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Chris Kirby

Contributing Writer and Community Manager with the 148Apps Network since April 19, 2010

I'm a little frightened that I'm the oldest writer on staff, but maybe there's someone else here who remembers when a Mac Plus was cutting-edge and the Newton was nothing short of miraculous! I'm a high school English teacher and a volunteer writer for guyslitwire.blogspot.com. I also run the inexplicably useless www.pastpotpete.com.

Connect with Chris via:
Game Center: skinnerbox
Twitter: @skinner_box
Email :: chris.kirby@148apps.com
Personal site :: http://www.pastepotpete.com

App-tastic!

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney-Dual Destinies

 
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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is a direct port of the latest title in the fantastically popular Ace Attorney series. For those unfamiliar with it, the these games are courtroom dramas with a twist of absurdist humor, mostly centered around Phoenix Wright and his rise to become a star defense attorney. By Dual Destinies, the seventh title in the series, Wright and his two protégés are taking on their most exciting and intense cases yet. Each lawyer has their own “special power” that gives them the edge in court and also serves to add unique gameplay mechanics. Since Dual Destinies is a port, given the difference in screen sizes, I was worried that there would be significant loss of video quality when it was scaled up to the iPad. To my surprise, all of the animation is HD. Each cutscene is like watching an anime, and in case you can’t get enough you can always replay them from the main menu. The voice acting and music is really well done and, as with the rest of the Phoenix Wright series, the localization is top-notch. –Jessica Fisher

Vinted

 
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Vinted is the app for vinted.com – a site that lets women post their old clothes for sale, trade, or giveaways and lets them get clothes from others at great, thrift store-ranged prices. I found it by accident, and now it’s turned into an incredible obsession. As someone who spends a lot of time browsing around thrift stores, Vinted is great for being able to do that even from bed. When I first signed up for my account, the service gave me a coupon for $10 toward anything I wanted (this coupon is given to all new users). This did NOT last long. I found dozens of tops, skirts, shoes, and all other things that were just perfect for me. In the time I’ve had it I’ve purchased 11 things, traded with one girl, and sold a few of my older/poorer fitting clothes. –Jade Walker

Godus

 
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I’m an old hand at the Peter Molyneux hype train. I’ve seen the stories of how if you plant a seed in the Fable games, you can return later on to see a tree in its place. I remember when Black & White came out and it was meant to be the ultimate God game. It wasn’t. I’m forgiving, though. I buy every title and appreciate that, while all the promised goods won’t be there, hopefully there’ll be enough to entice me in. Godus is probably one of the most hyped iOS releases in recent times. Does it succeed at making you feel like a God? Not really. It’s quite attractive to look at and offers some much better touch-based controls than the average city/village building game, but it’s still exactly that – a typical civilization/city building simulation. –Jennifer Allen

NPR One

 
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It’s a little too simply done, but in terms of varied radio-based content NPR One does a good job of making it easy to listen to new stories that should hopefully prove to be interesting to you. After a brief sign up process (best circumvented by connecting your Facebook details), there’s nothing particularly awkward about NPR One. You can dive straight into listening to various news clips about all sorts of subjects from politics to entertainment news, with plenty of human interest stories that teach a lot. NPR One learns as you go along in terms of what interests you via you tapping on a button to say it was your sort of thing. That makes the suggestion side of the app increasingly useful and I found it easily recommending me stories that would appeal. –Jennifer Allen

Dragon Quest IV Chapters of the Chosen

 
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Dragon Quest IV Chapters of the Chosen is a highly revered entry in the classic Dragon Quest series. Originally released in 1990 on the Nintendo Entertainment System (and then subsequently remade for the Playstation and Nintendo DS), this update for iOS features great localization, much of the previous remakes’ bonus content, and a control scheme that is well-suited to the platform. All of these features help make Dragon Quest IV still look and play great, even for being a 24 year old game. For those that are unfamiliar, Dragon Quest is one of the most popular RPG franchises in Japan. It is developed by Square Enix, who is also responsible for the Final Fantasy series, though there are quite a few differences between the two. The most distinct difference between them is that Dragon Quest tends to be more iterative on a single, specific vision from a dedicated team of designers whereas Final Fantasy is generally a completely new game and vision centering around a few loose concepts and systems. –Campbell Bird

Rules!

 
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Combining the need for speed with accuracy and good memory skills comes Rules!, a simple puzzle game that’s sure to test your intellectual abilities. Think Simon Says and you’re on the right track. Each level of Rules! requires you to follow a rule. Each rule is simple enough, such as tap on all the green tiles or select all of the animals. The tricky part comes in how these rules pile up. Each level adds a new rule, and you have to remember the earlier ones – up to 10 in all before the game resets. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

The Room

 
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Mobile gamers rarely get to experience truly innovating games. Most of the high-quality titles are simply good at copying others. The Room is an incredible exception to that fact, as it’s the most fun and unusual quest I’ve played in several years. The subject of The Room is a series of intricate and impossibly complex locked cabinets, containing clues about a mysterious discovery the player character needs to uncover. The game quite literally revolves around these lockers. The player needs to move the camera around the locker and try to unlock all of its locks, clasps and seals by a series of actions that might just make a person go crazy. The player needs to find keys, pick combinations, scout the locker for clues – and I’m not being sarcastic when I say that it’s damn easy to get lost around the cabinet. Screenshots don’t do justice to the crazy amount of elements each locker contains, and although there are hints, I got mildly frustrated several times, trying to solve the puzzles, or trying to find what the hell I was supposed to do next. It’s not that frustrating to complete, but it’s quite a challenge. –Tony Kuzmin

Bug Heroes 2

 
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Bug Heroes 2 is a cool mix of tactical base building tactical shooter and cockroaches. What could go wrong? Bug Heroes 2 is about bugs at war. Every slug and ant must do their part. The player moves their two bug team around in real time using an invisible virtual stick and attacking is handled automatically. Depending on which bug is picked the player might blast away at distance or close in for some melee action. During combat grunt bugs like ants with rifles and siege engine grubs are constantly produced on both sides and go about attacking enemies automatically so the battlefield is always full of some matter of six legged carnage or another. The auto produced bugs really give the game a great feel as there is always fighting going on and watching armies of bugs clash is great fun. –Allan Curtis

Gemhero

 
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GemHero makes a terrible first impression since it forces the player to create a “Winnerconnect” account. Facebook login is also available but forcing the player into creating an account before they even get to see the game is a bit much. Then a very silly story appears featuring a knight being turned into a duck and the king assuming that killing the warlock that did it might free him. This is where the player comes in. After this an ad dialogue appears. This is before gameplay even starts. After a short tutorial, the player is given a deck that is mostly comprised of angry sheep and sheep riders, which is kind of a letdown. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played a new Call of Duty, ran around as a goat in Germany, told you how to survive the horrors of the Construct Quarter in Hearthstone, and decided to buy a shiny Super Smash Bros. special edition 3DS. And it’s all right here.

This Week at 148Apps: August 4-8, 2014

App-tastic!

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Blood Bowl

 
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When translating a nearly 30 year old tabletop game like Blood Bowl into a digital format, the folks in charge have to make some decisions. Craft a fairly robust in-game tutorial to ease new players gently into this somewhat complicated quagmire? Or just say “screw it,” assume the target market is going to be almost entirely existing fans of the product, and leave the newbies to sink or swim? Take a guess which direction Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios went with this one. For the uninitiated, Blood Bowl is what would happen if somebody tossed American Football and Rugby into a blender and poured the resulting slurry through a filter made out of the Warhammer fantasy universe. This violent team sport, played by such Warhammer staple races as Orks and Skaven, doesn’t exactly cleave to either of those two inspirations, however. This almost-familiarity players might feel is the entry point where things start getting complicated. –Rob Thomas

Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 2

 
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The sequel to Episode 1, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 2 is just as pleasant but far too short lived – clocking in at only around an hour. Sure that might be a fun hour of solving puzzles, but it never quite gets going. Jacob and Biggie head off to the Crackskull Mountain to solve the secret of Biggie’s childhood, amongst other things. The writing is suitably witty and entertaining, with a smattering of puzzles to break things up, but that’s the problem: it really is only a smattering. 14 puzzles are all that are available here, and while they’re fun and well designed, they’re not particularly original. –Jennifer Allen

Time Tangle-Adventure Time

 
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Using the colorful and immensely popular license of Adventure Time comes Time Tangle – Adventure Time, a title that’s keen to avoid being just another Endless Runner, but fails to truly take advantage of its small sense of purpose. Each session involves spinning a wheel to see what kind of activity must be completed. These generally involve either chasing something, collecting something, or beating something up. The controls are the same but the change in objective does help make you think there’s more to Time Tangle – Adventure Time than there actually is. –Jennifer Allen

iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua Case

 
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I demand a lot from my electronics. Since I became disabled and lost my ability to write, I’ve depended on my touch screen devices for everything – especially my college work. Being in an environmental biology program means I’m in the field a lot in many weather conditions. Naturally when it rains I need a waterproof case, but my phone always runs out of juice before the day is out. Most battery cases didn’t offer the waterproofing that I need; until I found iBattz’s new case. The iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua S Case (what a mouthful!) is pretty spiffy. The case can be used to extend battery life, then when you need waterproofing it takes less than a minute to switch it over and lock it up tight. I’ve been using the case for almost two weeks now and have noticed the good and bad of it. –Jade Walker

Micromon

 
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It was bound to happen one day, wasn’t it? Yes, Micromon is currently the nearest you’re going to get to Pokemon on your iOS device. Fortunately it’s pretty fun, too. There’s one downfall though, and it’s a pretty obvious one – those pesky in-app purchases that often get in the way of such experiences. First up, Micromon is gorgeous to look at. It doesn’t offer quite as many monsters to capture as a Pokemon game, weighing in at just over 130, but each of them is delightfully animated and appealing. The story within Micromon isn’t particularly gripping, staying quite formulaic, but that’s no great hardship. –Jennifer Allen

Slingbox M1 Hardware

 
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I don’t know about you all, but I use my iPhone and iPad to watch Netflix videos all the time. It’s just so handy to be able to pull up a streaming video right before bed or to watch something else while the TV is in use. Well the Slingbox M1 is kind of like that; kind of. It’s also quite a bit different, but no less interesting. The Slingbox M1 essentially lets you broadcast the signal from your cable box to your iOS device and your computer – with the appropriate apps, of course. This means that you can use your iPad as a second screen, watch something on TV without moving to whichever room has the TV in it, or even catch up on local news and sports while you’re out of town. So long as you have an internet connection you can stream the signal from your cable box straight to your other devices. –Rob Rich

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Master of Craft

 
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Master of Craft looks to be an engaging game that merges key gaming genres in a tidy package. At its core, it’s all about simulating an economy of crafting. Off the bat, the busy animation of the game easily draws one in, with bright colors and vivid landscapes. If the developer’s goal is to please people that are iffy about the game at the start, it is mostly successful. The rustic vibe combines well with the whimsical representations, and the overall visual feel is that it is playful and serious at the same time. –Tre Lawrence

Suits and Swords

 
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Suits and Swords is much like Blackjack version of the venerable and well received Sword and Poker. While a good ideas does a simpler game like Blackjack have the legs to support an RPG? Suits and Swords has a rather amusing story. The majority of things and characters in the story are named after card related things. The main character is called Black Jack, he’s a solider or Battle Jack and the villain is an evil disembodied head named Joker. He’s pretty serious.. –Allan Curtis

Super Heavy Sword

 
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Super Heavy Sword is a classically styled platformer, which aren’t all that common on the Playstore. Monster Robot Studios have freely admitted that the game is a homage to the astonishingly successful Mario games. Indeed the game feels like a mix of Mario 64 and the original Super Mario Bros. With the big N’s reluctance to bring the overalled plumber to Android, can Super Heavy Sword full the gap? Super Heavy Sword opens with a scene of Pike, the Hero and Lucinda the princess. A bunch of enemies roll in and amazingly don’t kidnap Lucinda but rather begin destroying to land,. Now it’s down to a lone warrior and his girlfriend to stab them all and restore peace. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer weighed in on BioShock for iOS, provided a complete database of Micromon’s Micromon, found nine celebrities besides Kim Kardashian with their own mobile games, and found eight games that you wouldn’t be able to play if it weren’t for some dedicated fans. And it’s all right here.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

80 Days

 
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The Sorcery! series has been great so far, which means anyone with an interest in interactive fiction should have been pretty excited by the upcoming release of 80 Days. Guess what? You were right to be psyched! 80 Days is a fantastic game for the interactive fiction aficionado, providing plenty of interesting choices and some much-requested replayability. Based upon the classic novel by Jules Verne, you take the role of Passepartout, Phileas Fogg’s loyal servant, as the pair attempt to travel the world in 80 days. Changing things around from the book, there’s a steampunk twist to everything here and it works well at offering a fresh take on an otherwise familiar story. –Jennifer Allen

Star Admiral

 
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I hate to keep returning to Hearthstone as a point of reference throughout this review, as Hardscore Games’ Star Admiral most definitely stands as a solid offering in its own right, but it quite clearly treads strongly on the path that Blizzard’s wildly successful digital collectable card game has already paved. Take the core CCG formula, strip away excess complexity, and distill what remains into a refined essence wrapped in a visually appealing skin. Only Star Admiral takes it a touch further still. While Hearthstone replaced the visuals of cards in play on a virtual tabletop with stylish little cameo portraits that shake and thump and slide their way around the virtual tabletop, Hardscore rips the tabletop conceit out completely and tosses the whole mess into deep space. Cards? What do you mean, cards? We’re battling with spaceships, baby! –Rob Thomas

Traps n’ Gemstones

 
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Traps n’ Gemstones is an action adventure game in which players explore an ancient tomb to discover its mysteries and undo the misdeeds of a mysterious looter. The game bears quite a bit of a resemblance to classics like Castlevania and Metroid in terms of overall structure, gameplay, and quality. Much like the games it is modeled after, Traps n’ Gemstones revolves around players exploring a complex, interconnected environment where puzzle-solving, traversal, and combat must be used together to reach new areas, gather items, and progress through the game. In this game in particular, players are bent on capturing a temple looter who is hiding behind a mysterious forcefield that can only be broken by recovering lost relics and placing them in their proper locations. Although because the setting is an ancient underground temple, finding these relics involves fighting mummies, outrunning boulders, riding minecarts, and many other Indiana Jones-type situations. –Campbell Bird

The Phantom PI Mission Apparition

 
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Busting ghosts makes you feel good. This is a scientific fact. And it’s as true in video games as it is in the real world. Solving puzzles, nabbing spooks, and exploring haunted mansions in The Phantom PI Mission Apparition will definitely make you feel good. Players put on the monocle of Cecil Sparks, the titular Phantom PI. Instead of helping the living with their ghost problems, as one might expect, Sparks helps ghosts deal with other ghosts upsetting their peaceful afterlife. In this particular mission, he’s helping deceased rock star Marshall Staxx recover his stolen gear from a bullying, gluttonous, Slimer-esque specter named Baublebelly. Along the way, players will learn more about Staxx’s time on Earth through newspaper scraps, demo tapes, and other effective forms of emergent storytelling. –Jordan Minor

ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers

 
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From a very young age, many of us have aspired to create comic books. That spark of imagination is something that never really leaves, but unfortunately the spare time fades instead. Fortunately, there are apps to ensure you can still live your fantasies as a comic book writer, which is where we come to ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers. ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers is a pretty vast app. It’s as simple or as complex as you want it to be, allowing you to add multiple different comic book stickers, captions, and filters all in a bid to create an awesome looking strip out of your photos. –Jennifer Allen

Note

 
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Is it possible to have an app that’s almost too simple? In the case of note taking app, Note, that seems quite likely. As the name suggests, it’s an app for entering notes and other information that you need to enter quickly. The issue is that there really isn’t much more to it than the stock app, which makes that $1.99 asking price a bit of a shock. The app starts out very cleanly, allowing you to get started straight away or dive into the options side of things. Options wise, it’s possible to change the font used, as well as set up the app to save to iCloud. Don’t expect more depth than this because that’s pretty much Note‘s limit, unless you count being able to open the app on a blank note each time. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Globber’s Escape

 
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More than 30 years since its initial release, Pac-Man is still one of the greatest video games ever created. Although Pac-Man holds up surprisingly well today, the game’s formula could use some tweaking and updating for modern audiences. Well, at least that seems to be the thought behind Globber’s Escape, a new Android title that puts a modern spin on the Pac-Man formula. Globber is a gelatinous glob attempting to escape the science lab where he is being held. It is up to players to help Globber find its way through the rooms of the lab. Along the way, players must guide Globber away from evil scientists roaming levels and towards alien flunkies and objects. The premise is refreshingly simple, and gameplay is frantic and fast-paced. –Ryan Bloom

Rush Rally

 
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Rush Rally harkens back to the warm, hazy past of video games where top down racers sat in smoky arcades waiting to eat quarters. Rush Rally is a cool topdown rally racer. It’s the player against the clock in their steel gray steed of speed. Using a very simple control scheme with just buttons for turning left and right and a brake and accelerator the player throws their little car around various courses. The player races both at night and during the day and on sand, snow gravel and good old tarmac so there is always something new. There are plenty of barricades and trees to run into, but if the player goes too far off track or seems to get stuck, the game will helpfully replace the car back on the track, ready to roar off. –Allan Curtis

Digits

 
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When I looked at the screenshots of Digits, I immediately thought “great, another copy of 2048“. Not that I’ve seen lots of them, but it’s a pretty cheap move. If you want to rip something off, at least find something a bit more challenging. Anyway, my rage went unfounded, as Digits has nothing to do with 2048. What Digits is is a very satisfying puzzle that’s all about reducing numbers, not increasing them. The game consists of dozens of different levels. Each level is a square field of numbers. The numbers and the field’s size change between the levels. The player’s task is to remove all of the numbers from the field by clicking on them. When the player clicks on a number, it is reduced by one point, along with any numbers that are above, beneath, and to the sides of it. So, if there’s a line that looks like “2-3-2″, clicking on the three will make it “1-2-1″. Clicking on the three again will remove the ones, and leave the player with “1″ in the middle, which means that the player failed to remove all of them. The trick is to click on the squares in such pattern that no number gets left behind, as the player can’t click on a number that’s not connected to at least one other number. Thankfully, there’s no penalty for using an undo button and retracing the steps to any point of the level. And really, there’s not much need to do it, as when you get to know the ropes of Digits, it becomes almost impossible to fail. –Tony Kuzmin

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

 
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Gameloft is responsible for bringing us some of the most polished and frenetic mobile shooters for the iOS platform in the form of Modern Combat. The latest entry, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, raises the bar even higher, despite still having some of its own setbacks. This fifth entry is certainly an improvement that demonstrates what can be done within the mobile genre. Players take up the role of Caydan Phoenix, an ex-marine who was deployed into Venice to tackle an uprising sweeping the area. After Phoenix is inevitably set up, he finds out that the international security agency who sent him in is up to no good – in fact, it’s acting as a front for an international terror organization. That’s where you come in: righting all these wrongs and clearing his name; with guns. –Brittany Vincent

The Order of Souls

 
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The Order of Souls is a turn-based, free-to-play role playing game set in a fantastical world that melds science fiction and fantasy elements. Throughout the course of the game players can expect a surprising amount of interactive story elements, but most of that requires them to grind through a middling series of combat scenarios that really drag the whole game down. The Order of Souls‘ various elements include head-to-head multiplayer, crafting, singleplayer combat, party management, etc. Most of these systems and mechanics seem familiar to those that have played RPGs before, but the game does very little to do unique things with them. It’s almost like the developers were more concerned with checking features off a list than they were thinking about how they might add a unique dimension or dynamic to the game. This is not to say that it has any seriously flawed mechanics, but they just aren’t as interesting as they could’ve been. –Campbell Bird

Revolution 60

 
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Revolution 60 has a lot of influences. It wants to be a sprawling sci-fi action RPG full of choices like Mass Effect. It spices up its numerous cutscenes with quick time events like Heavy Rain. Parts of its plot recall Metal Gear Solid, and its stylish 60s espionage vibe is probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to another No One Lives Forever. However, instead of being derivative, Revolution 60 emerges as a fantastically fresh original vision and a great debut for developer Giant Spacekat. Starting Revolution 60 feels like stepping into a wholly realized sci-fi world. In fact, the lore can get so dense at times it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on, but players will pick up enough. Plus they can purchase a separate guidebook explaining the universe, which fortunately seems interesting enough to warrant such a cost. Besides, the characters are what really matters, and Revolution 60’s cast is definitely worth getting invested in. –Jordan Minor

Secret Files Tunguska

 
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Previously a PC, Wii, and DS release, point-and-click adventure Secret Files Tunguska has made its way to iOS, and it’s quite enjoyable despite its dour tone. Veering away from the casual nature of many other titles in the genre, Secret Files Tunguska sticks to the traditional scenario of plenty of asking questions and combining items to create further useful tools. Set around the Tunguska event, a mysterious large explosion that occurred in 1908, the game delves into conspiracy theories that would make Mulder and Scully proud. You play a woman whose father, a scientist investigating the event, has gone missing, and soon enough various intelligence agencies are out to get you. –Jennifer Allen

