Art of the iPhone

The 20 Best iPhone Games of 2011

20. Backstab

Backstab ($6.99) is an adventure game that plays much like Assassin’s Creed except set in the Pirates of the Caribbean. You control Henry Blake, a British military officer who gets caught on the wrong side of a frame up. His life ruined, Henry sets out for some bloody justice. Along the way you’ll run your sword through quiet a few chests and leap across many rooftops. The game also throws quiet a few bizarre twists at you, including fights with zombies, performing tasks for the favors of large-breasted women, and curing diseases. It’s an epic game with professional voice acting and 3D world environments.


19. Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III ($15.99) is the updated 2006 Nintendo DS version of the RPG classic ported beautifully to the iPhone. Control a 4-member party as they, what else, attempt to save the world from a great evil. FFIII’s gameplay is unique in that you can switch the class of any character during the game (once the switch feature is unlocked). There are over 20 classes to choose from, starting at the typical warrior and mage and including more rare D&D classes like bards and sages. This is an RPG by the masters of RPG game design. Be warned though, Final Fantasy III is an immensely challenging game.


18. Icebreaker Hockey

Icebreaker Hockey ($0.99) is a game dedicated to the breakaway in hockey, meaning you control a player on perpetual offense trying to put the puck in goal and achieve style points by scoring from within certain zones. You can even score points for the occasional showboating. How are your air guitar skills? The game is fast-paced sports fun and filled with achievements that add replay value. If you liked Homerun Battle 3D, you’ll like this one as well. The simplistic control scheme is perfect for casual gameplay.


17. First Touch Soccer

First Touch Soccer ($1.99) is not only the best-looking soccer game on the iPhone, it’s also the best realism-based soccer iPhone game period. The game allows you to select from over 250 club teams and play in 30 competitions and 7 different game modes. A Dream Team mode allows you to earn cash from victories and assemble a dream team of players from the present and the past. The game’s excellent AI keeps thing challenging over time. The replay system lets you rewatch your best moves and even upload them to YouTube.


16. Zombie Gunship

Zombie Gunship

Zombie Gunship ($0.99) puts you in the gunner’s chair of an AC-130 military plane as it attempts to prevent waves of zombies from reaching a bunker. If one zombie makes it, the bunker door automatically closes, and it’s game over. You view the scenery below via night vision goggles that supply the black-and-white visuals and which add an element of challenge. You can upgrade your weapons over time to improve your zombie blasting abilities, just don’t take out too many civilians as well, or you’ll be forced to abort your mission.


15. Legendary Wars

Legendary Wars ($0.99) sets two castles against each other. The object is to build and send forth troops from your castle in an attempt to destroy the other castle while also protecting yours. Castle defense is a popular genre in the App Store, and Legendary Wars distinguishes itself with a three-lane battlefield system that requires a level of micromanagement that keeps things challenging. Things get even more complex when the variety of troops available increases. The game’s sense of humor never lets things get too serious though.


14. NBA Jam

NBA Jam ($0.99) is the classic arcade sports title that works surprisingly well on the iPhone. Its over-the-top actions don’t require the precise control of a physical joystick, and its less-than-serious tone fits perfect with the iPhone’s casual-gaming strengths. Each team features several NBA players, so you can substitute Joakim Noah for Carlos Boozer to start alongside Derrick Rose, if you so choose. A campaign mode allows you to unlock players from the past and introduce new style uniforms and basketballs to the game.


13. Death Rally

Death Rally ($0.99) is a top-down racer with heavy elements of combat. As you race, you shoot at fellow racers with a machine gun and a second weapon of your choice. Prize money is earned for each race depending on how high in the rankings you finish and by how many cars you destroy and other factors. The cash can be used to upgrade the various attributes of your car. Along the way, you’ll also unlock new cars and weapons. The game features sharp graphics that take advantage of the Retina Display. The developer promises to add online multiplayer soon.


12. Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower (free) lets you build a skyscraper floor by floor and direct the lives of the people who live in it. The charm of the game comes with the tenants who occupy the various floors. Each has a distinct personality that you must try to match with a dream job at a business in the building. There are dozens of businesses you can create for your tenants, including laundromats, soda fountains, arcades, sushi restaurants, etc. It’s a freemium title, so the developers try to encourage you to spend real money to speed up otherwise slow tasks like building new floors, but you don’t have to spend money to have fun. Like other popular freemium titles, this is a game to be enjoyed over time as you watch the fruits of your labor grow.


11. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer ($4.99, universal) is a fantasy-based card game that, in turn, is based on a real-life card game of the same name. The basics work like this: players start with the same 10 cards, and as the game progresses, resources are strategically spent on new cards. Cards are used to battle against creatures, and with victory comes victory points. Whoever has the most victory points at the end of the game wins. Because the game has existed as a real card game for a while, there is a lot of help available online on how to play.


10. 9mm

9mm ($6.99) is a violent third-person shooter game. It has a rare age-restriction of 17+ in the App Store for sexual content, violence, and drugs and alcohol—all the good things in life! You play Jon Kannon, a detective gone bad who is battling local gangs. It’s not a complete open-world game like Grand Theft Auto, rather you are guided through the game via missions. 9mm features several hours of gameplay in all, including several difficulty levels, which add replay value. With nice cut scenes, plenty of guns, and even an online multiplayer mode (take on up to 12 strangers in an all-out gang ware), 9mm is an excellent adults-only crime game.


9. Angry Birds Rio

Angry Birds Rio ($0.99) is a sequel to what has become not just a game but a cultural phenomenon. Rio contains 135 levels split into 4 episodes. The classic gameplay is preserved here— you’re still launching birds to knockdown structures, except this time you’re trying to break fellow birds out of cages instead of destroying evil pigs within the structures. There is a tie-in with the movie Rio where once you defeat the initial set of stages, you unlock two macaws who were characters in the movie. As you progress to new episodes, the games throws new twists at you like interfering monkeys and even boss battles. There is also a ton of hidden content to find and/or unlock, which gives the game replay value. With Rio, the Angry Birds franchise continues its roll.


8. Reckless Getaway

Reckless Getaway

Reckless Getaway ($2.99, universal) is a fun, fast-paced driving game with loose physics. The object of the game is to evade police pursuit all the way through 16 levels. There is no brake or gas pedal, so your only task is to steer the car through the various obstacles. Besides dodging and outrunning the police cars, your other goal is to earn points by collecting coins, performing jumps scattered about the courses, and completing other various tasks. As you gain points, you fill up 4 stars that measure your performance for each level. While surviving the police pursuit is the somewhat easy part of the game, it’s the earning of the 4 stars that gives the game a lot of replay value.


7. World of Goo

World of Goo ($4.99) is a quirky physics puzzler that has been a hit across many different platforms. The object is to stretch pieces of goo and build elastic structures so that the goo can travel along it and into a pipe. Other obstacles like balloons and windmills need to be factored in order to solve each level. Experimenting with the gooey physics and seeing what the limitations of the pieces are is part of the fun and vital to the problem solving. The game achieves that perfect balance of not-too-hard, not-to-easy puzzle difficulty that makes it assessable to everyone.


6. The King of Fighters-i 002

The King of Fighters

The King of Fighters-i 002 ($4.99) is a popular arcade fighting game in the same vein as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Choose from 14 playable characters (6 more will be available in an update coming in October) to fight with. The game features 4 single-player modes of play, including a traditional arcade mode with 3 vs 3 team battles (this is the most popular mode), a regular 1 vs 1 fighting mode, endless mode, and a training mode. Special attack moves are simplified for the touchscreen, making the game a frustration-free experience. Currently, King of Fighters really is the king of iOS fighting games.


5. Cut the Rope: Experiments

Cut the Rope: Experiments ($0.99) is a sequel to the now-classic iPhone puzzle game. If you’re unfamiliar with one of the best iPhone games ever, the basic premise is to manipulate a piece of candy across the screen so that it falls (or flies) into the adorable Om Nom’s mouth. You accomplish this by, yes, cutting ropes (as the title suggests) but also by utilizing other methods like whoopee cushions and suction cups. Experiments features 75 new levels to play through. While the basics remain the same, there are a few new gadgets and game twists to entertain even veteran players.


4. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP ($4.99) is a game like none other you’ve played before. The game’s storyline is that you are a warrior seeking to find the Megatome in order to destroy an evil force called the Gogolithic. The controls are essentially of the point-and-click adventure variety, but from that framework, the game frequently departs from the familiar with never-seen-before gaming twists, a few that border on the ridiculous. It’s amazing how the developers were able to wring such beautiful graphics out of what is essentially a clichéd use of 8-bit blocky pixels. And the haunting soundtrack by Jim Guthrie lifts the game to a new level. Overall, it’s a unique gaming experience.


