You love your Apple iPod and for good reason: It's easy to navigate through your extensive music collection; subscribing to free podcasts is a breeze thanks to Apple's intuitive iTunes Store; and there are thousands of fun accessories designed to give your iPod additional functionality.
Peggle for the iPod is great fun at a great $4.99 price.
You can now add another reason: great games. More than 20 downloadable digital diversions are now offered including Ms. Pac-Man, Sudoku, Texas Hold 'Em and soon, Pole Position: Remix, based on Namco's early '80s arcade racing game. The games are playable on your iPod Nano with video (from $149), iPod Classic (from $249) or fifth-generation iPod.
Here's a closer look at the two of the latest releases, Peggle and Phase, each offering a very different gaming experience but both well worth the nominal $4.99 price tag.
In case you've never played the PC version since it debuted in March, Peggle can best be described as a modern-day pachinko amusement game, where you must aim and fire a silver ball at the top of the screen and watch as gravity helps it fall toward the bottom, hitting multicolored pegs along the way. If the ball falls into the moving bucket that glides back and forth horizontally at the bottom of the screen, you'll be awarded with a free ball. The goal is to clear all the orange pegs before you run out of balls.
Because the game doesn't require quick reflexes, which might be tough with the unit's click wheel, Peggle plays like a charm on the iPod. The strategy lies in the direction you shoot the ball, and when and how to best take advantage of each stage's mascot, a cute creature that can help you along the way.
As the silver ball moves toward the final peg, a drum roll crescendos into Beethoven's Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony, followed by a rainbow and bonus points.
Along with its attractive graphics, Peggle on the iPod also lets you listen to your own music playlists while playing the game, and includes all 55 levels, 75 Grand Master challenges and a two-player mode found in the original.
Leave it to the creators of the wildly popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games to developer a fun musical sensation for your iPod.
Called Phase, and subtitled "Your Music is the Game," this rhythm puzzler challenges you to use the rotating iPod click wheel to jam along with songs from your iPod or with the Phase soundtrack (recommended tune: Bang Camaro's Nightlife Commando).
The goal of the game is to tap to the beat of the music, catching notes to earn points and stars. As the colored notes move toward you, it's your task to rotate the wheel onto the correct target and press the center button once the note passes through it. Guitar Hero fans will immediately understand the familiar game mechanic.
Bonus points can be awarded for catching sweeps and phrases by sliding the iPod wheel along a pattern on the road. This can get tricky to master, though, so it might take some practice.
The two main game modes in Phase are QuickSpin (play one song at a time to see how many points you can rack up) and Marathon (play through increasingly difficult songs for a bigger final score). Each mode lets you choose from one of three difficulty levels.
Phase is perfect for music lovers in search of something to do while enjoying their favorite artists. E-mail to a friend