Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Officially Announces iPhone 5

This is news that surprises absolutely no one given Apple had sent out invites suggesting they were going to announce their new phone today.  No, instead this is an article listing off all the new changes the phone brings.  Typically I wouldn’t cover a news item like this on the site, but given how much influence the App Store has on the game industry right now, I figured it was important.  So here’s what the bad boy looks like.

The most important information is the release date, which is September 21st.  As for pricing, $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model.  The new iPhone closely matches the new Samsung Galaxy S III, featuring a nice large screen, a powerful processor and several other bells and whistles thrown in for good measure.  I’ll let Apple tell you more about the new iPhone.

Apple® today announced iPhone® 5, the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina™ display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless technology*—all while delivering even better battery life.** iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features including: the all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography and turn-by-turn navigation; Facebook integration; Passbook® organization; and even more Siri® features and languages.

“iPhone 5 is the most beautiful consumer device that we’ve ever created,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We’ve packed an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thin and light, jewel-like device with a stunning 4-inch Retina display, blazing fast A6 chip, ultrafast wireless, even longer battery life; and we think customers are going to love it.”

iPhone 5 is the thinnest smartphone in the world, with an all-new 7.6 mm anodized aluminum body that is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than iPhone 4S. Designed with an unprecedented level of precision, iPhone 5 combines an anodized aluminum body with diamond cut chamfered edges and glass inlays for a truly incredible fit and finish.

The new 4-inch Retina display on iPhone 5 delivers even more pixels than iPhone 4S, making the already incredible Retina display even better. By making the screen taller, not wider, iPhone 5 is just as easy to use with one hand so you can tap, type and scroll the same way you always have, while enjoying even more of your content including amazing apps optimized for the larger Retina display, widescreen HD video, a full five days of your Calendar and more of every web page.

iPhone 5 supports ultrafast wireless standards including LTE and DC-HSDPA, so you can browse, download and stream content even faster. To support the latest LTE technology, Apple has pioneered a unique single-radio LTE solution that provides blazing fast speeds while fitting perfectly into the new remarkably thin design. iPhone 5 features dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi support for a wireless experience up to 150 Mbps.***

The all-new A6 chip was designed by Apple to maximize performance and power efficiency to support all the incredible new features in iPhone 5, including the stunning new 4-inch Retina display—all while delivering even better battery life. With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, almost everything you do on iPhone 5 is blazing fast for launching apps, loading web pages and downloading email attachments.

The 8 megapixel iSight® camera is the most popular camera in the world and with iPhone 5, it’s even better. The new camera is completely redesigned with incredible optical performance, yet amazingly it’s 25 percent smaller than the camera in iPhone 4S. The new iSight camera in iPhone 5 features a sapphire crystal lens cover that is thinner and more durable than standard glass with the ability to provide crystal clear images. The new panorama feature lets you capture jaw-dropping panorama images of up to 28 megapixels by simply moving the camera across a scene in one smooth motion. New video features include improved stabilization, video face detection for up to 10 faces and the ability to take still photos as you record. A new FaceTime® HD front facing camera makes FaceTime calls incredibly clear and can also be used for self portraits and recording 720p HD video. iPhone 5 also allows you to share photos with friends and family using iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams.

iPhone 5 features the new Lightning™ connector that is smaller, smarter and more durable than the previous connector. The all-digital Lightning connector features an adaptive interface that uses only the signals that each accessory requires, and it’s reversible so you can instantly connect to your accessories. The Lightning-to-30-pin Adapter is also available to connect iPhone 5 to legacy 30-pin accessories.****

iPhone 5 introduces new enhanced audio features including a new beam-forming, directional microphone system for higher quality sound, while background noise fades away with new noise canceling technology. iPhone 5 now includes support for cellular wideband audio for crisper word clarity and more natural sounding speech. Wideband audio will be supported by over 20 carriers worldwide at launch. iPhone 5 comes with the new Apple EarPods™ featuring a breakthrough design for a more natural fit and increased durability, and an incredible acoustic quality typically reserved for higher-end earphones.

iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new user features including: an all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and an amazing new Flyover™ view; Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar, with the ability to post directly from Notification Center; Passbook, the simplest way to get all your passes in one place; new Siri features, including support for more languages, easy access to sports scores, restaurant recommendations and movie listings;***** Siri and Facebook-enabled apps like Photos, Safari® and Maps; and Shared Photo Streams via iCloud®.

