The Lost City

The Lost City
Price: $1

Back in the 90’s point and click games like Myst and Broken Sword were extremely popular. They’re slowly making a comeback with remakes or Telltales own variations with Back to the Future, the Walking Dead and even Jurassic Park, most of which is on the iOS App Store as well as PSN and XBox Live. A similar game that fell way under the radar is The Lost City. I played through the game on the iPhone with few issues with the pointing or the clicking but it’s iPad compatible and probably more advisable to take that route.

The game is entirely centered on puzzles within a temple in the middle of the jungle. There is no story nor dramatic, intense action sequences these games tend to have. With that said, the game is very laid-back and easy-going. Puzzles in the game consist of gathering bits and bobs from around the map and using them in specific ways (use rope on branch to climb down cliff, use square stone tile on square indent.) The real difficulty lies in remembering where each item can be used, especially as the map expands larger and larger. Good thing there’s a map, however using it disrupts the flow of the game.

Easily the most memorable part of the Lost City is the beautiful visuals. I mean wow. Each page is detailed and mesmerizing to look at while playing. You can tell the Developer wanted to take it a step farther by adding season elements. Visiting one of four alters on the map changes the setting to either Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter. That part is worth it alone. The game isn’t too long or short but the right length. You’ll beat it in time to find you got your moneys worth and reach a feeling of fulfillment by the end. A great game to advise those who aren't fans of touch screen gaming.

Vs. Racing

Vs. Racing
Price: Free

Small Screen iOS' Devices Adviseable

Touch screen games... I realize all of the games I look at here are for touch screen devices but sometimes they don’t feel awkward, except maybe Beat Hazard where I keep setting off powerups when I don’t intend to. There are games I enjoy where the touch screen aspect sometimes gets in the way.

Vs. Racing has a good idea and even a good feel half the time. It’s a top down racer in short racing bursts with most races taking no more than a minute to finish. The tracks are riddled with narrow roads, sharp turns, water traps or dirt to slow you down from completing the race. Vs. Racing looks good and satisfies on the same level as many iOS games like Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds.

My issue lies with the controls. I’ll be getting into the race and halfway through lose everything because my thumb would be in the wrong place. Games like these like so many others depend on a virtual feel inside the game to gauge our precise and sensitive movements. Vs. Racing has suffered the most from the lack of this since you need to train yourself to recalibrate your thumb, sometimes within the heat of an intense 60 seconds.

When I did have a feel for it though, there was nothing like skidding along the track, overlapping the front car and taking the gold.


There used to be a service called 'Read It Later' whose name popped up around the Tech blogs. Curious about it, I read about it and couldn’t fathom a need for such an odd concept. Read it later? Why not read it now? What purpose would such a thing serve? And on I went.

Recently I found myself browsing through articles on Zite. One I found of interest, I post to my Facebook wall for my own reference for later. 'If only there was a better way!' I cried out and saw the little pocket icon in Zite. Read It Later evolved into Pocket, which is pretty much the same thing it used to be but in a shinier and more efficient package.

Quickly I set up an account, got the app and started searching for more ways to use it. I even found the Safari plug in and I find myself in business of keeping my reference links in order. The app (big screen or small) works by initially downloading and saving these links for offline reading in either webpage mode or reader mode. Personally I find it useful as an internet swipe file thats always with me.

Once again there’s the cloud done right here with access to these links in your app or from the web without file mishaps or loss of data. Best of all, it’s free to use.

All Talk

All Talk
Price: Free/$2 Ad Free
Ever hear of the game Taboo? I played it at a party once while being sober and trying to explain things like a doofus to a team of hammered morons. All Talk is the same game without the alcohol (or maybe you’re drinking with your iPhone/iPad, in that case if you break it, your hangover will double.)

Anyway, if you aren’t familiar with Taboo here’s a simple explanation. You have to describe a word to another person(s) while side stepping certain words. For example try to explain the word McDonalds without saying burgers or arches. All Talk follows the same gameplay and ties it up with the turn by turn system that smartphone games seem to be enjoying right now.

In theory the game works, speak into the microphone your description and send it to a friend. Hear and guess their word (and so on and so forth.) The problem in comparison with games like Draw Something or Hero Academy is that people don’t want to talk. Imagine being on the bus and suddenly descriping a porcupine out of the blue, they’ll think you’re mad! This is one game that didn’t last too long for me due to lack of interest from others and severe embarassment on my part. Yeah I can draw a crummy picture in Draw Something or guess songs like a mule in Song Pop but All Talk is too difficult to stay invested. Play at your own risk.

Jetpack Joyride

Price: $1
Cross Platform

Half-Brick's trademark character Barry Steakfries is back in another side scroller, adding another quality title to the developers roster of games. What I love about Half-Bricks games is they all feel like epic games squashed down for the small screen for a very affordable price. The graphics are simple but effective and the gameplay is one of those 'easy to learn, difficult to master' deals. Bottom line up front, you can't go wrong with this game.

Action games on a capacitive touch screen need to be treated with care, especially with complex controls. Other games get around this with one button gameplay where by touching the screen gives a single action, in Jetpack Joyrides case makes your character go up. Trying to get as far as possible is one way to play the game as you dodge missiles, lasers and electrified gates. The other way is to complete the challenges and reach higher ranks. After achieving a challenge issued, you'll get another to strive until you get to the top.

There's not a huge amount of depth in comparison to Angry Birds but there's enough to keep you invested for a great while. Additional jetpacks, clothing and abilities can be earned the more you play. It's a dollar, it's not buggy and it's fun. If you're not a fan of Half-Bricks style of games this won't win your favor but for the open minded it's good for a laugh.



