Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Gameloft's Thanksgiving gift for iPhone

I don't usually post twice on the same day! But, Gameloft's Thanksgiving sale is a special case, and I wouldn't want readers to miss out on these incredible App Store deals.

Blades of Fury (iTunes) £0.59
Brothers In Arms - Hour of Heroes (iTunes) £0.59
Castle Of Magic (iTunes) £0.59
Shrek Kart (iTunes) £0.59
Terminator Salvation (iTunes) £0.59

May I take this opportunity to wish all my US readers a happy Thanksgiving.

EA Thanksgiving feast for iPhone

This Thanksgiving week EA is discounting up to 50% off their top games on the App Store.

Feast your eyes on these top titles:

Auditorium (iTunes) £1.19
Boggle (iTunes) £0.59
FIFA 10 (iTunes) £3.99
Madden 10 (iTunes) £3.99
NBA Live (iTunes) £3.99
Monopoly (iTunes) £1.79
Mystery Mania (iTunes) £0.59
Surviving High School (iTunes) £1.19
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR (iTunes) £1.79
Wolfenstein RPG (iTunes) £1.19

This offer is good through November 29th, and applies to countries outside the United States.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Quiz E4's Misfits cast

Readers will already know that I gave E4's Misfits an unequivocally positive review here.

You can now pose your questions directly to cast members Antonia Thomas (Alisha), Iwan Rheon (Simon) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Curtis).

Submit your questions to the cast here, and the best ones will be used in video interviews that will appear online.

Deadline for questions is 10am, Tuesday 24th November, so get a move on.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

PlayStation video delivery goes live in Europe

More than 2000 movies available, to rent or to own, at the click of a button

LONDON – 19th November 2009: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) further expanded its PlayStation® entertainment experience today with the launch of the PlayStation®Network video delivery service for Europe. Now available in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, with other countries to follow in 2010, the service allows film fans to download hundreds of movies, including the latest releases, straight to their PlayStation®3 (PS3™) and PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable).

More than 2,000 movies are available across the stores to rent (from €1.99) or to buy (from €7.99), many in High Definition* (HD) as well as Standard Definition (SD), from major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company1, Lionsgate2, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Starz Media2, Universal, and Warner Bros. The service also provides a broad selection of content from local market studios including ContentFilm International, E1 Entertainment UK and Optimum Releasing (UK), and Constantin Film, Kinowelt and Universum Film (Germany), MK2, EuropaCorp, Pathé, SND and Wild Side Video (France) and Vértice Cine (Spain).

Titles available within the launch window include Angels and Demons; Bruno; Disney/Pixar’s Cars; Walt Disney Pictures’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Crank 2; The Dark Knight; Dead Space: Downfall; Drag Me to Hell; Gran Torino; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; National Treasure; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Public Enemies; Star Trek; Terminator Salvation; Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen; and Valkyrie; and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Additional content will be added on a weekly basis.

“The launch of the PlayStation Network video delivery service extends our entertainment offering and provides consumers with another way to access their favourite movies, whether at home or on the go,” said Andrew House, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “With the choice of content constantly expanding, including full games, bite-size downloadable “minis” games, demos and now movies too, the PlayStation Network is the gateway to a world of entertainment.”

At launch, there will be a special offer for existing PSN members, allowing them to receive a complimentary copy of The Da Vinci Code if they buy Angels and Demons. There will also be a special promotion to encourage new members. Anyone who registers for a PlayStation®Network account using their new PS3s between 19th & 30th November 2009 will receive a voucher to download a complimentary copy of Transformers to own3.

Located on the PlayStation®Store under the “Video Store” section, the PlayStation Network video delivery service provides consumers with an exceptional entertainment experience, adding HD and SD movies for rental or purchase, to the already comprehensive line-up of games, demos, trailers and other content.

The video delivery service will be fully integrated within the PlayStation Network, using the same log-in, wallet system and user-interface. Visitors can search for movies by name, or can browse categories such as “new releases”, “genres” and ”most popular downloads”. PS3’s progressive downloading allows viewers to start watching a film shortly after the download begins. They can also access certain games or other content on their PS3 while the download is taking place.