3. Dead Space

Dead Space ($6.99) is a horror-tinged first person shooter filled with lots of sci-fi action and a complete story arc that will leave you satisfied once you’ve made the journey. The setting is a space station invaded by ugly aliens called Necromorphs. Besides the usual big-frigging-gun appeal, the game features unique fighting skills like a cool kinesis talent and zero-gravity combat. Professional voice talent and an excellent soundtrack are the icing on the cake. Combined with the game’s Retina Display graphics, this is one of the best produced games in the App Store.


2. Order & Chaos Online

Order & Chaos Online ($6.99) is MMORPG in the same vein as World of Warcraft. Or, to put it less nicely, it is essentially a ripoff of WoW, which is a good thing. A very good thing. The control scheme is specifically designed for the iPhone and iPad. Order & Chaos gets all the things that WoW gets right, albeit on a smaller scale. The addictive combination of quests, leveling, and chatting up strangers will soon have you wasting away your free time. I was completely surprised how relatively “bug free” the game was seeing as how many players are running around in this virtual world. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a good online RPG for iOS.


1. Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Anomaly: Warzone Earth HD ($3.99) puts you in control of a fleet of vehicles as they travel through a war-torn landscape protected by alien war technology. Warzone Earth is a reverse tower defense game where instead of strategically building towers to destroy waves of creeps, you direct the creeps to destroy the towers. Take out towers by flanking them and taking advantage of limited aiming radius or utilize special power-ups to heal your troops. Warzone is one of those rare games that gets every element right, from the controls to graphics to game strategy.


iPhone 5 Prototype Stolen From Foxconn Factory Floor?

You know all those iPhone 5 cases we’ve been seeing the past few months? According to MIC Gadgets, the source for their design is an iPhone 5 prototype that was stolen off the factory floor of a Foxconn plant in the Futian district of Shenzhen, China.

The site says the tale of the missing Foxconn iPhone 5 prototype came to them through an iPhone accessories supplier (store seen below) who said a case manufacturer paid around $3,100 for the stolen prototype iPhone (a small fortune for a Chinese factory worker) in order to get a jump on competition.

Store in China where tip was received.

The tear drop-shaped prototype was hidden inside a casing that made it look like an iPhone 4, although because the iPhone 5 is supposedly much wider than the iPhone 4, it’s a bit of a mystery how Apple pulled this off.

Strangely, the prototype had the same A4 chip inside it along with the same amount of memory. The only difference between it and iPhone 4 (exterior differences aside) was that the internal hardware was “slightly modified.”

Apparently, Foxconn got wind of the theft and punished internal management for the loss. A separate source told MIC Gadgets that the person who stole the prototype was paid specifically to do so. To thwart Apple’s tracking the phone, the thief quickly wiped all the phone’s software—his clients were only interested in its external design.

The incident is similar to one from this spring where 3 Chinese men were arrested after stealing and selling info about the yet unreleased iPad 2 to Chinese accessory and case makers. Companies who can sell an iPhone and iPad case at the moment of launch stand to make a lot of money. In 2009, a Foxconn worker committed suicide after being questioned by Foxconn security officials regarding a missing iPhone 3GS prototype.

Of course, when the CAD blueprints for iPhone 5 cases were leaked broadly and passed around the Internet, it likely foiled the case manufacturer’s hopes of gaining an advantage.

MIC made a beautiful video showing off some of cool iPhone 5 cases that have resulted. Check it out below:

Apple Says “Let’s Talk iPhone” Next Tuesday

Rumors have been creating the anticipation for months now, and now Apple appears set to introduce its next iPhone. The company has officially sent out invitations to select media outlets for an event to be held on Apple’s Cupertino campus on Tuesday, October 4. The invitations come with the tagline, “Let’s talk iPhone,” leaving no doubt what the focus of the event will be.

The invitation (seen above) features four app icons: Calendar displaying the event’s date (Tuesday the 4th), Clock showing 10:00, Maps showing a pin on Apple’s Cupertino campus, and Phone with a 1 red badge.