As an iPhone user myself, I like the big screen, but my iPhone 4S still works perfect and the new iOS sounds very exciting and will be fully compatible with my model so I’m in no rush to upgrade.  What say you?

A New Mega Man Game?!

CAPCOM has not enjoyed the best relationship with its fanbase for the last year or so, especially with the Mega Man faithful. Following the cancellation of Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3, fans are feeling particularly sour. Some people look for any reason to be upset, whether it’s the inclusion of hilarious Bad Box Art Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken (which is so radical I’d buy the game just for him), the lack of Mega Man in Ultimate Marvel vs. CAPCOM 3 (the way he was butchered in Marvel vs. CAPCOM 1 and 2 makes me grateful he wasn’t in, to be honest), and the frankly lazy iOS port of Mega Man X. But some fans will be very justified in their dissatisfaction with CAPCOM’s latest announcement, Rockman Xover (pronounced “cross over”).

The concept made me excited beyond words at first. According to the translated description posted on sites like The Mega Man Network, the story goes: “It’s a world where all the worlds of Rockman have crossed over. The gulf of space-time has been closed thanks to the efforts of Dr. Wily, Sigma and other villains to Rockman and co.! Dr Light and Dr. Cossack work together in creating a new robot to oppose this crisis. A production model, this robot uses “battle memory” that has been scattered over the world, and possesses infinite potential to transform and increase his power. The player battles evil as this new type robot. Create your own Rockman, and battle with others to protect peace!”

A crossover game putting together every series in the Mega Man franchise? That sounds amazing! I would’ve loved to see all of the Mega Man characters team up to take down villains from the franchise. The description, however, leads me to believe that it isn’t really “all” of the games, but rather the classic and X series respectively, given the inclusion of Dr. Light and Dr. Cossack, as well as Sigma. What could possibly be so bad about this? Well, it’s a Social RPG for iOS. I can’t say I’m too excited for the idea. Actual game mechanic details are slim at this point, so it’s probably too early to make a judgment call, but I just can’t shake this feeling of disappointment. Some fans are obviously taking this too far, claiming that CAPCOM intends to kill the franchise intentionally–which is just silly and misguided. Hopefully more games will be announced as part of the 25th anniversary and this is just a taste of things to come, and for what it’s worth, this may end up being a fun and addictive little diversion.

 

 

As a quick disclaimer about compatibility,  it will run on iPhone 3GS/4/4S, and iPod Touch models beyond generation 3. It is playable on iPad, but the game is not designed for the iPad’s resolution. The game is currently set for release in Japan this Fall. CAPCOM has already confirmed that this will be released in the US and European markets. Thanks to 4Gamer.net for posting the original story.

 

Diablo III Sells Over 10 Million Units

During Activision Blizzard’s quarterly earnings conference, the company revealed that Diablo III has over ten million players.  Not too shabby at all since the game was released May 15th of this year.  On top of that, it’s a sequel to a game that was released way back in mid-2001!  While the sales are extremely impressive in and of themselves, Activision Blizzard was clear to remind everyone that 3.5 million of those sales happened during the first 24 hours.  Another 1.2 million came from World of Warcraft players subscribing to the annual pass promotion Blizzard ran leading up to Diablo III‘s release.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that for as of right now I still haven’t had the chance to build my computer and give D3 a spin.  I plan to do so ASAP though, but knowing me that could be quite a while ;)  In other relevant news, Blizzard is hoping for a repeat performance with Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion to World of Warcraft, which officially goes on sale September 25th.

Mountain Lion Now Available For All You Mac Users Out There

As always, this summer has been extremely quiet in terms of gaming news.  Ever since E3 wrapped up, we’ve been sitting here listening to the crickets.  Honestly, it’s been nice being able to sit back and enjoy a few great games, but also leaves you all wondering what the heck is going on.  Nothing is up really, other than the lack of interesting news.  Thankfully Apple’s come to the rescue, although this isn’t exactly the biggest news in the world.  Today marks the official release of OS 10.8 Mountain Lion.  It is currently available from the Mac App Store for $19.99 for those upgrading from Snow Leopard (10.6) or Lion (10.7).  The OS contains a wealth of new features, which Apple highlights as…

With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion includes:

