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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

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.

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.

Threes

 
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Threes, from Puzzlejuice creator Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend, artist of Ridiculous Fishing and Hundreds, is the first great mobile game of 2014. The goal of Threes is to match together tiles on a four-by-four board by sliding them around. 1 and 2 tiles can be matched together to make 3 tiles, a pair of 3 tiles can be matched together to make 6s, 6s make 12s, 12s make 24s, and so on. Each tile starting with the 3s has a point value that is three times as much as the previous tile, so the game rewards making larger numbers. –Carter Dotson

Toast Time

 
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In Toast Time, players are in control of TERRY (Toast-Ejecting Recoil and Reload sYstem): an English toaster with an arsenal of bread-built projectiles. And, if they choose, a monocle and dapper hat. The bad guys are alien-like blobs determined to steal time by descending on TERRY’s clock in droves. Players tap where they want to shoot, and the bread bullets start flying. An added little twist has TERRY caroming off the ground and bouncing around the screen with each shot. Timing the shots with TERRY’s maneuvers can be the key to passing a level. Especially on levels like “Rabid Fan Base” or “Fannying Around.” Just saying. –Stacy Barnes

LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters

 
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Presumably aimed at the younger market, LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters initially seems quite fun. It’s a shoot-em-up set across 18 different stages, each taken from important battles within Star Wars history, and looks like it would be ideal for twitchy gamers. Turning repetitive all too soon though, and proving really quite dull, it’s not so great after all. Immediately easy to learn, LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters lends itself well to touch screen play. With the player in control of the direction of the aircraft and its weaponry, with it propelling forward automatically, it’s a one or two-finger kind of game. Holding one finger to the screen not only aids in moving the ship around but also in firing at the enemies. Hold two fingers down and a special attack is unleashed, wiping out a large number of them at once. –Jennifer Allen

Orderly

 
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Looking simple yet offering all the features that one could need, Orderly is a very handy To-Do list app. It fits into the stylings of iOS 7, retaining a clean interface throughout. Even better, it should help organize one’s life a little easier. The app starts out offering a fairly extensive tutorial. At first it might seem a little intimidating, which is fairly far from the truth. Orderly is intuitive enough; with regular iOS users sure to be able to understand what goes where. Using a choice of buttons or gestures, it’s simple to set up a variety of different reminders and notes. Rather than restricting users to one line of content, it’s possible to create lists within lists, proving particularly handy for a combination of similarly themed tasks. –Jennifer Allen

Marvel Run Jump Smash!

 
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As a huge fan of superhero games and the world of Marvel, I jumped at the chance to try out Marvel Run Jump Smash!. Disappointment came all too quickly. It’s an Endless Runner in the vein of Jetpack Joyride and one that doesn’t really give players a sense of progression by any means. Players are initially given the choice of controlling either Nick Fury or Maria Hill, with more characters available to play as things tick along within the game. Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, and The Hulk are there for the grabbing, assuming one catches their shield shaped icon to switch out to them. –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

Arcade Ball

 
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Arcade Ball takes the humble game of Skee Ball to the digital age. Arcade Ball is a pretty standard game of Skee Ball. Players bowl balls down a lane aiming at targets with different point values. Landing the ball in a cup awards that amount of points and the more points that are scored the more tickets are earned after the game. These tickets can be exchanged for prizes. Tokens can also be earned that power a few special moves like bowling three balls at once. –Allan Curtis

Circle Stop

 
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It’s pretty difficult to come up with a game concept simpler than Circle Stop. There is a dot, “rolling” around in a circle in the middle of the screen. Other small dots of various colors are spawned on this circle, and the player needs to touch the screen just when the main dot’s trajectory overlaps with other dots, to get some points. Then the colored dots are removed, and the others are spawned, while the “player” dot keeps rolling and rolling, until the player three mistakes, tapping while the dot is not over anything. Then the game ends and the player gets a score and there’s nothing else. –Tony Kuzmin

Grandpa and the Zombies

 
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Zombies mess with everybody. Why not the elderly? In Grandpa and the Zombies, we get to see what happens when a cranky, indefatigable wheelchair-bound gentleman named Willy decides not to be pushed around – or consumed – by the actively undead. Thankfully, the developer dispenses with convoluted backstory in setting up this saga. Via cutscenes, we get the most basic of zombie apocalypse stories: gramps wakes up in the hospital, with no memory but a sturdy cast. With zombies closing in, he commandeers a wheelchair and rolls rapidly to safety. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer looked into dodgy Dungeon Keeper ratings, found 11 games better than Flappy Bird (it wasn’t hard), reviewed Threes and Final Fantasy VI, picked the best iOS and Android games of January, and told EA to keep its greasy mitts off Theme Hospital. All that, and loads more, 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.

Chunky Comic Reader

 
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In the year 2014, Comic Books couldn’t be any more popular than they have been at any point in history. No longer is Batman being blamed for ADHD or Deadpool tantalizing children to crime. Heck, people don’t even point a finger at Rick Grimes for any violent public acts. At the same time, we’ve also been blessed with new ways to read our beloved illustrated stories; such as computers, phones, and tablets. 20 some years ago people would get teased for reading Amazing Spider-Man at school, but now that same person looks like a rockstar. Especially with the new tech. A popular way to read electronic comics has been using PDF, CBR, or CBZ files, which are offered through a variety of different publications for purchase and are DRM free. Obviously, readers will want to view their new comics on a device that feels natural to read them on, not on a laptop or desktop. So here to save the day, giving users the best reading experience for the iPad, is Chunky Comic Reader! –Mike Deneen

Dungeon Keeper

 
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I’m sure the fact that I haven’t given this game a score Captain James Hook could count to on his bad hand will earn me a fair bit of scorn, but hear me out. While Dungeon Keeper isn’t the same game that’s been a permanent fixture on my Top 10 list for years, it is a decent freemium title that happens to incorporate the theme from one of my favorite games. And honestly, that ain’t half bad. This Dungeon Keeper follows a structure similar to the often-imitated Clash of Clans. Players assume the role of the Keeper and immediately begin ordering their imps to hollow out areas to use for various rooms. Every room, trap, and door takes up a specific amount of space that needs to be cleared out in advance, but once they’re built players are free to move them around as they please – so long as they can fit. They can also use their dungeon heart to summon more minions, with different rooms allowing for different creatures. –Rob Rich

Rocket Robo

 
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Making a console quality game for mobile isn’t as easy as just porting over some PS2 game with snazzier graphics and bolted-on touch controls. It means making a game with the same level of care given to the gameplay and presentation as a big, AAA release that still makes sense being on mobile. Need an example of what that means? Just check out the fantastic Rocket ROBO. When his elderly creator needs more stars to power their galactic lighthouse, Rocket Robo journeys out into the storybook cosmos to find some. It’s the perfect set-up for Rocket ROBO‘s delightfully whimsical acoustic guitar sci-fi sensibilities. While later stages take place in more traditional interstellar environments, as well as an upcoming candy planet, players will start their 2.5D platforming adventure in a world made up entirely of arts and crafts. The aptly named Material World features woven patchwork walls, bouncy sponge platforms, and button pig enemies all made gloriously textured and tangible by the impressive 3D engine. While it’s maybe not quite on the same level as the similarly stylish Kirby’s Epic Yarn or LittleBigPlanet, creator Aaron McElligott’s background as a console gaming environmental artist shines through in the splendid visuals. –Jordan Minor

Road of Kings

 
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The current American political climate suffers from a bad combination of money and politics. However, this isn’t entirely unique to the 21st century as money has almost always equaled and guaranteed power. In Dancing Sorcerer’s latest title, Road of Kings, the goal is to accumulate 500 gold pieces within a 100 days to prove who’s be the best candidate to be King of the people. Political commentary aside, Road to Kings is a neat experience. It plays like a 4-hex board game, where players move their dude (Sorry ladies, only comes as a guy) around the board with random events taking place; anything from encountering an enemy to finding out the main character got lost in the hills due to his poor navigation skills. Movement on the board, as well as events, are very much dictated by the terrain on any particular space, be it good or bad. But at the end of the day, Road of Kings feels a lot like a single player board game minus dice rolling or dropping $70 on a boxed version. –Mike Deneen

INKredible

 
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Sometimes, whether it’s for aesthetic reasons or for the sake of practicality, it’s just plain better to write rather than type some kind of content. That’s where INKredible comes in. It makes it attractive and simple to write on the iPad, providing a great distraction-free experience. The app offers a blank canvas with a choice of paper-based background, thereby allowing users to get on with whatever they want to write or draw. It particularly lends itself to note taking and when one wants to join together text and hand-drawn diagrams or sketches. –Jennifer Allen

The Animal Alphabet Singers

 
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The Animal Alphabet Singers, as the name may imply, is an app for babies and toddlers that helps them learn the alphabet as well as animals associated with these letters. This app includes sections that allow children to explore the alphabet in many ways. One section of this app, also named The Animal Alphabet Singers includes a group of 26 animals – each of which can each be tapped to hear the corresponding letter to be sung, with the letter also being highlighted below for a nice effect. Do tap on a letter as well because doing so will trigger singing from the related animal. –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

