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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

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.

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

 
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The great strategy of Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol returns with Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies. It’s set during World War II; where players have the choice to play as the US Navy, US Army, Imperial Japanese Navy, and Imperial Japanese Army. It certainly has a familiar presentation for those who played the original, but it’s also more polished and enhanced. The mission set-up is different as players are given one mission instead of a choice between three. I also find the visuals to be more polished and likable, but that’s probably because I love the old warbirds. –Andrew Stevens

Rayman Fiesta Run

 
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Rayman Fiesta Run is the sequel to Rayman Jungle Run, Ubisoft’s mobile version of their Rayman revival series, taking the form of a level-based auto-runner. Rayman Fiesta Run really only serves as an iteration on the previous one, but more of the familiar excellent gameplay and an improved level structure make this a better game. Players control the jumps and punches of Rayman, who can’t stop running for reasons both justified and unjustified depending on the level, trying to collect Lums and just get to the end of each level in however many pieces is optimal for Rayman because he has invisible limbs. Levels, which take on many forms from horizontal platforming to back-and-forth ascents – with the occasional wall-running and jumping, too – are challenging due to the timing needed to succeed and survive the various hazards. –Carter Dotson

Tiny Death Star

 
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Tiny Death Star is one of those ideas that’s absolutely brilliant: take Tiny Tower and put it in the Star Wars universe, having players build a Death Star instead of a non-descript tower. Oh, and the bitizens are all Star Wars characters. If that sounds appealing, then go download Tiny Death Star. It really isn’t too much different from the original Tiny Tower, the game where players earn money by stocking floors of a tower that sell different items, building new stores and residential floors for new people to move in to. Managing where bitizens work is important because they’re more efficient at certain floor types. This whole process continues until one’s tower is as high as players want it to be. It’s just all decked out with Star Wars characters and themes this time. –Carter Dotson

Hipster CEO

 
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Let’s get this reviewing cliche out of the way: Hipster CEO is an acquired taste. It sounds like an excuse to basically say “Some will like it, some will hate it,” but it’s remarkably true in the case of this game. Unlike so many other titles on the App Store, Hipster CEO doesn’t mollycoddle its players. There’s a gameplay guide rather than a comprehensive tutorial, but even that isn’t as useful as simply giving the game a shot and gradually figuring things out. It’ll be rewarding, but it will take patience for those who want to succeed. Occasional moments of being crash-prone can irritate, too. –Jennifer Allen

Sorcery! 2

 
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Bigger, better, stronger. That sums up Sorcery! 2, the sequel to the rather great Sorcery!. Feeling substantially weightier than its predecessor, much like the book it’s based on, Sorcery! 2 is a veritable bargain even despite its premium price tag. It’s been promised that there are over 300,000 words to it with more than 10,000 choices. I have no reason to doubt such a claim as there are plenty of hours of content here. Continuing from its predecessor, it’s not essential to have a save file at the ready but I’d recommend it, purely to carry on the storyline. Players explore Khare: the Cityport of Traps, and it’s a huge city indeed, as they attempt to move forward in their quest, potentially overthrow the city port’s council, and more. I’m grateful that Sorcery! 2 has such an extensive backtracking feature as there really is a lot that can be done here. –Jennifer Allen

ProCam 2

 
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ProCam 2 is the kind of photography app that should, theoretically, mean that no other photography app is really needed. While some might find themselves keen to stick to an app they’re more used to, or with a slightly different look, ProCam 2 covers all the bases meaning that there really isn’t a need to do so. I’m assuming the developers wrote up a list of requirements for a good quality photography app, then kept working until every single one had been included. I’m struggling to think of anything that could have been missed. –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

Dot.Stop.Run

 
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Dot.Stop.Run is a pretty eye-catching runner, but how does it play? Players control Dot, an enigmatic female as she runs along a landscape littered with hazards, such as pits, falling blocks and moving platforms. Using well timed jumps, the player must guide Dot through each level. Dot.Stop.Run has the bare vestiges of a story. Dot has escaped from the unseen system and now runs through an endless binary domain that changes constantly to recapture her. Only by making her way safely through the binary domain can the true power of Dot be unleashed. This story doesn’t really make an appearance in game, but at least it sets the tone for the trippy gameplay to follow. –Allan Curtis

Lost Chapters HD

 
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There has to be some science behind the way certain games force you to stop playing and instead ‘come back later’. I’ll happily admit I’m no expert in the economics of designing free-to-play games, but I always thought turning people away was a dangerous idea. They just might not come back. It’s with this in mind that we talk about Lost Chapters HD. It’s a game all about exploration of an island, completing tasks to unlock new buildings and discovering treasure along the way. –Matt Parker

Wake the Cat

 
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Cats. Lovable bundles of fur or feline freeloaders? How you feel about cats will determine how you want to look at this game. LIKE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you gently roll a ball of yarn towards a sleeping kitty so that you may wake them from their peaceful slumber and play with them. HATE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you launch a ball of yarn (maybe with a rock in the middle of it) so that you stir the cat from its unearned slumber. Maybe to then throw the cat out of the house. I don’t know. –Matt Parker

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of October, reviewed Rayman Fiesta Run, provided some top tips for Tiny Death Star, and followed the saga of an indie developer who got rejected from the App Store… twice. Check out the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up right now!

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

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

Bit.Trip Run

 
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I imagine that everyone who has ever owned an iOS device has played an endless runner or ten. They’re just ubiquitous. And sometimes, what happens during the best of them is that careful ballet – that feeling of everything coming together perfectly. Due to random and/or procedural generation, that happens only periodically. That feeling is what Bit.Trip Run is built around in its entirety. This auto-runner, based off of Runner 2 but revamped for mobile, is more akin to a careful dance than a frantic survival game like Canabalt or Temple Run because it is all about intricate design. –Carter Dotson

The Stormglass Protocol

 
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“Welcome to Vindiqo Research Laboratories,” is the first voice players hear when they wake up. What place is this? Questions will only be answered as players make their way through The Stormglass Protocol, where sixteen locked doors and portals remain between the player and their hope for freedom. Set from a first-person perspective, The Stormglass Protocol creates an immersive experience in the form of a unique puzzle adventure room escape. From the onset, it is without doubt that huge amounts of effort have gone into creating what essentially is one of the most gorgeous iOS games one could lay eyes on. From the quirky narrative jokes to the highly-explorable rooms, The Stormglass Protocol doesn’t miss a beat. –Lucy Ingram

Papa Sangre 2

 
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Put on some headphones. Turn out the lights. It’s Halloween. What’s the perfect way to celebrate this cold, dark October evening? Why, by playing Papa Sangre 2 of course. The original awed thousands with its 3D real-time binaural audio engine and innovative use of sound to create an immersive and atmospheric experience, and Somethin’ Else have done it again. Except this time around it’s darker, it’s scarier, and it’s much more haunting. Starring the voice of ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Sean Bean, who has died more times than we can count, Papa Sangre 2 is a game that relies solely on the player using their ears to navigate their way around a dark and dangerous scenario. Trapped in the afterlife with only Sean Bean for company, players are guided through the Museum of Memories to engage in what becomes a rather macabre situation; running from monsters, avoiding traps, and seeking the scattered memories that are the only ticket out of this terrible nightmare. –Lucy Ingram

Fantastical 2

 
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Fantastical 2 is yet another app that’s been re-made as a completely separate experience for iOS 7. Unlike some of its brethren however, Fantastical 2 provides some great upgrades when it comes to user customization, phone integration, and accessibility – all of which make it worth the upgrade. Just like the older version of Fantastical, users can easily manage their events and schedules using the app’s excellent natural language parser and easily view their daily schedules at a glance via the day ticker. But now with Fantastical 2, both of these experiences are made even better through improved parsing (and dictation parsing!) and the landscape week view. These additions make creating and viewing events – arguably the two primary functions of a calendar app – simpler than ever. Have a meeting at noon in Times Square on the second Tuesday of every month? Simply type or speak those words into the app and it will set the repeating time, date, and place completely automatically, then display that event next to other immediate events when the phone is turned sideways. –Campbell Bird

Tricky Stories: Halloween Fairy Tale – Adventurous Sticker Book for Kids

 
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Tricky Stories: Halloween Fairy Tale – Adventurous Sticker Book for Kids, as the name describes, is a universal sticker book for children with a Halloween theme. A haunted house and a forest are areas that one can decorate with stickers that are included and photos can be taken of one’s work. The look of this app is nicely stylized; with a palette of purples, grays, golden yellow, and blue shades that look quite nice against the backlit screen of the iPad or iPhone. The sticker choices and other landscape details contain a layered effect with a subtle paper grain that I appreciate, giving these stickers a little more substance than I typically see in an app such as this. –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

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

 
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Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is one of those games that brings a lot to the table in many ways. Flight simulation games can sometimes be either overly involved or control-challenged; finding that comfortable middle ground can be tough. First of all, it is a pretty hefty download; we’re talking about just under 2GB unpacked according to Goog. Off the bat, at first glance, the graphics make it seem worth it… it looks good. From the aircraft themselves to the way the sun reflects off the endless the sea in the background, detail is definitely paid attention to. If you are able to look at the planes and not want to fly one in real life, check for a pulse. –Tre Lawrence

Haunted House Mysteries

 
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Tis the season for mysteries, and the more haunted the better. Welcome to Haunted House Mysteries.
The game starting use of light flashes sets the tone; 1994 famous archaeologist Edward Russel found murdered with wife and younger daughter in vacation home in New Jersey right after a great dig in Egypt. His oldest daughter, her boyfriend and the important historical pieces discovered by Russel are all missing. A dozen and half years later a student named Nancy gets to take what she thinks will be some time off and visit her Aunt Mary at the coast. The house is not actually her aunt’s but was lent to her by a friend who is a bit spooked out by weird happenings. –Tre Lawrence

Ghost Toasters-Regular Show

 
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Ghost Toasters takes a rather novel idea: Get Grumpyface, a talented mobile developer that has made several great Adult Swim and Cartoon Network games like Super Mole Escape and Mutant Fridge Gumball, to take the Regular Show cast of characters, including the baby ducks from one of the show’s most famous episodes, and put them into a Super Crate Box affair where jumping through portals switches to a character with a new weapon. Oh, and ] add in portals that can call up extra characters to give the player multiple hits before failing, because this is a game based off of a Cartoon Network show. Throw in a level-based structure and a coins system for upgrades to help differentiate things. On paper, it’s a pretty rad combination, and there are times when it all shines through. The animation is fantastic, and there’s a real sense that making this game faithful to the Regular Show style was important in its creation. But then, the flaws rear their ugly head. –Carter Dotson

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer detailed its most anticipated mobile games of November, played all the new games (from Papa Sangre II to Bit. Trip. Run! to Anomaly 2), put the GameStick through its paces, and celebrated Halloween with five scary games. Check out the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up right now!

