App of the Week: Endless Road

Developer:
Chillingo Ltd.

Compatible with:
iPhone 3GS and up (optimized for iPhone 5)

iPod Touch 3rd gen and up

iPad

Requires:
iOS 4.3 or later

Price:

$0.99

Available here

With well over 20 million downloads, one of the biggest successes of the mobile gaming era has been “Temple Run”. It’s concept couldn’t be more simple as you control a man perpetually running and avoiding obstacles to escape from a temple. It’s a basic idea executed to perfection, and even helped to popularize its own genre of games in the “endless runner”, a genre that hasn’t exactly been prolific in terms of entries that don’t suck.

One very notable exception was recently released though in Chillingo Ltd’s “Endless Road”. Much like it’s forerunner, the idea is elementary, as you are tasked with driving an endless road and avoiding the obstacles in your path, all while gathering coins to purchase upgrades with that range from new vehicles to paint that trails your wake. Along the way are also various jumps and inlaid arrows that speed you up, and can slow you down.

It would be a very unremarkable and forgettable game if it weren’t for a couple of wrinkles in the formula that enhance the experience. The first is the actual road which is constantly folding in on itself as the section behind you falls in your wake, while the road ahead springs up as you progress. It lends a great visual cue that gives you a constant, and necessary, feeling of tension. This tension is only increased by the game’s expertly used soundtrack, that’s constant driving beats provide the perfect sense of urgency.

But what really sells the title is the amazing graphics. While not pushing any technical limitations, the fact that every stage presents a new theme, color pallet, and always tougher series of unique obstacles, means that you never really encounter a moment that takes you out of the game and makes you realize the basic monotony of what you are doing. Instead, it adds to the already impossible addictive nature of this type of game as you can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Is this another case of style over substance then? Oh most definitely. But that doesn’t mean the core gameplay concept of attempting to maintain a constant speed of 80 MPH or greater in order to not fall into oblivion isn’t absurdly fun on its own, but rather that even that just serves as a showcase to the abundance of creativity the development team has put into every visual. There’s not a millimeter of screen space that isn’t used to full effect, and little touches like a left and right path at the end of each level leading to different environments exemplify how much Chillingo was able to milk the concept for all of the addictiveness and replayability it is worth.

Much like tower defense titles and “Bejeweled” knock off puzzle games, endless runners should have worn their welcome out by now. However, it’s thanks to games like “Endless Road” that keep people coming back to the genres by providing perfect execution of the original ideas, and very fresh coats of paint.  With everything in this game’s arsenal it perfectly exemplifies the idea of the great Texas country singer Robert Earl Keen who said “the road goes on forever, and the party never ends.”

And if you know me at all, you know any game that lets me quote Robert Earl Keen is going to earn the app of the week.

  

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App of the Week: eBay Now

Developer:
eBay

Compatible with:
iPhone

iPod Touch

iPad

Android Devices

Requires:
iOS 5.0

Android 2.1

Price:

Free

Available here (for iOS) and here (for Android)

There’s certain advantages and disadvantages to living in a big city that any resident will tell you. For disadvantages, there is the high cost of living, the crime rate, the human traffic (and motor traffic) all around, and in some places a smell so unique and horrific that you are afraid to identify it in the fear that by giving it a name, you also give it strength.

However there are the perks. The best restaurants and stores, world class architecture, an unlimited amount of entertainment options available around the clock, and the ability to have pretty much anything delivered to you.

That last one just got a big boost thanks to the launch of eBay Now. Available to residents of San Francisco for about a month now, recently the service has been expanded to New York and allows you to buy a large number of products from a variety of big name retailers from their eBay stores, and have it delivered to wherever you are, that same day, with an estimate that many of the deliveries will arrive in under an hour.

With a host of major retailers already signed up including Macy’s, Best Buy,  Target, and Walgreens, there are very few things you could want or need that are not now available to you for same day service, and the only limits of this app’s uses are seemingly your imagination as it pertains to what “have to have it here now” items you could possibly want.

And whether it be an impulse need for an epic NERF gun fight brought to you via Toys R’ Us, or a strong desire not to wash your socks in the near future that just leads you to ordering some new ones brought to you from Macy’s, there is now a wide variety of impulse purchase options available that are made all the better by the reported excellent speed, reliability, and support the service offers, which includes a GPS tracker of your delivery progress.

eBay Now is a significant release for the online retail giant, and shatters expectations of consumers when it comes to availability and speed of purchases even if they are used to living in a big city. eBay is looking to expand the service to more cities to come, so even if you are not in one of the included areas, be sure to keep an eye out for additional upcoming locations as this app comes through with its lofty promise and not only delivers just about anything you could want right to you, it also delivers the app of the week.

  

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