Draw with glow paint and battle 3D tanks: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a unique painting app and a game that closely mimics one of the greatest classic arcade tank games of all time.


Obviously, most of the apps I write about in this space are favorites of mine with all the features I could ask for, but some apps I come across just need one or more tweaks to make them better. Whether it's a control issue in a game or some other feature I think the developers left out, I use the app or play the game thinking, if it only had this one extra thing, it could be truly great!

This week, I have a couple of apps that do so many things well, but lack in only a couple of areas. Hopefully the people who develop apps will read my post (along with your comments) and consider adding the "one more thing" that would make their app fully worthy of the cash people like us spend on them. Like many of you, if I'm spending the money on an app, I want it to work perfectly. If you have apps that need some tweaks, make sure to tell us about them in the comments.

This week's apps include a unique painting app and a game that closely mimics one of the greatest classic arcade tank games of all time.

Glow Painter Pro
Unique brush shapes make for some interesting designs (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Glow Painter Pro (99 cents) is a painting app that lets you create eye-catching designs with digital paint that glows. Like many painting apps, the interface consists of a painting area and icons you can touch to select paint brushes, colors, brush size, and save options. What makes this app stand out is the glowing effect of the paints the more you brush a specific area. There are 25 different brush shapes to choose from along with 20 different glowing colors and a "Jitter Paint" mode to force nonuniform paint strokes. You also can adjust brush size if you want to work with broad strokes or just want to fill in details. When you're done with your painting, you can sent it to your iPhone camera roll to e-mail to friends, use in a larger project on your Mac, or use your iPhone settings to make the painting your desktop background. In addition to all the brushes and colors you can use, Glow Painter Pro lets you hide the interface by shaking your iPhone, and another shake brings it back when you want to switch brushes.

Glow Painter Pro is a fairly nifty painting app with a unique style not found in most painting apps, but it lacks what I consider to be a major feature: Undo. It's fun to play with the different brushes and manipulate the glowing paint effects, but if the app offered unlimited undo, it would make it much more flexible. As it is, you need to get your painting right the first time or you'll have to erase the whole thing if something doesn't come out the way you envisioned it. Overall, Glow Painter Pro is a great concept with a unique feel, but an undo option would really make this app better.

Vector Tanks Extreme
Getting out of this situation will take some quick firing. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Vector Tanks Extreme ($2.99) is a tank combat game that is obviously inspired by the classic stand-up arcade game Battle Zone. In the original you used two joysticks to move your tank, with one controlling the left track and the other controlling the right. In Vector Tanks Extreme you use up and down motions on either side of the screen to simulate the two joystick control method, and touch the middle of the screen to fire your weapons. As you blow away tanks, you'll find power-ups that give you new weapons, add to your shield supply, and give you rapid fire guns for a short time. The vector graphics are quite a bit better than the old classic Battle Zone and you'll meet many more types of enemies all with unique abilities making them hard to hit. You get three game modes: a straight combat mode to go for your high score with three lives; a Rage mode that challenges you to blow away as many enemies as you can in 2 minutes; and a practice mode that lets you explore the map with no enemy fire.

Vector Tanks Extreme is a lot of fun to play once you get the hang of the controls--it took me about three games to be able to move around well. But what this game lacks is a firing system that lets you fire while moving. Since you're using the two-joystick control scheme, in order to fire, you often have to stop moving and hit the center of the screen. Staying still is often what gives your enemies the chance to score hits, so the ability to move and fire would make this game much better. Overall, even with the awkward firing system, Vector Tanks Extreme is very fun to play, with tons of enemies, cool weapons to use, and an increasingly challenging AI (especially in Rage mode). But if they found a way to allow you to fire while moving, this game could be even better.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you have an app that's almost perfect except for one glaring feature omission? Do you have a better painting app or tank game that includes these features? Let me know in the comments!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.