As always with Apple’s invitations, some are trying to find hidden meaning within the invitation. Does the “1” on the badge signify there will be only 1 iPhone introduced instead of the rumored 2? Does “Let’s talk iPhone” with no mention of iPod, at a time of year when we usually talk iPod, mean that there will no longer be an iPod touch, just an iPhone sans contract? Is the Maps icon meant to signify a big change to the maps feature, maybe even the dropping of Google Maps for Apple’s own service? Does the fact that there are 4 squares mean they are buying FourSquare?

I admit I will be disappointed if a redesigned iPhone isn’t announced, as I was with the iPhone 3GS. But all the incredible changes in iOS 5 may be enough to keep me excited for any new hardware, even if it looks the same.

iPhone 5 Announcement to Be Held at Apple Campus on October 4

The mystery of the details of the iPhone 5 is only 9 days away from being resolved, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital, which claims that Apple will hold a media event on its Cupertino campus on October 4 for the announcement of the iPhone 5.

Apple holding the event on its headquarters comes as a surprising choice to some, as Apple historically has announced new iPhones at much larger venues like the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The Apple campus has been used mainly for minor product announcements and events like the Apple Hi-Fi and the public rebuttal to Antennagate, although it was also the site for the introduction of the iPhone SDK, which we’d call a historical event (probably the iPhone’s second most important event after the original iPhone reveal). The location of the announcement leads some to speculate that the iPhone 5 will not be a major product refresh but instead the rumored iPhone 4S that looks much like the previous version.

How to Check Out and Read a Book From Your Local Library, on the iPad (with Video)

Love to read? It’s time to renew your library card because Amazon just introduced a sweet new feature for your iPad’s Kindle App. You can now check out ebooks from over 11,000 public libraries across the US and sync them to your iPad via the free Kindle app. Here’s a brief tutorial on how on how to check out the books and sync them onto your iPad.

Things You’ll Need:

1. An active library account (you’ll need your library card)
2. An account (and free Kindle account)
3. The Kindle iPad/iPhone app
4. A WiFi or 3G connection

How to Check Out a Kindle Ebook From the Public Library’s Website and Sync It to the iPad:

1. Go to and log in.

2. Open up a new tab in your browser and go to your local library’s website or use Google and search for a service called Overdrive on the library’s site. This will give you access to the Kindle ebooks as well as audiobooks, movies, and even music. I use the Chicago public library so the address I go to is Log in to your library account. You’ll most likely use your library-card number and your zip code.

3. Find an ebook to check out and make sure it is not already checked out:

4. Click Add to My Cart then Proceed to checkout.

5. Once the ebook is checked out, click Get for Kindle:

6. This should launch the website and show you the Kindle book in your account. Click on the orange Get Library Book button on the right side of the screen, then choose which device to send it to in the drop-down menu (ex. Alan’s iPad for my iPad). If you’ve never used the Kindle app before, you may have to register your device with Amazon first. Simply log on to Amazon inside the app.

7. Grab your iPad, make sure it’s connected to the Internet, and open up the Kindle app.

8. If you haven’t already, log on to your account inside the Kindle app. Tap the Sync button. If your don’t see your book after the sync, it’s waiting for you in the app’s Archived Items. Tap on Archived Items, then tap on the book’s cover to download it.

That’s it, you’ve checked out a free ebook from your local library and synced it onto your iPad, for free! Easy peasy. Good reading.

One Chinese iPhone Battery Maker Thinks a Redesigned iPhone 5 Is Still Coming

Kayo external battery on an iPhone 5.

Doubt is rising in the Apple rumor community as to whether a completely redesigned iPhone 5 will actually arrive this year. The doubt mainly comes from a lack of physical evidence—there have been no true iPhone 5 parts leaked, all we’ve seen so far are parts that fit an iPhone 4S concept. With the sheer amount of parts makers involved, surely something, anything, would have leaked by now?

Well, there’s one Chinese company that still thinks a redesigned iPhone 5 is coming. Battery accessory maker Kayo, based in Shenzhen, China, were the iPhone is assembled, just supplied its designs for an external battery for the iPhone 5.

According to Kayo, at least, the rumors we’ve heard about the iPhone 5 are true. The iPhone 5 will have an elongated oval home button, wider edge-to-edge screen, the mute/ringer switch will be located to the other side, and the phone will be wedged-shaped and incredibly thin, thinner than any Samsung phone. (We’re also hearing that Apple chose to relocate the mute/ringer switch to make it more comfortable to use the volume-up button as a camera shutter button—part of the new functionality to be introduced by iOS 5.)

