Mobile Monday


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Mobile Monday

JohnBGreetings mobile gamers! Did last week's article help you sufficiently smudge your iPhone/iPod Touch? Good, because here are four more games to help rid your hands of that pesky finger grease. We also have a fun announcement to celebrate our new column: each week we'll be giving away one iTunes gift certificate you can use to purchase every game on a Mobile Monday! All you have to do is sign in with a Casual Gameplay account and leave a comment on the article telling us something you liked/disliked about one of the games. A random winner will be chosen and announced the following Mobile Monday, so be sure to check back to see if you scored some free games!

frotz.gifFrotz - Fan of interactive fiction? We certainly are, and thanks to Frotz, you can take it all on the road! This free app comes packed with a few dozen interactive fiction adventures, including three we've reviewed on JayIsGames such as Varicella, Lost Pig, and 9:05, along with the ability to browse and download games from the Interactive Fiction Database. View text either vertically or horizontally, and a simple tap on the screen brings up a keyboard for entering commands. It couldn't be easier. Or cheaper, seeing as how it's free!

edge.gifEdge - An award winning, stylistically beautiful platform game now available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Move around spacey geometric structures by dragging your finger across the screen to rotate the cube, climb stairs, collect prisms, press switches, ride platforms, and perform gravity-defying acts of awesomeness. There are over 40 levels of increasing complexity, plus one level to unlock by collecting all the prisms on every stage. The design is elegant and among the best we've seen from any app in the store. Later levels can get frustrating as the game forces you to learn new moves that require precision and accuracy. Borderline casual to hardcore audience. If you enjoy the free version, get the full version of Edge.

locknroll.gifLock 'n' Roll - A unique and original strategy game using 4-color, 4-sided dice (work with me here, it's a bit difficult to describe). Roll the dice and place them into the grid to create various combinations of sets of 4 to score points. Make a row of single-colored dice, for example, to score a few points, but earn even more if you can line up numbers and colors alike. Once you place the dice they are locked in and cannot be moved, only cleared by making the most difficult (and highest scoring) combinations: four of a kind or a run of 4 in all the same color or one of each color. Jokers are awarded periodically based on score, which can help make those difficult combos and help you clear the board for more dice. A brilliant and addictive casual game. Give this one a couple of plays before you dismiss it, as it is not the easiest game to grasp at first. Check the INFO screen for a list of all the combos. If you enjoy the free version, get Lock 'n' Roll Pro and support the developer of this great game.

textropolis.gifTextropolis - A nice new take on a favorite casual game, Textropolis gives you the name of a city, breaks the letters apart, and asks you to spell new words with them, much like Boggle. As you guess more words you earn stars that allow you to "travel" to new cities, unlocking challenges as you play. A fun feature is the ability to get hints by shaking the iPod Touch/iPhone, plus you can send e-mail postcards from the city you're "visiting".

NOTE: Games listed may not be available outside of North America. Prices are subject to change and are therefore unlisted. Please see the individual game pages for purchasing info.

32 Comments

For anyone on the line, GET EDGE. It's great, and lasts a while :)

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Meh, I was never one for Text games. I like physics based ones. I got that one you "reviewed" last week. I hop to get a lot more games from here. :D Keep up the good work.

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We won't be publishing prices in the reviews since we've seen prices change frequently in the store and it will become a logistical nightmare to keep them updated here.

However, I will say in the comments each week how much each of the games is as of the time/date of the comment:

Frotz: free!
Edge: $5.99
Lock'n Roll: free! (for a limited time, get it now!)
Textropolis: $0.99

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ThemePark Author Profile Page January 19, 2009 3:05 AM

This makes me sad that I don't have an iPhone, because for once, all these games look like so much fun that I wish I could play them. :(

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 19, 2009 3:15 AM

Isn't there an iPhone emulator from apple available as part of the development kit?

But I fear even if you wont be able to buy games from the store from the emulator, likely not even the free ones...

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Fuzzyface: The only things you can install on the Simulator are apps you can actually get the application bundles for. You can't do that unless you have a jailbroken iPhone/iPod, which kinda renders the whole thing moot.

Tried Frotz out when it was first released. The fact that you can browse the IFDB and download games directly into the app is truly a great feature. If I had one issue with it, it's the lack of auto complete / command history. It recognizes basic verbs through the autocorrect feature, but if you have to type something like 'use foobar wand on stone pillar' and you misspell 'pillar,' you have to type the entire thing out again. A couple small usability tweaks and it'd truly be a stellar app. It's still great, but not quite what it could be IMO.

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Argh. Isn't it annoying how free games are worse than paid ones? (Go me stating the obvious.)

If only they were all free. Edge looks amazing, and Enigmo looks amazing too from last week. (Unfortunately, I got my twin an itunes voucher for his birthday and he got me nothing in return, so i'm sticking to the free ones.)

