Mars Quest

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mars-quest-free-retro-8-bit/id491304485?mt=8

If you are an eighties or nineties kid like me, you remember all the joys of retro gaming. I only caught the tail end of the era, but for any generation, there's nothing like it. Inserting dusty cartridges into even dustier consoles, sliding "40 best windows 95 games" into the monstrosity that was your PC, and getting headaches from staring long periods of time at a CRT, these things all made up who we were. Everything from the N64 and Atari to windows 98 and the original Playstation provided hours upon hours of addictive fun. The first game I ever played was on a DOS PC. ID's classic Commander Keen ate up hours and hours of my time, and while my dad hated it, i always found ways to play it. It's hard to separate a gamer from his game.

That's how i knew today's app would be a problem. I've moved on, grown up, and told myself gaming is for children, but one time playing this game, and my heart melted like ice in the sun. Mars Quest, made by the retropixel.org guys, has you in charge of a fat little astronaut on Mars, just trying his best to escape the myriad of devilishly laid traps and lasers and flying alien heads. I spent hours trying to get just one level deeper. The retro graphics and funky sound effects are executed perfectly, and the overall experience perfectly replicates an addictive classic gaming session, right on your iPhone or iPod. 

My, so many adjectives.

The mechanics are similar to the Commodore 64 game "Snoopy", and the authors even say outright that it is a remake of that game. The tolerance for error is slim (only 3 lives, with the option to buy more via IAPs), but the short, one-screen levels will keep you coming back for more time and time again. The game has a dry sense of humor too: One level, totally blank, is given the creative title "No Inspiration". 

The joy of the retro game is hard to describe to one who has never played one, or who is blinded by the current push towards excessive 3D performance. If you're one of those people, I highly recommend you at least give it a try. 

Oh.. one other upside is it's price. Who needs to drop sixty hard-earned dollars at GameStop when you can have this little bundle of joy for free? Pick it up and play on!

All for zero dollars down.

TTFN. 

 
 
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Circle comes with the most beautiful interface an app has ever seen.

Circle

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/circle-the-local-network/id488720081?mt=8


Most social networks revolve around connecting with people far away rather than with your neighbors. By far the biggest use of Facebook, Twitter and Google's Plus network is connecting friends that are geographically separated. We want to know whats going on in the lives of people that mean a lot to us, wether or not they are on the other side of the world or living in some dark cave with a tinfoil hat, trying to escape the apocalypse. (I wont even ask why this person means a lot to you.)


But what about when you want to see whats going on, literally, around you? What are the people in your country, state, or even county or district up to? Is there a local tofu stand where I can go and purchase the bestest of the best in tofu for the all new low low price of only $9.99 an ounce?


This is where "local networking" comes in. Local networking is a new form of social networking that focuses on geographic locales and whats happening in these areas instead of on the people themselves. Its a refreshing twist on the concept and once you get into it, it becomes quite useful and fun. 


We're not here to discuss the pros and cons of different types  of social networks though. Lets get dirty with todays app, which is in my opinion the best local network to date.


Enter Circle.


Circle is local networking done right. The app is everything other apps of its purpose can only dream of. It's easy to use. It's fast. It's absolutely gorgeous. It serves one purpose well, and thats it.. No laggy bloating,  No premium IAPs, and no cost. 


When you boot the app for the first time, you are greeted by an asthetically pleasing interface that lets you instantly log in with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google plus account. Once you create an account with Circle, you have to wait 24 hours while your account is handcrafted and feeds the devs think you may find useful are chosen. (Typically including weather, local news, ect). Yes, this delay is a little annoying but its a one time only wait and once it is finished you are good to go. 


The network's strongest point is how basic it is. No pages to like, no resharing posts, and no complicated profiles. You simply set up basic info about yourself, find a few interesting local people, and start not-working. 


If you are one of the first few cyber-denizens in your area to get Circle, you have an option to become a local administrator- one who oversees the online activity and monitors for abuse and misbehavior. Yes yes, we even need authority in the digital realm.


Thats all there is to it. Get it and see for yourself why i predict Circle will become a huge thing in social networking before long. 


The only downside i could find is this: Circle is relatively new, so if you don't live in a larger city or well populated area, chances are you'll be the only person using the app in the area.  However once you coerce a few of your local friends to join,  (how this is accomplished is entirely up to you), it shouldn't be long before things are humming at a rather pleasing rate.


Oh, one other thing. The servers seemed a little unresponsive at times. If i had my say its because Circle is in an early stage of its development and the creators cant spare the extra moola it would take to keep up a faster server. I'm sure eventually there will be servers in every state, but for now things are just a little slow. Ok, a lot slow. 

Ahhh, almost reminiscent of the 56k days. 


No, not really.


56k didnt come with beauty and absolute functionality. This app does. 


All for $0 down.


Cheers.

Circle is "local networking" done right.

 
 

Blindscape

https://itun.es/us/O8WmJ.i

There really isn't much to say about today's app. After all, it only takes around ten minutes to "complete" the whole experience. The "game" features a single black screen as its graphics; as the description proudly proclaims, it is "full of stunning HD graphics you'll never get to see". 

