Gameloft's Asphalt 8 Airborne

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I love driving games and while I have played Asphalt 8 Airborne on both my iPhone and iPad I couldn't wait to try it on the Apple TV with a game controller. The Nimbus controller makes me a much better driver that is for sure. I was intrigued to see how the game would play on the Apple TV what with the way developers have to work within the confines of tvOS. I know that the game for iOS was a download of over 1.3 GB and yet the Apple TV has an initial limit of 200 MB, and then it can get 2 GB of on demand resources and go all the way up to 20 GB.

It is a new way of dealing with games for me, the idea of
app thinning, slicing, on demand resources and such. I was really worried about Asphalt 8 not being the same experience that I had come to know on the iPhone/iPad. So far I have no complaints, from time to time I do have to wait while resources are downloading and also, I have had the occasional hiccup in the game where the frame rates were lower than I wanted. All in all though I greatly enjoy playing this mobile game on a much bigger screen with a nice game controller.

I know people want to compare this to a Playstation or Xbox but I know the specs of the Apple TV and honestly it is fine for the mobile, casual gamer, which is what I am in this point of my life. Still, Asphalt 8 Airborne is a good example of the games that the Apple TV can handle right now. I do think that Apple is going to have to make some concessions eventually, like the requirement that games have be able to use the Siri Remote if no game controller is present.
That won't fly. Some games are more complex and need extra buttons, joysticks, etc to function properly, hopefully they drop that Siri requirement soon.

Monument Valley

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This past week Monument Valley finally was made available for the Android platform. On iOS it had sold more than 500,000 downloads in the first month and was priced at $3.99. There was the typical outcry from people on iOS that the game was too short or perhaps too expensive. It is interesting to me that I see much the same thing with the Android crowd, maybe more so. Just as with my earlier blog post about Threes!, I applaud developer ustwo for not going the IAP (in app purchasing) route.

In interviews the developers said that they wanted this game to be more of an experience, more akin to watching a film. This is what makes it a real jewel of a game for me. They could have gone the
freemium route, could have had way more than 10 levels, could have made you spend money along the way to unlock levels through IAPs. But I would argue that might have been a much different experience and not necessarily a better game.

For me the gameplay, the sound, the music and the story are all interwoven perfectly. This game was really meant to be experienced on the iPad and that is how I first played it. In my comfy chair, with my iPad Air, to which I had a bluetooth speaker paired! I took almost 2 hours to finish Monument Valley. I was in no rush and in fact took advantage of how easy ustwo had made it to take screen captures of the game. There were details, backgrounds, lush landscapes that I wanted to view after I had finished the game.

I heard so many people talking, bragging really, of how they beat the game in less than an hour. I feel sorry for those people because in my opinion they totally missed the point.


I feel like the 2 hours enjoyment, the experience that I had for only $3.99 was worth it. I saw a movie recently,
Captain America the Winter Soldier and spent $8 for the ticket and another $12 for a drink and popcorn. I finished my popcorn in the 20 minutes of previews and the movie was over 2 hours long. Now, being a comic book geek I did enjoy the movie no doubt but was the experience better than Monument Valley? Quite frankly, no, I enjoyed myself more in the 2 hours of playing the game and then the 30 minutes after viewing the art (screen captures). So, while I spent the same amount of time, roughly 2 and a half hours, one cost me $4 and the other $20. That is a great bargain.

With the success of Monument Valley, the developers are now planning to introduce "lost scenes", additional levels which should help appease some of those who feel cheated. I will enjoy more content but it really isn't necessary for me. I would rather that ustwo concentrate on their next great game.

Threes!

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I quickly bought this game after seeing it on iTunes and also the great reviews of it on iMore.com and MacBreak Weekly. My biggest pet peeve of late is this widespread movement of
freemium games and IAPs (in app purchasing). It is so refreshing to see that some developers like Sirvo are steering away from that business model. The developers of Threes! put a lot of work and love into this game and the $1.99 that I spent for it was probably too low. Of course now there are clones coming out like a 1024 or 2048 and they are in most cases free, which in turn feeds this vicious cycle. There just seems to be a vast majority of people that think games should be free or at most 99 cents. How are unique, quality games going to be born in that environment?

I find this game to be a perfect mobile game and works equally as well on the iPhone as it does on the iPad. The music and sounds complement the gameplay and you do have the option to turn both of them off if you find it annoying. I confess I did turn both off after a week or two
but then found myself turning them both on when I was getting higher scores. I wanted to hear what the new, higher tiles might say. Like I wanted to hear what tile 192 "ThreeJay" had to say. When he busted into an old 80s song, "You're the Best" from the Karate Kid soundtrack, it had me laughing out loud!

So far I have only been able to get up to the 768 tile, "
Triferatu" and a high score of 21,000. There is a surprising amount of strategy and intuition involved in getting those higher scores. I highly recommend this game and hope Sirvo has many more to come.