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Entries in games (10)

iCade: Pre-order and Pricing Details

We told you about it back in January, and now it is nearly time for us retro-geeks-of-a-certain-age to have a dream realised.

The iCade from ION is finally in production and should be available in late May, compatible with both the original iPad and iPad 2.

In the US, ThinkGeek have started taking pre-orders at the expected price of $99.99. They state the shipping date as 'by 27 May' but they have already sold out of the first batch of pre-orders! 

For those of us in many other countries Expansys are taking pre-orders too (as well as in the US). In the UK the price is listed as £66.99, although we are not sure if that will be the final price. But it gives us an idea of how much we need to save up. Expansys are a bit more woolly about lead times as well.

Don't Forget the Games

Of course, you will need some retro games to go with your Bluetooth controlled iCade and, as announced earlier this month, Atari in partnership with iON, have already released all of their classic Arcade and Console games from yesteryear on the App Store.

You get Pong for free, but that's it. If you want to play any other games from Atari's back catalogue you will need to purchase Game packs in-app, but for only $0.99 (59p) for 4 games that's not too bad really.

If you want to go for the full retro experience and load your iCade with 100 Atari games (not all classics we have to say), you can get the whole back catalogue for $14.99 (£8.99). TouchArcade did a nice review with video when the announcement was made.

Some reviews have been a bit critical of the games, but we think they are either too young to remember pumping coin after coin into the original arcade games or just expecting too much of games made in an age before handheld computing devices with onboard graphics processors.

For our part, we have our rose-tinted specs strapped firmly to our heads and we cannot wait to see one of these mini arcade cabinets loaded up with Atari goodness.

If you are pre-ordering your own iCade or have something to say about it or Atari's app, let us know in the comments.

Revinyl 2.0 - Now With Added iTunes

We reviewed the music (re)discovery quiz Revinyl last year. We especially liked the philosophy behind the app and the multiplayer mode on the large iPad screen.

Now, as promised, the new version, Revinyl 2.0, includes songs from the massive iTunes library, using previews on the store as the snippits you hear and have to identify in the quiz.

The app is being actively developed following this new release. Here is what the site says about their future development plans:

Look for future updates to enrich the game play experience, including quiz review and sharing. Revinyl will also bring on shopping lists so that you can purchase the songs you discover in the quiz. A new music player is also in the works to add the visual analog touch to playing digital music.

Revinyl 2.0 is still great fun and is available now in the app store for just $0.99 (59p) which is well worth it for a game with such a great philosophy and desing.

World of Goo - Half Off, Fully Awesome

We have played World of Goo (from San Francisco based indie developers 2D Boy) before on other platforms including the Wii and PC/Mac, but we have never enjoyed it quite so much as when playing it on the iPad.

On any platform, the developers did a great job of making the graphics look gorgeous and cute whilst maintaining the gloopy feeling of the Goo balls as you pull and stretch them away from each other. But it is on the iPad that we feel like we are actually pulling and stretching the Goo balls around the screen against actual physical forces. The touch interface forces you to feel that involved in the game and the little Goo balls' world.

We mention this to you because we think it is a brilliantly creative use of the touch interface, because we love playing and think you will too and because, for a limited time, World of Goo for iPad is on sale with 50% off at just $4.99 (£2.99) in the app store.

We recommend grabbing it now, but take a look at the video trailer below from around the time of the official launch a month ago for a brief look at the game in action and one of the Developers' take on why the touch interface works so well.

World of Goo Goes iPad! from IndieGame: The Movie on Vimeo.

Geek Dreams Do Come True

Everyone is talking about this but we had to share the news from CES about the iCade. Back in April we bemoaned the fact that ThinkGeek's iCade games cabinet for iPad was only an April Fool's joke.

At the time we, like many others, dreamed of how cool it would be if it was a real dock that turned your iPad into a mini arcade cabinet. We even suggested in that post a few ways this could be done for real using MAME.

Now, ThinkGeek has partnered with ION to make a real cabinet/controller to make your arcade retro gaming dreams come true. Rather than using the dock connector though, the iCade is a Bluetooth controller for compatible games, of which we imagine there will be quite a few in the future, but for now they have set up a partnership with Atari and their fantastic arcade game back catalogue.

The iCade doesn't look quite the same as the original mockup, but it does still look great, and the cabinet includes speakers which theoretically can be used for any media, meaning the iCade could double up as a dock for playing back any of your media.

At $99 we think the price is a little steep, but we are sure they will sell a load of them to sad geeks like us who constantly hark back to the days of wireframe graphics and relatively simplistic gameplay. Check out the iCade in action at CES in the Wired video below and be sure to let us know in the comments if you will be queuing up for an iCade in the Spring. 

Magic Fiddle by Smule

It is a great week for music apps and iPad. Check out the quartet in this video. They are attempting to play Canon in D Major on an iPad app and, for the most part, manage to do so.

