Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top iPad Games of the Week
Week of Sept. 26

You can read all of my past iPad reviews at Appolicious -- click here.

Apps Discussed

Danger Derby: Good things come in small packages, including this seriously fun top-down miniature car racing title.

We City for iPad: Grow your small suburb into a full-fledged city with this addictive free game from the makers of We Rule.

Karate Champ XL: The 80’s classic arcade game gets an upgrade and loses none of its charm. BEGIN!

Nat Geo Games: Kingdom of the Blue Whale iPad HD: The puzzle app you and your significant other have been waiting for. Perfect for a chilly afternoon, snuggled up in front of the fire.


Danger Derby ($4.99)

Grab a friend and get ready for some seriously fun top-down racing action on your iPad. Danger Derby offers simple controls, brightly rendered graphics, and increasingly difficult tracks that will challenge you to keep the pedal to the metal while mastering the curves and obstacles to beat your opponents to the finish line.

You can tackle the tracks on your own, or grab a friend and go head to head. In fact, even in single player mode a second racer can “drop in” anytime and join in on the action with a click of the screen.

There are four distinct racing modes available: arcade, free play, challenge, and mirror. Arcade pits you against three other AI cars, and winning a race gives you access to car upgrades. (Trust me, start with handling before putting points into speed and acceleration.)

I found the controls easy to use, and with a few minutes of practice I was successfully making sharp turns without too much trouble.

Free play gives you total control, allowing you to choose between seven pre-loaded tracks, setting easy, medium, or hard difficulty, as well as tweaking the number of laps and opponents, plus the number of upgrade points to apply to your car before the race begins.

Challenge is much the same, but removes the ability to set laps and opponents, but adds a ghost racer you can follow to visualize the best possible lap around each course. Get the best time and master those tracks!

Once nice feature found in Options is My Music. Que up a bunch of road-ready tunes, tweak your play list, and enjoy hours of personalized music while racing against your family and friends, or random stranded travelers wherever your journeys take you this holiday season.

We City for iPad (FREE)
Fan’s of ngmoco’s We Rule will feel right at home in We City, essentially a recasting of the basic elements of ruling a small tribe of farmers with a much larger community of city folk. The new app, free just like its predecessor, is fun, easy to play, and brings back memories of the first iteration of another popular game series – SimCity.

As a longtime player of We Rule, I find We City to be more enjoyable, both visually (the smaller, clearer overhead view is excellent) and in terms of how the game progresses over time.

Starting out, you’re given a small patch of land with a few homes and a factory. Factories are the key to the game, giving you the opportunity to churn out an ever increasing number of products which, when shipped just after they’re made, give you much-needed cash and experience points.

After a few minutes of producing goods (starting with potato chips and quickly moving on to video games, action figures, motorcycles, and more) you’ll be able to place new homes, trees, and even a second factory and a town hall. With each level up, you’ll be given access to more unlocked buildings to place, things to make, and more.

The key to your success is logging into the app when your factories are done producing their goods. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes or hours. You’ll want to keep Push notifications turned on so you’ll be automatically alerted to events in the game, otherwise the products will spoil and you’ll earn nothing for their production.

You may also skip the wait and use “zap” to speed up production. You’ll earn zap points as you level, but quickly run out after 20-30 minutes. This is where ngmoco is hoping you’ll part with some real-world cash to keep things moving along: 30 zap costs $4.99, 70 is $9.99, and so on.
However, the game gives you little reason to speed things up by buying these virtual points.

Sure, more zap means more buildings, faster production, a bigger city that much faster, and quicker leveling, but ultimately there’s little point to getting to the higher levels quicker than others. There’s no game play objectives to meet or networking tools built-in so you can show off your city. Let’s hope both things make it into future updates of this potentially addictive title.

Karate Champ XL ($1.99)
Take a trip back to 1984 and experience one of IGN’s top 10 most influential video games, Karate Champ, updated and refreshed for your iPad!

Back in the day, the original title was one of the first side-scrolling 2D fighting games in mall arcades. The all-new XL edition takes full advantage of your Apple device, offering retro fun along with a satisfying two-player, split-screen play mode.

The bottom of your screen is populated with a pair of traditional joysticks: red for movement, blue for attacks. Combining the pair yields a huge variety of combos, which (thankfully!) can be learned in the much-needed Practice mode.

Matching fists and feet with a live opponent is crazy-fun, with 12 different battle locations to enjoy, full wifi and Bluetooth support to enable two-player fights across two iDevices (or split screen on a single iPad), plus the original sound effects.

My favorite mode? Toggle the large mode in Settings to get an even better view of your 8-bit karate masters duking it out. An app for the ages to be sure. BEGIN!

Nat Geo Games: Kingdom of the Blue Whale iPad HD ($2.99)
The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are turning color, and pretty soon many of us will break out a sweater and cozy up to the nearest heat source. For my wife, that means puzzles, and the more the merrier.

This year, she’ll be enjoying Nat Geo Games: Kingdom of the Blue Whale iPad HD, which brings all the enjoying of puzzle making to our iPad, without the hassles of missing pieces, warped edges, or sacrificing kitchen table space for weeks on end.

National Geographic offers up a huge collection of underwater images (50 in all), each of which can be virtually cut into puzzles ranging in size from 6, 20, 30, or 43 pieces in all. You can even choose to show the pieces in “classic” style, or add smoother, rounded edges via the “elegant” option.

The iPad’s multitouch interface allows you and a partner to assemble pieces together in real time, and once you complete a puzzle you can post a photo of the finished product to your Facebook wall. Plus, the app can turn any photo stored on your iPad into a puzzle with a tap of the screen.

Here’s a perfect way to while away a cool, crisp afternoon. Blanket and cup of cocoa are optional, but recommended!

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