  • iCloud integration, for easy set up of your Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and Notes, and keeping everything, including iWork® documents, up to date across all your devices;
  • the all new Messages app, which replaces iChat® and brings iMessage™ to the Mac, so you can send messages to anyone with an iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® or another Mac;
  • Notification Center, which streamlines the presentation of notifications and provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps;
  • system-wide Sharing, to make it easy to share links, photos, videos and other files quickly without having to switch to another app, and you just need to sign in once to use third-party services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo;
  • Facebook integration, so you can post photos, links and comments with locations right from your apps, automatically add your Facebook friends to your Contacts, and even update your Facebook status from within Notification Center;
  • Dictation, which allows you to dictate text anywhere you can type, whether you’re using an app from Apple or a third party developer;
  • AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send an up-to-1080p secure stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV®, or send audio to a receiver or speakers that use AirPlay; and
  • Game Center, which brings the popular social gaming network from iOS to the Mac so you can enjoy live, multiplayer games with friends whether they’re on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Additional features in Mountain Lion include the revolutionary new Gatekeeper, which makes downloading software from the Internet safer; Power Nap, which automatically updates your apps and system while your Mac is asleep; and a faster Safari® browser. New features for China include significantly improved text input, a new Chinese Dictionary, easy setup with popular email providers, Baidu search in Safari, and built-in sharing to Sina Weibo and popular video websites Youku and Tudou.

As is always important with a new OS, you need to make sure your computer can actually run the operating system.  Sadly, I haven’t been able to upgrade to Lion as my MacBook Pro was a first-gen Intel Core Duo model, which means I get the shaft yet again.  Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade ;)  Here’s a list of all the supported models.

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

This really makes me wonder if this will be the final version of the Big Cats OS.  Personally I thought Lion was going to be the last version of OS X, because I mean the lion is the king of the jungle after all.  Yet here we are with another update to the aging platform.  I’m a very big fan of the OS, but I believe it has run its course and would very much like to see a complete OS overhaul with OS 11.  Anyone else in the same boat as me?

iOS and Android get a new Final Fantasy

Some time ago, Square-Enix filed a trademark for the title “Final Fantasy Dimenions.” Now we finally know what that means. The Japanese site which just went live earlier has revealed that the game is for iOS and will be released in the summer as part of the series’ 25th anniversary. Special thanks to Siliconera for the information! Below is a statement from Square-Enix:

“Drawing upon the roots of the series with such features as beautiful 2D pixel art, job-driven character growth, additional scenarios in which to inherit the jobs of your adventuring companions, and a classic story of light, darkness, and crystals, Final Fantasy Dimensions delivers the best of Final Fantasy, retro and fresh alike, directly to your smartphone.”

So far, it’s assumed that Dimensions is a re-release or remake of Final Fantasy Legends, an episodic mobile game. This is very similar to how Final Fantasy IV: The After Years got its start, as well. Below is the official press release from Square-Enix.

SQUARE ENIX TO SHOWCASE POWERFUL AND DIVERSE LINEUP
AT E3 2012

Range of Titles Includes HITMAN: ABSOLUTION, TOMB RAIDER, Quantum Conundrum,
25 Years of FINAL FANTASY and More

LOS ANGELES (May 30, 2012) — Square Enix, Inc., the publishers of SQUARE ENIX® interactive entertainment products in the Americas, today announced its title lineup for E3 2012. With one of the most powerful and diverse lineups in company history, Square Enix will show off classic franchises and original titles with exclusive footage and hands-on demos including the return of Agent 47™ in HITMAN®: ABSOLUTION™, the engaging puzzle gameplay of Quantum Conundrum™, the open world action of Sleeping Dogs™, and a number of innovative mobile titles.

“At this year’s E3, Square Enix will have one of the most comprehensive and diverse portfolios of titles available in its history,” said Yoichi Wada, president and representative director of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. “Our mission is to entertain and engage a wide range of consumers with the best possible interactive experiences.”

“From fantasy worlds filled with some of the industry’s most identifiable characters to innovative, original content, the lineup from Square Enix at this year’s E3 is one of the strongest in the industry,” said Mike Fischer, president and chief executive officer of Square Enix, Inc.