TowerMadness 2

 
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TowerMadness 2 is perhaps not the most innovative tower defense game of all-time, but it’s a solid effort. Really, standard open-field tower defense rules apply: there’s towers with different ranges and effects, they can be upgraded to do more damage, or sold if not part of a good strategy any more. Success is based on whether players kept the aliens from getting in and taking too many sheep through a star system, with Invasion Mode, where waves come in faster, offering a fourth star. Players can also send in waves faster themselves to get faster times for the leaderboards. –Carter Dotson

Akasha

 
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Akasha is a new mobile exclusive MMORG. Does it tip Order and Chaos from its pedestal? Akasha isn’t the most user friendly game. After a class choice between fighter, archer or mage and a very brief series of tutorial text boxes in a small font the game basically leaves the player to their own devices. Akasha uses a instance based system much like Guild Wars. To fight monsters or party up with other adventurers the player must begin an instance which can be thought of as a mini quest. –Allan Curtis

Dawn of the Plow

 
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Some games hand out points like they’re going out of style. Dawn of the Plow is not one of those games. This arcade game will test players with challenging conditions and a difficult-to-control vehicle, all in the hopes that they can maybe last long enough to do well before being fired. Controlling a snow plow on a snowy day where car drivers need to get to nondescript places, players must try to keep their paths clear. Snow will accumulate that the cars can drive over, but eventually they become impassable piles which take time to plow. The longer a car is stopped, the unhappier it gets and the lower the approval meter gets. If that empties, it’s game over and the player is fired. Of course, that probably won’t happen much. What will happen is that players will hit cars, which is instant game over. Or the cars will get trapped and buried under snow, which is also game over. Not making things easier is that driving a large truck around, especially on snow, is not easy. Thankfully, players have a horn to help manage traffic, and can collect powerups like a salt blaster to clear up snow instantly. –Carter Dotson

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Dungeon Keeper, looked at how FPS developers have approached mobile, picked the best iOS and Android games of the week, and unveiled a slim line PS Vita. Read all it about it 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.

In Fear I Trust

 
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I’m always a little skeptical when it comes to horror games, especially those in the survival horror sub-genre. That said, In Fear I Trust was one of those games that certainly caught my eye – not just for its outstanding visuals, but because it looked and sounded highly intriguing. A man finds himself waking up in a creepy abandoned facility deep in the heart of Soviet Russia. He can’t remember who he is or how he got there, just that something rather unsettling has been going on. Designed with the Unreal Engine for iOS, the game delivers an imaginative story over a number of episodes. And fortunately, the first two are filled with enough content to indulge oneself in until the release of the later episodes. –Lucy Ingram

Redd

 
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I have to admit, until recently I never really ventured into the world of Reddit. I’m not a huge fan of the site interface, and for some reason it never really occurred to me to seek out an app for my phone. This has possibly all changed with the introduction of Redd; a Reddit client made especially for those who want to avoid the clutter and chaos of the main website. And one that is perfect for those who, like me, just want to use the dip-in/dip-out approach. The remarkably clean and simple looking interface is the first thing one will notice as they load the app. A sea of whitespace highlighted with a touch of red – it’s easy on the eyes, and a breeze to navigate. The typeface is fairly easy to read despite its light and thin demeanor, and its ability to filter the posts from the tabs at the bottom make it practically effortless to handle. –Lucy Ingram

Baldur’s Gate II

 
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It is impossible to reflect back on the annals of RPG history without hitting on the classic Baldur’s Gate franchise. Fourteen years after the release of Baldur’s Gate II, Overhaul Games have stepped in and given the second iteration in the series a fresh coat of paint. Can an iOS port of such a beloved title ever live up to the expectations of the nostalgic PC gaming audience? The answer to that question is not as straightforward as one might assume. –Blake Grundman

Scribe

 
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Scribe is a new utility for the iPhone that gives users the ability to copy data snippets from their Mac to their iOS device without the need for a Wi-Fi connection. It uses the Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) profile supported by most of Apple’s current-generation devices and Mac systems to send small snippets of text, URLs, and small photos over the air to one’s iOS clipboard. Using Scribe for the iPhone is as simple as making sure the Bluetooth setting is activated. This can be achieved by heading to Settings > Bluetooth > On. Users will then need the Scribe menu bar client. This is sold separately and available on the Mac App Store for $2.99. They will also need to ensure that they have a supported Mac. Scribe currently supports the Macbook Air (2011 or newer), Macbook Pro (2012 or newer), iMac (Late 2012 or newer), Mac Mini (2011 or newer), Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer), iPhone 4S or newer), iPad (3rd generation or newer), iPad Mini (all generations) and iPod Touch (5th generation or newer).

Snowball Shootout

 
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Recently over winter break I discovered that one of our truly favorite developers, Busythings, had developed a new app for iPad named Snowball Shootout. Downloading this app was an absolute no-brainer as a free application, but I soon forgot that I had added this to our device. It was my son who discovered it, instantly understanding that this was a new game from one of his favorite developers as their style is utterly recognizable, even from the small thumbnail image seen on the iPad. Snowball Shootout has quickly become a new favorite game of my boy’s, as he has reached a new low in asking me to leave the iPad in his bed so he can play this new game immediately upon waking – a request I denied. There is a lot going on that my son really enjoys with this game, incorporating some elements seen in Angry Birds such as a sling shot that needs to be manned, here used to shoot snowballs at the blob-like Pink Men that are seen hiding in trees or popping out of igloos. Controls are simple as one controls both the strength and angle of each shots with the drag of a finger allowing snowballs to be lined up in an exact manner, which I prefer to “pullback and pray” gameplay of Angry Birds. –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

Little Galaxy

 
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Little Galaxy is a story of hope. It’s about dreams, resourcefulness… and moon boots. It tells the tale of a scientist who believes that sky isn’t a limit in his quest to jump from celestial body to celestial body. And the game developers, smitten with the inspirational story but unable to help improve the moon boots, do the next best thing: they create this game. Thankfully. –Tre Lawrence

Galaxy Factions

 
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Galaxy Factions takes the CoC clone genre to space. With lotsa lasers and guns does it have an edge over its sword sporting brethren? Galaxy Factions sets the player up with a command center, a transport ship and little else. As is common with this genre, Galaxy Factions is all about constructing a base, mining resources and taking the fight to pirates and rival mining bases in single player or to other players in multiplayer. –Allan Curtis

Monopoly Bingo

 
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Ever since getting their hands on the Monopoly license, EA has punched out a good number of Monopoly licensed games on the mobile platform. Games like Monopoly Slots and Monopoly Hotels take the iconic board game and expand upon it or mash it up with other styles of games. As cool as that might sound, it isn’t all its cracked up to be sometimes. In the case of these titles, more often than not, they come off as cheap marketing gimmicks, using the popular Monopoly name to garner more players and possibly more money. Monopoly Bingo, of course, is yet another one of those games, feeling more like a desperate attempt to push an otherwise freemium Bingo game, than putting out a quality product. EA has been so hot and cold this year with their free to play lineups; FIFA 14 and Plants vs Zombies 2 knocking it out of the park, while other titles floundering. Monopoly Bingo attempts to spin the age old game of Bingo with one of Hasbro’s most popular board games, hoping to create something new and interesting. However, this attempt faltered short, instead creating a Bingo game with achievements, leveling and a backdrop that is supposedly based around Monopoly. –Mike Deneen

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Atomic Fusion and Hopeless, picked the best Roguelikes on the App Store, wrote a huge guide for Hoplite, reported on the Very Big Indie Pitch in London, and chose the best iOS and Android games of the week. It’s all right here!

Your App Review Source

 

Each and every week the review team at 148Apps sorts through the latest releases, finding the best of the best for you. Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Shadow Blade

 
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The trial platformer, akin to Super Meat Boy on PC or League of Evil on mobile, is a genre that often requires patience and precision. Thanks in large part to its touchscreen-friendly controls, Shadow Blade rocks the house. Players control a ninja who must get past enemies and traps; pulling off acrobatic jumps and deadly attacks to fell those who would dare stop this shadowy warrior. The ninja can double-jump, dash in the air, execute stealth kills from behind enemies or in the air, and just slice the opposition until they’re no longer a threat. –Carter Dotson

Farm Heroes Saga

 
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Regardless of whether it’s actually any good, the mobile release of Farm Heroes Saga was always going to be a big deal. Made by King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga and numerous other Saga games, it doesn’t really have to do a lot to be immediately very popular. Fortunately, King doesn’t appear to have rested on its laurels, with Farm Heroes Saga proving one of the better Match-3 games out there. It’s a very familiar format so those who weren’t keen on Candy Crush Saga aren’t going to be swayed here. It’s a format that works though, and works well. Akin to Zookeeper, players work their way through each level by matching together relevant quotas of crops. Early stages might simply involve matching 5 green smiling crops and 10 strawberries, but this is just the game easing one in gently. Soon enough, things turn much more challenging and also much more satisfying. –Jennifer Allen

