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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review Blitz for the iPhone (5 reviews)

    Every now and then, I find myself with a backlog of apps to review. I simply don’t have the time to write up a full review of each of them, so I will post a “review blitz”. In the review blitz, I will give some general information about the app, a rating, and a brief description/review of the app. It will not be as comprehensive as a full length review, but hopefully it will tell you a little more about the apps in question. This is the iPhone version.

    Super Monkey Ball 2, by Sega
    $2.99, ***


    • More of the same from Super Monkey Ball
    • Good use of the iPhone built in sensors
    • Multiplayer challenge

    • “More of the same from Super Monkey Ball”

    With Super Monkey Ball 2, Sega releases a sequel to the popular game, Super Monkey Ball. As with the previous game, in this game you are a monkey, moving around in a hamster-ball, trying to guide yourself safely through the maze toward and end goal. You dodge obstacles, holes on the ground, and try to pick up bananas along the way. SMB2 adds a multiplayer mode, to play with people on a local wifi network, which is a nice inclusion that I felt was missing from the original game. While there are some improvements in design and graphics, overall the game just seems very similar to the original. Sure, if you want more levels, it might be worth a pickup, but if you are looking for something completely new or revolutionary, it probably isn’t worth the money. Still, it is a fun game, and if you haven’t tried the original, picking up this version will probably be better since it includes multiplayer.

    Star Wars Arcade, by THQ Wireless
    $2.99, ****


    • Retro style star wars arcade game

    • AR mode seems to be a lacking

    I am a big fan of the Star Wars arcade game. A while back, I reviewed Star Wars: Trench Run, and really enjoyed it. Star Wars is back in the flight based Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner game. In this game, you are a gunner in the Millenium Falcon, so you use the gyroscope and accelerometer to move the ship, while using the one screen joystick to move your targeting gun (slightly different from flying an X-Wing). The graphics are very much improved, using the retina display to the fullest. In addition, you have Han Solo (in a voice that clearly isn’t Harrison Ford) making comments and quips while you are playing. In addition, there is an augmented reality mode where you can play using your camera, shooting various target in “real space”. Personally, I found this mode to be somewhat lacking, as it really wasn’t that much fun. Maybe I just didn’t get into it as much as I needed (I was playing it while seated). This is a fun, Star Wars flying shooter game, that is almost a must buy for any Star Wars fan.

    Awakening: The Dreamless Castle, by Big Fish Games
    $2.99, ***1/2


    • Nice combination of a hidden object and puzzle game
    • Nice graphics

    • A little too similar to their other games in the same genre (Everest, Amazon, etc) in some ways.

    Awakenings: The Dreamless Castle, is another “hidden object” game in a similar vein to Everest and Amazon. It is filled with nice graphics, and more attention seems to have been given to the storyline this time. It is much more of an “adventure” game instead of simply going from one picture to another, looking for hidden object (although that plays a role). Instead, in this game there are mini puzzles to solve, as you try to explore who you are and escape from the castle. I noticed there is an attempt to create an ambient mood, using background music that worked very nicely. There is also an iPad version of this game that I may review separately, but Awakenings for the iPhone was a fun mix of hidden object and puzzle “adventure” style gaming.

    Battlefield Bad Company 2, by Electronic Arts
    $2.99, ****1/2


    • Nice graphics, fun first person shooter
    • Easy controls

    • Small screen makes first person shooter difficult

    I admit, I am not much of a first person shooter gamer. I have played a few of them, but I am not very good, nor do I have much experience. So it was with some trepidation that I took a look at Battlefield Bad Company 2 for the iPhone. However, I found the game much more enjoyable than I thought I would. The game was fun to play, easy to learn, and hard to put down. Like any first person shooter, your goal is to progress through the levels, killing enemies and avoiding damage as much as possible. The controls are simplified for iPhone use – a button to stand/crouch, a button to zoom in (for shooting) and using the screen to movie around. That was one big problem I had with the game – my fingers kept getting in the way of what I was trying to do, on the small screen of the iPhone. It might be easier with a large-screened device like the iPad. There are a number of different missions, and it even includes a multiplayer mode (which I didn’t test simply because I didn’t know anyone who wanted to play!). But if you like first person shooters out, this game is probably a good one to pick up. Even if you are hesitant to try one, this is a good one to try because of the simplicity of the game.

    Awesome Note, by BRID


    • All around task manager
    • Many many features added

    • Sometimes too much time managing, not enough time doing
    • No way to import/export from calendar.

    Awesome note is consistently rated as one of the top time management apps in the app store, so I decided to take a look at it. It is a full featured task manager, including a calendar, to do list, quick memos, and the ability to add additional “folders” on the main page to organize your life. It also syncs with Google Docs and Evernote, although I don’t use those so I can’t determine how effective they are at syncing. The huge feature list includes things like using photos, maps, password protection, drag and drop management (which I find very useful), and many more. I found the interface pretty straight forward and easy to manipulate, but it definitely isn’t designed for a quick and easy approach to task management or to do lists. If you like a full featured task manger, the Awesome Note is definitely one worth taking a look at. However, if you prefer simplicity, you will only be turned off by Awesome Note. One key feature I wish it had (which I couldn’t find) is how to import or export items from your iPhone calendar. I don’t want to have to worry about managing three or four calendars – one is all I want. There is also a lite version, and an iPad version available.

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