Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

2011 in review!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Just a few numbers.

It’s been over a year since Orion and I first started Apple and Orion Reviews.  First off, thanks to everyone who has read our site on a regular basis, and thanks to everyone else who clicked on our link in a Google search.

Since it’s been so long, and we haven’t had a post in a while, I wanted to go through some stats and see how A&O has been doing.  It turns out most posts only have a few views, but there are also a few posts that have a couple thousand views.  Here’s the breakdown:

Unfortunately, graphing everything together causes most of the posts’ hits to be flattened into lines that are impossible to see, so we graphed again, this time looking at the Top 10 and All other posts.

Well, I think it’s hilarious that the Tiny Wings post has 5x more hits than the second highest, which is just the Home Page.  Then comes the two Thor posts, Hanna, Rango, The Cove, and Tangled.

I’m really interested to see if any other post will ever overtake Tiny Wings; I think timing turned out to be a big issue, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to see newer movies and post earlier about them.  As always, thanks for reading!

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

Hooray for birds with Tiny Wings!

(See original tips post here.)

Categories: Misc Tags: , , ,

On iPhone Games (Also, Tiny Wings tips/tutorial!)

Taking another break from the typical movie review, I’d like to bring you guys an iPhone App review!  I mostly used my phone for reading news at first, but have since progressed into less and less productive use of this excellent mobile device.  Among the games that I have played and enjoyed are: Sushi Cat, Flood-It!, Paper Ninja, Charmed, Cat Physics, Mega Jump, and iJewels.  But there have been several extraordinary games, and I’d like to share them with you.  (I’ve also included a Tiny Wings Tips section at the bottom of this review!)

Among the level-based games, I think the best definitely have to be Cut the Rope, Trainyard, and Angry Birds.  Of these, Angry Birds is the most famous, yet I fail to see why.  One simply drags a bird back in a slingshot, and launches it forwards to knock over structures and destroy evil green pigs.  It uses good physics-based motions, includes an assortment of different powered birds, and has a lot of levels.  Actually, I thought Angry Birds was kind of boring.

Usually, these level-based games have some sort of a smaller, free version that people test before buying the full version of the game, even when the full version is usually only $0.99 itself.  Trainyard is a notable exception, in that its free Trainyard Express has levels that are unique from the full game.  I think Trainyard has been my favorite puzzle game so far – one guy developed it in his spare time, see the story here (  It employs an excellent puzzle system set in a trainyard, where one has to lead colored trains into colored boxes.  Sounds simple, but Trainyard can get really hard, really fast.  The levels are especially well-designed, teaching the user the tricks of the trade, and then immediately putting them to the test.

Lastly among these, Cut the Rope is an adorable game.  A little monster named Om Nom arrives on your doorstep, and you must feed it candy!  This game really uses the multitouch abilities of the iPhone in an intuitive way, cutting ropes to let candy drop.  The levels are simple, well-designed, and most importantly, super cute!  Among the variety of attributes that arise in later levels, my favorite have got to be portal-esque socks, where the candy goes in one sock and shoots out the other, momentum conserved (as in Portal).  Cut the Rope’s updates sometimes include new levels, so the game never stops growing.

Among the progression-based games, my favorites have definitely been Doodle Jump and Tiny Wings.  These both have simple, intuitive gameplay, based on innovative use of the iPhone’s controls.  Doodle Jump is a tilt-based game similar to Orisinal’s Winterbells, where you play a little green doodlebug that jumps from platform to platform.  Along the way, difficulty increases as platforms move and vanish, and monsters appear.  There are a nice variety of maps and powerups, along with several achievements, which help feed the addiction.

And lastly, my newest addiction is Tiny Wings.  This game is ridiculously cute and sweet – the description states, “You have always dreamed of flying – but your wings are tiny.  Luckily the world is full of beautiful hills.”  That’s the premise behind Tiny Wings – using hills to build momentum in order to “fly.”  This game has cute music, although the bird sounds kind of like a Furby, and the hills change colors every day.  There are also nest upgrades and different islands, but I think Tiny Wings could definitely use some more features.  Since this is only version 1 though, I’m sure we can expect to see a lot more from Andreas Illiger soon.

Here is the trailer for Tiny Wings.  It is pretty damn adorable.