MTN

 
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MTN is not a game. It is not highly interactive app. What it is, is a serene part of your day that will bring you a few minutes of amusement. The MTN app, by David O’Reilly, opens by asking you to draw things based on 1-word prompts. According to David O’Reilly, “The drawings influence things like the shape of the mountain, the type of vegetation, the amount of vegetation, the length of your summers, the amount of snow you’re going to get, all sorts of different things.” After the prompts are answered the app generates a small, free-floating mountain in the middle of space. –Jessica Fisher

Bio Inc

 
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Mama, just killed a man. Pinched a vein inside his head. Pressed “OK” and now he’s dead. Bio Inc is a “biomedical simulator” from DryGin studios. While there are dozens of medical/surgical simulators available on PC, mobile platforms, and consoles, Bio Inc is a little different. Other medical-based games ask players to save patients in peril (even if said players may wind up removing the patient’s brain during a routine appendectomy, either accidentally or on purpose). Bio Inc, on the other hand, requires players to drag the Hippocratic Oath behind the hospital and shoot it. –Nadia Oxford

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Ruzzle Adventure

 
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What does a developer do when a game around forming words and multiplayer becomes a succes? It takes out fifty procent of that golden formula and turns it to a list of chores. Ruzzle Adventure is a game where players need to form words on a grid full of letters. In the past, we’ve seen dozens of iterations of this concept in the form of Boggle, Wordfeud or even an earlier published version of Ruzzle. In all those games the goal is the same: make as many words as possible, to get the highest score. By making bigger words and combining tougher letters to make words with, the score multiplier raises and so does one’s score. Remember Scrabble? –Wesley Akkerman

Shurican

 
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Man, developers still make flappy games? I thought that that hype was over, but judging by the game Shurican, there still were some… I don’t know what to call it… Innovations..? …left in the subgenre. Yeah, I was surprised as well. How much can different people do with one mechanic? And especially the flappy mechanic? By looking at the flappy games in Google’s Play Store, not very much. Many of the flappy games are direct and shameless clones of the original and unintended successful original one, but sometimes a good one pops up and offers the same, but somewhat a different challenge. Shurican is one of those game, and not only because the game is played in widescreen mode. –Wesley Akkerman

Super Tank Arena Battles

 
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In Super Tank Arena Battles, we get the to see our favorite weapons (tanks) go head to head in our favorite fight environment (an arena). It just gets even more hyper from there. It’s a simple looking game, but still manages to impress graphically, with the opening menu made up of cheery animations and pastels guiding the text. Here, amongst other options, we are presented with 5 game modes: Survival, Catch The Flag, One On One, Mines Rush and Hardcore Survival.The first is open, while the others need a threshold of some sort needed to unlock successive modes. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Modern Combat 5, created an expert guide for Hearthstone’s Naxxramas DLC, picked some awesome seeds for Minecraft: Pocket Edition, found 5 games like Monument Valley, and asked Double Stallion whether turning Big Action Mega Fight into a paid game was a success or a huge mistake. Read all of this and more, at Pocket Gamer.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Overcast: Podcast Player

 
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For a long time, I have been using Downcast to manage all of the podcasts I listen to. Its ability to create customized playlists and tweak settings for each individual show gave me a complete sense of control over the way I listened to my favorite shows. That being said, I was never 100% satisfied with Downcast for a variety of reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on for a long time. Now, I can safely say that my main issue with Downcast is that it isn’t Overcast: Podcast Player. Although this new podcast app isn’t perfect for every podcast listener’s needs, Overcast: Podcast Player has a very impressive suite of features that are smart, elegant, and super useful, provided you pay to unlock all of its features. –Campbell Bird

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon

 
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Much like its namesake team of ragtag misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is kind of weird and quirky. You see, while the game’s release date is clearly set to build hype for the upcoming feature film (which hits theaters in just about about two weeks) it’s not solely tied to the movie’s feel or continuity. Instead, it’s a rather strange mash-up of elements, sporting both movie-based character designs and story beats, as well as numerous nods to the team’s greater history and place in the comic-based side of the Marvel Universe. But does playing to both sides dilute the overall experience? And is it even a worthwhile game to begin with? Read on, True Believers! Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon straddles a few different genres as well. It’s a little bit action-RPG, a touch of arena combat, and a dash of side-scrolling beat-’em-up (minus the scrolling). Players assemble a team of characters from their roster of unlocked Guardians, Guardians-adjacent affiliates, and even antagonists in some cases (though they can only be used in the wave-clearing Arena mode), and smash their way through screen after screen of bad guys. Characters are controlled by drawing lines from them to their destination (when moving) or target (when attacking enemies or aiding allies). –Rob Thomas

Cascade

 
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Match-3 games are nothing new and to an extent, Cascade is very familiar indeed. It manages to offer a few twists and turns that ensure that fans should be quite appreciative of its efforts, even if it isn’t as revolutionary as it would like to be. The layout of Cascade is very familiar. You work your way through individual levels of gems that must be cleared in some way, in order to pass onto the next stage. Each stage has a slightly different objective, such as reaching a particular score, clearing a set number of boulders, or vanquishing lighter colored squares. Ultimately though, the principle remains the same – match those gems. Jennifer Allen

Magic 2015

 
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Another year, another updated iteration of Magic: The Gathering’s digital form. Fans of Wizards of the Coast’s long-standing, collectible card game juggernaut know exactly what they’re getting into here. But does Magic 2015 serve as a good introduction for new players into what can be a rather daunting new world? Well, it’s kind of a yes and no at the same time. As someone who already has a fair bit of past history with the game, I still felt the need to trudge my way through the tutorial in order to see how well it presents the game to newbies and, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The tutorial is relatively in-depth, with a fully-voiced narrator guiding new players step-by-step through the basics of the game, though I do feel that it may have dragged on for a bit too long and that some of these lessons could have been combined or condensed. However, that could well have just been my urge to get through the stuff I already knew and into the meat of Magic 2015 proper. –Rob Thomas

Hellraid: The Escape

 
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In Hellraid: The Escape, you will find yourself awoken from a stone tomb and trapped in a violent prison, patrolled by disfigured, demonic guards and decorated with all of kinds of vicious traps. Sounds fun, right? You must then find your way out by solving puzzles, dispatching enemies and collecting items to help pass through each area unscathed. Along the way you’ll find notes with some background information, hints and harrowing tales on them, further fleshing out the gameworld one piece at a time. Controls are simple, with a floating joystick for movement, a swipe to survey the surroundings and a tap to pick up objects or interact with mechanisms. However, these interactions are often more intricate than a mere tap, usually involving multiple gestures, proving how much attention to detail was paid to the environment. Powered by the Unreal 3 engine, the game looks undeniably excellent. From flickering lighting effects to the incredible level of detail throughout, Hellraid: The Escape is one of the best-looking iOS titles to date, and succeeds in creating a real sense of foreboding. –Lee Hamlet

Hoopa City

 
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As readers may know, my son and I are big Dr. Panda fans as many of their apps allow children to role-play their way through differently themed apps such as Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, Dr. Panda’s Veggie Farm, or Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon. Recently, a new app, Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars, changed things up a bit, allowing young children to drive cars around town, free of the mini-games popular within this series. I would also like to introduce readers to another new app from TribePlay, the developers of Dr. Panda, Hoopa City, a city building application for older children that my son simply adores. Hoopa City allows users to build their own urban landscape as they tap areas of the screen, adding roads, buildings or green spaces as they choose from eight different city building elements, combining them to create other details that my son really fancies such as pools or skate-boarding ramps. Hoopa City stars Hoopa the Hippo, famous from other Dr. Panda applications, as well as other familiar Dr. Panda characters who can be seen wandering around town – a nice touch. –Amy Solomon

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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Glowgrid

 
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Some puzzle games can be really relaxing, while other games of the same genre can be brutal as heck. The ambient puzzle game Glowgrid is a little bit of both, thanks to his two game modes. If one would see the title ‘Glowgrid’ and fires the game up, he would instantly see that the title of the game matches with the aesthetics of it. Like anyone could predict, in Glowgrid players get to fill up a glowing grid with some well know and lesser known shaped blocks, where they need to combine four or more blocks of the same color. The goal is to fill up the bar at the top of the screen, with a total worth of one hundred points. If players get to that point, the bar immediately empties itself. The next goal is to fill it up once again, only now while players need to figure out a way in their own mess, because the grid still contains like ninety pro cent of the blocks one previously placed there. –Wesley Akkerman

RBI Baseball 14

 
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After two straight days of no baseball whatsoever, you may finally be ready to accept it back into your life. And between the many games, you may find yourself wanting to play a game. Well, RBI Baseball 14, the MLB-published revival of the classic series, is finally on Android. This is old-school baseball, for better or worse. Seriously, this game isn’t just RBI Baseball in name only, it replicates the original game to a T. Pitchers can throw fastballs, mid-speed breaking balls, and knuckleballs that move erratically and slowly. Hitters can move around the box to try and hit the myriad pitches coming their way with just swing and bunt commands. Each team has 4 pitchers, with the starter tiring midway through the game. David Price relieving Alex Cobb a day after he started? Dr. James Andrews shrieked in horror. This game eschews realism, and any real gameplay advances of the past couple decades or so, in the name of replicating this classic. –Carter Dotson

Hopeless: Football Cup

 
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In Hopeless: Football Cup, players get to experience a different kind of football videogame. If I have to put a game next to it that closely resembles it, it should be Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football. In the good and the bad way. Hopeless: Football Cup is a game where players need to tap on the touch screen, in order to make the blob on-screen head the ball away. If they don’t, the ball will simply demolish the little bugger and than it is game over for the player. It is a hard concept, similiar to games like Flappy Bird; players just need to keep on tapping at the right moment to succeed in the game. Hopeless: Football Cup perhaps stands even more closely to Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football, a game that featured the studio’s own vision on the simple tap mechanic of Flappy Bird. –Wesley Akkerman

And, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed games like Battle Fleet 2 and Ingress, provided handy tips for Minecraft and Hellraid: The Escape, found some hot new indie games in Brighton, and gabbed to Luca Redwood about his absurdly ambitious new game. All this and more right here.

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Civilization Revolution 2

 
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It is always great to see franchises, that we all know and love, finally grow up. So seems to be the case with 2K’s mobile-exclusive sequel to 2009’s tremendously successful Civilization Revolution. Taking a page from the console version’s book, the title has a completely revamped visual style. But is a fresh coat of paint enough to make this new installment worth the price of admission? Players who adored 2K’s freshmen pass at Sid Meier’s seminal series will notice that Civilization Revolution 2 instantly feels very familiar. That is not to say that the game looks similar, presentation wise, (in fact, the exact opposite is true) but it features the same comfortable gameplay formula that worked so well the first time around. Unfortunately, for some reason that also means that this game has inherited most of the baggage from the first installment as well. –Blake Grundman

Lomotif

 
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Want to easily add music clips to Instagram or Vine videos without the use of full-blown editing software? Lomotif is the solution. There’s been plenty of times before I’ve posted a video on Instagram or Vine that I’ve thought, “I wish I could have Rise of the Valkyrie or Dancing Queen playing in the background” (please, don’t judge). Having to export my video to my MacBook, before tinkering with it in iMovie and transferring it back just seemed like too much hassle for a 6/15 second video. Lomotif helps cut out the middle man and adds short music clips to video with no fuss at all, all in one app. –Lee Hamlet

Sonic Jump Fever

 
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While Sonic Dash embraced the Endless Runner, Sonic Jump embraced the likes of Doodle Jump, offering a series of levels in which players must keep jumping upwards, saving animals and collecting rings. It appears it’s here again in the form of freemium based Sonic Jump Fever. It’s an ok kind of game but it lacks any real personality, and its freemium-based elements start to infringe on the fun a little too readily. With new levels to explore each week, there’s plenty of time to get to grips with each entry. It’s a generally quite frantic affair, so while the graphics might be sharp, odds are you’re going to be too busy concentrating on what you’re doing to pay much attention to your surroundings. Controls are tilt-based and appropriately responsive with a double-tap causing a double-jump to get you out of danger. –Jennifer Allen

Blackwell 1: Legacy

 
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Many would happily point out that the golden era of point and click adventures has been and gone. While a few more recent gems have shone through, all too often the classics have remained the same – remasters of old delights. The Blackwell series aims to buck that trend by embracing the methods that worked so well for older games. In the case of the first episode, Blackwell 1: Legacy it certainly manages to entice with some satisfactory story development, even if it doesn’t quite reach the heady heights of the golden era. –Jennifer Allen

Age of Booty: Tactics

 
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Age of Booty: Tactics is a turn-based strategy game in which players build pirate fleets and battle on the open seas to collect as much treasure as possible. While its multiplayer-only structure can get in its own way sometimes, the game itself offers well-built free-to-play strategy with a charming aesthetic. For those not in the know, Age of Booty: Tactics is not the first installment in the Age of Booty franchise. The original Age of Booty is a console and PC game in which players managed a single ship that was controlled in real-time strategic battles. In this installation all of the original game’s charm and spirit is retained, while the gameplay has been translated into a multi-ship, card-based, turn-based game. –Campbell Bird

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Doug Dug

 
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I have to say that I’ve almost skipped on Doug Dug, just because it looks like a rip-off of Terraria, or Spelunky, or some other attempt at Minecraft design school – and I’m glad that I didn’t, because Doug Dug is neither of those things. It’s an original, captivating platformer that lacks just a few pieces to become absolutely awesome. The player controls Doug, a dwarf who does two things all dwarves do all the time: digging for gold and sporting a kick-ass beard. Doug Dug is focused on the first task. The level Doug dug 3is a single screen wide, but infinitely deep, containing lots of treasures and challenges beneath. The player needs to navigate around it by digging. Dragging the finger across the screen will make Doug dig right, left, or down. He is unable to jump, unfortunately, so any loot that you miss on the way down, stays there most of the time. That said, it can come crashing down if it lacks any support, or is only held in place by a collapsable dirt block. So, the player needs to be aware of his surroundings and not get caught in the avalanche. Basically, the avalanche system holds about 50% of the game’s worth, as it grants a tricky random element to each run. The avalanches also crush whatever enemies get trapped under them, and it’s great, because the enemies are a pain. They can only be killed by falling on them from above, and Doug can’t jump. So, if he is on their level, or lower, it’s quite difficult to stay alive. The game has no shortage of things that can kill a digging dwarf, and if left unchecked, will definitely do so, leaving but a ghost of the spelunker on the next play through. –Tony Kuzmin

Boom! Tanks

 
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Nothing soothes the nerves like a good virtual tank battle, and Boom! Tanks looks like a compelling option in the tested genre. The game boils down to tank battle via attrition. The early going explains the basics of the gameplay and associated elements. In a nutshell, the players tank has a designated enemy unit that it must get its sights on. When this is accomplished, one has to fire while absorbing damage from the event tank. The end goal is to destroy said tank before it destroys the players machine. The sighting mechanism is intuitive without being too simplistic, and involves the use of a moving target that needs to be lined up with a targeting icon on the enemy unit; thankfully, the game gives valuable cues to let the player know when perfect aim has been achieved. And then both tanks engage. –Tre Lawrence

Stickman Soccer 2014

 
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How can a developer make a soccer video game more accessible and reliable than, say, a complex soccer video game like FIFA or PES? By simplifing the controls and putting in some stickmen instead of the well known soccer players. Americans probably won’t watch the World Cup like they did last week. But here in Holland, the World Cup fever keeps getting higher and higher and during those matchless days, we crave for football and look for it else. But not everyone likes or can handle games like FIFA or PES, so mobile game developers have the chance to fill in the gap and can provide us with some casual soccer video game experiences. Enter Stickman Soccer 2014, not the be confused with another sport series that uses the same Stickman name in their games. –Wesley Akkerman

And finally, over the pond, Pocket Gamer reviewed Beyond Gravity, FFFFF2P, and Transworld Endless Skater, picked the best fighters on Vita and best RPGs from Kemco, and provided tips for Hellraid, Disco Zoo, Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake, and World of Tanks Blitz. Read all about it here.

Apps Are Us

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

 
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Trying to explain Monster Hunter Freedom Unite to someone unfamiliar with the series is always a challenge. There’s an almost unrivaled amount of satisfaction to be had the first time you best a Rathalos or when you complete an armor set . You might’ve spent hours hunting dozens of Diablos, to the point that you can do it in your sleep, but now you’ve got what you need and can finish your set and oh it looks so amazing you can’t wait to show it off to your friends! I suppose that’s actually the best way to explain Monster Hunter: you earn it. You earn everything. And it’s difficult not to be extremely proud of that. –Rob Rich

World of Tanks Blitz

 
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It was dark all around and there was frost in the ground when the Tigers broke free. And a good time was had by all. World of Tanks Blitz is a mobile take on World of Tanks, the PC-based online tank combat game from Wargaming.net. World of Tanks has been consistently popular since its North American and European release in 2011, so it’s surprising the game has taken this much time to get an official mobile release. Many imitators have sprung to life in the meantime – some of which are quite good – but unsurprisingly, the real deal is one of the best tank games available for mobile. –Nadia Oxford

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

 
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I wouldn’t be pleased if monsters actually ate my birthday cake. How dare they snarf up the sugary confection I was poised to chow down on myself?! It’s a sentiment no doubt shared with the developers at Sleeping Ninja, who have crafted a satisfying twist on The Legend of Zelda-like puzzle-solving. Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a sweet treat for mobile gamers that serves up an excellent mix of puzzles, bright and colorful characters, and engaging content that rivals triple-A blockbusters in terms of unadulterated fun. When you get started you’ll find yourself swapping out characters in order to complete level-specific puzzles. Each level has characters with differently-assigned abilities, and each monster has its own loadout. In order to conquer the various obstacles scattered throughout each area, you’ll have to become acquainted with the monsters’ abilities while avoiding or eliminating enemies completely. –Brittany Vincent

X BEATS

 
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Music theory is one of the trickier parts of learning to play a musical instrument. Learning how to read the musical notes and understand how they each sound different isn’t always that fun to figure out, either. This is where X BEATS hopes to buck that trend. It’s a puzzle game that relies upon musical notes to solve the challenges. Each level consists of a mostly empty grid. Players then have to fill up the grid based on the note values to reach a certain amount at the end. Predictably, early stages are pretty simple and easy enough to bluff through, although that’s not the point. They simply require matching up 4 beats and there are limited options to ensure you can’t go wrong. –Jennifer Allen

Lars and Friends

 
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I would like to introduce readers to the new app, Lars and Friends: a charming storybook for young children that contains very special illustrations, making it really stand out among a sea of other apps within iTunes. Lars and Friends is the simple and sweet tale of a horse named Lars and his adventures with many different types of creatures, allowing children to become familiar with the unique names used to describe a group of specific animals such as a colony of ants, knot of frogs, or tower of giraffes. I have had a lot of fun with the different activities Lars engages in with different creatures large and small, creating whimsical images about some unlikely friendships that will stay with readers as well as teaching the sometimes odd name-groupings children of all ages and their adults will enjoy learning about. –Amy Solomon

yantouch Diamond+ “Music+Light” Bluetooth Speaker

 
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When turned off in a well-lit room, the yantouch Diamond+ looks kind of like a slightly garish ball of nothing. When turned on in a dark room – especially when displaying colors based on the tempo of the being played through it – it’s more like staring into a technicolored Eye of Sauron. You know, if Sauron were actually a pretty cool guy and not bent on conquering/destroying the world. Setting up the Diamond+ is pretty easy, and there are a couple of options you can pick from. Initially I hooked it up to my computer via the included audio cable, then later via bluetooth. I’m not sure if it’s just my imagination but it actually sounded a little tinny when connected via the cable, but it sounds just fine via bluetooth. –Rob Rich

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Wave Wave

 
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Life is sweeter when it’s easy. When everything moves the way it should for as long as it should, one can’t complain. There isn’t any shame in appreciating that. With video games, we like reasonable levels of difficulty, but I think that deep down, we all really want an epic battle… something seemingly impossible to conquer. Basically, we love torture by pixel. Why else would games like Wave Wave be so addictive? We’ve known about this game for a while, and finally had a chance to take it for a spin. It is a twitch/reaction games, so it makes sense to go into it with a soothed state of mind. Simplistically explained, the playing area is an insane, jazzy splash of altering colors. A lined arrow travels through this playing area, and the base idea is to use the controls to avoid the quick-appearing obstacles that appear. –Tre Lawrence

Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville

 
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I admit to being a bit surprised back when Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville was announced – a Powerpuff Girls Metroidvania, developed by Radiangames, known for their dual-stick shooters and puzzle games? And it released on Steam? I didn’t get around to playing it until now, when it surprisingly released on mobile recently, but it makes a lot more sense that it’s a Radiangames title – and it’s a unique, if imperfect, take on the open-world adventure genre of Metroidvanias. The game starts out with Mojo Jojo, famed villain of the Powerpuff Girls, having erased all of the girls’ memories, imprisoning Bubbles and Blossom, with only a flightless Buttercup around. Flight is the first power earned back by collecting in the world, and here’s where the game shows its original qualities. Many games in the Metroidvania vein restrict progress by restraining movement, but this game relies solely on the lack of certain powers necessary to progress. I feel like it’s almost fairer, because it’s kind of nice to not have things that are just out of short jumping reach. It’s more artificial, but it feels more natural in a weird way. –Tre Lawrence

