The Appcast #114: May 15th, 2011 – The Zenonia Trilogy

This week’s show: The Zenonia Trilogy. We discuss one of the best and most popular iOS series of RPGs and briefly touch upon the changes and adjustment of the series towards establishing the transition from handheld RPGs to iOS apps.

Episodes can be downloaded by clicking the Episodes tab above.

Intro Music: Borderline D.U. Mix  from Mixter Two – I Don’t Know What I’m Doing by Brad Sucks.

 

Show Outline:

  1. Introductions
  2. News Briefs
  3. Listener Feedback
  4. New and Notable Apps
  5. Apps of the Week
  6. Silly Apps of the Week
  7. iPad App of the Week
  8. Core Topic: The Zenonia Trilogy

New Apps Discussed on May 15th, 2011:

  1. eBay Motors for iPhone – Free – Newest official app from eBay that is the first to focus on eBay Motors. It has some nice features for auto enthusiasts, most notably the ‘my garage’ tab where you can enter the info on the vehicles that you own as well as ‘dream vehicles’- cars that you want or just really like- and the searches in eBay itself can use the vehicles in the Garage section to narrow results- so you can more quickly search for a part for one of your cars that you might need or easily keep an eye out for any of a particular car you want that comes on sale in your area. The app of course allows you to see auctions that you’re watching or have won through the ‘My eBay’ tab and to make searches for vehicles and parts and to bid on them through the app using your account. The search component though could use some improvement- it’s still not as full-featured as the website’s search, especially when it comes to being able to enter in a range of years that you’re searching for as many times parts from several model years are interchangeable, and the app seems to limit it to searching for parts that expressly state the year of the car you used from your garage to narrow the search. It is nice however to see that they’re giving those of us who make frequent use of eBay Motors some love- though I’ll be hoping that there’s an eBay Motors for iPad coming down the line a bit…
  2. Nyan Cat: Lost in Space – $0.99 – A silly platformer based on the Nyan Cat meme. This isn’t the game associated with the initial Nyan Cat app, but it does serve the same music and graphics, but with a very basic jumping and flying addition. A bit disappointing in the limited scope, but if you really like Nyan Cat, this is hard to pass up. Only for those that still really like Nyan Cat.
  3. PickupTrack – $0.99 – This is a much more interesting music app that has a lot of potential- but that I have a LOT of suggestions for the programmers. The app is overall pretty simple: it will play a selected portion of all the songs you tell it to- either selected individually, a playlist, or all of your songs- music is selected like it always is in apps. You pick the music, pick how long of a segment to play- you can choose 15, 30, or 60 seconds, where in the song to play from- 30 seconds in, a minute in, or the 2 minute mark. You can also choose whether to loop the list of songs and to shuffle them. It basically lets you listen through a sample of a number of songs pretty fast. It’s useful for people like me who occasionally want to go through their music to see if there’s a song that suits a certain purpose- like matching up with something to make a music video. It’s really simple- there’s really just one screen except the music selection interface. It’s clean, and does just what it’s supposed to. Now, as neat as I think it is, I do think there’s a number of ways I’d like to see it improved. For example- there’s no ‘skip’ button or way to move to the next track before the allotted time. Sometimes, you don’t need the full time for whatever reason, but as it is you have to wait it out. One thing I tend to do is have a playlist of the most recent music added to iTunes that syncs with my devices- this way I can listen through them and rate them at my leisure. Being able to rate the songs in the app would be nice- but then I’m not wholly sure if you CAN do that in an app and not through iTunes. Finally- being able to make notes regarding the songs would be REALLY sweet. Have the ability to tap on a button or on the album art and type a quite note on the song- and then generate a text file with the song information and your note that you can email or transfer elsewhere. This could be used by people reviewing or giving feedback on songs. Still- it’s a really neat idea that I think is well worth the $1, though I would love to see them incorporate some of the suggestions I’ve listed.
  4. Rooftop Escape – $0.99 – A game with a similar premise to Canabalt. In Rooftop Escape, you are falling and try to guide your falling character to the bottom. Should you hit any hard obstacles along the way, your character dies. But there are also clotheslines you can fall through to slow you down. It’s simple, greyscale, and pixel-based and though that sounds just like Canabalt, this is a different game and one that is easy to recommend for pick-up-and-play.
  5. Fast Keyboard * Universal Text Editor – Free (unlock full version in-app for $0.99) - Interesting and rather innovative text editor with a special additional keyboard over the standard one that gives you access to all the numbers and man other symbols without having to switch to the secondary keyboards like you usually do. The top keyboard also scrolls to access greek characters, special characters, and even smilies. And you can modify the special keyboard at-will if there are phrases or smilies you use a lot that are not included or just to put the keys you would rather have close at hand at the top. Also nice is the ability to turn the autocorrect on and off with a single tap, post to Facebook and Twitter, and search within the text. The app keeps track of the number of words & lines as well as how many times you’ve hit each of the keys on the special keyboard. You can synchronize with Dropbox and open the file you’re working on in other apps, but one notable thing missing is the ability to transfer files via iTunes- this is a pretty significant feature that it is missing. Otherwise, this is a nice and creative change to the text editor. It’s also a universal app that works very well on both the iPhone and iPad- though obviously better on the iPad simply due to the size and format of the keyboard.

