Download the Cafe World Game Bar, Receive 5 Cafe Cash and Spices!

It’s that time once again – time for Zynga to announce a promotion that will see users of one of their games receiving an instant prize for downloading the Zynga Game Bar. In this case, it’s Cafe World users who are receiving a bonus, in the form of free Cafe Cash.

For those that have never downloaded the Zynga Game Bar in the past, you’ll need to do so by clicking on this link. So long as you are running an updated version of either Internet Explorer or Firefox, you will be able to download the toolbar to your browser.

After doing so, simply enter the game from the toolbar, and you’ll receive 5 Cafe Cash, absolutely free. After this, for every eight hours that you use the bar (that is, if you use the bar to enter the game every eight hours), you’ll receive three premium spices, also for free. These could be spices that lower the remaining cooking time on dishes, ones that add extra mastery points or extra servings to a dish and so on.

As for the bar itself, it’s a handy little tool that will keep track of how many hours you have left before your dishes are ready to serve, and also grants you initial access to be one of the first to learn about new limited edition items or sales.

For those that have already downloaded the Zynga Game Bar for another of the developer’s games, like FarmVille, FrontierVille or Mafia Wars, you do not have to uninstall and re-download the bar for this to work. Simply choose Cafe World from the drop down menu of games on the far left side of the toolbar, and click on Cafe World. This loads in that particular toolbar, with that game’s specific stats, and should allow you to earn the 5 free Cafe Cash by entering the game.

What will you do with your free Cafe Cash?

CrowdStar Launches Pop Boom on Facebook – A Frisky Hands-On

While CrowdStar may be famous for Facebook games like Happy Pets, Happy Island, and Happy Aquarium, they aren’t content with simply resting on those games, as they have expanded their catalogue yet again, this time with a puzzle game in the same vein as PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz, called Pop Boom.

Pop Boom is a unique take on the match three genre, that gives you 60 seconds to earn as many points as possible by popping bubbles. Gameplay is quite simple. You’ll be able to stare at your game board for as long as you’d like, to formulate a plan, and can then click on any bubble on the screen to begin the countdown from 60 seconds.

The bubble that you click on will be picked up from the game board, and can then be carried around (simply move your mouse around the screen) and dropped anywhere on the board that you’d like. This will swap the bubble you’re holding with the bubble you click on. The goal, then, would be to click on a bubble and then drop it next to two more bubbles of the same color, to create a match of three or more like-colored bubbles, thus making them explode, giving you points.

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Combos are created as bubbles move from the bottom of the screen towards the top to fill in the empty spaces created by explosions, and as you perform well, bomb bubbles appear at random that can be destroyed in the same way as a normal bubble, causing an explosion that takes out surrounding orbs. If the explosion happens to expand and hit a surrounding bomb, it too will explode, causing a ripple effect that can greatly increase your score.

Additionally, if you create a cross with your bubbles, or any match that includes bubbles going in both the horizontal and vertical directions, you’ll take out the entire row and column at the same time, regardless of whether or not all bubbles in that column or row matched.

After your 60 seconds are up, you’ll earn a certain amount of in-game coins, based on your score. These coins can be used to purchase two kinds of power-ups, including ones that make more bombs appear at the start of the game, or add five additional seconds to your clock, giving you 65 seconds in a game, rather than 60.

Your top score will be shown on a leaderboard on the right-hand side of the screen, which shows your progress against friends that have also played the app. You can click on any friends’ picture to challenge them to beat your score personally, or you can also publish a challenge item to your wall, offering an open challenge for all friends to play the game with you.

If you’d like to give Pop Boom a chance, head over to the game’s page on Facebook. Or, if you’d like to see the game in action, make sure to check out our Frisky Hands-On video of the game below to see the game’s unique twist on traditional match-three gameplay in action.

Purchase Oversized Items in Pet Society’s Newest Theme

No one can say that Playfish isn’t creative when it comes to new themes, as this week we see a creative new theme containing items that will make your pet feel as though they’ve shrunk! Oversized items are now available in several of the games stores, and come in the form of basic, everyday items that have been blown up to extraordinary sizes.

