Core Dump: Free and Formerly Free iOS Apps

Zoo TossZoo Toss

Zoo Toss: Feed the animals the right food – and don't let the lions get hungry!

Zoo Toss – $.99 (iPhone only)

In Zoo Toss, you have to feed the zoo animals by flicking food to them from a conveyor belt as it passes by. You’ve got to be quick, but you also have to aim to get it to the animals. To make things even more challenging, you’ll need to keep them from starving, feed them the right foods so they don’t get sick, and keep the lions from getting so hungry they eat the other animals. Feed an animal enough food quickly enough, and they (inexplicably) take off in a rocket jetpack, leaving behind a few coins for you to collect.

Each level has a particular combination of animals and specific goals — usually a minimum number of animals that must be saved, as well as rules about how many animals can die before you lose the level. Things get more and more complex and very tricky: you get vitamins which can cure sick animals or fill up animals more quickly, but also roten food which needs to be put into a trash can or it’ll make the animals sick. The hardest part for me, though, has been keeping those lions from eating up the warthogs and giraffes on later levels. They just get hungry so quickly!

Although this one is iPhone only (you can play on the iPad at 2x size), it’s nicely done and quite challenging, and is only a buck.

Retro PinballRetro Pinball

Retro Pinball has three tables available.

Retro Pinball – free (universal app)

Retro Pinball is a port of an old PC pinball game, which I actually remember playing a long time ago. At least, I remember the Super Android and Pangea tables, but not the Crash and Burn. The controls straightforward: tap and hold to launch the ball, and then tap on the right and left sides of the screen to work the paddles. Oh, and bump the iPad/iPhone to bump the table, but don’t do it too much or your paddles will lock. There are detailed rules available for each table, explaining what all the various bumpers and tracks do.

It’s not the only pinball game available for iOS, but it’s free, and if you remember this game from its PC days it has that nostalgia factor. Though I will say this: these tables are hard. Pangea’s setup is such that the ball often comes straight down the middle, even right after a launch. The Super Android table requires you to get the ball into an almost impossible spot to activate the android, so although I’ve gotten decent scores, I’ve only lit up one arm at the most. But, hey, it’s free.

Space MinerSpace Miner

Space Miner: a little bit of Asteroids, a little bit RPG

Space Miner – $1.99 iPhone, $4.99 iPad

Space Miner is an Asteroids-like game, with a customizable ship and a silly story to go along with it. You play a space miner (you can pick a guy or gal), working Uncle Jeb’s Gritsone Mining company. Unfortunately, Uncle Jeb is a bit of a nut who’s gotten himself into a load of debt, and you have a junky old space truck. So you have to get out there, shoot up asteroids to collect the ore, and then upgrade your ship with better guns, shields, engines, and so forth.

Meanwhile, the head of the bank is after some valuable alien technology that’s hidden in the asteroid fields, and you need to get to those before he does. While the game is pretty similar mechanically to Asteroids Gunner (and other clones), the humor in the story sets it apart and will have you exploring all the various sectors of the map.

Space Miner BlastSpace Miner Blast

Like Space Miner, but without that bothersome story.

Space Miner Blast – $.99 (universal app)

Of course, if you like blasting asteroids but don’t care for the layer of story, or you’re overwhelmed by the variety of choices for ship hulls, weapons, scanners, engines, reactors, and so forth, maybe you’d prefer Space Miner Blast. It’s basically a stripped-down version that lets you jump right into the asteroid-blasting, with very little transition from wave to wave. Get enough ore, and you can upgrade your ship, but it’s a very simple upgrade system.

The graphics and controls are similar to Space Miner (there’s even a jalopy ship that you can pick) but it’s a quicker game that ramps up the difficulty and just has you see how far you can get. A nice arcade game if you don’t want a long campaign.

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