First Strike

 
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First Strike is all about nukes. The crux of many an action movie nukes can be fun to throw around. First Strike contains all the fun of launching arrays of nuclear death without all that pesky fallout afterwards. First Strike throws diplomacy out the window. By the time of the game the world is already going to be bathed in nuclear fire. The only question is who will do most of the bathing? First Strike divides each nation up into sections and each section has a number of silos, the number of which is controlled by tech level. Each silo can have a particular kind of missile. There are cruise missiles which are used to intercept incoming nukes and ICBMs, which are used for nuking other nations. –Allan Curtis

And finally, 2014 is halfway through, so Pocket Gamer revealed its top-rated iOS, Android, Vita, and 3DS games of the year so far, and found 100 upcoming mobile games to look forward to. The guys also started documenting their adventures in bizarre art installment art MTN, took a look at Civilization Revolution 2, and produced a whopping great guide to Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Star Wars Scene Maker

 
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Ever since the launch of the new Star Wars trilogy back in the summer of 1999, people have been second-guessing George Lucas’ decisions as a filmmaker. With that in mind, it seems like it was only a matter of time before he threw up his arms and said, “Oh, you think you can do better?” Though that scenario may be fictionalized, the resulting application is very real: Star Wars Scene Maker. Is the application powerful enough to let fans bring balance to the Force, or will the lack of free content leave the sandbox more barren than Tatooine on a summer day? Lights. Camera. Action. It is hard to deny the allure of a big Hollywood production. In Star Wars Scene Maker, the user gets to sit in the director’s chair and design their own scene set, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” Everything from the camera angles and positioning to the actions being scripted and performed bends to the will of the director. Even the dialog can be spoken and inserted directly into the application. Simply put, the storytelling potential of this tool is virtually limitless. As long as you are willing to pay the price, of course. –Blake Grundman

Mecha Ace

 
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Mecha Ace is an interactive reading experience centered around the interstellar civil war between the ruthless Empire of Earth and its independent space colonies. At the beginning of the book, readers will be asked whether the gender of non-playable characters will be randomized or not. What seems like a futile question actually just serves to show the sheer scope and flexibility of Mecha Ace, as this seemingly minor adjustment can easily effect how readers will react to key relationships within the game. Readers will soon come to choose minor details such as tactical strategy and custom upgrades, all the way up to character-defining moments such as justifying murder or deciding their initial motivation for joining the fight for Earth. These and other decisions really allows for a deeper connection to the story and its characters. –Lee Hamlet

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

 
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The LEGO series of games have had their fair share of ups and downs, providing fans with inconsistent experiences from game-to-game. While some have succeeded in recreating the success of their console brethren, others have fallen far short of this benchmark. Can the most recent Marvel themed outing brought over from the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita make the successful transition to iOS, or will our favorite heroes be left looking decidedly less super? From the moment that the game begins it’s obvious that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a far cry from some of the other highly-polished LEGO games on the App Store. For starters, the fixed three quarters top-down camera proves to be a sticking point that negatively affects both the presentation and controls. Core elements of the environment like ledges are very difficult to determine from the perspective that the game implements. But who doesn’t like a little unnecessary backtracking, right? –Blake Grundman

Transformers: Age of Extinction – The Official Game

 
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No matter how you feel about Michael Bay’s take on the franchise, its hard for anyone with an even remotely geeky bent to not have at least a little soft spot for the Transformers. So whenever a new Transformers-related game rolls in, there’s always that small spark of hope that it’ll turn out more like High Moon Studios’ excellent 2010 console release Transformers: War for Cybertron and less like, well, pretty much every other Transformers game in the history of ever. [Editor's Note: Oh you did NOT just forsake Fall of Cybertron and the one for the PlayStation 2 based on Armada!] That’s not to say that I’m expecting a full console-style experience from a free-to-play iOS release, mind you. That would be a grossly unfair burden to shoulder Transformers: Age of Extinction with. I’m speaking more to just the general level of quality, fun, and fan service that one would hope for. And while I’m not saying that it totally falls short in all these categories, it doesn’t really quite reach them either. –Rob Thomas

Science Museum Splash!

 
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Science Museum Splash! is a new interactive app for iPad and iPhone that young children will find quite engaging as they explore this water-themed activity by filling a bathtub full of water and having lots of fun dropping different items into the tub to explore whether they will float or sink. A few novelty animals are included, as well as the ability to change the color of the water and also to customize the background colors seen within this app. I appreciate this application because, universally, children really enjoy playing with water. Yet parents can sometimes do without the wet mess that comes along with this type of exploration. This app also gives children the vantage point of being able to see the toy or other object’s effect within the water – be it popping back to the surface or falling to the bottom, which children can’t visualize as well when they are in the bathtub themselves. Although this app is no substitute for playing within a water table or playing during bath time, it allows children to explore the physics of water in the comfort of their own bed or when out and about if they choose. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Winning Kick

 
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Winning Kick feels good to play not only because it’s a bit of fun, but also because 50% of all proceeds from the game go to the Charity Ball, a organization that provides soccer balls to kids in developing countries. This is a great idea. Luckily, the game is enjoyable as well. Winning Kick is simple yet effective. It is less a soccer game and more a game of timing. The game starts with one of the players with the ball. An arrow moves quickly back and forth. The idea is to tap to pass the ball when it is aimed at another player so they receive it. In this way the ball can be worked towards the goal player by player, avoiding the keeper as well. Once a goal is scored, the ball is given to a random defender and the cycle starts again with the goal to set the highest score. –Allan Curtis

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

 
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Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a Kickstarted puzzle collaboration between SleepNinja Games and Cartoon Network The game is self-described as being like Legend of Zelda, and that specific description is apt. The 2D stylings are whimsically implemented, with cutscenes and dialog boxes used to move the gameplay along. The intro action kind of plods along, but as soon as one gets through that, the backstory catapults us into the digital quest. Our protagonist is a young boy named Niko, who, upon wanting to experience the renown glory of cake for breakfast on his birthday, finds that his cake has been stolen by the Boogin King and his cohorts in a fit of “cakelust.” Accompanied by his trusty canine companion, Niko looks to save all treats by looking to best the Boogin King. In practice, this is done by solving puzzles presented in the leveled series. It starts off simple enough to highlight the controls: tapping and dragging to guide the movement of our hero. –Tre Lawrence

Flick Soccer Brazil

 
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I blinked and I missed it. England’s run in this year’s World Cup has been close to shambolic and to be honest I missed a lot of it. Mainly because I was playing Flick Soccer Brazil. The setup’s simple. A ball, a goal and a keeper. The aim is to swipe at the football and then as the ball’s mid-flight you swipe at the screen again to apply some extra dip, lift or swerve. This sounds easy but there’s a real skill to swiping at the ball just quick enough to get enough height on the shot so it reaches the top corner. Even a fraction too much velocity to your swipe and the ball will end up in row Z. –Matt Parker

Swipe Tap Smash

 
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Swipe Tap Smash takes after the NES’ Super Smash Volleyball, which is one of those games that perhaps has been played by millions through random cartridges floating around. It was a pretty neat game, one that feels underrepresented by modern developers recreating retro games. But now, someone has, as an endless arcade game. The title perfectly describes how it is played. One of the volleyballers sets the ball, the other sets it up high for a smash, which the player then swipes toward the ball, tapping to smash it on time. Each successful ball hit to the other side is worth a point in the game’s endless mode. A trick mode is available where various criteria, including hitting the ball quickly, and knocking over both opponents with a powerful smash, can award the player more points for their individual shots. –Carter Dotson

Shiny Happy App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Angry Birds Epic

 
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Proving to be quite a departure from the usual Angry Birds motif, Angry Birds Epic feels more like an introduction to the RPG genre than anything more substantial. There’s potential there, but all too often it isn’t fully exploited, which seems a shame. While technically there’s a storyline in there somewhere, progress is solely dictated by a map screen in which one follows the game along from fight to fight, rather than anything more interesting or exciting. Occasionally there will be other paths to take but it’s still mostly linear. Combat is fortunately more interesting, offering a surprising amount of depth for such a simple idea. –Jennifer Allen

Kiwanuka

 
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Kiwanuka is a game that curiously eschews many of the trappings of modern mobile gaming. It’s a game that could easily use things like a star system, like seemingly every other game, but it stands out because of the lack of such modern trappings. Players control a Kiwanuka shepherd who must lead a group of followers to an encased shepherd in the level who has become trapped within a prism. Forming chains of followers with the lightning staff to navigate around the levels is necessary: they can swing in a circular motion, and create bridges and ramps when attached to another point. The game becomes about figuring out when and where to create the chains to properly navigate to where the trapped Kiwanuka follower is. However, there’s no limit to how many chains of followers can be used, or timers, or anything: beat the level and it’s beaten, and the next one is unlocked. –Carter Dotson

VVVVVV

 
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VVVVVV doesn’t look particularly inspiring, does it? For those who grew up during the home computer era of the Spectrum and Commodore 64, it’s the kind of look that can be forgiven more easily than for the younger gamer, but it’s still hardly a looker. Get past that shallow thinking though, and one will find that VVVVVV is exceptionally good – albeit ridiculously frustrating in equal measures. Previously a PC release, some players including myself will have enjoyed the suffering that VVVVVV has provided in the past. It’s tough and sometimes deeply infuriating, but thanks to some clever placement of checkpoints it’s also the kind of game that will keep players coming back until they’ve beaten it. –Jennifer Allen

Soccer Stars

 
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Despite the name, Soccer Stars owes a lot more to Billiards than it does to Soccer. Rather than conventional ball-kicking skills, the key to Soccer Stars is to be able to bounce the solid orbs that represent the players around the arena and hopefully towards the goal. It’s a different mechanic than most but it mostly works. Soccer Stars focuses very much on online competitive play, although an offline mode does exist. A mixture of one on one sessions and tournaments, the point of the game remains the same – score 2 goals before the other player. Each team is made up of five orbs that can be bounced around in numerous ways. One drags a finger behind the orb in order to push it towards the objective. They’re pretty sensitive so they can bounce off of other orbs, as well as the walls surrounding each pitch. Given the drag mechanics, when near the edge of the screen an extra finger is needed to cover for the missing space. That can make things awkward, but it mostly just about works. –Jennifer Allen

Broken Age

 
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In this new age of game design, projects have found countless ways in which to spring to life. In the case of Broken Age, Double Fine’s first uber-successful Kickstarter venture, the masses spoke with their wallets loud and clear, showing an undying support for the long-languishing adventure game genre. So, does the first half of this quest live up to the title’s impressive budget and hype, or will the unfinished storyline leave players craving more? One fantastic aspect of adventure titles are their emphasis on building a cohesive and compelling narrative. Broken Age tells the seemingly disparate story lines of Shay and Vella. In a neat move, typical of Double Fine’s outside the box thinking, the plot can be consumed any number of ways, allowing the player to switch back and forth between characters at will. Though both Shay and Vella exist in two seemingly different worlds, as one might expect, their stories eventually converge. Ultimately this ends up fleshing out a much larger universe than would be achievable through a single through line. –Blake Grundman

Toca Town

 
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Toca Town is Toca Boca’s new highly open-ended digital toy, bringing dollhouse play to iOS devices. Toca Town allows children of all ages to manipulate a very nice selection of Toca characters around six locations that include a park, restaurant, family home, apartment, grocery store, and police station. Characters can be moved around within each landscape as well as transported to new areas of this app easily, including any object they may be holding at the time, making transitions between areas simple and intuitive. Objects like foods, books, or other more specific items such as keys found at the police station can also be held as children drag figures around the screen while acting out their own stories, much like one would with a classic dollhouse in real life but without the little pieces that parents need to keep track of. –Amy Solomon

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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Cow Dash

 
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Cow Dash is a charming entry from Retroid Interactive that is able to swaddle retro-looking graphics in the familiar, tried-and-true frame of an arcade adventure. The controls are deceptively simple, and almost conceal the challenge of the game. Almost. The travel-happy cow starts off in a outdoor naturescape environment set in deliberate platforms of differing heights. The cow moves on its own when a tap is administered to start the level; it continues moving in a set direction until it is impeded by an object, at which point it turns on its heel and goes in the opposite direction. –Tre Lawrence

Drive In The Line

 
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One of the new fads on Google Play of this moment, are games where players need to guide a something between lines. In this game, it’s a car between both sides of the deserted road. If players fail… Well, then the car explodes. So, yeah. There is something about games that are very simple and really hard at the same time. Drive in the Line is one of those games. In Drive in the Line, players drive their way through an endless desert apocalypse. Somehow, the driver of the car is stranded somewhere on earth where there is nothing but an endless, ever changing road that leads to virtually nowhere – with only one goal in mind: just keep in driving and don’t look back. Now, a premise like this surely sounds interesting, and it is in its own way. Players take control of the driver’s car and need to help him navigate the endless road ahead of him. Since this is a high score based game, and games are generally short by nature, this game soon went from ‘this is nice’ to ‘I need to set a new high score’. Because, when one plays this game, it is something that will play in their minds. Mainly because players know they can do it. –Wesley Akkerman

Hazumino

 
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Often videogames get criticized for retreading old ground. People will complain that ‘they’ve played it before’ but sometimes revisiting old ideas that you get new ones. Hazumino goes back in time to visit both Tetris and Canabalt and by doing so comes back with something new yet reassuringly familiar. The reason that Hazumino‘s goal will be instantly clear is because of the world famous shapes that occupy the right-hand side of the screen. These ‘tetrominos’ need to be rotated and shifted up and down before being launched to the right. The reason why you’re placing these shapes is because you need to form a bridge of sorts. –Matt Parker

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iOS devotee to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Spendbook

 
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Secretly, I doubt anyone wants to keep track of their finances. All too often it’s a stark reminder that one’s bank balance just isn’t as high as one would like. Having said that, tracking transactions is very useful in making one realize that spending a ridiculous sum of money on old movies and cake isn’t always wise. Or at least that’s what I hear, because there’s no way that I do that. No way at all. Spendbook is a simple yet effective solution to tracking such things. With a look that suits iOS 7 perfectly, Spendbook keeps things simple and clean yet still offers plenty of opportunity to include all the relevant information about day-to-day living. –Jennifer Allen

Bubble Witch Saga 2

 
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Candy Crush Saga may be King’s frontrunner, but there are plenty of alternatives to the puzzler to choose from – in particular is Bubble Witch Saga, an homage to Taito’s classic Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move. Homage is being kind, actually; Bubble Witch Saga 2 and its predecessor are outright facsimiles of Taito’s addictive puzzler, but the latest iteration incorporates new and original ideas to ensure the formula remains fresh. Bubble Witch Saga 2 is slick, colorful, and challenging, and while it doesn’t break entirely new ground on the puzzle front, it’s still a great choice for a few bites of playtime here and there. If you’re unfamiliar with the original Bubble Witch Saga, it’s a puzzler where you’re given one colored bubble after another to aim at even more bubbles suspended at the top of the screen. You need to match three or more of a kind to burst the bubbles and clear them from the play area. This is accomplished via precise aiming with the touch screen, and strategic bouncing of colored bubbles against the “walls” of the play area. If you play your cards right, you can collapse an entire cache of bubbles with a well-placed shot. They’ll rain down in a shower of color, and at the end of each level they’ll randomly bounce into pots that collect them for points to tally onto your score. –Brittany Vincent

Rival Knights

 
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A jouster’s foe isn’t his opponent. It isn’t the lance, or the fury of the charge, or even the thunderous clash of horse and weapon and rider. A jouster’s true enemy – that subtle foe he must face every time he mounts – is his own fear. Fear makes the rider worry his horse out of rhythm. Fear makes him charge too soon, or hold an instant too long. And it is fear that makes him turn aside from his strike rather than into it, leaving his lance shattered and his body thrown to the ground. To be a jouster is to conquer your fear and to never back down. Also, there’s apparently some rhythmic tapping involved. –Andrew Fisher

Battleheart: Legacy

 
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Battleheart: Legacy is a cartoony and light action-adventure RPG that makes a lot of its competition on iOS look archaic and old-fashioned. Although the game doesn’t necessarily push the boundaries of gameplay originality or storytelling, Battleheart: Legacy is an extremely good-looking and well-made game. Players of Battleheart: Legacy begin the game by creating a character and working their way through a tutorial sequence, but from there the game is quite a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure kind of deal. There are quest givers and such, but the main focus of the game seems to be exploring new areas, fighting enemies, and custom leveling a character with abilities. –Campbell Bird

Bug Art

 
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Parents will be excited to hear of a new app from the developers of Bugs and Buttons – a creative app that still includes a quirky bug theme that the developers at Little Bit Studio are known for. Bug Art is a lovely app that allows children to design their own critter, be it different types of beetles, dragonfly, ant, or the like, using a nice variety of art supplies and bug-shaped templates that one can fill in and decorate. They can also select from many color choices and drawing points, including three paintbrush heads, a pencil, and a marker choice, as well as other tools for bug personalization. Do check out the rainbow color button that enlarges the color selections, adding a larger collection of secondary and immediate colors as well as the related darker, muted shades that I appreciate a great deal. Glitter is an option, as are the inclusion of bug images, stamps, stickers, and even one’s own photos. An eraser is included that will remove all marks from the page, but an undo button would have been helpful as well, as it would allow children to subtract the last detail added to their work instead of having to restart from the white, paper-like background if the eraser is employed. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Crush II

 
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At first, when looking at screenshots, Crush II doesn’t look like that big of a deal. But when players get in to it, it will get real hard, real fast. Crush II is a relentless puzzle game. In Crush II, players are tasked with combining two block of the same color, while other blocks keep on falling on top of them. Don’t think to lightly about that: In Crush II, players will get baffled by the speed of those colored little terrors – I know I did. At the beginning of a fresh new game, I always thought: now is my time to shine. And for a while, I did shine. Heck, I shined for quite some time. But there is a moment in every game of Crush II where to falling blocks will beat players at their own game. A defeat is inevitable – but somehow, by playing the game more and more, players will get better at it and will raise their own high scores frequently. The only thing crushers have to endure is the constant feeling of defeat, every time the game ends. –Wesley Akkerman

Racing Rivals

 
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Racing Rivals is a 2.5D drag style racing game, where players can compete againts computer controlled and (online) human opponents. At first, I though this would be another simple iteration of the old concept, but now with slicker visuals. Boy, was I wrong. At its core, Racing Rivals offers a simple base. Players take control over a car in a 2.5D drag style race and have only three buttons to press. There is a launch, accelerator and shift button and every one of them a neatly placed at places one’s thumb can easily rest. Steering is not an option, bacause it thrives on speed, momentum and perfect shifting. Players will know excatly when to shift, because there is a line of blue colored dots that eventually lead onto a green one – and that’s the moment to strike. But the game requires perfect timing from its drivers. When players are a fraction to late or even to early, it gives the opponent the chance to drive right past them. –Wesley Akkerman

Game of War: Fire Age

 
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Game of War: Fire Age is a city builder with a huge scope. Taking control of a tiny city with some wooden walls and not a lot else, the player must construct an epic city, train an army and work with others to become powerful. At its most basic GOW:FA seems like any other city builder. The player taps a plot in their city and chooses a building, which takes real time to construct. There are a ton of buildings in game and the building system is quite in depth. There are the basics, like farms for food and barracks for troops but there are also embassies to work with other players, upgraded walls and traps to stop enemies and a dizzying array of resource and research buildings to construct. GOW:FA’s world is divided into vast areas called kingdoms where player cities reside. Unlike most games cities are actually located somewhere on the land in a kingdom, so it’s possible to view a world map and see the city and other player’s cities like an actual world map, rather than the more abstract “neighbors” common to this type of genre. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer took a look at Hitman: Sniper and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite at E3 2014, kicked off the World Cup with some top football games, and reviewed games like VVVVVV, Fluid SE, Angry Birds Epic, and Broken Age. Read everything right here.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Panzer Tactics HD

 
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It feels like this battle has been going on for weeks. Reports come pouring in across the command table – scouts have spotted enemy troops deploying along a ridge to the east of our main base, obviously trying to gain a flanking position. My own infantry is entrenched in the forests surrounding our target, waiting for tank reinforcements that have been suppressed by enemy air forces since they were deployed. But as the weather shifts and the rain begins to fall, suddenly those enemy planes can’t engage. And as my tanks roll forward, I give the order to end this battle once and for all. –Andrew Fisher

Tales of the Adventure Company

 
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Tales of the Adventure Company is a lite role-playing game that sets up dungeon-crawling as a minesweeper-like grid. Although the game feels very familiar because of its borrowed mechanics, Tales of the Adventure Company prevents itself from feeling like an also-ran with its unique party system, turn limits, and combat system. In every play session of Tales of the Adventure Company, players must advance their party of heroes through a series of gridded levels in their quest to defeat a specific boss-like enemy type. This is done by tapping on a 5×5 grid to explore the dungeon, find enemies, and befriend new party members. Players must not be too thorough in their searches though, as every session of the game has a turn limit that produces a fail state if hit. This time pressure is largely what makes Tales of the Adventure Company stick out from other dungeon-crawlers, as players must be extremely strategic about how they choose to explore. –Campbell Bird