Rail Racing

 
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Slot car racing is a pastime that many of us will have enjoyed as children. Offering a more tactile experience than any game could have provided, fond memories are easy to come by when it comes to creating one’s own race track before trying to negotiate it safely and successfully. Rail Racing can’t quite capture that magical spirit, lacking the tactile edge, but it’s still a great form of racing game with a twist. Players must outrace the competition across 50 imaginatively themed stages, gaining up to three stars to gauge success. It’s a simple concept but one that’s fun and easy to lose time to. Each race only takes a couple of minutes to complete, making it ideal for a mobile format. Stages are designed according to various locations that such races would take place; such as a child’s bedroom, the backyard, and even a dusty attic. It’s a neat touch, although ultimately many of the tracks are a little samey. –Jennifer Allen

Eternity Warriors 3

 
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Eternity Warriors 3 is an easy to like game. It’s pretty shallow, offering a Diablo-style experience with a wafer-thin storyline, but much like the allure of MMOs it’s oddly easy to lose time to this action RPG. The game mostly consists of going from A to B, completing simple quests, collecting experience, and returning to the central hub of the game to upgrade equipment and buy new skills. It’s a concept that’s been done many times before, but that’s because it’s an often beguiling mix. Players start out with the choice of taking control of a warrior or monk, with a mage unlocked much later on in the game. Each class offers different advantages and disadvantages, and it shows – providing a slightly different experience each time. –Jennifer Allen

Cook, Serve, Delicious

 
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Finally, iOS users are able to scratch that itch to get their hands dirty and serve up a smile in strategy restaurant sim Cook, Serve, Delicious. Right off the bat it’s easy to see that this is an outstanding port of a game originally released on PC – a game that has been creating some buzz for some time. Heating up the restaurant simulation genre to a sizzling degree, Cook, Serve, Delicious is one wonderfully addictive game that had me hooked the second I picked it up. For first-timers here, there’s a lot to learn, but it didn’t take long before I was juggling orders and taking out trash, trying to appease the masses of customers who expect the crème de la crème. –Lucy Ingram

Lost Toys

 
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Unique, challenging, haunting. I’m not sure how else to describe Lost Toys. This 3D puzzler opens new doors in the app world. Its breathtakingly simple, yet elegant graphics, accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful piano score, immediately seduce your senses. This game is all about being lost – lost in solitude, lost in concentration, lost in a world of restoring beauty and color to the darkness. The gray, blurry background only intensifies the experience of bringing the toys back to life. This “gothic masterpiece” is not just a game; it’s an emotional journey. The creators want each person to follow their own path to unearthing the mysteries of this puzzled world. –Stacy Barnes

Three Little Pigs. The Story

 
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Three Little Pigs. The Story is a very nice re-telling of the classic story of the same name, illustrated with marvelous and witty stop-motion claymation that I greatly enjoy. I am very fond of this re-telling – a very nice adaptation of the original Joseph Jacobs version of this tale, involving the clever way the third little pig seeks revenge from the wolf for the loss of his two other siblings who lost both house and life to this creature. The deaths of these pigs are off-screen of course, mentioned but not dwelled on – a nice take on this classic story as I have seen many versions of this tale ranging from the sanitized choice of having the brother pigs run for protection to the brick house to a more threatening pig experience that may not be best for the youngest users. This app does however include the extended version of this traditional tale bringing the pig and wolf to the fair and beyond, moments often left out of many versions of this story. –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

Overlive

 
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Overlive casts the player as one of the few survivors of an almost total zombie apocalypse. Hiding out in a ruined apartment Overlive is all about striking out randomly, finding better weapons and supplies and ultimately finding a way out of the ruined city, while maybe discovering what’s really happening on the way. The star of Overlive is its story, the game is text based and there are loads of great moments and surprises, such as the extremely graphic ways violence is described and the depictions of the sheer desolation of a zombie apocalypse. Whenever it’s eating icecream while a dead family is in the next room, to holding a sobbing woman as she slowly bleeds to death, the game is riddled with passages that won’t be forgotten for a long time. Overlive’s sense of humour and self-awareness makes it very fun to read. Indeed it is as much like gamebook as a true RPG. –Allan Curtis

Amoebattle

 
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Amoebattle is, perhaps, the first original mobile real-time strategy that can be called that without any stretch. Most of the real-time strategies are either too simple or too flawed, and the ones that are working, are mirror copies of older titles. Amoebattle manages to be neither. And it manages to do so without ridiculous production values. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week the guys at Pocket Gamer picked out the best detective games and the best games without IAPs, reviewed new apps likes Shadow Blade, Baldur’s Gate II, and Lost Yeti, and turned an Android device into a portable Dreamcast. See it all right here.

New Year – New Apps!

 

It’s a new year and, as always, an exciting one for all of us here at 148Apps. Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sensei Wars

 
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Continuing the Clash of Clans style motif that has worked well for so many other titles of this ilk, Sensei Wars isn’t exactly a particularly original title but it is one that comes with an original element – namely the ability to control a samurai in combat. As is commonly the way, players take time to build up a village; developing it to be independent and strong, while also cultivating a fearsome fighting force to fend off opposition. Things are well balanced here with resources gained from mines and farms, with such gains leading to the option to build new institutions and train up an army of warriors. Timers litter such progress so expect to be waiting around from time to time in order to reap any significant gains. –Jennifer Allen

Joe Danger Infinity

 
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The joy that can be had by playing Joe Danger is a tricky one to quantify. Anyone who’s played it on a console or PC can confidently say that it’s terrific fun, though. It was the kind of terrific fun that didn’t entirely translate when first coming to iOS in the form of Joe Danger Touch, thanks to touch controls that didn’t quite work as well as expected. That’s all gone when it comes to Hello Games’s latest release, Joe Danger Infinity, with everything feeling that bit sharper and better. –Jennifer Allen

Fun Town for Kids

 
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Fun Town for Kids is an interactive app for young children with a city theme where one can scroll back and forth through a charmingly stylized urban landscape; exploring fourteen mini-games found in store fronts and other areas that line this busy street. The different brightly colored shops in Fun Town allow one to sort coins into like piles in a bank or help out in the candy store as a customer will choose, with the aid of an illustrated speech bubble, specific candy while also including fun photos of real candy such as candy canes and gummy candies – details that children will have fun with. –Amy Solomon

Speaktoit Assistant

 
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Siri has been the integrated iOS go-to virtual assistant for some time now, but despite it becoming the most talked-about client it still tends to have some – albeit slight – depersonalization issues. Speaktoit promises to rectify this by offering users a fully interactive experience by using natural technology language to answer questions, search for information, follow basic commands, and connect the user with a whole network of various web services including Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and more. –Lucy Ingram

Detective Grimoire

 
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If there is any game genre that really hooks me it’s a great detective game. From Phoenix Wright to modern greats like LA Noire, there’s just something exciting about becoming invested in a thought-provoking mystery. The best element of these light-hearted episodic detective adventures is the host of interesting characters that one will happen on along the journey, and Detective Grimoire is a great example of this. –Lucy Ingram

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project

 
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Nothing beats loading a game and hearing the age-old drawling quips of a protagonist I have come to know and love over the years. It has been a while since I’ve played a game that made me feel the way Duke Nukem 3D did; as a young teenage girl getting kicks out of a game that was clearly not designed for someone of my age. That said, it paved the way for my descent into a passion for video-games, and I’ve not looked back since. –Lucy Ingram

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

Kaizin Rumble

 
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Kaizin Rumble sees the player slip into the heels of a Great Leader, evil women who lead armies of creatures known as Kaizin. Being evil, the evil empire the player is part of specializes in hunting down and exterminating heroes. From Kick-Ass style guys in red leotards, to actual bonafiled heroes Great leaders travel the world to crush anything that is good. What this boils down to is a series of strange levels where the player makes their way through each area by spinning a slot machine. Matching symbols causes different events to happen, such as finding money or, most commonly, initiating combat. Combat is a very shallow affair. Attacks are as simple as just tapping on the card to be used and the spinning the slot machine to see what happens. –Allan Curtis

Ninja Hero Cats

 
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Ninja Hero Cats mixes two of the most popular things on the internet, Ninja and Cats. How could it go wrong? Ninja Hero Cats has a very simple Angry Birds type story. A group of cats who just happen to be ninjas are about to enjoy a meal when suddenly a tentacled mass appears out of the floor and steals it. The cats jump into the strange portal left behind to retrieve their food and an epic battle against hundreds of hostile creatures ensures! –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Joe Danger Infinity, Archangel, Battle Supremacy, simian.interface, and Lost Toys, played with the SteelSeries Stratus, picked the best games of December 2013, and cracked the Detective Grimoire case with a complete walkthrough. All that, and loads more, here.

Happy New Year from 148Apps!

