Games

On-device App Store gains "Try Before You Buy". Sort of.

As part of their constant tweaking of all things App Store, Apple has added a section to the on-device (i.e. on iPhone or iPod touch) App Store that's called "try before you buy".

Here's the deal, on the Featured tab, under New, there are series of 4 banners at the top. If you're in the US, the bottom right one now says Free on App Store. Tap on it and you get a list of New and Noteworthy, Try Before You Buy, and Our Favorites.

Tap on Try Before You Buy and you get a listing of free or lite versions of popular apps you can sort by Featured, Popular, and Release Date.

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Kaboom's Paratrooper lands on the iPhone

Kaboom's Paratrooper is simple in theory -- tap the plane to drop the paratrooper, tilt your iPhone or iPod touch to direct them to the landing spot. And right there is where every casual gaming fan knows the addiction starts and the mayhem begins.

You want to hit the X. You need to hit that X. Things get more complicated quickly, of course. Obstacles build up. They're paratroopers after all, not sky divers. So don't be surprised when you start having to leap -- and land -- into the middle of a paper-art war zone. (Yeah, paper-art. Awesome.)

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Plunderland for iPhone- app review

Plunderland is Apple's App of the Week this week. Does it deserve it? Yes and no. Developer JohnnyTwoShoes has made a solid effort to bring pillaging across the sea in the hands of eager gamers.

The premise of Plunderland is you are a ghost with pirates that sail across the sea to attack and sink enemy ships, pillage tribes people and take money from their monuments then make it to the next port. Sounds fun? Well, get used to it because that is what you do over, and over, and over again with little variety. Call me a stinker, but I don't see the allure with this game.

Sure, the water physics are nice. You tilt the iPhone left or right to make your boat move in that direction. When there is a storm, etc, the water behaves in a more erratic manor, making maneuvering more difficult. Once you are on the high seas, you come across your enemy; the British warships. You have a couple ways to take them out. First is to use your ships cannon. You have a nifty way of angling the cannon to shoot your targets, just move your finger along the bottom and you will get a reticule via a line that helps your aiming. Release your finger and you fire your cannonballs. Second, you can use the enemies cannonballs against themselves. Before the enemy launches an attack, the cannon will puff smoke, that is your cue to ready your finger and deflect the cannonball back upon the enemy ship and with luck, split it in two!

I know, I make it sound exhilarating, and it is the first two or three times you do it. Sadly, Plunderland does little to keep your attention. Future attacks add blimps and more, but the fun is gone by that point. The attacking villagers is a simple "tap, tap. tap" on the totems to get money and fling some villagers around in an effort to extract some more dough. Again... zzzz...

There is nice upgrade system though, you can upgrade your ship, cannons and bowsprits by earning said money above. The game has excellent promise. The controls, physics and graphical style all lend them selves to a success. However, the bland  I really, really wanted to like this game, being highlighted on Apple's App Store, but alas, mateys, I just can't bring myself to recommend this lack-luster treasure.

[$2.99- iTunes Link]

UPDATE: I had a delightful Twitter chat with the developers. I explained that I had played 50% thorough the game and became unchallenged with the levels and objectives. They understood and are looking at a way to unlock the more exciting and complex levels earlier for more "hardcore" gamers. I also said that when I find the time to complete the game 100%, I would update this review to include my findings. I am hopeful that by the time I do this, they will have some new content available. You can follow the developer on Twitter here.

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Jailbreak iPhone 4, Glass back, Free case, iPhone/iPod touch games and apps - From the Forums

The TiPb forums are naturally a great place to talk, commiserate, celebrate, get help, and offer advice to your fellow iPhone users. In order to create a new thread of your own or reply to any of the existing threads, you must be a registered member. Becoming a member is easy and free so if you haven’t already head on over and register now!

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Chain Link Pro for iPhone - App Review

Chain Link is based on the concept of creating as many links as you can and dragging them into the vortex in the middle of the screen without disturbing any other types of links.  The game starts off fairly easy and gets harder pretty quick.  There's also support for OpenFeint to share your scores with your friends and other Chain Link users.  I found the game pretty addicting after a while.  Hit the jump for more screens and a walkthrough.

