata, who also created two other apps that I really like: Sketch Pad – Unlimited Canvas (great for doodling and notes) and Tanzaku Pad (translates to ’small piece of paper’, but is primarily a white board app). It’s fairly obvious that Nishikata-san basically did iterations of similar products until he perfected the user experience in FastFinga, which, unlike it’s predecessors, can efficiently be customized to automatically enter text after a set elapsed time, expand the writing space in a single tap, copy and paste text, export to photo library, and even be emailed. It’s definitely alot faster, has great controls, and most importantly, saves paper all for a great price. Price: 99¢.
Generally, the end of June each year marks the celebration of Gay Pride throughout the world. Obviously, San Francisco is no exception and with some of our staff connected to the LGBT community as members or through family and friends, we wanted to commemorate that fact in some small way as a show of support. Therefore, we’re going against our own website’s mission statement, i.e. not recommending apps already in the App Store’s Top 50 in any category, and recommending EDGE Gay News Reader (#28 in Top Free Apps under News), which we believe is the best iPhone/iPod Touch app out there for the LGBT community. While its title may solicit yawns, the app is exceptionally well made providing easy navigation not only to News, but also to Entertainment, Style, Business, Health/Fitness, Technology, Travel, and Nightlife content. Plus, get access to critically acclaimed columnists and bloggers, such as David Toussaint, as well as photos from major events important to the LGBT community. All items can be shared with friends and family through e-mail and Facebook. Definitely a must-have, especially if you want to keep up with current events during one of the most important times for the LGBT community: same-sex marriage and gays in the military. Price: Free.
My son’s birthday is coming up soon, which usually causes a level of friction between my wife and I as we stress out trying to figure out what to do. We buy plenty of books (such as Kids’ Adventures Around San Francisco Bay) and are given plenty of books (such as Weekend Adventures in San Francisco & Northern California) that we page through looking for the perfect birthday setting. Yet, even after we settle on a location, we still need to figure out what’s on the menu, where to get the cake, what the favors will be, and what activities to coordinate. Well, at least, we may have some help with the activities using Kidtivities, an app which provides 100 easy and fun activities for kids. Everything from the Alphabet Game to What Am I? is included in this quick reference guide, which can filter results based on outdoor vs. indoor activities. Also, Kidtivities provides recommended ages for each activity. As a starting point, this app definitely helps you get the creative juices flowing to ensure your kids and their guests are entertained. Price: 99¢.
In a past life, I had the pleasure of talking with the original creator of Crystal Quest, Patrick Buckland, who described to me the essence of it’s gameplay experience in one word: therapeutic. When he conceived of his memorable classic, the majority of other arcade games in the mid to late 80′s, whether in arcades or on personal computers, was about destroying everything in sight. Patrick instead thought a game, in which the player would prefer avoiding enemies (aka Nasties) first before resorting to destroying them, would be more interesting. Plus, by adding crystals for points amongst the enemies in a full playing field, the player would then see several moves ahead and thus, giving a sense of ‘cleaning up a chalkboard.’ For me, it was food for thought and, while I may not totally agree with the therapeutic nature of the analogy, I do agree that you must check out one of the most beloved Mac games from back in the day. As a bonus, the classic version is included as well as the updated version based on the Xbox Live Arcade release. Check it out and see why it has stood the test of time. Price: $2.99.
I believe most people generally agree that the flagship movie for the zombie industry is George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. How can you forget the beginning of that movie when Johnny teases his sister during a visit to their father’s grave? “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” And come they did. Not only zombies, but also so-so sequels, poorly conceived copycats, and terrible remakes into the 80′s. When Danny Boyle directed 28 Days Later in 2002, the zombie industry made a comeback and not because the movie had such a great story, talented actors, or even memorable special effects. Instead, it was a persistent sense of impending doom that slowly eroded any kind of composure that you may have had. Basically, in a word, the movie was ‘creepy’, which also can be used to describe Zombiegame, a fantastic arcade shooter from Rocketcat Games. Attacked on all sides by zombies, all you have is an unlimited supply of different weapons. So, what do you do? Sweep the leg? Duh, wrong movie! You blow their freakin’ brains out, of course! The unique artwork and dark macabre settings make this a winner that you’ll never forget as it captures those ‘creepy’ elements from those timeless classics. The screenshot alone is chilling enough. Imagine the game! Price: $1.99.
