It's been said that the simplest ideas are the best. And even as modern video games capture the imagination with vibrant graphics and engrossing stories, the market for basic one-touch games on mobile devices continues to grow. Spin Master's Appfinity AppBlaster looks to transcend the complexities of gaming and turn a simple idea into an addicting one. That's a tough job--especially when it includes providing augmented reality at a low price--so read on to see if this toy gun hits the mark.
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At 18 inches long, the white and creamsicle-orange Appblaster will probably be one of the largest and most ostentatious iPhone accessories you'll purchase. However, the shoulder stock is removable, so whether you prefer the ergonomics of a 12-gauge or a 9mm pistol, you'll be filled with that warm and fuzzy holding-a-weapon feeling.
There's no technology or complex software here; just clip your phone into a white plastic case that secures onto the roof of the gun and assembly's done. For iPhone and iPod touch users, there are appropriate inserts so that the device has no wiggle room.
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When you pull one of the two triggers, a corresponding pad on top of the gun moves forward to touch the iPhone screen, where compatible games have placed fire buttons. Metal inside the triggers connects to the pads, so that trigger pulls are registered as finger taps. Put simply, the AppBlaster is a really cool extension of your hands. Genius.
Without any software to install or special apps, getting straight to the shooting is incredibly easy. Simply download one of the compatible games and get started. The first--and best--one we played was Alien Attack, a free game that's downloadable from the store. There are currently six other games available which cost $1.99 apiece, and more on the way.
Amazingly, the package's cover art of a Cocoa Puff-fueled, spiky-haired boy blasting a room full of aliens was pretty representative of our experience. It's simple, fun and different. By using the iPhone's camera and gyroscope to capture your surroundings and movements, the game creates an augmented reality where you'll see your enemies floating around a live 360-degree view of your cubicle, backyard, conference room, church pew or fancy restaurant--wherever you choose to play. And while we were a little apprehensive flinging around our expensive iPhone, the cage for the device seems sturdy. If you have a swivel chair at your desk, this experience goes unmatched by any other force of distraction.
It seems fair to say the creators at Spin Master probably played more than a few rounds of Nintendo's Duck Hunt back in the day, and in fact, there's even a compatible version of that game for the gadget. Not to mention that the bright orange and white color scheme rekindled love affairs with the archaic NES Zapper. We also played Marine Sharpshooter, a $1.99 pop-up shooter. While it doesn't utilize augmented reality in the way Alien Attack does, it's still much easier and more enjoyable to blast terrorists with a gun than tapping the screen.
Simple, cheap, and fun. That's a pretty fail-proof equation, and the $20 AppBlaster hits it on the nose. Once developers make more compatible games--we'd love to see a Time Crisis rendition--this will be the best way to shoot stuff on your smartphone, and while it may look like child's play, anyone who gets trigger-happy will enjoy it.