Consumers who choose to rent have up to 14 days to watch their movie, and, once playback is started, they have 48 hours to watch the content. Purchased movies are stored on the PS3 hard disk drive and can be accessed at home via PS3 or transferred to PSP for content on the go.

The PlayStation Network video delivery service takes prime position in a line-up of PlayStation entertainment features, alongside streaming music video with VidZone®, Catch Up TV services and free digital TV viewing with PlayTV™. With games, music, Internet, photos, communications and more, it’s yet another reason to make PS3 and PSP the heart of your entertainment world. To find out more, visit www.eu.playstation.com.

* Initially HD content will only be available to rent

1 Content only available to rent or to buy in the UK and to rent in Germany at launch

2 Content from these studios will be available only in the UK

3 The promotional code will be sent to eligible customers in December 2009.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Star Wars: Trench Run for iPhone

Star Wars: Trench Run (iTunes) blasts its way onto the App Store today courtesy of THQ Wireless!

"Many Bothans died to bring us this information."
Your mission: Use the Force to overthrow the evil Galactic Empire as they attempt to destroy the small rebel base on the jungle moon of Yavin 4. As part of the Rebel Allianceʼs Red Squadron, you dogfight with TIE fighters above the Death Starʼs surface before heading into a trench where you are inundated by cannon fire. Dodge obstacles and stay out of Darth Vaderʼs sights as he tries to gun you down before you have the chance to fire your proton torpedoes into the thermal exhaust port the size of a womp rat. If successful, a direct hit will cause a chain reaction that destroys the Death Star, thus saving the Rebel base from impending doom.

"I've got a bad feeling about this."
At the time of writing this post, I still haven't downloaded and played Star Wars: Trench Run. However, the gameplay suggests a shooter that falls short of Sega's Star Wars Arcade (also known simply as Star Wars) and Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire. And, potentially, limited replay value makes the £2.99 entry fee expensive when there are much more immersive gaming experiences available on the App Store.

"Trust your feelings." "Let go."
Given the success of the Doom (iTunes) and Call of Duty (iTunes) first-person shooter franchises. Isn't it time that Dark Forces was released? What say you reader?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Doctor Who treading The Waters of Mars

Last night's Doctor Who special epitomised the good and bad of the current series, and is proof positive that Russell T Davies' tenure has plunged into self-referential parody!

There's been an awful lot of running in Doctor Who - metaphorically and literally - this decade. I have no qualms with metaphor and the dramatic impetus therein! However, literal running reached its zenith in The Waters of Mars last night.

The plot and set design, cynically, lent itself to the ideology of running... Clearly, Davies' ran out of creative ideas several seasons ago. Too often I found myself clock watching. It was only in the quieter, character moments, where the episode excelled and the actors were allowed, dare I suggest, to act. Even Murray Gold's orchestral compositions, of which I am a fan, were often jarring and disjointed.

The alien entity was no match for the once-monstrous Martian Ice Warriors (The Curse of Peladon notwithstanding), a species curiously referenced by the Doctor as "a fine and noble race who built an empire out of snow." I'd have much preferred a base under siege story with Ice Warriors as per Patrick Troughton's era!

The Doctor's transformation from misfit to an unbound, arrogant and dangerous, alien force was genius and evoked William Hartnell and Tom Baker! The hubris that follows sets things up for the last two-part special scheduled for Christmas and the New Year.

Robots are often mined for comedic relief in sci-fi. Star Wars' R2-D2 and C3-PO and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy's Marvin are prime examples - funny and endearing. However, the robot, which appeared in The Waters of Mars, was risible and wouldn't have garnered a single G rating in The Gadget Show (my Tomy Omnibot Mk II was more convincing!). Mat Irvine, who built K9 in the original series, would've blushed with embarrassment!

The Waters of Mars was 'better' than Planet of the Dead. But, that's little consolation. The Cloister Bell chimes were most welcome by journey's end.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Commodore 64 returns for iPhone

An edge of your seat software soap opera may, finally, be at an end on the App Store! Manomio's Commodore 64 (iTunes) is back following the removal of BASIC (presumably at Apple's request).

Along with up to a 30% performance improvement, Commodore 64 now includes onboard instructions for each of the included games and three new games: International Basketball, International Baseball, and International Tennis. That's an awesome retro bundle for £2.99.

