iPhone app review: Paper Toss World Tour

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)

Paper Toss World Tour (Game)
Price: $0.99

What it is: Same sheet, different cans.

The original (and free) Paper Toss introduced a new casual game genre so shallow, it threatened its own sequel possibilities. A ball of paper is flicked into a bin. To increase the challenge, the bin could be moved farther back, and a fan provided wind. What more could be done?

Fortunately for the developers at Backflip Studios, that question had already been answered by millions of poncy fat cats who regularly jet around visiting manicured gardens that charge thousands of dollars a year for the privilege of hitting little white balls into holes: change the scenery.

The result is Paper Toss World Tour, an armchair tosser’s dream. Wait, that came out wrong. By virtue of having 8 different cities to visit, the game finally has something that resembles a career mode. You begin in a Japanese Zen garden, and unlock others from there. The distance between paper and bin varies in each city, and you get some nice environmental effects like the sandstorms in Egypt. I only wish they’d included Singapore as the final stage, whereupon missing the trashcan, SWAT teams materialize with shotguns and rottweilers to end your career. Oh well, there’s always the next version.

Confusing New Ratings System: 3/5 and B+

Buy Paper Toss World Tour in the iTunes App Store.
Get the original Paper Toss for free in the iTunes App Store.

Below: The original Paper Toss game.

Below: Paper Toss World Tour

iPhone app review: iTrade

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)

iTrade (Game)


Price: Free


What it is: Capitalist swine simulation

There are two kinds of rich, boring people in the world. With iTrade, you can experience how one half makes its money (surgery games will be covered in a separate review). Players are given $100,000 to lose or multiply, and everything resets at the end of each calendar month. That’s actually the typical lifespan of a stock market beginner, so right away it gets 10 bonus points for realism. Trading occurs in real time alongside the NYSE, with Buy/Sell transactions appropriately delayed.

But where iTrade really excels is in its all-black user interface. The game’s designers skillfully wield the color as a weapon of social commentary, lambasting the wasteful, destructive nature of Wall Street and the ruin it has wreaked on all modern life. It is the color of death and oppression. With a single design decision, they depict the entire Satanic industry as the joyless numerical endeavor that it is. And although buying virtual Apple or Nike stock in the game does not directly force sweatshop workers in China to suicide – or if their constitutions are stronger, just decades of involuntary retirement and poverty due to uninsured repetitive stress injuries – you will damn well feel their despair as you navigate its thoroughly depressing menus.

It’s worth noting that as a side effect, I’ve recently become addicted to martinis.


“My Card Has A Watermark” Rating: A+

Download iTrade on the iTunes App Store.



iPhone app review – Ferrari GT: Evolution

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name/Category: Ferrari GT: Evolution / Games
What it costs: $0.99 (previously $9.99)


What it is: Last year’s racehorse, on its last legs


Why you should buy it: Racing games and first-person shooters are two of the most graphically intensive genres in gaming, so enthusiasts often look to them for examples of what a machine can do. When Gameloft released Asphalt 4: Elite Racing on the iPhone last year, it was hailed as a landmark achievement in iPhone graphics. It was as if a tiny digital Ronald Reagan had approached a programming barrier inside the iPhone and commanded digital Gorbachev to tear it down. A few months later, the company released Ferrari GT: Evolution. Built using largely the same technology, the new game had a (licensed) identity of its own: a slightly more serious driving simulation compared to Asphalt’s nitro-boosted arcade speedfest.


Why you shouldn’t: Racing games sold on great graphics alone don’t have any long-lasting appeal. Gameloft seems to recognize this, and the game is now being sold at a tenth of its launch price of $9.99. In the time since it ran its first lap, other more impressive driving games have run it into the ground, made it eat their dust, given it a flat tyre, put a banana in its tail pipe, upped its road tax, cut its brakes, siphoned its fuel tank while it parked in the drive-in theatre and made out, parked it in a shipping container meant to be delivered half the world away, and used it as a Bonus Stage prop in a game of Street Fighter 2. Or if you prefer, overtaken it.

Oh and the controls are a bit crap.


“But It’s Just 99 Cents” Rating: 3/5

Buy Ferrari GT: Evolution in the iTunes App Store.
Try Ferrari GT: Evolution Lite for free in the iTunes App Store.



iPhone app review – Triazzle

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Triazzle / Games
What it costs: $2.99 on sale ($3.99 regularly)


What it is: A jigsaw puzzle with LSD-inspired effects


Why you should buy it: If you like jigsaw puzzles, triangles, and getting high, there’s no earthly reason why Triazzle won’t become your favorite iPhone game. You start by choosing either a 9 or 16-piece puzzle at one of four difficulty levels. A new puzzle is randomly generated each time. I’m not sure what it all means, but dragging pieces into place and rotating them usually makes me feel nice all over. Sometimes, the pictures on the edge of my piece actually match another piece next to it! That’s when it starts to get weird.

