The return of a classic and survival shooter mayhem: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an elegant book-reading app and a funny survival shooter with a mission.


Unless you've been living under a rock this week, you probably already know that the iPad, Apple's new tablet, is on its way in less than 60 days. With some time before the release, it will give app developers the new challenge of optimizing their offerings for the new and bigger touch screen. But even more exciting will be what app developers come up with for the iPad exclusively; with the added processing power, superior graphics, and added screen real estate, I think this is where we will come to fully realize the power of Apple's latest hardware. It seems like there are naysayers everywhere you look on the Web right now, but I have a feeling a lot of opinions will change by the time the device is released, with thousands of new apps made specifically for the iPad.

Apple showed off some new apps for iPad of the company's own including iBooks, giving avid readers an opportunity to purchase, download, and read books from Amazon. But what many people pointed out after the unveiling was that iBooks seemed to take a lot of inspiration from another iPhone app called Classics. The developers of Classics have been nothing but gracious about the similarities to iBooks and are even offering their app for free for a limited time ($2.99 regularly). I include Classics today (having reviewed it when it first came out) because more people should see this truly elegant app and because a tip of the hat is warranted to developers Andrew Kaz and Phillip Ryu for being such good sports. Also, it's free!

This week's apps include the aforementioned elegant book-reading app and a funny survival shooter with a mission.

Bookmarks show up on books you've already started. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Classics (Free for a limited time) came out some time ago, but this collection of famous works of literature is worthy of mentioning because the software is both extremely well-designed and a taste of what's to come with the iPad. When you launch Classics, you're presented with a natural-wood bookshelf containing some of the greatest works of English literature, including Milton's "Paradise Lost," Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," and H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." There are now more than 20 books in all. But famous authors aside, Classics offers a beautiful interface for paging through each of the great works.

Tap a book to open it, revealing the title page on a classy brown-on-white-paper interface. Swiping your finger to the left turns the page, complete with an animation and the soft sound of leafing through an old book. The font size is just right for reading on the iPhone or iPod Touch. When you're finished reading for the moment, Classics places a bookmark automatically and indicates you have started the book in the bookshelf interface. You can even flip through chapters to find your favorite parts. Once you've had a chance to flip through some of the books in Classics, you'll immediately see why Apple may have taken inspiration from this well-made app. This app is free for a limited time, but with all this great reading, even at $2.99 it's a bargain.

Guerrilla Bob
Make sure to shoot the guys carrying barrels before they get too close. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Guerrilla Bob takes the dual-stick survival shooter to the next level with distinct linear missions and challenging boss fights. Like many survival shooters for iPhone, Guerrilla Bob relies on two onscreen joysticks for controls: left joystick to move and right joystick to fire. Great-looking and colorful levels make the game a joy to play, and eerie music and funny voice acting add to the ambiance. Some people might be turned off that the levels are very linear, following a set path to the end. But Guerrilla Bob offers secret areas to discover with new items and weapons to use making it very fun to get to the end and fight the boss.

The second you start playing, you'll realize Angry Mob Games went to great lengths to make Guerrilla Bob look beautiful. Each level offers its own theme, some with bright day-time cowboy-themed levels and other dark, creepy settings that add to the gameplay. You get three weapons to work with including a machine gun, a flame thrower, and a rocket launcher, all of which come in handy depending on the particular enemy you're up against. At the end of each level, you'll face a unique boss where you'll have to study his strengths and weaknesses in order to find the trick that will blow him away. Overall, Guerrilla Bob is a fun and challenging survival shooter with excellent graphics, fun and unique gameplay, and just enough humor to keep you smiling as you blow away bad guys.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you think Apple should have talked to the guys who created Classics before launching iBooks? Do you think Guerrilla Bob is hampered by its linear play, or do the secret areas make up for it? 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.