new_iphones_5s_5cIt is finally here! The long-awaited iOS 7 is out along with the shiny new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

Thousands (Millions?) of people quickly hopped on the app store and went looking for the sexiest and flashiest apps to show off their new devices or mobile operating system.It is only natural after all to want to show off your shiny new paint job. Apple’s iOS 7 is a very divisive new user experience, as anyone following the significant volume of screaming (tweeting) from the (virtual) hilltops fighting the changes tooth and nail. Many, myself included, love the high-contrast, clean, and modern look that iOS 7 features, while others are refusing to update, swearing by their current UX….at least until “Candy Crush Saga 2” or “Star Wars Angry Birds 25: Journey To The Center Of The Marvel Universe – Presented by Monster Energy Drink” release and force them to update or miss out on some epic time-wasting adventures.

Regardless of one’s view on the matter, we have to all agree that this is a significant change in hardware and user experience. Originally I was planning on writing an article showcasing the changes from an iPhone 5 user’s perspective, but then I realized those are a dime a dozen online.

Then something clicked for me….well it was more of an audible “donk”. I discovered something went wrong with my iPhone update. It seems my backup (and my backup of my backup) was corrupted somehow. The “donk” was my computer warning me that the update could not be completed and I would have to restore my iPhone to factory settings. My heart stopped and I shed a single tear as I thought of all my lost apps and game saves. Finally, composing myself, I began the restore process. I poured some of my generic “Cola” down the drain for my fallen iPhone data, and then I waited.

After what seemed like an eternity of me staring at the inching progress bar on my iDevice, I was greeted with a white “Welcome” screen. After setting everything up, I decided to start the process of downloading my apps again, using this opportunity to only install games and apps I use on a regular basis or haven’t had a chance to complete.

purchased-01I paged down the “purchased” section of my iPhone’s App Store, and smiled with a bit of wistful nostalgia as I noted a few games I had a great time playing, but deleted due to time. I always enjoy looking back at some of the fun times I have had with my phone, so I kept scrolling further and further back in my purchase history. It was like travelling back in time! I hit a patch of apps and games I downloaded the day I got my iPhone 5, inspired to break in my shiny new toy at the time. Further back, I see the apps I installed when I was given my iPad 2 by my amazing wife for Christmas two years ago. Then even further back with my iPod touch 2nd gen and my briefly-owned second hand iPhone 3G with overheating antenna.

After being stunned by the amount of OpenFeint and Plus+ integrated apps that no longer function – and the amount I spent on these games – I decided to re-install some of the apps that I loved but haven’t used in years. Some of them I even reviewed for this very site. I wanted to see how they fared now, with all the hardware changes, screen resolution and size increases, memory updates, interface and feature overhauls, and dramatically different handsets.

What I discovered is very interesting, and says quite a bit about longevity and sustainability in the ever-increasing app market. Some developers have kept up with their apps, updating them with the new Game Center features and screen size/resolution changes, and others simply don’t function at all. I suggest you do the same someday, you may find some of your favorite game developers have given a significant amount of effort to keep the games you love playable, and others don’t even exist as more than a memory.

Here are a few of the apps I have reviewed for, from a new perspective as played on an iPhone 5 (16GB) running iOS 7. The original reviews still stand as written.

Soul Card Master

developed by SK Planet

Verdict: This game did not age well. Considering the game has not been updated since 2009, I can understand it not having retina graphics or expanded to fit the larger iPhone 5 screen. Unfortunately, the game has not been updated since it was reviewed nearly 3 years ago. It quietly sits at v1.0.2 in the app store. While the game mechanics and concept hold up fine, the game itself is nearly unplayable due to extreme lag in all screens and the app frequently not registering taps. No multitasking and somehow terrible sound really makes this game show its age.

The developer, SK Planet, hasn’t released anything since 2010 so it is probably safe to assume that this company no longer exists.

Date Reviewed: November 13, 2010
App Last Updated: November 10, 2009

Rage HD

developed by ID Software

Verdict: There is no trace of Rage on the app store. A bit of Google-fu tells me the app was updated sometime in 2012, but sometime after that it must have been pulled.

Date Reviewed: November 18, 2010
App Last Updated: Sometime in 2012?

Hedgehog Launch

developed by Armor Games

Verdict: The game does feature retina graphics, but has not been updated to fit the larger screen, as it hasn’t been updated since 2010. The game plays exactly as it did when I reviewed it, and was again deleted pretty soon after.

