SimCity for iPhone – Full Review

Written iPhone Game App Review

Price: $9.99    Score: 8/10    By Shaun CampbellSimCity?

It’s the Sim that started it all.

It’s a game that really needs no introduction. Maxis’ classic city-builder, SimCity, is without a doubt one of the most popular and influential games ever made. The original SimCity was such a runaway success that it formed the launching pad for an entirely new genre of games.

When I originally heard that SimCity was coming out on the iPhone, I was actually surprised. SimCity? On the iPhone? No way.

As it turns out, the folks over at EA have actually done a remarkably good job at transporting a full-featured version of the game to a mobile platform. And this is no Diet SimCity or SimCity Lite – this is the real deal. There are advisors, budgets, water pipes, customizable starting maps, disasters & more.

The first thing you’ll notice about SimCity is the clean, easy-to-use game interface. A simple and attractive side-bar provides easy access to the five main building tools: zoning, transport, utilities, municipals & the bulldozer. Clicking on zoning, for example, will trigger a pop-out menu with additional choices: residential, commercial and industrial. Selecting one of these categories triggers a third menu offering light, medium and high-density options. Nothing in the game is more than 3 taps away. Along the bottom of the screen, there are also smaller menu icons which let you access your advisers, change game speed and add map overlays.

Thanks to the intuitive control system, SimCity is not as cumbersome to play as one might think, given the screen size. You can rotate through five pre-set levels of zoom with a simple double-tap, or you can use pinch-zoom if you prefer. As you would expect, laying down roads and zones exactly where you want can be a little tricky. Fingers aren’t precision instruments, after all. To make things easier, there is a little tool that pops up to help you make adjustments when laying down objects with variable size, such as residential zoning, roads, water pipes and electrical lines. Once you have laid something down you will get the option to alter the length, width or placement of the object. It’s an essential feature for a game like this, and it does work quite well.

When starting a new game, there are three difficulty levels to choose from;

  • Easy: §50,000
  • Medium: §20,000
  • Hard: -§10,000

Starting cash is the only difference between the levels – game play is identical. Even on Medium, you have to be very careful not to go build-crazy before you have the income to support it.  Be warned that SimCity does involve a fair bit of economic micro-managing if you intend to stay in the black. Via your balance sheet, you can access residential, commercial and industrial tax levels, ordinance income, monthly expenses and loan repayments, and make adjustments as necessary. As in previous SimCity games, there is an events ticker that runs along the bottom of the screen which gives you running updates on citizen concerns and advisor recommendations. Your advisors are also on hand to offer advice on all aspects of city management.

Overall, the game-play in SimCity is smooth and enjoyable. Load/save times can be a bit long, but it’s a small complaint. The music is typically jazzy & upbeat and the graphics are definitely some of the best I’ve seen in an iPhone game. If you’re a fan of the series, or a fan of sim games in general, I recommend taking a look at SimCity.

*N.B SimCity requires iPhone firmware update v2.2.

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Time Magazine Names Top 10 Coolest iPhone Apps

Written iPhone Top Ten Apps Review

Time Magazine has put together a comprehensive list of Top 10’s for 2008 from Campaign Gaffs to Fashion Faux Pas – to iPhone Apps.

It’s a remarkably different list to the “official” list of most popular apps released by Apple last month, which was based on the total number of downloads, rather than coolness per se.

Time’s Top 10 iPhone Apps for the year just gone:

  1. Pandora Radio
  2. AroundMe
  3. AP Mobile News Network
  4. Ocarina
  5. Wikipanion
  6. Adrenaline Pool Lite
  7. Instapaper
  8. NetNewsWire
  9. iTalk
  10. Fake Calls

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iSteam App is a Lot of Hot Air

Written iPhone Novelty App Review

Price: $0.99   Score: 4/10iSteam - Hot and Steamy Entertainment By Shaun Campbell

iSteam is quite possibly the most pointless app for the iPhone.