 

It’s a new year and, as always, an exciting one for all of us here at 148Apps. Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, as well as our end-of-year lists, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

2013 wrAPP-Up: Simogo’s Twin Masterpieces

 
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Most developers get one masterpiece. One magnum opus that they get to unleash on to the world. Simogo released two in 2013 alone. Both Year Walk and Device 6 were absolutely amazing experiences, not just games, and so different from almost everything else this year. –Carter Dotson

2013 wrAPP-Up: Developers, Hardware, and Carter

 
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Sure 148Apps is known far and wide for its diverse array of app reviews, but we also love to spotlight some lesser-known developers, review the occasional piece of useful hardware, and challenge developers to duke it out in their own games. –Chris Kirby

2013 wrAPP-Up: Most Distinct Apps and Games of the Year

 
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Every year, with thousands more apps and games being released on the App Store, it becomes increasingly difficult to single-out just which are the crème de la crème of this ever-growing iOS market – and more specifically, which of them truly set a higher standard in terms of innovation, uniqueness, and individuality. Be it a game designed for the iPhone or iPad, anything developed and released on the iOS market in this day and age has to have that special something to grab our interest and retain it for months to come. In no particular order, here are a selection of the most notable games and apps of 2013 that raised the bar in one way or another. –Lucy Ingram

2013 wrAPP-Up: Why Candy Crush Saga was the Biggest Game of the Year

 
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Candy Crush Saga would be perhaps an ill-fitting choice for the game of 2013: it was hardly the “best” game of the year by traditional “Game of the Year” metrics, and it didn’t even release in 2013. But Candy Crush Saga was still the game that defined mobile gaming in 2013…The thing that was most fascinating about Candy Crush Saga, though? Did anyone really have an unequivocal, gushing love for it? Whenever the game would be brought up, there was always some degree of resentment toward it for being so addictive, in the sense that people just could not stop playing, paying, and bugging their Facebook friends with requests. The thing that was most fascinating about Candy Crush Saga, though? Did anyone really have an unequivocal, gushing love for it? Whenever the game would be brought up, there was always some degree of resentment toward it for being so addictive, in the sense that people just could not stop playing, paying, and bugging their Facebook friends with requests. –Carter Dotson

2013 wrAPP-up: Happy New Year’s Resolution: Fitness Apps for All

 
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It’s the same story every year: not long after the ball drops in Times Square and the champagne runs out, people all over the world face the dreaded New Year’s Resolution. After all the eggnog, fudge, and candy canes, it’s no surprise that losing weight and getting fit tops the list. And these days there are a plethora of digital goodies out there making anyone’s quest for fitness that much easier. Many of these apps even throw the motivation and inspiration in for free. In other words, you’re running out of excuses. You can thank me later. –Stacy Barnes

2013 wrAPP-Up: The App Store’s Experimental Games of the Year

 
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Cynics would have you believe that the App Store is full of Match-3 puzzle games, Endless Runners, and attempts at stealing money through a multitude of in-app purchases. OK, so the App Store isn’t perfect and those games are certainly out there (and a plentiful amount of them are still fun!), but that’s far from all that’s available. In the spirit of it being the end of the year and the ideal time to look back at what the App Store does so well, I took a look at some of the best experimental delights out there. These are titles that are a little bit different from the norm, either in terms of having a very open ended storyline or through offering a way to interact that’s unconventional. As many of us wind down for the Christmas and New Years break, it’s the perfect time to relax and try something a little different. –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

Top 10 Kickstarter Spotlights of 2013

 
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It’s the end of the year and everyone knows what that means: Top Ten Lists. There are lists for every possible subject, and I figured that it was only appropriate if I looked back and chose ten of my favorite KickStarter projects. All of these projects were successfully funded, and were just a handful of the great KickStarter projects that I had the pleasure of choosing from during 2013. So, as they say, theres no better place to start than the beginning. –Joseph Bertolini

Fleet of One

 
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This is a phrase I didn’t expect to say today, but Fleet Of One is a top-down shoot-em-up that’s quite different from the other space shmups. It also looks quite a bit more logical. If the player is supposed to save the galaxy, as is usually the case, then the least you can do is give him a nice ship. Rather than piloting a flying version of a hybrid compact, the player controls a giant flying saucer with more guns than an army parade. But only two of them can be active at the same time. Oops. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer looked back at 2013 with the best games of the year, interviews with Simogo and Fireproof, and looked ahead to 2014 with a massive list of 50 upcoming iOS games. They also reviewed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, handed out top tips for new iPhone and iPad owners, played the best iOS games of the week, and even chose the best app icons of 2013. See the full week in review here.

2013-wrapp-up-header

Sure 148Apps is known far and wide for its diverse array of app reviews, but we also love to spotlight some lesser-known developers, review the occasional piece of useful hardware, and challenge developers to duke it out in their own games. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the past year:

Developer Spotlight: 11 Bit Studios

 
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Jennifer Allen:What’s your favorite thing about iOS development?
11 Bit Studios: We are producers of PC and console games too, and iOS development is pretty different. The entire design process begins (after typical dev brainstorm for game’s main theme is over, hehe) with thinking about how to make touchscreen gameplay enjoyable in the project. At least that’s our way. We believe this particular gaming platform is based on the controls in the first place. PC games may be pad-controlled, keyboard-controlled, mouse-controlled or even be turn-based in a model where controls are totally less important comparing to story. That, of course, does not mean we are not putting attention to story, visuals et cetera, but there’s something in the statement, that iOS development is very controls-oriented. And those controls are all about tapping and finger-swiping.

Developer Spotlight: Dragonhead Games

 
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Jennifer Allen:What was the inspiration behind Zombies & Trains?
Tor Martin Kristiansen: We actually weren’t that interested in making a game about zombies, since it seemed like every other day, someone made a game about them. We were focusing on coming up with an idea that sounded cool when you shared it with other people. At some point, almost as a joke, we started discussing ways of disposing of zombies that hadn’t been used in games or movies, and the idea of a train blasting through a zombie-horde came up. It immediately struck us as an idea that we just had to try, and we made a simple demo that was so much fun to play. And it was incredibly challenging, something we liked!


Continue reading 148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up – Developers, Hardware, and Carter »

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!

 

Christmas has passed, and it’s time to look forward to a new year. Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, as well as our end-of-year lists, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Fragment

 
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Photography apps have allowed iOS users to create beautiful pictures without any editing knowledge, and the abundance of photography apps in the App Store is evidence that more and more users are looking for the next best photography app for their collection. There are plenty that come with filters, borders, and templates, but there are few apps that can take a picture and do something completely different. Fragment is a different photography app in the sense that it isn’t like all the others. Instead of doctoring up a photograph, this app turns it into a piece of prismatic art and takes iPhoneography to the next level. The range of creativity that it offers is what makes it so appealing. –Angela LaFollette

MovieCat 2 – The Movie Trivia Game Sequel

 
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Any game that involves cats dressed up and reenacting various scenes from movies wins my vote. The incredibly entertaining MovieCat! was a huge success and created some exciting buzz back in 2010, and now it’s time for MovieCat 2 – The Movie Trivia Gaming Sequel. In 2012, the original game won the 148Apps Best App Ever Award in the Trivia Gaming category, so naturally it has a lot to live up to. Nonetheless, MovieCat! fans can breathe easy, for MovieCat 2 is every bit as highly amusing and enjoyable as its predecessor in every way. Featuring over 1000 all new text and visual puzzles about almost every movie one can possibly think of, this is a game for cat lovers and trivia fans alike. The game is largely similar to its purrfectly exciting older brother, but fans of the previous will be able to get their thinking caps on and flex those brain cells for brand new original puzzles Rhyme Time, Prop Art, Classics and Details, Details. –Lucy Ingram

148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up: Favorite Underappreciated Games

 
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It’s easy to list off the best games of 2013, and often such lists contain a lot of crosstalk between different publications. So this year, instead of just giving off another similar list of the best games of the year, our staff has decided to talk about their favorite games of the year that might not have been the best sellers or the most popular. In no particular order, this is our list of some of our favorite under-appreciated games of 2013. –Carter Dotson

148Apps wrAPP-Up: Documenting Your Year With iOS Photography Apps

 
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For the past two years I’ve been recording my life with photographs. Every day, I’ve taken a photograph with my iPhone before sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For the most part it’s fun to do, for a multitude of reasons. It enables me to share my life with friends and family that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. It sparks conversations about whatever happened that day. More importantly, it means that at the end of the year I can look back at what I did and savour those memories. It’s pretty much a photo diary in that case. Of course, some days it can be tricky. Not every day of the year can be fascinating, meaning that sometimes I have to get creative. And yes, sometimes I succumb to the ease in which I can snap a photo of my pets or my freshly cooked meal. It’s a cliche, but it’s surprising how many people enjoy looking at food even despite all the cynicism. –Jennifer Allen

148Apps 2013 wrAPP-up: Why Core Gaming Had a Great Year on Mobile

 
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It’s easy to look at mobile and see it as a wasteland for content; particularly with all the casual, free-to-play games, and especially the ones that seem to de-emphasize actual gameplay in favor of stronger monetization. That’s only if you’re not paying attention. Serious, core games – some even free-to-play – had a great year on iOS. –Carter Dotson

148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up: The Year’s Best Apps and Games

 
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Whoever said perfection is overrated obviously never got a five-star review on 148Apps. It doesn’t happen often. Just take a quick look through our reviews and you’ll see lots of well-deserving Editor’s Choice winners, but most only reach four-and-a-half stars. In fact, in all of 2013 there have only been ten five-star reviews. Take a look at some of what we considered the best of the best this year. –Chris Kirby

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

Knightmare Tower

 
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Knightmare Tower takes the endless runner genre and tips it on its head, literally. Good idea? Knightmare Tower has the barest vestiges of story. One day a knight hears about a famous tower full of monsters. Imagining the fame that could be heaped upon him, the intrepid knight sets off with his wooden sword and cheap armor to fight a horde of monsters. This story is told though a charming introductory cutscene. –Allan Curtis

Blocky Roads

 
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Never thought I’d have a chance to see a trend in development, but here we are. Minecraft is such a popular game with such a distinct graphic design that it has already spawned a whole generation of games that look exactly like it. Blocky Roads has gameplay that is nothing like Minecraft, or parts of it, but it looks exactly like Minecraft. It may actually not be based on Minecraft itself, but on any of its successors in graphics. The whole world, including the car and the designated driver, is built of blocks, and if you’re still not sick of the whole block thing, is looking really fine, with crisp graphics and cartoony, sharp textures. –Tony Kuzmin

2013-wrapp-up-header

Whoever said perfection is overrated obviously never got a five-star review on 148Apps. It doesn’t happen often. Just take a quick look through our reviews and you’ll see lots of well-deserving Editor’s Choice winners, but most only reach four-and-a-half stars. In fact, in all of 2013 there have only been ten five-star reviews. Take a look at some of what we considered the best of the best this year.