The theme starts off in the Living Room section of the Furniture Store, where you’ll find spools of thread, candles, dice and even a teacup that are entirely oversized. The items seem fairly affordable here, ranging from 350 coins for the Dice Seat to 600 coins for the Teacup Table.

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Also in the Furniture Store, but this time under the Kitchen and Bathroom section, you’ll find a polka-dotted cereal bowl filled with what appear to be Fruit Loops. This item is called the Cereal Bathtub, and it will allow your pet to take a bath in its cereal, for the cost of 3,000 coins to add it to your home.

Finally, in the Bedroom section of the Furniture Store, you’ll find a bed made from a book, and a nightstand made from matchboxes, costing 2,000 and 800 coins, respectively.

Over in the game’s Market, you’ll also find a few interesting items. Under Toys and Collectibles, you’ll find an Oversized Mayor Stamp for 500 coins, while under Party & Gifts you’ll see a new “community building” object in the form of a giant roller skate turned into a car. You’ll need the help of your friends in order to construct the car, as you’ll need 20 parts in order to build it. Each friend that helps will receive some coins as a reward, or if you’d rather simply purchase the car outright, you can do so for 25 Playfish Cash.

In the clothing store, rather than offering themed clothing items for your pets, the items here are accessory items, with an Overgrown Strawberry Hat and a Pet Soda Cap Hat being available for 700 coins each.

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Over in the D.I.Y. Shop, under the Windows & Doors section, you’ll find a Safetypin Window for 1,200 coins, while under Fixtures & Fittings, you’ll see a massive lightbulb called the Giant Ceiling Light, which is available for 600 coins. It glows in the dark, if that helps in your decision as to whether or not to purchase it.

Finally, in the game’s Food Store, you can find three oversized pieces of food in the form of a Pink Giant Candy for 100 coins, a Giant Chocolate Block for 250 coins, and a Giant Minicake for 160 coins.

With some of these items being available just for one week, you’ll want to make sure to head over to the game’s page on Facebook to start shopping for all that you’re interested in as soon as possible.

25 Brain Games: Essential Back-to-School Supplies

Back to school already? Here are 25 social, casual and mobile games that will get your brain in shape before you know it. They’ll also keep you entertained for hours, and (let’s be honest), distract you from all that pesky homework! Did your favorites make the list?

Facebook games:

Brain Buddies by wooga – Brain Buddies offers its users a playful way to determine their brain weight. The game is focusing on a contest among friends to find the one with the heaviest brain. A large set of mini games as well as entertaining graphics make the game fun to play for a long time.

Who Has the Biggest Brain by Playfish – In ‘Who Has The Biggest Brain?’ you are taken through a series of mini games where you test your abilities in 4 areas of your brain: Calculation, Memory, Logic and Visual. The combined score from each of these categories add up to your overall brain rating. A great opportunity to settle the debate, who really does have the biggest brain? After playing a game of ‘Who Has The Biggest Brain?’ you are awarded a ranking, or ‘Brain Type’. There are 27 different brain types that are used to rank you and your friends.

Two other studious selections to try from Playfish are Word Challenge and Geo Challenge.

poweRBrands by Reckitt Benckiser – “Reckitt Benckiser calls the title ‘the first Facebook game of its kind’, as it’s designed to test players’ marketing and business abilities, teach strategy and decision-making skills, and introduce users to the culture and challenges that face the company’s marketers every day.”

DumbVille by GSN – Designed to see just how many brain cells you have kicking around! Tackle quirky questions and puzzle your way through mindless mini-games to rise through the ranks from Village Idiot to Mayor of Dumbville. It’s your chance show your buddies what’s what, but that’s not all. Every time you succeed AND every time your friends fail, you’ll win Oodles – redeemable rewards that you can use to purchase sweepstakes entries and prizes on GSN.com.

Scrabble by Electronic Arts – A new version of the original board game includes built-in chat and dictionary, multiple word lists, dynamic animations, and multiple speed settings for public games. An easy-to-use interface lets you play with anyone who loves the game!

Online games:

Empire Avenue – Reap the benefits of expanding your online influence while buying and selling virtual shares in your best friend, your favorite blogger or that pizza joint down the road – anyone, for free. Connect with other people who like the same things as you, find interesting bloggers to follow, or unearth a cool new business in your home town! This Internet thing is pretty useful, you know, and Empire Avenue helps you find the people and businesses that are relevant to you.