Habbo

 
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My initial response to the mobile version of Habbo Hotel being released was, “is that thing still going?” Well apparently yes, it is, and it’s just as popular as it ever was. My last encounter with it was back in my early teens, when I thought nothing of joining an open chat room and spouting rubbish for everyone to hear. For those who don’t know, Habbo Hotel is a hugely popular online community with a near-infinite number of fully customizable, user-built rooms for people to explore and chat in. From mock Starbucks and popular game shows, to luxury pads and swimming pools, users are free to let their imaginations run wild. –Lee Hamlet

Outernauts: Monster Battle

 
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When Insomniac Games, developers of PlayStation classics like Spyro, Ratchet and Clank, and Resistance, release a game on iOS it’s pretty hard not to get excited. The developer’s strong pedigree even overpowers the seemingly cynical nature of Outernauts: Monster Battle‘s design and premise. While the game may ultimately just be a freemium take on Pokémon, its harmonious balance of systems at least makes it a very good freemium take on Pokémon. There are lots of things for players to do in Outernauts, a simplified port of a two-year-old Facebook game, but they all revolve around the cast of collectible creatures. Insomniac can create sci-fi infused Saturday morning cartoon universes in its sleep, and it turns out that’s a useful skill when designing a bunch of colorful elemental monsters. While some of the basic ideas might be a little generic, such as Equifoal the grass horse or Molto the fire pig, the characters themselves are full of personality. Meanwhile, the world is slick, vibrant, and uses sounds like ambient space tones or powerful lightning blasts to great effect. –Jordan Minor

Wren V5AP Wireless Speaker

 
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We live in a world where most everything is getting smaller all the time. Computers, spacecraft, even the world itself when you stop and think about it. But while smaller isn’t always better, it can still be difficult to shake preconceptions that are burned into our brains all the time. Which is probably why my first impression of the Wren V5AP wireless speaker wasn’t an incredibly positive one. When I unboxed the V5AP for the first time it struck me as kind of large and bit weighty; I also had trouble figuring out where in the apartment to put it. Once a spot was found, I still had to wrestle with it. My first attempt at connecting it to my wifi network via a direct connection between my iPhone 5 and the speaker was a bust – the included cables aren’t Lightning compatible, and when I tried to use my own cables they just didn’t work. –Rob Rich

Silly Family

 
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I would like to let readers know about a new app for iPad that I find to be a refreshingly new idea in puzzle apps. Silly Family is an app where players need to grasp the concept of a family tree – a game that demands focus as they label members of a family based on their understanding of roundabout information they are given about their familial relationships. The heart of this application will ask players to identify a member of the family, answering questions such as “Ivar is Sven’s mother’s husband’s brother” or “Ponk is Gloop’s brother’s sister’s mother’s sister” – complicated ways of identifying family members as “uncle” or “auntie” as players work through the tree, labeling characters after they have been identified. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Colossus Escape

 
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Colossus Escape is at its heart a very standard runner. The player strides along, jumping over pits, killing enemies and avoiding other hazards. The basic run and jump gameplay is mixed up with Quick time events where the player must swipe a pattern on the screen quickly or die. Unlike most runners there is a hit points system in colossus escape and it’s possible to take a few hits without dying instantly. This is very uncommon in the endless runner genre. –Allan Curtis

Push Panic

 
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Four years ago, Dutch developer Barry Kostjens and Dutch art designer Ricardo de Zoete brought Push Panic on to iOS. Now, four years later, the duo brings the classic fast-paced puzzle game to Android. Did it stand the test of time? In Push Panic, players have to tap falling blocks of the same color. That’s the base of the game – to spice things up a bit, Kostjens and De Zoete thought of some neat gameplay mechanics to make sure players will not get bored real fast with the concept. One of those concepts is that the game offers realistic physics. It sounds more uncommon than it actually is and it works in favor of the game. Blocks can fall on top or stumble next to each other, making it hard to predict where to blocks will fall and what players can do with them afterwards. –Wesley Akkerman

Mini Dodge Ninja

 
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Unless you’ve been under a rock in a wireless dead zone for the past few months, you’ve probably heard of Flappy Bird. The simple screen-tapping game took the world by storm and caused its creator so much stress that he decided to take down the game. Since then, a plethora of similar apps have invaded the Google Play Store in attempts to recreate the worldwide frenzy that was Flappy Bird, including Mini Dodge Ninja. Mini Dodge Ninja takes some elements and makes them its own, but it is an obvious duplication of the Flappy Bird formula, right down to the bird main character. While gameplay is similar to Flappy Bird, Mini Dodge Ninja offers a significantly greater challenge in a less vibrant setting. –Ryan Bloom

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best games of May and most anticipated games of June. The guys also went hands-on with Modern Combat 5, found 12 hidden features in iOS 8, and produced an exhaustive guide to skills in iOS role-player Battleheart Legacy. All that and loads more, here.

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews

 

Every single week, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

KeroBlaster

 
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KeroBlaster is an iPhone game from Studio Pixel, which should excite gamers if only because it’s from the creator of Cave Story: a Japanese homebrew game that spread enough to get published by Nicalis for a variety of other platforms, and is absolutely amazing. KeroBlaster takes a more level-based approach as more of a standard action-platformer. But it’s a fantastic example of being designed for its platform, and one of the best examples of authentic Japanese gaming in a world where so many games are heavily inspired by the region’s developers and their design principles. Nothing beats the real thing. Where KeroBlaster winds up being extremely clever is in its control. There are two arrows for moving the froggu protagonist, who goes on missions for the Cat and Frog corporation. There’s a jump button, but a three-way selector for firing. This has the player fire in the direction of their choice, with the ability to stop or switch with ease. It takes a lot of the stress out of worrying about firing at enemies, and does a lot to both simplify the interface, and make combat fun to play around with in a way that doesn’t feel lacking because it’s been built for mobile. Also, the game manages to build its combat around the idea that players can’t fire downward, with that being something players have to adjust to, and use their multiple weapons intelligently with. Boss fights prove to be challenging, but not frustrating to play. –Carter Dotson

Thomas Was Alone

 
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Writing is often one of the things in video games that suffers. Especially given the era of independent developers, small teams require wunderkinds who, after knowing how to design, code, and quantify the game’s artistic elements, might not have the time or ability to ensure a game is written well. Thankfully Thomas Was Alone, created by Mike Bithell, is one of the few games that has a key focus on writing. It’s a platformer, and never not about the platforming, but the game does a great job of creating a world defined so little by what players see, but what they’re told, in a way that feels clever and involving. Players control a group of squares thrust into a labyrinth – starting with Thomas, who meets other rectangles like John, Laura, and Claire, all with their own sizes, and properties that can help each other. That’s where the challenge and cleverness of play comes in: the platforming is familiar, but having to switch between several characters, using their different properties to get to the goals, can be a mental workout. It requires knowing the characters, and knowing when to move them out of the way, or have one on top of another, or whatever is necessary to get them all to their own goals in each of the 100 levels. And the game keeps throwing in new wrinkles all throughout the process. It’s fantastic. –Carter Dotson

UNcanny X-Men: Days of Future Past

 
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In a slightly surprising twist, the mobile game of Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past actually reflects the comic book that inspired the new film. So, staying true to its 90s roots, it comes in the form of a side-scrolling beat-em-up (with just a hint of platforming). Controlling one of five (soon to be eight) interchangeable characters, players will travel between a futuristic, apocalyptic setting – home to Old Wolverine and what remains of the X-Men – to the time in which the X-Men were in their heyday (albeit still disliked by humans), to prevent the mutant oppression and decimation that will occur unless they change the past. –Lee Hamlet

Next

 
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Tapping into a similar kind of field to Huurd.it, Next is a music discovery app that’s hopeful of finding the next big thing. It’s pretty simple to use and the potential of finding new talent (and maybe even some friends) is certainly there. Offering sign-ups via email, Twitter, or Facebook, users can quickly dive into finding out more or sharing their own content. Through the app, users can record audio and video footage of their piece of music before uploading it to share with others. –Jennifer Allen

Sago Mini Space Explorer

 
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I am quite eager to let readers know about Sago Sago’s new app, Sago Mini Space Explorer – part of a series of lovingly illustrated and thoughtfully interactive apps that allow children to explore different landscapes with a friendly and familiar main character. Here, the adventure takes place in space as one spends time with Harvey the Dog, now a galactic explorer that one helps navigate with the drag of a finger. I enjoy the palette of colors used here that includes many dark shades of blue and grey that look rich and serene against the backlit screen, also including brighter hues that add visual interest with a nice pop of color. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker

 
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Wireless speakers offerings are somewhat plentiful, and come in at different price ranges. Having choices is almost never a bad thing, which is why gadget lovers should love stuff like Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker. It has a presence. The speaker itself is gorgeous in its seemingly minimalist look. Closer up, one catches the intricate craftsmanship of the aluminum shell, which encases the right rectangular prism that is bracketed by ports on one side and the control bank on the other. Officially, it comes in at 6.25 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches and less than 14 ounces. In the box, one also gets a micro-USB cable and documentation. –Tre Lawrence

Zombie Road Trip Trials

 
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Zombie Road Trip Trials is a trials-based spin-off of Zombie Road Trip. The gameplay is rendered in 2D form, with glossy graphics and usable animations. The raceway is irregular and runs from left to right, with zombies generally coming somewhere from the right of the playing area. The artwork does help to define the game, with rolling, intimidating hills and severe drops that encourage the vehicles to go airborne. The controls are virtual in nature and placed at the bottom of the playing area: go buttons for forward and backwards movements, and flip (front and back) buttons to the left. –Tre Lawrence

Tales of the Adventure Company

 
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Tales of the Adventure Company, as previewed recently, is a dungeon crawler that uses tile-flipping and patterns like Disco Zoo to send players through a dungeon, trying to kill the boss at the end, collecting keys and managing one’s party along the way. It’s a game that uses randomness, but in a great way. Randomness in games can be a crutch or it can be a compelling element. It can be frustrating to know that one’s fate is not exactly in their own hands. But the way that Tales of the Adventure Company uses randomness is special. See, players might never know what exactly they’re getting when they uncover a tile, but they know what they might potentially get, be it enemies or heroes to uncover. And they’ll have an idea of where the next hero or enemy will be because the patterns are available. The game knows what it needs to keep hidden from players and what it needs them to know in order to have a fair shot a succeeding. –Carter Dotson

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews

 

Every single week, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Overkill Mafia

 
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There are a ton of great shooting gallery style games on mobile devices – probably because they seem almost quaint compared to the ridiculous technology in home consoles and touchscreen cell phones. Overkill Mafia plays like an old fashioned shooting gallery, but with the new age veneer of a detailed mafia universe. The game is organized like a typical free shooter, where players have to complete missions and gain enough currency to upgrade their weapons, earn higher levels levels, or pay ahead if they’ve got enough on their credit card. Players stare down the barrel of a gun as an endless wave of enemy enforcers try to gun them in down in places that look like mobsters hangouts from the Prohibition Era. –Danny Gallagher

Mr. Jack Pocket

 
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A killer stalks the city, ensconced within the dark cloak of its midnight shadows. Fog rises to cloud the vision, and the somber toll of the distant clock tower echoes the quiet, gnawing fear in the populace – the streets of Whitechapel once again belong to Jack. But they are not alone – this night, there are those who would hunt the hunter and end his reign of terror. Holmes, Watson, and their faithful dog Toby must be quick about their task, though, because should Jack escape them tonight, there will be no finding him. A digital conversion of a board game, which is itself already a quick-play distillation of a larger, more complex game, Mr. Jack Pocket is a sublimely simple two-player game of deduction – with Jack attempting to remain hidden for eight turns and the investigators desperately trying to narrow down the suspect list within that time. Players can play as either side, either solo against an AI or against each other. Multiplayer is strictly pass-and-play. Being a fan of the board game, there was no learning curve for me to pick up and play this one. However, the tutorials are well-designed and teach the mechanics of the game as well as a bit of the strategy behind planning both one’s own moves as well as anticipating those of an opponent. –Andrew Fisher

Alone in the Dark

 
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Like most everyone who’s actually familiar with Alone in the Dark and excited about seeing it on the App Store, I’ve got lots of fond memories. Sure it’s an old game (almost 22 years old at this point), and much of that fondness is driven by nostalgia, but it’s also a classic! It’s got to be great for a trip down memory lane and a laugh or two… right? If only. Alone in the Dark is pretty much a direct port of the 1992 PC version. Players choose between playing as Emily Hartwood or Detective Edward Carnby as they explore the mansion of Derceto – and most likely die horrible deaths in the process. Along the way they’ll have to solve bizarre puzzles, avoid devious traps, and do their best not to get eaten by one of the many, many horrors that roam the halls. –Rob Rich

SXPD

 
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SXPD is part comic book, part driving game, set in the merciless 52nd State of the USA. A place governed by a singular authority: a female police force named the SXPD. In this futuristic society, the officers are given only numbers as names, and are kept busy by the various gangs rebelling against the state. Players will follow a new recruit known only as ’021′ through a black-and-white digital comic, drawn by renowned comic book artist Duke Mighten of Batman and Judge Dredd fame. As the panels splice and scatter apart to further the story, they’ll soon find themselves dropped into a high-speed chase out of nowhere. These sections come complete with stylised cel-shaded graphics that reflect the art of the comics, with all of the cool visual sound-effects and death panels one could hope for. It’s an immersive experience, and one that feels properly integrated into the story. –Lee Hamlet

Darkin

 
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The first thing to be said about Darkin is that it is very much like Dungeon Raid. Of course, it’s not the first match-3 game and it will hardly be the last, and we haven’t seen that game get an update nor iPad support in a while, so Darkin does serve a necessary place in the puzzle-RPG canon. And it is a must-play. The goal of the game is to stay alive as long as possible by making matches by drawing through tiles in any direction, though tiles can only be crossed over once. Enemies are defeated by making matches with them, using the teeth tiles to amplify the damage done. Coins can be collected and spent on upgrades for that round, such as increasing max health or the damage amplification from teeth tiles. Moons give players new spells to use, though these are single-use abilities only. Hearts refill health. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

FreeDum

 
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FreeDum is a fairly straightforward title. You’re a little bug that needs to escape from treacherous shoe-box sized obstacle courses. Along the way you also need to run into baby bugs to save them as well. You’ve been placed in these cardboard confines by an ill-mannered youth who doesn’t really appear in the game much beyond the opening scene. Like I said, it’s straight forward. The obstacles you’ll come across range from other, much more tougher bugs, to saw blades and rotating razor blades. These don’t offer too much of a challenge other than ‘don’t touch them’. –Matt Parker

Striker Soccer 2

 
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With the World Cup about to start, it’s time to catch that soccer fever. Striker Soccer 2 from U-Play Online and Chillingo will perhaps cure some of the symptoms of soccer fever, but it won’t heal it altogether. There are several modes of play. There’s friendly matches where any two teams face off; a competition mode where players choose a team and lead it to their league’s championship, with the ability to upgrade players; and a challenge mode where players must win in the face of increasingly-difficult scenarios. Simplified kids’ versions of some modes are available. A $0.99 IAP will buy a Team Edit mode as well. –Carter Dotson

JotterPad X

 
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As a full-time writer, I am in need of good writing apps. I reviewed JotterPad back in early 2012, and found it to be solid but not something that I would perhaps use regularly. Now, the year is 2014. My life is quite different, and I now carry around an Xperia Z Ultra, which I am generously calling a phone because it’s really more of a “tablet that can make phone calls” and have a folding Bluetooth keyboard I usually carry in my bag with me. I’d love an app for writing on the Ultra, because the screen is big enough for it, but I was lacking a good app: I usually would use my Surface Pro or iPad Mini to write, and I have good options on those: Writemonkey and Byword, respectively. But now, I think JotterPad X, two and a half years later, is the writing app that I need for Android. –Carter Dotson

Table Tennis Touch Review

Table Tennis Touch Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
For fans and non-fans of ping pong alike, this is fun - plain and simple.

Read The Full Review »

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Godzilla-Smash3

 
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Last week, I reviewed Godzilla: Strike Zone. It wasn’t very good. Still, there was some small comfort to be had from the fact that at least Warner Bros. wasn’t charging anything for this poorly executed piece of digital movie hype fluff. Now, one week later, Godzilla is lumbering his way into theaters as we speak and yet another free movie tie-in has come to herald his arrival: Godzilla – Smash3. But guess what? It’s actually kinda fun. Who’d have thought, right? –Rob Thomas

JoyJoy

 
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Radiangames is back with another dual-stick shooter. JoyJoy is a fast-paced, arena-based, dual-stick shooter that’s going to be satisfying for those who fancy the genre. The setup is familiar: there are waves of enemies, and players must control their ship that can fire in 360 degrees, to take out everything shooting at them. Enemy bullets can be destroyed with the player’s bullets, so it’s not just a game of frantic dodging but one where it’s possible to cancel out threats with the immense firepower that the player has. The upgrade system is much simpler than what it was in Ballistic SE, Inferno+, and other Radiangames titles, as players just pick up powerups in the main Waves mode that have permanent effects like more health or more powerful weapons. As well as the 24-level Waves mode, there’s a Challenges mode where players can try to last as long as possible against particular enemy setups. All of the modes have seven difficulties available. –Carter Dotson

Dark Lands

 
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When every interesting game idea is copied and cloned in a thousand different iterations across the App Store mere moments after gaining any modicum of mass popularity (2048 anyone? Some Flappy Bird maybe?), it’s very easy to get dismissive and jaded. We’ve seen and played the Jetpack Joyrides, the Robot Unicorn Attacks, the Temple Runs, and any of a hundred other flavors of the endless runner. Does Dark Lands manage to do anything different? While the core is pretty typical endless runner, Dark Lands has slapped on a layer of visual distinction that, if nothing else, certainly makes it pretty to watch. Co-opting both style and content cues from games like the critically acclaimed Limbo, Dark Lands comes with a bold, moody, silhouetted visual aesthetic. While there may not be ghostly children here, players sprinting and slashing their way through this pseudo-Grecian world will encounter monsters and deathtraps aplenty. –Rob Thomas

CIRCA6

 
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CIRCA6 is an incredibly simple game. Take a look at the screenshots below and that’s pretty obvious. Attractive in its own way it might be, but feature-packed it’s not. It’s a minimalistic shooter that focuses on providing an enjoyable experience rather than memorable visuals. It works as a fun distraction for five minutes, for the most part. Controls are conducted via a virtual joystick which allows one to propel forwards, with bullets flying out in the opposite end of the direction taken. Working on a kind of thrusting basis, it takes a brief bit of adaptation but it’s soon quite natural to use. Shooting is done automatically with endless waves of colored dots flying at the player. These dots are different colors, each representing a different skill level. While one color might be fairly dumb and easy to take out, another might be keen to dodge bullets and tricky to chase after. –Jennifer Allen

Toy Rush

 
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On paper, Toy Rush doesn’t look particularly remarkable. It’s a freemium game, a tower defense/offense title, and it has collectible cards to acquire. It’s essentially a mash up of many other elements we’ve seen before. While, as is the way with such freemium games, patience is necessary when dealing with some timers, Toy Rush still offers a few different elements that make it feel more worthwhile than other titles within the genre. Players start out with their own base to defend and build upon. It’s a familiar premise with players able to place new towers and units to keep things safe for while they’re offline. What’s different is how this is done. Tickets are gradually accumulated through victories and simply through waiting it out. These are then used to buy packets of cards. The more spent on these card packs, the better the quality of the items gleaned from them. Such randomness is sometimes a bit infuriating when one is desperate for a particular card, but it’s also fun to see what happens. –Jennifer Allen

WordGirl Superhero Training

 
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WordGirl Superhero Training is a PBS educational app based on the PBS show WordGirl that, like the name describes, revolves around a superhero girl with a focus on introducing new vocabulary to viewers through a conversational means. I really enjoy WordGirl – bright and colorful, with nuances reminiscent of The Powerpuff Girls with an educational spin easily palatable for children of all ages. The heart of WordGirl Superhero Training includes four mini-games that are geared towards strengthening skills such as memory, logic, and reflexes in an arcade-styled game that also includes a vocabulary element as well a maze-centric section involving synonyms. I really enjoy the creative ideas included within these sections. Instead of the classic “concentration”-styled game of flipping over cards to match pairs, one must focus on two related objects before they are “WHAMED” apart by the villain, The WHAMER, and are in need of being put back together by the player in this puzzle-themed section that helps children learn detailed words to describe these commonplace objects. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Lost Bubble

 
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Bubble breaking games are timeless reminders of the charm found in classic arcade titles. Striking the perfect balance, bubble popping games are the perfect mix of simple to play and difficult to master. Bringing these types of games to the modern gaming audience can also be a matter of finding the right balance. Lost Bubble, developed by Peak Games, fails to recognize the charm of classic bubble breakers by reaching too far for a modern overhaul. Like any bubble breaking game, the premise of Lost Bubble is simple. Players enter a level with colored bubbles populating the screen. It is the player’s job to shoot matching colored bubbles in order to make them fall. Early levels are quite simple, but the game challenges players with more bubbles to break and new obstacles as they advance through stages. –Ryan Bloom

Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies

 
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Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies is a fun, retro-feeling mouthful. The game premise is as simple as it gets; it takes a leaf out of the the book of arcade games of years past, and pits a shooter against shooting opponents. It’s a 2D playing area in this one, with the protagonist object at the bottom (forescreen) and the enemy craft mostly in the air above at the top of the screen. The protagonist object can move left and right, and can shoot, and these actions are accomplished via the virtual controls at the very bottom of the game. –Tre Lawrence

Go Kane!

