The sophomore effort from developer Rocketcat Studios improves upon its predecessor Hook Champ in nearly every way.
Super Quickhook takes the same Bionic Commando-esqe platforming mechanic from that game, and applies it to large, and oftentimes devilishly designed levels that require trial, error, and mastery to get through.
Features like upgradable character mods and deep integration with social network Open Feint (including a system that lets you save and sync game data between multiple devices) make this a game that can be picked up quite easily, but incredibly challenging to finish.
Another sophomore effort on my list is GeoDefense Swarm from Critical Thought games. This TRON and Geometry Wars inspired tower defense game brings some of the same gameplay mechanics from the first GeoDefense title, but adds a much more rigid system in which users can place defenses.
The result is a game that's both less frustrating to play (since you always know where your unit will be) and one that has an extra layer of required strategy on the later levels as you essentially design the environment with every piece you place.
The easier levels can be played through in a few hours, but the hard-core difficulty levels will break even the hardest strategists.
Space Miner: Space Ore Bust (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)
I picked up this game at the request, or rather pleading, of my CNET colleague Jason Parker. Space Miner:Space Ore Bust takes place somewhere in space, where your character is put in charge of collecting precious metals from various quadrants of the nearby solar system to fund your uncle's heavily mortgaged operation. Along the way you can upgrade your ship, and its ore-busting weapons.
Beyond leveling up, the hook of Spaceminer is that the gameplay is just downright fun. As you keep upgrading, there is a noticeable improvement in how easy it becomes to clear levels, which is adjusted just right with special objective-based missions and boss fights.
The game's comedic writing, solid plot, and the fact you can play again and again, along with the use of alien artifacts that can be used at the very beginning of additional playthroughs, add up to an experience that's well worth its $4.99 price tag, and a spot on your iOS device. Developer Venan Arcade is also working on a follow-up called Space Miner Blast that reworks the ore-busting formula to a timed survival game.
Alien Blue is an app for social news site Reddit.com. It packs several native app features that make reading Reddit on your iPhone far more enjoyable than it is through Safari.
Among its notable features is a full-screen viewer that lets you read articles and view pictures without any of the interface, as well as a button that runs articles with tiny text, or lots of formatting through Arc90's Readability viewer.
Unlike the site's official iReddit app, Alien Blue has been updated quite a bit in the last few months.
Price: Free (in app purchase for Pro features are $1.99)
MiniSquadron is a great example of what can be done on the iOS platform by a very small studio.
The game has players manning one of 50 airplanes to take on wave after wave of aerial bad guys in a handful of locales. Along the way there are power-ups to be had, bosses to dogfight, and waves of planes that have different weapon systems you must learn to defeat, all without getting blown up.
What makes the game so fun is that you can unlock extra planes depending on how well you do on any level. You can then go back and replay any level with a different strategy than you might have used before.
Besides this title, maker Studio FungFung made a special edition that's essentially the same game with completely different levels and planes, including helicopters that can hover.
Need a universal chat client that's free? Meebo fits the bill. It has a clean user interface and a push notification system that will keep you online and send you messages without killing your battery.
It handles multiple conversations with ease, and syncs up with any changes made on Meebo.com.
To be honest, I don't use this app very often, but when I do, it's always done just about everything I've needed it to do.
Publicly announcing my enjoyment of We Rule is like telling my friends I like the Twilight series (which I don't.)
For those who are in the know, this guilty pleasure is a playful take on games like Zynga's Farmville. It gives players a virtual kingdom, in which they can plant and harvest crops, erect buildings, and task and host jobs for other We Rule players in the hopes of reaping monetary and experience point rewards.
Along the way, players can grow the size of their kingdom, and the types of buildings and crops they can purchase with a leveling system. In many ways it provides that same kind of mental pleasure that one gets from expanding your empire in games like Sim City and Civilization.
The title itself is free, it's just that buildings, crops, and decorations cost money to buy, as well as time to be constructed or grown. This process can be sped up with the use of "mojo," which is doled out to players as they progress through the ranks, but can also be purchased for real world dollars.
If there's one criticism to be had about the game (besides the virtual currency), it's that it demands an always-on Internet connection, which means you won't be able to log in and play if you're out of cellular data or a Wi-Fi signal. That, and there's also not much incentive to play after level 35, which is where the game currently caps off. Otherwise, you can easily get caught up in coming back again and again to harvest and replant crops, deliver goods to friends, and rearrange your kingdom a thousand different ways.
Besides having one of the best promotional videos of any iPhone game, the premise of Fruit Ninja is just great. You are a ninja in charge of slashing fruit with your sword.
Of course in real life, ninjas would never be seen, but in the world of Ninja Fruit it's fun to pretend your finger is a sword as you swipe it across the screen to cut up an endless supply of airborne produce, while avoiding bombs that can end your game.
There's plenty to keep you coming back to this title, from the gameplay itself, to the growing supply of "unlockables" like new backgrounds and weapon colors.
I typed this entire story using Evernote for iPhone. Do my thumbs hurt? Oh my, yes they do. But it was hassle free, and I didn't lose any of my work.
Evernote is a cloud service that saves your notes, photos, audio notes, Web clippings, and other tidbits of information. The company markets itself as an online representation of your memory, which if you use it every day, ends up becoming the truth. The benefit of it all is that the work you do on one of these clients can just as easily be set aside and picked up somewhere else, without any friction.
Best of all, Evernote is free, though you're limited to a certain amount of data per month. More can be had by signing up for the pro service, which comes with some additional features on the Evernote Web site.