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

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

Tweetbot 3

 
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Tweetbot is the best Twitter app that’s out there, hands down. It’s feature-packed and easy to use. Tweetbot 3 continues this app’s legacy as the best, and is a must for anyone who uses Twitter. Now, Tweetbot 3 is a new app, not just an update to the now-previous version of Tweetbot. While the two apps are pretty much feature-identical, there’s been some usability tweaks and a revamped look and feel for iOS 7. It no longer sticks out like a sore thumb – it fits, and it’s a welcome redesign. It is a bit jarring jumping from the new look to a version using the old one, but the Mac version will be updated for Mavericks soon, and Tweetbot for iPad is in the works down the road. –Carter Dotson

Pocket Titans

 
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Pocket Titans mixes a puzzle game with the kind of row and column switching seen in Candy Crush Saga and 10000000. Yet this casual puzzle gameplay is all wrapped up in the veneer of a squad-based RPG. The way it works? Players have their squad of heroes from the various RPG archetypes: warriors, rogues, archers, et cetera. They and the enemies are on a small grid, with the ability to move an entire row or column in one’s turn. Players get to make two moves to put their characters in their ideal position to attack enemies or use their character’s ability. For example, warriors attack enemies nearby (and their attacks can hit all enemies in a nearby radius), archers can hit enemies either diagonally or straight away from them in their line of sight (no obstructions in the way), healers can, well, heal. As well, each class has secondary abilities that activate when they can’t use their primary one. Everything happens automatically, so to learn how to play just requires learning how the various classes work, which is simple enough. –Carter Dotson

Zombie Cupcake Attack

 
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Zombie games aren’t going away anytime soon, but a new zombie game that has landed in the App Store puts a spin on the craze. Starring Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman, Zombie Cupcake Attack features undead treats that need to be annihilated in order to save the world from the apocalypse. The graphics are quite impressive for an endless runner. At the start of the game, it’s evident that the developers put a lot of details in all five endless levels. While it has more of a kid-friendly appeal, adults will find themselves having a lot of fun as well. –Angela LaFollette

Hello World – Book 1: The Lonely Islands

 
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Imagine a magical and whimsical fantasy world full of interesting people, epic battles, mediocre coffee, and a talking cat. This is where the story of Hello World takes us; on a journey through a 3D universe populated by a whole variety of mythical creatures and bizarre people. Hippies, vampires, zombies, trolls, chupacabras; there is no shortage of strange beings. In this first-person adventure, Cap and Leet must quest through a universe unlike any other in order to save the magical and semi-sentient land of “Fred.” Set in the style of an RPG, players must explore forests, caves, and sail the sea, all while meeting the most unique of characters and poking squirrels with sticks. –Lucy Ingram

My PlayHome Stores

 
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My PlayHome Stores is the much-awaited sequel to the popular app My PlayHome; a digital dollhouse app that allows children to interact with a play family within their house, including a vast amount of interactive options. My PlayHome Stores now allows this family a day of shopping as children can explore a variety of stores including clothing and ice cream shops, a smoothie shop, and a restaurant. These apps are lovely, simple, and sweet, bringing the creative play of a traditional dollhouse and other creative play to the iPad and iPhone, and as such bring an intuitiveness children will enjoy a great deal. Fans of My PlayHouse as well as those new to this series will enjoy the many interactions as one places a character into these scenes. Do note that although the family from My PlayHome (a mom, dad and three kids) can be seen at the top right of the screen, one also has easy access to a large cast of characters that include men, women, and children of various races and backgrounds – a very nice touch. –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

Look Out Below

 
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More and more mobile games are utilizing physics in unique ways. Ever since the rise of Angry Birds, developers are looking for new ways to bring the force that dictates all things in the real world into the games that appear on phones and tablets. Physics are implemented in a variety of different games, offering unique game play options and interesting ways of using the laws of science within the game. Look Out Below is one of those games that offers an uncommon usage of physics while offering a simple, but testing game play. –Mike Deneen

IceBurgers

 
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IceBurgers is an environmental tale. Two ships collide in the Antarctic, spewing burgers and letters, and a penguin has to clean it up. Alrighty. Interestingly enough, what makes this game unique is what probably is its best feature: the lack of frills. It rocks a simple motif and features even simpler gameplay, and, as such, can be a formidable time waster. The gameplay is an atypical mix of crossword puzzle and Scrabble. A square grid of 25 tiled letters makes up the playing area, and words are supposed to be created via swiping a finger across letters in fairly liberal fashion. When a word is formed, it lightens up and explodes, and the tiled letters are replaced randomly by falling tiles from above. –Tre Lawrence

BBM for Android

 
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Yes, BlackBerry (formerly RIM) has had better days. The iconic technology company made devices that signified corporate success and helped shape the smartphone market. It’s current troubles are well known, and the company and its devices have arguably lost some of their previous luster. One piece of the BlackBerry ecosystem that has always been respected is BlackBerry Messenger, its eponymous messaging system. It’s always-on nature, perceived reliability and PIN-based connection service is almost universally respected, even by non-BlackBerry device users. So, when BlackBerry announced that it would be opening up the hitherto proprietary messenger to iOS and Android users, ears perked up. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Dead Trigger 2, highlighted the stand-out hits from its Big Indie Pitch event, found 8 tablet-only games to play on the new iPad Air, reviewed Ace Attorney on 3DS, and went hands-on with Vita charmfest Tearaway. Head to Pocket Gamer now for their weekly wrap-up.

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.

Device 6

 
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I love what Simogo is doing in 2013. While the studio has always been a purveyor of a different kind of experience on iOS, this year their releases have been centered around story-telling and puzzle solving. It started with Year Walk and now continues with Device 6. They’re creating unique and intelligent experiences that deserve to be seen and heard. Now, much like Year Walk, this is something that is best when not spoiled so I’m only going to touch on cursory details of the plot and scenario: this is a sort of interactive piece of fiction that players read through that frequently wraps around the screen, requiring players to rotate their device to keep up with where everything is going. The story is about a woman named Anna, who wakes up in mysterious circumstances. To advance the story, certain puzzles, whose hints are embedded in the narrative and visuals, must be solved. The challenge comes from solving the puzzles and putting together the hints – have some pen and paper or some kind of writing app on a computer or other device open to take down notes to solve everything and to advance the story. –Carter Dotson

Soul Gambler

 
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Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend. A successful scholar who, dissatisfied with his life, makes a pact with the devil and exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge and worthy pleasures. The legend of Faust has been retold throughout history via many forms of media, and has been the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works. Soul Gambler is the remake of the original free unfinished interactive visual novel inspired by Goethe’s famous German tragic play, “Faust,” that has had a complete revamp; and with the success of its Kickstarter, has been made into a fantastic-looking interactive graphic novel that combines the art style of comic books with playable mechanics most commonly found in video games. –Lucy Ingram

Fist of Awesome

 
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An unlikely hero. Bears. Lots and lots of plaid. A talking, time-traveling fist. These are only a handful of examples as to what players can expect when they jump in to FIST OF AWESOME. It’s certainly a weird, wacky, and wild beat-em-up with old school brawler roots and a few modern concessions. There are a few not-so-awesome issues nestled in with all those homicidal talking bears, however. Tim Burr is just a hard-working lumberjack with simple aspirations and a close group of friends. His is a happy life, and he envies no one. That is until the timeline is inexplicably altered and bears become the dominant species of Earth. Tim’s hand begins speaking to him, identifying itself as the FIST OF AWESOME and taking him on a journey through several eras in history – all overrun with bears – as the unlikely duo set out to fix history. –Rob Rich

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone

 
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OmniFocus 2.0 for iPhone is a to-do list and task management app that’s built for the person who’s deadly serious about tracking what they need to get done and when. After all, the app for iPhone is $19.99, which is well above what most apps are priced, but OmniFocus has a wealth of features and syncing options to help justify it. Still, it’s a cost that just may be worth it, because this is comprehensive yet still somewhat simple. It’s like fishing with grenades. –Carter Dotson

PumaTrac

 
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PUMATRAC may sound like just another fitness app at first, but it provides a unique user experience that others like it currently don’t offer. PUMATRAC is designed to keep runners motivated by giving them insights on conditions that affect running performance so that workouts are actually more fun and rewarding. This means that the app can tell whether users run faster to pop music or longer on Fridays just by analyzing many different conditions thanks to Tictrac technology. –Angela LaFollette

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

Cavemania

 
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Free-to-play match-three puzzles are as inescapable as bathroom issues after an all-you-can-eat night at Taco Bell, and are just as expected. Although I know I should hate them for their complete lack of originality, or artistic merit, my primitive synapses still get their share of enjoyment, just from matching things in the right order, without any particular reason and reward. Perhaps, my mom was right, and I should have gone in accounting. In any case, Cavemania tries to introduce some new mechanics, but it’s unclear whether they help overall game, or just get in the way. –Tony Kuzmin

Lumber Jacked

 
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It’s too primitive that lumberjacks are always seen as the most manly of all people. So what if they have muscles of iron, and spend days at a time, uniting with nature and flinging mighty axes all day? Internet critics also have cramped up muscles, unite with nature every five to seven hours, and fling mighty keys up and down. Still, I’m yet to see a single game that gives the credit where it’s due, and features the mighty and the powerful, as the ultimate example of manliness. But, while the ungrateful, primitive culture moves down the familiar road, we get Lumber Jacked, another game, where lumberjack is the mighty hero yet again. It’s not like I remember any other games with lumberjacks, but there have to be lots of them, or this whole paragraph makes no sense. –Tony Kuzmin

Drift Mania: Street Outlaws

 
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Drift Mania: Street Outlaws is the latest in the series of Drift Mania games by Ratrod Studios, with the scene shifted to street racing. But is it worth playing? There isn’t much content available without a lot of gameplay in Drift Mania: Street Outlaws. From the start of the game one car and one track is unlocked. Unlocking additional tracks is far from a simple task. For each track you can race on there are a number of achievements, such as drifting a certain distance or finishing in a time limit. Once enough of these are achieved, the next track is unlocked. Cars can be bought at any time, but are very expensive. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed DEVICE 6 and compiled a complete walkthrough to the game, went hands-on with Dungeon Keeper and Tiny Death Star, and made some bold predictions for next week’s Apple press conference. Head to Pocket Gamer for their weekly wrap-up.

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.

Monster Adventures

 
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I enjoy Roguelikes. I have a thing for RPGs. I love action-adventure games. I even dabble in monster-collection fairly often. But in all honesty, would anyone expect all of those great tastes to taste great together? Turns out it doesn’t matter because Foursaken Media has mixed them all in the big proverbial jug that is iOS, and the result is so good it just has to be fattening. Monster Adventures begins (and pretty much stays in) the town of Yerpa. It’s a quaint place surrounded by forests, mountains, and snowy plains, all of which are crawling with monsters. Fortunately our hero/playable character stumbles upon a friendly critter in the town’s well, and the duo set out to be the very best. Possibly like no one ever was. –Rob Rich

Gunner Z

 
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There haven’t been a lot of serious attempts to replicate the formula of Zombie Gunship, which is unfortunate: that game made zombie killing fun in a special way. Gunner Z is one of the few that takes it on, but it struggles due in large part to its structure. The game puts players in the gunner seat of a truck that’s out to go blow up some zombies and the human sympathizers that seem to all have military ranks. Players can raise or lower their height to get the perfect angle against zombies, though it never feels like it’s of much practical use. Players get a standard gun of their choice with unlimited ammo, and a set of rockets that can be used to help take out more powerful enemies and large groups of zombies. If the zombies get close they’ll do heavy damage to the truck, and if the truck runs out of health it’s mission over. –Carter Dotson

The Cave

 
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Back before there was ever a Master Chief or even an Angry Bird, there was once an adventurer named Guybrush Threepwood. Ron Gilbert was one of the brains behind the success of LucasArts’ original run of Monkey Island PC titles, later departing from the studio to pursue other projects. Fast forward to 2011, Gilbert re-teamed with fellow LucasArts alum Tim Schafer to re-imagine the adventure game for the modern generation. Has The Cave recaptured the magic of old, or is this a nostalgic trip down frustration lane? Adventure games have had a long legacy of turning a player’s mind to mush. For this reason, it only seems fitting that The Cave harkens back to the classic Maniac Mansion, where the player is faced with selecting which three of the seven available characters to use for the entirety of the game, right out of the gate. Decisions, decisions. Depending upon the selected avatars the puzzles and story may be modified slightly, lending itself well to a least two additional replay sessions. –Blake Grundman

Perfect Shot

 
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Capturing that one perfect shot of a group of friends can be difficult. There’s almost always someone who is blinking, not looking at the camera, or forgetting to smile. Now there is an app available that solves all these problems and more. Perfect Shot couldn’t have a better name since it essentially describes exactly what the app does. Designed specifically with iOS7 in mind, Perfect Shot detects the number of individuals in a photograph and can detect their eyes and smiles. What’s amazing about this app is that it automatically captures a photo once everyone in the group is smiling and not blinking, so there’s no need to press the shutter button. Of course, eye and smile detection can be turned on or off by tapping on the gear icon in the lower right corner. –Angela LaFollette

Toca Cars

 
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I am pleased to have had a chance to review Toca Boca’s new app, Toca Cars. As many may know, Toca Boca is known for their wonderful digital toys based on the real world playthings children use every day, and Toca Cars continues in the footsteps of their other great apps. It is worth explaining that Toca Cars is not so much a first-person POV driving simulator. Instead, it allows one to drive a car around a track with the drag of a finger. More impressive is the chance to drive and crash into the landscape the track has incorporated within; including many various buildings, street signs, a few animals or other characters, colorful ice cream puddles, ramps, and many more details too numerous to name. –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