Be not fooled: the decades old adage of geeks everywhere, "graphics are not everything" rings ever so poignantly with players of this "game". For this is an experience related not through stunning shader effects and overdone lens flare, but through an underrated and under appreciated sense: Sound. Through good narrating, sharp sound effects, and an emotional soundtrack, this short narrative  springs to life in the listeners mind.

The story takes place in an authoritarian dictatorship where all forms of the arts have been removed. The protagonist became involved in some of this illegal art, and as punishment the courts decreed he must have his eyes burned out. Depressed, this hollow shell of what once was a brilliant architect must navigate his environment, seeking his own death.

Really, the less you know of the story the more you will become involved in the experience. As the story progresses you will find yourself on the edge of your seat, and when the final chords of the soundtrack are struck you will sit back and marvel at what an awesome creations ears, eyes, and indeed all of the senses truly are. You will never want to take these gifts for granted again.

Blindscape is a masterpiece, an unorthodox piece of minimalistic storytelling that, while it lacks in length or any real depth in plot or storyline, will have your ears sharply tuned right till the very end, taking in the "world" around you. 


Bottom line? Get the app. Let it get under your skin. Really let it affect you. It will stay with you. 


Dem feels!

All for zero dollars down.

Taf out.

 
 

Photosynth


I wasn't sure if I wanted to review a game or not for my first app. Sure, life has its downtimes.. time to just kick back and enjoy a great game. However, I have an image to cultivate. I can't be ALL about fun. (I sure try though).

In the end I decided to compromise and review a tool, thats lots and lots of fun to use.


Todays app comes from a truly unlikely source. No, its not Mojang. (Hah. You thought i was going to say Minecraft PE Demo, didn't you. Notch would be proud). 

No, this app is from an even better known company than that... A company that is beheld as the very bastion of evil by many. It tries to force install its hapless Internet Explorer onto every hard drive in existence. And its founder is practically rolling in the money made off of the mindless masses who eat up every broken edition of its OS.

Yes, I'm talking about Microsoft. I'm not a huge fan of the corporation. Never was and never will be. However, today's app rises up out of the ashes of the company's tarnished reputation.. And really does amaze.


Photosynth is a digital panorama stitching app that is incredibly easy to use and literally takes seconds, (or minutes, if you are a very slow learner), to learn how to do stuff in. Out of all the panorama apps on the IOS app store, (sorry.. No android love here), I found this to be the one app that is a must have for the traveler, the iPhone photographer, or the geek just wanting something new to show off to the coworkers at the next awkward company picnic.


However, this is NOT a simple panorama app. Get ready for the boom.


This app's main feature, the selling point that sets it apart, the feature that puts it on the "awesomeness level 1000 list" for me, is it's one of a kind ability to create 360 degree "virtual tours". By simply rotating your iTouch you can create a whole interactive experience for someone else to explore. As you rotate, keeping the camera in the same spot at all times, the app automatically snaps photo after photo, giving you on-screen guides as to where to point your Apple device next. Your virtual tours can be uploaded to a website (photosynth.net) and from there they are ready to be shared with your friends, family, or the entire world wide web (I know, its scary for me too). Also the boys and girls at Microsoft included some handy upload buttons for the Big Two- Facebook and Twitter... for your uploading pleasure.


I have to be honest here. I never expected anything out of Micro$oft that had this level of polish. Its clean, uncluttered, and quick on its feet.

Everything good has at least a small downside they say. In this particular incidence its a pretty big plug for Bing, which we all know and hate. I mean, theres an option to "Make Bing your homepage".

Really, Microsoft? No thanks. I like my duckduckgo just fine.


All in all this is pretty near perfection as far as apps go. Its simple. Its clean. It does what it needs to do with minimal overhead and distraction. And its a whole bunch of fun to use. 


All for 0 dollars down.


And to think photographers fork over $895 for a Gigapan Epic pro. Really, folks. Priorities.


Taf out.

 
 

Hey. Welcome to my little blog. I intend to write about free apps.. And whatever else strikes my fancy. (Occasional life topics or psycological musings may show up to my embaressment. Also I really like music so I may rail upon the state of modern pop artists from time to time). But... Back to the apps. My standard is VERY high.. Most definitley higher than yours. No cheap ripoffs or poorly developed programs here.

My criteria will be based around a couple things (This isn't necessarily a final list: it may get added to, changed, deleted alltogether, or eaten by my dog. Or all of the above.)

1. Free. Apps featured here will always be 100% or more free. Deal with it.

2. Quality. Apps featured here will always (Or at least most of the time) be the cream of the crop.

3. Can't think of a number Three.

4. My apps will always be here to better your life. Wether relaxing with a good game, getting stuff done, or just adding bells and whistles to your device.. I will make sure you never get a hold of apps that could potentially harm your wellbeing.

5. (For future develomment)

I hope I'll in some small way be able to keep you entertained, increase your productivity, let you experience games that truly amaze, and generally make your IOS or Android experience better, more productive, and of course more fun. All for 0 dollars down.

My, what a sales pitch.

Taf out.

(I intend to grow this blog by word of mouth.. No cheapskate advertizing or spamming. So if you find yourself coming back here more than once, feel free to pass the word on).