Aurora Feint: The Beginning

Written iPhone Game App Review

Price: $1.99    Score: 8/10    By Shaun Campbell Aurora Feint II: The Beginning

Aurora Feint: The Beginning was released to the App Store back in July and has proven to be so successful that there are now three follow-up titles: Aurora Feint II: Tower Puzzles & The Arena. Developed by Danielle Cassley & Jason Citron, the first Aurora Feint in the series; The Beginning, remains one of the most popular downloads for the iPhone and iPod Touch. With compelling game-play and unusually high production values for a free title, Aurora Feint is a must-have game.

The Beginning takes Bejeweled swap-and-pop puzzle play and combines it with the character-building elements of a role playing game. It’s a unique mix, but it works. In true RPG fashion, The Beginning is all about leveling up your character, completing challenges and unlocking rewards. You mine “essences” (earth, wind, fire, water & shadow blocks) in classic puzzle play by arranging them into rows & columns, and then use those accumulated resources to purchase special abilities and tools.

Your abilities or “skills” are split into two categories, and there are different requirements for upgrading each. You can choose to specialize in Tool Mastery or Essence Mastery, or dabble in both. Tool Mastery includes skills like “Time Stopper” or “The Strategist” (a wild-card block) – while Essence Mastery is focused mainly on resource multipliers. In order to level up either skill-tree you have to pass additional challenges and puzzles. Tool Mastery challenges require you to “build” the tool by collecting a certain amount of a particular resource in a race against the clock, while Essence Mastery challenges are unlimited-time puzzles that must be solved in a limited amount of moves. Although there isn’t a whole lot of documentation that comes with The Beginning, it’s not hard to pick it up as you go.

Graphically speaking, Aurora Feint is very slick. The Beginning is played exclusively in 2D, but the visuals are crisp and detailed. The Aurora Feint world draws obvious inspiration from Lord of the Rings, but it’s a fitting mold for a game of this type. The audio is just as polished, with appropriate sound effects and stirring mood music. The control system is intuitive and makes full use of both multi-touch and the tilt functions of the accelerometer.

In short, Aurora Feint is what iPhone gaming should be.


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Written iPhone Utility App Review

It’s not exactly a new app, but Flashlight still sits at or near the top of the list of most popular utilities on the App Store.

Flashlight is a simple app designed to help you find your way in the dark by providing a full white screen. There are several other colors included as well: red, green, black and blue. There is also a strobe-light feature that can be turned on, but to be honest, it’s kind of lame.

Unfortunately, Flashlight is not really that much brighter than the light that you’d get from maxing out the brightness in General Settings and opening up Safari or Email. Apple’s SDK currently doesn’t allow the iPhone brightness settings to be overridden beyond predefined limits, and until it does (and it likely won’t), apps like Flashlight don’t have a whole lot of real utility.


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Written iPhone Game App Review

Price: Free    Score: 7/10    By Shaun CampbellTopple

Topple is a popular game from developer Ngmoco. To celebrate the release of Rolando, Ngmoco has dropped the 0.99c price-tag and is offering Topple for free. Drawing a lot of inspiration from Tetris, Topple is a made-for-iPhone game that is instantly familiar but at the same time refreshingly new.

The aim of the game is to stack and balance Tetris-style blocks as high as you can before the timer runs out. With each passing level, the minimum height requirement for your tower-of-blocks increases. You can try your luck and stack haphazardly for quick height, but watch out – if your tower becomes too unstable it will fall over!

You can drag and rotate the richly colored blocks, using multi-touch to pick the perfect orientation for stacking. But these aren’t any old Tetris blocks – Topple features expressive little pieces with animated faces that smile and frown in response to your actions.

Topple skillfully integrates both touch and accelerometer controls into the gameplay. The higher your tower gets, the more it wobbles and sways – tilt the iPhone to straighten your tower and stop it from collapsing. With 9 levels of gameplay and a lot of replayability, Topple has a lot to offer.

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Touch Hockey: FS5 Free

Written iPhone Game App Review

Touch Hockey is the kind of simple, pick-up-and-play game that’s perfect for the iPhone.

There are several different air hockey games on the App Store, but not many are free. Touch Hockey has most of the features of the others, but won’t cost you a penny. It’s ad-supported but the ads only appear after 5 minutes of play. Developed by FlipSide5, Touch Hockey does a great job of emulating the classic table game.

The iPhone touch controls are used to full effect in Touch Hockey. You move your paddle around by touching & holding your finger on the screen, and flick your finger to strike the puck. One gripe here though – you can’t lift your finger off the screen or your paddle disappears, and trying to move your finger quickly while its pressed down against the screen can be difficult.

Touch Hockey features include:

  • 4 game length settings (4, 7, 9 & 11 points)
  • 3 goal size settings
  • WiFi local-network multiplayer
  • Topping support (trap puck under paddle)
  • Realistic graphics and sounds
  • Instant replay (annoying but can be turned off)

My advice is that if you like air hockey at all, then give Touch Hockey a try.

Note: You must be connected to the internet (to download in-game ads) the first time you play.


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Checkers Free

Written iPhone Game App Review

Checkers Free has just been released to the App Store by Optime Software and brings the classic board game to your iPhone or iPod Touch.

With 1-player and 2-player gameplay, solid graphics and a host of features, Checkers Free is a pretty decent package considering the pricetag of $0.

Just don’t expect to win. The computer opponent is something of a checkers savant, and I found it akin to playing against Rain Man. You can adjust the difficulty level, so I did, but still lost.

The great thing about checkers however, is that everyone knows how to play. Two-Player mode in Checkers Free is a redeeming addition and lets you and a buddy battle it out on the same screen.

I’d give it 3.5 stars but the inclusion of “unobtrusive” banner advertising loses Checkers Free some points.


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It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Written iPhone Game App Review

What time is it??

That’s right. It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

The internet phenomenon that is the dancing banana is now available on your iPhone thanks to Chris Borrello from Keyvisuals.

For those not in the know, the Dancing Banana was (and still is) a popular emoticon used on forums and such. Some smart chap had the vision to combine the dancing banana and the song “peanut butter jelly time” by DJ Chipman of the Buckwheat Boyz in a flash animation. After heavy circulation online in the early 2000’s, an internet legend was born.

The It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time! app features the classic pixelated banana dancing back and forth to the original song.

Useless, yet awesome at the same time.


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