Now, as promised, TINY WINGS TIPS/TUTORIAL/WALKTHROUGH!  I’ve only had the game for four days, but I’ve fallen in love with it.  I’m currently at a high score of ~150,000 and working on upgrading my nest from x24 (update: now on the last objective set, x26! Update2: beat all objectives!).  Last I checked, international high scores were high 200,000s, so if I keep at it, maybe there’s hope!  Anyway, here’s my advice:

First, read the HELP section to learn the rules!  This way, you’ll know how many points you get for everything, and what to aim for!  Of course, these points will be multiplied depending on your nest.

The goal is to get as far as you can before the sun sets.  Each time you fly across the ocean to a new island, you fly faster than the sun, and so it appears like time is turning back.  If you find you are running out of time, try to get to the next island for a little boost in time!

To get perfect slides, aim to have the bird hit the ground on the downhill part, slide through the bottom valley, and leave the ground while heading uphill.  (See white splotchy line in picture.)

  • You have to land from the air and end in the air in order to qualify for a perfect slide, thus, you cannot get a perfect slide if you stay on the ground from hill to hill.  You have to fly over at least one hill/valley and then land in order for it to count.

Fever mode is key to getting a high score.  After three perfect slides, the bird will go into fever mode, and star sparkles will stream from his tail.  During this time, which will continue as long as perfect slides are made, your score will be doubled.

  • Since score is computed by distance, it is especially important to get into fever mode at the end of one island – the score from entire distance of the ocean between islands will be doubled.

Upgrade your nest!  Check the objectives on the main screen to see what you need to do in order to get to the next nest.  This is key in obtaining a high score, because each nest multiples your score by some number, and better nests have higher multipliers!

  • This is not hard if you focus on the objectives, but objectives rarely happen of their own accord, so make sure to actively accomplish them!
  • This will also improve your game in general; Orion told me a study about how people will plateau their typing speeds, and break past the plateau through focusing on improving little details.

Additional sources of score include coins, speedcoins, and cloud touches.

  • I would ignore coins unless you need them for a nest upgrade; it is much better to maintain a smooth momentum than to nab a few coins.
  • Cloud touches (aka all the goals for one nest upgrade) are good, and are easily achieved right at the beginning of a new island, because of all the momentum accumulated flying over the ocean.  Cloud touches are also easier with small, steep/deep hills, because of the upward elevation.  Blue speedcoins can help cloud touches as well.
  • Blue speedcoins will help you go faster, but I also wouldn’t suggest going for them unless they happen to be on your way.

Specific nest up advice:

  • “Get 200 coins”  – this is hard if you don’t focus on it.  I can go many games without getting 200 coins; the trick is to go slowly.  Especially at the end of each island, the long string of coins is easy to miss if you’re going too quickly.

  • “Get 10 perfect slides on island 1” – this sounds hard at first, but there are a lot of hills on island 1.  The trick to this objective is to not sail high off the ground.  The ideal movement is to get one perfect slide, fly over one valley, and then bring the bird back down right away for another perfect slide; basically, try to hit every other valley perfectly.  Quickly tapping the screen rather than pressing/holding is a good technique to slow down the bird’s movement.
  • “Get to 4th island without a perfect slide” (to upgrade to Nest x26) – this might sound ridiculous at first, but turned out to be surprisingly easy.  Since a slide only counts as a ‘perfect slide’ if the bird flies over a hill before landing, as long as you stay close to the ground, you won’t get any perfect slides.  Try to tap or hold right after you get to the top of a hill, so you end up gliding up and down the hills at a reasonable speed, but never actually fly off the ground.
  • “34 seconds in fever mode” (for Nest x26) – I got stuck on this for a while; I was originally trying to get all of islands 1 and 2 in fever mode, and would restart the game if I messed up.  However, I actually ended up getting it at the end of island 4 and the beginning of island 5, which has a lot of small and regular hills (see above image for example).  This objective is all about time, not distance, so go as slow as you can by tapping the screen (as opposed to pressing and holding).  Tapping gives you more control, changing the bird’s speed bit by bit rather than all of a sudden.  Also, if you’re tapping, as long as you land somewhere before the valley, you will likely get a perfect slide.

Good luck, and have fun beating all your friends!  If you have any questions or suggestions for this tips page, let me know in the comments!

Oscar Turnouts!

