Word Games are experiencing a bit of a resurgence at the moment with popular Social Media Platforms currently supporting several popular games and here’s a word game for the iPhone that requires quick thinking and fast fingers Word A Fall by Just Mobile Programs.
The objective of Word A Fall is to create words from letters that drop over a waterfall and fall from the top to the bottom of the screen.
The letters keep dropping until the time limit of the game has expired, each letter has different points attached so making words out of
difficult to use letters will score you more points then making easy words.
The game really makes you concentrate on the task at hand, as you start to build words and need to find specific letters you have to focus
100% on spotting the required letters from those rapidly falling.
Word A Fall could also be a great tool for spelling practice.
Three variations of the game are included, each providing a different focus from minimum word lengths to faster flowing letters.
If you are looking for a real word based challenge or looking to improve your word skills then Word A Fall is definitely worth a look.
You can download Word A Fall by clicking here.
The Real Racing Series has gained a reputation for pushing boundaries on the iPhone. The series pushes what is graphically possible on the iPhone, with every game pushing the hardware to look beautiful and on par with main stream game consoles.
The game also pushes realism for a smart phone with delicate handling and realistic car handling and performance, an arcade style racer this certainly is not, and now with Real Racing 3 everything is taken to the next level.
Now under the EA banner Real Racing is 2013′s first major mobile gaming release, and it’s clear from the moment that the game loads that this is certainly one of the most polished games available in the App Store.
To familiarise you with the game when it loads for the first time you are talked through a tutorial in the guise of your first race. The default controls are simple to use, turn the iPhone to the left and right to steer the car, touch the screen to break and acceleration is handled automatically, there are several different control settings so that you can pick the one that feels right for you.
The high quality of the graphics hit you straight away with incredibly detailed and well defined models, the real time light shading, shadows and reflections are akin to a AAA game on a traditional games console. This does though take its toll on some lower end iOS devices with reduced draw distances, even the relativly recent iPhone 4S sometimes hints at struggling under the strain, whilst on the iPhone 5 the game runs very smoothly an option to reduce detail on screen would have been nice. A nice touch is that second screen mirroring is supported so you can play the game on a big screen
Once in the game the structure will be familiar to those who have played a Real Racing game before, your first task is to choose your car from a number of cars available although not all cars are within your starting budget, you then race through a number of races and classes earning money along the way. Several new game modes are included in RR3, including a drag racing mode and knockout where every 20 seconds the car in final place gets disqualified from the race, these new modes are certainly welcome and add variety into the game.
Real Racing 3 takes a fascinating approach to multiplayer gaming, every single race is against real people but rather then having to worry about maintaining connections to many players, Real Racing 3 provides the racers track data so that you are racing against their ghosts. The game does as good job of finding equally matched opponents for you and as you invite your friends to the game you will find yourself racing against their ghosts as long as its a fair race. It’s a brilliant system and works very well indeed.
Real Racing 3 is free of change in the App Store and revenue from the game is generated through in App purchases with the user buying in game currency. Without spending in game currency repairs to your car take significantly longer then paying for a quick fix and it will take longer to acquire new cars. Whilst it doesn’t stop you playing and you don’t have to remain in app during down time, to have the game an option the buy the game outright would really be appreciated.
If your iPhone is up to the task and you don’t mind the in game payment system them Real Racing 3 is an incredible gaming experience.
The iPhone has had many third party peripherals released for it, some useful some not, but which category does the AppBlaster from Apptoyz fall into? Is it a waste of money of a fun tool for iPhone gamers?
The AppBlaster is a well designed and well built plastic double triggered gun with a cradle for your iPhone to sit in a landscape orientation on top of the device. Each trigger activates a separate switch in front of the iPhone which touches the screen with conductive connectors which the iPhone registers as an on screen touch.
This provides a mechanism to simulate a gun system for your iPhone with the handset detecting movement and providing a window on the action, whilst physically being able to hold a physical gun increases the level of interaction for the gamer. Does it work well in practice? While it obviously depends on the App the results can be engaging.
Several Apps are available in the App Store which are compatible with the AppBlaster varying in cost but in this article we are going to look at 3, Alien Attack, Duck Hunter & Marine Sharp Shooter.