Risk: The Game of Global Domination on Pogo.com – Based on the classic board game of strategic conquest from Hasbro, Risk comes to life online where the object of the game is simple: Global Domination! Establish your military objectives, take command of your army and begin your campaign to rule the world. Risk is a turn based game with each player starting with their own controllable army in an attempt to capture territories from opposing players and control the entire map.

Word Whomp on Pogo.com – This free Pogo.com favorite challenges you to whomp adorable gophers and spell as many words as you can from a given set of letters before the clock runs out. Gophers will dig up veggies and bonuses as you unscramble words. Reach the carrot to enter the bonus round and score big!

Jeopardy on GSN.com – Test your trivia knowledge, just like the actual game show. Select a question from one of the six game categories by clicking on a dollar value under the category of your choice. When the question appears, you may choose to either “Respond” or “Pass.” If you choose to respond, you will have 15 seconds to answer a multiple-choice question. The game will end when you don’t have enough money to play on.

Wheel of Fortune on GSN.com – You can compete for cash and prizes, just like contestants on the actual game show, with 5 turns to solve the word puzzle. Correctly identify consonants or “buy a vowel.” Each successful guess gives you an additional free spin, but the faster you solve the puzzle, the higher your time bonus! When you choose to solve the puzzle, if your answer is correct, you’ll play in the Bonus Round. If not, you’ll lose a turn.

Tiny Planets – “Targetting kids aged six to 14, this game is based on the Tiny Planets animated TV series, and offers six ‘planets’ for users to visit consisting of simple games, web videos, social networking, a virtual world, goods, and currency, and, of course, learning opportunities. Tiny Planets is rich with entertaining and educational activities that focus on space, conservation, science, creativity, and critical thinking skills.”

Fantage.com, a TriplePoint client – A next-generation destination site for children that offers games and adventures to entertain, delight, and promote positive social interaction in an engaging, exciting, safe environment that both kids and parents love. Fantage also provides an age-appropriate, safe social networking experience within a fun virtual world.

FitBrains.com – Provides scientifically developed brain games targeting the five major brain areas: memory, problem solving, concentration, visual spatial, Language. Focus on one brain area or play all the games to give your brain a complete workout. Brain games are a fun way to exercise your brain and an important pillar in living a healthy life. Try your luck and test your skills in games like Travel Quest, Sum Snap and Uber Brain.

iPhone & iPad games:

The Oregon Trail by Gameloft – Assume the role of a wagon leader in a side-view journey where your strategic decisions must ensure the safety of your party along the treacherous Oregon Trail. Overcome the perilous journey to Oregon in America’s Wild West. Just like the real pioneers, experience the decision-making, problem-solving, and role-playing fun of this historical event. A unique strategy/educational game relating the first pioneers’ journey to Western American.

THINK by TriplePoint client, Ravensburger Digital – 16 exercises spread across four distinct categories, all designed to give your mind a rigorous workout in different areas of thought. THINK is currently available in English, Spanish and German. Could your brain use a boost?

RedFish Puzzle by Fresh Planet – “Fun games for smart people.” Fresh Planet offers several brain games on various platforms, including the RedFish series of learning apps for young children on the iPad. RedFish Piano 4 Kids is another good one to check out.

Words with Friends by Newtoy Inc. – Turn-based crossword gaming in your pocket! Not much else to say, besides this game is Scrabble in your pocket, with your friends, in real time… and it’s as addictive as they come 😉

HexaLex by TriplePoint client Nathan Gray – Takes the classic, easy to learn but hard to master crossword game and adds a new dimension. Hexagonal tiles let you play words in three directions instead of two. Words interact in new and interesting ways. But have no fear, you’ll be up and playing in no time, thanks to the tutorial and detailed, built-in help. If you’ve ever played Scrabble, Lexulous, or Words With Friends you’ll feel right at home!

