Kenny Powers is Back: Eastbound and Down iPhone game

Eastbound and Down entered its second season last week, and it looks like Kenny Powers is getting his pitch back in Mexico. So what better way to celebrate than with a free iPhone app?

In the game Kenny Powers’ Home Run Fiesta: Deep Inside Mexico, you play as the batter who is trying to get a hit off of the infamous Powers. The controls are ridiculously simple: as the pitch comes toward you, shake the iPhone forward to swing the bat. The point is to hit as many home runs as possible.

Each time you leave the park, you get one step closer to the next level, and gain the adoration of female fans in the stands (because what’s more important to KP than the ladies?). Plus, each time you level up, you gain access to “exclusive Eastbound and Down content,” which turns out to be a few promotional pictures and a short video clip.

But you didn’t download this app for elementary gameplay, pixelated women and a few snapshots, did you? No, you came for the musings of a great pitching guru, and Kenny Powers definitely delivers. While the one liners are great, the best part of the game is the taunts that are available to you, including cheerleaders, a mariachi band and a zebra. As if the game wasn’t easy enough already, each time you taunt Kenny he will throw very slow, very hittable pitch.

Breaking it Down

+It’s free
+Great Kenny Power dialogue
+Classic, but very pretty, graphics

-You’ll probably only play it once or twice
-It’s too easy
-Not much depth

Verdict

Download it. You’ll some good laughs, and 20 minutes of simple gameplay, for free. Also, be sure to watch the new season of Eastbound and Down on Sundays at 10:30 p.m./9 p.m central on HBO. If you missed the first season, pick it up on Amazon.


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Super Mega Worm: Old-School iPhone Gore

Last week developer Deceased Pixel dropped Super Mega Worm: a gory, 8-bit throwback for the iPhone. This week, the game is featured as “App Of The Week” in the App Store.

And for good reason; it boasts beautiful graphics and simple controls that make it really accessible. The best part? You get to eat rednecks, shoot down helicopters and blow up military vehicles that lie in your wake.

Mechanics

In the game you control Wojira (aka the huge worm with blood dripping from its teeth) in a quest to rid Earth of the human parasite. But honestly, the story doesn’t matter. The real draw here is the sheer violence of the experience and the destruction that you get to cause. As you chase down your victims, you’ll gain points and unlock power-ups like fire breath and EMP disruptions.

But be warned: if your worm doesn’t quench its thirst for blood, your reign of terror will come to an abrupt end. Chasing down targets isn’t too hard though. The game employs a slider to control your worm, which is actually very intuitive. As for power-ups, you can activate those by pressing the buttons at the bottom right of the screen.

Where to get it

Right now you can pick up the game on sale for $0.99, but be quick; the price will jump back up to $2.99 soon. The fee might seem a little steep, but for one of the iPhone’s weirdest and most original games, it’s worth it.

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Windows Phone 7 Series: Xbox Live Connectivity

The new Windows Phone is pretty much as simple as it gets, it may have even out-iPhoned the iPhone. There are a ton of cool features that they announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but one of the most interesting is Xbox Live connectivity.

Xbox Live on your cell phone?

It sounds like you’re going to be able to play various Xbox Live games on your phone while managing your avatar, friends and achievements. While not too much is known about the types of games that they will offer as of yet, I would assume that it will be a select few titles from what is already available for download, or it could be a completely different format all together. However, in their public address Microsoft seemed to suggest that some titles would have cross-platform capability. Either way, the phone’s hardware has the potential to put PSP and DS graphics to shame.

Will these games really be that much different from what the iPhone offers right now? Probably not, at least at first. Gizmodo suggests that this feature will probably evolve into two other types of games: titles that both phone and console users can play together over Xbox Live, and titles that expand on gameplay that is offered on-disc (Call of Duty expansion pack).

The strange thing is that Microsoft is a bit behind in the mobile gaming market, Nintendo has the DS and Sony has the PSP, but their console-to-handheld gaming model just seems like a better business plan.

Check back soon for more information on this subject as news comes in. While you wait, check out this video outlining the other features of the phone:

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Does the iPad have game?

Around this time of the month, there’s been a heavy flow of news about Macs-iPad… err.. the iPad, and I have to say that it has a lot of potential. Period.

But all (not so funny) jokes and “I wish”-es aside, the success of the iPad really lies in the hands of developers, and as we’ve seen it has a huge capacity to revolutionize gaming.

While I was most the most impressed with the MLB and painting apps, we saw in Apple’s press conference that the iPad has gaming potential through the already smash-hit N.O.V.A. This was really the first successful shooter on the iPhone, and by drawing on influences like Halo and Dead Space developer Gameloft created an action-packed point-and-shoot game.

N.O.V.A. on the iPad

The iPad seems to be just what the game needed: a bigger screen and more room for gestures. This user interface takes ideas from the Wii in terms of simplicity (I would argue that anyone can just pick up and go, there’s virtually no learning curve), and at the same time it’s attacking the DS’s market share. Some other confirmed games include Need for Speed Shift and Super Frog, but we should see more of these popping up in the near future.

