All posts by nick

New Prince of Persia: Warrior Within Screenshots

Gameloft has just added three screenshots to their Facebook page showing off the new Prince of Persia game. These screenshots follow after we first showed you the initial teaser video about a week ago.

The screenshots highlight the onscreen controls including a virtual d-pad, and the final screenshot looks like it comes from a cinematic.  Hopefully, we’ll see some more screenshots and a gameplay video of the new Prince of Persia in the not so distant future.  If you missed the original teaser video, check it out on Youtube.  Prince of Persia: Warrior Within should be launching this month, according to Gameloft’s official Youtube account.

Realistic Racer GT Racing Ready for Revving

Gameloft‘s latest game, GT Racing, has just been released. It’s a simulation racer that will definitely appeal to fans of Real Racer or the Gran Turismo series. GT Racing is loaded with 24 licensed manufacturers, and over 100 real cars.

GT Racing comes with an expansive career mode that will keep you very busy. The graphics are also very impressive, and really give Real Racing a run for its money. Other notable features are uploading videos to Youtube, customizing your cars, and online play.  If you are a fan of sim racers, this is one game you should be checking out. Here’s the link on the app store for GT Racing, and watch for our review shortly.  Gameloft’s trailer and screenshots from the game are below.

Our January 2010 Game of the Month Revealed

January was undoubtedly a quiet month on the app store.  With lots of publishers rushing to get their games out and into the hands of new gamers in time for Christmas, we all felt a little saddened to not see the traditional oncoming rush of great games this month.  That said, January did have some titles that we enjoyed spending time with.

As a complete surprise, we were treated to one big name release in January.  That game, which also happens to be our game of the month, was Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.  Although it was simply a port of the DS game released previously, Chinatown Wars was a solid port and a worthy entry in the GTA series.  We also enjoyed playing games like Necromancer Rising and Heavy Mach 2, so read on to get our full opinions with the games.

Chris: The app store in January seemed a pretty quiet place in comparison to the crazy closing months of 2009. Unfortunately, independent developers didn’t follow the lead of their bigger counterparts and push back some noteworthy product for the opening of this year, which in turn equated to a “ho hum” start to 2010. That being said, Grand Theft Auto: Chinawars warrants the prize of Game of the Month more by default than by actual quality. Fans of the series will probably vilify me for saying this, but I think last year’s Gangstar far surpassed GTA: CW on several levels. This time of year is perfect for a casual game to come on the seen and become a sleeper hit; that hasn’t happened yet. Till then I congratulate the folks behind GTA: CW and hope they’ll improve next time.

Nick: I had the personal benefit of only trying Chinatown Wars on the PSP for an hour or two, so this iteration of GTA was largely a new experience for me.  Being a big fan of the series, I wasn’t too sure how it’d transfer to the small screen, and most importantly, deliver with no physical controls.  After I hopped into a car for the first time though, the steering controls felt great and immediately got rid of any fear I had about missing physical buttons.  I think this was largely due to GTA’s auto-steering ability which aligns you straight on a road.  I’ve enjoyed my time with Chinatown Wars far more than other free roaming games released to date (sorry Gameloft and Tag Games).  Mixing in the dealing, driving, missions, and overall content packed in for $9.99, Chinatown Wars puts the iPod up against the PSP and DS as a viable alternative.  It’s one of the few games I’ve played on the iPod that truly feels like a portable console title.  I hope the success that Rockstar is enjoying on the app store will encourage them to port other titles to the platform.

Matt: I get to be a naysayer this month. I’ll concede that Chinatown Wars does some things right, and that it’s a hell of a lot of game for the $9.99 pricetag. But I can’t get behind it as game-of-the-month. Instead, I wonder how many times Rockstar will get away with recycling the same storyline over and over again with cosmetic nuances — he’s Italian, he’s Miami Vice, he’s black, he’s Serbian, and now he’s Chinese — before gamers will tire of it.   For what it’s worth, January games that I enjoyed were Sword & Poker, Heavy Mach 2 and Battle of Puppets. I’ve also been enjoying The Deep and Cartoon Wars – Gunner, which were actually released in December, though I didn’t have time to dig in until this month.

While February has just started, it is already shaping up to be a strong month due to the release of Assassin’s Creed II and other impressive indie titles.  Congratulations to Rockstar and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for winning our Game of the Month for January 2010!

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Out Now on iPhone

Without any warning, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars silently snuck onto the app store earlier today.  Rockstar Games have brought us one of the biggest releases ever to the iPhone and iPod Touch.  It’s hard to think of another game that’s come to the iPhone that has more brand recognition than the GTA series.

