Sunday, May 29, 2011

KAMI RETRO HD jumps into our iPad Games of the Week

“Feed me, Seymour!” Fans of 1980’s Broadway musicals (“Little Shop of Horrors, anyone?) and pixelated arcade gaming will fall for KAMI RETRO HD. Hard. Pro tip? Try not to take a tumble in this stunner, positioning fans, springs, and other objects across each level, helping your ever-faithful troops make their way from one end to the other. Along the way, man-eating plants are just waiting for a snack.

Retro gamers looking for a second cheap, happy thrill will line up on the 80’s free-throw line in Free Pixel Ball, while SimplePhysics successfully combines a structure-building app with all the gravity-crushing fun of Angry Birds and Ragdoll Blaster.

Last but not least, Storm in a Teacup (cute, cute, cute!) puts the fun back in gliding artfully across 40 levels in a magic teacup. Make your kids and your iPad happy this week with my iPad games of the week!

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


The iPhone hit now on your iPad. Perfectly marries modern 3D with colorful, retro visuals, challenging all comers to guide troops across 60 stages using fans, springboards, and more, while avoiding a litany of death traps of doom.

Free Pixel Ball (FREE)
Relive the ‘80s glory days of pixelated free throws, tossing unlimited balls and other objects at a virtual hoop. The soundtrack and graphics take you back!

SimplePhysics ($.99)
Build your own structures in this simple editor, then let gravity, a ragdoll, or an explosion poke holes in your design. That’s edutainment!

Storm in a Teacup ($.99)
The cutest platformer you’ll ever play on your tablet. Glide across 40 levels in your magic teacup!



As a triplet, sharing a lone Atari 2600 with my brother and sister was downright challenging. Thankfully, I can revisit the glory days of Atari-inspired, pixelated gaming goodness in KAMI RETRO HD. (And keep it all to myself. Suck it Todd and Kelly!)

This iPad must-have instantly charms its way into your heart with a bouncy, throw-back soundtrack, a hapless band of bearded heros, simple controls, and tons of stars to collect along the way. There’s 60 stages to explore, which rapidly move from training-easy to downright difficult. You’ll need to time your jumps perfectly to score maximum points, while positioning fans, springboards, and more to help your guys avoid a litany of death traps of doom, including “Little Shop of Horrors”-inspired man-eating plants. (“Feed me, Seymour!”)

You’ll want to play close attention during the tutorial, as the basic jumping controls can be a bit challenging to master. I kept swiping in the wrong direction for a left-hand jump. That’s what getting older does to your brain. It all adds up to an original, neon-colored love letter to the 80’s we can all enjoy on our modern Apple devices. Go get it!

Free Pixel Ball (FREE)

Nintendo retro-gaming purists, do I have the app for you. And it’s 100% free. No charge, with easily ignored ads to boot. Free Pixel Ball puts you on a pixelated free-throw line, then encourages you to let loose with multiple basketballs, swiping your finger across your iPad’s generous screen to sink each point. If you have multiple balls in play, they’ll interact in their arcs to the basket, while angel and devil balls, clocks, and other tossable objects add a fun element to the gameplay.

The secret sauce of this must-have game? The music and sound effects. It’s all vintage from stem to stern. Multiple game modes keep the game fresh (and the ads flowing to your brain), including Fight Mode (turn on Bluetooth and challenge nearby opponents), Survival Mode (how long can you last?), Free Throw Mode (timed levels with ever-increasing distractions and interactive ball types), and more. The multiplayer mode alone is worth at least $.99, but the good folks at WedgeKase Games are counting on ad impressions to pay the bills. And that’s good for all of us!

SimplePhysics ($.99)

“Prepare your brain, SimplePhysics is loading!” At first glance, this app looks like more work than play. But once you dive in and start constructing things, the fun side of the app kicks in quick. To start, you’ll make a simple tree house, which has been unceremoniously nailed to a tree in your back yard. A grid of squares represents the construction area, with square anchors bolting the structure to the tree. Tapping on the dots and drawing lines between them adds connective structure to the design. Watch your budget; each additional support costs money!

When you think the structure is solid enough, click the blue icon to put it through a certification test. In the tutorial, heavy boxes stand in for kids. (Phew!) Each box is tossed up into the house, and once all four are in place, there’s a 10-second stress test to see if it holds. (Mine did, thanks!) After an hour of making and testing structures, I was hooked, and so was my 9-year-old. Edutainment at its best, with explosions and rag dolls thrown in to really test your creations (Ragdoll Blaster and Angry Birds, anyone?)

This dollar menu offering is worth every penny, and then some. Suck it, gravity!

Storm in a Teacup ($.99)

Leave it to Chillingo to give us yet another instant iPad classic. This time around, it’s the charm-infused Storm in a Teacup. You’re a speed-loving teacup driver, holding a lightning button to sail ever-higher, and employing a pair of directional arrows to control the direction of travel.

You’ll need to move from platform to platform, collecting sugar (aww, sweet!) and more. The real challenge comes in using your lightning propellant to its best effect. You have a limited supply, but it refills fast. So getting used to boosting a bit, pausing for a second or two, then tapping it again to grab power-ups and other items is key. With Paper Mario-like graphics, sinister dark clouds waiting to rain on your parade, and each level offers fresh obstacles to overcome to collect the most sugar cubes.

At the end of the day, this app’s secret sauce is its “floaty” control scheme, which is executed perfectly using the screen controls. Other iPad developers could learn a lot from this dollar menu gem. A must-download.

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