Autumn Dynasty

 
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Good pure RTS games aren’t exactly easy to find on Android. Sure, there are a few good ones, but few can match the strategic depth to be found in Autumn Dynasty. Autumn Dynasty tells the story of a Royal Scholar, an important, intelligent man sent on a routine journey by the ruling government. He runs into a spot of trouble and, after proving himself against his enemies, you’ll follow his story as he grows into a leader and unearths a sinister plot. AD tells a great story and the very well done character art and interesting dialogue really drive the game’s story onwards and gives a lot of incentive to complete the next mission. –Allan Curtis

Evomail

 
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Evomail is part of the new generation of email apps, ones that shoot for a greater degree of accessibility and inbox management. But for me, Evomail comes with one killer feature: the ability to remove emails from the inbox temporarily by ‘snoozing’ them. On my iOS devices, Mailbox’s ease of use and interface has made it my client of choice. This is a problem because I rely on its ability to easily delay emails to a later time to help keep my sanity. Yet despite Mailbox’s expensive acquisition by Dropbox, it’s still an iOS-only affair. It’s frustrating, because it’s something Google has yet to add in as a built-in feature despite making the Android Gmail app more like Mailbox and Evomail with things like swiping actions. So now Evomail is on Android, and with it, the ability to procrastinate on answering emails. But it’s not quite the great email experience that I wanted. –Carter Dotson

PinWar

 
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Pinball is one of those old-school games that are almost always perfect as-is. Why? It presents the perfect union of physics, chance and human skill. It’s beautiful… even the electronic versions seem best when they are presented “traditionally.” Maybe, just maybe PinWar is an exception. “The” exception? In this game, basic pinball gets souped up into a battle zone that pits fast reflexes against human opponents or artificial intelligence. There are a few different play modes. In Quick Battle, it’s a war of attrition; play continues until one side loses all available tokens, with friends being expended with every pinball conceded. This mode is s quick shootout. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer took a look at the new and noteworthy iOS games, including Costume Quest, KAMI, Duet, and Ring Run Circus. It also investigated Codea, an app that lets you make games on your iPad. And the site reviewed huge new 3DS adventure, Pokemon X and Y. 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 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 Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Shadowrun Returns

 
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What was old is new again. Thanks to popularization of crowd-funding services like Kickstarter, many forlorn, neglected, and abused franchises of yesteryear are receiving a new lease on life. One such series seeing a massive resurgence is the strategy RPG and table-top classic, Shadowrun, which finally found its way to iOS in the form of the newly released Shadowrun Returns. Can it somehow live up to the nostalgia laced, sky-high expectations of fans, or will it suffer the same fate as the attempted Xbox 360 reboot? Looking back through the annals of history, the last time that a proper Shadowrun RPG was released, Sega was trying to hock the Sega CD. Thankfully, time has been kind to the genre, and the developer, Harebrained Schemes, has went to great lengths to assure that the title’s mechanics meet up with the expectations of a modern audience. The action itself plays out from a third-person, isometric view, akin to what would be found in most modern tactical RPGs, and is coupled with an extremely organic screen tapping control scheme. –Blake Grundman

Incredipede

 
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Incredipede by Sarah and Colin Northway, is almost two different games built into one title. The first is the main adventure, one where players control Quozzle, a spunky little cyclops gal going through those awkward years where one doesn’t know how many limbs and muscles one has at any given time. There’s not just that, but there’s also the need to collect fruit to save the fellow members of one’s species who have been kidnapped. So the player, serving as the control agent for Quozzle’s muscles, tries to both get Quozzle to the end and to collect the fruit in the levels, which are used to unlock future levels. –Carter Dotson

Pixel This!

 
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I suppose a sign that a game is really good is when I lose all track of time; just constantly diving back in, ignoring all other responsibilities, just playing the game again and again until there’s no more game to play. That’s Pixel This! by Mark Brown , a game he created because “Most of the Picross apps on iOS kind of suck, so I made a better one.” Well, he succeeded. –Carter Dotson

Projector Up!

 
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As a freelance writer and small business owner, keeping tabs on all of my finances and projects can become quite daunting. Plugging numbers into excel, cross referencing projects and figuring out my profits are just a few tasks that can get overwhelming. Now that there’s an app for pretty much everything, I was intrigued by what Projector Up! had to offer myself and other freelancers. The app’s main purpose is management of accounting. It focuses only on small studios and freelancers and isn’t intended for big businesses. Aside from its simple and clean interface, Projector Up! boasts many features like goal tracking, financial planning and visual tracking. –Angela LaFollette

Gappy’s Mystery Letters

 
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Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a charming and effective interactive letters app starring Gappy, the cartoony character from Spinlight Studios’ earlier app Gappy’s First Words. Here, Gappy will be thinking of a letter and asking children to trace with a finger a moving star which engages children to draw a letter that they will then match up with a series of letters to choose from. I believe that the sense of mystery, complete with fun and suspenseful music, will keep children engaged longer than simply tracing over a template which can oftentimes be scribbled over instead of specifically worked with, as this app taps into a child’s sense of wonder as they form these letters. Another nice moment is revealing the gift Gappy receives that corresponds with the letter in question, such as wagon for “W” – nicely stylized as an image later to be used as a coloring page – a nice touch as this cute moment will not register the way it would if Gappy were being given a whole lot of “stuff” like more tangible toys. I would, however, like to be able to control the speed that one needs in order to follow the star as I could see a child new to tracing or printing having difficulty at first – a minor concern really as this is a great app for those new to learning their letters but who are looking for something a little different. Also included is a blank drawing page as well as 52 coloring pages based on the alphabet that can be unlocked by slowly solving the mystery games found within this app. –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

Blood Battalion

 
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Sometimes it is fun just to watch games. Anyone who’s played the Sims knows that watching the drama unfold can be as fun as creating the drama. These types of players will likely love Blood Battalion, a strategic RPG which is light on the gameplay and heavy on the spectacle. Players begin the game by selecting a hero. It’s possible to pick from such heroes as a healer girl who’s fairly useless in a fight, but has the vital ability to keep other troops alive, to a swordsman who has immense power but not much else. –Allan Curtis

LavaCat

 
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Fast Cats and lava. Welcome to LavaCat from PocketCake. The basic premise is what one expects in a side-scrolling adventure: moving from the left of the screen to the right, the main objective is to get as far as possible without getting fried by any of the heat-related dangers that lined the playing area. In the interest of fair disclosure, it should be noted that the playing area is molten lava travelway with falling spikes and steam geysers that can do lethal damage to a poor little puddy cat. The controls are minimalist. One bank has a direction button set that controls “forward” and “backward” movement. There is also a jump button. An hourglass button rounds out the core controls. The cat remains stationary on the bottom surface unless a button is being held; not a lot of momentum is retained when movement in either direction is not engaged. –Tre Lawrence

Total Conquest

 
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Ever wanted to build a charming Roman village from the ground up, build a thriving economy and then shatter the peace by recruiting a huge army to crush friends and rivals, then look no further than Total Conquest, a new game from Gameloft where aspiring generals can do just that. In Total Conquest the player starts off with a Town Hall and not much else. From there villas are constructed to generate gold and farms are planted to generate food. Each building can be upgraded multiple times. Temples can be raised to gain blessings from the gods, bestowing faster or stronger attacks and players can also build a bunker like Militia building which garrisons troops in case of attack. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week This week, Pocket Gamer reviewed The Cave and Transport Tycoon, crowned the best iOS and Android games of September, looked at the most exciting mobile games for this month, and went hands-on with The Room 2, Monument Valley, and Framed. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

Your App Experts

 

The furor over two new iPhones and the release of iOS 7 may have passed, but that doesn’t stop the oncoming wave of new apps. If you want to know what’s worth your time and what’s not, just look to the expert app reviewers at 148Apps. And if you want more app reviews than you can shake a stick at, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Big Brain Master

 
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Big Brain Master is a pure puzzle game that tells a story whilst engaging the player in some enjoyable and challenging puzzles. A new and artful take on “mind” games, it’s simple and entertaining approach manages to keep players guessing without being too complex. The art style is highly detailed, with a nice, clean, and simple graphical outlook, and the puzzles are presented in an interesting format which gives it an interesting and refreshing feel whilst playing. Navigating the user interface is nice and straightforward, and the design layout is linear enough to not overcomplicate by looking too clunky or crowded. Each of the 250+ levels are divided up into seven puzzle styles that are each distinctive from the last. Although this might seem refreshing enough to most players, I personally feel that perhaps having less levels per style and more of a variety of puzzle styles would have made it slightly less repetitive, as after a while gameplay seemed to become a little tiresome and I felt like I was just repeating actions that had already become less of a challenge. –Lucy Ingram

Pocket Trains

 
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NimbleBit has a clear formula with their bitizen-featuring simulation games, one that repeats with the third such title, Pocket Trains. They’re games that are fueled not so much by challenge, but by keeping the player interested in propelling the machine forward and not punishing them for playing the game – like so many other free-to-play simulations are wont to do. It’s why I find myself falling into the same pit with Pocket Trains where I check it regularly for weeks on end, the same as I did with Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes. This feels almost like a remix of Pocket Planes that’s been simplified a lot. Where that game had some complexity due to the free-form nature of air travel,Pocket Trains is forced to be simpler because of the fixed nature of rail lines. Only one train can own a segment between two cities, though of course multiple train lines can travel through cities on intersecting lines. The paths are thus largely pre-defined and there’s now no monetary cost for traveling to a city, only a fuel gauge that refills when a train is idling or when the player pays a couple bux to refill it. –Carter Dotson

Trouserheart

 
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Trouserheart is an ideal game for the mobile format. It’s the kind of thing that can be jumped into for five or ten minute sessions, while still actually achieving something in that short space of time. In the vein of games such as Diablo and Torchlight, Trouserheart is a hack-n-slasher that’s very simple to learn. Using a virtual d-pad and one sole button to attack with, it takes seconds to master. What takes a little longer is learning to dodge enemies by moving around them quickly. It’s still all pretty simple stuff, though. Vibrantly animated, Trouserheart also maintains a charming and humorous take on events, right down to the player’s quest to rescue one’s trousers. Yes, really. –Jennifer Allen

Chainsaw Warrior

 
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I’d admittedly never heard of the original Chainsaw Warrior tabletop game from the late 80s, but that’s probably due to a combination of me not being all that into board games back then and also being six years old. Regardless, the player-versus-game gore fest has made its way to iOS. And it is ridiculously awesome. Chainsaw Warrior is essentially every action movie in the 80s turned into a dice-rolling game. A dimensional rift has opened up, resulting in New York being overrun by horrible mutants and other monstrosities, with a shapeless dark being running the show. In about one hour’s time the rift will open further and swallow the entire city. So it’s up to the titular hero to wade through hordes of terrible monsters in a desperate attempt to reach the Darkness and put a stop to the otherworldly assault. They’ll have to fight through a deck of over 50 cards just to reach a second, which is the only place where the Darkness will appear. Dying happens a lot. –Rob Rich

Wombi Math

 
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Wombi Math is a cute and fun app that will encourage grade school children to work on their math skills. Set in a charming urban landscape, a brick wall is used as the backdrop for different math equations and their answers to be displayed – be it with the possible use of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Tap on an equation as well as the matching answer to clear the board. I admire how simple it is for parents to adjust the math questions used for the abilities of a specific child as well as how the questions and answers are represented – be it in uniform block boxes or more colorful and sometimes geometric shapes. One can also scroll through a few related brick walls that include each function, whether mixed, addition, subtraction, or division – each with a nice, different use of color yet maintaining an intentionally sparse background, keeping the focus on the math. –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

Terraria

 
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Outdoor survival, nicely-rendered 2D graphs with whimsical monsters and… wait for it… zombies? People: Terraria is here! The gameplay takes familiar survival staples and rolls them into a fairly complex system involving manipulation, combination and strategy. The tutorial underlines the basic stuff quite well; the first grand explains how to use the left-set control to move on either direction, as well as how to jump, scale downward… and instinctive movements, like directing jumps in either aerial direction are logical. The tutorial goes on to walk through collection of materials, protection, creations and dangers. –Tre Lawrence

Tanktastic-3D Tanks Online

 
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Porches. Lamborghinis McLarens. All infinitely cool, but I dare anyone to show me a guy who hasn’t wanted to rock a tank at least once. Go ahead. I’ll wait. For folks who can’t or won’t do a 4-year bid just to do some infantry driving, Tanktastic is a relatively safe alternative that brings team combat, tactics and good old speed of accurate firing to bear. Jumping into a random group battle mostly describes the gameplay in all its muscled glory. The task is dropped into a terrain with different types of structured obstacles, and several other manned tanks. It’s a shameless free for all that measures speed, accuracy and cunning. The controls are straightforward, and encourage quick movement and shooting; I felt most comfortable with dual thumb controls. –Tre Lawrence

Pivvot

 
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Pivvot is nothing if not eye-catching. Its stark graphics and simple gameplay demand attention. But how does it play? Pivvot’s concept is as simple as it gets. You control a rotating circle that moves along a line. As you move along you’ll see obstacles you need to avoid, lest you crash into them and die. To do so you use very simple two finger controls that rotate your intrepid circle left or right. While this sounds like an incredibly simple concept, in practice it is extremely challenging. The game starts off simple with easily avoided obstacles such as spikes that only take up one side of the course, but quickly adds in much harder ones that require exact positioning, like lines of small walls that move constantly. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer demystified iOS 7 controllers, picked out the perfect games to show off your new iPhone 5S, reviewed hot new App Store games like Boson X and Trouserheart, and showed off this week’s iOS games in video show What’s New? See it all in PG’s weekly wrap up.