Word Warp by MobilityWare – Word game fans rejoice! If you’ve enjoyed countless hours playing games like TextTwist, Word Scramble, Jumble, Boggle, or Scrabble, then Word Warp is the game for you! Similar to Text Twist, Word Warp is a challenging anagram type of word game in which you try to form as many words as you can out of the six letters you are given before time runs out. You will receive points for each correct word you come up with, but in order to advance to the next level you must come up with at least one word that uses all six letters.

Word Scramble 2 by Zynga – Scramble is the fast fun game of finding words in a jumbled grid. Quickly slide your finder over letters next to each other to make words! Compete with friends and play live with fellow word game fans.

Nintendo games:

Big Brain Academy (Wii and DS) by Nintendo – Weigh Your Brain! With 15 activities that challenge your brain in single-player Test and Practice modes, Big Brain Academy Wii sees how you measure up in five categories: memory, analysis, number crunching, visual recognition, and quick thinking.

My Word Coach (DS) by Ubisoft – My Word Coach, developed in collaboration with linguists, helps players improve their verbal communication and vocabulary in a fun way. Practice need never get boring with six different exercises to choose between. Players can input missing letters from words, spell out the answers to various definitions, choose which word matches a particular definition, form specific words with Scrabble-like tiles, and more. Three levels of difficulty are available, and the game includes a built-in dictionary of over 17,000 words. Two of the games can be played multiplayer over wireless and the data of three different players can be saved.

Personal Trainer: Math (DS) by Nintendo – Makes learning fun with fast-paced, high-speed arithmetic problems that keep your math basics fresh, from addition to subtraction and multiplication to division. Daily math drills and an attendance record help keep you on track. As your calculation speed improves, earn medals in each exercise to prove your mathematical mastery! 40 different exercises, ranging in difficulty from simple to elaborate calculations, provide tons of ways to build on your knowledge and improve your arithmetic skills until all your math worries evaporate forever!

My Virtual Tutor: Reading Kindergarten to 1st Grade(DS) by Mentor Interactive – By combining the kid-friendly Nintendo DS with a proven reading curriculum developed and tested at the University of Colorado, My Virtual Tutor: Reading makes learning reading skills fun, affordable and portable. Through interactive books, school age and grade relevant phonics instruction and fun quiz modes, your child will learn the comprehension, phonics, fluency and vocabulary necessary to become an expert reader, all while having fun with their Nintendo DS.

Brain Age (DS) by Nintendo – The title is a series of minigames designed to give your brain a workout. The 17 engaging activities are all designed to help work your brain and increase blood flow to the prefrontal cortex. Whether you’re playing simple songs on a piano keyboard or monitoring the photo finish of a footrace, you’ll love your new mental workout!

Get Some Ink With Tattoo City on Facebook – A Frisky Hands-On

If the idea of running a clothing store, or a pet spa are just two bland for you, how does the idea of running a Tattoo Parlor sound to you? You can do just that in Wonderhill’s Tattoo City on Facebook.

The goal of the game is simple – create the biggest and best tattoo parlor in existence by tattooing your customers and earning money. The game requires more actual interaction on your part than other Facebook games, as you’ll earn money by taking “shifts,” which are active periods when your Tattoo Parlor is open.

You’ll be able to serve the customers who come in by deciphering their wants (very simplistic riddles of sorts), and choosing a tattoo pattern that matches their desires. For a couple of examples, someone might ask for a tattoo that is “red and yellow, on my arm,” and you would then look for a design that contained both yellow and red. Click on the design and you’re shown a particular area of the body, with arrows allowing you to choose different body parts. In this example, you would obviously choose the picture of the arm.

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Once the choice has been made, your avatar goes to work at tattooing the customer, with the job being done in a matter of seconds. You’ll gain coins and experience points for a job well done, and more customers will line up to be served next. If you take too long in making a decision, waiting customers can become impatient and leave the shop.

After each shift, you have a few options for gameplay. You can either start another shift immediately, or you can go about spending your newly earned coins by redecorating the parlor or customizing your avatar. Your parlor can be upgraded with different flooring, different wallpaper options, more tattoo chairs, new windows, doors, and accessory items – mostly everything about the tattoo parlor can be changed to fit your own tastes.

In addition, your avatar can be customized with various skin and hair colors (including the outlandish like pink or purple – this is a tattoo parlor after all), different eyes, mouths, hairstyles and of course clothing itself.