That app is Magic Fiddle (iPad only)  which has recently been released by Smule, the company behind Magic Piano amongst other fun apps. Now you can annoy your family and friends with off-key caterwauling on your iPad like never before. What's more, you can now annoy the rest of the world too with Smule's Globe mode!

But seriously, Magic Fiddle uses a similar approach to Magic Piano to enable you to play any of the 20 included songs and more which are available from the Smule store. You touch on the correct string as musical 'notes' fall towards the bottom of the iPad screen and use different techniques to emulate the sound of a fiddle. It's a little bit like a posh version of Guitar Hero. 

Fiddle or Violin?

Smule do not call the instrument a violin, but refer to it as a fiddle so that it encompasses any bow stringed instrument. The app includes tutorials that cover bowed instrument techniques such as bow, pluck, trill and vibrato. They do this via an '8 chapter interactive journey' that features step-by-step instructions including posture, holding your fiddle (iPad), scales and apreggios.

There are also game elements to enjoy and spur you on to play better, including medals and badges and a global leaderboard. If you ever used Magic Piano you will already be familiar with the Smule globe. This is where you see a spinning 3D Earth with representations of all the other Magic Fiddle users playing songs around the world. You can listen in and 'like' their performances if you wish to.

Check it out

It looks like another winner for Smule who have a way of making music learning and experimentation fun and collaborative whilst keeping people entertained, and at just $2.99 (£1.79) it is accessible to everyone, so we think you should try it out.

If you do try Magic Fiddle let us know how you got on and what you think of trying to play a bowed instrument on your iPad.

Time Geeks game. Get LOST on your iPad!

This will brighten up your Monday morning, and cripple your productivity today! TimeGeeks is the new 'treasure hunt' type of game that is massive amounts of fun at a great price, just $0.99 (59p) in the app store.

The game uses a zany aliens and time travel scenario (geek joy!) combined with cute Pixel Art graphics, funky electronic game music and clever references to TV shows like LOST and the IT Crowd (two of our favourite shows) to completely distract you from the main aim of the game, which is to find the items in the quickest time.

There are also different game modes, seven minigames to unlock, integration with Apple's Game Center and you can even create your own Pixel Art scenario in the game and share it with others on Facebook.

We like this game a lot, watch the trailer then go and get it at the app store now!

Could This Be The iPad's Future?

Over the weekend there have been quite a few posts around the web about Griffin's 'not actually announced but confirmed by the FCC' product PartyDock, so we won't tell you about it again, but check out thisthis and Griffin's confirmation/product page for a start. 

What we will say though is how stupidly excited the potential of this device has made us, even if it is not officially Apple sanctioned and in production yet.

Why has this device announcement got our creative cogs turning?...

The Obvious

Just being able to take the fairly small PartyDock around to someone's house or on holiday to set up and entertain the kids between pool-time and dinnertime (and the adults when the kids have gone to bed) is a huge advantage.

We have been known to take a Playstation, Wii and separate DVD player on holiday with us. Imagine if the games are such that the iPad (or even iPhone) and PartyDock is all you need to take with you to connect up to the hotel, chalet, caravan TV when you get there.

You would be bringing your iPad anyway right? Just make sure it is loaded up with all the movies, games and blogging apps you need before leaving and everything is right there in a 1.5 pound device.

Developers Wanted

With the launch titles being mini-games and one full game, all developed by Griffin, we know the PartyDock will not have Sony and Nintendo quaking in their boots, or even noticing that it exists to be honest.

Checking the RSVP (sign up) page though, you will notice that it asks if you are just a normal interested punter, or you can select, "I'm a developer and I'd like to learn about developing for PartyDock".

This is what got us excited!  There are many creative and innovative Developers out there. Who knows what kind of application they cam think up for this software/hardware? 

If Apple approve this device and if the right Developers get involved and if Griffin make it worth their while, there is massive potential here for a whole new eco-system developed around seeing your content on the big screen.

A lot of Ifs, yes, the biggest being if Apple want to let Griffin open up additional functionality.

Sony have had a big hit with the social, family and friends quiz game series Buzz, that uses a similar four player interface, wired on Playstation 2 but wireless on Playstation 3.

This is the obvious application for the PartyDock with the PR shots showing a 'Battle of the Sexes' game being played on a large-screen TV.

Multi Media and Potential Uses

As well as the games aspect, the PartyDock will allow the docked device to show photos, videos and slideshows, as well as play your music/audio collection from the iPad/iPhone. This can already be done via the Apple sold Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but it could easily replace this Apple add-on in a lot of homes and useage scenarios.

Imagine how easy it will be to sling your iPad into the waiting dock and get going, rather than trying to find the connector cable and then having it hanging off your iPad whilst trying to prop it up somehow.

But what if this dock could be used for web browsing, typing up a blog post or editing Pages documents? We have no idea if it is possible but what if Developers could make the PartyDock work with eight or even sixteen or more controllers and it was permanently connected to a projector in a classroom as a 'quiz master' device?