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NOVA gets Retina Display and Gyroscope support

Gameloft's NOVA has just received one awesome update; high-res retina display support and the ability to use the gyroscope (looks like Gun Range proved useful after all) for iPhone 4. First let's talk graphics...

This game looks absolutely amazing. Color. Crispness. It's all there. No aliasing problems, things just look great. Now for the not so great news, the Gyroscope.

I have been playing with the NOVA update for the last couple of days and for the life of me, I can't seem to feel comfortable using the gyroscope in conjunction with the traditional controls. Sure, the gyroscope is precise. Sure you can pivot in a circle and the game will rotate with you. But when it comes to playing in a firefight with aliens, it is hard to be using the traditional controls to pan while using the gyroscope to aim. Perhaps I just don't have the reflexes of my youth, but I found the experience frustrating. Thankfully you can turn the gyroscope controls off.

This was just my experience, how are you liking the update? Let us know in the comments!

Video after the break.

[$4.99- iTunes link]

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Fruit Ninja for iPhone- app review

My latest favorite iPhone game is Fruit Ninja. The premise of Fruit Ninja is simple; slice fruit, don't miss any and don't slice a bomb by mistake. Sound easy? Think again grasshopper! After beginning a game, fruit flies up from the bottom of the screen. You use your finger (or fingers) to slice the fruit. If a fruit falls back off the screen without being sliced, you receive an X. Three X's and it's game over. To make things interesting, bombs are thrown into the mix as well. So, not only are you trying to slice a lot of fruit coming at you and not missing any, you have bombs that shoot up as well. The challenge is, if you slice the bomb, it's instant game-over.

When it comes to difficulty with this game, it is a nice and smooth curve. The issue is that once you get good at it, it would be nice to start at a higher difficulty. However, Fruit Ninja always starts you back at the beginning. Your efforts are not at a loss though, the game has plenty of achievements via Open Feint and unlockables. Different colored swords and backgrounds can be unlocked if you have the dedication and skill of a true ninja.

Fruit Ninja also has two different play modes. First is Classic. This is the primary play mode I have described above. Score points by slicing fruit while avoiding the bombs. Zen mode is fun and fast. There are no bombs, but you have a time limit to slice as many fruits as you can. This is not hard, what is hard to is to slice with combos to rack up more points. Check out the Open Feint leaderboards and you will see what I am talking about.

I can't say enough about this game. It has great art direction, animation and fun. When you lose, it even gives you facts about fruit. This is a near-perfect game, I love it!

[$0.99- iTunes Link]

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Eliminate: GunRange for iPhone 4- app review

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Ngmoco has just brought out the ultimate game/tech-demo (to show your friends) for the iPhone 4 -- Eliminate GunRange. It's a virtual gun range game where you use real weapons to shoot targets. The concept is not entirely engrossing as there are plenty of other top-notch shooting games out there (ngmoco's own Eliminate comes to mind). What makes this game fun and special is that it is the first game to take full use of the new iPhone 4 gyroscope. How does it work? Continue reading to find out!

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4th of July App Store sales - EA, Gameloft, Namco, Glu

In celebration of the US 4th of July holiday, there are a bunch of sales going on in the iTunes Apps Store, including EA, Gameloft, Glu, Namco, and more.

Aside from games, if you have a few moments to spend browsing through Apple's hundreds of thousands of apps, you might just find a quite a few others taking advantage of the holiday to drum up some sales.

Check out the links below for some great game lists. Any of your favorites super cheap today? Let us know in comments!

[Touch Arcade sales list, 148apps sale list]

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SteamBalls HD for iPad - app review

SteamBalls HD is a match-3 puzzle game for the iPad. It's fun, challenging, unique, and beautifully designed.

The goal of SteamBalls HD is to get a horizontal match of 3 balls of the same color, but it's more difficult than it sounds. At the bottom of the game board there are 4 scales and each ball is assigned a weight. The side of a scale that is heaviest will drop to the bottom; if the weights are equal, then the arms of the scale will be level. Underneath each arm, the current weight is displayed to save you from doing the addition in your head. As you progress through the game, new colors are introduced making it more difficult to get a match. The game ends when any column of balls reaches the top of the board.

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