As you earn funds, you can expand your shop to hold more decorations, thereby allowing you to add more decorations, and eventually tattoo chairs, allowing you to serve more customers at once.

The game is currently in the beta stages, and isn’t without a few glitches, but if you’d like to try this unique simulation game out, head over to the game’s page on Facebook. Before you go, check out our video hands-on of the game to see exactly what to expect should you give this game a chance.

Is There Anything Zynga Can Do to Reverse FarmVille’s Downturn?

While things may outwardly appear to be full of happiness and light in the world of Zynga’s FarmVille – the game celebrates its (official) first birthday this month, and is, by far, the largest Facebook game on the site, sitting at around 62 million users – when you compare these figures to those found last March, which saw the game peaking at over 83 million players (32 million of which played everyday), that happiness and light turns bleak with sadness. But what is it, exactly, that has caused the game to lose over 21 million players in the span of around four months?

We’ve speculated about the cause of FarmVille’s player loss – the game is, for the lack of a better term, hemorrhaging players, losing 4.4 million players in April, and 7.7 million users in May, as two recent examples – but no one, solid conclusion can be drawn for why players are leaving.

The downturn officially began in March, when Facebook cut-off third party notifications, meaning that, from that point forward, Zynga had to scramble to amass an email distribution list of every player that had ever added the game in order to be able to stay in constant contact with them. Aside from simply annoying players, who may feel that giving out their email address is an attack on their privacy, this meant that Zynga’s amount of “spam” messages to players was immediately, and drastically cut. For the most casual FarmVille players, perhaps this lack of constant “Play our game!” reminders was enough for them to forget about the game.

Other arguments could be made as to why players are leaving – FarmVille grew exponentially through the winter months, and dropped when the weather turned, so could the simple fact that people are spending more time outdoors have anything to do with it? Perhaps it was the previous level cap of level 70 that turned long-time players away, as they felt they had nothing left to accomplish in the game. Financially speaking, could it be Zynga’s seemingly growing reliance on Farm Cash – more and more limited edition items are being released that can only be purchased through such means – that has made players turn tail and run, rather than be tempted into spending real money on virtual items?

Whatever the reason, according to the latest AppData figures, the trend doesn’t really seem to be slowing, as the last month (from June 13 to July 13) shows the game at a loss of 3.7 million players. Granted, this is a far cry from the 7.7 million lost in May, but each time the app gains in users – FarmVille gained 300,000 users from July 5 to July 6, as an example – it drops just as many, or even more, within a matter of days. To our previous example, by July 8, the app had lost 400,000 players, more than 100,000 more than those that joined just days before.

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While we could spend hours speculating as to why players are leaving the game, perhaps the better question to ask is, “What can Zynga do to reverse the trend?” Surely the gaming developer has been thinking the same, but, outside of a promotion with 7-Eleven that put the game’s logo all over the convenience stores’ shelves (and offered free in-game items to those that purchased said branded products), it doesn’t really seem like they’re doing anything to stop it.

We don’t work for Zynga, but perhaps if they took a look at a few of our ideas – the ideas of folks who actively play the game – they may be able to stop the bleeding.

First, while it may be hard to prove scientifically, it’s common knowledge that people love free things. Offer users a free incentive, other than fuel (which can be found in numerous other ways, also for free), and perhaps they’ll take a few seconds to load the game to receive said free item. Make it a good freebie, like a free run of the FarmVille Biplane (which instantly makes crops ready to harvest), or even some free Farm Cash, and users will play the game long enough to perhaps fall in love with it all over again.

Speaking of Farm Cash, where other Zynga games (run by separate teams) like PetVille and Cafe World frequently offer sales or discounts on premium currency packages (“Buy Cafe World Cash and receive 20% more for free!”), FarmVille very rarely, if ever, discounts Farm Cash packages. Perhaps if users were able to receive a few more Farm Cash for their purchase, they would be more willing to pull out their real-world wallet to purchase Zynga’s virtual items.

If they chose not to go that route, one major thing Zynga could do would be to lower the cost of Farm Cash items in the first place. While they would end up spending the same amount of money in the long run, why would a player want to spend $10 on a single item, when they could spend $5 on two different items?