New iPhone? New apps? You Need Our Know-How!

 

Each week brings with it a wealth of new apps, but, we’ll admit, some weeks are just more exciting than others. Such is the case with this week, with its iPhone 5s and 5c announcements coupled with the long-awaited release of iOS 7. Be sure to catch up on our continuous coverage by checking in at our iOS 7 hub. And if you want more app reviews than you can shake a stick at, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Diptic PDQ

 
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Conveniently fitting into the iOS 7 aesthetic that we’re all growing to quite like, Diptic PDQ lives up to its name by being a Pretty Dang Quick photo collage creation app. It’ll prove immensely useful to those who want to create a collage out of their photos and don’t have much time to do so. Distinctly speedy to use, Diptic PDQ dispenses with any bells and whistles that really aren’t needed; immediately requesting the photos that the user wants to import (as well as offering options to take images directly through the iOS device’s camera). Users are then able to drag and drop the photos into their respective places on the layout. There are 35 layouts in all, and each are the kind of template that one would actually use rather than the kind that are too wacky to be practical. –Jennifer Allen

Angry Birds Star Wars II

 
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There once was a man named George Lucas who decided he wasn’t prosperous enough. In search of never-ending wealth, he released three new films in his storied Star Wars franchise. After eventually completing his quest for riches and fortune, Lucas licensed out the rights for his films to Rovio, the brains behind the Angry Birds franchise. And thus a glorious gaming baby was born in the form of Angry Birds Star Wars II. Can this entry make just as big of a splash as the first installment, or have the days of Force-wielding fowl long since passed? Marketing professionals go an entire lifetime dreaming of working with a single brand that even remotely has the clout of a singular Star Wars or Angry Birds. Melding these two juggernauts together is a cross-promotional fantasy that has probably sold an iOS game or two… million. Taking a whack at the more recent trilogy is the aim of the sequel and this time around Rovio has ambitions of pulling out all of the stops. –Blake Grundman

Marvin

 
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Previously quite the hit for iPad-owning reading fans, Marvin has made its way to the iPhone ably demonstrating just what a great eBook reader the device can be. For those who enjoy reading on the move, Marvin should be a firm choice for a while to come. The app is immediately simple to use. Relying upon DRM-free EPUB books, it comes with a selection of great classics such as “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “Crime and Punishment,” and many more. Importing others is just as simple, done via iTunes, Dropbox, or a Calibre plugin. Tutorials for doing such things are located via Safari rather than built into the app, but fortunately it’s all quite straightforward. –Jennifer Allen

Double Dragon

 
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Double Dragon celebrated its 25th anniversary with an updated iPhone version, but has it managed to hold on to everything that has made it such a legendary franchise in the process? I was happy to see that the classic visuals, 80′s soundtrack, and damsel-in-distress story were all still present and cheesier than ever before. In terms of the game screen, the amount of buttons is deceptively simple. Although there may only be one directional button and four attack buttons there is an impressive array of moves available as laid out in the command list. Uppercuts, flying knees, head-butts, and special attacks all go towards keeping gameplay varied and particularly challenging to master (especially when it comes to initiating juggling). Let’s not forget the infamous weapons either. Barrels, whips, and steel pipes are all available to pick up and wield against the never-ending parade of thugs. –Lee Hamlet

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

Monster Match

 
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A lot of games find it hard to stick to one ‘type’ nowadays. It seems that every game is of type X though has Y components. It’s not enough to find one solid game mechanic, it seems the trick is to mix several together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m happy to say that Monster Match‘s attempt at mixing Pokemon and Connect 4 has worked a charm. The premise, as with most good games, is simple. You have a board which is full of coloured gems. You need to swipe at these gems connecting 2 or more of the same color. The more you connect, the better. Better how? Let me explain. –Matt Parker

Quad Drawer

 
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The past few renditions of the Android devices have had a lot more memory to store apps. The problem is, we can add more stuff to the phone because we have more space, so we do. When we have a hundred or more apps on our devices, it can take some time to find the right app to open. Quad Drawer is a great solution for most people to help find apps faster. After it’s downloaded, Quad Drawer will run a check to find all of the apps on the device. Once it does, finding an app is super easy. The apps are found by simply typing in the name of the application. While this may sound pretty simple, the majority of phones and other Android devices out there do not have a feature like this. –Trevor Dobrygoski

Infectonator Hot Chase

 
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Infectonator Hot Chase has a tough legacy to follow. The original Infectonator was an insane stew with zombies, tactics, humor and originality. This game only has zombies. Being worse than Infectonator still counts as a praise, although I’d much rather have original gameplay extended. But oh, well, maybe we’ll see that later. Infectonator Hot Chase is still fun, though. If you played Dead Ahead, then it’s easy to understand the concept of this game: it’s the same as Dead Ahead, but the heroes are zombies, not the survivals. The main zombie is running constantly to the right, just as the still-surviving humans do. He is also steering automatically to the bottom of the road, while pressing at the screen makes him strafe to the top. The player’s task is to “catch” the humans as the main zombie runs past them, and infect them. The freshly-infected start running alongside the main zombie, and help infect more people, or pick up gold and power-ups. The zombie slows and loses health over time, both of which can be replenished by eating people, or picking power-ups. When the main zombie dies, the gold he picked up is added to the bank, and can be spent to upgrade himself, or special mutations that temporarily imbue him with new powers. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviews Infinity Blade III and Angry Birds Star Wars II, charts the history of Grand Theft Auto on handhelds, goes hands-on with Pokemon X & Y, investigates FIFA 14‘s in-app purchases, and celebrates iOS 7′s best and hidden features. Check out the Pocket Gamer Weekly Wrap-Up for all of this and more.

kik

Ready to get a little social? Powerslyde is here to help you in your quest. Just take a look at these five top recommended apps this week:

Instagram
Ban.jo
Appgrooves
Kik Messsenger
AroundMe

Remember when it was just Facebook and Twitter? No, me either. Anyway, if you don’t know what Instagram is, I’m amazed you’re reading this article. As for Ban.jo and AroundMe, I’ll forgive you for not knowing about these social networks that incorporate happenings, events, and locations nearby a-la Yelp or FourSquare.

An interesting inclusion this week is AppGrooves which, like Powerslyde, recommends other apps to its users. And then there’s Kik Messenger, which claims to be the fastest messaging app out there. Is it? I don’t know, as there’s a glut of messaging apps out there, including Apple’s own iMessage.

Ok…deep breath…do you feel properly socialized now? Good. Join us next week for another installment of the ongoing app popularity saga. Thanks to Powerslyde, the app that leverages your friends’ app recommendations, for this week’s list. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!

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

We Know Our Apps

 

Sorting through the gigantic swarm of apps out there can be daunting. 148Apps is here to help. 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.

Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs

 
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The age-old battle between samurai and ninjas has been told throughout time across several forms of media, but Eutechnyx has taken it to a whole new level with Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs. Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs is a tower defense game in which the field of battle is divided up into five lanes. There are a variety of towers available to build that each have various functions and resources, but there are only five spaces in which to place them so it has to have some sort of strategy. Otherwise it’s just a case of trial and error. Units are created and deployed from these towers, which are generated as cards that all have different abilities. Once the decision to deploy a unit has been made it is then possible to choose where to place the character, with the aim of getting them across to the other side to destroy enemy towers. If a character, be it a ninja cat or a samurai dog, passes an enemy on their path (or adjacent to, depending on abilities) there will be a face-off to the death and the victor will advance forward. –Lucy Ingram

Heroes of Loot

 
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Distilling a genre down to its basic elements isn’t necessarily a difficult task, but doing it well absolutely is. Just cutting gameplay and other mechanical elements out at random won’t do; it really requires surgical precision. And yet, Orangepixel pulls it off so well with Heroes of Loot they make it look effortless. Heroes of Loot, at its most basic, is what happens when a game like Gauntlet is combined with Roguelike elements. The four adventurers (Elf, Warrior, Wizard, and Valkyrie) are in it for the money and not much else. Once players select their character, it’s on to adventure! Or in this case something akin to an arcade dungeon crawl. Randomized dungeons, quests, and special items make an appearance along with permadeath, but it’s all been streamlined to the point that dying is merely a (very) temporary setback. –Rob Rich

Junk Jack X

 
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The 2D mining and crafting genre is becoming a crowded one on iOS, with The Blockheads leading the way (in this writer’s humble opinion), Terraria making the jump to iOS, and now Junk Jack X – a follow-up to the 2011 2D crafting game that launched on iOS. And for those looking for a fun 2D crafting game can’t go wrong with Junk Jack X. Now, as someone intrigued by the genre but not an expert on them per se, I find the way that a game like Junk Jack X decides to just leave players in the middle of nowhere to start off with, left to fend for themselves, absolutely fascinating. In a world of handholding it’s kind of refreshing to be left to fend for myself. Of course then nightfall comes and I’m being assaulted by zombies, slime monsters, and spiders constantly, and I’d kind of appreciate some hand-holding! The ability to zoom way out to see where one has been and what the upcoming landscape may hold is great, especially handy for after a death, trying to make it back to the place one worked from. –Carter Dotson

Disney Princess Royal Salon

 
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Disney Princess Royal Salon is a very nice universal application that allows young children to dress up Disney princesses as well as style their hair with a tap or drag of a finger. Having only a son, we never got into the princess theme the way some children do, but I did spend a few years looking for a moderately-priced styling head that was not attached to Barbie as my boy showed interest in trying to style my hair and apply pretend makeup to my face, so I think he would have fun with this kind of pretend play toy. It is these kinds of styling head toys that came to mind as I tested the Disney Princess Royal Salon app as after choosing among Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel, and Ariel one gets to decide which of four invitations to select, and one has a chance to style a princess’s hair with the tap of a finger. –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

SimpleRockets

 
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Space. The final frontier. The strange, black mass around the Earth that’s calling out to us, daring to come at it with all the technologies we could think of. As the space exploration in real world is stalling behind the schedule, videogame spacemen are orbiting on the countless devices, including mobile phones. The most popular among the “realistic” space exploration simulators is, undeniably, Kerbal Space Program. It’s a whole another topic, worthy of a hundred of articles, but it’s quite obvious where SimpleRockets took the inspiration from. Although it’s a lot more simple, it’s fitting perfectly into the mobile screen. –Tony Kuzmin

Wordcraft

 
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Wordcraft is a combo word game from Littlebigplay. The game is an interesting mix of word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles. The playing area is a rectangular grid made up of squared letter tiles set up in 8×13 fashion. The letters are random, and contain all the letter of the alphabet with varying probabilities. As in Scrabble, each letter has a number value that seems to be based on the use of the letter in the English language. Thus, E, T and A have the lowest values, and K, X, Q, J and Z have high values. –Tre Lawrence

Daddy Was A Thief

 
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Isn’t it strange that a game is only perceived as mature when the developers consciously try to make it so? By all accounts, Daddy Was A Thief is a hardcore circus of violence and destruction, but since it has nice music and cute graphics, it feels like a completely peaceful game. And I’m definitely digging its style. I’ve already reviewed it a while ago on iOS, and since Daddy Was A Thief got an update, I figured it would be a great time to also review this great game on Android, as well. –Tony Kuzmin

Also this week, Pocket Gamer went preview crazy, with first impressions of Infinity Blade III, Trials: Frontier, Gunner Z, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, Pocket Trains, Valiant Hearts, Fist of Awesome, and Rayman Fiesta Run. Get more reviews, news, and videos in Pocket Gamer’s weekly wrap up.

