Take perfect pictures and battle your way through a meteor storm: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a precise image capture app and a 2D survival shooter with all the right stuff to keep you playing for a long time.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

Back in March I wrote about a skee-ball-type game called 10-balls 7 cups that was surprisingly fun. It had great sounds and graphics, and the gameplay consisted of a flick of your finger to send the ball down the alley and a tilt of your iPhone to redirect the ball into the cups. I said at the time that the only problem I had with this simple yet fun game was that the silly prizes you could buy at the end with your points didn't have pictures.

I just received word that longtime Mac gaming publisher Freeverse has gotten onboard with this unique title (and apparently worked out the licensing) to publish an upgraded version, appropriately named Skee-Ball (99 cents). Some flashier graphics have been added, but for the most part the gameplay remains the same with a couple of notable changes. You can now buy custom balls with your points; challenge friends and view score tracking, achievements, and leader-boards on the Plus network; and they've added an entirely new prize system with (you guessed it) pictures of every prize in a nice-looking loot room. Though not as involved as some of the other games I review here, this latest version of Skee-Ball is a great casual game to kill time and collect funny prizes.

This week's apps include a new image capture app and a 2D survival shooter with all the right stuff to keep you playing for a long time.

Snapture

Use the level aid to make sure your shot is lined up correctly.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Snapture ($1.99) offers a unique way to take pictures with your iPhone with some added features to make sure you get the perfect shot. Instead of a button at the bottom of the interface like the iPhone's regular camera, you can simply touch anywhere onscreen to take a shot. An onscreen level aid helps you make sure your shot is perfectly level. You can choose between four image sizes (800x600, 1,280x960, 1,600x1,200, or 2,048x1,536) before you take your picture. The zooming feature lets you reverse-pinch to zoom up to 5x. You can also toggle between single shot or multiple shots so you can take three consecutive pictures with only one touch of the screen. When you're done, you can quickly send your picture to a friend with an integrated e-mail option or just save the picture to your photo library; images are only saved when you're happy with the shot.

I think part of the charm of Snapture is the unique interface. Once you take a photo (or multiple photos) the last four shots show up as thumbnails on the left side of the screen. You can touch and hold a thumbnail to make it zoom to its original size (with a smooth animation) or you can slide the image across the screen to bring up options for e-mailing or deleting the image. The zooming feature is also a nice touch, letting you pinch or reverse-pinch to zoom to just the amount you need. Overall, Snapture might be a little too precise for regular picture taking, but if you really want to perfect specific shots, this app has some nice features to help you make it happen.

Meteor Blitz

You'll need to switch weapons quickly to handle the onslaught of meteors.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Meteor Blitz ($1.99) is a challenging 2D survival shooter arcade game with smooth graphics, tons of cool power-ups, and great gameplay. Like many games of this type on the iPhone, Meteor Blitz uses dual onscreen joysticks, with the left one to move your ship and the right to fire your weapons. A double tap on the left joystick gives you a momentary burst of speed to help you get out of particularly sticky situations. Just over the right joystick is a button to switch between three weapon types: regular cannons, a flame thrower, and ice bullets--all of which can be upgraded by spending rings you collect in the game. Each weapon type is more effective against specific enemies (ice bullets for red meteors, flame thrower for ice meteors, etc.) so knowing how to quickly switch between them becomes part of the challenge as well.

Meteor Blitz has two game types. An arcade mode challenges you to fight your way through several levels of mayhem with a boss at the end of each level. In Survival mode your mission (obviously) is to stay alive as long as possible as more and more aliens and meteors try to take you out. But in addition to the incredibly intense gameplay of both game types, I really liked that I could watch my global ranking rise as I played the game. Knowing where you are in the global high-score list as you play gives you even more incentive to survive the endless onslaught of aliens and different types of meteors. Overall, Meteor Blitz is an excellent game for fans of this classic arcade genre with plenty of power-ups unique enemies to keep you coming back for more.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you like the simple, but challenging gameplay of Skee-Ball? Is Snapture the photo-taking app you've been looking for? How high in the global rankings have you gotten in Meteor Blitz? Let me know in the comments!

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