The next update v1.2, scheduled for mid-December, will enable in-app purchases. This update will be free for everyone who has purchased the Commodore 64 emulator previously. Will this remain the case for future updates? I hope so. Bring on Impossible Mission, Paradroid, Uridium and Bruce Lee!

In view of the application's turbulent history. I'd suggest downloading Commodore 64 (iTunes) sooner rather than later!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Settlers 'settle' for iPhone

Following last week's disappointing Command & Conquer Red Alert for iPhone/iPod touch. Gameloft, one of the App Store's most prolific third-party developers, has looked to an established real-time strategy (RTS) license for its latest release.

The Settlers (iTunes) assuredly marches onto the App Store long after it first appeared on the Amiga in 1993.



You’ve arrived in a wondrous place populated by Romans, Vikings and Mayans competing or cooperating to reach a variety of goals. These goals include occupying land, ensuring the supply of raw materials, or simply trying to create the most beautiful settlement. There is more than one path which leads to success – you can engage in trade, forge alliances, or lead your army into battle.




The Settlers stumbled onto mobile platforms with varying degrees of success. But, Apple's iPhone and iPod touch are the perfect medium, and Gameloft has invested considerable time in R&D!

Given the introductory price point of £2.99, I unreservedly recommend The Settlers (iTunes).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hasbro and JJ Abrams risk Micronauts reboot!

In the week that Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired the rights to the Risk board game from Hasbro. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Hasbro is rebooting the Micronauts and JJ Abrams is at the helm of a new film franchise.



During Hasbro’s 2009 Fall Investor Day Event held today at their headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the company announced the re-introduction of the classic toy line Micronauts originally created by Japanese company Takara, in 1974, under the name Microman. Microman evolved out of Hasbro's G.I. Joe and would later morph into one of the most successful toy lines ever. The Transformers.

Microman was rebranded as the Micronauts and launched in 1977 by, the now defunct, Mego in the United States and Airfix in the UK. Ironically, Mego passed on Star Wars and would compete for shelf space that Christmas.

Backed by a Marvel comic series, in 1979, the Micronauts were a short-lived phenomenon, that attained a cult following and resurrected, briefly, by Palisades Toys, in 2002.

Abrams told the Wall Street Journal that those who doubt whether a board game or science fiction toy should be accorded star status will be proved wrong.

"Sometimes, when someone is not a celebrity and you are casting them in a role, everyone who is in a seat of authority voices questions about that actor's talent, sex appeal, looks, ability -- their everything," he says. "But then they get the role, and suddenly they are on the cover of every magazine, and nobody questions those things again. In retrospect, everyone says, 'Of course that person is a star.'"

Cherished childhood memories mean I can't wait to see the adventures of Acroyear and Baron Karza on the big screen! However, is it a toy tie-in too far? Is Hollywood so starved of story ideas, and risk-averse, that it's now looking to the aisles of Toys "R" Us? What do you think?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Command & Conquer Red Alert for iPhone

EA Mobile is at the forefront of releasing established game franchises, both from its own in-house studios and third-party properties, with varying degrees of success, on the App Store.

From The Sims 3 to Rock Band and Madden NFL 10 to FIFA 10, the App Store is rapidly becoming the online shopping destination of choice for mobile gamers everywhere! Competitors can't compete with Apple's vertical integration.



Command & Conquer Red Alert (iTunes) is the latest edition to that enviable collection. Suffice to say that I've been looking forward to the arrival of Command & Conquer, for iPhone and iPod touch, since it was announced months ago! The real-time strategy (RTS) genre has been woefully underrepresented on the App Store! However, I'm reluctant to download the game in its current form!



Why? Because a stellar 3D presentation and control method do not, in and of themselves, yield longevity! There's no wireless multiplayer (a future update will add this) and, perhaps most cynically, the skeletal selection of included maps can be increased at additional cost! Given that the Command & Conquer franchise is known for its copious free maps and multiplay, EA Mobile's decision is surprising and appears fiscally motivated.

Ultimately Command & Conquer Red Alert could be construed as a half-baked attempt to nickel and dime early adopters! I'll wait for the price to drop, from £5.99, before revisiting this anticipated release and forthcoming Empire of the Rising Sun expansion pack.

Are in-app purchases adding value or simply a revenue stream for publishers?