Already had Lock n Roll and didn't find it that good. I've had Tap Tap Revenge from last week for ages too. (5500th ish online)

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Oooh, Edge looks really fun... Except it costs $6 and I'm still addicted to Aurora Feint from last week :)

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This really should be called iPhone Monday. If you expanded it to cover Java and BREW games for other phones, then I could see it being Mobile Monday.

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iPhone Monday doesn't slide off the tongue like Mobile Monday does.

Besides, iPhones and iPods are mobiles, too, so I think we'll stick with what we've got. :)

Thanks for the suggestion!

To expound on this issue a little further, yes, we know we are ignoring a large (and highly fragmented) segment of the mobile games market by focusing on iPhone and iPod Touch games only. And some of you will be disappointed by this decision. However, since the creation of the iPhone/iPod Touch platform combined with the iTunes App Store, never before has the mobile games market been so accessible and to so many people. Furthermore, we just don't have the resources here to highlight the best from all the different mobile platforms. Therefore, we have chosen what we feel is the best, most accessible platform, which also happens to be producing some of the most creative, most innovative games available in the mobile market today.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page January 19, 2009 2:13 PM

Too bad the emulator doesn't work. It doesn't work btw. not because of technical limitations, but because apple doesn't want it to work.

Don't get me wrong, I'm an ipod owner and consider the mac mini a great box. But apple products are a much greater danger to non-free techno-lock-ins, than the historically so much hater "microsoft empire" ever way.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think in contrast you can run Mobile Java games on PCs too. No techno-lock-in there.

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fuzzyface: There's a bit of that, but there is actually a technical reason why it won't work. The iPhone has an ARM processor, while the Simulator is Intel-only. It'd be possible to have an ARM emulator and run that on the Mac side to get true binary compatibility, but it'd require a pretty drastic rewriting of the whole development toolchain (you'd have to make sure that the ARM simulator is pretty much bulletproof, then you'd have to have XCode cross-compile to ARM all the time, then you'd have to map the Cocoa UI elements to the Cocoa Touch ones, etc.)

I agree that it would be nice, and they may do that down the road. As the Sim is only intended for application development, though, I don't think it's too high on their priority list. :(

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That's awesome that your going to give out iTunes gift cards for commenting! I am actually on my iPod touch at the moment (and it is a pain to type this but my computer isn't on an I don't feel like turning it on :P) and I'd like to point out that if you click a link to one of the above games while on your touch/iPhone it will (slowly but surely) take you to the app store and diectly to the game! I just found that a neat feature I wanted to point out.

Fortz seemed cool but not really something I'd be into unless I needed to kill time...
Edge has been something I've wanted for a while but money is an issue...
Lock 'n' Roll is a good way to pass time but I found it a tad boring and a bit too easy to lose :P
Textropolis has to be my favorite of the set, because I am personally a wordy person and because of the graphics being clean and easily visible.

Question... Do you have to be a certain age to get the prize, and how would you send the credit? Generally, you have to be 18 to win anything... :(

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There are no restrictions to receiving the $10 iTunes gift certificate, unless restricted or prohibited in the area in which you live.

And Lock'n Roll may be boring and too easy to lose for you because you don't yet know how to play?

Seriously, that game is a lot deeper than it looks at first, and it does take a few times to get the hang of it. Still, it may not be everyone's cuppa, but I love it. :D

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yankjenets Author Profile Page January 19, 2009 7:59 PM

Lock n' roll is such a great game (reminds me of poker squares). Has anyone beaten 9344?

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I'm in the middle of a game of Lock'n Roll right now (had to put it down last night when I was getting sleepy).

Currently at 6719 with 2 jokers. :)

I'll update once I finish with it.

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Does anyone have any good stragities for Lock 'n' Roll? I designate a row and collumn for each number and color respectivly, but my scores are pretty low each time...

Jay, you were right though... This game is really worth it :D

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For Lock'n Roll, a general strategy I use when placing dice is to focus on creating groups of either a run of four (1,2,3,4) or four of a kind (for example, 2,2,2,2), and all in the same color, or one of each color.

You absolutely need to concentrate on these combinations since they are the only ones that will be cleared from the board when you make them.

Of course the roll of the dice will ultimately dictate your moves, since you can't get a run if you're dealt all threes, for example.

And remember that not only do you work on creating a group in a row or column, but also within any 2x2 square any where on the board.

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Ah... This can get really expensive if one wants to play many games. The flashing and rolling box in edge can get pretty mesmerizing...

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I do love a good dice game (I was hooked on Zilch for some time) so seeing a decent free game for the ipod got me excited.

While I enjoy playing it, I've found that it's tough to introduce my friends to due to an very pronounced case of the back-seat-tetris-player effect (you know how when you watch someone else play tetris, they always put a crucial block somewhere that you would never dream of?) So beware, this game can lead to long, and potentially lonely, nights.