 
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Go Kane! is a game about love, drugs and a fight against the clock. Will Kane get enough money to save one of his girlfriends? That’s up to the player. In Go Kane! players take control over ladies’ man Kane. Kane got himself in a nasty situation: his girlfriend – or at least, one of his girlfriends – is held hostage somewhere and Kane needs to get a certain amount of money to set her free once again. But how will he get more than a hundred thousand dollars? Well, by selling drugs, of course. Everything in this game should be taken with a grain of salt, because instead of drugs, Kane could be selling anything to get the money. But this game isn’t meant to be serious and has a lot of humor, so yeah. Why not drugs. –Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week the chaps at Pocket Gamer reviewed KeroBlaster, JoyJoy, and Thomas Was Alone, gazed and guessed at Apple’s future with some iPhone 6 rumours and an iOS 8 wishlist, put together its first all-animated-GIF walkthrough to Blek, found some indie games in Poland, picked the best games to play with your kids, and told you how to become the next iOS game-streaming Twitch superstar. See it all right here.

Shiny Happy App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

dEXTRIS

 
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dEXTRIS is not related to Tetris, so the “tris” part of the name doesn’t make much sense. But it is a game of dexterity that will cause the spewing of a multitude of profanities – in a good way. Players use their two thumbs to navigate two blocks around hazards. Tapping and holding on the left or right moves both blocks that direction, holding both sides splits the two blocks apart, and doing nothing leaves them in the center. This neutral state is mentioned specifically because some of the hazards require being in that neutral state. Some of the challenge comes from the fact that the blocks move quickly, but not instantaneously, and the hazards are diagonal: One must act about a split-second ahead of what’s coming at all times. –Carter Dotson

1849

 
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Spending most of my school-aged years in Northern California as I did, the subject of the mid-1800s California Gold Rush is indelibly etched into my brain. We went on gold panning school field trips to Placerville and hiked the same trails that the miners had a hundred and fifty years prior. When SomaSim’s 1849 went up for review, a glance at the screens filled my heart with hopes for a Gold Rush-themed Sim City. But as any seasoned Forty-Niner can attest, I probably shouldn’t get too excited about every sparkly nugget that catches the light. After all, there’s plenty of fool’s gold in these App Store hills, so it’s best to stay cautious. My assumptions were at least partially correct: 1849 IS a boomtown city simulation. But rather than the open sandbox format of a lot of city builders, 1849 takes a much more focused, scenario-guided path. Players jump from city to city across Central and Northern California during the height of gold fever, helping kickstart a series of small encampments and grow them into prosperous communities. Usually this takes the form of needing to import or export an amount of specific goods from surrounding towns, hitting population milestones, or the like. Upon arriving at the new settlement, players pick from one of three starting package options, which will determine the amount of money and/or free resources the settlers begin with. –Rob Thomas

Gunship X

 
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At its most basic, Gunship X is a lot like Zombie Gunship. In fact, even at its most complicated, Gunship X is a lot like the zombie blasting hit. That’s no bad thing exactly, but enjoyment levels are heavily dependent on how much one enjoys mindless shooting. The idea is incredibly simple. Aliens are rushing at humanity and, most importantly, various landing areas. Humans are trying to flee to safe zones and it’s down to the player, controlling an AC-130 Gunship to protect them. Players don’t directly control the Gunship; instead they are reliant solely on its offensive capabilities. What this means is that the screen offers one large aiming reticule and a place to switch weapons. –Jennifer Allen

Sumotori Dreams

 
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Previously a popular PC game, Sumotori Dreams is a pretty quirky title. It’s a form of sumo wrestling simulator, but one that’s far more focused on humor than realism. While in single player it’s a little forgettable, it’s a fun experience when participating with friends and certainly like little else out there. The key to success in Sumotori Dreams is to defeat the opponent. This is done through either pushing them over, forcing them out of the ring, or sometimes simply waiting for them to make a mistake and stumble over. The center of gravity for these characters is a bit wacky, meaning falling over is just as likely as being pushed. This is particularly noticeable when partaking in different arenas that actively encourage such problems, such as one level based on a giant seesaw and another at the top of a flight of stairs. –Jennifer Allen

Metal Slug Defense

 
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Metal Slug Defense is a 2D, real time, side-scrolling strategy game based on the popular arcade shooter series. Although not the typical Metal Slug experience, Metal Slug Defense does a pretty great job of translating the charm and spirit of its predecessors into a mobile and more strategic form. In more typical Metal Slug titles, players take control of an individual soldier as they run, gun, and jump their way through 2D levels full of enemy soldiers and creatures. In Metal Slug Defense, players instead take control of a base that is capable of spitting out soldier after soldier, with the ultimate goal being to destroy the enemy base on the other side of the level. –Campbell Bird

Moo Said Morris

 
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I would like to introduce readers to Moo Said Morris, a storybook app for iPad that children and their parents will enjoy. Meet Morris: a young mouse who is a bit of an outsider. While all the other mice at school and in his town make the traditional squeaky noises, Morris makes sounds that are certainly un-mouse-like such as mooing like a cow, quacking like a duck, and even sounding like a car or airplane – much to the dismay of his teacher and to the disappointment of the community who find his unusual noises disconcerting to say the least. That is until his ability to sound like something that he is not comes in handy at the end. I really enjoy this story of Morris, a character that children will be able to relate to. The illustrations are delightful, full of details, and with a hand-drawn quality that I am really drawn to. The moments when Morris speaks are simply delightful, with a speech bubble including the image of an animal such as a horse or donkey making noises and complete with the name of their sounds written out, aiding children who may be new to animal sounds as well. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Snatz

 
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Jumping on a trampoline, opening windows and stealing TV’s. All while being a little rat – that is what Snatz is all about. But is it any fun? Yes and no. It seems a bit random: rats stealing TV’s for a living, while they’re jumping on a trampoline from house to house and entering them one window at a time. Yes, but that’s excatly what Snatz is all about. In this game, players have to open windows by getting to them via a trampoline. The building the rats visit are very high and will get even higher later on in the game. If the residents see your little rat face one time to often, they will call the police. And when they come, the rats flee the scene of the crimes. This results in a car chase – dropping the stolen tv’s on the police, will stop the chase. –Wesley Akkerman

Crazy Pixel Run

 
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Running around like a hopped-up hyperactive hare – that’s the best description for this Russian indie game featuring a colorless bunny in a colorless world. In Crazy Pixel Run you control a rectangular, colorless bunny. The little fella is born in a world where everything is grey. He’s main goal in life: bring more color to it. It is platformer style indie game where you have to collect energy to stay alive in a randomly generated and infinite world. The bring color to the world, you need to run around like a crazy pixel-rabbit and collect special glowing things. Every part of the world you touch collecting these things, will brightening up your world. –Wesley Akkerman

Song of Hero

 
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Song of Hero is a rhythm RPG, a combination between rhythm games like Guitar Hero, and a role-playing game. The player needs to organize a 4-man battle band that fights against various monsters. The battle consists of several phases, as heroes and the monster take turns attacking and using special abilities – but for player, the task is always the same – just hit all upcoming beats on time, as they reach the end of their lanes. Although the outcome greatly depends on the player’s accuracy, it’s still possible to fail the battle if the monster isn’t beaten by the end of the playing song. The songs are about a minute and a half long, and although I couldn’t name a single performer, each one of the songs was of a good quality. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer celebrated the best month in iOS gaming EVER, discussed the controversy surrounding Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life, and took a look at Techland’s Hellraid: The Escape. Plus – get a full walkthrough to Bridge Constructor Medieval and learn how to build the perfect deck in Hearthstone. It’s all right here, right now.

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Intake: Be Aggressive

 
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Without context, it would be easy to think that Intake was designed from the ground up for the iPad. It’s the portrait orientation, and the game being so multitouch-friendly, being about frantically eliminating pills that drop from the sky by tapping on them, with the ability to pop multiple at a time by using multiple fingers. It actually wasn’t made specifically for iPad, though; it started as a PC game that used the mouse. Now that Intake is on the iPad, it’s at home and is a must-have for iPad owners who love fast-paced intense experiences. The best way to play the game is by laying it down flat on a table, using one’s thumb on each hand to switch pill colors in an Ikaruga-esque fashion, and then using other fingers to pop pills up and down the screen as necessary. It’s worth popping the same color pill as what is selected in order to extend out combos – not only for more points, but to get the power-ups that can help keep the board under control. This is especially necessary during the challenging levels that appear every five stages: they will often be the end of a run, but completing them means it will be even more lucrative. Checkpoints that new games can be started from are available every 25 stages. –Carter Dotson

Lethal Lance

 
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There is no question that Lethal Lance swims in a big pool of old-school platformers, but LL Team and their publisher BulkyPix knew exactly how to make their title stand out. The game successfully (and almost immediately) plunges players into a lighthearted world that only jokingly ever takes itself too seriously (i.e. 2 star ratings come with the title of “Mr. Serious”). The objective (as one would expect from an intentionally old-school title) is for users to find their way to the other end of the level without losing all of their lives. Every level is packed with coins for players to collect in order to get a better rating. The rating system itself is pretty straightforward; in order to get all 3 stars, players must accomplish all of the 3 different objectives: they must finish the level without losing any lives, collect all of the coins, and reach the exit before the time expires. If the time does expire, they will simply lose one of the stars – as opposed to starting over. –Cata Modorcea

Sharebrands Stereo Headphones

 
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It’s funny how important comfort can be when it comes to a set of headphones, which is exactly why I’ve been enjoying Sharebrands’ Stereo Headphones as much as I have. It’s also rather funny how this $65 pair of headphones is actually more comfortable than some close to $200 pairs I’ve tried. And heck, some of that $65 isn’t even profit – Sharebrands donates 25% of the sale price of each pair to help the environment (Green), men and children’s health (Blue), women and children’s health (Pink), education (Yellow), or to help fight poverty (Red). Comfort isn’t the only thing these headphones have going for them, though; they also sound pretty good. I’m sure there are better pieces of audio headgear out there, but what I’ve been hearing is certainly not bad. None of that horrible “tinny” business, good balance, and the extra padding around the ears helps to block out a lot of background noise that could otherwise intrude on whatever the user might be listening to. –Rob Rich

Racer 8

 
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Puzzle games and cars don’t exactly seem like the most logical combination on the planet. However, anyone who has ever played the classic quasi-board game “Parking Lot,” knows that that not only can the blend work, but also that it can actually be quite amusing. This is why it should come as no surprise 30-06 Studios would want to take advantage of this mix with their new title, Racer 8. Will it have players revving their engines or leave them running on fumes? Equal parts asset management, time trial and puzzle game, Racer 8 plays on several different mechanics to keep players’ heads constantly spinning. The core goal consists of navigating the car, which is constantly in motion, through a series of checkpoints and ultimately across the finish line. This is actually completed by revolving the square tiles in the map grid in order to form a track for the vehicle to follow. Throughout the process there are other concerns such as gas scarcity and target times, which both play secondary roles in determining how well the player performed on any given stage. –Blake Grundman

Accompli

 
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Why have three apps when it’s possible to do everything with just one? That’s the thinking behind Accompli, an email app for Gmail and Exchange users that also happens to offer contacts and calendar integration. It has its issues – mostly relating to its privacy policy – but if that’s not a major problem then Accompli is a handy solution for business users. Starting out, Accompli offers all the features we now come to expect from email apps. It’s minimalistic to look at as well as use, with a choice of thread views, a unified or separate inbox, and plenty of simple to use gestures to manipulate everything. At this point, it’s familiar enough that one would be forgiven for wondering what makes Accompli stand out over something like Mailbox. –Jennifer Allen

Sago Mini Monsters

 
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Sago Mini Monsters is a playful and creative app for toddlers and early preschool children that allows them to explore with color and other fun details as they create unique monsters that they need to take care of by feeding, primping with accessories, and attending to their personal needs such as teeth brushing. Each monster is met by dragging him or her from the green swampy area seen at the bottom of the page bubbling about adding a charmingly icky sense of style – especially as one will need to drag the monsters and their food up from this bog-like area as a tap will also make this fluid bubble. Children will enjoy decorating their at first detail-less monster with the use of five included colors. Simply draw and, when completed, a charming creature face will sprout giving personality to the character the young player has just decorated. Also fun is the ability to swap out different features to further customize the look of these monsters, complete with fun gooey details as one pulls off areas of the face, allowing new parts to sprout. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Greedy Dwarf

 
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In Greedy Dwarf you control a dwarf in a mine cart, collecting gold and surviving the inside of magma-filled cylindrical caverns. It’s a endless runner type of game, chopped into different levels. The controls of the cart are fairly easy to comprehend. By swiping left or right, the cart will go that direction respectively. The levels are mostly in the form of a cylinder, so the dwarf can ride not only on the ground, but also on the walls and the ceiling. By using two fingers or both thumbs, the mine cart jumps. The problem with these jumps that is difficult to see when to jump or where to land, because of the 3D environment. When dying often, this gets very frustrating. –Wesley Akkerman

Dancing Samurai

 
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Little known fact, but samurai warriors very rarely used their katana swords in battle. They mostly used pikes, like everyone else, because they had the farthest reach, meaning that you could deal a lot of nasty damage, while being on the safe distance yourself – and you didn’t have to worry about friendly “fire” as well! The reason that I speak about ancient Japanese military tactics is that I frankly don’t have much to say about Dancing Samurai – not because it’s bad, but because it’s so small – like a bonsai tree under mount Fuji. –Tony Kuzmin

Brandnew Boy

 
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The first thing that will most likely strike you about Brandnew Boy (apart from its odd title) is that it looks great. Brandnew Boy is built using the Unreal engine and even though I reviewed the game on a Nexus 4, it still managed to pack a graphical punch. The game itself revolves around you playing as a young man (or if you’d prefer, a young woman) who’s got a bad case of amnesia. What they (you) can remember though is how to kick and punch. This is handy as each level you complete is full of bizarre creatures, ranging from odd-looking ‘egg men’ to what can only be described as a demon with an umbrella. –Matt Parker

And finally, this week, the Pocket Gamer crew highlighted its most anticipated games for May, took an advanced look at the next game from Rock Band developer Harmonix, reviewed 3DS sport sim Mario Golf: World Tour and picked the three best iOS and Android games of the week. Have a read.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Wayward Souls

 
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The roguelike-inspired genre hasn’t really taken off on mobile like I expected it to quite yet, but Wayward Souls sets the bar so high for any other developer that tries to jump in that I do not envy them. Wayward Souls is a darn fine roguelike action-RPG. The game, which is a spiritual successor of Mage Gauntlet, thrusts players into three dungeons where they have one life, a limited amount of health, the character’s special abilities, and occasional power-ups, upgrades, and coins that can be collected. The coins are the only permanent thing that is carried between games, which can be spent on upgrades. Otherwise, the game features permadeath: any upgrades and items collected don’t carry over. So choose wisely and don’t be afraid to actually use the items. As well, the game features random levels in each dungeon, so no run is ever the same. There are common elements each time through, but expect the unexpected. –Carter Dotson

Leo’s Fortune

 
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When a game starts with a gentle and vaguely ethnic voice talking about “good mornings” and “purple light,” players know that they’re in for something unique. But lavish production values and lovingly realized characters are just the beginning of the greatness that is Leo’s Fortune. Tilting Point and 1337 & Senri set out to make a mobile game as fun and fantastic as something on consoles. Fortunately, they succeeded. Players take control of Leo, a brilliant inventor and adorable elderly fuzzball, as he attempts to reclaim his stolen treasure. It’s impossible to oversell how delightful his design is. Imagine a grandpa’s beard that suddenly came to life. That’s just the start of Leo’s Fortune‘s amazing aesthetics. The game’s graphics have an old-world whimsy full of wartime, turn of the 20th century, Eastern European influences. Also, with its stage motif, the game draws from the early world of cinema that Martin Scorsese sought to recreate in the movie ‘Hugo.’ On a technical level, the naturalistic environments like desert ruins and ocean floors, or more industrial ones like a fiery underground furnace, have exquisite lighting and immaculate textures. However, the art style is so strong that the impressiveness of the visuals just adds to the wonder instead of being boringly photorealistic. With all that eye candy to take in, the fact that the feature film-level soundtrack and professional voice-acting equally amaze just speaks to their quality. –Jordan Minor

Strongarm Universal Mount

 
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The Strongarm falls into that special category of hardware I like to call “Simple but Effective.” Really it’s just a couple of suction cups that can pivot around each other, but if you’ve got a flat enough surface handy it can make for a pretty effective stand for your iOS device. With a few caveats. Using the Strongarm is super-simple: just place the larger end on a smooth, flat surface and push down five times. This creates a vacuum that will keep it solidly in place for quite some time – depending on the angle and the weight of the device at the other end, of course. Then do the same for the smaller end (place on surface and push five times), only use the back of your iOS device instead of a table or wall. And viola! You now have a stand for your iPhone or iPad that can swivel around if you need it. Want to remove your phone or move everything to a new spot? Just push down on one end to disrupt the vacuum and the Strongarm pops right off. –Rob Rich

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

 
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The twofold attack of complexity and cost have always been the biggest barriers to entry for newcomers interested in collectible card games. Arcane layers of terminology and elaborate multi-stage turn structures can prove daunting to the uninitiated and indeed were almost my own undoing during my teenage introduction to Magic: The Gathering. Even if newbies can handle absorbing the rules, there’s still the financial bite of dropping $4 for a single booster pack of around a dozen cards. But with the release of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard has managed to execute a truly impressive feat of plate-spinning. They have not only created a CCG that is both quick and easy for newbies to pick up (while still challenging for veteran card slingers), but have simultaneously crafted what may well be one of the best free-to-play experiences on any platform EVER. –Rob Thomas

Boxer

 
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Boxer is a mailbox app for iOS that seems to be able to do almost anything one could ask of it. Where many mail apps I’ve tried tend to lean either more toward user-friendliness or high customization, Boxer does a great job of balancing both – making it my new favorite mail client for mobile devices. When users boot up Boxer they are greeted with their inbox view, which merges all of the incoming email from all connected accounts in a column view that is similar to most mail apps on the iPhone. From here users can open messages, swipe to archive or delete them, or assign other labels or actions to them such as putting them on a to-do list, liking them, or sending quick replies. While I found this layout relatively intuitive, Boxer accounts for the fact that this may not be the desired way to use email for everyone and have included customization options for users that want to boot into a different screen on startup, or change what the swiping actions do. –Campbell Bird

Petites Choses

 
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Sometimes it is hard not to become jaded as an app reviewer because there are times that it may seem as if many apps are rather familiar – making me wish for something unique, interesting or simply beautiful. Because of this, I am happy to have had the chance to review Petites Choses: an interactive app for young children that has a wonderfully crafted style, setting it apart from other apps seen in iTunes. Petites Choses is an app for small children that includes simple, unique mini-games that one discovers inside the included beautifully-illustrated cityscape that employs a serene use of color and a watercolor style that I greatly appreciate. As one scrolls though this city, children will be lead to the areas of this app that are to be explored – be it scenes found within the windows of a building as well as within the trees, taxis, flowers or umbrellas also seen within this urban landscape. I do love the look of this app – the hazy use of color and the clouds that hang over this city as well as the buildings that include a layered look that gives this city depth when scrolling through this landscape. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Voxel Rush: Free Racing

 
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Every now and then, I get, well, got. I do try to be a beacon of impartiality, mostly immune to the wiles of software titles, but every so often, a game throws it on me, and I get weak. That what Voxel Rush: Free Racing Games from HyperBees continually does to me. With regards to gameplay, it is as straightforward as it gets: it’s a first-person endless runner set as a race through an artsy, creatively minimalist environment that is built to challenge and stimulate the senses. The game depends on this ever-changing backdrop to deliver the excitement that it intends to, and it mostly delivers. –Tre Lawrence

Letters from Nowhere: Mystery

 
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G5 is practically the authority when it comes to hidden mystery games, and one can be fairly certain that a game from the venerable development house will be better than decent. With Letters From Nowhere: Mystery, we do get what we expect, and a bit more. The gameplay goes a bit beyond Murray finding miscellaneous objects in different environments; this game has a few palpable elements that add to the overall gameplay in quite positive ways. –Tre Lawrence

Smash and Dash

 
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Smash and Dash is a game title that delivers: in the game, you smash up guns that fire blue bullets at you, while you dash away to not get hit by those bullets. Smash and Dash is played on a grid, and strongly reminds us of another great game: Geometry Wars, only now on a smaller scale.The little flying machine you control can smash every enemy on screen, but is extremely vulnerable when it comes to bullets. Only one of those is needed to knock you out, what makes the game really challenging to experience arcade gamers. It’s really fast-paced and it suits the game very well. And the controls are very smooth, too. On screen, there is an analog stick that directly controls your flying vehicle and the response of that stick is utterly fast. It has to be: a fast-paced game where you need to rely on your own skill, won’t benefit from anything other than that. –Wesley Akkerman

Finally, this installment of AppSpy’s Week in Video, reviews troubled web-wanging sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2, noir sneak-’em-up Third Eye Crime: Act 1, and neon endless-runner Unpossible. AppSpy also takes a sneak peek at new releases like fluffy platformer Leo’s Fortune, and the impressive-looking roguelike Wayward Souls in our live Twitch show Eye on the App Store. Watch it all on AppSpy now.