Additionally, the many, many features of the game that require a specific amount of neighbors, or to be a specific level need to be changed. A lower level player will find that the game can actually border on the boring side of things, as they haven’t leveled up to the point of being able to afford a Tractor, Seeder or Harvester, resulting in their clicking on each crop individually, which can take a substantial amount of time, especially on lower internet speeds. They can’t participate in Co-Op Farming, which means they won’t have a chance at that feature’s exclusive items. They can’t expand their farm without a specific amount of neighbors either, which means they can’t add enough crops to their farm to quicken their leveling up and thus get them closer to being able to participate in the aforementioned features (of which they are many more). It’s a vicious cycle, and it is perhaps the biggest argument a player could have about the game.

Another argument comes from the speed of leveling up, which is quite slow, compared to other Facebook games. While games like Social City and Restaurant City offer slow leveling cycles as well, they don’t have as many features locked to lower level players, so the impact is felt less. While, to Zynga’s credit, there has been a leveling tweak that was said to make leveling up an easier process in the game, unless a player has 24 hours of everyday to dedicate to the game, they will still find the process to be a slow one. Why spend the better part of a week trying to level up once in FarmVille, when you can level up three or four times in a competitor’s game in the same amount of time?

On a completely different note, the FarmVille for iPhone app has been incredibly successful amongst players who own iPhones and love the idea of being able to farm anywhere they go. But with its limited functionality, the novelty may very quickly wear off. Zynga needs to get people to play the game more, not less, as the less they play, the less desire they will have to play in the future, as they become distracted by other things. To that end, Zynga could (and probably should) add more exclusive, and even free, items to the iPhone app – items that can’t be found anywhere else, to give players (who, generally speaking, love to collect things by default) more incentive to keep playing, if only to make sure they have one of every new item available.

Speaking of which, while Zynga has already re-released some previously retired limited edition items as permanent additions to the game’s store, they would do well to release more of these items to the public. As the game grows, new players will visit their friends’ farms and will probably be quite jealous of the many limited edition (but now retired) items they see there. Once they find out that they can’t have them, they might be disappointed to the point of giving up on the game because “I’m being punished for not adding the game sooner.” Perhaps Zynga could create a “FarmVille LE Item Re-Release Extravaganza” in the game’s store, letting users spend coins on some of these items, like holiday items, and users will flock to the game in the hopes of completing collections they once thought were lost to them.

Just as we could discuss the reasons for FarmVille’s downturn for hours without end, so too could we develop ways that Zynga could reverse the trend. Will we see the developer take any of these actions in the future? Only time will tell, but for now, make sure to join in on the discussion in the comments below or in our forums. Whether you’re a long-time FarmVille player, a completely new player, or even if you’re one who used to play but has now given up – we want to hear from you. What do you think Zynga can do to stop the loss of players in the game? Or, better yet, if you quit the game, why did you do so, and is there anything Zynga can do to win you back.

iPhone & iPad App Round-Up: Ben & Jerry’s, iChatr, Underground 3D Rollercoaster Rush HD

Underground 3D Rollercoaster Rush HD

 

Bouncing off the success of the iPhone version, Digital Chocolate has released a brand new version of 3D Rollercoaster Rush for the iPad dubbed Underground 3D Rollercoaster Rush HD. This new version supports OpenFeint, along with the iPad’s larger display to make for a more robust game experience.

The idea is that you are racing against time on some of the most badly designed roller coasters available. These coasters are ripe with steep hills, collapsing track, unfinished loops and other obstacles, which you must conquer in order to score the best time possible. Inside Social Games described it as a “racing-puzzle game” and as being frustrating at times, but incredibly rewarding due to the nature of the social integration.

Ben & Jerry’s Scoop of Happiness

Also released recently is a brand new Ben & Jerry’s Scoop of Happiness app based on the ice cream we all know and love. The new version of the app features an augmented reality function called Moo Vision. The idea is unique in that you hold your cup of ice cream to the iPhone camera and it will show you images based on the flavor. The New York Super Fudge Chunk Ice Cream, for instance, will show you Manhattan skyscrapers and lady liberty. Besides explaining these images to you, you may also share them with Twitter or Facebook friends as well.

