While the Android Market is starting to lead the way on the freemium apps front, Apple’s App Store continues to spit out top-quality apps at affordable prices and all without a single naughty SMS sent your grandma’s way. We picked the ten that tickled our fancy in February.
1. Zombie Runaway
Zombie-killing games on the iPhone are dime a dozen. But very few, if any, allow you to take the side of the undead. Or in Zombie Runaway’s case, one particular undead - the last of its kind - who seems to care more about running around endlessly than chewing on juicy human flesh.
The gameplay should be instantly familiar to anyone who’s played those classic top-down racers, except here you’re controlling a zombie - a rather chubby one at that - who must run along an infinitely long country road that is littered with tombstones (presumably they ran out of land to bury the dead in).
The controls are simple: there are three buttons at the bottom of the screen that allow you to dash left, jump and dash right respectively. The further you travel, the faster your zombie will run, making it all the more challenging to avoid tombstones. But fear not, there will be plenty of extra lives along the way. Plus power-ups too, such as riding a bicycle or better, a jetpack, that allows said zombie to smash through tombstones at high speed unharmed.
Smash into them a few too many times without a power-up though, and your zombie will meet its maker. And to add insult to death, the game will even show you the name of the person whose tombstone killed you.
It’s a fun title and thanks to Game Centre support, which adds global leader boards and a whole host of unlockable achievements and rewards, there are plenty of reasons keep on running.
2. BeatMaker 2
BeatMaker 2 is the equivalent of having a music studio in your pocket for a fraction of the cost of a single piece of equipment.
From multiple instruments to a range of audio effects (reverb, compression, flanger, chorus, autopan and more), this smart app gives you all the essential tools at your disposal to compose, record and arrange full-fledged tracks on the move and share them with the world.
You can also import your own songs from your iPod library or choose from over 170 high quality instruments and drum presets created from synthesizers to realistic orchestral sounds. And with a 128-key keyboard sampler, a multi-track sequencer, wave editor, mixer console - the list goes on - there’s plenty here to make even trained professionals dizzy with choice.
So whether you’re a budding musician or an amateur hobbyist, if you love music, you're well advised to give this a whirl.
3. Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden
Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden is an open-world action role-playing title set in the mythical kingdom of Lasgalen.
You assume the role of a young hero named Ayden, who has been chosen by the god Uryah to save the kingdom from the Apocalypse and, as convention dictates, rescue a pretty princess named Lyanora.
Ayden has been tasked to reunite four fragments of Uryah’s Grail, which will grant him the supernatural powers he’ll need to defeat the dark lord Amonbane who’s threatening to shatter the kingdom's peaceful state.
Although at the beginning, you’ll only be armed with a paltry sword, you’ll eventually acquire a shield, bow, boomerang, grappling hook and a powerful gauntlet. You’ll be riding far and wide across the expansive plains of Lasgalen on Ayden’s noble steed, Miya, and fighting hordes of evil creatures and demonic bosses with immersive sword combat, projectiles and magic. Plus, there’ll be puzzles to solve along the way and some difficult choices on which the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
The story is surprisingly good and the gameplay doesn’t disappoint either. Not to mention it’s a positively gorgeous looking title with diverse and detailed environments. If you’re in the market for an engaging iPhone game with real depth, look no further.
4. Bop It!
Most of you will probably remember Bop It as the handheld toy from your childhood that tested your reaction time to perform basic actions and mocked you when you failed miserably.
Well, if you miss those fun times or never got around to trying the toy, you can now do so with your iPhone.
The iPhone edition mimics all the original gestures of the toy (bop, shake and twist) using the handset’s touchscreen and accelerometer. For example, when the game asks you to ‘bop’, you must tap the icon on the screen as quickly as possible.
For a stiffer challenge, you can take on up to six different objects in the extreme mode. Or if you’re really trying to test your nervous system, go for the Blitz mode solo, or take turns with up to ten friends to see who’s the fastest.
And if you’re rather proud of your Bop It skills, you can also have the game post your score on Facebook. Plus, you can unlock further ‘bopjects’ by keeping on bopping.
5. Jay Z Decoded
Jay Z Decoded gives fans the chance to delve deep into the life, music and influences of one of America’s most successful rappers.