And finally, in this week’s AppSpy News Wrap-Up, James talks you through the Infinity Blade III trailer, and shows you the first gameplay video from Trials Frontier, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, and Rayman Fiesta Run. He also talks in a pirate voice for longer than is strictly necessary. Visit AppSpy.com for more video reviews, news, and previews.

screen480x480

In honor of this week’s inevitable new iPhone announcement, five of the top recommended apps are best described as ‘App Classics.’ Take a look:

Facebook
Temple Run
Shazam
Twitter
YouTube

Ah, the oldies but goodies! Hard to believe there was a time, not so long ago, when Facebook and Twitter weren’t baked into iOS. Still, refreshes to these social networks’ apps have made them must-haves for every iPhone and iPad user. And while a sequel and numerous copycats have followed in its footsteps, sometimes nothing beats the original Temple Run for pure, unadulterated endless-running goodness.

Google did a great thing and recently brought a major update to its YouTube app, breathing new life into one of its line of classic apps. And as for Shazam, does anyone else remember when this technology seemed like magic? Strange how quickly an app becomes old hat. For those wanting to know who’s performing a song, however, it’s still a must-own.

So all you young whippersnapper apps, take heed! You could learn a thing or two from these classics. Thanks to Powerslyde, the app that leverages your friends’ app recommendations, for this week’s list. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!

This Week at 148Apps: September 2-6, 2013

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.

Bombcats Special Edition

 
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Bombcats Special Edition is a puzzle game from Chillingo with an odd premise. In the game’s world, cats explode, and they only don’t explode if they are kept in a cage. The funny thing is these cats want to explode, so the goal of the game is for players to use exploding cats to jump their way over to captive cats and free them so they can explode, too. This zany premise ends up working though, as Bombcats is an absolutely delightful puzzle game. –Campbell Bird

Star Wars: Force Collection

 
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I find myself stuck in the awkward no-man’s land between familiarity and rabid fandom. I’d call myself a Star Wars fan, certainly, but not I’m not a Fan. Even so, I was scowling with disgust and groaning out loud when Princess Leia was asking me to help her fend off storm troopers in a spectacularly cornball re-imagining of the first film’s opening moments. And yet, despite the patronizing fan service that makes even my low-level fanboy blood boil, Star Wars: Force Collection is actually quite good. –Rob Rich

Jumping Jupingo

 
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Even someone with arachnophobia will enjoy Jumping Jupingo; a slick platform game with just the right dose of strategic thinking and action thrown into the mix. A baby spider rescue mission with a difference. Does it offer enough entertainment for the price tag? Playing as furry spider Jupingo, one’s mission is to guide our fearless (and rather cute) friend through the wilderness to rescue baby arachnids from the clutches of a race of evil alien invaders called the Clopters. Armed with just a set of strong springy legs and elastic silk thread, players must guide the jumping spider across the wilderness and aid the little ones back to safety. –Lucy Ingram

Sago Mini Pet Cafe

 
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I have been charmed by Sago Sago’s new app, Sago Mini Pet Cafe – a universal interactive app for children. For those who do not know, Toca Boca has joined forces with zinc Roe to create delightful applications for toddlers. I have been a big fan of both Toca Boca and the Tickle Tap apps once developed by zinc Roe, many of which are re-developed for Sago Sago. Sago Mini Pet Cafe is a new title with elements that I remember from these earlier apps. It is nice to see these details within other titles. –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

The Last Express

 
express

Solvable mystery adventures are the cream of the mobile gaming crop as far as I’m concerned, and it’s not everyday we get a port like The Last Express on Android. It is borne from the popular PC game of the same name by the renown creator of the Prince of Persia line, Jordan Mechner. The game is played in the character of Robert Cath, a likable fellow fleeing his own troubles. He is on the move, and is looking to hook up with an old friend on the Orient Express. From there, the story explodes. Literally. –Tre Lawrence

Save the Snail

 
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Save the Snail is a fun little game that brings another perspective of positional physics to Android gaming. Familiar gameplay rules the roost these days, and it is nice that this one brings it while stepping out on a ledge. And no, this isn’t just Yet Another Angry Birds Clone. In this one, the goal is to keep the snails safe from aerial dangers that can cause injury. Basically, there is usually a snail (or two) that exist in the playing area. The overall goal is to prevent the mollusks from being crushed by falling rocks (don’t ask) or being zapped by especially vicious sun rays. –Tre Lawrence

Mine Maze

 
maze

I am positively sure that mining is the most popular current profession in all of gaming culture. Not even counting Minecraft, there are tons and tons of games that are based around mining, or have it as one of primary mechanics. It could be great to actually have a realistic game about mining, but it would probably be something completely dull, except for occasional cave ins, which result in an inescapable death traps – so, it wouldn’t be great at all, come to think of it. Mine Maze was released recently, and although it revolves around mining, it has about as much realistic mining gameplay as Angry Birds has ballistic models. –Tony Kuzmin

Also this week, Pocket Gamer has reviews for huge new shooters Call of Duty: Strike Team and Killzone Mercenary, and beginner’s guides for Junk Jack X and Terraria. The guys also list their favourite iOS and Android games in August, find more games like The Room, and tell you everything you need to know about microconsoles. All that and more, in the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up.

And finally, in this week’s episode of the AppSpy News Wrap-Up, we get flanked by an unexpected Call of Duty game. We also take a look at the Telepods in the upcoming Angry Birds Star Wars II, and check out 2K’s shamelessly self-referential new racer, 2K Drive.

bob

This week, our top Powerslyde recommendations are all about games. So why waste any more time? Let’s get to the list:

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter Pro
Office Jerk
CSR Racing
Robbery Bob
MotoHeroz

Some obscure games populating the list this week, for sure. However, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter Pro got a solid four-star review from our own Jennifer Allen, who said, “Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter is a hunting sim with brains, but it could do with a smoother learning curve. Persevere and it’s fantastically satisfying.” Allen also gave a three-star review to CSR Racing, mentioning a tendency towards monetization in the game that got in the way of gameplay.

As for the remainder of our list, Office Jerk is a strange Paper Toss-type game that has players hurling unusual objects at an annoying co-worker, Robbery Bob is an overhead-view stealth game, and MotoHeroz is a Trials HD clone that got a great review from Carter Dotson.

So let this be a lesson to you, loyal reader: a game’s obscurity does not mar its playability. Keep that in mind as you recommend apps and games to others. And thanks to Powerslyde, the app that recommends apps, for this week’s list. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!

Your App Review Experts

 

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.

868-HACK

 
868-HACK-3

868-HACK is the latest game from indie developer Michael Brough, who primarily works in a glitch-inspired pixel art style, making intelligent games that are his unique interpretations of certain genres. 868-HACK is a sort of take on ‘hacking’ in a roguelike fashion that’s somewhat similar to Zaga 33, and is actually referenced in the story text. The idea is that players must navigate 6×6 levels that represent computer nodes, with viruses and bugs that spawn at various times. The entire game is turn-based; with the player making a move, then all the enemies. Swiping is used to move in the cardinal directions, and to also attack an enemy that is in that cardinal direction. Attacking keeps an enemy from moving, but uses up a turn that could cause other enemies to move in and take out the player, whose health is represented by a smiley face. Three hits and it’s the end of the hacking session. –Carter Dotson

Sumhold

 
sumhold

The native iOS calculator is missing two things: simplicity and elegance. Sumhold brings both of these things to the table and much more with its stylish calculator that really puts the current Apple one to shame. There aren’t any directions when Sumhold is first opened, but that’s because it doesn’t need them. Users are presented with a sleek calculator that features rounded buttons and a white and red color scheme. When it’s time to calculate, just tap on the buttons and Sumhold gets to work. What’s great is that it keeps track of long calculations on one easy-to-read line. The running total shows so there’s no need for confusing buttons that ultimately lead to frustration. Math equations that are no longer needed can be deleted by tapping on the little “x” in the corner. –Angela LaFollette

Terraria

 
Terraria-6

Terraria finally brings the preeminent 2D take on Minecraft to mobile. While other games have taken this perspective on mobile (Junk Jack, which released a sequel the same day as this release, and the excellent The Blockheads), Terraria brings to the table a feel closer to RPGs and to Metroidvania-style adventures. Yes there’s plenty of crafting and mining, and the basic language of the genre is well-represented here. There’s the need to mine materials and chop down trees to build better items and safe shelters among the vast, unknown world. But there’s also some more specific adventures to be had. There are deadly enemies, including some challenging bosses, to be taken on in Terraria. Finding them and being ready for them is the challenge. Plus, with randomly-generated worlds there’s no real way to know what’s next. –Carter Dotson

Sago Mini Doodlecast

 
title

Sago Mini Doodlecast is a universal app that I have wanted to review for a few weeks now but needed a time for my busy son and I to test it together. Unlike other applications my boy has enjoyed helping me with, where a positive reaction consists of my son taking the iPad and insisting on the chance to explore without distraction, Sago Mini Doodlecast is a creative, open-ended drawing app that family members and friends will be delighted to share. This is a new app by the developers at Sago Sago, the dream team made up of developers of Toca Boca and zinc Roe, who have joined forces to develop Sago Mini apps for toddlers and the preschool set. Sago Mini Doodlecast is based on an earlier app with a related name, Doodlecast for Kids, now updated with the familiar zinc Roe and Sago Sago characters seen throughout this series of 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

Samurai Shodown 2

 
samuarai

Samurai Shodown 2 comes with a wee bit of sticker shock: $8.99 for a port of a decades-old fighting game? Well, it kind of makes sense: It’s a Neo-Geo fighting game, and hey, the Neo-Geo was known for its very expensive games. But considering that the platform also had games with some of the finest 2D animation around, it was at least moderately justified. So, let’s work on the operating theory that if it’s deserving, Samurai Shodown 2 is worth $8.99, disregarding that even premium content for mobile rarely gets above $6.99. Well, I don’t think it is. The port job is just too poor to recommend it, especially at this price point. –Carter Dotson

Cryptic Cosmos

 
cryptic

Cryptic Cosmos is a small, tight quest, set in an outlandish base, far in the dark reaches of space. Main Hero is a bounty hunter, whose target is hiding out somewhere in the base, with the game’s main goal being finding it out and disposing of it. Although the story isn’t as convoluted and original as it could be, it’s a nice setup for a space adventure, and serves well enough as the game’s background. Although one of my main concerns about the game was initially its relative shortness, I now think that it’s just long enough. It has enough content, without sinking into repeat or artificially stretching its gameplay. While it is short, it’s long enough to give a good deal of interesting puzzles. Shortness of the game is likely because of an in-game walkthrough, which is a brilliant move in itself, so there’s no need to sweep through all of the previously unlocked locations, searching for the bit that was previously skipped. –Tony Kuzmin

Chuck’s Challenge 3D

 
chuck

Chuck’s Challenge 3D, from Niffler Ltd., makes it easy to like it. In this puzzle caper, Woop, a curiously toothed purple alien serves as our cocky protagonist. Apparently, Woop likes a challenge, and in a bit of clever development, he gets to interact with gaming icon Chuck Sommerville and get all sorts of solvable riddles to test his powers of deductions. The playing area is usually a grid made up of a surface of cubes; on those cubes was a rally point of sorts, and the simplistic goal is to get our guy from the start point to the end point, which signifies the successful end of the attempt. Movement is effected by a virtual joystick that controls movement one square at a time. –Tre Lawrence

nfl

Ready to slyde? Our friends at Powerslyde, the app recommendation app (say THAT ten times fast), are back with another list for this past week. Here are some highlights:

NFL.com Fantasy Football 2013
NFL Pro 2014 : The Ultimate Football Simulation
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2013
Clash of Clans
The Simpsons: Tapped Out

This week’s list is dominated by sports (three apps this week if you include the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2013 app). Football season is right around the corner, so it should come as no surprise that NFL.com Fantasy Football 2013 and NFL Pro 2014: The Ultimate Football Simulation top our list this week. Who knows what other football-inspired goodies will show up on our list in the coming months.