To get a first-hand look at upcoming games from Square Enix, please visit booth 1647 in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 attendees will be able to experience exclusive theater presentations for Quantum Conundrum, Sleeping Dogs and HITMAN: ABSOLUTION, and preview and play the following Square Enix titles:

HD Consoles and PC Lineup

Quantum Conundrum
Platform: Windows PC, PlayStation®Network for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft
Developer: Airtight Games
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Available: June 21 for Windows PC, Summer for PlayStation 3 system and Xbox 360
From the mind of PORTAL™ co-creator Kim Swift, Quantum Conundrum features engaging puzzle gameplay with the introduction of the Inter-Dimensional Shift Device (IDS), an invention that gives players the ability to shift to and from various dimensions, manipulating the world around them in order to solve puzzles of ever-increasing difficulty.

American Mensa Academy™
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android
Available: July
American Mensa Academy is a brain training game that will give player’s minds the ultimate cerebral workout. Created in direct collaboration with Mensa, American Mensa Academy is packed with 100+ replayable levels of fun and stimulating mini-games and challenges for everyone, plus for those really looking to test their grey matter, there is a rigorous test designed to calculate your Mensa score, directly inspired by questions faced by those attempting to join the renowned global high IQ society.

Sleeping Dogs
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 system, Windows PC
Developer: United Front Games
ESRB: Rating Pending (RP)
Available: August 14
Sleeping Dogs catapults players into the role of undercover cop Wei Shen, tasked with taking down one of the world’s most fearsome criminal organizations from the inside — the Hong Kong Triads. As players explore the bustling and crowded Hong Kong island, through its neon-lit side streets and sprawling street markets, an incredible story unfolds of loyalty and betrayal where Wei begins to question his own motives as he is sucked in deeper than he could ever imagine.

HITMAN: ABSOLUTION
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 system, Windows PC
Developer: IO INTERACTIVE (Square Enix Group)
ESRB: RP (Rating Pending)
Available: November 20
HITMAN: ABSOLUTION follows Agent 47, a cold-blooded assassin, who takes on his most dangerous contract to date. Betrayed by those he once trusted — and now hunted by the police — he suddenly finds himself at the center of a dark conspiracy and must embark on a personal journey through a corrupt and twisted world.

Gameglobe™
Platform: Online browser
Developer: Hapti.co (Square Enix Group)
Available: 2012
Gameglobe is a unique browser-based experience that allows players free access to endless game worlds and creative possibilities, all in HD quality. Players can choose to either create their own game or simply play the multitude of levels available at launch.

TOMB RAIDER®
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 system, Windows PC
Developer: Crystal Dynamics (Square Enix Group)
ESRB: RP (Rating Pending)
Available: Q1 2013
Armed with only the raw instincts and physical ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, TOMB RAIDER delivers an intense and gritty story into the origins of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor.

Handheld and Mobile Lineup

DARIUSBURST™ SECOND PROLOGUE™
Platform: iOS
Available: Now
The shooting game hit has arrived! This stunning 3D iPhone game adapts elements from both the critically-acclaimed PlayStation Portable and arcade editions of DARIUSBURST, adding silky smooth touch screen controls and a host of exclusive new features. Climb aboard your sleek Silverhawk fighter and defend your home planet Darius against monstrous fishlike invaders!

RAYSTORM™
Platform: iOS
Available: June
The classic 1996 arcade shooter is back! After a brutal war with rebellious colony planets, Earth is on the brink of destruction. It’s up to you to take control of the experimental R-GRAY fighter and bring the fight to the enemy! To succeed in your mission you’ll need lightning-fast reflexes, advanced weaponry, and no small amount of luck!

GUARDIAN CROSS™
Platform: iOS, Android
Available: July (iOS), TBD (Android)
A creature-based card game that features a fully unique battle system in which players take on the role of “tamers” who capture, raise, and control powerful beasts known as “Guardians.” In addition to quests to unlock the secret of why the Guardians have woken after a millennium of slumber, other features include a coliseum system that allows players to challenge other tamers from around the world in head-to-head combat.

THEATRHYTHM™ FINAL FANTASY®
Developer: Square Enix/indieszero Co., Ltd.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS™ system
ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10 or older)
Available: July 3
The first FINAL FANTASY rhythm game, THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY features more than 70 musical scores spanning entire 25 years of the franchise’s history. THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY features music from key events, lush field themes and decisive battle arrangements.

HEROES OF RUIN™
Developer: n-Space
Platform: Nintendo 3DS system
ESRB: T (Teen)
Available: July 17
HEROES OF RUIN challenges players to carve their own adventure, either venturing alone or joining forces with other heroes through seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op multiplayer. Players will enter an ever-changing world where danger waits around every corner. Heroes can explore and fight through wild, varied and dynamic environments, discovering new layouts and routes each time they play.

KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance]
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS system
ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10 or older)
Available: July 31
Celebrating the franchise’s 10th anniversary, KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance] features a spectacular story that promises to be a fun backdrop to the colorful cast of Disney characters making their 3D debut on a handheld title. In addition to brand new worlds, KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance] will also feature never before seen gameplay elements.

DEMONS’ SCORE™
Platform: iOS, Android
Available: Summer
Demons’ Score is a breakbeat action game that seamlessly fuses music and battles. The Unreal Engine 3 is used to deliver thrilling touch-based gameplay through a mind-blowing fusion of stunning graphics and music created by hit songwriters.

FINAL FANTASY® DIMENSIONS™
Platform: iOS, Andriod
Available: Summer
Drawing upon the roots of the series with such features as beautiful 2D pixel art, job-driven character growth, additional scenarios in which to inherit the jobs of your adventuring companions, and a classic story of light, darkness, and crystals, FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS delivers the best of FINAL FANTASY, retro and fresh alike, directly to your smartphone.

KooZac™
Platforms: iOS, Android
Available: Summer
KooZac, the award-winning number puzzler is coming to iOS and Android. Previously released online, the game has been played over 15 million times across 135 countries. KooZac offers three ways to play with the overall objective of positioning the falling blocks on top of each other to make a target number.

Motley Blocks™
Platforms: iOS, Android
Available: Summer
Motley Blocks is a fast-paced, 3D puzzle game. Drag your finger across the screen to connect blocks of the same color as they rotate in a cyclonic pattern. Release your touch to send the blocks to the center of the cyclone and reveal a fun image. Use power-ups to help complete harder levels. In addition to solving puzzles, make your own in the level creator and share them with friends!

Qwirkle™
Platforms: iOS, Android
Available: Summer
Qwirkle is a matching game requiring tactical maneuvers and well-planned strategy. Earn points by building rows and columns of tiles that share a common shape or color. Use power-ups and add an additional layer of strategy to the game! Play with multiple friends asynchronously in classic or arcade modes.

SolaRola™
Platforms: iOS, Android
Available: Summer
SolaRola stars Wiz and Waz, the game’s blob-like gung-ho duo, tasked with bouncing across a number of challenging planets with the ultimate aim of saving the galaxy. Using whatever comes to hand, the daring pairing must thwart the plans of their nemesis, Ping the Unmerciless who has kidnapped the six guardians of SolaRola’s universe. With each planet inhabited by all manner of enemies and hazards, the player must navigate Wiz and Waz across a number of ill-positioned obstacles including rocks, slime, bombs and trampolines.

Apple Sends Out Invites To iPad 3 Event

The picture says it all really.  Apple will hold an iPad 3 event on Wednesday March 7th, and will likely confirm longstanding rumors about the new iPad having a retina display, quad core processor and more.

I’ll be sure to post whatever news is revealed at the event.  I think it might be time for me to upgrade my original iPad ;)

Ash II: Shadows Chapter 1 Review

Ash II: Shadows Chapter 1 (Available only for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad)
Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Konami
Developer: SRRN Games
Release Date: January 19, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB doesn’t rate iOS games, but Apple and iOS developers do. They rated the game 9+ for crude humor and fantasy violence.  If you’ve played SNES RPGs like Super Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger or any of the early Final Fantasy games, you know what to expect.

Plays Like: Any 16-bit Japanese RPG.

Review Basis: Finished the quest, awaiting the release of chapter two.  I played through the game using the original iPad.

Pricing: The game’s Gold Edition runs $4.99 on the App Store, which includes the first chapter and perk of downloading the remaining five free of charge once they’re available. The Silver Edition can be bought for $2.99, bringing the first chapter, the ability to download the second free of charge, and a 50% discount for the remaining chapters. There are also in-app-purchases for those that want status-boosting items, Facebook gamers, there you go.

Ash II: Shadows follows the hit iPhone RPG, Ash, but those who didn’t play the first game need not worry. Ash II is unique, and stands on its own. Everyone should try it.

The Great:

A real, honest RPG for when you’re on the go.  A simple, yet elegant battle system, exploration focus, and wonderful narrative aid Ash II in delivering a console-like experience. By being able to save anywhere, this pick-up-and-play RPG harkens back to SNES-era classics. The package is just delightful. I’m now a believer in mobile RPGs.

