Motocross mayhem and an astroid-shooting RPG: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps are both games: A motorcycle stunt game I've talked about before that received a huge update, and a new asteroid-shooting RPG that's both funny and challenging.


Macworld Expo 2010 started on Tuesday here in San Francisco, and will continue through tomorrow (Saturday) at the Moscone Center. I had a chance to walk the expo floor on Thursday and though there weren't nearly as many vendors as in years past, I was able to talk to a few iPhone developers about their products and all seemed excited about showing off their latest projects.

Even though Apple is no longer in attendance at Macworld, Moscone North was crowded with throngs of Mac and iPhone fans, looking at the latest software, peripherals, and gear. While the big Apple stage that usually dominates the middle of every expo was noticeably absent, plenty of vendors filled up the void with iPhone case displays, storage solutions, product demos, and much more. I had thought that Macworld would suffer greatly in Apple's absence, but you wouldn't know it by talking to anyone at the expo. Hopefully, the many Mac peripheral vendors and iPhone developers will continue the Macworld tradition. It would be sad to see the expo with such a storied history end.

This week's apps are both games: a motorcycle stunt game I've talked about before that received a huge update, and a new asteroid-shooting RPG that's both funny and challenging.

Moto X Mayhem
Take it slow in the underground ice caverns on one of the new islands (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

When Moto X Mayhem (99 cents) was first released, I wrote (in August of last year) that you could play a very similar game online for free. Though I liked the mechanics of the original game, it was hard for me to recommend anyone pay for it if there was only one track. Maybe the guys at Occamy Games were listening because subsequent updates have added two additional islands of courses, making this game well worth the price tag.

In the game, you use your accelerometer to lean forward or back, press the right side of the screen to accelerate, and press the left to brake, as you navigate your way through a 2D course. You get 10 lives to try to complete seven different courses on each island. The graphics are cartoon-smooth and the controls are excellent, making it easy to pick up and play, yet challenging to master all three islands of courses. Overall, if you liked the original or were reluctant to pay for the single track in the earlier version, I highly recommend the new and improved Moto X Mayhem. It's a great time-waster that makes it easy to get a couple of runs in wherever you are.

Space Miner: Space Ore Bust
The control system is easy to pick up and play, but the game can get very challenging. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Space Miner: Space Ore Bust ($4.99) takes the old arcade classic Asteroids and mixes in some RPG elements and a sense of humor to create a truly entertaining game. Most of your time is spent mining different sectors of open space, using an onscreen joystick to turn and buttons for thrust and fire. By itself, blowing away the asteroids is pretty fun, but there's much more to Space Miner than a simple arcade shooter. You warp to sectors from your base, a mining facility run by your Uncle Jeb (which offers a store to buy new ships and ship components). You also have an apartment on the station where you can view your stats. Most of the funny storyline plays out through conversations with cartoon-like characters in between missions on the station.

Space Miner: Space Ore Bust has a southern country feel, with banjo music, ships that look vaguely like semi trucks, and dialogue that fits right in with the down-home theme. As you progress, you'll gain new licenses that let you explore more difficult sectors as you mine for ore and blow away enemies. Each load of ore adds to your money total, letting you buy new ships and parts to increase gun damage, strengthen your hull, improve your engines, and increase tractor beam strength for easier ore collection. The RPG elements are truly well done, making it easy to get addicted to this game as you try to build the ultimate mining and fighting machine. Overall, with the funny storyline involving cleaning up Uncle Jeb's mining operation, the ability to improve your ship, the non-linear sandbox-like layout, and the familiar Asteroids core gameplay, this game is perfect for those who have been looking for a casual RPG.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Is Moto X Mayhem a worthwhile purchase now that they've added the new content? Are you as impressed with Space Miner: Space Ore Bust as I am? 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.