Along with the augmented reality camera function, the app also features a few fun games to play like Mystic Moo’s Flavor Fortune game which is a crystal ball for deciding which ice cream you should eat next.

iChatr

iChatr has blown up the iPhone 4 world recently by offering what is essentially “Chat Roulette” for the iPhone. Utilizing the iPhone 4′s front facing camera in possibly its greatest fashion, iChatr simply asks that you’re on a WiFi connection and then takes you to a chatting screen in which you talk to random strangers using your phone.

One would hope that requiring an iPhone 4 would be enough to deter any “Nasty Nancys” playing on iChatr, but that’s a risk of playing with the app. It’s free to download if you so choose and have an iPhone 4.

Enter to Win! Zynga + 7-Eleven + Contest = Free Stuff for FarmVille, Mafia Wars & YoVille

Now that you can snag special-edition virtual items for FarmVilleMafia Wars and YoVille by stocking up  on snacks at 7-Eleven – Who doesn’t want to win a free 7-Eleven gift card? (Rhetorical question.)

To celebrate the new Zynga cross-promotion at BuyEarnPlay.com, 7-Eleven (the Integer Group, a FreshWorks agency) has kindly provided Frisky Mongoose with a sizely stack of $10 gift cards to give away to you, our readers!

So how can YOU claim one? Easy! All you have to do is head over to our brand-spanking new forums and leave a comment HERE to enter to win.

Tell us about your favorite special 7-Eleven snack item – is it one that comes with a virtual game prize? (like FarmVille ice cream that comes with a free Neapolitan Cow code, Mafia Wars Brownie Bites that come with a Pepper Shaker weapon code, or a YoVille brownie that comes with a coffee machine code for your virtual home.)

Or can you think of other good cross-promotional items beyond the 20 virtual gifts currently on offer? Perhaps you’d like to see a bag of Jelly Beans that comes with a free Beanstalk code, or gummy worms that come with a free Frisky Mongoose…

Whatever the case, all commenters will be entered in a random drawing and 10 will win a free $10 gift card. You have 1 week to enter, so don’t delay. Contest winners will be announced next Monday and we’ll send gift cards by mail to 10 lucky readers.

CrowdStar Adjusts Pearl Rewards in Happy Aquarium

The next time you login to Happy Aquarium, you’ll likely be met with a pop-up similar to the one at left, letting you know that CrowdStar, the game’s developer, has changed the way that Pearls are awarded in the game. While you’ll still receive a Pearl bonus each time you level up in the game, the amount of Pearls you’ll received has now increased.

While we haven’t figured out the exact formula for leveling up thus far, we do know that to compensate for the change, CrowdStar is offering users a one-time bonus of extra Pearls, with a larger amount being given away depending on your level.

As an example, as a level 23 user, I received 16 Pearls as a bonus due to the new calculations. How many bonus Pearls did you receive? Or, more importantly, if you’re a user who stopped playing Happy Aquarium due to the game’s increasing reliance on premium currency, will this be enough to make you come back?

Zynga Tweaks FarmVille Fertilization Timer & Tuscan Wedding Ingredients

In addition to the new Move and Recycle tools released in FarmVille last night, and the Cracked Ribbon, Zynga has also made a few “behind the scenes” changes (if you will) that deal with the more technical aspects of the game, but still affect all users.

First, they have changed the timer on fertilizing your neighbors’ crops. Where the timer used to be set at once every 24 hour period (meaning that if you fertilized their farm at, say, 6 PM, you couldn’t fertilize again until after 6 PM the next day), the timer now automatically resets for all users at midnight. This means that if you’d like to get in on the bonuses associated with fertilizing crops, you could start fertilizing a short while before midnight and then fertilize again once the clock flips over to the new day.

Lastly, for those who were looking to get ahead by sending Wedding Tent ingredients from the free gifts page by circumventing the locks associated with the ingredients (the available ingredient switches every two days), your progress has now been foiled, as Zynga has announced that these links no longer work. To put it plainly, the game now “knows” that you shouldn’t be sending that ingredient, as it isn’t available, and won’t let you cheat.

Head over to the game’s page to see if you can fertilize anymore of your neighbors’ crops.