But for those who prefer their competition to be more virtual than gridiron, there’s Clash of Clans and The Simpsons: Tapped Out to keep them occupied. So no matter what type of competitive battle you want, there’s an app for that.

Thanks again to Powerslyde for our list this week. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!

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.

Zombies Ate My Friends

 
IMG_0593[1]

Zombies and video games go great together. We tend to forget this, especially as zombies in general become increasingly played out, but it’s a fact regardless. While Zombies Ate My Friends is no The Walking Dead, or Zombies Ate My Neighbors for that matter, it still showcases why this combination is so strong in the first place. As a zombie apocalypse tears through the town of Festerville, players loot and scavenge just to survive. However, since this is an RPG, that is only the beginning of the lengthy, 8-episode story. Throughout their quests, players will reconstruct helicopters, recruit new survivors into their camp, and desperately search for cures for their infected teammates. Sharp writing keeps even the grind-heaviest missions from getting stale. Complimenting that is the excellent art style best described as “Scott Pilgrim” but without the video game aesthetic. Raiders, boss zombies, and other characters have big, expressive, chibi cartoon heads and fluid animations that energize the presentation. Meanwhile dark, moody colors and macabre background details like “Murphy’s Law Office” constantly reinforce the funny yet bleak tone. –Jordan Minor

Cloud Spin

 
cloudspin1

Cloud Spin is a quite gorgeous game to look at. Never skipping a beat visually, it uses the Unreal Engine well to provide a fast-paced and enjoyable racing game like few others already out there. Do be aware of slightly flaky controls, though. Keeping it relatively simple, Cloud Spin offers a delightfully uncluttered interface. Straightforward instructions early on provide everything one needs to know. Flying around the screen is just a matter of swiping a finger in the relevant direction. Holding a second finger to the screen gives the player a speed boost, and that’s pretty much all that needs to be taught. Then it’s just a matter of gliding around each arena, collecting stars, dodging obstacles, and hoping to gain a precious medal at the end. –Jennifer Allen

Donna, Manage Your Day

 
donna

Donna, Manage Your Day is an app that’s designed to get its users to their scheduled appointments and events on-time in an intelligent way, but it’s definitely not flawless. Donna links in to contacts and calendars; automatically adding events scheduled for the next 3 days and letting users specify where they are and how to get to them. By default only one calendar is added, but the settings offer ways to toggle other calendars on the device. Users can specify in the settings their home and work locations, as well as handy shortcuts for common starting and stopping points. Destinations can be searched for by address and venue name. When getting directions, users can specify which transportation method they’re going to use – perfect for those in big cities who might switch between walking, public transit, a bike, and/or car as necessary. It also shows the weather! Then, when it’s nearing time to leave, a notification pops up to head out. –Carter Dotson

Bramble Berry Tales: The Story of Kalkalih

 
Bramble Berry Tales-House

Bramble Berry Tales – The Story of Kalkalih is an important interactive storybook app as it incorporates the oral histories of Canadian indigenous people of many, many generations past. An app of undeniably high quality, I enjoy the palette of warm earth tones and stylized animation that include interactive hot spots that one can trigger with a swipe or a tap, as well as how the words to this story are highlighted when read by optional narration; always a nice touch. This tale is a story within a story. First, siblings Lily and Thomas get dropped off to spend time at their Kookum and Mooshum’s house, which is Squamish for grandmother and grandfather. Lily can be a handful, however, as she is too excited to stay in her bed at night, sneaking into the kitchen to help herself to next morning’s homemade jam, and even turning on the radio and waking up the others who are sleeping. –Amy Solomon

Asphalt 8: Airborne

 
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Gameloft’s Asphalt series returns to take arcade racing pleasantries to a new height. Asphalt 8: Airborne features everything players are familiar with, especially the vehicle handling during each race. There are numerous cars to purchase and upgrade, and multiple objectives to accomplish besides the typical potential three star earnings by placing in the top 3. However, what it really brings to the table – besides an overhaul of the user interface and graphics, which look nice – is a new way to launch vehicles in the air while performing stunts. Airborne. That’s the key word in the title and the main focus in the game, and it elevates the entertainment that it provides by letting players watch their vehicles go flying across the screen. Plus it’s pretty awesome when the boost is activated and players come crashing down on top of other vehicles for a takedown. I’ve always had great fun with arcade racers and enjoyed the previous Asphalt entries, but something as simple as adding ramps and a few stunts to the action has really taken this series in a new direction. Up! –Andrew Stevens

Mynd Calendar

 
mynd

The App Store is flooded with productivity apps and calendars, but each of them is a little bit different from the rest. Mynd Calendar is trying to break away from the mold by presenting users with a smart calendar that doesn’t just record things but helps users do them. It’s easy to get started. With the user’s permission, Mynd asks to integrate with any calendars, add contacts, use location services, and send push notifications. With just a few quick taps and some edits in the Settings menu, users are ready to use Mynd to help them get through their daily tasks. –Angela LaFollette

Timeline WWI

 
timelineww19

Much like Timeline Civil War, Timeline WW1 is a fantastic resource of information for those interested in certain periods of history. Capturing the essence of the battles involved, as well as how the Great War affected the people wrapped up in it, Timeline WW1 is both a fascinating and bleak reminder of what our ancestors struggled through. The interface is much like Timeline Civil War; proving immensely simple to browse through for young and old alike. Using a multitude of different types of media users can read through the interactive timeline to gain snippets of information on each event, while also choosing to delve further in and discover pertinent facts through video, audio, and photography. With 500 images and over 100 film clips and newsreels to explore, there are hours upon hours of content here. –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

Fleet Combat

 
fleet

Tower defense in a new, sea-bound world is the name of the game in Fleet Combat. This adventure is set on the high seas, and I admit that I did not mind the intro backstory: no zombies in this apocalypse; just good old Mother Nature in the form of engulfing sea levels. The resulting disaster leads to a restructuring of power, and our game story revolves around resistance against invading enemy forces. The game developer was prudent enough to put in an interactive tutorial, which helps explain the game “pieces” and general strategy. The defending pieces will be familiar to US Navy aficionados, taking the form of different types of warships (the whole setup when looking at the ships is somewhat reminiscent of Battleship, but I digress). –Tre Lawrence

Fantashooting

 
fanta

Some titles don’t really need explaining. Some games just simply throw you into the action and give you the experience you’re after right out of the gate. Fantashooting is one of those games and, following its example, I’m going to get right on with the review. Fantashooting is a ‘dual-joystick’ shooter where instead of joysticks you use the touchscreen. Most of you will know how this works, but for those that don’t be aware that there are two on-screen ‘joysticks’ that you move around by touching the screen. One joystick moves the character and the other shoots a weapon or throws a magic spell. Shooting at what and magic spells at who? Well, quite simply, you’re killing monsters. A lot of them. Fantashooting is simply a wave survival game where you aim to kill as many monsters as you can before being killed yourself. The more you kill, the more money and points you get. Some of you may have guessed this already – the money and points can be spent on upgrading your character. –Matt Parker

KungFu Quest: The Jade Tower

 
kungfu

I am an old timer. I used to go to the 7-eleven and pump all of my paper route money into the arcade games. Usually there was to of them so there was some choice. KungFu Quest : The Jade Tower reminds me of an old game I used to play there, so I was excited to do this review. The tutorial dojo is a good place to get and idea of how KungFu Quest : The Jade Tower is played. The side scrolling method of game play helps eliminate the need for an on-screen D-pad. I was glad about that because I am not a fan of those. Instead, on the bottom left side of the screen, there are left and a right arrows that work well. On the bottom right side of the screen are the attack buttons. The action button will punch and kick, the other is to jump. –Trevor Dobrygoski

khan

I’ll bet you’re sitting around wondering to yourself, “Self, I wonder what apps Powerslyde is recommending this week?” Lucky dog! We’ve got the answer to that very question.

Back to school is in full effect this week:

Khan Academy
Evernote
iTunes U
Poshmark
MLB.com At Bat

Khan Academy has changed the education game forever, and now no student worth his or her salt should be without it – particularly for its in-depth math and science instruction. Likewise, iTunes U delivers a miraculous wealth of content all via a teeny-tiny app. And is there ANYONE on the planet who has not heard of Evernote? It’s only the premiere cross-platform note taking app.

Finally, all students need apps for their free time, so Poshmark is there to help ladies (and occasionally gentlemen) find amazing deals on clothes, while MLB.com At Bat keeps all baseball fans in touch with their favorite teams in the home stretch of the season.

Thanks to Powerslyde, the app that recommends apps, for our list this week. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!

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.

Plants vs. Zombies 2

 
IMG_0599

Game development is a fickle business. One day a studio is the talk of the industry and the next it’s scrambling to save face. Rarely is a team able to attain success and remain a darling of both the press and gamers alike. PopCap is one of the exceptions to the rule that somehow manage to impress, no matter what the obstacle. Their newest offering, Plants vs. Zombies 2, could put all of their hard-earned credibility on the chopping block by opting to implement a free-to-play monetization structure. Does the freemium model suit the franchise, or is this an unnecessary stir of the pot? –Blake Grundman

Notograph

 
notograph

A new app has landed that is simple yet amazing. Notograph is essentially a way to take notes with photographs. It allows users to capture photos of things that they need to remember, and it stores them in a separate location so users don’t fill up their Camera Roll or Photo Stream with pictures that get in the way of their memories. Every time Notograph is opened, it takes users straight to the live camera. It’s designed for quick captures so there’s no messing around with features that aren’t needed. Just tap on the big yellow button to capture. Next to the capture button, users can turn the flash on or off, alternate between the front and back cameras, and view a list of captured pictures. –Angela LaFollette

TeeVee 2

 
teevee

There are a lot of good TV shows out there nowadays to keep track of. Sure, there are a lot of terrible TV to keep track of too, and TeeVee 2 doesn’t discriminate. It just wants to serve as a quick way to track TV shows and see when they’re coming on next. Just search for a show in a widely-available database, and it will be added to the list left under three categories: “upcoming” for shows that have scheduled upcoming episodes, “announced” for shows that are still airing but don’t have future episodes scheduled yet, and the “dead” section serves as a painful reminder that America rejected the witty antics of Happy Endings. America, for shame. –Carter Dotson

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play HD

 
Mickey-Living-Room-600x450

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play HD is a unique and fun coloring book app that helps children explore 2D and 3D animation. An iPhone version of this app is also available. This application consists of the classic Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse who star in three separate areas of this app, each including various objects which can be painted. When this app opens up for the first time, children will notice three rooms from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – starkly white and without color yet nicely decorated with many props and other objects that one would expect from fully furnished rooms as well as an outdoor scene. These areas – the living room, kitchen, and garden – each include many details that one would expect; be it easy chair or shelf, counter or cupboard, trees and flowers – all in need of some creative color. One can even add personal touches to Mickey and Minnie as well – a nice feature that I really enjoy. –Amy Solomon

ScribbleMix

 
scribblemix

Taking plenty of inspiration from last year’s social gaming phenomenon, Draw Something, ScribbleMix is a fun re-imagining of the popular format with just enough to make it seem different. This time round, players must draw an entire phrase rather than one word. It makes a significant difference, too, both in terms of challenge and in terms of entertainment value. Rather than simply drawing a cheerleader, one might have to draw a cheerleader dancing in the sea for instance. As the Disney name is strongly attached here, there are Disney themed moments, too, such as my favorite: Iron Man bouncing in a desert. Plenty of categories are available so it’s convenient to be able to use some of the in-app currency to either re-spin for another shot, or choose a different category. –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