Jool

screen568x568Jool is a unique 2D platformer that features a bird and his evil alter ego. Collect items, earn points, and survive. –Michael Carattini
 

Year Walk

yearwalkYear Walk is a haunting adventure game from Simogo that blends a dark world and involved mythology together to create an absolutely amazing experience. –Carter Dotson
 

Continue reading 148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up – The Year’s Best Apps and Games »

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!

 

With less than a week to go before Christmas, the rush is on to find the perfect gift. Why wade through endless streams of furious shoppers when the perfect app is right here? Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Remastered

 
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Sure, the Sonic the Hedgehog series is known as a classic now, but for me, the moment when the series jumped from being about “blast processing” and Not-Mario to being a classic in its own right was Sonic 2. It was a rather comprehensive game, laying the groundwork for much of the series’ conventions. So when Christian Whitehead got his chance to helm a remastering as he did with Sonic CD and the original Sonic, there wasn’t too much he could add. But what has been added preserves what made the original game great, modernizes just what needs to be done, and adds one very cool easter egg for die-hard fans. –Carter Dotson

Star Trek: Trexels

 
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For some unknown reason, no one seems to be able to make a decent Star Trek game. Some argue the last time a good Star Trek game came out, it was for the Sega Genesis. Some would even go farther back, saying it was on the NES. Regardless, every Star Trek related game from older PC games up to the most recent one based on the J. J. Abrams adaptation of the series have not received high praise from critics. So, does a simulation/management style mobile game fare any better? –Mike Deneen

Jam Fusion Wireless Stereo Headphones

 
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The Jam Fusion Wireless Headphones are on the budget end of the spectrum for wireless headphones, coming in at just $63 on Amazon currently ($99 list). The headphones offer a modest 6 hour playback time, so make sure they are charged before that long flight. The headphones do have a decent sound, though they’re lacking a bit in the low end. I must admit that I have a big head but I can only judge comfort by the head I have, and these are too tight to use for any length of time. There is not enough give in the arm to allow the on-ear pads to sit comfortably on my ears. –Jeff Scott

Cut the Rope 2

 
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Om Nom just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet candy. Seriously, I think he has a problem. The lengths he would go to were pretty intense before, but in Cut the Rope 2 things are even crazier. He’s got more worlds to snack in, more obstacles to overcome, new creatures to help him, and unfortunately a few unwelcome monetization methods. Spiders have stolen Om Nom’s candy stash using a hot air balloon (naturally), and the little addict is dragged along with them as they make their escape. Literally: his adorable little foot gets tangled in the anchor line and he goes for a ride. Once free, players must stuff him with sweets as they work their way through 120 all-new levels. Cut the Rope 2 is in many ways similar to the original – what with the rope cutting and all – but a number of new elements have also been introduced that change the formula up quite a bit. –Rob Rich

Ridge Racer Slipstream

 
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I’m confident I wasn’t alone in being mildly worried about Ridge Racer Slipstream when a teaser trailer was released for it. Looking like it was going to pursue a freemium route, it made me twitchy. Fortunately, there was little need to worry. Ridge Racer Slipstream is a premium title that’s backed up by the availability of in-app purchases rather than reliant upon them. They’ll speed things along a fair bit, but a lack of an energy bar system is quite reassuring. –Jennifer Allen

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

 
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If anyone were to take a generic straw poll of journalists who reviewed games during the PlayStation 2 era, asking what their “Game of the Generation” was, there is a very good possibility that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would top at least a few lists. Not only was it well received critically, it went on to smash top sales records all over the place. But the question remains: have the last nine years been kind to this storied classic? In the legendary words of Dr. Dre, “HELL YEAH.” –Blake Grundman

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

Sticky Password Manager & Safe

 
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Digital password safes are almost necessities for the productively mobile in this day. There are several options available to Android users, and this is a god thing, as this means only worthy candidates will step into the ring. Enter Sticky Password Manager and Safe from Lamantine Software. Sticky packs AES encryption, and boldly looks to be the consummate password solution; off the bat, I like having the choice if either using the app as a standalone option, or getting in on cloud sync on one or more devices for $20 a year. Signup is a breeze and can be done on mobile device or the web. –Tre Lawrence

Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure

 
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A disintegrating plane. Scattered luggage. Iced up animals. A snowboard. Such is the world of Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure from Android development vet Ezone.com. To understand the gameplay, one must understand the backstory. It revolves around a successful explorer (Professor Headwind), who, in his travels to exotic locations, has accumulated a veritable horde of exciting items. On the way home, an ill-fated shortcut has dire consequences; his plane breaks apart, strewing his property and plane parts on snow covered mountains. –Tre Lawrence

Castle Raid 2

 
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To say the truth, I’ve only played original Castle Raid for a little while, so my experiences with this sequel aren’t really comparable. I’ve seen enough to suggest that the games aren’t wholly different. Castle Raid 2 is just as fun, has a bit better graphics, more units, and a larger campaign – but the gameplay only differs in details. It’s still a hellish time-sinker, regardless of whether you play it with a friend, or against an AI. Story in Castle Raid 2 spins in a surprising direction from the original. While human armies are fighting against each other, the whole kingdom and nearby lands get overrun by orcs that drive the humans off their own land. This forces the old enemies to band together, and claim their lands back. This means that the blue units are now people, and the red – orcs, both having distinct armies with different looks – although they’re still completely identical in powers, abilities and costs. Honestly, my biggest – and probably, only – peeve with Castle Raid 2 is that I really wanted to see at least two sides with unique units and abilities. That would turn this fine strategy into an amazing one. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, Pocket Gamer reviewed Walking Dead: Season 2, Republique, Colossatron, Cut the Rope 2, and Ridge Racer Slipstream. The guys chatted to Republique creator Ryan Payton about moving from Kojima to Kickstarter, and picked out the best tablets you can buy. All that, and loads more, here. And, in AppSpy’s latest video wrap-up, you can watch reviews of games like The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. They also went hands-on with new releases like Cut the Rope 2, Ridge Racer Slipstream, and Colossatron: Massive World Threat. Click here to see all these games in action.

This Week at 148Apps: December 9-13, 2013

Apps For The Holidays

 

The holidays are upon 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.

Seagate Wireless Plus 1T Wireless Hard Drive

 
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We’ve previously looked at the Sandisk Connect Wireless Drives. Wireless storage is something that many companies are trying out. Seagate takes things to an extreme; giving us a one terabyte drive capable of holding 500 HD movies, then making it portable and wireless. The drive comes with wireless N, which allows much quicker transfer, and also includes a USB 3 connection for the fastest transfer of data when not in wireless mode. In testing, moving media to the drive in wireless mode was nice and speedy. Regular USB was rapid as well, although I could not test out the USB 3. With the terabyte of space, it stored everything I threw at it. –Jeff Scott

Band Stars

 
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Limber up those fingers and start humming vocal exercises, because developers Halfbrick and Six Foot Kid are ready to help indulge everyone’s inner rock and roll superstar. Their newest release, Band Stars, puts players in control of a budding ensemble on the verge of breaking it big. Can this new music management title strike a chord with its audience, or will it simply get lost in the roar of the crowd? Step aside Game Dev Story fans, because there is a new management game in town. This time around, instead of trying to produce fictional games the product is melody. Each band consists of a collection of characters who have different skills that help contribute to the song sculpting experience. Tunes are produced in three stages: writing, recording, and mixing. One musician with high lyrical and creative abilities is assigned to writing a base track while the entire group performs it and a single member polishes the final mix. There is even an option to highlight solos in each performance, just to give the future smash hit a little bit more juice. –Blake Grundman

The Room Two

 
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A year after the runaway success of the original The Room, we find ourselves with a new set of puzzles in the appropriately titled The Room Two. Can it stand up to the exceptional quality of the original, though? Well, yes. It does exactly that. It’s required that I write more than that of course, but fans of the original should stop here and immediately start downloading The Room Two. It’s everything one could hope for from a good sequel; building upon what worked so well for the original. –Jennifer Allen

Olloclip 3-in-1 Macro Lens for iPhone 5

 
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I’m a huge Olloclip fan. I have been so since their first model for the iPhone 4. As an amateur photographer for many years, I’ve gone from film to digital very early on, to a killer DSLR, and now to almost exclusively the iPhone 5. In that time I’ve lost a little bit of the options for creativity on the hardware side, but slowly they are coming back. This latest 3-in-1 Macro lens set really plays to my interests. I love taking creative macro photos, and this lens set will be a great addition to my camera bag. Like the other Olloclip lens sets, this one has three different lenses; all of them macro on this edition. A 7x, 14x, and 21x lens allow varying levels of magnification on the subject. The Olloclip macro set also includes light diffraction hoods for the lenses. This allows the camera to be placed right on the subject but still allow light in. –Jeff Scott

Angry Birds Go!