The Good:

+ Interesting narrative, great humor and perfect timing.  The cast of characters is charming, the plot focuses on an eventual world-threatening enemy, and there’s light-heartedness where it belongs.

+ Real-time encounters. Ash’s random encounters are out, in is a system more akin to Chrono Trigger. Enemies are visible on the battlefield, and can be avoided.

+ Simple battle system that finishes the job. Tap the desired action (attack, magic, defend or flee), then tap the enemy or ally you wish to attack or heal.  It works perfectly.

+ Strategic battles.  The top of the screen displays the character and enemy turn order. Players can perform a range of special magic attacks that affect enemies in different ways, from status effects to altering their turn in the battle.

+ Equipment/weapons can change with accessories. This makes exploration worthwhile.  If you locate a unique rune and equip weapons/armor from the same class, your characters become extremely powerful.

+ Great controls.  A virtual d-pad and action button can be used to talk and investigate environments, or your finger can move the character around. Both methods work perfectly.

+ Fantastic audio-visual experience.  Regardless of the iOS device, you’re in for a treat.  Varied environments, detailed sprites and an awesome soundtrack make this an RPG to return to.

The So-So:

+/- Too simple for its own good. Items don’t exist. If a character is low on health, only one character can heal. Magic is unlimited however, so you can cast as many spells as you wish.

+/- Unproven business model. You can pick whether to buy every chapter now via the Gold Edition, or two with the Silver. There’s a problem though; we don’t know what the remainder of the game will be like. It’s hard to gauge the overall value.

The Bad:

– Unbalanced difficulty.  When Ash II launched, it was a cakewalk. Bosses could be destroyed in seconds by spamming the attack command. Since the latest update, bosses aren’t more difficult per se, but attacks now miss or are blocked.

– Easy regardless of balance issues.  Without MP and items, characters are healed fully when battle is finished. That eliminates any fear that another enemy could be right around the next corner.

The Ugly:

Fighting a boss I can’t seem to hurt.  How can he defend against everything I try to do?

The Lowdown:

Ash II: Shadows Chapter 1 is a solid and fun RPG. It’s a throwback to a simpler time. The problem is it’s just too unbalanced in terms of difficulty. It’s also impossible to know if the pricing models are wise. There’s certainly room to fix the balancing, and the game is improved since the updates, but I hope SRRN focuses on the strategic elements of battle. In the meantime, anyone wanting an RPG with a great story, huge cliffhanger and interesting characters ought to invest in Ash II.

Average Score Scale: 7.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 7/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: RPGs are your favorite genre and you crave something on-the-go. The production values are worth the cheap price.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: It’s a simple game. If you want to be challenged for hours, skip on this.

 

Infinity Blade Series Has Reached $30 Million In Sales Revenue

Who says mobile games aren’t the real deal?  Well clearly not Epic Games, as their latest iOS release, Infinity Blade has just surpassed $25 million in sales revenue, and its sequel has just passed $5 million.  That’s pretty impressive considering Infinity Blade II was released in December 2011.  It costs only $7 and is available for all iOS devices that are strong enough to run it.

I’d really like to know how profitable these games are for Epic.  They must be doing well for the company as they’ve put a lot of resources into developing for iOS over Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.  Personally I really wanted a sequel to Shadow Complex, but instead the company has put all its efforts into iOS-developed titles.

For Android users out there, still no word on when or if these games will make their way to your devices.

Apple Confirms October 4th Press Conference

I think this images says it all.  Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5, which could go on sale as early as next week, although most believe it will be the following week.  Rumors suggest the phone will include  the iPad 2’s A5 dual-core processor as well as 1GB of RAM.  The camera is said to be upgraded to an 8-megapixel camera.  The biggest selling feature is apparently going to be the voice-controlled assistant.  Apparently users need only ask their phone for something and it will do the rest.  Ask to locate a street, a person’s phone number or even to open certain apps.

We’ll have all the details on October 4th for you iPhone fans out there.

Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple

I think the headline says it all really.  Tim Cook, who has been the acting CEO since Steve went on sick leave has been officially sworn in as the full time CEO.  Steve Jobs will remain at Apple as the Chairman of the Board.  It was Steve Jobs himself who informed the board that Tim Cook was the rightful person to take up the position.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

Jobs went on to release the following letter to the Apple community.