Price: Free ($2 for additional tools)

iPad only

Ah Paper. It has all the elements that I want but has no place whatsoever in my appertoire. An app that suffers from a severe identity crisis needs to go through some major updates before it becomes an essential tool.

My sketching is sexy and I know it
Paper is the darling child of FiftyThree, a company with a talented crew of creative individuals who excel at being artistic. That much is obvious at surface level with a beautiful app that looks amazing, works amazingly and feels like real life ink being absorbed into pixels. Paper makes light scribbling look stunning and that's no easy task.

The initial idea was to turn your iPad into a landscape notepad for jotting down ideas, taking down notes or spreading your brain across a page. As I said, the execution is amazing and well done. The problem stems from the lack of tools that would add slight bit of depth to the app in exchange for its uniqueness. Two things I'd like to see are an undo/redo function and a slight zoom.

Undo/redo is an unfortunate piece to exclude since one wrong line or mistake means using the eraser to tediously run your stylus (or finger if you're into that) carefully and backtrack. As for the slight zoom, it's not even that big of a deal. You're not painting masterpieces here and don't need absolute precision. The problem is that you'll be inadvertently swiping down the notification tab. I paint a lot on the iPad with SketchBook, Procreate, Brushes and other such apps. NEVER had this problem before.

I ask for so much
Paper is still a pup and there is much space for improvement. As it stands now, Penultimate is my notetaker of choice. My bones are rattled however. Penultimate looks dull in comparison. The fluidness and incredible design of Paper calls for me to return but everytime the same problems keep nipping at my ankles. One day I'll see it in my updates list. I hope it'll say more than just bug fixes. Those updates piss me off.

Draw Something

Draw Something

Price: Free ($2 ad-free)

Draw Something is a game that gives you the ability to humiliate yourself in front of your friends and family directly by showing them some of your shoddy stick figures or ’artwork’. One of the keys to a healthy brain is being able to communicate your thoughts and this can take several routes such as speech, body movements or in this case drawing. The game goes back and forth in turns with you guessing an opponents picture while you draw one for them in an endless cycle until the other party gets super bored.

I don’t know if I was breaking any rules when I played Draw Something but I used a POGO stylus. Sometimes the real estate of the iPad version made things much easier but it’s just blown up from the small screen variety. This game doesn’t require the ability to draw but to communicate with imagery. For artists I prefer to think Draw Something as practice to expand from our comfort zone.

My l33t drawing skills
Is the game any good? It’s fun no doubt but it gets old over time with the lack of any real goal or direction. But that might just be the gamer in me screaming.



Price: $1

Do you remember those annoying Tamogatchi toys? I have memories of coddling a digital penguin, dinosaur, ambiguous blob and even a baby (which would only last about a week before outgrowing you. Talk about the Tamogatchi getting sick of you.) What child from the 90's didn't know or own a digital pet?

Hatchi relives the same spirit, blocky black and grey pixels and all. It translates well for the iOS and is well suited to touchscreen gamers who aren't action oriented (for the most part.) You start off with a blob pet and as time passes its features (horns, wings, limbs) will grow based off of its personality and how well you treat it. If you get that far that is. Tamogatchi pets are legendary for a) being annoying and b) lacking any reason to stick around long enough.

For the one dollar admission price you do get a lot of value with achievements, Game Center support and iPad/iPhone support. The main problem is the notifications support. It has it. I personally use notifications to learn about the weather, read mail and see responses on Facebook. You begin to make priorities and quickly realize that Hatchi will take a back seat a lot unless you make time for it.

My Vagina is smelly and is very dirty

Turning off notifications is Hatchis own version of putting it into silent mode and sticking it in a drawer, sentencing another digital pet to the big server in the cloud. When I did play I did feel engrossed in the experience however since it replicates the good ol' days perfectly with the sounds and sights of a low tech gizmo. The controls are only wonky in a few mini games (which aren't mandatory to play) and the price is right for what you get. Unless you're buying an iPod Touch or iPhone just for Hatchi then wtf is wrong with you?

iA Writer: iPhone Version


Price: $5


My first (paid) word processor for iPad was iA Writer. Did I get the name right this time? Anyway the first draw was the price compared to Pages. Then the interface. And I was sold with Dropbox support. It’s funny how my first crack was the perfect one that would never be topped. Then it became universal and I flipped.

Goodbye Write 2, My Writing Spot and others I can’t remember off the top of my head (I’ll get to them later). Does this app translate well to the small screen? Yes and no (gasp!)

It’s exactly like its bigger brothers in the way it delivers a simple and effective interface that gets the job done. The iCloud and DropBox support brings seamless integration between devices (and my God it’s just thuper.) It’s a faithful and useful shrink down of a great word processing app.

So what’s the problem? The issue is that the smaller screen requires more options and settings. Write2 works better for iPhone than the iPad because you can shrink down the text and use every pixel available while feeling absolutely comfortable. Both iPad and iPhone versions have a keyboard that takes up half the screen but the iPad can show more. Personally when I use small pockets of time to write on my phone, it’s in landscape. With iA Writer I change to portrait because I see just a little bit more.

Side by side comparison of iPhone (left) and iPad (right, duh)
After all is said and done I will place all my eggs in the iA Writer basket purely because everything is designed to optimize the writing experience. I don’t want to see buttons or textures or mess around with fonts or colour schemes. But thats just me.