Shoot the Aliens
Alien Attack is heavily publicised on the packaging and is an example of how the iPhone technology can be utilised with the AppBlaster to provide an engaging gaming experience. Alien Attack in an augmented reality game, projecting computer generated aliens over the real world environment captured with the iPhones camera. A radar on the bottom of the screen shows the distance and the direction of the alien targets and as you physically move around and change the direction and angle of the gun the on screen environment changes appropriately. Alien Attack may not be the most complex game in the App Store but its fun in short doses and shows the potential of the hardware.
Fantastic Fun in Duck Hunters
Duck Hunter is a take on the classic Duck Hunt lightgun style game, the premise is simple, ducks fly from one side of the screen to the other and you shoot as many as you can as the game gets steadily more difficult. The cartoon style graphics add to the amusement and the occasional upgrade to a machine gun provides a brief alternative and change in pace. The game wouldn’t work very well with just a touch screen but with the addition of the AppBlaster the games rises to a new level and becomes a great deal of fun and a great party game.
Sharp Shooting Action
Marine SharpShooter is a much more serious game and one that requires much more subtlety. Playing the part of a sniper you are set missions to take out enemies from a distance, each scene requires you to shoot several enemies through a telescopic sight, due to the magnification each movement is magnified several times but its impressive how the iPhone can detect very small movements allowing you to make small alterations to your aim. Its these small movements and enemies that shoot back after they become aware of you which makes the game very atmospheric, add in hostage rescue elements and the game play becomes very tense and exciting.
In conclusion many will mistakenly see the AppBlaster as a novelty or gimmick but with the right App it can become a genuinely engaging gaming peripheral.
Not all Apps have to be productive or have to feature the very latest graphics to justify being installed on your iPhone, sometimes a little bit of fun is important. Any App which can be used to involve and entertain the family or which might become a guilty pleasure should certainly be looked at.
With that in mind and with half an eye on the forthcoming Christmas season perhaps a festive sing song is in order with Jolly Jingle, a Christmas themed karaoke app.
Jolly Jingle features bold graphics
Jolly Jingle is a fun little app which features a selection of Christmas songs with on screen lyrics to sing to, simply select a song and the words appear on screen along with a full accompaniment. You can select from four different backing tracks for each song, from a piano only backing to a full children’s choir.
The graphic style is enchanting with bold characters on screen which can be interacted with in subtle ways, from changing direction of bubbles to making a colourful Rudolf appear on screen.
Have a festive sing song with your family.
This isn’t a complex app or rocket science – its a fun festive sing song that can be enjoyed by all the family.
The FIFA series of games have become a popular mainstay on the Apple App store, and each year the series receives an update featuring latest squad and team updates but also improves to push the hardware to the next level, bow does the latest version measure up to its peers? Let’s have a look.
The iOS version of FIFA has significantly improved over the past few generations to the point where it shares many of the features of it’s games console counterpart. A detailed manager, tournament, practice and even online multiplayer modes are included and all work very well.
Presentation has always been a strong element on FIFA games and with high quality images and music, and well thought out interface FIFA13 is no exception. In match presentation is strong and closely represents a TV broadcast with multiple camera angles, detailed commentary and recognisable players. Like all FIFA games all the official licenses are in place, so all teams are correctly named with the correct player names and kit.
Support for retina displays is included and on later iOS devices the animation is remarkably smooth, the iPhone really has become a portable high definition games machine.
Impressive Graphical detail
Like a lot of iPhone games FIFA faces the challenge of needing to replicate a joy pad on a touch screen, on the small screen of the iPhone 4S this does take a while to get used to as the onscreen buttons are quite close to each other, but EA have also included touch screen specific controls, aggressiveness of tactics can be changed by two fingered swipes on screen, and players can be made to start runs by dragging their direction. The function of on screen buttons are context sensitive depending on if you have the ball or not, with on screen text describing its current function.
New to FIFA 13 is the skill move button which causes your player to break out one of several special flashy moves depending on which way you drag the button, although it’s a nice feature but its a good idea to master the basics first.
FIFA13 on the iPhone
Action replays can be viewed from several angels and you can control the camera zoom, and a nice touch is that replays can be uploaded to Youtube. Each uploaded video is limited to 9 seconds, and only 1 camera angle is supported but it’s a great way to brag about your top notch goals.