 
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The latest in the series of games from Finland-based studio Rovio Mobile that took the world by storm with its creation of the Angry Birds franchise, Angry Birds Go! arrives as a casual racer that still has that unmistakable Rovio touch. Starting out, players can choose to jump right into the race or visit “Toons.tv” – Rovio’s animation service that aims to bring the Angry Birds characters to life in a 52-episode marathon. Jumping in will see one go through a short tutorial consisting of a single solo race, and later having those pesky pigs join in for the ride. –Arron Hirst

The Wolf Among Us

 
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The Wolf Among Us is the latest title from Telltale Games, bringing a story of fairytale fables who live in secret within the real world. This is a five-episode series based on a mature graphic novel series known as Fables. Players take the role of Sheriff Bigby Wolf, previously known as the big bad wolf – a character that is feared and disliked by many. The mood is set early on as players venture into an altercation with another Fable. The decisions made affect the entire story and outcome, so each decision comes with consequences. The story is very intriguing and pulled me in at a hundred percent. It’s a story that turns players into a detective as they try to discover the mystery behind a murder. It definitely takes a dark turn into this world of fairytale characters, and that’s one of the factors that makes discovering what happens next so intriguing. –Andrew Stevens

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

Any.DO Cal

 
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Any.DO is the development house behind one of the most respected task utilities on Android, and its Android calendar app, Cal, is definitely one that needs to be looked at. Forgive the slobber; this app is gorgeous. It comes in with bright colors, pictures and live animations to complement the default white look of the calendar information. the app automatically pulled information from my selected calendars, and presents them in a slick day-in-week view that can be pulled down to expose a monthly date look. Swiping to the left gives the previous day, while the right predictably brings the next day up, and so and so forth; months can similarly be manipulated in the cal1month view. Events on the calendar are ever so gently color-coded. –Tre Lawrence

Tower Madness

 
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Tower Madness is a tower defence game that looks like a lot of things at the same time. Of course, it’s not exactly easy to stand out from as numerous crowd as tower defence, and it’s not like Tower Madness isn’t trying, but I still found myself drawing parallels to other similar games, and especially Fieldrunners, quite a bit. The story is laconic and ridiculous. Aliens need your sheep, all eight of them, and you need to stop them. The stopping power includes about a dozen different kinds of defences, all of which can be upgraded, and should probably be a lot more interesting to aliens in the first place. The aliens come in waves, being delivered by UFOs, and heading straight to the sheep’s pen, with their walking routes being marked by arrows. When the player places a tower in their way, the aliens find a new path, around it. Thus, playing with tower positions, the player eventually creates a corridor of death that can eradicate even the most resilient of otherworldly scum. –Tony Kuzmin

Aztec Antics

 
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Aztec Antics is an interesting platform-based thriller from Bouncing Ball Games that celebrates the golden days when arcade games ruled the roost. It had a decidedly retro look, with an eye-pleasing array of 2D pixelated graphics making up most the background. The characters are itty bitty things, full of vigor and hungry to move. Blocks form platforms and naturescapes set against a soft background denoting jungle and temples. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed The Room Two, GTA: San Andreas, and Angry Birds Go!, picked out the top smartphones you can buy right now, went hands-on with Trials Frontier, and started its complete walkthrough to The Room Two. All that, and loads more, at the Pocket Gamer Week in Review.

This Week at 148Apps: December 2-6 2013

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.

Skulls of the Shogun

 
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Death is a very common thread in gaming, though admittedly in most cases it is being used as a motivating factor that the player wants to avoid. In the freshly ported iOS version of Skulls of the Shogun, the focus is actually on what happens after the main character has left the land of the living. General Akamoto and his ragtag group of hoodlums are trying to fight their way to the proverbial pearly gates, one decapitation at a time. Naturally they face quite the uphill struggle, with plenty of amusing shenanigans along the way. –Blake Grundman

Assassin’s Creed Pirates

 
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Assassin’s Creed Pirates is a game that’s appropriately multi-faceted: it encompasses multiple types of gameplay in its quest for pirate action in the Caribbean seas around the time of Assassin’s Creed IV. It’s a game with plenty to do and offers fun looting and boat-sinking times, it’s just structurally sub-optimal. There are two main parts to the game: sailing and combat. Sailing takes place in two different environments: a top-down map view that allows for just drawing lines to get around, and an “immersive” view where players can actually steer the ship, raise or lower the sails to control their speed, find random items to pick up, and challenging neutral ships that they cross. This is more fun, just more time-consuming. Certain missions require a certain view: race missions require immersive view while assassination missions which require stealth to sail past ship patrols use the top-down view. –Carter Dotson

Maps Pro With Google Maps

 
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Offering fairly powerful mapping features tied into Google Maps, Maps Pro with Google Maps is the kind of app that regular travellers are going to want to keep on their iPads for future reference. So much simpler and more intuitive to use than the website, it’s a very handy tool. Even better, it hardly needs learning. That’s how easy it is to figure out. Immediately placing a pin on the user’s current location, everything about Maps Pro with Google Maps is easily laid out. The opening page offers up directions, sharing, street view, settings, and a search bar. –Jennifer Allen

PDF Expert 5

 
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PDF Expert 5 isn’t an update to the already popular app, but is instead a newly redesigned package that provides iPad users with more features. It handles everything about a PDF – like reading, annotating, and editing. The app was just released this week and its fresh and sleek design make it a perfect fit for iOS 7. Whether users are familiar with previous versions or are just trying it out for the first time, it’s clear that the new features help to make navigation easier. For starters, there is a new PDF viewer that allows users to open large files, search through text, extract text from PDFs, and even open password-protected documents. There’s plenty of room to view PDFs thanks to full screen annotations and the smart zoom option that help users make notes and draw with ease. –Angela LaFollette

Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure

 
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Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure is a terrific universal puzzle adventure app for all ages, adapting the richly detailed illustrations of Roxie Munro’s previous puzzle app, Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure, into a jigsaw puzzle that players of all abilities will enjoy. This app consists of a colorful, stylized, and magnificently drawn landscape that is then broken up into 16 different smaller puzzles. I appreciate how up to five players use this app and their game will be saved independently, and how players can choose to break these individual puzzles into a number of puzzle pieces ranging from six chunky pieces to 260 small pieces on the iPad and 130 pieces on the iPhone, giving young children as well as seasoned adults a chance to enjoy this app equally. –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

Banana Kong

 
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In Banana Kong, the players can learn an important lesson: eventually, your possessions and greed turn on you. And the more things you get, the harder they will fall on your head, and no matter how long you run, they will eventually bury you. Unless you have a hog you can ride on. This is where the analogy kind of falls apart for me. –Tony Kuzmin

Dream of Pixels

 
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There’s no point beating about the bush when talking about Dream of Pixels. It’s Tetris but with a twist. There’s no other way to explain it. Dream of Pixels is a puzzle game where you have to place familiar look shapes onto the screen. Unlike the game it clearly derives from, these shapes don’t drop down from the top of the screen, so there’s no need to shift your shapes from left to right before they hit the bottom. Instead, Dream of Pixels slowly (at first) scrolls the entire screen upwards. Your job is to ensure that no empty spaces make their way to the bottom of the screen. This means you need to use your shapes to ensure that each line is full of blocks. –Matt Parker

Thor: The Dark World

 
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Thor: The Dark World is an arcade pseudo beat-em up arcade game that also serves as an official Android companion game to the movie of the same name. The game is nice to look at. Thor’s hair has the golden yellow halo effect, and the virtual environment is a fine interpretation of of cinematic imagination. Bright colors, interesting beasts and nicely animated characters rolling to the booming voice of Thorish proclamations. There is a judicious use of color, and while some of the animations are a bit formulaic they are altogether hard not to enjoy. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Blek, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Space Hulk, and The Wolf Among Us, picked the best iOS and Android games of November, tore it up with Touchgrind Skate 2‘s video upload feature, went hands-on with The Room 2, and put together holiday gift guides for 3DS and Vita. For all that and loads more, Head to Pocket Gamer for their weekly wrap-up.

Little Bit Evil Review

Little Bit Evil Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Can outstanding production values trump the overused tower defense formula in Little Bit Evil? Read on and find out.

Read The Full Review »

Apps Are Us

 

What to do with all of that post-Thanksgiving holiday time? Search for the latest and greatest apps, of course! 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.