One thing that was mentioned is the doubling of pixels that will make it possible to use iPhone apps on the iPad. While it won’t make for the most beautiful gaming, this is a nice feature.

Although it didn’t live up to the media hype, I have faith that the iPad will redeem itself through app developers. Based on the keynote alone, Steve Jobs seems to be placing a lot of faith in their software partners and seems to be working very closely with them. I’m excited to see what these companies can do.

In case you missed it, go here to watch the iPad keynote.

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Motion City Soundtrack: My Dinosaur Life

Today, I have to give major props to one of my favorite bands, Motion City Soundtrack. A couple days ago they released their fourth studio album “My Dinosaur Life,” produced by Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus. Over the years, these guys have worked really hard on establishing their style, and they’ve gained a loyal fan base through years of touring.

Their latest album is really impressive: it includes catchy choruses, heavy hooks and driving pop-synths. After all the time that they’ve spent perfecting their art, Motion City shot for pop stardom with their major-label debut (Columbia), and in my opinion they hit the nail on the head. Last time I checked the album had peaked at #3 on the iTunes store charts, and this band deserves every bit of success that they get.

I’ve followed this group since their first album, I was fortunate enough to see them in back-to-back-to-back shows in Chicago this last December, and this album builds on and eclipses all of it.

Plus, they do a shout-out to The Ocarina of Time on track 9.

This band is definitely deserving of your support, so check them out on iTunes, or to learn a little more about them at their website.

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Why I Almost Bought a Playstation 3

On Black Friday this year, I walked into Best Buy at 8 a.m. and almost left with a Playstation 3. To be fair, they had a pretty good deal on it; $300 for a PS3 Slim with a 120 GB hardrive, a wireless controller, and the games LittleBigPlanet and Ratchet and Clank Future: a Crack in Time (around $120 savings). Now some of you may laugh, click out of this window and go back to playing your Xbox, but really; the console has drastically improved since its November 2006 release at $600 for 60 GB, in terms of both hardware and software.

Courtesy of Joystiq

Solid, sexy, slim

The PS3 has finally nailed down some exclusive titles that almost coaxed me into buying their system. For example, LittleBigPlanet offers a unique platforming experience along with unrivaled customization, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots extends Konami’s already famous franchise, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is raising the bar in terms of gameplay and graphics.

Plus, you’re getting wifi out of the box, free access to the Playstation Network, and a sexy, slimmer version with more memory at a fraction of the cost. Yes, Playstation is still losing money on every system, but they’re probably hoping to make up ground through downloadable content.

I went with a new TV instead, but the improvements to Sony’s system shouldn’t go unnoticed. Because pretty much every family in America has purchased a Wii already, be on the lookout for a surge in PS3 sales this holiday season. They’ve retooled the system to meet the consumers needs, now all Sony has to worry about is competing with Project Natal.

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“Tapping” Into The Casual Gaming Market

In an industry where hardcore players dominate online console play with their monstrous gamerscores, it’s hard for a casual player to have their voice heard. Unless you’re devoting hours a day to earning Xbox achievements or PS3 trophies, you’ll be scoffed at by more experienced players. Game developers understand that their main demographic is going to expect hundreds of hours of gameplay out of their titles, and they’re going to create games accordingly.

So where does this leave the casual gamer, who might pick up a controller two or three times a week?

We all know that Nintendo has built an empire out of catering to younger audiences and families, especially with the Wii and games like Wii Fit and Wii Sports, but the iPhone is making a serious run at that on-the-go 18 to 45 market by offering games that are easy and accessible.

In Fast Company‘s Dec 09-Jan 10 issue, they have an interesting interview with Nicole Lazzaro, founder and president of XEODesign, about mobile gaming. Her company designs iPhone games, and created the first title to use  the phone’s accelerometer. Lazzaro points out that hardcore gamers want to be challenged to the point of insanity, but that the iPhone has a completely different market share. Mobile gamers will only play a game for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, but they’ll play in little pieces all week long.

In my opinion, this is the reason that the iPhone is not only the future of portable gaming, but also the future of casual gaming. The main benefit is that gaming is just one of the many features of the phone, and it’s with you constantly, making its gaming interface the perfect time-kill. Plus, there is little to no personal commitment to the games, and they’re still fun. Compared to the new RPG Dragon Age: Origins, which offers players over 100 hours of gameplay, iPhone games can be played in smaller bursts without all the pressure to unlock everything and beat the game before friends.

According to Fast Company, Apples App Store already offers about 20,000 gaming titles, but from what I’ve seen most of these only offer single player action. To really expand their industry share, Apple should work on creating a worldwide gaming network similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live. They already have the network for it, don’t they? That said, be on the lookout for big gaming innovations coming out of the iPhone; with the interactivity of their phone and its inherent accessibility, Apple has the ability to turn many more people on to their games.

If you’re already the proud owner of an iPhone, check out IGN’s iPhone Game Buyer’s Guide.

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