When I think I can’t find any more games worth recommending beyond the App Store’s Top 50 in any category, I get lucky, which explains why I’ve been on a roll the last couple of days. With Subway Shuffle, the hits just keep on coming. Inspired by subway maps, this puzzle game puts the player in an instant dilemma: how to get your boarded train to its destination in the alloted moves or less? With other trains in the way, you’ll also need to move them, which counts against your total. However, the bigger catch is that you can ONLY move trains within their assigned routes (i.e. the blue cars for Blue Line, red cars for Red Line, etc.), which makes for a very challenging, yet wonderfully addictive game. Recently updated, the latest version now has 91 levels in total with a level selection feature, record keeping of solved/unsolved levels, a way to do undo/redo moves, improved options and added language support. Plus, the developer is very responsive to users and we can only imagine what additions and improvements he’ll continue to make in the future. So it’s definitely worth the purchase. Price: $2.99.
When I saw the iTunes page for this game and realized that the developer was most likely of French descent, I couldn’t help but think of Pepe Le Pew from Looney Tunes. Sorry Jean-Francois! Jokes aside, I finally figured out that the title of the game, PewPew, is meant to be the sound of lasers being fired like in old arcade games, which this app does a tremendous job of paying homage to. Duh! Yes, I’m that thick. Visually reminiscent of the original Battlezone, Asteroids, and Tempest as well as more recent releases like Geometry Wars, PewPew offers excellent arcade action in two modes, Dodge This and Assault, which are rather self-explanatory. Playing more like the old Crystal Quest on the Mac and Robotron 2084 than Asteroids, the biggest praise we have for this game is it’s controls, which are very responsive and just feels great overall. If not THE best controls that we’ve ever had in an iPhone game, definitely one of the best. Other publishers/developers should take note. A must-have app for every level of gamer and amazingly, it’s free. Price: Free.
I rather not tout an app that is already popular, but after I found out that it’s not in the Top 50, I was shocked and had to voice my dismay. You see, some time back, I had seen a glimpse of Edge in J2ME on a Sony Ericsson W580i and I was really impressed. Now on the iPhone, I’m even more impressed. For me, it’s reminiscent of Rez (ambiance) and Lumines (visuals) both released under Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s watchful eye at SEGA’s United Game Artists studio and Q Entertainment respectively. Another thing that all three games have in common are tremendous musical scores, which compliment the games so well that you wonder if the games deserve such high praise on their own merits or are you just spellbound by the music? Either way, it doesn’t matter since Edge, like it’s predecessors, seemingly stops time and space. All that matters is the game, in which you negotiate a cube through 43 levels of platforms, obstacles and other puzzle elements while accompanied by 18 great tracks. Now with updated controls and global rankings, this highly addictive quality game is absolutely worth having at any price. Price: $4.99.
You’re probably thinking, “Dude, another game about aliens abducting cows? For real?” Yes, for real, but honestly, while the theme is similar to another game (Udder Chaos) that we reviewed about a month ago, ToMaCow is much different, especially in regards to graphics and gameplay. Created by the fun folks at mobileFlavour, play as a farmer who has a major problem with aliens trying to abduct and/or eat his small herd of four cows. His solution: shoot an unlimited supply of tomatoes through what looks like an old vacuum cleaner at waves upon waves of enemies knocking them unconcious or ultimately destroying them. Your part: help his aim by tilting your iPhone/iPod Touch into positions that target the right spots to hit the aliens. Does it work? Will you both succeed? Now that’s why we play the game and with this one, you won’t be disappointed as it’s pretty addictive and feels just at home on the device for any occasion. With crisp and cute anime-style graphics, a perfect soundtrack, easy controls and simple objective, it’s quite the value. Price: 99¢.
Altough my knowledge of skateboarding has been limited to the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys (at least it’s not Gleaming the Cube), Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 on the SEGA Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2 respectively, and the lingering effects of a deep bone bruise from a banana board accident in the summer of 1983, I am aware of the significance of the sport, it’s expanding demographic, it’s evolving culture, and the influence it has had around the world. Yet, it came as a shock to me that there were only a few apps, which really supported the sport, its athletes and fans. One of the best has to be Skateropolis as it provides not only skate park locations, but also user reviews, messaging, creating/joining groups, photo and video uploading/sharing. Basically, the developer took the best parts of our favorite online past times, such as Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, patched it up with Thrasher magazines, and created a beautiful monster: a deep app with solid navigation for everyone to enjoy at any level. With an update for worldwide support coming in the next month, this is highly recommended, especially if you’re looking for spots close to home or on the road. Price: $2.99.