Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Undiscovered App #49: C64: Elite Collection Free - Get Ultima 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the iPhone and iPad for FREE

c64 Collection - Get Ultima 1, 2, 3, 4 for FREEToday's Undiscovered App is a HUGE find for old school gaming fans.

You see, I grew up playing the earliest games out there, like Wizardry, Sierra On-Line's King's Quest series, Might and Magic, and Ultima series, so when I casually browsed around to see if someone had finally ported over Ultima 3 (as I like to do every few times in a year), I was shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you -- to find an app called C64: Elite Collection Free that had a collection of games ported over from the Commodore 64, and among them was the Ultima series, including Ultima 1, Ultima 2, Ultima 3, and Ultima 4 -- all for FREE on the iPhone or iPad. It's ridiculous how big of a find this is.

These are the kinds of games back when what you did had no consequences to future gameplay. You could beat up everyone in a town, raid their treasures, leave and then come back, only to have everything respawn. For the more groundbreaking stuff like future consequences, Wasteland was invented (another port I would love to see in the future).

So, after finding this app, I immediately downloaded Ultima 3 as an IAP (it's free), and got started building my party of 1. Yeah, screw the party of 4 that they allow you to have; I was going to go badass with my Ranger and try to finish it with just one character... and three days later, with bloodshot eyes and a lack of sleep, I finished it, for like the 10th time in my life. I can officially tell you that the Ultima 3 port works marvelously, and you can probably assume that the ports for the other 3 games work as well.

There are a few very small differences in how the controls work, with the biggest being a big positive: you can now save and restore anywhere on the map, including inside towns and dungeons, instead of like the good old days when only exiting or entering towns and dungeons triggered the save activity (or Quit/Save). One other change is that once you create a party, you can't go back to the Register and break up the party and form a new one. You're stuck with the one you've built all the way to the end, unless you start over of course.

The app lets you play it in either portrait or landscape format, but going landscape stretches the screen out disproportionately, so you can only really play it in portrait format. Plus, with the entire keyboard being displayed on the bottom of your screen, it's really only practical to play this on your iPad since the keyboard buttons are quite small on the iPhone.

I hope Ultima fans get to take advantage of this great find. I have no idea if what they've done has been sanctioned by Origin Systems (or Electronic Arts), so get it while it's still available. C64: Elite Collection Free has a bunch of other old school games in there that are worth checking out, so have a look.

Amazon.com: because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Undiscovered App #48: Boson X = Pleasure + Pain

Boson X
I've often heard how the endless runner concept is played out, but I'm happy to say that there are occasional variants to the theme that warrant a good look. Today's Undiscovered App, called Boson X, is an excellent extension of the idea, with a rotational mechanism that might remind you of Super Hexagon.

Here's a description of the app:

Quantum jump from Planck to Planck as you build up speed inside an enormous particle accelerator and generate high-energy collisions to discover strange new particles. Use precise timing and fast reflexes to navigate a hazardous subatomic world where floors and ceilings don't exist. Will you be fast enough to find the elusive Boson X?

I heard quite a bit of chatter about this and had to see for myself what all the praise was about. The controls were smooth and responsive, the graphics sleek, and the music just right, with that mysterious/science feel. There's definitely a catchy element to it, since after playing the first level, you think, "Yeah, I got this!" With the controls being just Left, Right, or Jump, how hard can it be? Take a look at the trailer:

After about an hour, I had my answer. I had gotten so close to finding that next particle, having reached 95%+ numerous times (out of the required 100% energy scale), that I kept trying and trying, and before I knew it, the counter read 50 for the number of attempts I had made to try to reach the end of just level 2. Being the persistent person I am, I finally made it and did a massive fist pump when I got the Acceleron particle. Yeah, the hook in this game is dangerously strong, and what makes it worse is that it makes you like it even though it can be frustrating due to its deceptive simplicity.

Boson X has over 180 ratings that give it an average of 4.5 stars, and is available to download for $1.99. This is a great game with a nice concept that you can easily play if you have just a minute or two. But I'm warning you: it's unlikely you'll be able to play it for just that long.

Amazon.com: because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Undiscovered App #47: Battery Saver - Extend iOS 7 Battery Life

Battery SaverHave you ever had that nagging feeling that ever since you upgraded to iOS 7 that your battery has been draining at a much faster rate? You're not alone; I've noticed it too, along with other friends who've griped about it on Facebook or Twitter, along with other articles I've seen all over since it came out.

Thinking along the lines of, "what gets measured, gets improved," I set out to find a way to see what exactly was causing my phone to drain so quickly. Enter today's Undiscovered App: it's called Battery Saver, and it does that very well by seeing pretty much everything that your phone is doing that is using up your battery.

The most important and useful function was showing how intensely every app you're using drains the battery from a Level 1 - 5 scale, with Level 5 being the most Dracula-esque. Did you know Angry Birds is a battery killer at Level 5? Facebook at Level 4? Even when I switched away from the Facebook app to do other tasks, I found out through the Battery Saver app that it was still in the background, sucking my battery's life away. But I wouldn't have known that without this app, so I promptly force killed Facebook once I found out.

And there are a host of other useful features too:

1) You can run a diagnostic exam on your mobile speed, and once it finishes it'll let you reallocate memory usage to improve your speed.
2) Additional optimization tips are provided that tell you what will extend your battery life. For example, disabling the Wifi will extend life by 1 hour and 25 minutes. And it senses whether it's on or off, so it's not just a blanket set of tips; it's an actual live set of things you can do now based on what you're running.
3) There's a battery charger mode that lets you do a full cycle with trickle charge to optimize your charge and battery life.
4) A list of activities you can do and how long you can do it for given how much batter time you've got remaining.

Battery Saver is probably the most comprehensive battery app I've come across. I've already seen improvements in battery performance. Thousands of ratings give this an average of 4.5 stars, and it is available to download for $2.99. If you want to extend your battery life and take back what iOS 7 has taken away, this is a very useful tool to help in that task.

Amazon.com: because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Undiscovered App #46: Ready, Steady, Bang - Reaction Time As If Your Life Depended On It

Ready, Steady, BangImagine yourself back in the Wild West, facing your arch nemesis, each of you itching to draw the gun the fastest in a bid to be the last one standing. In such a fast draw, would you survive?

That's what today's Undiscovered App will help you to find out. Ready, Steady, Bang by Hover Studio is a fun little app that's perfect for those times when you literally have only a few minutes to kill.

The setup is simple: you start off facing your opponent, then an announcer tells you to get ready, and after a random amount of time passes (to prevent you from gaming the timing), you hear and see the word "Bang!" and then it's up to your reflexes to see who survives by tapping on your shooter as fast as you can.

Just in case you had some bad luck, you get multiple chances to win, with the first person to get five kills being declared the winner. With each successful challenge you get to unlock a slightly faster opponent, until you get to the 10th and last Mystery challenger whose reflexes I have yet to beat.

And if playing against the computer isn't your thing, there's a two player mode where you can finally settle that score with your trash talking buddy. Using the same device, you stand opposite your friend, and the first to shoot gets the kill.

As you can see, my best time ever is 0.201 seconds. Think you can beat that? There's only one way to find out...

Ready, Steady, Bang has struck that elusive balance of simplicity, fun, humor, and challenging gameplay. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from thousands of reviews. This is probably one of my favorite games I've come across in a long time, and I highly recommend this one for a download, currently available for $0.99.

Amazon.com: because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!