Date Reviewed: December 10, 2010
App Last Updated: December 8, 2010

Crazi Taxi!

developed by Michael’s Creations

Verdict: To no one’s surprise or disappointment this game is no longer available on the App Store. Fantastic. The developer’s site is nonexistent as well, which just goes further to prove that it was yet another amateur cash-grab that got through the process before Apple started really cracking down on the App Store.

Date Reviewed: December 12, 2010
App Last Updated: Unknown

Rock Band Reloaded

developed by Harmonix/Electronic Arts

Verdict: No longer on the App Store. This was a well-publicized app removal. EA Mobile made no secret they would be no longer supporting Rock Band/Rock Band Reloaded and would be removed on July 31st, 2012. Sadly, if you don’t have backups of this game on your computer, you simply can’t play it anymore.

Date Reviewed: December 29, 2010
App Last Updated: Unknown


developed by Electronic Arts

Verdict: NBA Jam is still one of my favorite video game franchises, and it plays fairly well for a game that is nearly 3 years old. There is a bit of stuttering from time to time that I did not notice on my older device, but it doesn’t impede gameplay enough to be an issue.

Date Reviewed: February 25, 2011
App Last Updated: December 9, 2011

Tiny Wings

developed by Andreas Illger

Verdict: This is how you support a game. I know my original review was a glowing recommendation two years ago, but now I say it is still a must-buy! The continual updates that Andreas Illiger put out, including full screen graphics and additional play modes with no extra charge shows how you can do things right while keeping your app relevant and supporting your existing user base. Kudos to you sir.

Date Reviewed: June 3, 2011
App Last Updated: October 17, 2012

Kard Combat

developed by Hothead Games, Inc

Verdict: Kard Combat was enjoyable, even with the issues I encountered while playing it, and the game is still fun for a little while, but the lack of updates or screen size support hurt immensely. Card-based games need all the screen real estate they can get, and they become quite repetitive after nearly two years without any updates or additional cards.

The OpenFeint login screen still sits there, waiting to error out as the service no longer exists, and that really just shows the game was abandoned after the last update. Hothead Games are still making new apps, so the company clearly still exists, but they are completely different in theme and concept than Kard Combat. They seem to be focusing exclusively on “Big Win” sports titles, which all have seen semi-frequent updates over the last year or so. They had a great concept in Kard Combat, but I feel that only a re-release or a sequel could break into the charts these days.

Date Reviewed: August 09, 2011
App Last Updated: November 3, 2011

Ascension: Chronicle Of the Godslayer

developed by Playdek

Verdict: Ascension has been continually updated since it released, seeing new sets regularly added and features constantly updated. This is simply fantastic support for a great card game. It is almost perfect, actually. The sad truth is Stone Blade Entertainment is taking the reigns from Playdek in 2014, and will be releasing their own “Ascension Online” next summer.(See Brett’s explanation on the subject here: At that point, the Playdek app will no longer be available to download and online play will be discontinued as well. It is very unlikely that purchases made in the Playdek version will transfer over, but we can always cross our fingers and do other silly superstitious things, right?

Ascension is a great example of our changing perspective in ownership of our games to that of a service. The game will still exist but in a new form from a different company, and of course, for a new price. I can understand the game’s creators wanting to do things themselves, it is their baby after all, but I can’t help but feel a pang of irritation now every time I start up Ascension. I have spent a considerable amount on In-App Purchases, and for me to even continue playing with my friends and fellow writers from AppAddict, I will have to re-buy the same game.

Did I get great value for my money? Absolutely. Did I know this was possible? Sure, but it really isn’t very common for this sort of thing to happen, so I felt it was unlikely due to the success of the game in Playdek’s hands. It is a melancholy feeling since I am happy the game will continue, but sad that I will being forced to pay again for what I have already paid or not play at all. This is a somewhat unique experience compared to modern PC gaming and consoles, and will only become more common as time goes on. The closest analogy would be yearly console sports games iterations that no longer have online functionality after a number of years.

Date Reviewed: September 30, 2011
App Last Updated: September 18, 2013 (with iOS 7 support)

Various other apps I toyed with either didn’t work, crashed constantly, or more commonly, simply didn’t exist anymore. Some seemed to be almost impossible to play due to the game not registering my taps and touches properly, and no real explanation as to why. It is most likely something technical that prevents updating long-dormant apps that I wouldn’t understand.

What about you? What apps did you love that are lost to time, or do you still have on your iDevice that you are surprised you still play?