Gravitations

 
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It was actually hard for me to review JLOOP’s Gravitations directly from the standpoint of it being a “normal” game. That’s because the missions are in themselves created by those playing. There are no preset levels here. Instead, Gravitations allows players to create, manage, and edit their own missions for eventual playing by themselves and others. Launching Gravitations for the first time, one can just feel the level of polish that has gone onto it. Backed by a “War of the Worlds”-style soundtrack that sets the tone for mystery and discovery, from the game’s start screen players will be able to choose from a carousel of options; including visiting the ship hangar, entering explore mode, builders’ contests, taking a class at the flight school, seeing what shared missions are available, or even creating missions. –Arron Hirst

Demonstrate

 
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There’s an increasing number of apps out there aimed at smoothing out the process of creating one’s own apps. While some simplify the coding process such as Codea, others help with different parts of the app making process. Demonstrate is one such app, allowing users to add hotspots and transitions to their previously constructed screenshots. It’s a fairly specialized tool that requires backup from other sources, but it’s potentially quite handy. Best of all, it’s free to download. An in-app purchase opens it up further in terms of how many screens can be used but the free build should be sufficient for many small projects. One sample project is included to explain how to use the app but it’s a pretty straightforward process. Users pick out a screen from their Camera Roll or Dropbox account before dragging and dropping hotspots onto the relevant place. Then it’s a matter of linking another screen to the hotspot in order to demonstrate the order of the app. –Jennifer Allen

Tiger & Chicken

 
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There are not many 3D roleplaying hack n’ slay games out there in the iOS market, and admittedly this is the first action-packed adventure that I’ve come across in some time that hooked me in right from the opening scene. Tiger & Chicken tells the story of a chicken with a whole lot of courage, who after getting separated from his female friend, decides one day to finally leave the Shaolin temple that he grew up in as an orphan and take it upon himself to track her down and rescue her. –Lucy Ingram

Icycle: On Thin Ice

 
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Icycle: On Thin Ice is the latest platformer from Chillingo. While the game itself is beautifully displayed and has a unique sense of humor, it unfortunately feels too “floaty” and imprecise in the control department to really be a stand out title. The first impression that Icycle: On Thin Ice makes cannot be overstated. The game is simply beautiful with its stylized vector look, bright colors, and cool-looking design. On top of this, it tells a strange but charming story of a naked man named Dennis as he navigates a frozen landscape looking for love. Between both the visuals and the humorous storyline, there is a lot to like about the game conceptually. –Campbell Bird

MOGA Ace Power Gamepad

 
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The dawn of a new era in iOS gaming is on hand with the launch of the first MFi gamepads from MOGA and Logitech. However, things are far from ideal right now, as the MOGA Ace Power shows. I was most excited for MOGA to toss its hat into the iOS gamepad ring – the MOGA Pro is my favorite Android gamepad without a doubt, and a wonderful controller for playing games with. So, with MOGA having the first “extended” MFi gamepad boasting a full complement of buttons (four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, two analog triggers, a d-pad, a pause button, and two analog joysticks) I was excited. However, the limitations of the MOGA Ace Power and its high price tag make it only for early adopters. –Carter Dotson

Castle of Illusion

 
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Castle of Illusion, a modern remake of the Sega Genesis platforming hit, has made a surprise landing on iOS after launching on console and PC not long ago. It’s certainly a welcome addition to the platform. This is a 2.5D platformer in that it does contain mostly 3D characters along a 2D plane, but moments where 3D movement is possible do pop up and are parts of some of the game’s cooler moments – like a puzzle where players must discover if tiles they’re running on are fake or not by looking into a mirror. So no, it’s not just a straight-up paint job on the original game. It’s been modernized, but it still has enough of that classic flavor to it. This is not just in looks: many of the original enemies and bosses are still here in some form, but the game has the trappings of a kind of late 8-bit and early 16-bit platformer. There’s that feeling of rigidity to the way that levels are arranged and laid out that makes it have just enough of an old-school feel while feeling loose and new. –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

Siegecraft Defender

 
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Siegecraft Defender pays another visit to the well-worn tower defense genre. Does it stand out among the throngs of similar games on Android? Siegecraft Defender plays pretty much like other tower defense games. There is a portal that constantly spits out enemies in waves of varying amounts. Somewhere else on the battlefield is an area that must be defended. To stop the enemies the player builds fortifications featuring towers and walls to create mazes of fortifications designed to slow down enemies as much as possible so they can be picked apart by the defenses. Each tower has a different effect on enemies. –Allan Curtis

Bitter Sam

 
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Okay, I have no idea what to say about Bitter Sam, content-wise. It’s a game with very simple and understandable mechanics, but when you actually try to understand what the hell is going on in there, your thoughts start to hurt a bit. It’s about a strange furry creature that kinda looks like a man in a suit, and is not more than three inches tall. He is literally hanging by a thread, held by some crazy scientists, descending into some dangerous caverns with unclear intentions. I frankly can’t fathom what is going on in there, but Bitter Sam is living up to his name, being quite a miserable little bastard throughout. Seriously, the dude is so utterly soul-crushed that he actually smiles when he dies. He’s being on an emotionally-destructive level of the first several minutes of The Land Before Time, and the game is being quite schadenfreudian about this. Despite the main hero being sadder than a rock star’s 28th birthday, it’s really fun and casual. –Tony Kuzmin

New Star Soccer

 
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I’ll be honest: I’m somewhat cynical of soccer sims. It seems most long-term sports management games have been done. Still, it takes a game like New Star Soccer to change my mind, and change my mind it did. The game provides an abbreviated player development ladder based around The Beautiful Game. It connects gameplay, skill development/career and more into a pretty nice simulation package. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer went hands-on with Angry Birds Go and Assassin’s Creed Pirates, picked out its most anticipated games of December, welcomed Skulls of the Shogun to iOS, and reviewed Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and Icycle: On Thin Ice. All that, and loads more, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

Drive on Moscow Review

Drive on Moscow Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Wargames have a notorious learning curve. Drive On Moscow tries to flatten that curve.

Read The Full Review »
Square Off Review

Square Off Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
A variation on an old theme, Square Off succeeds at what it attempts but doesn't warrant a purchase.

Read The Full Review »

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.

Clumsy Ninja

 
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Clumsy Ninja is a casual “Tamagotchi-style” game starring an inept ninja and a humorous physics engine. The game has players train their ninja with the hope that, one day, they will no longer be clumsy. Between the rather impressive physics, fun challenges, and relatively innocuous free-to-play design, Clumsy Ninja is actually a pretty fun game. To play Clumsy Ninja, players can touch the environment or their ninja to interact with it. There are also a couple of menus that allow players to take on challenges for experience points and add new items to their training grounds. Almost everything a player does yields experience points, but the fastest way to move up the ninja ranks is to complete challenges – which can vary anywhere from punching bag training sessions to flinging the ninja on top of a roof. –Campbell Bird

Touchgrind Skate 2

 
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The original Touchgrind was one of the first games on the App Store that truly used multitouch controls to their potentital. Since then, so many games have continued to just use virtual controls, not truly taking advantage of their platform. However, Illusion Labs is back to show these sucka MCs just what’s up with the wonderful Touchgrind Skate 2. The game has been reborn in 2013 as something more like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games in that players skate around a various skatepark-y environments chaining together tricks like spins, flips, and edge grinds. There’s a lengthy tutorial that has players seeing how to pull off the various maneuvers, with the ability to go back and re-watch and try individual sections in case more practice is necessary. Once in the actual game players can play a 100 second mode where they try to get the most points in that time limit, or a best line mode where a chain of tricks in a short time period can be attempted with the goal being to get the highest-scoring line. This mode is endless, with players able to keep playing until they get a score they’re satisfied with. –Carter Dotson

Lords of Waterdeep

 
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Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons-themed board game that has found its way onto iOS. Unlike other D&D adventures, players do not create characters and live out their fantasy lives in the land of Forgotten Realms. Instead, players take control of one of the masked lords of Waterdeep and manipulate warriors, rogues, and wizards to do their bidding for them. The result is an extremely well-designed, well-executed, and awesomely-themed worker placement game for 2 to 5 players. For the uninitiated, a worker placement board game is one in which the main action involves placing tokens – representing workers – on strategic locations on the game board. Placing a worker yields some sort of material gain, while (typically) also preventing opponents from accessing the same resources. In Lords of Waterdeep, the primary resources are money and adventurers (priest, warrior, rogue, and wizard); and these resources are gathered in order to complete quests. Upon completing quests players receive victory points, and the player with the most victory points at the end of eight rounds is declared the winner. –Campbell Bird

Oceanhorn

 
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Oceanhorn, the Zelda-style action-RPG from Cornfox & Bros., has been anticipated for a while; but I came upon a game that falls short of the hype and its inspirations. Now, a high-quality 3D Zelda-style game just hasn’t been attempted much on mobile. And getting Nobuo Uematsu, composer for many of the Final Fantasy games to do the music? Unheard of! This is a game with a heady pedigree, and the ambition is rather apparent: it’s a beautiful-looking game. Play this on a retina iPad if possible: it chugged a bit on the new Retina Mini at times, but it looks absolutely immaculate. Whether it be in a dark dungeon, in a sunny town, or sailing on the high seas, this is a visual feast. And the orchestral soundtrack sets an appropriately epic mood. On the surface,Oceanhorn lives up to the hype. –Carter Dotson