Apps of the Week:

  • Danmaku Unlimited (Kevin) – $1.99 Premium version or Free Lite version – An insane bullet hell shmup that is just full of vibrant colors, lightning fast animations, and huge powerups. This is the definition of visual overload as the screen is just so quickly filled with bullets and points that the screen looks like a quick-changing rainbow of bright colors. Fast-paced and very Japanese in terms of a bullet hell shmup, Danmaku Unlimited also gets bonus points for introducing a concept at the most shmups don’t use: grazing. The more you risk your ship getting hit, by grazing the ship’s sides against bullets, the quicker you build up a super mode in which you can unleash more bullets. It’s a great concept and one that works surprisingly well with the touch controls. Overall, this is an incredible visual game that runs so quickly that your brain will have a hard time processing everything going on.
  • Army of Darkness Defense HD (Bob) –  $2.99 ($0.99 for iPhone version) – Castle Defense game based on the fight defending the castle from the Deadites from the end of Army of Darkness. Includes lots of lines and music from the movie as well as lots of familiar characters. It seems that Backflip Studios, who created the app, was likely given the original voice recordings from the movie to use in the game as well as the music and the permissions to use it all.  You control Ash as you lead the defense against the Deadites to keep them from regaining the Necronomicon, and you’ll have to fight off lots of familiar Deadites from the movies, from standard skeletons to evil ‘wrong book’ Necronomicons to Mini-Ashes and eventually it seems Sheila and I’m sure Evil Ash.  Assisting you are lots of familiar characters from the castle in the form of peasants, knights, the Sword Boy, and even Arthur and, though I’ve not gotten that far to unlock him, Henry the Red. You can upgrade their capabilities as well as that of Ash and eventually outfit the castle with enhanced defenses like wall archers and catapults- and even the dreaded Pit. Gold coins earned and collected are used for the upgrades, and can be used to upgrade the special skills that you can equip, including the Super Boomstick, the Wrong Book that sucks up lower-health enemies, and eventually summoning your souped up Oldsmobile- known as the Deathcoaster- to mow down your enemies. I’m generally not a fan of the Castle Defense genre, but this game has been a whole lot of fun to play. It makes excellent use of the characters and material from the movie and is just great fun for fans of the movie like me.

Silly App of the Week:

  • Play It Down – Free – App that tries to show you about the effects of hearing loss as you age by ‘aging’ the music- i.e., filtering it so the ranges and dynamic levels for different age-groups are removed. It also has a tone generator to see how high of a pitch you can hear- or that your headphones can reproduce- with the pitches graded by age group- the older you get, the less high-frequency pitches you typically can hear. Finally, the app has a DB meter that tries to determine the level of your headphones or ambient noise. The ambient noise makes sense- but the headphones is a bit silly since it’s obvious dependent on the headphones themselves. I’m guessing that the app is measuring the power output from the device itself for this. What makes it a bit silly to me is the fact that using the pitch generator, I can hear to about where I should be able to for my age- but if I use the function that ‘ages’ the music, I can clearly hear difference between ALL of the age group ‘aging’ of the music- you’d expect that everything at least up to the 30-year-old point should sound he same, but I can definitely hear differences even between the youngest of settings. So, it’s an interesting toy to play with, and perhaps a decent free decibel meter, but it’s silly because it to an extent seems to contradict itself in its filtering and pitch generation.

iPad App of the Week:

  • PBS Kids Video for iPad – Free – A great app for kids to watch their favorite PBS shows. The streaming works quickly and the navigation has big buttons for kids. You get one full episode per show and then other random clips. It’s fun and something nice for kids to explore, though the app also does slightly try to lead you to buying more episodes through iTunes. Regardless, there’s still plenty of content for kids to check out and the larger screen real estate lets kids explore with bigger buttons and easier navigation.

Core Topic: Zenonia Trilogy Apps

The following are links to the Zenonia Apps:

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