And, this week Pocket Gamer gave a rare Platinum Award to Wayward Souls, shared some tips for Blizzard card battler Hearthstone, picked out the best puzzle games on Android, and weeped over 10 franchises that have been spoiled by the intrusion of in-app purchases. All this and more over at Pocket Gamer.

Spring Into Our App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Unpossible

 
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Unpossible is another fantastic minimalist arcade survival game in the vein of Super Hexagon and Pivvot, this one adding in the wrinkle of being in first-person. Essentially, the game is the same as any other arcade survival game: don’t hit the obstacles. Simple as that. The obstacles and the way they’re laid out is anything but simple, though. There’s three difficulty modes: Simplicity, Futile, and Ultra. Simplicity starts out very easy, and it can be a bit disheartening at first for the player looking for a challenging experience because it’s fairly easy. However, things really jump up at Futile, where getting the requisite 60 seconds to unlock the next game mode is very difficult. And Ultra difficulty is, in fact, ultra-hard. –Carter Dotson

Hitman GO

 
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Hitman GO is one of the odder big-name games that I can remember in recent memory. It takes the core tenets of Hitman, and turns it into a strategic board game. It’s a unique choice with a unique presentation to match, and while it’s certainly odd at first, it comes together beautifully. This is an intelligently-designed, wonderful experience. This is a turn-based affair, where players control Agent 47 along circuit-like boards where he can move one node at a time. He must make it to the exit without being spotted by the enemies on the board, who all move after he does, so they have an advantage, though each enemy has predictable behaviors. Thus, it’s about using their patterns and the limited tools available, like noise makers and disguises, to avoid and even take out the various enemies. –Carter Dotson

Livescribe 3 Smartpen

 
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The Livescribe 3 is a Bluetooth enabled pen with a little infrared camera in the front that tracks what is written and stores that as a sort of digital ink. That ink can then be dictated to an iPad/iPhone with the free Livescribe+ app and a Bluetooth enabled iOS device. What results is nothing short of amazing. Once the writing/drawing/doodle/whatever that has been written on the special notebook and has been transferred to the iOS device, then the real magic starts. Whole pages or just sections can be emailed, transferred to Evernote, turned into calendar events or reminders, etc. And if the handwriting is legible (i.e. better then mine), any written words will also be converted to text for easy searching and emailing. –Jeff Scott

Trials Frontier

 
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At last, the Trials series hits mobile with Trials Frontier, now available worldwide after its Canadian soft launch! Unfortunately, it’s free-to-play. I don’t say this in the way that some people automatically despair about games going free-to-play. No, after playing Trials Frontier, I think the way that its business model affects the game diminishes what is otherwise a great experience at its core. Developed by RedLynx, creators of the Trials series and of the similar MotoHeroz, this is a level-based stunt biking game. Players ride their motorbike through a level, trying to avoid hazards and navigate the tricky terrain in order to make it to the end in one piece while performing flips along the way because they’re cool. It’s a game that requires patience, as many levels will require restarting from checkpoints (which are thankfully frequent) to make it through – but greater rewards come to those who complete levels faster and in fewer restarts. –Carter Dotson

Runtastic PRO

 
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It’s probably safe to say that Runtastic PRO is the Swiss Army Knife of running apps. It goes one better too, by being more than just for running – covering all manners of different movements from cycling to skiing. As a general one stop shop kind of app, Runtastic PRO has it covered. Runtastic PRO is immediately pretty quick to set up. A clearly laid out screen is there, ready for the beginning of a run or cycle. It’s easily adjusted too, with holding a finger to a number opening up a choice of values. Duration, pace, speed, distance, average pace and speed, as well as elevation and maximum speed can all be given focus here. Heart rate can also be tracked with the relevant equipment to hook up to the app. A map or music player can complete the selection. –Jennifer Allen

Dinosaur Train A to Z

 
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As parents of Dino-loving children know, there is a nice selection of books and apps that are dedicated to the combining of dinosaurs and the alphabet – typically including 26 dinosaurs and allowing one to correlate with each letter. Dinosaur Train A to Z is an app of this style, introducing children to many interesting facts about these prehistoric creatures. As the name may imply, this app is based on the hit PBS TV show, Dinosaur Train. Fans of the show will find the highlighted text and included narration familiar and inviting – something I appreciate as I honestly don’t enjoy trying to pronounce the long names that many dinosaurs possess. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Trial of Bones

 
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Man, skeletons are stupid. The undead kind, not the good kind that is just calmly resting inside of our bodies. I mean, animating a skeleton should be about the most difficult thing in magical world, because there’s absolutely no way they could move on their own – and yet, walking skeletons are the most basic enemy a hero can ever meet. Trial of Bones takes it to the next level by making skeletons the sole enemies. Sturdy and dangerous enemies, at that. I don’t want my life to be ended by a pile of calcium – give me real monsters! Bearing that in mind, Trial of Bones is actually quite good, although it severely lacks content. There’s a short prologue that I frankly can’t remember by now, but the problem at hand is that the main hero is trying to get through a dungeon that is filled with skeletons with the help of his awesome sword, as well as the objects he finds on the way. –Tony Kuzmin

Fly Catbug Fly!

 
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This is a game about a cat. Not just any cat – it’s a game about a flying insect cat that collects flying trash. Fly Catbug Fly is a bit close to Flappy Bird, but it’s closer to the old helicopter game that Flappy Bird was ripped off from. Catbug (of Bravest Warriors fame) flies through the never-ending corridor, bordered by solid matter on top and bottom, and has to evade it, as well as some small “islands” in the middle, while collecting trash. The trash consists of truly random items, ranging from old bottles to what to my twisted mind looked suspiciously like dirty toys, to leprechauns. There are portals scattered around the levels, which take the trash from Catbug, and give some cash in return. After picking enough trash, a hyper mode of sorts kicks in and you lose. At least that’s what happen to me all the time. –Tony Kuzmin

Sonic Racing Transformer

 
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When it comes to kart racing, Sonic is the man. And the hedgehog. Whatever… Sonic is the consummate console competitor, and he and his friends have done well on mobile devices too. Sonic Racing Transformed is yet another opportunity for us all to see how fast our blue bandit has come on Android OS. It is an intense game, and definitely not for the spec faint of heart. There are two modes off the bat, Single player and multi player, with the single optioning into the advertised new World Tour. There is also the Weekly Challenge, which allows players to compete for streaks and prizes. –Tre Lawrence

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iOS devotee to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Power Grounds

 
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Power Grounds is probably best described as a minimalistic take on a Roguelike, to the point that it’s more like a puzzle game than anything else. I’d stick to calling it just a puzzle game, but alas, Power Grounds was borne out of something called the Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) Challenge. The constraints on the creation of Power Grounds are very apparent (hence why I insist it’s more like a puzzle), but they result in a game that has such a laser-like focus on what it is supposed to be that it succeeds in being a very simple but very satisfying experience. Power Grounds takes some of the basic tenants of Roguelikes (randomization, permanent death, turn-based movement) and applies it onto a largely monochromatic grid. Players take control of a stick-wielding hero that is tasked with progressing through six rooms of enemies and obstacles – without dying – to beat the game. To do this successfully, players have to develop a strategy of movement as well as a strategy for unlocking the game’s power-ups. –Campbell Bird

Wind-Up Knight 2

 
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Wind-Up Knight 2, Robot Invader’s sequel to the game that put them on the map, is an auto-running platformer where players must jump, attack, roll, and use their shield to take out enemies and avoid hazards. This is not an endless runner, this is a platforming game where movement is automatic, and it’s freemium (with IAP to unlock the full game) versus an endless runner with consumable IAP so players should go in expecting something quite different from everything else that’s out there. The items that can be bought with the game’s coins (which can be bought with IAP as well) do provide help, but they’re not squarely necessary at all. –Carter Dotson

Breakfinity

 
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Offering that “just one more go” mentality, BREAKFINITY is a brick busting game in the vein of Arkanoid but with a difference. That difference being that it’s effectively endless. It’s a nice twist on the usual format. After all, how often does one ever complete an Arkanoid-style game, anyhow? Usually, it’s a classic example of enjoying the journey rather than seeking out the destination. Each level of BREAKFINITY is relatively quick to complete, mostly because the objective isn’t to clear all the bricks. Instead, it’s to create a gap and hit the top wall of the screen in order to progress to the next stage. Once that happens, the level changes around but the format stays the same. –Jennifer Allen

TapPainter

 
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Once upon a time, those who wanted to see whether a new color suited a particular room in the house were restricted to using paint samplers on their wall and being confined to having to redecorate at some point very soon to hide such things. That day has passed – kind of – with apps like TapPainter emerging to make the process much simpler. Admittedly, nothing is going to quite beat the tactile process of painting things on the actual wall, but TapPainter does a decent job of demonstrating what can be achieved. All the user needs to do is either import or take a photo directly of the room before getting to work. This is where, in the case of my rather lackluster iPad 2 camera, things get fuzzy. I found it a much smoother process to take a photo with my iPhone 5 before importing it that way, but mileage is going to vary here depending on what iPad users have. –Jennifer Allen

Space Pack from Mophie

 
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We’ve looked at other devices that allow for the expansion of available storage on iOS devices, but none have done so in such a elegant and portable way as the Mophie Space Pack. On the surface, the Space Pack looks like any other Mophie battery case. But on the inside are additional smarts and storage to keep up to 32GB of media. This is facilitated by a special app from Mophie called Space. –Jeff Scott

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Golfy Bird

 
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Okay, I admit it. I really didn’t want to have a go at Golfy Bird. I mean, it is from Noodlecake, yes, which is almost always a positive. Still, it sounds suspiciously like The App That Was Pulled that we deign not mention by name. Frankly, the clones that popped up were somewhat depressing, and I even winced at real birds for a spell. I was wrong. Golfy Bird is its own person, and it’s somebody that might be very easy to like, and even fall in love with. –Tre Lawrence

Mikey Hooks

 
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Mark my words… There might be a zillion RPGs, and countless board games, and twice as many hidden objects games… no matter the time frame, or the medium of gaming, there will always be a place for arcade action gaming. Always. Mikey Hooks, which comes to us via platform heavyweight Noodlecake Studios and BeaverTap Games, is just one of those games, and I admit that I had pretty much decided to like it at first glance. –Tre Lawrence

SideSwype

 
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Nice to meet you, SideSwype. The playing area is a 5×5 grid, with space for 25 squares of different colors. if filled all the way. The sparse white background is a great counterpoint that highlights the coloring of the squares, and the smooth animations are just what we’d expect from a game that uses gestures as the main form of movement and problem-solving. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer cautiously checked out Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, took a stab at a Clash of Clans clan war, spent some ker-azy money in Crazy Taxi: City Rush, put together an epic guide to FTL, and checked out some games at Birmingham-based expo, Rezzed. It’s all right here.

App-tastic!

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

CLARC

 
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It’s the classic love story. Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy tries to get Girl back. But did I mention the Boy is a downtrodden maintenance robot and the Girl is pastel pink nuclear missile? I guess maybe ‘classic’ would be stretching it a bit. Things are not going well in the deep recesses of this dilapidated Martian factory. F.A.T.H.E.R., the supercomputer in charge, has disappeared, leaving the worker robots confused and without direction. Lacking anything better to do in the interim, some enterprising bot discovers that consuming diesel fuel gets them quite tipsy. The result? NON-STOP ROBOT PARTY! –Rob Thomas

FTL: Faster Than Light

 
FTL: Faster Than Light

A year and a half after its critically-acclaimed PC/Mac release, FTL: Faster Than Light makes the jump to iPad. However, this isn’t an inferior late-to-the-party port. Subset Games has just released a free update for the original, dubbed FTL Advanced Edition, that gives players a slew of new options. Why does this matter? Well, the iPad port also has all of those new tweaks under the hood. And what a package it is. A bit of backstory. FTL is a strange hybrid of a thing: one part RTS, one part sim, two parts Roguelike, all white-knuckle frustration. Players control the crew of a Federation ship trying to deliver a vital data payload to their home sector. As they jump from sector to sector, a fleet of Rebel ships dogs their heels, sweeping across the galaxy like a swarm of locusts. Along the way, players will have to fight hostile ships, respond to random events, and generally scrounge for supplies to keep themselves operational long enough to get home. –Rob Thomas

Fairway Solitaire Blast

 
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One of the iOS games I often find myself returning to is Fairway Solitaire, an addictive card game based around golf solitaire. It’s been a mainstay on my iPhone since launch so the prospect of a new title in the series, Fairway Solitaire Blast, got me pretty excited. This new installment is more freemium-focused, more reminiscent of King’s selection of titles, and currently lacks a certain amount of the ‘wow’ factor. Working on a level-by-level basis with a structure very similar to the mighty Candy Crush Saga et al, Fairway Solitaire Blast leads players down a path of increasingly tricky challenges. At first, players simply progress by clearing all the cards across three holes of each course (or level), but as they move through these stages other requirements emerge. Clearing 10 face cards in a row might be one such challenge, while others might require the player to clear 10 cards, each alternating in color, in order to progress. –Jennifer Allen

Monument Valley

 
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Monument Valley – ustwo’s puzzling adventure game where players must twist and turn an Escherian world to discover its secrets, able to tell protagonist Princess Ida where to go and with various levers and twisting points that they can manipulate – can be approached and analyzed in two ways. One is purely as an experience. The other is as a game. As a game, Monument Valley is really quite short: it’s 75 to 90 minutes long across 10 levels that pose few threats to players. There’s maybe one puzzle in the entire game that made me really confused. Those who can’t comprehend the Escher-esque levels and designs, (that perspective can mess with one’s head) will probably have a hard time with the game. Those who have an eye for it will likely breeze through it. There’s not much in the way of replay value as there’s no time being kept for a level, which is a shame as it would be a fantastic way to promote coming back. As well, if there are any secrets they’re really, really well-hidden, which is a shame because this kind of game would promote hiding things. Its clear Fez inspiration sure had plenty of secrets of its own, so why not this too? The story isn’t really engaging – it’s ethereal and always felt out of touch to me, except for one moment that focuses on emotion rather than narrative. It’s not a perfect game. –Carter Dotson

Boom Beach

 
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The follow up to Clash of Clans, Boom Beach is guaranteed to be quite the success. While it maintains many similarities to its alliterative predecessor, it also improves upon the format. While Boom Beach still won’t sway its cynics (yes, it does like one to spend money), it’ll still entertain many. As before, players are given a home base to defend and build upon. Attacks from enemies will be on a daily basis, so it’s fortunate that there are plenty of defensive capabilities to install – such as sniper bases, mortars, and the trusty mine. The latter adds a strategic element to the game, allowing one to place them in whatever order they wish, hopefully taking out the enemy before they get too close to one’s base. Defense isn’t all that’s required of the player, with conquering (or liberating as this game like to sometimes call it) other bases just as important. –Jennifer Allen

Kapu Forest

 
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Having reviewed many apps for children and families, I am on a special lookout for applications that I find truly beautiful to look at – making them desirable choices to share with young children who may be getting very limited screen time. Kapu Forest, with versions for both iPad as well as iPhone, is such an application that will delight the youngest app users as well as their families. At first glance, adults will be quite pleased with a rich palette of blues, greens, and browns, as well as a thoughtful use of sophisticated jazz music that real keeps in mind the needs of the adults who will most likely be spending time sharing apps alongside their young children. There is a non-specific vintage quality to the look of this app that I find utterly appealing, making it stand out among a sea of other applications. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Expedition Platformer

 
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Expedition Platformer surprised me. It’s a retro-looking 2D platform game with an arcade feel that tells the story of Bogee, a budding anthropology expert on an expedition to different environments. The game scenery clearly looks to be framed by this narrative, and does a good job of creating a somewhat pixelated jungle environment. There are platforms that make up the playing area at different heights, and green is the predominant coloration in the early level. The controls are fairly flexible, with a movable direction-cum-jump-cum-dodge button, and a “shoot” button to dispense bananas. –Tre Lawrence

Mesh

 
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Mesh looks like a neon drenched coin muncher game of old, but is it worth playing? Mesh is all about tapping accurately. Formations of blocks rain down the board interspersed with bombs. The idea is to tap the blocks without hitting the bombs, which ends the game. Missing too many blocks also ends the game. As the player survives longer, the formations get much tougher with many blocks surrounding bombs and it becomes tough fast. A robust combo system rewards players for tapping blocks quickly and without missing taps .Since the game scrolls blocks down quite slowly it’s a good idea to let the screen fill with blocks before starting a combo so the player can’t just tap as quickly as possible. This adds a nice risk dimension to gamepay. –Allan Curtis

Beyond Space

 
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Space cowboys take heed: Beyond Space is here. The gameplay is quite engaging. The tutorial is a mission in and of itself, replete with instruction and back and forth dialogue. It shows the basics of flying, dogfighting and more. Controlling the space fighter is a matter of using one of the options provided: tilt or virtual joystick. There is a frontal radar system, and spot buttons for shooting and afterburnrs to the right of the screen. There is also gesture-based controls for evasive and tactical maneuvering like rolling and U-turns, and vitality meters at the top left. The tutorial goes on to show how to bring all these parts together, and I found it to be a pretty fun affair. Finishing the tutorial by successfully completing the tasks given leads the main missions. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week our comrades at Pocket Gamer took a look at the best games of March, reviewed FTL and Monument Valley, went hands-on with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and tried to trick everybody into believing something implausible for reasons of tradition. And it’s all right here.