If you own both an iPhone and an iPad then its possible to connect the devices over a Bluetooth connection and the iPhone becomes a virtual joypad whilst all the action appears on the big screen of the ipad. Its also worth noting that games can be saved to iCloud allowing progress to be continued across all of your iOS devices.
Using the iPhone as a joypad
In our testing multiplayer has worked extremely well, with very little lag and was generally a very enjoyable experience, in fact overall FIFA 13 is a great mobile title, you don’t get everything you get on the hone console price but it costs you about £40 less. If you enjoy sports games or soccer games then check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
We have looked at augmented reality games in the past, with it’s camera and high quality screen the iPhone naturally lends itself to Augmented Reality platforms, where computer generated graphics are super imposed over real life images.
Barclaycard have embraced this technology and have launch their Toys Unleashed App, a technically impressive but fun little collection of AR games based around bringing toys to life on your hand.
Games are played on the real word, you simply hold out your hand in front of the camera and using the latest on skin detection technology the app automatically works out the position and distance it is away from the camera and scales the on-screen character accordingly. You then interact with on screen objects with your finger. When talking about how the App works Perry Price at DARE who created the app said:
“Using the latest parallel programming techniques the phone splits the image into appropriate channels, rapidly strips away areas of the cameras feed that aren’t skin, identifies regions that might be a hand and then makes a decision about which of those is the more likely to be the tracked hand – all this takes place at a steady 25fps on most models.”
Three games are included in the App, featuring Mr B the Monkey, Chomp the Dinosaur and Mike the Robot, each with their own slightly different objective, you need to throw bananas in a set direction to Mr B, feed Chomp by throwing the right food at him and defend Mike from UFOs.
The games aren’t exactly rocket science but they are fun and are good examples of how augmented reality can be used to good effect, and as the image below (with Art work by Lee Baker) shows with a bit of imagination using the App can become creative. Check out Toys Unleashed in the App Store now
Here’s a little racing gem with fantastic visuals from the App Store – CSR Racing on the iPhone.
Far from being an exact technical simulation of motor sport, CSR Racing provides a fun arcade experience focusing on the underground sport of street racing.
A wide selection of real life cars are provided and they look stunning with incredible models and beautiful lighting effects, in fact the whole game looks fantastic matching the visuals on home console games.
Plenty of Race Options are included
After you have chosen a car the game is controlled through a city map which highlights your potential races and process access through to mechanical services.
Races take several forms, including a daily challenge against a mystery challenger, regulation races against your own car and crew battles against a local street gang where you race 5 members of the gang through an increasing difficulty level.
The actual race mechanics are very simple but do take practice and skill to get right with steering being automatic and the main focus of the game on shifting up gear at the correct time. Getting off to a good start is also key to winning a race and you will need to experiment with the on screen accelerator peddle to learn how to get the best results. Optional Nitrous upgrades can also been used to give you a short lived speed boost.
Face & Furious Action
Each race only lasts a few seconds so this is definitely about short sprints rather than a long marathon.
Each car can be significantly upgraded in the garage to increase performance and this is vital as opponents get harder, winning races and sharing feedback through your social networks provides you with extra funds or in game currency can be purchase with real world cash. If you are very patient there is no need to spend real money which makes the fact that this game is free to download.
We have often talked about what makes a good mobile game, fun and quick gameplay along with touch screen centric controls are required to make mobile games fun and CSR Racing has this formula down to a tee.
CSR Racing looks incredible, is fun and is free to download so check it out.
Originally released in 1999 Sega’s Virtua Tennis series of games have found success over the years. It’s blend of highly detailed graphics, fluid animation and TV style presentation proved to be a hit with gamers.
Whilst not as realistic as some of its competitors it’s arcade friendly gameplay and quick learning curve meant that it provided unparalleled accessibility to both tennis and sports fans, and now the game has arrived on the iPhone.
The first thing that hits you about the game is the incredible visuals, the graphics on the small screen look as good as on a console, and it remains smooth on the iPhone 4s in singles matches, although looking through the App Store reviews older models may struggle, and on the 4s in doubles matches you do occasionally see a little slow down. Hopefully this will get resolved in future updates as the games looks incredible.
