I was looking through the user reviews of Pipes Lite on the App Store, and one review caught my attention:

"Rip off" by Ahnt

At first, I didn’t think much of it. Then I decided… to try out Loops of Zen and see if it was true. I may be biased (OK, let’s be honest, I’m obviously biased), but I believe Pipes is far superior to Loops of Zen.

Let’s break down this review point by point:

  1. “Ahnt” claims that Pipes is a Loops of Zen ripoff
  2. “Ahnt” claims that Pipes is a very bad game

Point 1 is simply a lie. I originally released the J2ME version of Pipes in April 2006 on GetJar.com. Loops was developed over two years later in September 2008. I won’t claim that Pipes was my own original idea, but it certainly isn’t a Loops ripoff. If I could travel through time, I’d find much better things to do than copy games from the future and give them away or sell them for next to nothing.

Point 1: Destroyed

Point 2, “Pipes is a very bad game,” is obviously more subjective. I think it’s safe to say, though, that Pipes is at least as good as Loops of Zen. Let’s compare features:

Pipes Loops of Zen
11 board sizes 1 board size
High quality graphics Basic non-offensive graphics
Clear, easily-identifiable puzzle pieces Confusing, complex puzzle pieces
Virtually unlimited random puzzles 24 “levels”
Personal best times No time tracking, online or offline
Online leaderboard/best times  
Piece locking  
And more  

Again, this point is subjective, but I’m gonna go ahead and say:

Point 2: Put In Its Place

So what?

All of this is interesting enough… or maybe not, depending on your point of view 🙂 But here’s where it gets even better. I wonder who this “Ahnt” is anyway? Wait a minute…

According to the App Store, Loops of Zen was developed by Dr. Arend Hintze. Wait another minute…

Dr. Arend Hintze

Certainly that’s just a coincidence. Right? Right? Let’s take a look at some of Ahnt’s other reviews. All of these reviews come from the App Store in iTunes. To see them, look up his review of Pipes Lite, then click on the “by Ahnt” link.

Orion’s Belt Lite: 1 star - no comments
WritePad: 1 star - no comments
DizzyBeeFree: 1 star - no comments
Rolando Lite: 1 star - no comments
Fastlane Street Racing Lite: 1 star - no comments
iShoot Lite: 1 star - no comments

Wow, this guy just doesn’t like anything! Not even iShoot or Fastlane, which I believe have each reached #1 on the App Store in the past (if not for the entire store, then at least #1 within their respective game genres). I guess I should feel priviliged to even get 2 stars! Oh, but what did he rate Loops of Zen, you ask?

Loops of Zen Lite (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars - “…obviously the game-designer listned! [sic] Thank you!”

Well, naturally. But I wonder…

titriplos (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars - “This is so much better than most other connect3 games. You have so many options…”

tbamfh (by Dr. Arend Hintze, and no I’m not making these titles up): 5 stars - “What a surprise! I love it….”

Maybe not quite as conclusive as a fingerprint or a DNA sample, but it’s pretty clear to me that the doctor is going around writing bad reviews for all the apps he considers threatening to his own. Not only that, he’s writing positive reviews for his own games as if he were just another customer in the App Store.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s look at one more of Ahnt’s reviews:

platelets (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars - “I released a version where I deactivated some collisions, gimme a few days and it will be fixed.”

WOW - most developers would just post that in the app info, but this guy decides to give himself a 5-star review while he’s at it. Oh, and to completely expose his own little self-review scheme.

I’m flattered that he considers Pipes enough of a threat to go out of his way and actually write up a review. Um, thanks? I’m just glad I’m not one of his students!