February 27, 2011 1 comment

Aaand the Oscars are over!  Here are the night’s results, with bolded movies predicted by either Apple or Orion.

Overall, Apple got 10 correct, and Orion got 9 correct.  See original prediction posts for correct ones.

1. Best Picture: “The King’s Speech.”
2. Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech.”
3. Actress: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan.”
4. Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter.”
5. Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter.”
6. Directing: Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech.” (Apple – I seriously thought David Fincher was going to take this one home.  As it was, “Social Network” barely got anything.)
7. Foreign Language Film: “In a Better World,” Denmark.
8. Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network.”
9. Original Screenplay: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech.” (Orion – not “Inception”?)
10. Animated Feature Film: “Toy Story 3.”
11. Art Direction: “Alice in Wonderland.”
12. Cinematography: “Inception.”
13. Sound Mixing: “Inception.”
14. Sound Editing: “Inception.”
15. Original Score: “The Social Network,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
16. Original Song: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” Randy Newman.
17. Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland.”
18. Documentary Feature: “Inside Job.”
19. Documentary (short subject): “Strangers No More.”
20. Film Editing: “The Social Network.”
21. Makeup: “The Wolfman.”
22. Animated Short Film: “The Lost Thing.”
23. Live Action Short Film: “God of Love.”
24. Visual Effects: “Inception.”

Together, 13/24.  We missed a lot of the shorts, as well as the more specific categories.  Next year, everyone, next year!

Categories: Misc, Snap Judgment

Apple’s Oscar Predictions:

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Update: Bolded ones correct.

Come Sunday night, thanks to a great idea by J, we will be watching the Oscars!  But this will be no ordinary Oscar-watching get-together, as we will have our pride and alcohol tolerance on the line.  The game goes like this: put up predictions for the big categories.  IF (prediction=true) {be happy} ELSE {take a shot!}.

Here are my predictions, based on personal movie experience, awards so far, and also the online critic mood.  (Nominations can be found here.)

  • Best picture: The King’s Speech (though maybe The Social Network?)
  • Best Actor: Colin Firth
  • Best Actress: Natalie Portman
  • Supporting Actor: Christian Bale
  • Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
  • Original Screenplay: Inception
  • Best Animated: Toy Story 3
  • Original Score: The Social Network
  • Original Song: Tangled
  • Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
  • Cinematography: True Grit
  • Costume: The King’s Speech
  • Makeup: The Wolfman
  • Sound Editing: Tron
  • Sound Mixing: The Social Network
  • Visual Effects: Alice in Wonderland
  • Best Documentary: Inside Job
  • Short Documentary: The Warriors of Qiugang
  • Film Editing: Black Swan
  • Best Foreign: Biutiful
  • Best animated short: Day & Night
  • Best Live Short: Wish 143

Then again, last year I totally thought that either James Cameron or “Avatar” had to take home one of the two big awards, if not both.  What do you guys think?

Categories: Misc, Snap Judgment

Of explanation and discussion: Screen Rant’s articles on “Shutter Island” and “Inception.”

Who doesn’t love a movie with an ambiguous ending?  Who doesn’t love to discuss and argue whether or not Cobb was dreaming at the end, or if everything that happened on Shutter Island was a big setup?  (Side point – notice that both of these movies include Leonardo DiCaprio, and both characters have crazy wives.)

Well, apparently many people do NOT, in fact, feel satisfied with ambiguity.   After pushing through our own collection of data, Orion and I turned to the internet to settle our differences, and we found two excellent articles on the website, Screen Rant.

Here ( is the link to discussing the ending to Shutter Island.  I have to say that the fire/water theory is quite sharp, and well hashed-out.

Here ( is the link to an explanation of the details in Inception.  I discussed reviews that babbled over Inception’s complexity (one described it as taking a test and failing over and over again) with my friend Kathy Huang, and we agreed that we both felt like we had a solid understanding of the film, and I still feel like there wasn’t too much to handle.  Nevertheless, the Screen Rant discussion is neat, and links to a well-done and rather creative visual rendering of the ‘dream levels’.   You all know I’m a huge sucker for good graphs and charts (hence my love for XKCD and Indexed).

(Image by Dehas, link here –

I’m starting to think I should quit reviewing films and work on explaining unresolved endings instead.

Categories: Misc