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

 
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Arriving at the perfect time in the Holiday Season, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is an utterly beguiling book app. It tells the classic tale of the same name, following Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they discover the meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s easily a great read to share with the rest of the family. The app is laid out in a very family friendly format. An easy to understand tutorial ensures that young and old will know how to navigate through the app, mostly through a matter of swiping to the side. Occasionally, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving reacts a little strangely, potentially down to the increasingly dated iPad 2′s loading times, but it’s mostly a smooth process. –Jennifer Allen

BeBop Blox

 
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BeBop Blox is a cute and charming puzzle app for toddlers that adults will enjoy as well. BeBop Blox is a brightly-colored and musical puzzle app with Tangram elements that young children – through the use of stacking blocks – can use to create playful shapes including a train, boat, camel, or whale as well as other fun animal shapes. Gameplay is simple as children are guided in their building with the use of block templates which one fills. I admire that, although there is a moment where the more complex design can be seen. Building begins from the bottom up, allowing children to slowly add pieces – exercises that later may help them construct their favorite designs with their own building blocks. –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

Random Heroes

 
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May 2D platformers never die. Long live Random Heroes. As far as platforms go, this one has the basics down: adjusted left to right running, with baddies and leveled platforms to get to. Our hero is outfitted with a gun, but the gun does not perpetually shoot; the a button nestled to the right only shoots when pressed. Just to the left of this button is the jump button, and the bottom left of the screen has two directional buttons. –Tre Lawrence

Zombitsu

 
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In Zombitsu, we get a running game, a ninja sword and zombies. Our ninja (Hiro) is outfitted with a sword to begin, and runs slicing up undead villagers and avoiding hazards that creep up along the way to stop progress. The view is an abbreviated top-down and behind angle, and this is affected by some game actions for brief moments. The zombies are all over, roaming on the sides of the running area and even directly in front. The base zombies are remarkably spry; there was a time or two I thought one was out of range only to have it knock me down behind some serious closing speed. –Tre Lawrence

Kunundrum

 
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Kunundrum is a fancy puzzle game with neon graphics. Its gameplay reminds of classic Sokoban, but the rules are different. To be fair, there’s no way to describe them, without sounding like an accountant on his weekly report, so bear with me. The players are tasked to deliver several differently-colored shiny dots to their respective slots. The dots can be swiped across the field vertically and horizontally, and only stop when they hit a wall. If a dot is launched over its slot, it will skip over it, unless there’s a wall, or some other object in the way. Thus, the player needs to arrange the dots in such a way, that they would stop exactly over their slot. The fields are greatly different and contain lots of unique tiles. Some of these tiles change the direction that the orb is going, others act as switches for collapsible walls, and others teleport the sphere to another part of the level. The levels are numerous, so there are plenty of easy, mediocre and completely insane difficulties available. Three stars are awarded if the player manages to complete the level with the least possible number of moves. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer went hands-on with the first official licensed iOS controller, reviewed Touchgrind Skate 2 and Shivah, highlighted the 17 best iOS and 10 best Android games of the week, picked out the hardest games on mobile, and helped you avoid scam apps on Google Play. All that and more, 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.

Tilt 2 Live 2: Redonkulus

 
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Tilt to Live 2 wakes up in a world where the tilt-based game feels almost dead. Free-to-play Skinner boxes rule the landscape, and here’s a $2.99 game that dares to toss things back to 2010 by having us tilt to survive? Well, great gameplay is timeless, and One Man Left has made Tilt to Live 2 feel both fresh and familiar. The core concept of “tilting to live” is the same, but nothing else is. Visually, the game has been given a detailed and fluid overhaul. It looks and feels incredibly lively. But all the power-ups from the original have been replaced with new ones. Now, there’s a brimstone ball that can be bounced around the screen, a dual-bladed energy sword, a shield that can collect dots to destroy them, a dot disguise that makes the player briefly invulnerable, and more. This was a fantastic decision by One Man Left – what it does is that it makes the game feel new. The game is innately familiar, but the ways that the problems are approached and solved are completely different. It’s the perfect approach for a sequel; one that other developers need to consider. –Carter Dotson

Stealth Inc

 
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Stealth Inc., originally released for Mac and PC under the name Stealth Bastard and then later for the PlayStation 3 and Vita under its more family-friendly name, has been well-loved from the start. And rightly so as it mixes stealth and brutal platforming challenges so effectively. So how does everything hold up on iOS? Ridiculously well, actually. The basic premise of Stealth Inc. is to escape. Players control a very unfortunate clone (several, really, since there will be lots and lots of dying) whose only purpose is to sneak out of a facility that’s absolutely packed with death traps. Now that I think about it, all the place seems to do is make and kill clones. In order to guide their little fellas to figurative safety, players will need to solve a series of challenging environmental puzzles and make a bunch of intricate jumps while also trying to avoid detection at all costs. The game uses a simple left/right slider for movement along with jump and duck buttons to great effect, while a contextual button for interacting with computers and the like pops when needed. –Rob Rich

Hunter Island

 
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Monster Hunter? Pokemon? No, this is Hunter Island from ZigZaGame Inc. A game that incorporates both catching monsters and fulfilling side quests in RPG style. Fans of the Pokemon games will feel right at home here, as Hunter Island manages to capture the tone and enjoyment of just what makes this style so engrossing. Anyone familiar with the rules of Pokemon will not find it difficult to work through. Players start off with the option of three different monsters – each with different elemental attributes. It is then the player’s job to decide whether they will be a male or female protagonist, but it doesn’t really make a difference because whichever one is chosen the other will still join them on their journey. –Lucy Ingram

Todo 7

 
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Appigo’s Todo apps have been keeping many people organized for as long as the App Store has existed. After a major OS update in the form of iOS 7, it only seems right to come across Todo 7. The app fits into the aesthetics of iOS 7 extremely well, retaining its position as both powerful and visually appealing. Some people looking for a simpler solution might be disappointed to note that Todo 7 isn’t as minimalist as other To Do list apps, but once taken through the tooltips it offers, it proves to be quite effective. The main screen of Todo 7 offers the bulk of the information. A list of all tasks is offered along with a focus list which prioritizes overdue tasks and those needing to be done today, while a personalized list option offers more control over how content is arranged. Personalization options such as changing the color of each category, and even the list icon and background image, further adds to the control. –Jennifer Allen

Millie’s Crazy Dinosaur Adventure-Millie Was Here, Book 3

 
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Millie’s Crazy Dinosaur Adventure is an interactive title in a series of Millie Was Here – charming multimedia experiences children and their adults will really appreciate. Here Millie, a cute little dog, builds a space ship to hopefully transport her back in time to earlier that day – because after having arrived at her friend’s birthday party, she realized that she had forgotten her present. Things go awry though and Millie actually travels back into the time of the dinosaurs where she goes on an adventure, then safety arrives back in present time. –Amy Solomon

SnapinboxHD

 
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Email is quickly becoming one of the most time-consuming daily tasks. Since most folks are mobile now, it’s necessary to have an email app that is speedy and efficient. SnapinboxHD does its best to make this chore as simple and seamless as possible. Combine all accounts into one inbox, and swipe left or right to organize it without even opening the message. Yes, this may save seconds, but seconds add up to minutes, which add up to hours. –Stacy Barnes

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

Move

 
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Gotta love Move. Its main draw is its simplicity. The game developer does a good job of ensuring that it is accessible enough to almost not even need a tutorial. The basic objective is to move colored, 2D circles to matching squares in the least number of moves. Every level starts out with a suggested number of moves, and not surpassing that is what is the key to earning the most stars. –Tre Lawrence

Pocket Harvest

 
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Pocket Harvest’s premise will be familiar to anyone who’s played Harvest Moon. Players are given control of a small, struggling farm, with few staff and next to no resources. Before long though, the farm will be bustling with a huge variety of crops, animals, attractions and even tourists. Building the farm couldn’t be easier. Fields are placed one by one depending on what kind of crop they grow. Worker houses are placed nearby and if they are close enough the worker will tend the fields, sell the crops and earn cash. Of course there are many things that affect how much money they’ll make, such as the moisture of the field, the worker’s skill at harvesting, how well cultivated the crop is and so on. –Allan Curtis

Combat Monsters

 
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Combat Monsters is a turn-based strategy game that involves the use of extras to win. It has one of the most thorough tutorials I’ve come across, and it does do a great job of ensuring that the 8-step learner gives the right pointers with regards to how the game works. What the tutorials do reveal are some nice media elements. The whimsical characterization work within this type of fantasy warfare, with simple animations that are fun without being too distracting. The playing area is a battle stage that is set in a circle with chess-like squares that afford movement of the pieces. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Oceanhorn, Epoch 2, and Stealth Inc, started its new First Look video series, and welcomed in the new generation of consoles with a round-up of second screen apps. Check it out in the Pocket Gamer Weekly Round-Up.

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