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

This is a sad day for the technology industry as it clearly means his health isn’t as good as everyone had originally hoped.  That said, it is wonderful news to hear that he will remain at Apple and continue to offer insight into their future products.  No one can ever take away what Steve Jobs did for Apple and the entertainment industry as a whole while serving as Apple’s CEO.  Tim, you’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill.

Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Steve during Apple’s press conferences because no one will ever be able to replace him.

Update:

I felt this was the best tribute anyone could give Steve Jobs, and it works just perfectly.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Think Different.

Take a bow Steve, you've earned it. (Kudos to Engadget for the pic)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Details Emerge

Update by Ahmed Mosly: here’s the official non-revealing teaser trailer. At least Infinity Ward acknowledges the sequel’s existence.

Kotaku has a whole set of stories up this morning that reveal just about everything there is to reveal about the forthcoming Modern Warfare 3.  Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software are hard at work on putting the finishing touches on what will surely be one of the biggest games of 2011.  Instead of regurgitating what Kotaku wrote, I recommend you hit up the link provided.  I strongly believe in giving credit where credit is due and these guys went out of their way to get their sources to talk and to compile all the information leaked in one tidy location.  That said, I also like to give our readers the latest and greatest news so I’ve compiled everything together in point form for your reading pleasure.

–       Projected release date: November 8th, 2011 for every platform you can imagine.

–       Game begins seconds after Modern Warfare 2.

–       Players will play in various locations around the world including New York, Paris, London and Dubai.

–       There are currently 15 missions in the single-player campaign

–       Online multiplayer returns and bigger and badder than ever before

Every other article Kotaku has up reveal tons of spoilers and to be frank, I really don’t want to spoil the game for myself.  If you’re interested hit this link.  Remember, it is filled with spoilers and could ruin your enjoyment of a potentially awesome title.  You’ve been warned.

I know a lot of people have said they’re getting tired of the yearly releases, but the honest truth is these games are the biggest sellers in the industry and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  While we might talk the talk, we don’t walk the walk.  I have little doubt that if everything turns out as planned, this could break the record set by Black Ops only because of all the intrigue and mystery surrounding the game.  Are you interested in Modern Warfare 3 and if so, will you be there on day one?

Apple’s Cloud Is Ready For World Domination

I snagged this picture from 9 to 5 Mac because I thought it was just too awesome to pass up.  So what does the headline mean, well it means a few things actually.  First and foremost that the technology to allow iTunes users to store their music in the cloud and then access said music from anywhere in the world through a WiFi connection is now ready to go.  According to Reuters the technology may be in place, but music studios haven’t given their blessing just yet.  Google is also creating a streaming music service, but they too have yet to secure licensing deals with music labels.  What’s interesting is that Amazon just launched a similar service without dealing with the music industry whatsoever.  Given Apple’s strong alliance with the music industry, it seems doubtful they will simply launch the service without some kind of a deal in place to ensure a seamless introduction.  Currently there are no concrete dates out there for when this service may launch, but given Apple is said to be completely relaunching their MobileMe service into a huge free platform, maybe the two will be linked somehow.  I know I’d like a digital music locker stored in the cloud that houses my iTunes library.  If it could also stream movies and maybe borrow some OnLive tech for streaming gaming content, then we’d really have something.

Any thoughts on this anyone?

Apple Announces The iPad 2 – World Explodes

The biggest surprise that came from today’s special media briefing Apple held wasn’t so much the iPad 2 information, or the fact that iOS 4.3 is getting released next week, but rather that Steve Jobs gave the speech.  That floored just about everyone, including Wall street.

The new iPad is 33% thinner than the original model, and 15% lighter.  It retains the same 9.7” screen and features a dual-core processor, Apple’s A5 CPU.  The iPad 2 also features two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime and the just revealed Photo Booth.  It also features a rear-facing camera that captures 720p HD video.  There will be two models available at launch, both black and white, with the exact same configurations as the original model (WiFi models available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variations.  3G models in the same configurations).  One of the frequently asked questions we get around here is about the battery life, which is exactly the same as the original model, 10 hours of active use and a month in standby mode.

Steve Jobs had the following to say about the iPad 2 during today’s conference.

With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices.  While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.

FaceTime allows iPad users to connect with the tens of millions of active users on their iPhones, iPod Touches and Macs.  Photo Booth allows users to apply fun effects to their pictures in real-time.  Anyone with a Mac knows how much fun this app is, and it comes included on the new iPad.

