June 16, 2010

Apps Weekly: Guitar Hero + Foosball HD

Guitar Hero
Activision, Vicarious Visions
Rated 12+, compatible with iOS 3.0 or later

I'm an unabashed Rock Band fanboy, but there's something I have to admit about this iPhone app: it's very well thought-out.

Featuring a more appealing interface than EA Mobile's Rock Band iPhone game, Guitar Hero contains much polish that'll make the 3 dollars worth it for that alone.

The "Backstage" feature will let you customize your character's hair, face, body, clothes, etc.

You can select from a wide range of colors, so you can mix and match your fashion-forward avatar.

However, for more options, you'll have to play through the actual game to get more clothes/faces/hairdos and so on.

You can share your avatar through Facebook, and take a photo of it.

Obviously though, the game actually revolves around guitar and bass. Yes, you heard it right. No drums, no vocals, it's all a stripped down, back-to-basics version of the Guitar Hero that people originally really loved, me included.

You have a (very paltry) selection of 6 songs, ranging from Queen, Weezer to Vampire Weekend. You can sort by artist, score rank, difficulty level and title.

After selecting from either Guitar or Bass, you'll be able to get into the game, which involves the usually tapping of gems. See that arrow though? That means you should slide the gem as it reaches the tap area. Another way they shook up the game mechanics come with the hammer-on's, which are tied together by a purple line. You can slide your finger across those gems to perform usually hard riffs.

And when you go through enough starred gems, you can activate Star Power, which involves a little tap of a blue bar found above the tapping area.

This all sounds well and good, but the game doesn't allow for two player matches like Rock Band iPhone's 4-player games, nor does it necessarily have a stable frame rate. Yes, there's lag even when you're using a 3rd generation iDevice. The timing window can be a bit off at times too. Somehow, Rock Band is more responsive than this game, but that's not to say this game is broken, it just needs some performance tweaks.

When you finish a song, you get a star rating, and interestingly at the bottom, you also get a sort of "level up system". Depending on the achievements you are able to unlock, your guitar tapping skills will level up.

What's more interesting though, is that each song has its own individual achievements, which is a great addictive touch.

If you get bored with the game, you can definitely buy more songs from the Store, but unlike Rock Band, it doesn't have any free songs to download... yet.

Were this game priced at Rock Band's $9.99, I would call this one a rip-off, but since it's $2.99 for this amount of detail, polish and user-friendliness, I'll let it off the hook and wholeheartedly recommend it.

Rating: 7/10

This week at WWDC, Illusion Labs, makers of games like Labyrinth 2 and Sway, comes to the iPad with an exclusive title called Foosball HD.

Like all of Illusion Labs' games, the game features a lot of polished graphics and gameplay mechanics. Social gaming is definitely a better fit on the iPad, and Foosball might just be the thing to whet a World Cup fan's appetite until the next game rolls along.

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