When you’re stuck in queue at an airport, beyond the obvious need for security following 9/11, you have to wonder how hard can it be to run an airport smoothly. Why does the experience have to be a pain the butt? Often times, it is a combination of showing up to DMV on any normal day without an appointment and being stuck at any major grocery store before it closes for Thanksgiving. Sure, after watching Pushing Tin starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, and Angelina Jolie’s nipples, I understand the stress behind running certain facets of an aiport, such as an air traffic controller. But please, the rest of the staff are barely qualified to be human. In any case, to temper my thinning patience during any air travel, I’ve made it a point to bring Airport Mania: First Flight with me, since this time management strategy game allows me to vent my frustrations, while sympathize with my fellow ma-ugh… carbon-based lifeform?! Whatever the case, with 8 different airports containing 84 levels, there is a lot of great gameplay to experience in this whimsically visual game. Plus, with built-in achievements and cool extras, you will understand why lots of users have been requesting for more levels to feed their new found addiction. Highly recommended. Price: $2.99.
Back in 2003, the National Do Not Call Registry was passed, which limited telemarketing calls received by all people. As soon as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened the program, I signed up not only myself, but also my mom because telemarketers had become pretty ruthless calling at all times of the day and night, while basically playing on one’s emotions, especially the elderly. For me personally, I wanted to benefit from another aspect of the program: cellphone numbers were prohibited to be called by telemarketers. Unfortunately, over time, this was not completely true: telemarketers can call your cellphone, but they had to manually dial the number and not use an automatic dialer. This would explain why my wife has been experiencing a high volume of calls from a particular long distance company that acquaintances referred her to, which basically gave these types of telemarketers the green light for their persistence. In any case, we found a stop-gap solution using Area Codes by VersaEdge Software, which allows us to find the origin of each unknown call that comes to her cellphone. For instance, when a call is coming from Manhattan, we know its our financial agent. When it comes from Florida, we know its our insurance company. From Los Angeles, it’s our archnemesis, the long distance phone company. Until our complaints are processed, this simple, straightforward app will continue to be useful for such occasions. Price: 99¢.
Originally recommended by a colleague, who said some of the missions were based on real missions in Afghanistan, this game by Triniti Game did provide me with shock and awe. Why? Because he himself was in the military and continues to keep tabs on current developments in modern warfare through friends, who are still serving our country. Perhaps it was because of this “insider” knowledge that, when I finally got myself to download the game and play it, an eerie feeling came over me seeing how the 3D night vision images of enemy units get scattered into tiny little pieces by one of three weapons available for the player to use. Basically, the idea that I was possibly re-creating actual events, in which lives were lost, gave me a bit of a guilty conscience. Yet, because of that same possibility, I noticed that I couldn’t put the game down. Plus, with the voice transmissions giving you directions and/or encouragement, you can’t help but feel like you’d be letting the team down if you don’t continue to fight. With over 10 missions and six levels of ‘medal’ achievement, there’s no doubt that you’d get your money’s worth as well as something to brag about among friends. Price: 99¢.
Believe it or not, I recently went to church with my family and I ran into my old elementary school classmate, Charlene, who also now has a family of her own. While we quickly, yet nervously went through muted intros followed by the standard oohs and ahhs of viewing each other’s precious toddler during another guilt-ridden homily, I had remembered a simpler time when the 10-year old versions of ourselves were at recess at the Our Lady of the Visitacion school. I had caught Charlene reading Christine by Stephen King, which fascinated me to no end and obviously still does since I’m bringing it up again. Basically, I was amazed that anyone our age would be reading at all (MTV had just launched) and of all things, an author, whose only impression upon me was a couple of good movie adaptations in The Shining and Carrie, while the rest, such as Christine, were too silly to even consider. Yet, years later, I’ve now come to realize that King has opened doors for many other writers, such as Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, to come into the mainstream from genres usually chided for their content even before a word is ever read of their work. In many respects, Sorcerer #1 and Sorcerer #2 by Death=Head & Co. pays homage to a similar pioneer in the Wizardry franchise, which originally was created by Sir-Tech in the 80′s. A simple wireframe dungeon crawl role-playing game mixed with 8-bit graphics and elements of Dungeons & Dragons rules, Sorcerer #1 and Sorcerer #2 is everything you remember of the Wizardry series except the price: 2 for the price of nothing! While not for everyone, hopefully the new fools can appreciate what the old skool reminisces about. Price: Free.
I’ve always had this fascination with cruises. Perhaps it was because I used to watch The Love Boat and deeply wondered over the years which middle-aged perv would I turn into: That drunkard Doc? Pornstache Isaac The Bartender? Perhaps Gopher, who had puppy dog eyes for any woman that greeted him on the show? Talk about desperate, but not serious! Ah, I may never know and anyway, it’s probably best for others to judge. In any case, at least I can be a pimp like Captain Stubing and pretend to navigate cruise ships to dock in Sea Captain. Created by Curious Toys, the game is a slightly different take on line-drawing time management games like Firemint’s Flight Control, but instead of being set in airspace, it is set in a tricky and congested harbor. As boats enter the harbor, draw lines from their current locations to their designated docks based on color. However, you have to be aware of other ships, which come at different speeds and sizes, as well as the angle you draw their navigation lines so the ships do not hit anything else. Furthermore, as an added wrinkle, with clouds rolling into and out of the environment, using the lighthouse as a guide becomes very important, especially at night. Throw into the mix a dash of icebergs and a pinch of pirates (yes, I said it – PIRATES!), and what you’ll have left is a good visual game with equally good gameplay to back it up. Check it out! Price: 99¢.