Actually, let me re-phrase that. The most pointless popular app for the iPhone. At the time of downloading, iSteam was sitting conspicuously atop the most downloaded list in the App Store. And by my count, it was there for more than a week. But it’s not free anymore – it’s 0.99c. And in my opinion, that’s 99 cents too many. Yes, I’ll admit there are a lot of pointless apps out there, but at least iFart does something.

Developed by Konstantinos Eleftheriou, iSteam basically simulates a foggy glass window on your iPhone screen. You can draw on the ‘window’ with your finger, leaving a trace in the condensation. It’s kind of like making a smiley face in the mirror after a shower. The “window” unfortunately has a big black iSteam logo behind it, which kind of ruins the effect somewhat. You can change the background image to one of your own, however.

Despite it’s lack of utility, iSteam does show off some pretty cool tech. Blowing into the microphone steams up the screen, while tilting the device alters the path of the little water droplets that form in the wake of your finger. It’s just that it’s not quite cool enough to justify paying for.

N.B you can’t actually steam up the home screen as shown in the video below:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_EIY3-_HOY

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Squiggles – More Than Just a Simple Paint App

Written iPhone Paint App Review

Price: $4.99    Rating: 7/10    By Shaun CampbellSquiggles

Squiggles is a native paint and image manipulation app for the iPhone & iPod Touch developed by Scott Squires of Squires Studios.

Squiggles has a lot of features, from simple paintbrushes to stamps, overlays, image filters and layer manipulation – even PhotoBooth style image distortion. You can select a few pre-loaded portrait or landscape backgrounds to work with, or you can even import one of your own iPhone photos. Adding funny overlays like hats, glasses, speech boxes and text to photos of your friends & family is probably one of the most immediately gratifying features in Squiggles. You can save your completed works of art straight to your Photos folder.

The Squiggles UI is also intuitive and easy to use. Tool selection, color selection & brush selection are all unobtrusively located along the bottom of the screen, along with the most important tool of all – Undo. Although frustratingly, you can only go back one move. You can sketch or doodle with 7 different hard brush sizes plus 3 additional soft brushes.

Squiggles also comes with the other following tools:

  • Erase
  • Clone
  • Stamps
  • Overlays
  • Text.

My only complaint about Squiggles is that it is very hard to draw with any precision. Not that the blame for this can be placed with the developer, its more a product of the iPhone touch interface and the ungainly size of human fingers.

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Call for Writers

Written iPhone App Review

If you have a flair for writing and are interested in joining the team at The iPhone App Review, send an email to webmaster@50.6.163.136 for more information.

You’ll get apps for free that everyone else has to pay for, and the opportunity to get your name out there!

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iFart Mobile – Success Never Smelled Like This Before

Written iPhone Novelty App Review

Price: $0.99    Score: 7/10    By Shaun Campbell iFart Mobile - #1 Fart Machine - Now With Fart Buddies!

The brainchild of New York Times best-selling Author Joel Comm, iFart Mobile exploded onto the App Store top-selling list over the holiday period with 38,927 downloads on Christmas Day alone. At 0.99c a pop, minus Apple’s cut, that’s $27,249 net. Who knew toilet humor could be so profitable?

Still holding on to the App Store pole position at the time of writing, iFart Mobile has shown just how lucrative iPhone software development can be. Since it’s release on the 12/12, iFart Mobile has netted Joel Comm a very tidy six figure sum. However, only a month ago Joel’s enormous success would never have been possible. Apple recently loosened its App Store content restrictions (some would say standards) and developers responded with a veritable flood of flatulence-inspired applications. MG Siegler of Venture Beat reported that 14 new iPhone fart apps were approved in one day alone (17/12).

The app itself is best described as a digital Whoopie Cushion. Open up iFart Mobile and you’re presented with a list of 20 sound-effects to choose from. Of course, they’re all just variations on the same “theme” – but some are better than others. There’s “Jack the Ripper”, “The Wipe Out” & “Squeezer” – just to name a few.

iFart Mobile also features two distinct options in addition to the instant gratification of “Fart Now”. There’s “Sneak Attack”, which allows you to set a timer to achieve that all-important element of surprise, and “Security Fart” which triggers a burst of flatulence the next time someone moves your phone. They’re novelty features, but then again, this is a novelty app.

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