Chinatown Wars first came out for the Nintendo DS last year in March.  The game was then ported over to the PSP in October, and has finally arrived for the iPhone today.  The game remains largely the same between all three versions.  One of the main differences in this version from the others is the change in control schemes, due to the lack of physical buttons.  There a couple of options for steering your vehicle, including tapping left and right turn buttons and also an on screen stick.  Chinatown Wars sports an animated look, but keeps you performing everything you’d expect in a GTA series: stealing cars, dealing drugs, and running from the cops.

The game looks like it’s running great on the iPhone OS.  For $9.99 and a 188 MB download, Rockstar appears to have delivered a hit.  Check out the video below for an idea about the gameplay from a user on Youtube, and watch for our review shortly.

Our 2009 Games of the Year Revealed: Gaming Overload!

Wow.  What a year it’s been for the app store.  This was the first full calendar year that the store has been open for business, and we’ve been treated to a countless amount of games.  Now, all of us have attempted to give a summary of some of our favourite games from the year.  We’re about to list a lot of great games, so sit back and see if you’ve missed any gems from last year or disagree with any of our choices.

Matt: Overall, 2009 was a great year for iPhone gaming. My personal favorite release of the year was the re-imagined classic Space Invaders Infinity Gene, easily the iPhone’s best shoot’em-up. The stages, visual presentation, sound and gameplay combined to make this a game I found impossible to put down. The inclusion of music stages, generated from songs in your music library, make this a game with an infinite amount of new challenges, and the recent update made things even better. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is the best example I can think of of a major game publisher simultaneously revitalizing a classic franchise while doing right on the iPhone platform. Kudos to Taito for a job well done.

For me, the year held a number of other highlights. Meteor Blitz is the best dual-stick shooter I’ve ever played, with sumptuous visuals and perfect controls. Flatspace delivered the most open-ended space role-playing experience on the platform; how you outfit your ship plays a huge role in how you play the game, and you’re welcome to play in any way you like, as law-enforcement or pirate, trader or bounty-hunter, good guy or bad guy. Chronicles of Inotia: Wanderer of Luone and Dungeon Hunter offered up the platform’s best fantasy RPGs, while Rogue Planet delivered an SRPG to rival those on major consoles. Robocalypse, ported to the iPhone from the Nintendo DS, was the year’s best RTS, and IUGO’s Star Hogs was an artillery game not to be missed. GeoDefense and GeoDefense Swarm were the year’s best tower defense games. Chillingo‘s Defender Chronicles effectively tipped the tower defense genre on its side, imbuing it with RPG qualities along the way and cementing it as one of the deepest and most rewarding alternative takes on tower defense yet seen. In addition, the developer has set a new paradigm for the support of existing properties with constant and hearty updates in content. Knights Onrush is the App Store’s best castle-defense game, even beating out Gameloft‘s take on the genre. But it’s Gameloft’s NOVA that takes the crown for the year’s best FPS, highly polished with a robust single player campaign and an excellent multiplayer mode. My favorite retro fixes were the addictive Hook Champ and the lite roguelike The Isle of 8-bit Treasures. For casual games, KarmaStar was a favorite for cramming incredible depth into bite-sized portions, and Canabalt for incredible atmosphere and short, but addictive gameplay sessions. My list is long, but the last games I absolutely must mention are Rolando 2 and I Dig It 2, incredible sequels to their equally incredible predecessors. Damn, what a year!

Daniel: My game of the year would have to go to NOVA from Gameloft. Call me a first-person shooter junkie, but Gameloft did an amazing job with both the campaign and online multiplayer. There have been tons of other games that have come quite close to taking home the award though, from ngmoco’s Rolando 2 to Illusion Labs’ Sway. Com2uS also came out of the box after releasing Homerun Battle 3D along with Inotia  2: Wanderer of Luone, both of which were definite must have titles for me. Chillingo‘s Ravensword was yet another title that I was overly impressed with, along with their fun Speed Forge Extreme.

The list goes on and on, including Firemint‘s Real Racing and Flight Control, Illusion Labs’ Labyrinth 2 and Touchgrind, Gameloft’s Modern Combat: Sandstorm and Gangstar, Godzilab’s iBlast Moki, and much, much more. 2009 was a year quite improved from the initial release of firmware 2.0, and I’ll be surprised if developers keep up the same pace. I’m sure there are games that were forgotten, but either way, let’s say hello to 2010.

Nick: Going back a full year and trying to figure out the best games launched on the app store is definitely a tough task.  Choosing a single game of the year though is easy.  The game I have in mind had an impressive graphical upgrade from its predecessor, and the gameplay’s tweaked difficulty and rolling variations kept me fully interested throughout.  Yes, the game I’m thinking of is Ngmoco and Hand Circus’ Rolando 2.  After replaying levels just to grab all the items I missed on the first time through, I realized the game was something special because replaying is something I rarely do.  I initially opened this site to try and cover games that push forward the idea that the iPhone is a legimitate gaming platform, and Rolando 2 fits the bill perfectly. In trying to list other favourites from the year, I’m sure I’m going to forget many great games.  Here’s a quick attempt at other standout titles I really enjoyed: Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Sway, Let’s Golf, Peggle, geoDefense, 2XL ATV Offroad, and Hook Champ.