W.C. Fields said, “Everything I do is either illegal, immoral, or fattening.” I don’t wear a big old top hat, but I relate to those words. Until I downloaded Lose It, I never knew how many calories I took in. This is a GREAT little free app where you enter your goal weight along with some other stats and it will tell you how many calories you should take in daily to achieve your goal. You can tweak the amount of time to get to your goal weight and it automatically adjusts your daily caloric intake to achieve it. The best thing is that it shines a light on how many calories you eat over time. Right now, for example, I have 1200 calories left to consume today to stay under to my daily target. When I have dinner, I will enter what I will eat and the app will tell me how many calories my meal is. If I go over may daily target, it’s ok because I can make up for it tomorrow, since Lose It tracks your calories over time. Plus, it will factor in exercize too, so if you want to eat one cookie more, take a walk to be sure you burn the calories. It makes losing weight like a role playing game, but instead of leveling up, well you, uh… level down… I guess. Price: Free.
Do you remember when Grand Theft Auto first came out for the PC and it was a top-down 2D multi-scroller? In fact, both the original Grand Theft Auto and its sequel were basically rough cut smash-and-grab games, in which character headshots with accompanying speech bubble pop-ups would appear telling you what you needed to do next. That’s right, Dorothy, that pitbull of a franchise didn’t start off as the 3D open environment powerhouse it is now with tons of Easter eggs that gamers gleefully discover and brag about to their friends. While the original GTA and GTA2 are available for free download by Rockstar Games (also offering cult favorite, Wild Metal) for the PC, Apex Design’s Payback proudly pays tribute to them both with their own intepretation complete with 11 huge 3D environments, awesome lighting effects, a diverse selection of vehicles and weapons, and of course, a solid soundtrack. I mean, what’s a carjacking game without tunes for those intermittent joyriding excursions in various vehicles, right? Play as a street urchin coming of age in the world of crime by getting as many points as possible to move up to the next level. You can do this in a variety of ways, all non-linear. All in all, this game is what GTA could have been if it stayed in a top-down environment. Recognized by The Boston Globe as one of the “most addicting games in the Apple Store”, it’s becoming a classic all on it’s own. Price: $4.99.
I don’t know about you, but I still get nostalgic for good ol’ Night Trap, one of the best FMV (full-motion-video) games ever made. Oh, wait… I got that mixed up with Dragon’s Lair. Well, at least it had Dana Plato (a swig for me and another for my homie… RIP, girl!) from Diff’rent Strokes in the lead role. “Watchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” Anyway, Hysteria Project brings the grand tradition of video with gameplay overlays to the iPhone. It’s in the survival-horror genre: you’re fleeing from a black-clad axe murderer through the spooky woods rather than endless zombies, but there’s enough axe-into-skull thwocks and splatters for the gore-lovers. The sound and video effects are very well done. The actual gameplay is a mix of choose-your-own-adventure decision-making and Shenmue-style quick action button presses. Overall, something a little different with high production value. Definitely worth a look. Price: 99¢.
It’s been close to a decade since we’ve seen a sequel to Diablo and it may take just a little bit longer. With issues raised last year by fans about the art direction for the game (which was rumored to have led to some internal strife in the dev team) and now a purported delay of its release to 2010 along with StarCraft II, we may need to satisfy our Diablo fix in other ways. Sure, we can dust off the old CD-ROMs and give both Diablo and Diablo II another spin, but, how about checking out Pixel Mine’s Underworlds instead? Seemingly paying homage to the Blizzard classic, this adventure game for the iPhone has everything from the head’s up display (HUD) to the actual gameplay being eerily familiar. Yet, with fantastic controls, plenty of items to obtain, and enough hidden traps and treasure to uncover, Underworlds can pretty much stand on its own as you play as a guard of a local tavern taking odd jobs to carve out a nice little existence as a sword for hire and the occasional deterrent for Orc raiding parties. Trouble with Orcs, oh my! While it may be a little short in regards to playthrough time, updates promise to make it a better value than it already is. A lite version is available to test drive. Recommended. Price: $2.99.
I know that you know I always start my recommendations with some whimsical anecdote from my youth or my early professional career. The other device I use is comparing a game to something that I have seen in the past. Well, this entry will use two of the three to double your pleasure! When I first started checking out Elecorn’s Caster, everything from the POV, the environments, and even the visual effects reminded me of an old Interplay PC game called Evolva, which I helped integrate into Heat.net (check out the link – nothing to brag about). It was a fascinating game, in which you are able to adapt DNA into your body to improve your body’s defenses, weaponry, etc. Unfortunately, in an era when most games sucked up more resources than readily available on the majority of computers, it’s visuals did not compensate for some lacking areas in gameplay. Fortunately, Caster does not have these failings at any level as you rid the world of an invading alien bug infestation called the Flanx. Destroying the natural resources of the land, the Flanx comes in many forms that you need eliminate by dashing, jumping, and shooting pulse weapons from your hand. While the controls requires a slight learning curve, there is no denying that the smooth 3D graphics, responsive controls, challenging missions, and overall polish is worthy of a download. The screenshot alone speaks volumes. Price: $2.99.