Virtua Tennis had managed to keep its accessibility in translation to the touch screen iPhone, several virtual joypad options are included but the new touch control scheme works best of all. Tapping the screen causes your player to run to the point you tapped whilst swiping the screen will make your player hit the ball in that direction. It takes a little getting used to but very quickly you’ll pick up how to pull off a variety of shots.
There are several game modes to choose from, if you fancy a quick game then you can play an exhibition match where you play either a singles or double match against a CPU opponent, but the main meat to the game is in SPT World Tour mode.
In the World Tour mode you have a choice of 3 tournaments per real world day, each tournament has an entry fee and a prize fund, the more cash you have in the bank the bigger tournaments you can enter.
There is also an Internet multiplayer mode where an appropriate opponent is chosen for you for an online match. Online play works well although you’ll need to get used a tiny bit of added lag in the game.
Virtua Tennis is a big name and a big game, and if you have the device to run it then it’s a fantastic arcade experience in the palm of your hand. I only hope that future updates include optimisations for lower end iOS devices.
Rummikub is a popular classic tile based game for 2 to 4 players where the objective of the game is to get rid of all the tiles in your hand before your opponents get rid of theres, and now Games Factory Online has brought Rummikub to the iPhone. Providing 1, 2 or 3 computer controlled players Rummikub certainly provides an engaging challenge.
To remove the tiles from your hand, you are required to organised your tiles into sets of Groups and Runs. Groups are
three or four same value tiles of different colours, Runs are sets of three or more same coloured tiles in consecutive number order. After your initial move, which must value a combined total of 30 or more, sets can be made from either the tiles in your hand or from the tiles on the board, If you can’t make a move then you have to take a new tile and add it to your hand.
The iPhone version of Rummikub is well implemented, with clear tiles and crisp graphics, although given the nature of the game the graphics are only ever going to be functional. If you aren’t familiar with the game then it might take you a while to learn the rules and strategies of the game as the included rules aren’t very user friendly for the novice,but stick with it as after you get into it, Rummikub becomes very addictive.
This is one of those games where because of the set up time of the original the computer version has advantages over the real world counterpart, and whilst the computer opponents provide an engaging experience, even better is the inclusion of game centre functionality and multiplayer challenges.
Game Centre will automatically find you an opponent and then go one step better, because Rummikub is a turn based game it will give you a notification when it’s your turn, this means that you don’t have to sit waiting around waiting to play you can just return to the game when it’s your turn, this is a great feature of the iPhone version. If you are into classic games then you should check out Rummikub.
You can find Rummikub in the Apple App store.
Emulation is a popular method of playing games from older systems on your current device. Traditionally emulation involves the copying of game files or Roms from your computer but on the iPhone due to Apples App Store policies emulation works in a slightly different way.
On the iPhone it is more common for you to buy an emulator with games included, this guarantees that the files are legal and don’t breach copyright, it also provides a legitimate way for those in search of classic games to purchase a digital copy.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was a popular home computer which holds a place in the heart of many gamers and is a much emulated system. The Spectrum has also recently celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary and to celebrate the event Elite Systems have released a special 100 greatest hits emulation package.
Many Classic Games are included
The package contains several top spectrum games from several top Spectrum Publishers and there are some true classics here including Chuckie Egg, Manic Miner, Skool Daze & Barbarian. The quality of emulation is superb, the games look and feel exactly like they did on the original Spectrum Hardware, which is its strongest strength and also it’s biggest weakness.
Game control is performed through on-screen virtual controls, and by default this method has a few problems as important sections of the screen
are covered by your figures during play. To help improve this, Elite have included the iDaptive toolkit which allows you to edit the size and layout of the screen on a game by game basis, this allows you to optimise the controls for each game.
This highlights the problem of emulation though, games have come a long way in 30 years and some old games just don’t stand up today. This is especially true of some of the coin op conversions like Dragon Ninja which did the best it could with the available hardware but it wasn’t great 20 years ago and today is a frustrating unresponsive mess.
True 8 bit classics running on the iPhone
It’s not all bad though, the Spectrum classics that were designed around the hardware tend to be simple and fun to play and games like Manic Miner still retain their classic status.
If you are a fan of the Spectrum and want a mobile method of accessing your games or are looking for a cost effective way to see some proper gaming classics then Sinclair ZX Spectrum 100 Greatest Hits is a great way to do it.