In this week's undersexed app roundup: Guitarists, assisted! Camera and video apps, replaced! Final Fantasy yearning, sated! Science, wielded like a sword! Birds, projectilised! Beautiful puzzles, conquered! And more...
Final Fantasy I & II: An extremely faithful pair of ports. The original FF1 and FF2 are old enough that Square Enix decided to revamp the artwork for the iPhone, making these versions noticeably prettier than the originals. Gameplay doesn't suffer too much on account of the touch controls because of the games' slowish pace, and honestly, even if it did, FF these games are basically a lock for Final Fantasy fans anyway. My only reservation is that the games costs $12 each. $12 for both would've been more like it.
Colorbind: This one falls into that vexing category of dead-simple, dead-hard, dead-brilliant iPhone puzzle games. Extract what little comfort you can from the game's soothing aesthetic, because until you really get a feel for the gameplay concept, it's going to be a rough ride. As far as how it works, I'll leave the explaining up to the video. $2.49, though a lite version is available.
Skeptical Science: Hey, guess what's not fun! A discussion about a scientific issue in which both parties have access to the same data, yet still disagree, angrily and forever! If you're frustrated by deniers, Skeptical Science offers a handy guide for debunking common claims about climate science. You're still probably not going to change anyone's mind, but at least you'll feel good about proving someone else wrong on some granular point, and that's what debate is about, right? Right.
Gibson Learn & Master: A free entrant into the category that GuitarToolKit dominates, Gibson's app is good. It's not great. It's not going to replace GuitarToolKit. Here's what it will replace, for the most part:
• Your metronome • Your guitar tuner • Chord charts, printed or online
Wilson, Gizmodo's resident closeted band-haver, calls this a "classy value-added way to advertise products", but says it's "chump" compared to GTK, lacking varied metronome sounds and multiple guitar types, and possessed of a much less navigable chord guide, and no way to hear how a given chord sounds. A feature-to-feature comparison like this could go on forever, but that's not the point. The point is the Gibson's app is free.
Brothers in Arms 2: The first Brothers in Arms game had problems ranging from blocky graphics to awkward controls, which weren't bad enough to ruin the game, but just bad enough to prevent it from being great. Brothers in Arms 2 upgrades the graphics considerably, improves the controls marginally, and opens up gameplay options immensely. If you enjoyed the first one, you'll love this one. If you've never dabbled in a 3D shooter on the iPhone for fear of utter terribleness, this is a good place to start. $10.
Angry Birds: Terribly violent little casual game, to birds. A terrible addictive little casual game, to humans. It's a bit like a cross between a scorched earth game and a physics tool - your goal is to launch an avian cartoon into precariously stacked structures. The more you knock down, the higher you score. If you're not ready to throw down $1.19 based on the concept alone, there's a pretty solid lite version, too.
Camera Pro Plus: There's a lot of overlap in camera apps, so interface and novel features are generally what determine the best. (I'm partial to Snapture.) But Camera Pro Plus, already a great alternative camera app, now records video, which it competitors generally don't. Trump card, folks! (Until everyone else does it too.)
Vogue Stylist: Prancing awkward back and forth across the line that separates advertising from, you know, stuff you might voluntarily subject yourself to, the Vogue app is a sort of pocket wardrobe catalogue, compiling both pre-listed items and stuff you've added yourself into a toy for fiddling with outfits, which is something I can speak about with little to no authority. I will say this, though: It's pretty.
Moto X Mayhem: Who knows why, but good trials games are hard to come by on the iPhone. This is a good trials games, albeit of a very specific type. Think Teagames-style, don't-fall-over-but-don't-go-too-slow type of stuff, not the crawling, puzzle-like trials you find in games like Trials HD. Tons of playability for $1.19.
NASA Lunar Electric Rover: Lets you simulate the various tasks and challenges involved in supporting a functioning lunar outpost. As Jesus notes, it's also a heartbreaker:
Sadly, and since there are not going to be any NASA missions to the moon, we know that these skills would be useless. Unless that, by "NASA Lunar Electric Rover Simulator" they really mean "Soyuz Spacecraft Push Some Russian Buttons Simulator."
In any case, go to the App Store and enjoy the free game, because the real thing is not going to happen.
This Week's iPhone News
This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favourite iPhone Apps Directory. Have a great weekend, everybody!