Apps Are Us

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Game of Thrones Ascent

 
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Game of Thrones, both the TV series and the novels that serve as the source material, can be best described as dense. Game of Thrones: Ascent is similarly dense, but may be fun for people who welcome the density. Ascent takes place around the beginning of the series – players control a new noble trying to find their place among the figures that rule Westeros and ascend to the Iron Throne. Players can customize a variety of factors, including their stats – prefer to fight with the sword, or with a forked tongue? Want to rise under the Lannister barrier, or as a Targaryen? Many options, including one’s lineage, are available. –Carter Dotson

Star Wars: Assault Team

 
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I admit that Star Wars: Assault Team did not leave me very excited when I first heard of it, if only because I’m perhaps a bit jaded when it comes to collectible card games and free-to-play RPGs. Well, I went in with an open mind, and found that while the game is certainly simple, it’s not dumbed down. True to form, players collect cards of characters in the Star Wars series, featuring various tiers of cards that can be earned in story missions or bought in card packs purchased with soft or hard currency. Then characters can be upgraded by using item cards and spending more and more soft currency per upgrade to make them stronger for later story missions and when the PVP becomes available. There’s also limited-time promotion missions to help promote coming back on a regular basis. It’s a fairly-familiar formula to say the least. –Carter Dotson

Glint

 
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When it comes to gameplay vs. graphics, gameplay is totally where it’s at as far as puzzle games are concerned. Tetris on the original Game Boy has visuals straight out of a late 70s calculator, and yet it’s still a perfect video game. It’s strange then that Glint tries so hard to look so pretty while leaving its gameplay to suffer. The tradeoff succeeds, but is it worth it? In Glint, multicolored circles flood onto the screen and players must clear them before they fill the map completely. To clear circles, players simply swipe their fingers across circles of the same color in one continuous stroke. It doesn’t even matter if the stroke touches other circles along the way. Short swipes are good for fast matches, but longer swipes lead to more points. Players can also purchase power-ups that extend swipe range or clear multiple circles at once. –Jordan Minor

Ravensburger Puzzle

 
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I’m not convinced there’s any game out there that could capture the joy that comes from clicking in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s too tactile in its satisfaction for even the rather excellent Ravensburger Puzzle to achieve. However, Ravensburger Puzzle does also circumvent the issue of having to collect up all the pieces and put them back in the box, so that’s something. Either way, it’s a great app for the jigsaw fiend. Included for the asking price are a bunch of puzzles ready to be tackled, as well as some in-game coins that can be used to buy more. Expect to chip in for a few more images via some in-app purchases but it’s nothing too harsh. With each image, it’s possible to create a jigsaw of between 20 and 500 pieces, covering all skill levels. –Jennifer Allen

The Collectables

 
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A simple to learn strategy game, The Collectables starts out pretty fun. That is until one scratches under the surface and soon learns that it encapsulates much of what’s most infuriating about freemium games. The set up is decent. Players control a bunch of renegade soldiers as they complete a series of missions of similar proportions. These typically involve wandering through stages and shooting the foes in one’s way before collecting or destroying various targets. It’s simple stuff but it works well on the mobile format, given much can be achieved in a short space of time. –Jennifer Allen

Pixel Hunter

 
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I would like to soundly punch in the face the wisenheimer who thought that virtual d-pads were good enough to make precisely controlling platformers a viable option on iOS. Allow me to clarify. I don’t wish harm on the developers of Pixel Hunter over at Lemondo Entertainment; I’m sure they’re all great, hardworking folks. I’m really speaking in general terms of the main frustration that I have with this game and others like it. If old-school platforming is where timing and positioning are the difference between triumphant progression and a frustrating restart is going to be the crux of a game, then it either requires tactile feedback or needs to be extremely forgiving. Unfortunately, Pixel Hunter doesn’t hit the bullseye on either mark. –Rob Thomas

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Glyph Quest

 
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Glyph Quest is another in the crowded field of combat puzzlers. Will it cast a spell on you? Glyph Quest boils down to a long series of fights that take place across a map. There are dozens of fights to get though and between fights earned coins can be used at the shop to buy new upgrades and items to help in battle. Glyph Quest has highly focused and enjoyable gameplay. The game takes the form of a battle, like a lot of puzzle games today. Matching elemental symbols results in an attack of that element, the more symbols the stronger the attack. Alternating between elements results in bonus damage if opposite elements are used, but linking opposing elements in the same attack results in a backfire, which damages your mage. A steady stream of abilities and spells are unlocked as the player levels up, enemies are nice and varied and there are plenty of status effects and other quirks to force players to mix up their strategies. For example, goblin mages can hide all the tiles under question marks and spiders can use web attacks that make certain tiles unavailable to use in a combo. –Allan Curtis

Ignis Castle Adventure

 
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In gaming, one incontrovertible fact is that one can’t — or rather shouldn’t be able to — go wrong with a platform runner. I mean, they are simple and straight to the point. Thus, a lot of times, games like Ignis Castle Adventure have the built-in advantage of familiarity. The playing area is crafted in 2D, with the overall look of an old-age dungeon. The animations are decent enough, with the purposefully monochrome look broken by bright splotches here and there. –Tre Lawrence

Doodle Tank Battle

 
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Doodle Tank Battle brings simple battle to the world of tank conflict. There are two main modes, Campaign and Endless. Using Campaign as the initial play mode, one can use the tutorial to gain familiarity. The playing area is designed to be used in top-down fashion, with the home tank being green, and the red tanks signifying enemy units. The tanks are simple, genial affairs; the terrain differs slightly from level to level, but mostly retain the same design elements. The control layout can be tweaked, but by default there is a liberal joystick on the left, and tapping on the right incites firing. The controls are responsive, and everything on this end is fairly intuitive. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week over at Pocket Gamer you’ll find previews of Isolani, Midnight Star, and Noir Syndrome, the top games from the GDC Big Indie Pitch, the most anticipated mobile games for April, tips for beginner Boom Beach players, first impressions of the HTC One M8, and loads more. Go go go.

Shiny Happy App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Galaxy on Fire-Alliances

 
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Galaxy on Fire – Alliances follows in a long line of well-established mobile games in a couple of different ways. First, Alliances is set in the same sci-fi universe of the previous two Galaxy on Fire games. Second, Alliances is a management style game the likes of which are all over the App Store. As someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of familiarity or reverence for either of these mobile game establishments, I find myself compelled to keep playing Alliances primarily because the game does a great job of making players feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. At first, Alliances appears to be a pretty rote menu-based game where players build structures, apply upgrades, and so on and so forth for the sake of progression. For the most part, it appears this way because that is the game. However, with a huge galaxy of multiple planets to explore, the game allows for players to form alliances, which makes all of the relatively mindless upgrading feel much more meaningful than it would otherwise. –Campbell Bird

Cover

 
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The same old movies, music, and video games can become boring and mundane. Sometimes it’s great to experience something new and interesting. Cover is an app that helps iOS users discover old, new, and upcoming releases so that there’s always something entertaining to enjoy. When Cover is opened, users will see a screen that looks somewhat similar to the App Store. A banner at the top displays an ad, but it also displays new releases and categories. Underneath this changing screen are featured lists to explore like Movie Classics, Inspiring Favorites, Most played on Spotify in 2013, and Great iOS games. Tapping on a category brings up a list that users can interact with in order to find something of interest. For instance, tapping on the Spotify list brings up a list of songs that can be previewed and purchased from iTunes. Additionally, tapping on a movie allows users to play a preview and they can also view the actors, a release date, and even read a description. –Angela LaFollette

Shuyan the Kung Fu Princess

 
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Aimed at the slightly younger market, Shuyan The Kung Fu Princess is an ideal interactive story for showing kids how violence isn’t always the way forward in gaming. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the positive message within remains throughout. The story revolves around Shuyan, a princess in ancient China who is haunted by a secret burden. Players help her along as she discovers new talents and learns that peaceful intervention is often better than aggression. It’s a fairly simple game. Each level is comprised of Shuyan going up against a series of enemies. These enemies aren’t the conventional sort though, in that they can be pacified through greetings and gentle slaps rather than punches. It’s possible to knock them out as well as anger them, causing them to be more violent, but often the game rewards one for non-confrontational dealings. Shuyan must often carry small stones from one side of the level to the other, avoiding fights so as to not drop the stones. –Jennifer Allen

Bonza Word Puzzle

 
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Bonza Word Puzzle claims to be a crossword puzzle with a difference, and it stays true to its word. It effectively turns the crossword puzzle on its head, giving players the answers first and a common category second. Players must then go about composing a complete crossword from separated parts, whereby they must place the fragments near their companions by sliding them together. They will then click into place, and be movable as one. If a part is in the wrong place, the game will let players know by leaving a tiny gap in between the tiles. For some added perspective or just to create some extra space, players can also zoom out using a quick pinch of the screen. –Lee Hamlet

Word Forward

 
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It’s a little simple to look at but don’t let that fool anyone, Word Forward is a highly enjoyable word game. It’s a game all about making words out of a series of tiles within a grid, which is a concept that might seem a little too familiar to some. Word Forward mixes this idea up though, with the idea being to gradually reduce one’s score by doing so. Each tile is given a score according to its difficulty rating with 100 points going to Z and U, while 10 points go to A or E. Each level requires reaching a particular target score by removing expensive tiles, so the key is targeting the trickier letters. –Jennifer Allen

Toca Pet Doctor

 
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I always find it exciting when Toca Boca releases a new digital toy for children, and I am excited to let readers know about their new app, Toca Pet Doctor – an application that will allow toddlers and young preschool-aged children a chance to express their empathy as they mend sick or injured animals in this charming application. Toca Pet Doctor allows children to peruse a veterinarian’s waiting room complete with 15 animals that could use a little help. I am really fond of the tone of this app, bringing out the caring side of children who will enjoy all the different animals looking for a little TLC such as a gassy mouse, an itchy, flee-bitten puppy, or my favorite, an iguana with a belly ache. Each of these creatures looks uncomfortable in its own way but Toca Pet Doctor is devoid of drama, as no creature looks too sick or unhappy that it would make children uncomfortable – which I really appreciate. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Penombre

 
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Penombre is a side-scroller with a dark mission. For an endless runner, the game relies heavily on it’s theme. It’s a mostly black and white affair, with dark object silhouettes “moving” from right to left as the dark running avatar of Umbra is doing her thing in standard endless runner form. Lighter colors make an appearance, but play second fiddle to the absolutes and red, which mostly signifies dangerous objects. There is a life bar to the upper right and counters to the bottom right and top left. –Tre Lawrence

Royal Revolt 2

 
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Royal Revolt 2 does a good job of making the player feel like a king. As one of a huge number of feuding kingdoms providing subjects with food and gold is just as important as raising armies to plunder enemies and gain more power. Royal Revolt 2 follows the tried and true Clash of Clans formula, at least as far as building up a kingdom. Players will partake in all the familiar tropes for this genre, such as constructing and upgrading resource buildings to generate resources, which are then used to build new buildings and upgrade existing ones in a never ending snowball of economic growth. –Allan Curtis

Caveboy Escape

 
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Caveboy Escape is an enjoyable combo-type puzzler. It takes the match-3 paradigm, and tosses in some tile travel to create a fun series of puzzle situations. The tutorial does a fine job of walking players through the finer aspects of the gameplay. The successive playing areas are rectangular, and made up of smaller tiles. The tiles are of different colors seemingly randomly placed, and there are usually two special points, start tile (point A and an end tile (point B). Facilitating the escape means moving the avatar from point A (usually at the bottom of the screen) to point B (towards the top). –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer went to GDC and saw Framed, Monument Valley, Spider 2, and more. Plus, the guys previewed Angry Birds Epic, picked out the best RPGs on iOS, and chose 5 awesome games like Terraria and Starbound. Read the full rundown right here.

Apps Are Us

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Block Legend

 
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Block Legend is a colorful, whimsical matching game that has a quest structure and fantasy trappings to make it feel like an RPG/puzzle game hybrid. Adding some more persistence and gameplay layers has generally worked successfully to make simple games feel more substantial, and the same is true here. Block Legend isn’t some kind of epic, sprawling adventure, but it isn’t trying to be. Instead, the game is a solid puzzle game that adds to its basic mechanics just enough to make it feel more meaningful without feeling overwhelming. –Campbell Bird

Frontline Commando 2

 
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Frontline Commando 2 represents some of what’s good and bad about free-to-play. It’s an actual game; one with a mobile-friendly design and actual gameplay. However, it will want money to play at a high level, and it is unashamed of it. Thankfully this cover-based shooter from Glu is an actual game, not just an automated simulation of a game as many free-to-play games are wont to do nowadays. While it’s simplified from other cover shooters, players still have to aim and fire, and move to new cover by tapping the arrows on screen when grenades and rockets come in. This simplification works for mobile though, and the controls work pretty well – even the aiming. There is some automation in the squadmates, but this actually works for the player’s advantage: in the heat of battle, I want them taking care of their own stuff without me saying anything. The whole package does a great job of making hectic action fun and manageable, and is consumable in short bursts. –Carter Dotson

MailDeck

 
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MailDeck is an extremely convenient email client for the iPad. Both stylish to look at and practical to use, it’s the kind of app that will quickly establish its place as a core tool for any regular email user. Much of this is thanks to its relative simplicity. While it offers a bunch of more complicated things, MailDeck also really doesn’t take long to set up. Entering a few basic password and username details invariably gets things going with the option to color-code the account for future reference and convenience. For common setups such as Gmail addresses, MailDeck detects what to do and does the more complicated stuff such as entering server details. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for the emails to come through which is mostly dependent on how hefty one’s inbox is. –Jennifer Allen

Devious Dungeon

 
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There is one particularly influential game that has gone entirely underrepresented on iOS: Spelunky. While Devious Dungeon isn’t exactly that, it does come from that family of procedurally-generated action platformers, this one in particular may seem like a mobile version of Rogue Legacy. But while its inspirations may be clear, Devious Dungeon misses out on why those games were so good – being only mindless entertainment to tune out to. –Carter Dotson

Smash Hit

 
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Endless runner games are a dime-a-dozen these days, running the gamut from highly addictive to boringly derivative. Smash Hit definitely leans toward the former of these rather than the latter with its fresh take on the popular genre. The basic premise of Smash Hit is to progress through an “otherworldly dimension” of structures, obstacles, and barriers while throwing metal balls at anything made out of glass – and players will find lots of glass to smash! Hitting crystals rewards players with more balls, which will be sorely needed to continue to progress farther and farther through the glass-filled world. Hitting 10 or more crystals in a row awards players with multiballs, which allows them to throw two, three, or more balls at a time for the price of one. Players have to keep track of how many balls are left and try to accumulate as many as possible along the way, because the game ends when the last ball is thrown. –Charlie Miller

Uncanny Comics

 
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While the advent of digital comics has made the medium more accessible and affordable than ever before, it can still be a daunting task to know where to begin. Uncanny Comics is a Newsstand app that hopes to be the new go-to monthly guide for comic book fans and new readers alike. From the most critically-acclaimed new series, to exclusive interviews with the artists and writers, to the absolute classics, it’s all here and presented in a clear, concise, and entertaining way. Rather helpfully, the makers have included direct links on each page to the Comixology or Marvel stores, taking readers straight to the right place to purchase their comics. Right now navigation is restricted to the website only, though hopefully in the future it will redirect readers to the pre-installed apps. –Lee Hamlet

Pillowcapers

 
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Fans of storytelling and animation should take notice of the app Pillowcapers: A Sleepy Adventure – an interactive storybook that is superlative in every way. This is the story of Sam, who recently had a birthday and received the sole present of a striped pillowcase. Little did he know that this pillowcase would be the key to his new life as a superhero where, when using the case as a cape, he will try to save the world; or at least his neighborhood. I actually find this app hard to write about because it simply needs to be seen. No words committed to the screen will do this justice as the colorful, stylized app includes simply wondrous animation that fully explores Sam’s transformation to superhero and fighting giant robots to save his community. This app is part amusing procedural as it walks one through the costumes and other preparations needed for hero-dom. The pillow triggers a secrete trap door where Sam, transforming into his new uniform, is led to an area where he receives his crime-fighting orders from a unique book, thus beginning his epic adventure. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Out There

 
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There isn’t a roguelike quite like Out There. A space simulation game where players find themselves adrift in space, scrounging for materials from planet to planet, solar system to solar system, trying to find their way home. Essentially, the game is turn-based. Players start out in a solar system, and can explore planets of two kinds: ones they can land on with materials they can mine for, or gas giants which can be probed for fuel. Each move uses up fuel, oxygen, or damages the hull, and players need to find the materials to refill and repair as necessary. Materials can be mined for that can build new parts and repair current ones. –Carter Dotson

Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous

 
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Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous is the long-overdue launch on Android of One Man Left’s tilt-based arena survival series. Yes, one might say, “aren’t tilt controls the hottest control scheme of 2009?” Sure, but Tilt to Live has some of the best around: they’re precise while thriving on the chaos of actually tilting a device around. With plenty of options for customizing the tilt sensitivity and how one holds the device, this will make a believer out of the tilt control apostates. –Carter Dotson

Deadman’s Cross

 
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The best thing about Deadman’s Cross is that it takes a complete left turn from the standard card game RPG by adding in varied gaming styles that have never before been seen together. The basic idea in Deadman’s Cross is that the world has ended and the few survivors left after the zombie apocalypse use teams of zombies, known as deadmen, to defend themselves. These deadmen need to be hunted down to be added to the army and taken care of to grow in strength. This boils down to a very familiar deck like interface in which each zombie the player owns is a card. The standard options for boosting a cards strength by absorbing other cards are there and at certain levels cards can be fused together to create stronger versions. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week our pals across the pond at Pocket Gamer pretended to be doctors in Surgeon Simulator, nuked the world in First Strike, and saved baby Mario in Yoshi’s New Island. All that, plus banned iOS games, free-to-play Crazy Taxi, and more right here.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Principia

 
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Principia is definitely not a “casual play” game for those looking for a quick fun fix. Rather, it is a challenging and fulfilling experience that requires the player to play the roll of engineer/creator to solve puzzles and build various devices and contraptions. Principia begins by offering the player three options: Play, Discover, or Create. Choosing the Play option allows them to either complete an introductory level (highly recommended for new players) or dive into the game’s main puzzles (which are divided into more than 30 levels). Each puzzle challenges the player to move a robot around the playing area and accomplish some sort of task (or tasks). The player has the ability to move certain objects around on the screen to help accomplish the task but what sets Principia apart from many other building games is the complexity of the objects that can be manipulated, including mechanical, electrical, and robotic objects. –Charlie Miller

Sherlock: Interactive Adventure

 
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The tales of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes are quite timeless, with many TV adaptations, film versions, and more ensuring that his eccentric ways are forever at the forefront of our mystery-tackling minds. The books themselves are wonderful too, and well worth checking out, which is precisely where SHERLOCK: Interactive Adventure turns into an attractive proposition. The app is an interactive version of “The Red-Headed League,” one of the many short stories of Sherlock Holmes. It won’t take regular readers a particularly long time to read through, but its interactive components do ensure that it’s a different experience from simply reading a conventional e-book. –Jennifer Allen

Block Fortress: War

 
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I’m just going to rip this band-aid right off – Block Fortress: War has some issues. There. I said it. It feels good to get it out. This spin-off from Foursaken’s critically acclaimed Block Fortress shares a great deal of its predecessor’s DNA. The block-based visuals, UI elements, even the loading screens will feel instantly familiar to veterans. What differs is in how players will go about mowing down the lumbering, cubic hordes. –Rob Thomas

Tanuki Forest

 
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Look, a new Endless Runner on the App Store! No, wait, don’t run away. Tanuki Forest is actually quite charming and offers some fun things that aren’t commonly included in the genre, honest. Amongst some quite luscious hand-painted imagery, players must help a flying squirrel explore a dark and dangerous forest while saving animals along the way. It’s a very simple title to play with one-touch controls at all times, but it also offers up some neat twists. For instance, animals are saved by flying them through gates, gaining points but also reducing the multiplier for the player. There’s a risk/reward system here given that animals are lost when one clashes with an enemy or spike, but more points are gained for accruing many at once. –Jennifer Allen

Dr. Panda’s Restaurant 2

 
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As readers may know, our family really enjoys the Dr. Panda series of apps that include friendly, recurring animal characters and child-friendly themes that may allow children to role-play at being a doctor, farmer, or handyman. One of my son’s favorites of these apps is Dr. Panda’s Restaurant – where one can prepare foods for animal clients in an upscale restaurant setting. Because of this, my son was really excited to find Dr. Panda’s Restaurant 2 downloaded on our iPad. Here, players will cook in the kitchen of a more casual waterfront restaurant. I really like how the hungry animal customers arrive by boat and ask for a specific dish, then approach a window to the kitchen to give the OK on the ingredients one is looking to cook with. Children will enjoy supplying favorite foods as well as choices these animals are not fond of in many different ways. Explore kitchen tools such as a knife, grater, or food processor as well as bake, boil, and sauté in the safety of one’s own homes and without help from adults. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Slash of the Dragoon

 
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Slash of the Dragoon is a collection RPG with a difference. Working though a world map with a team of monsters and warriors it’s the player’s job to chop their way through increasingly harder staged with parties of enemies. Completing a stage awards more monsters and these monsters can be used to level up other monsters and eventuality evolve them into new, more advanced versions. The big difference in Slash of Dragon is its combat method. Rather than tapping enemies and just watching the battle, the player must slice their way through blocks that appear on the screen. –Allan Curtis

Dubstep Hero

 
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Many people, including myself, often ask just what the heck is Dubstep. The simplest explanation is that it’s a form of electronic/techno music that focuses on drum and percussion lines that focus on bass and sub bass frequencies. To some, it’s just a lot of noise. But to a growing number of folks, dubstep is the hottest musical trend, brought into the spotlight like artists such as Skrillex. Despite your feelings on the genre, there is no denying it’s growing popularity and adaptation in contemporary pop music. Now, some of you will also remember for a moment when rhythm/ band karaoke games were all the rage. Titles such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero were quintessential titles to have if you owned a gaming console. However, those times are a thing of the past, with interest in those games being as great as public opinion of freemium games. But that doesn’t stop some indie devs from making games similar to the old popular rhythm titles, such as Brus Media’s Dubstep Hero, which brings the world of Dubstep to the once loved rhythm game style. –Mike Deneen

Word Puttz

 
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Word games come a dime a dozen on Android, and thus, it takes a decent game to make headway. Gotta tell you, with the elements Word Puttz brings to the table, it might just have more than a passing flirtation with success. At first blush, it reads like one’s run-of-the mill crossword puzzle, except for the limited area. But the first glance is deceptive, and leaves one wondering how word search, scrabble and putt-putt (yes, people, the mini-golf game) get added to the mix. –Tre Lawrence

LAWLESS

 
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LAWLESS is one of those games that appeals to our collective decadent side. It is a game from powerhouse Mobage that is able to combine a few different elements into a neat (but explosive) package. It is a career crime game, perfect for the straitlaced do-gooders out there. To begin, the player has the option of selecting his/her main character, which is decked out with weaponry and tasked with being good at being bad. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, our pals at Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of February, took a look at Insomniac’s Outernauts, and provided some handy tips for sci-fi drama Out There. Oh, and you won’t believe how often a new Flappy Bird clone is released… Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Disco Zoo

 
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NimbleBit teams up with Milkbag Games – featuring Matt Rix of Trainyard fame, and Owen Goss – for Disco Zoo, a simulation game about building a zoo where disco parties can be triggered. It’s one of those “exactly what it says on the tin” games, and it should amuse fans of NimbleBit’s simulations even as it takes a slightly different approach. The crux of the game is to rescue animals from the wild to bring in to the zoo, which helps attract people, thus making money for the player, until they fall asleep and must be awoken. The player can use bux to start disco parties, which awaken all the animals and get them dancing and raising double money for the disco’s timeframe. –Carter Dotson