Chris: 2009 was certainly a banner year for the iPhone and its gamers. In 2008 we witnessed the birth of the app store. In 2009 we witnessed it grow into something akin to a child: both awkward and wonderful; sometimes gawky, sometimes menacing, but always full of promise. This year we’ve seen everything from the great Halo clone N.O.V.A. to truly unique puzzlers like Labyrinth 2 and Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. But for every geoDefense we also had an onslaught of forgettable tower defense games that simply were a recycled waste of time. The still incomplete Minigore gave us a good laugh while Samurai: Way of the Warrior showed us that 3-D wasn’t always needed. At the beginning of the year, who would’ve thought a simple running game like Backbreaker Football could bring so much more life to football than the iconic Madden? That’s what makes the iPhone as a gaming device so special: it surprises us. This little machine somehow manages to bring a decoupage of gaming experiences that no other device seems to match. Gamers everywhere have to agree there’s nothing quite like Zen Bound for the console. As for the best of 2009, that’s tough. The Wing Commander-esque Galaxy on Fire comes close, but ultimately I’m a sucker for the well-rendered RPG; Ravensword: The Fallen King is certainly not without its flaws, but it is the first iPhone game I found truly amazing… utterly escapist. What can we anticipate in 2010 now that the iPhone’s proverbial childhood is over? The fast track into adulthood. With Apple’s newfound success in the gaming world comes a new set responsibilities… and new competition. Also, we all have bigger expectations for this little device than we did a year ago. Things could get really interesting. So, here’s to a new and even better year of gaming in 2010. Good luck, Apple, and keep on gaming!

Jeff: What if iTunes didn’t exist? What if there wasn’t an App Store? What if the technological marvel known as the iDevice was never conceived? Each and every one of us would have missed out on something amazing and revolutionary.  It’s a worldwide store where you can buy all of the newest music of any nationality from anywhere in the world, and purchase multiple games that fit in your pocket starting as low as 99 cents and (almost) not going anywhere above 10 dollars. This universal store has brought many people happiness, and the offerings that you can choose from are astounding. Music will always be changing, and so will the future of gaming. However, I’ve never thought that gaming could change so suddenly or quickly. Five months ago, I would never have thought of the iPhone or iPod Touch as something I would play games on, much less play games on for hours on end. This year, and more specifically, these past few months, have changed the iPhone and iPod Touch into my main gaming platform. And why? Because iDevice games are the only ones that get updated, changed, and churned out so quickly, yet still maintaining the polish and quality we expect from all games.

Now that the iPhone and iPod Touch have been established as possible gaming devices, what are the best games for this “platform?” Or, what is the number one game that all iDevice owners should have? It’s a hard choice, but I have to go with N.O.V.A.. This game has the best graphics, best controls, and debatably due to multiplayer, the best replay value of any game on the App Store. It has all of Gameloft’s quality and polish, and it isn’t a game you just finish and forget; it’s an experience that you remember and keep coming back to, time and time again. On the other hand, there are many great offerings for the iDevice, including Jet Car Stunts, Asphalt 5, Need for Speed, FIFA, Inotia 2: A Wanderer of Luone and many more titles that deserve mentioning. Of course, if I mentioned all of them, the list would be too long since there are just so many different options. All in all, 2009 has been an awesome year both for myself personally and the App Store, and I can’t wait to see what new events and things are in store for me this year. Onwards, and let’s all have a great 2010!

Ryan: The app store has come a very long way in such a short time. I remember when I was impressed by the simplest of games on a mobile device like an iPod. The app store has become a whole new market now with ‘real’ games becoming more polished and fun. One signing example of this is Nova. Nova is a first-person shooter developed by Gameloft that somewhat resembles Halo (ring any bells?) Nova is the most complete, comprehensive game on the app store to date. Not only does it have an engaging single player mode, but it comes with surprisingly fun online multiplayer mode as well. It is no surprise to me that Gameloft is the company behind Nova. After all, they have proven to be strong players in the app store market and have developed a number of hits. Each game they release seems to push the envelope (and my expectations) just a little further. I now expect an iPod/iPhone game to deliver much more than I did even a few months ago. I am excited to see what the app store holds for 2010. I think Nova will be hard to top, but based on what I have seen so far, it is complely plausible.

And that wraps up the gaming year of 2009.  I’m sure 2010 will be bringing us even more impressive games from all the developers on the app store who will continue to push the limits of the platform.  We’ll see you the same time next year for another wrap up!