Educators could design a custom set of questions for the quizzes making revision and learning a lot more fun and interactive, using fastest finger type of quizzes but also poll and multiple choice questions with onscreen charts showing the summary results.  

Now that some schools are issuing iPads to new students on enrolment this September, or setting up iPad labs (recommended reading), this is a definite real-life scenario that could be developed.

Pie-in-the-sky scenario 

What about editing a video on the iPad with an external keyboard and Magic Trackpad type of device (not currently compatible - no mouse pointer) and your 40" TV acting as the external display?

The iPad, especially future more powerful versions, suddenly becomes a computer replacement!

Ok, we may have just wandered off into fantasy land for a second there, but even if it is not the PartyDock's purpose to enable a 'computer replacement' scenario, if Apple approve this device the potential is there for some sort of dock for the iPad (and even future versions of the iPhone) that can provide this kind of functionality.

We have already said that the Mac's days are numbered, read more about that here. Maybe one day we will look back at these kind of dock interfaces and say "that's where it all started"?

Over to you

What do you think? Have we lost it? Can you think of any other uses or potential developments for these dock devices? Would you even use the PartyDock if it is approved?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Get Rafter HD for FREE this Sunday only

If you fancy grabbing a free copy of a great little physics based game with some special iPad only features, then make a note in your diary to visit the app store this Sunday 22nd August to download your copy of Rafter HD from Punflay.  The game usually retails for just  £1.19 ($1.99) anyway, but every penny helps right?

Punflay are offering both the iPhone and iPad version for free to mark the company's one year anniversary and to get more people playing Rafter. As you can see in the video, the gameplay is like some of the other physics games, with some really challenging puzzles and multiple solutions in the later levels.

Much of your success depends on your drawing skills to as the shape of the object directly affects your success, so creative types may have an advantage!

There are some unique features in Rafter (some only available in the iPad version) such as:

  • You decide the shape and size of the object being dropped by drawing it first
  • Now extended to 101 levels (from an initial 21)
  • Variable Gravity, Fan and Bounce (Buoyancy) controls to help solve puzzles (iPad)
  • Redrawn graphics for HD version
  • Moving and multiple targets

Coming up in a future version are new themes but most interestingly a level editor which should add a great deal of value to the game, especially for those who have completed the built-in levels and want to challenge themselves further.

Check out the video below from YouTube user TechTechReviews if you want to see more of the gameplay, and set yourself a reminder to go and get your free copy on Sunday (22nd August).

Gorillaz in your iPad

Gorillaz.jpg

We like creative use of technology, especially when it involves the iPad, and so we were intrigued to see the rather 'animated' band Gorillaz produce an iPad (and iPhone) app that ties in to the promotional ecosphere around their third album, Plastic Beach, released in March this year.

There is a lot of content on the Gorillaz site to draw people in to their slightly bonkers universe including games, music and video. Now they have managed to extend their reach to iOS device users with Escape to Plastic Beach for iPad.

It uses the glider vehicle concept to transport the band member Murdoch around Plastic Beach with a chase theme, hazards to avoid, a little bit of shoot-em-up and some puzzle solving too throughout the eight '3D' levels of the game.

What is clever about this though, besides the obvious band members featured in the game, is the soundtrack to the game which of course is Gorillaz' own music. Hearing it in the background can either bring in new fans or encourage current fans to listen again, keeping the Gorillaz brand fresh in their minds.  A nice way to keep people involved in the band's universe.

As far as the iPad visuals go, they look great and the game makes good use of the iPad's control system. For just £1.19 ($1.99) it is a fun and entertaining distraction, especially if you already like the band and their music.

There have been a few game tie-ins from other bands but none have come up with anything so original as a complete, animated environment to host their fans in, so hats off to Gorillaz for their inventive creativity on this one.

The video below from YouTube user stuartdredge gives us a look at the first few minutes of gameplay from first launch.  Take a look:

Friday Fun: Get Creative and Draw Your Own Game

If you are one of those people that used to sketch spaceships and aliens in the corner of your text books at school, you will love this app from Engineous Games.

Sketch Nation Shooter has been developed for the iPhone primarily, but it is a game/engine that will run on the iPad too.  It allows you to literally draw your own characters and then play with them in the game.

You have the choice of drawing something then capturing it with the iPhone camera, or using something from your image library (for those with just an iPad and scanner/digital camera).  You sketch your main character, enemies and big boss (even the game background and layout if you want), adjust a few parameters, and off you go.

As an added feature, you can submit your design to the Facebook group from within the app, and download other users' designs to play on your device for free.

If you are stuck for something to do this weekend, or you're trying to entertain irritable children, get creative and then blow up your designs with Sketch Nation Shooter.  We think it is a great device for integrating creativity in drawing and digital content creation for all ages.

For an idea of what can be done with this game, check out the videos below.  At just 59p in the App Store you can't go wrong.