We would caution that we’ve only seen Kayo’s renderings and not one of their actual batteries, which says to us they haven’t fully committed to an iPhone 5 arriving. It’s one thing to pump out a cheap silicone iPhone 5 case, which costs pennies each to produce. It’s quite another to pump out external batteries.

Apple Holding iPhone 5 Media Event on October 4, Device to Go On Sale a Few Weeks Later

Apple is planning to hold a media event on October 4 to announce the upcoming iPhone 5, according to a source speaking to the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital. The device will then be available in stores just a few weeks later. The announcement is contingent on there being no last-minute delays, as Apple remains flexible with the date of the announcement, says the source.

For much of 2011, the release of the iPhone 5 was rumored to come sometime in the fall of this year, then new rumors narrowed the date down to September. Only last month did the general consensus begin to specify October as the release date for the device.

Much of the delay for this year’s iPhone is believed to be due to Apple’s iCloud feature, an ambitious new service from Apple that will allow iPhone owners, among other things, to wirelessly update and backup their iPhone without using a computer. iCloud was announced along with iOS 5 at Apple’s WWDC event in June. That event also marked the last public appearance of Steve Jobs before his stepping down as Apple’s CEO in August. New CEO Tim Cook is expected to take over Jobs’ role as lead pitchman for the upcoming iPhone 5 event.

iPhone 5 to Launch in Coming Weeks – NYT

Images of iPhone 5 cases from manufacturer Case-Mate briefly posted on their site but since removed.

The New York Time’s Nick Bilton is reporting that the iPhone 5 launch is “just weeks away,” according to a source within Apple who asked to remain anonymous because he’s not authorized to speak publicly for the company.

The report also claims the new iPhone will be “fairly different from the iPhone 4,” both inside and out, according to an Apple engineer speaking to Bilton. Two of the changes, claims the engineer, will be the addition of an 8-megapixel camera supplied by Sony and an A5 dual-core processor.

The inclusion of the dual-core A5 chip, which powers the iPad 2, had previously been in doubt due to rumors that overheating problems with the A5 were part of the reason the iPhone 5 was delayed. The chip was reportedly having conflicts with the new phone’s slimmer design. Apple was considering using a dual-core A4 in the new phone (the iPhone 4 uses a single-core) and skipping the A5 altogether in favor of a new A6 chip, built with a new 28-nanometer manufacturing process, for the iPhone 6. Apparently that is no longer (or never was) the case.

Bilton also claims that recent images of iPhone 5 cases posted by case manufacturer Case-Mate match descriptions of the new phone as told to him by Apple employees. Case-Mate has since removed the images and replaced it with following message:

The wait is almost over as the next generation iPhone 5 / iPhone 4S will be released in the coming weeks. The new iPhone promises more technology than ever, all in the palm of your hand. The guessing game continues whether Apple will unveil the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 4S. Case-Mate will be ready with a collection of iPhone 5 cases / iPhone 4S cases to protect your new iPhone in your own personal style.

Bilton also claims that Apple is working on aN NFC payment system for a future iPhone, but he is unsure if an NFC chip will be included in the iPhone 5. The iPhone is seen as an ideal vehicle for wireless payments as each device is already tied to an iTunes account.

Even More iPhone 5 Cases (Because We’re Bored)

We know we just posted some new iPhone 5 case images just a few days ago (which were pretty cool looking), but what the hell, here’s some more. It’s not like we have anything else to look at. These cases are available for purchase on, if you like to buy in bulk from sketchy Chinese manufacturers (minimum order, 200 pieces).

And here’s an image of a iPhone 5 ripoff just for the hell of it.

And here’s an image of iPhone 5 sandals.

And here’s an image of a sign in China advertising the iPhone 5 for sale.

And here’s an image of an Apple Computer cassette tape.

The iPhone Flask Is a Magical Liquor Dispenser

They say that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. That’s why I’m so disappointed that my iPhone can’t magically dispense booze. The Phone Flask seeks to remedy that situation.

The Phone Flask is an IndieGoGo project (a Kickstarter clone) that is seeking funding. Once they get $10,000, they can start pumping out these flasks. They’ve raised $70 so far, which is about enough to buy the booze to put into the flask. A $20 donation gets you a flask if they go to production, so if you’d like to donate, head on over to IndieGoGo.

And apparently this is a full functioning phone with its own original, hand-coded OS and app store. Ok, kidding about that last part. I’ve had too much to drink.