Beyond Space

 
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Beyond Space is like a great summer blockbuster. It’s fast-paced, crowd-pleasing, and has production values so spectacularly high they practically ooze out of the screen. Experiences like these always have their share of problems if one thinks about them too hard, but it’s hard to deny just how entertaining they are. The game starts off with a bang as a lavish, pre-rendered cutscene introduces players to a universe of intergalactic spaceship armadas, pirates, and mysterious aliens. Players take control of Max Walker; a mercenary pilot who becomes increasingly embroiled in a “galaxy-spanning conflict.” Between its frequent cutscenes and full voice-acting, the game actually seems to care about its narrative. But the “Top Gun in space” tale is so cheesy and clichéd players will keep their thumb on the skip button during repeat playthroughs, which are highly encouraged since the game only lasts about two hours. –Jordan Minor

Kahuna

 
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Kahuna has finally made a transition to the electronic realm courtesy of a new universal iOS app. There could not be a more apt game to make this translation, as Kahuna plays quickly while still providing a strategic challenge. The premise is equally simple. Each player (rival South Pacific magicians or some such thematic mumbo jumbo) is attempting to place bridges between a set of South Pacific islands. When a player controls the majority of the pathways to an island, that player controls the island and scores a point. Bridges are placed by playing a card with the island’s name on it; players then choose which path from the island they wish to occupy. Players can also remove opponents’ bridges by playing the two cards that represent two connected islands. It’s all the stuff of abstract strategy with a thin veneer of a theme, but the mechanics work so well it’s easy to forgive any quibbles with the theme. After three rounds, the player with the highest score wins the game. –Chris Kirby

FlapThulhu: Flappy Madness

 
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There are oh so many Flappy Bird clones now that the game has been pulled from the App Store. Seriously, between those looking to make a quick buck and those paying homage through Flappy Jam and the like, there’s so many ways to flap, it’s insane. Well, not insane enough yet, now that Madgarden has combined flapping with the master of insanity, the Deep One, the eldritch abomination to end all eldritch abominations, Cthulhu. This is FlapThulhu, and it’s the last flappy game anyone will ever need. –Carter Dotson

Qwirkle

 
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Board games are a pretty good usage of all of the strengths of mobile devices; a nice, portable, light weight device with a touch screen in which anyone can do almost anything. That anything, of course, includes gaming. Board games are especially great for mobile devices because they are something that one can play at their own pace, doesn’t require one’s immediate attention, and is overall a casual and fun experience. Mindware, a company who produces educational toys and games aimed at children, is probably best known for their board game Qwirkle, which is now available on iOS. Qwirkle is an amalgamation of Scrabble, Uno, and Dominoes. The point of this game is to match like shapes and/or colors onto a playing surface. The more of a like shape or color players have in a given row, the more points they score. A row of 6 is scored as a Qwirkle, and no more blocks can be placed in that row. It’s very easy to pick up, and while aimed at kids, it’s really fun for all ages. –Mike Deneen

UHR-Warlords

 
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The iPad may not be suited for every type of game there is, but two genres that benefit immensely from its expansive touch display are board games and turn-based strategy games. It’s no surprise then that UHR-Warlords, a turn-based strategy board game, excels on the device. Of course the deep, robust, and challenging gameplay helps too. UHR-Warlords‘ tale of rival demonic armies in a dark and gritty fantasy world should make fans of pewter figurines feel right at home. It’s little more than an obligatory pretext for the epic clashes to come, but the 12 battles spread across two campaigns are so satisfying players will want even more excuses to fight. Each skirmish plays like a cross between a Fire Emblem-esque strategy game and chess. The goal is to drain the other player’s life force by killing their monsters, or destroying their valuable strongholds at the opposite side of the board. –Jordan Minor

Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer

 
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Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer, in one word, is a delight. Developed by Sago Sago – the dream team combined with the talents from Tickle Tap Apps and Toca Boca – this app is as highly engaging as it is colorful; children can go on an adventure with Fins, their new fish friend, as they explore his aquatic home. This new Sago Sago app brings back memories of my son as a younger boy, as Tickle Tap Apps were the first downloads I made, getting me interested in the potential for children’s iPhone and now iPad applications and the worlds they can create, appreciating this as a much less passive experience than watching television or videos produced for babies. I am excited to see a new Sago Sago title that, to me, seems lovingly updated from original application Finding Fins with a few important changes I am really fond of. Now one swims together with Fins instead of seeking him out as he hid behind objects such as rocks or sea weed. I am also enjoying being able to use a drag of a finger to move Fins around the screen instead of tilting the iPhone to navigate as seen in this previous app – wonderful updates that make this app utterly intuitive for the youngest app users. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

PasswordBox

 
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Two interesting things occurred while working on this review. One was highlighted during a commercial. A couple were working on creating an online account, and were having some difficulty coming up with a strong enough password they could remember. Yep, it advertised a password utility. On network TV. The second thing was an interesting article I read while researching an unrelated article. The Adobe security breach reveals that the only password more widely used than “password” is “123456.”
What’s clear is this: password management needs to be taken very seriously. PasswordBox looks to be just the tool we need. –Tre Lawrence

Planet Descent

 
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Most people wish they were doing something extraordinary, such as running Google, being an Ice Cream taste tester, or piloting a space ship. Sadly, most of us will only be able to act out these dreams through some sort of simulation or game, which is where Planet Descent comes in. In this title, you pilot a space ship around a 2D playing area, dodging asteroids while collecting minerals for fun and profit. This game inhabits a similar approach to the PC game Lunar Flight, except Planet Descent, as previously mentioned, is 2D rather than 3D. Planet Descent is also quite a bit easier, lacking a lot of the realism or complicated controls used on similar type games. That’s not to say that this mobile title isn’t challenging, but you certainly won’t need years of NASA training to get it either. –Mike Deneen

Roid Rage

 
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If you peruse around the Google Play app store, you see there is a race to fill the void left by the departure of Flappy Bird. Most of these clones coming out are the exact same thing, just with slightly altered graphics, some of them actually try to change some things. But then, from minds only St. Louis, MO could produce, comes a game with a slightly similar idea, but way better, called Roid Rage. Roid Rage isn’t some game about Jose Canseco or Sammy Sosa. Rather, it’s a game about the extreme rage you the player will suffer while guiding your spaceship through a massive asteroid collection, while collecting puddles of “Juices” throughout space. Your ship appears to be a one man vessel without weapons, but can turn like no other and doesn’t have a break pedal. You could try to throw the word “endless” on this game, but the better description would be the Atari classic Asteroids on super serum. –Mike Deneen

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer was checking out new gadgets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and still found time to review new games like Out There, Card City Nights, Disco Zoo, and Calculords, played soft-launched games Fates Forever and Supernauts, and picked 8 perfect games that Nintendo could bring to mobile. See it all at Pocket Gamer.

Kahuna Review

Kahuna Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Kahuna is a tightly-focused strategic game for two. Quick and challenging board games don't come much better.

Read The Full Review »

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Postcard

 
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Juggling multiple social networks can feel a little like hard work at times. This would explain why there are many companies out there looking to hire social engagement managers, simply to get the word out efficiently. What about for those of us with small businesses or simply trying to build a community around one person’s content? Postcard has it covered. It’ll require a little bit of setup for those keen to integrate it with their WordPress blog, but it’s still a pretty simple and effective way of sharing content to numerous different sources. I’d recommend that those planning on hooking up WordPress to Postcard do so straight away. Fortunately, it takes a matter of a few minutes and I didn’t come across any issues. Setting up separate social media accounts within Postcard is similarly easy, with support offered for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, amongst numerous others. The free version of Postcard restricts users to three networks, while charges of $0.99, $2.99, or $4.99 unlock more options. –Jennifer Allen

Another Case Solved

 
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With a keen sense of humor and a dash of tongue-in-cheek attitude about it, Another Case Solved has a lot going for it. From the makers of Puzzle Craft, this game knows how to get under one’s skin. However, an increasing reliance on using consumables to progress and a restrictive energy system proves ultimately quite off-putting. Players take the role of a private detective in a world in which candy has been banned. There’s quite a conspiracy going on underneath all that, and those keeping up with King’s copyright saga associated with the use of the word ‘candy’ will enjoy what’s said here. At its heart, Another Case Solved is a Match-Three game but there’s more going on than that. –Jennifer Allen

Bug Heroes 2

 
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Oh Bug Heroes. It was such a a deceptively great game, wasn’t it? It didn’t look like much but it was packed with upgradable characters, made great use of action/defense style gameplay mechanics, and was a lot of fun to boot. Now Bug Heroes 2 has come along and pretty much topped the original in every conceivable way. Much of Bug Heroes 2 will be familiar to fans. There are still food stashes to protect and hordes of enemy bugs to fend off, and they’ll continue to hunt for food in order to both heal their character and keep the stash well-stocked. Another large roster of insect (and non-insect) fighters returns, each with their own particular strengths and weaknesses. And, of course, they’ll be progressing in waves MOBA-style; with character upgrades largely contained to a given round rather than carrying over. There are some rather significant (and fantastic) differences however, with new heroes, enemies, co-op and versus multiplayer, and permanent unlockable perks being the most obvious changes. –Rob Rich

The Descent

 
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Taking full advantage of the Unity3D graphics engine, The Descent presents itself as an effortlessly-designed FPS that will take players on a wonderfully visual journey of discovery and adventure as they aim to uncover the mysteries behind life. With ancient artifacts and age-old mythical legends as its base, one assumes the role of father and avid historical explorer John, who is in search of his lost daughter, Liza. Having found the cave where the ancients put the “Book of the Dead” to rest long ago, Liza soon realizes that dark forces are surrounding her. The disappearance of her boyfriend, Steven, pushes Liza to enroll the investigative services of her father as fears soon begin to rise over her own personal safety. –Arron Hirst

Nine iOS Cloud Photo Services Compared

 
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A little over a year ago, everything changed. My daughter, Peregrine (Pip, for short), was born, and along with the myriad recalibrations, adjustments, and joyous changes that birth brought with it, I also finally came to terms with the true value of the iPhone camera: baby pictures! Hundreds and hundreds of them (no exaggeration) were taken by me, by friends, and by family, and then scattered over hard drives, social networks, and of course iPhones. The problem then became figuring out how to organize and store them privately and securely. As a devoted Mac user it’s easy enough to keep photos stored on iPhoto, but that’s a local option only, with limited cloud storage and sharing (those 1,000 photos on iCloud? Please!), and god forbid my hard drive crashes without proper backup.
I thought all of my problems with cloud storage for photos were solved when Everpix came along. Here was a fantastic, well-designed app that also had great web-based software and a Mac-based uploader. Best of all, it could load in all of my photos from various social streams, eliminate or hide duplicates, and handle a potentially unlimited number of photos for a reasonable monthly or yearly price. There was just one big problem though; Everpix went out of business. –Chris Kirby

Pigeon Presents: Mo…On the Go!

 
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Pigeon Presents: Mo… on the Go! is a fun collection of activities based on the books by Mo Willems; a children’s author and illustrator whom my family adores. Titles from both the Elephant and Piggie as well as Don’t let the Pigeon Ride the Bus and the others from this series are favorite books of my son and are some of the first stories he read out loud by himself. Because of this, I was interested in checking out Mo on the Go! – an interactive app that includes interactive activities based on a Mo Willems storybook. This is in addition to a drawing section where children and adults now have the chance to interact with Willems in the Mo’s Squillems! area of this app; allowing children to complete simple illustration with their own flare, be it first drawn by mo himself or with the help of a friend, also with the choice of saving one’s work as well as emailing as a postcard. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Only One

 
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Only One starts off in dramatic fashion: a giant sword floating in the air, giving off a radiant aura. It descends to the ground, and is picked up by the protagonist, standing on a giant circular platform where the only exit is a steep drop to one’s death. He screams to the heavens: “I will become…the only one!“ It’s a bold intro, yet a bit silly because the voice acting sounds hardly professional, but it perfectly encapsulates the Only One experience: it’s a bit silly, a bit crudely-made, but a lot of fun. –Carter Dotson

Loot Hero

 
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Loot Hero is a simple game from VaragtP that matches simple sidescrolling fun to delightfully retro graphics. It’s all about being a hero and defeating dragons. It uses a purposefully grainy 2D motif to highlight the action. The gameplay is your basic side running fare: left to right running action — with a twist — facilitated by touching the right side of the screen. The goal is to dispatch the goons by depleting their life bars, all while keeping that of our protagonist runner up. Dispatching baddies and collecting goodies yields gold coins and action points that help leveling up. The twist is that it is also possible to run from right to left, which is great, since it allows for the player to go back and dispatch the baddies that regenerate after being destroyed. This yields even more rewards, and is a great way of doubling up on benefits. –Tre Lawrence

Cubot

 
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Cubot is a fun little tile from Nicoplv. It’s a cute sliding cube puzzler that uses color to highlight the gameplay. The basic premise is to move colored cubes to colored tiles on the playing grid within a specific set of movement rules. The rules are basically based on the color of the blocks/cubes in the specific level. An example of the gameplay is shown in the early levels, and there are tutorial animations to help folks through. The playing area is rendered in mostly stark wihite, with a 3D grid made up of square blocks, and it begins with a blue block which has to be moved to a blue square on the playing grid. The general control mechanism is via swipes; at this base level, a swipe in any direction moves the blue block one step in that direction. The overall idea is to get the blue cube to the blue resting place in as few moves as possible. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer put together a complete guide to Tengami, picked the 10 best simulation games on iOS, taught you how to turn your iPhone into a Game Boy Advance, played Crytek’s The Collectables, and found 7 intriguing indie games in Amsterdam. All this, and loads more, over at Pocket Gamer.

CloudPhotoServices

A little over a year ago, everything changed. My daughter, Peregrine (Pip, for short), was born, and along with the myriad recalibrations, adjustments, and joyous changes that birth brought with it, I also finally came to terms with the true value of the iPhone camera: baby pictures! Hundreds and hundreds of them (no exaggeration) were taken by me, by friends, and by family, and then scattered over hard drives, social networks, and of course iPhones. The problem then became figuring out how to organize and store them privately and securely. As a devoted Mac user it’s easy enough to keep photos stored on iPhoto, but that’s a local option only, with limited cloud storage and sharing (those 1,000 photos on iCloud? Please!), and god forbid my hard drive crashes without proper backup.

I thought all of my problems with cloud storage for photos were solved when Everpix came along. Here was a fantastic, well-designed app that also had great web-based software and a Mac-based uploader. Best of all, it could load in all of my photos from various social streams, eliminate or hide duplicates, and handle a potentially unlimited number of photos for a reasonable monthly or yearly price.

There was just one big problem though; Everpix went out of business.

Before I get to the heart of this article, there are a few lessons to learn from my Everpix experience.

One: Always keep all of your photos on a local hard drive.

Two: Backup said hard drive as often as humanly possible (something I still don’t do, so do as I say, not as I do).

Three: Never, ever assume that a site, app, or service will exist forever. It won’t; it just won’t. They will all go away at some point. Some will last five years. Some will last a year or two. Some of the very best won’t even make it that long.

So I found myself back at square one, trying to find another good (read, as close to the effortless Everpix as I could get) cloud-based storage solution for my photos. Read on for my look at nine different cloud storage services that work with iOS.


Continue reading Nine iOS Cloud Photo Services Compared – The 148Apps Round-Up »

Apps Are Us

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Toca Lab

 
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Toca Lab is an interesting new interactive app by Toca Boca. As the name may express, Toca Lab takes place in a laboratory setting where one has a chance to perform experiments with many of the same tools I used in eighth grade physical chemistry; such as a Bunsen burner to heat or a centrifuge to spin solutions in order to separate solids and liquids. A cooling agent to freeze mixtures is offered, as are other tools found in this laboratory. As one may expect the look of this app is quirky and inviting, with pleasing colors and sound effects that Toca Boca is known for. –Amy Solomon

Card Wars-Adventure Time

 
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Card Wars – Adventure Time is a tale of two wildly different emotions coming from the same game. Its core game is excellent, top-notch stuff. But the free-to-play aspects that surround this $3.99 purchase do a lot of damage to an otherwise amazing title. Taking direct inspiration from the “Card Wars” episode of Adventure Time, this card battler (appropriately enough) has players building decks and taking on other characters in battles. Players play creatures and buildings with different stats and effects on one of the four lanes, each with its own environment type that affects what can be played there. Each turn, the player chooses what cards to play, what cards to floop (meaning which special abilities to activate), and then to battle to try and take out creatures and to attack blank squares to hit the other player’s HP directly. Last one standing is the Cool Guy. –Carter Dotson

Rookie

 
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Simple to use and offering some good results, Rookie is a photo editing app that’s ideal for the average iOS photo snapper. It lacks a slight amount of ‘wow’ factor, staying pretty solid if not revolutionary, but that doesn’t stop it from being worth checking out. Laid out in an easy to understand manner, Rookie takes users each step of the way. It’s possible to take a photo from within the app or import existing shots before getting down to the fun stuff. The camera side of things isn’t that basic either, offering anti-shake, a self-timer, zoom, as well as focus and exposure controls. –Jennifer Allen

Final Fantasy VI

 
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Arguably the finest Final Fantasy title out there (and believe me, there are plenty of arguments over which rules the roost) [Editor's Note: argument nothing, VI will always be the best!], Final Fantasy VI makes its way to iOS to remind players just how brilliant turn based RPGing really can be. Its conversion isn’t perfect but it’ll still satisfy the majority of players. Final Fantasy VI tells the story of Terra, a magic caster used by the evil Empire (is there any other kind?), who escapes with a group of rebels in order to overthrow the evil Kefka. It’s more complicated than that of course, easily proving to be one of the more gripping stories from the franchise. It’s also significantly large enough that the slightly imposing $16 asking price feels like a bargain by the end. –Jennifer Allen

Clear Vision 3

 
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Welcoming back the world’s baddest stickman sniper, Clear Vision 3 feels more ‘fleshed out’ than its predecessors with the addition of a shooting range and a variety of part-time jobs. This legal work ranges from plumbing, to dishwashing, to being a janitor. Though the jobs are an entertaining way to earn extra cash the animations won’t warrant a second watch for most, so it’s probably better to just shoot someone in the face for money instead. In that area, little has changed in Clear Vision 3, and it’s just as fun as ever. Players have to shoot their target by moving the scope into position and firing a single shot, while taking wind power and distance into account. As usual, some ‘hits’ require players to think outside of the box, depending on the client’s specific request. There is, however, the option to upgrade weapons this time around, using in-game currency to reduce the detrimental effects of the natural variables. The interface is as slick as expected, though I did occasionally notice a slight stutter of the crosshair after I removed my finger from the screen. –Lee Hamlet

Dungeon Highway

 
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Sometimes creativity is more than just coming up with new ideas. Dungeon Highway‘s gameplay, atmosphere, and even its artwork are (legally) taken from other sources. However, the resulting combination feels more interesting and original than expected. Dungeon Highway is basically a vertical shoot ‘em up like Xevious but played from the perspective of a behind the back endless runner like Sonic Dash. As a lone explorer forever runs forward into an infinite dungeon tunnel, the player’s job is to tilt him out of the way of obstacles and have him blast foes into bloody bits by tapping the screen. Adding to the retro shooter vibe is the steep challenge, especially on hardcore mode or in the daily challenge. It’s a game about testing twitch reflexes and gunning for the high score. There are also numerous power-ups to help make this task easier; like a growth potion that lets players sustain one more hit, a potion that slows down time for easier moving and shooting, and various weapons that change the size or shape of the player’s fire blast. –Jordan Minor

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Tiki Monkeys

 
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In Tiki Monkeys, thieving monkeys have to be set straight, and it isn’t the easiest task. It is a colorful exhibition, and it is easy to enjoy the gameplay which is rendered in top-down perspective. The characterizations are simple, and the animations are quite avid when it counts. The jungle motif is well represented in the green foliage, and the developer seemingly ignores overly extraneous visual distractions, which seems to feel right in this iteration. –Tre Lawrence

Motoheroz

 
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Motoheroz has made its way to Android. The gameplay comes in two generalized versions: One Shot, which exists to perpetuate leaderboard bragging rights, and Career, that highlights prowess over extended levels. In the latter version, finishing a level with a star (more on this later) opens up future levels. There are eleven environments (with another “coming soon”) and each environment is broken down into said levels. Social network sign-up is necessary to take part in the One Shot series. –Tre Lawrence

Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster

 
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Everyone has a “driving” bucket list. Think about it: haven’t you ever wanted to captain a shrimp boat? What about a tank? The toddler choo-choo train at the mall? You know you do. Well, it’s time to add and strike rollercoaster conductor to/from the list. This is what Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster from Ubisoft can do for you. It’s an inviting game with a large heart, the latter point underscored in the engaging artwork. It’s a fun, cheerful romp, with smooth animations and subtle use of perspective. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week the guys at Pocket Gamer marked the passing of Flappy Bird by reviewing its clones, chatted to Peter Molyneux about the microtransactions in his upcoming Godus, talked to Shenandoah Studio’s David Denham, and picked the best iOS and Android games of the week (including R-Type II, Dungelot 2, and The Room 2). Read more right here.

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