December 9, 2009

Apps Weekly: GeoSpark + Dragon Dictation

I have come to love the games Critical Thought comes out with, and together with acclaimed Harbor Master wife-husband developer duo Imangi Studios, they have crafted a pretty darn good product. It's basic, but addictive. It's called GeoSpark.

Much of the appeal that comes from the game lies in its simplicity. When you boot up the game, you are greeted with a pretty blank grid except for the presence of four buttons: Play, Settings, Tutorial and Scores.

I'd recommend going to the tutorial first since it's brief and basic. To make symbols disappear, you can tap them. But if you pair multiple quantities of the same symbol together, you get a score multiplier.

Let different symbols touch and your game is instantly over.

The game starts off easy enough, but after a few seconds, it starts becoming rather hectic.

And that's basically GeoSpark. It may seem a bit too simplistic and casual, but beating a high score and uploading it to your OpenFeint account (an iPhone gaming social network) makes it a bit more addicting.

Still, the game shakes things up by also including some power-ups like a 2x score multiplier, and a target-like object that wipes all symbols from the screen. Also, the player must be careful not to hold on to a combo for too long, because the "gravity well" that forms around the combo will strengthen and all the other symbols will be attracted to it.

Coupled with the trademark retro presentation that Critical Thought games is known for, the game is an absolute blast to play. The soundtrack is also rather catchy.

While the game is an absolute buy, and OpenFeint is pretty robust, I think more features can be put into the game. How about multiplayer? You know, pitting two iPhones together to see who falls first, or maybe a little cooperative sparking. Also, how about an Achievements system?

For $0.99 though, it's hard not to find a more competent and polished, yet simplistic and easy-to-learn game that's perfect for a brief commute.

Rating: 8.9/10 [iTunes Store Link, drain the hours away for a dollar...]

And while you're at it, why don't you try Dragon Dictation, that is, try to download it from a store outside the US App Store?

People have raved about how the app works so well when transcribing dictated words, so I have no idea as to why the developer wants to limit the audience? Maybe they have to work on the other dialects of the world?

Basically, it's a pretty cool app that lets you record your notes or lectures and after sending the voice data through the Nuance Communications server, gives you a purportedly accurate transcription of the things you said. While it has gone under fire for also sending your Address Book names to their servers, the developer claims that the app doesn't send the personal information of the people in the Address Book.

It brings voice-activated SMS or e-mail to the iPhone, and it's a shame that we have to miss out, at least for the time being.

US users can download it for free for a limited time, so if you live in the US, you're a lucky bastard.

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