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ascendingrules Author Profile Page January 20, 2009 1:10 AM

I've downloaded Frotz (thanks for the link!) and am going back through Anchorhead, which I started on my PC last year. It's a little annoying not to be able to "arrow up" to edit a previous command, but otherwise, it's very playable.

The best part is that Frotz is nearly instant-on, instant-off. I can switch apps, take a phone call, then go back to Frotz, with my history intact, in just a couple seconds. For a mobile platform / phone, way too many games have frustratingly long loading times.

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waycooler Author Profile Page January 20, 2009 7:42 AM

I only decided to get Edge, as I believe my iTunes gift card is all used up now, and it's the only one that really interested me. But now after all this talk about Lock 'n' Roll, I think I might get it and try it out, since it's (hopefully still) free.

Edge is AWESOME though. Oh my gosh. I love it when you move a couple squares and out of nowhere you get bumped into a series of chain reactions that send you flying around. So awesome. Then again, maybe that's just my love for super fast stuff talking... like Speed Racer... The walking robot thing of squares was totally mind-blowing, by the way.

I only have a couple of issues with it.

One, I seem to have missed out on the instructions. If they're there, I totally didn't notice and as such it made it harder to learn. At the same time, playing without instructions lends a certain aspect of mystery to it. Like when you first have to Edge. You go on the question mark square, and it shows you a block do it. So you're like, "Oh, how hard can that be?" And you die. Repeatedly. For like 5 minutes. Once I finally managed to figure it out though, it wasn't as hard. And I was proud of myself.

Two, the question marks sometimes seemed to... almost take away part of the puzzle aspect of the game. It shows you how to do it. I guess you still have to figure out how to make it do that, but I would've preferred it if it had done away with them.

Three, until I figured out exactly how it is I'm supposed to control the game, using touch, not tilt, (around level 15 or so) I found myself repeatedly falling off the edge. Maybe it was just my lack of instruction reading. I don't know.

Definitely an awesome game though. If you don't mind the random instances of flashy colors against a black and white world. Which I don't mind at all. :)

Worth the (currently) six bucks, as it's only got 25 levels, but it's still awesome.

Oh and Jay I think this is the first time I've ever noticed you talking people through games as YOU play them. The JIG team should do it more often. Makes you guys less of random people in little square box pictures. LOL

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waycooler Author Profile Page January 20, 2009 8:05 AM

sorry for double post, but got Lock 'n' Roll... and it's definitely pretty fun. First round= 90 points. I was definitely unsure of what I was doing, not being very familiar with poker and all. Next game, almost 2800 points. I was just putting them in randomly and then all of a sudden it was like BOOM and a bunch disappeared. It surprised me. It'll definitely be something I'll come back to when I'm bored. Now to bed, it's just past 5 am here... gosh...

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yankjenets - your high score remains unchallenged. My run in Lock'n Roll ended at 8184.

Still, I bested my own high score by over 3000.

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There are a lot of free games that are pretty decent, I'd love to see more of those reviewed. It's nice to have some insight into the not-so-free ones too, but I guess I'm a cheapskate, I haven't bought a game yet.

[Edit: We will make every effort to feature a range of games, including free games, each week. -Jay]

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I should have predicted the iPhone-hate for 2009...

I run exclusively on Linux, but you don't find me complaining about the Weekend Download games that I can't play, even though they look really fun and I wish I could.

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I downloaded Lock 'n' Roll yesterday, and it's quickly become one of my favorite iPod Touch games (next to Theseus). I like that losing usually feels like the result of a poorly placed move earlier in the game instead of the result of bad luck.

I managed to get a score of 11618, but I had some close calls throughout the game. At one point, the board was completely filled with locked dice, and I only managed to save myself by using a joker that I had just received for a non-clearing combo with my last die.

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I just beat my high score in Lock'n Roll after a tremendously good run: 12,344 :DDD

http://images.jayisgames.com/locknroll-highscore-12344.jpg

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yankjenets Author Profile Page January 23, 2009 6:16 PM

Sorry Jay :P
http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=dxdc7m&s=5

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Oh, very nice! Well done. ^_^

I've got my work cut out for me.

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I've always been a big fan of IF so I gave Frotz a try. While it's nice to have have mobile access to IF, I think the ipod implementation could use some work.

Biggest problem for me is the text size - after I've played for a few minutes I realize I can't see anything any more. So, the standard ipod zoom feature would be nice.

As someone mentioned earlier, the "up-arrow to repeat the last command" feature would be nice, too, especially given how easy it is to make a typo.

I played through one of the included games - The Act of Misdirection - and can definitely recommend that one. Nice writing, very well polished, and a pretty unusual way of presenting the story: you start off on stage, with the audience eagerly awaiting your next trick...

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Roseate Spoonbill Author Profile Page April 12, 2010 12:57 AM

FROTZ IS AWESOME DOPE SWEET BAD TIGHT!

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