With over 30 minutes of never-before-seen video interviews, bonus music videos, and interactive lyrics of up to 36 songs with the rapper’s own notes and annotations, it’s an all-round multi-sensory experience for any Jay Z fan.
You can build your own collection of the Jigga's finest by handpicking your ten favourite Jay Z songs, immerse yourself in the meaning of his most popular and often provocative lyrics, and learn about the music mogul’s humble beginnings growing up in Brooklyn and his eventual rise to stardom.
6. Real Racing 2
Real Racing 2 from Aussie developer Firemint is a race simulator with some of the best looking graphics to yet grace the iPhone.
There are 30 officially licensed cars to choose from, the likes of which include the 2010 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500, 2010 Nissan GT-R (R35) and 2012 McLaren MP4-12C – each rendered handsomely with meticulous attention to detail. And they handle just as beautifully, too.
Enjoy a career mode that lasts over ten hours and is filled with a range of challenges to put your driving skills to the test such as time trials, head-to-races, eliminations, tournaments, qualifiers and championships as you slowly climb up the racing ladder.
Want instant satisfaction? Quickly jump into driver’s seat in Quick Race mode. Or if you’re looking for a real test, take on up to 15 players in online races or seven of your chums in local racers over Wi-Fi.
With 15 gorgeous raceways spanning 40 miles of tracks, speedways and city circuits, including twilight and night courses, it’s a racing fan’s paradise. And for those who want to get into the nitty-gritty of the gameplay, you can even customise the control options to match your own style and amp up the difficulty further by disabling noob-friendly driving assists or tweaking the anti-skid, steering assist and sensitivity. Or you can choose manual transmission over auto and lower the brake assist level.
If you love cars and racing, you’d be foolish not to give this a try.
VideoPuzzle takes the tried-and-tested formula of a picture puzzle and adds a whole new twist to it: videos.
Instead of just rearranging static images, you’re presented with blocks of a moving video, which you must piece together to see the complete clip.
There are four modes to play in: Arcade, Photo, Camera and Video Album. The Camera mode is where it’s all at, as it enables players to create and solve puzzles using live video streamed directly from the iPhone’s camera. Or if you’re a stuck in drab surroundings, you can always use media already stored on the device.
It’s super responsive and lag-free. Better yet, it’s free to download as well. So go ahead, turn your world into a puzzle, one block at a time.
8. Tiny Wings
Not all birds have an anger management problem. Some are just born to fly. But one particular avian can’t even do that because of its tiny wings. It’s a premise to make even manliest among you quiver at the lips and get a bit dewy eyed.
Fortunately, the world he inhabits is a place full of colourful valleys and hills on which our cutesy chum can slide up and down - and with a bit of effort - gain flight, albeit momentarily.
To flap, simply tap the screen and use your momentum to slide up steep peaks, fly high and fly proud.
But watch out for changing environment, not to mention day and night cycles as you try to make the challenging migration from one island to another.
You can also complete tasks along the way to upgrade your nest, unlock 27 achievements with OpenFeint support, plus beat your chums on the scoreboard.
Those among you that hate violence can rest assured. No birds or pigs are in danger here.
Frequent flyer? Need a cheap flight but pressed for time? Skyscanner allows you compare nearly every low-cost and scheduled airline out there for more than 700,000 routes around the globe.
Why spend precious time sitting in front of a computer when you can find and book a flight to wherever you need to be right at your fingertips even while you’re on the move?
Booking for more than one? No problem, you can easily share flight details with a single tap and send yourself a copy via email. It’s a neat app that is easy to use. Not to mention free, too.
10. Memory of Colors presented by Fotopedia
Memory of Colors is a collection of 1,300 spectacular photos of 40 unique cultures around the world, captured over 12 years, in 18 countries and across five continents by Colombian artist Jaime Ocampo-Rangel.
Each photo comes with a rich description and is in portrait mode, so they're perfect for setting as wallpapers. Images are easy to navigate thanks to smart tags, suggestions, a built-in search and interactive maps, and are viewable in a slideshow.
And if you’re not sure where to even start, just give the iPhone a quick shake to discover new images at random.
Memory of Colors is a very worthy addition to the App Store and in a sea of shonky, tasteless titles deserves credit for bringing us an exhibition of the diversity and richness of humankind and showing proper respect to the decaying cultures of the world.