The Smart Cover uses magnets to attach to the iPad. They also act as a nifty stand.

Apple also announced two new apps for the iPad 2, iMovie and Garageband.  iMovie works exactly as its iPhone 4 counterpart does.  You can edit films on the go, and upload them to your favourite movie sites like YouTube.  Garageband is the one that looks extremely impressed.  It includes the full feature set you’ve come to expect from Garageband, including the ability to create songs from pre-installed loops, play your own music via the touch screen and so much more.  Both apps cost $4.99 and will be available when the iPad 2 hit retailers on March 11th.  The suggested retail price is identical to that of the original model, which starts at $499.99 and ramps up to $829.99 for the 64GB 3G model.

As someone who currently owns a launch iPad I’ll admit this new one sounds promising.  Apple even has plans to release a special peripheral that allows you to connect an HDMI cable to the iPad for video out.  That’s good news for all those that actually use the 720p recorder.  I’m still disappointed that Thunderbolt wasn’t included.  Thunderbolt is a new I/O interface that’s double as fast as USB 3.0.  Heck, they could have at least added USB 3.0, no?  USB 2.0?  I know they’re worried about piracy, but they really are limiting themselves.  That and the lack of a proper file manager prevent me from using my iPad as a full PC replacement.  As such I continue to need a desktop computer, but I will admit that my laptop time has diminished greatly since I received my iPad.  For casual internet browsing it remains extremely useful.  If only Flash was available on it and better use of Java…but I digress.

What do you all think of this news?  Running out on March 11th to pick one up?

 

Apple Announces iOS 4.3 – Downloadable On March 11

During today’s special conference Steve Jobs, who is supposed to be on medical leave from Apple, announced the forthcoming iOS 4.3 release date.  On top of that, the slim but healthy looking CEO announced all the features users can expect from the free download.

Who can download this bad boy?

iOS 4.3 is compatible with iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM model), plus third and fourth generation iPod touch.

So, what’s new?

Good question.  The biggest update is one that involves Safari, the mobile browser.  The browser has been retrofitted with Nitro JavaScript engine which more than doubles the speed of Safari when dealing with complex sites.

iTunes Home Sharing has been greatly enhanced to allow users to stream movies, music and TV shows from one device to any other in the home.  If you have your entire iTunes library on one Mac or PC at home, you can use all your other devices to access that content with a simple touch of a button.  This is great news for people who have loads of movies on their computer and would like to stream it to let’s say their iPad in another room.  Very useful and long overdue.

AirPlay will also be enhanced to allow even more content to be streamed, this time from third parties.

Finally the last update is Personal Hotspot, which is one of the most requested features from iPhone customers.  With an iPhone your cellular connection can now be used as a WiFi hotspot for up to five other devices.

Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, had the following to say about the upcoming release of iOS 4.3.

iOS 4.3 adds even more features to the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, across three blockbuster devices—iPad, iPhone and iPod touch—providing an ecosystem that offers customers an incredibly rich experience and developers unlimited opportunities.

Given the free nature of these updates, I can’t really complain about anything.  What’s interesting to note is that this marks the very first update that iPhone 3G users will not be able to partake in.  It appears as though our old friend has finally been retired.

For all those with an iPhone 3G, how does this news make you feel?  Have you long since moved on to an iPhone 3GS or an iPhone 4?  I’d like to hear what you have to say.  What about this news, does it tickle your fancy?  Let us know!

 

Apple Sends Out Invites For Media Event To Be Held On March 2nd

I’ll give you two guesses as to what Apple’s March 2nd media event will be about.

Umm…yeah.  Anyone care to guess?

As if we really needed to tell you, this event will be all about Apple’s forthcoming iPad 2, which is rumored to have a whole bunch of new inclusions.  Let’s see, it’s supposed to have either a FaceTime front-facing camera or that and a rear-facing camera as well.  It’s supposed to have a significantly faster processor, and there have been all kinds of rumors about a mystery port.  Is it a mini-USB port, a Display Port, who knows.  I’ll have all the details next week, so be sure to stay tuned for that :)

I’ve got a really nice first-gen iPad right now that I use virtually all the time instead of my MacBook Pro, and I’ve come to really like the old boy.  I doubt I’ll be upgrading to the new model until the third generation rolls around, but for now, what about all of you?  What will it take to convince you to pick up an iPad, or are you already onboard?