When a match is made, the pictures of frogs, butterflies, bugs, and turtles come to life and start to move around the board. They actually come out of the freaking pictures and crawl around on your screen!! It’s not a problem unless you’re hungry. One time, I had a really good conversation with this purple toad who told me to chill out when I was getting a little edgy.

“Dude, this game has no time limit or scoring system,” he said. “Whoaaaaaaa!” I replied. “So the point is just to kick back, listen to the far-out music, and see the world for what it really is? A system of control that you can escape with psychotropic medication?” I made another match and a turtle nipped at my fingertip. “Right on,” said the frog.


Why you shouldn’t: I forgot.



Rating: 5 rainbow frogs out of 5

Buy Triazzle on the iTunes App Store.

From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net

iPhone app review – I Dig It

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Title/Category: I Dig It / Games
What it costs: $0.99 (on sale, regular price $2.99)


What it is: A cool game for cool cats who dig diggin’


Why you should buy it: How often do you come across a game that puts you in the shoes of a poor, down-on-his-luck farmer given just four hours to pay off a mountain of debt and save his family from being evicted? And when you do, does that game then give you a hybrid bulldozer/excavation drill/jetpack machine with which said farmer may propel himself into the dark, igneous depths of the Earth’s crust in search of diamonds and rare metals? What? Get outta here!


Why you shouldn’t: Maybe you think this is too casual for a hardcore gamer like you. It does, however, have RPG elements (machine upgrades), and by connecting to Facebook for the trumpeting of achievements, is a little bit like Xbox Live. Maybe you’re a geologist, or a geothermologist, or work in the construction industy? Fine, you’re not going to like the digging physics. I mean, you can excavate ALL the soil beneath your farm, leaving your house, shed, and gas station floating above nothingness. I’ll understand if a man of science like yourself can’t just SIT IDLY BY and watch this problematic concept generate fun. There, there.


“Indie Diamond in the Rough” Rating: 5 out of 5

Buy I Dig It in the iTunes App Store.
Try I Dig It Lite for free in the iTunes App Store.



iPhone app review – Tradewinds 2

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Tradewinds 2 / Games
What it costs: $2.99 on sale (normal price $4.99)


What it is: A port of an old PC game about visiting ports.


Why you should buy it: Because you have an addictive personality and some misguided, internet-era obsession with pirates and the Caribbean that the makers of this game could not possibly have foreseen, and therefore exploited, back in the 1990s. Thank god for the iPhone, then, as the current rights holders and publishers will finally be able to make good on their foolhardy investment from nearly two decades ago. If they’re really lucky, their children will start calling them again. From jail.


Why you shouldn’t: If you already played Chocolatier, a game that shamelessly ripped off the look and gameplay essence of this classic title, you might not want to revisit the old sail-around-the-world-making-money genre. Of course, Chocolatier did remove all the pirates, sea battles, and general fun found in Tradewinds 2 in order to include a realistic simulation of chocolate manufacturing – complete with catapults, giant ingredient icons, and indoor ferris wheels. Tradewinds 2 also feels a little more ‘adult’, that is to say people drown at sea by your scurvy hand.


Alright, fine, I’ll give a rating: 4/5

Buy Tradewinds 2 in the iTunes App Store.
Buy Chocolatier ($4.99) in the iTunes App Store.

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Below: Tradewinds 2 (touching any of the buildings shows their names)

From sangsara.net

Below: Chocolatier’s port view

From sangsara.net

Below: Chocolatier’s action puzzle replacement for sea battles.

From sangsara.net

Prince of Persia on sale

This is pretty crazy. One of my favorite games from last year, the Prince of Persia series reboot, is on sale for just US$16.90, or less than SGD$25, inclusive of free shipping to Singapore and many other countries.
Head over to Play-Asia.com to get your copy sometime in the next few days; the offer ends early next week or when stocks run out.

Affiliate link to product page.(Version sold is NTSC-J, with English and Korean languages)

Test Drive Unlimited for cheap

I’ve spent some time on driving games recently, although generally I’m quite poor at them and like smashing into stuff more than anything. I’m overcoming that habit now and spending more time on PGR 3 & 4 than Burnout Revenge. Play-Asia is selling Test Drive Unlimited for just $25 SGD, which is very tempting. It’s a Massively Multiplayer racing game that models the entire Hawaiian island of Oahu, and has people from all over driving across it in real time, challenging each other to races and so on. I wonder how many people still play it though, and whether Atari might be discontinuing server support anytime soon. Still, for 25 bucks it’s hard to say no.