After the Gods-An Augmented Reality God Game

 
gods

Sometimes you’ll come across a game that deserves and needs to be looked at differently. To give After the Gods a score out of ten would be missing the point and would stop discussion before it even began. Why is this? Because, quite simply, After the Gods isn’t a particularly good game. It consists of a fairly basic premise that’s easy to achieve. You have to tap on different statues to activate them and then move your camera around to call upon the selected God’s power. Rain, wind and the power over light are all combined to complete a couple of different objectives. For to get flowers to grow, you need it to be raining and sunny. After a couple of these ‘objectives’, the game’s over. 6 out of ten. –Matt Parker

Gurk III-The 8-Bit RPG

 
gurk

I wanted to start this review by saying how Gurk was an old-school RPG from the olden days, but quick Googling turned up the fact that there was no such thing, and my memory is playing tricks on me. Well, how about that. It’s actually quite a modern-day RPG that was simply made to look like it’s a clone of an old-school game. Still, it doesn’t mean that the game is in any way bad. Conversely, it’s one of the most absorbing role-playing games on the mobiles, and it manages to be like that with only a handful of pixels and colors to spare. In Gurk III, three heroes, a mage, a warrior, and an archer, have to travel across lands and dungeons, eradicating all enemies that are all too eager to munch on their squishy human faces. They are represented by a single icon on the global map, but when encountering an enemy, the map will zoom up on them, and they will fight the enemies in a turn-based battle mode. As in all the other RPGs, there are tons of items to find, and tons of gold to collect. –Tony Kuzmin

QbQbQb

 
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There’s a problem with QbQbQb, and so many other puzzle games, from a reviewer’s perspective: they are impossible to describe. They look fine and simple, when I play them, but when I have to put them on paper – it was easier to describe my feelings to a girl I liked in fifth grade, and get a lifetime of shame, than to explain this stuff. Although QbQbQb is difficult to understand from the screenshots, or my ramblings, it’s actually very simple to play. That said, it’s not easy – and it’s a great combination. Simple to learn, impossible to master. The challenge comes from the twisted way the game looks. It’s a Tetris-esque match-something arcade, but instead of giving a traditional flat surface to throw the incoming bricks on, QbQbQb opts for a circular one. To put it simply: there are various shapes, falling onto a planet from all angles, and the player needs to rotate the planet around its axis, to put them in the required places on top of it. The planet only rotates by 30-degree angles, so there are 12 possible positions the pieces are coming from, and can be placed on, which makes it a bit more manageable. But still difficult to wrap the head around, in the heat of the action. –Tony Kuzmin

oovoo

Powerslyde users suggest apps to other users, and we pull from that list to share the latest trends. Yep. That’s how this whole shebang works, so let’s get to it.

This week, there are some useful (some even classic) apps in the mix:

Waze
SloPro
oovoo
Slacker Radio
Dropbox

Dropbox is certainly a no-brainer, since anyone with even a free account can access files on the go. Waze, while recently purchased by Google, is the best crowd-sourced GPS and mapping app out there. And, while not as popular or well-known as Pandora, customizable radio app Slacker Radio is still delivering great stuff to many users. Then there are two lesser-known apps: SloPro is a slow-motion camera app and ooVoo is, for lack of an easier explanation, a Skype competitor. Are these better than other apps out there? Hard to tell, so if you give them a try let us know!

Again, our thanks to Powerslyde for keeping track of all of these recommendations. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!

This Week at 148Apps: August 5-9, 2013

Expert App Reviews

 

Yet another week has passed, and that means the 148Apps reviewers have combed through the vast numbers of new apps out there in hopes of reviewing the latest and greatest. 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.

My.Shopping

 
shopping

Offering a quite powerful way in which to organize one’s shopping, My.Shopping isn’t going to win prizes for simplicity or minimalism, but it might suit those looking for a more complex solution than the usual methods. A cluttered interface introduces proceedings but a clearly laid out plus sign does at least guide users the right way. It’s possible to add product names and sellers so they’re easier to include in the future, as well as actual shopping lists. Being able to configure sellers accurately to include local area details is a potential option, too. –Jennifer Allen

Disney Animated

 
disneyanimated09

Disney animated films are kiiiiinda popular, and have been ever since Snow White was released in 1937. They’ve been going strong ever since. Countless books both official and not have been published documenting the company’s techniques, movies, and so on. However, I don’t think any of them, or even all of them put together, hold a candle to Disney Animated. Disney Animated isn’t a simple eBook. Oh no. It’s an interactive encyclopedia of all fifty-three of Disney’s feature length animated films. Ten different chapters explain the history of the animation giant, its methods (past and present), character development, music, and more. Each of these sections explains a core concept and offers up several detailed examples that can be viewed, and often directly interacted with, via a single tap. Curious about Disney’s animation techniques over the years? Check out the chapter on Animation and view dozens of samples from Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Tangled, and more. Or maybe take a stab at animation itself by doing some simple skeletal adjustments using a model of Vanellope from Wreck-it-Ralph. There’s a remarkable amount of information for Disney fans to appreciate here, and a significant portion of it is either animated, interactive, or both. –Rob Rich

Mikey Hooks

 
MikeyHooks_screen-09

Mikey Hooks takes the sublime speed-run platformer Mikey Shorts and adds grappling hooks to it. I love Mikey Shorts and I love grappling hook games. I’m no mathematician (I’m a writer instead) but that adds up to Mikey Hooks being an incredible game. Through 24 story levels and 12 race levels, players must run, jump, and swing their way through levels as quickly as possible. As this is the second game in the series, the training wheels have been taken off: now players have limited health and can die when touching spikes, and there’s a lot more freedom in path-taking as the trapped humans aren’t in the levels any more. The story levels still have challenges for collecting all the coins (which are used to unlock a wild variety of new disguises) and finding the hidden golden shorts in each level. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 
We are happy to announce that all past and future Giggleapps content will now be featured throughout 148Apps. Here’s some of what Giggleapps writer Amy Solomon brought to the table this week:

Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price

 
apptivity

Recently, I have been given the chance to test a new iPad case, the Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price. This case is compatible with 1st 2nd and 3rd generation as well as the new iPad, but a camera is needed to access a section of the related application of the same name. I remember when we first got our iPad 3, my husband was intent on encasing our device in something that would be utterly protected from our sometimes irresponsible – if not occasionally downright reckless – five year old boy. Our old case has done the trick as our iPad has never seen any damage, but not without some cost, as my husband announced after some time struggling to get this piece of hardware onto the iPad that he was NEVER, EVER taking this case off, as it was too difficult to do so. Of course, as we had been given the chance by Fisher Price to review not only this iPad case, but two previously reviewed Apptivity play sets as well, it was understood that this case would have to come off, which it did, with a lot of cajoling. –Amy Solomon

Symmetry School

 
symmetry

Symmetry School: Learning Geometry is an app for iPad that helps children understand the principles of symmetry in this engrossing interactive app. Both reflective and rotational symmetry are touched upon here as children drag differently colored geometric shapes onto a grid that needs to be filled in accordingly. Three levels of difficulty are included for both the reflective and rotational sections of this app. Children will have the easiest time starting to explore this app with the reflective section as this is symmetry they may find familiar such as in a mirror image, looking at the details of butterfly wings, or creating Rorschach-like art by adding paint to a folded piece of paper and distributing color equally between both halves. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

 
might and magic

How long should a game last? Are you the type of person that demands 30 hours of gameplay before you’d even consider purchasing a title? Well, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes has got you covered. This game is huge. Try and bear in mind I’m being quite relative with my usage of the word ‘huge’. It’s no Skyrim, but for your average Android download, Clash of Heroes contains a campaign that easily clocks in at over 30 hours. Is this a good thing, though? Do we want to grind through 30 hours of Clash of Heroes? It will all come down to how much you enjoy the game’s basic structure and combat. Clash of Heroes is a Strategy RPG title. Battles are turn based and at the end of each fight, you’ll level up, gain EXP and all sorts of other RPG tropes are thrown in. –Matt Parker

Rail Rush

 
railrush

Yes, Rail Rush may induce a double take. In a good way, that is. A decrepit, seemingly endless mine shaft is the scene of this caper; the playing environment is mostly made up of the the running area that this type of running game is known for, but the running path appears as a three-lane rail track that is treacherous in its condition, and the runner is maneuvering a runaway mine cart along the railway. Plenty of obstacles are present, which most of the swipe controls help avoid. Swiping up and down invokes jumping and sucking respectively, while swiping left or right jumps the cart in either direction. This is useful for jumping off of a busted track to a (temporarily) safer one, or for avoiding objects on the tracks. Additionally, there are left and right tilt movements, which are not only effective for avoiding obstacles, but key in collecting gold nuggets, gems and other specials that line the sides of the rails. –Tre Lawrence

Autodesk Homestyler

 
homestyler

Some people used to look at me funny when I’d tell them the best bit about playing The Sims wasn’t drowning people by removing a simple ladder, but that it was the building and design phase that I spent most time on. There’s something about creating your perfect home. Something that The Sims made look so simple and didn’t involve a single piece of Ikea flat-packed furniture. Something so easy about it all. It’s that same feeling that Autodesk Homestyler also evokes. It’s a fairly simple design tool that allows you to place furniture within a preset blank canvas of a room or you can import pictures of your own home. –Matt Parker

gtracing

To paraphrase Casey Kasem, Powerslyde ranks ‘em, and we count ‘em down!

This week, five of the most recommended apps are racing or car-related games:

Car Racing Free
Highway Rider
GT Racing: Motor Academy Free
Cars 2 AppMATes
JellyCar 3 Lite

Maybe this trend towards automobiles makes sense. Cars, travel, summer, vacation….they all go together perfectly! But while games like JellyCar and even GT Racing are somewhat familiar to many iOS owners, some of these are off the beaten path. Car Racing Free is an old-school, overhead view racer with tilt controls, while Cars 2 AppMATes is a companion game for a physical series of toys. And for those who love the feeling of open air on the road, there’s Highway Rider, a motorcycle racing game.

Thanks to Powerslyde – an app that recommends even more apps for your iPhone or iPad – for our list this week. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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.

Dropchord

 
dropchord07

It’s hard to imagine Double Fine producing something that isn’t a quirky adventure or contains more than a fair bit of bizarre humor. And yet produce Double Fine has, and now we have Dropchord. It’s definitely a departure from the norm, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Dropchord is a simple-ish rhythm game at its core. Players use two fingers, placed around the outside of a large circle in the center of the screen, to twist and turn a line around the middle. The goal is to grab all the good stuff (glowing orbs and such) while avoiding the bad stuff (bright red bolts of electricity that scream DO NOT TOUCH) by winding and whirling around everything. Hit the red stuff and lose some health, grab enough not red stuff and gain health at the end of the level. Every so often players will also have to forego the spinning as they tap away at various circles that appear on screen in what can best be described as a kind of bonus round. –Rob Rich

Knightmare Tower

 
KnightmareTower-02

Burrito Bison creator Juicy Beast’s latest game, Knightmare Tower is based around offensive gameplay instead of pure survival like other similar vertical endless games. Players control a knight flying upward, and dash downward on top of enemies to hurt them and bounce back up in the air at a higher rate. Combos can accelerate the knight even faster, and powerups can help along the way. The enemies aren’t just there to take a beating: they’ll try to attack the knight and do enough damage to kill them. The other big hazard is lava, aka “Dear Knight, I suggest going faster if the plan is to not burn to death. Love, The Giant Rapidly-Rising Pool of Lava.” I suggest staying out of it. –Carter Dotson

rymdkapsel

 
rymdkapsel08

Complexity can be a difficult thing to balance in a game, but so can simplicity. Distilling an idea or genre down to its more basic elements is no easy task, especially when trying to do it well, and for that reason alone I think rymdkapsel is worth celebrating. It’s a strategy/sim-lite without any of the typical blandness one would associate with so much fat trimming. Of course that’s not the only reason; it’s also a pretty great game all-around. rymdkapsel is about expanding a space station while simultaneously fighting off waves of hostile attackers. Players must construct various rooms – reactors, gardens, weapons, etc – in order to gather more resources so that they can expand their base, train additional workers, and construct even more rooms. However, the larger the base’s overall area the tougher it is to defend. It encourages planned expansion and interlocking the Tetris-like rooms together in order to keep the station from becoming too spread out. Of course there are also several obelisks scattered around the map that can be researched to enhance things like worker movement speed and weapon attack ranges. It’s a toss-up deciding between hastily crafting a path to a given obelisk, thus sacrificing defensibility, and rushing to acquire better tech early on. –Rob Rich

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Pango Playground

 
pango

Pango Playground for kids is a charming universal app for babies and toddlers which adults will enjoy a great deal as well. This app opens up to a very nice assortment of children’s toys such as train tracks or building blocks. Do choose a scene and tap on a number flag 1 to 4 to be taken to a new area. All of these scenes are variations on the same basic assortment of toys, different colorful building blocks, train tracks and chunky wood blocks crafted to look like familiar characters from the Pango series of applications. –Amy Solomon

Art Class With Dr. Panda

 
panda

Art Class with Dr. Panda is a charming new universal interactive app – part of a series of Dr. Panda role-playing apps for young children. As many readers may know, my family really enjoys these apps as they allow children to pretend to take part in many occupations and activities – be it a doctor’s duties or working in a restaurant, supermarket or farm. Here Dr. Panda is teaching an art class to animal children. I enjoy his costumes as he assists children who need help in six different crafts. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Color Zen

 
colorzen

Color Zen is a cool cucumber. It seems to want to tease your brain while calming it. It’s a lofty idea, but thankfully, I love checking out lofty ideas. The game is definitely interesting. The best explanation is received from playing it and actually “feeling” the game. The object of the game is to solve the color-centric puzzles. In the game’s playing area, there is a frame color — a color that covers a thin area around the play grid, kind of like a picture frame. In the grid itself are any number of colored shapes. In general terms, touching any of the colors against another imbibes the second with the color of the first; in other words, the color is absorbed. For simplicity, one of the colors in the grid always matches the color of the outer rim. –Tre Lawrence

Drisk

 
drisk

Remember playing the board game Risk back in the day? If so, I bet one of those memories is how long it took to play the game. In fact, it took almost as long if not longer as a good game of Monopoly. Well, the makers of Drisk came up with a game really similar to Risk but won’t take 6 months to play a full game. Starting out with Drisk, there will be the choice to play a local game or an online game. When playing a local game, the number pf players can be selected as well as if they are actual people or computer players. When playing online, the sign in is done through a Scoreloop account. This is mandatory to play online. To get the hang of the game, it’s a good idea to watch the tutorial. It goes pretty quick but it gives you a basic idea of how the controls work. If any questions arise, take a look at the help button on the main menu screen to hopefully answer them. –Trevor Dobrygoski

Space Beats

 
spacebeats

Ever imagined something like Dance Dance Revolution for the fingers? Yes! We all have, and Space Beats is just the game for folks with sturdy digits, keen eyes and wrists that move to the rhythm. Nimble fingers win the day. Simply put, you tap rapidly forming three-dimensional objects with the beat to keep the music going. The pieces to the orbs all come in from different angles, playing havoc on the eyes. Tapping on the orb scores points, but actually tapping on it to the beat scores even more. An arcade-type game is not worth its salt without multipliers, and in this aspect, this game is worth its salt; there are multipliers to be had, and they can be invoked by tapping. Additionally, the freestyle level is yet another change of pace, allowing players to tap on beat for even more points. –Tre Lawrence

ruzzle

Each and every week, we take a look at the top twenty apps as recommended on Powerslyde. Once installed on your iOS device, Powerslyde detects the apps you have installed, then recommends apps you may like and may not be aware of. Think of it as a way to get App recommendations from somewhere other than the App Store itself.

This week, five of the most recommended apps are:

Amazing Alex
Flow Free
Ruzzle
Chasing Yello
Plumber Crack

Looks like casual games made a strong showing this week, with Rovio’s Amazing Alex possibly returning due to interest in the two new Rovio Stars games that have recently hit the App Store: Ice Breaker and Tiny Thief. Ruzzle made an impression on reviewer Ruari O’Gallchoir, who says, “Ruzzle has several tricks up its sleeve to differentiate itself from it’s more established competitors.” Two of the five are lesser-known games that follow fairly standard formulas: Chasing Yello is an endless runner, and Flow Free is a color-matching game. As for Plumber Crack, we’ll leave that one up to your imagination. If you’re wondering if someone could build a game around that particular anatomical gem, it seems like they can and did.

What apps do you recommend this week? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Your App Experts

 

Week-in and week-out, 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.

A Ride Into The Mountains

 
rideintomountains05

Sucker that I am for retro-inspired visuals, I was immediately interested in A Ride into the Mountains. It’s not just a visual throwback, however. The fluid animations, beautiful backgrounds, haunting melodies, and simple-yet-complex gameplay come together to make something more than just a retro themed time waster. It’s actually pretty special. Zu and his family have protected the land from evil forces for generations. One day the sacred relic keeping it all at bay is stolen, so he jumps onto his horse and sets out to get it back. A Ride into the Mountains is centered around one main gameplay mechanic: firing arrows. Players must tap and drag their finger across the screen to draw back Zu’s bow and release to fire, with the time spent drawing determining the shot strength. Little by little more mechanics are introduced – such as tilting the device to move the horse or tapping the screen while drawing back on the bow to focus and slow down time – until eventually it becomes an unexpectedly solid little arcade/action game. –Rob Rich

Sky Gamblers: Cold War

 
SkyGamblersCW-6

I admit to not having spent much time playing the Sky Gamblers series. I’ve never been a huge fan of airplane warfare games, and I don’t think that the real world is either – has there been an actual aerial dogfight in the past few decades? I hope not, because war is bad! But yet, aerial dogfighting winds up popping up commonly in games. So when duty called, I decided to give Sky Gamblers: Cold War a shot, and I can see the appeal. This is aerial warfare that’s got a light learning curve to it. Sky Gamblers: Cold War does the one thing that I think every other online multiplayer game needs to have at their main menu: a quick start button! This promotes quick, casual online play by making it super-simple to jump in. There’s still options for creating games (including private matches with Game Center friends), but this subtle little feature goes a long way toward ensuring that people will actually play a game with online multiplayer! I found matches even in the dead of night. –Carter Dotson

Agenda Calendar 4

 
agenda

Keeping a well organized calendar is a crucial part of a good workflow for many, and on the iPhone there are already several great calendar apps available – but is Agenda Calendar 4 different enough to make a splash? I’ve been using Fantastical for all my calendaring needs over the past few months, but Agenda Calendar 4 has a seriously good chance of becoming my new default. –Ruari O’Gallchoir

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Tunnel Trouble

 
tunnel

Tunnel Trouble is a creative and fun universal educational app that to children preschool age and above will seem like a simple and interesting game application, with adults all the while appreciating how terrific this app is for teaching problem-solving in a way that is engaging and full of whimsy. Tunnel Trouble allows players to help a chicken run through a series of maze-like tunnels of an underground passageway, in later levels avoiding a monster who needs to be trapped to let this chicken pass by unharmed. Each of the 25 levels includes a cross-section of the tunnel this chicken is trying to run through. This tunnel is actually made up of a series of pieces that each need to connect to allow chicken free access. –Amy Solomon

Play-Doh Create ABCs

 
play-doh

PLAY-DOH Create ABCs is a new universal app that allows children to enjoy this popular modeling compound, now 55 years old, on their devices as they also learn their letters. Needless to say, I was interested to see how Play-Doh, which is such a tactile toy, translates into an application. There are three sections to this app with its main area being Write and Craft where children, after choosing from a large variety of Play-Doh colors, can trace each letter with the drag of a finger. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Le Vamp

 
levamp

It must be tough being a vampire. You’ve got a limited time of day in which you can be up and about. You can’t check yourself out in the mirror. There’s the whole ‘having to drink people’s blood’ thing. It sounds like a right hassle. On top of that, there are some vampires that have the added burden of parenthood, as in Le Vamp. In Le Vamp you take control of a troublesome vampire who’s barely out of nappies. Assuming vampires use nappies. This cheeky little terror of the night has decided to skip his bedtime and run amok in what I assume is a village outside of Paris. This hasn’t gone unnoticed though, as the petit vampire has managed to upset many French stereotypes meaning an angry mob of farmers, mimes and Napoleon lookalikes will be chasing down our blood-sucking friend. –Matt Parker

Warmly

 
dragon

Mad Dragon is an interesting side-scrolling runner that features an almost lovable fantasy character. A hitherto sleeping dragon is our angry protagonist. In this side-scroller, action proceeds from left to right, and the enraged dragon possesses an exhaustible set of attributes that assist it in its desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. Wreaking havoc, in this game, mostly refers to destroying as many buildings as possible, while avoiding the bombs that are spread out around the place to stop the dragon. –Tre Lawrence

Jungle Heat

 
jungle

War. Often we’re asked what it’s good for and a common response is “nothing”. In fact, some have even gone as far to say “absolutely nothing”. That none-too-subtle Edwin Starr reference is a heads up that Jungle Heat is a game all about war. A war which takes place in a jungle that happens to be full of oil and gold. The game places you in control over an ever-expanding base that you launch attacks from. You can think of Jungle Heat as a Farmville style game where instead of harvesting crops your training soldiers to go and do battle. It’s the training and the battles that make up the two main parts of the game. –Matt Parker

Your App Authority

 

Week-in and week-out, 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.

Gentlemen!

 
gentlemen

Occasionally frantic, Gentlemen! is never short of gloriously great fun. Lone gamers won’t be so keen given that it’s exclusively for two players, but it’s the perfect reason to get a friend involved. The idea is simple enough: players must defeat each other in a duel to the death. Just like in the old days of honor and explosive birds, ok, maybe not so much. Presented in portrait mode, each player’s controls are set on opposite sides of the screen. In a nice move, menu buttons and other descriptions are similarly laid out, for either player to easily interact with. Controls are simple with left and right, alongside a gravity flip button and the use of a weapon. Weapons vary, mostly thanks to a switch in the middle of each game enabling players to change around. Knives, bombs, dynamite, electric shields and explosive birds all play a role, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s as zany as it sounds, while adding a surprising tactical edge to proceedings. –Jennifer Allen

PhotoNova 2

 
photonova

I have a handful of photo apps on my iPhone 5 that I keep handy when I feel like making my pictures look fancy. Each app has its own perks like frames, filters and adjustments. I tend to rotate between them until I find the one that transforms my picture into a work of art. I’m always on the lookout for new photo apps because I’m really looking for that one that will replace all my other go to camera apps. I reviewed PhotoNova+ 2 a few months ago, which is a free version of their paid app. PhotoNova 2 offers users more advanced features like a variety of selection tools, an option to switch out the background of photos that have a green background and an impressive effects selection. –Angela LaFollette

Tangent

 
tangent

Many photography apps tend to do quite similar things to imagery, mostly involving applying filters to photographs. Tangent doesn’t quite do that. It might involve applying new effects to an image, but through a vector art style overlay, improvements are being added to the image, rather than replacing anything. There’s a fairly simple process to follow throughout the app. Users can either import or take a photo directly from within, before opting for a specific style. Tangent offers both straight-forward and quick applications, as well as plenty of choice for those who want to adjust things individually. Shapes form the first set of choices, with circles, rectangles, triangles and plenty more, available to apply to an image. It sounds gimmicky, but it can really set off a photo nicely, giving focus to the important part of a photo. There are plenty of shapes available too, with in-app purchases provided for those who want even more choice. That’s a trend that continues throughout, with plenty of additional blends and colors available at a price. Fortunately, it’s always possible to preview them first. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

ABC Aquarium

 
aquarium

Peapod Labs has developed a favorite series of educational ABC apps and has recently added two new titles – ABC Aquarium and ABC Bugs, each terrifically educational and including exceptional photography to allow children to view these different creatures in a way that highlights all of their unique attributes. Each of these apps, now eleven and counting, features a wide amount of content, including terrific, detailed photos of each subject as well as narrated fun facts, curated videos gathered from the Internet and simple, intuitive interactions which young children will enjoy a great deal. –Amy Solomon

Gro Recycling

 
gro

Gro Recycling is a cute and fun interactive universal app that allows children to sort recycling into different receptacles, totaling six in all, including a unique choice of recycling batteries as well as a compost container. Game play is charming and intuitive as one simply drags a piece of recycling to be recycled to the correct container, as these bins happily and hungrily eat what they are being served, while a mistake will result in the spitting out of the wrong material. This app is lovingly styled with the delightful humanizing of these recycling bins as cartoony faces, which are included with fun, witty noises that each of these characters makes, hungry to eat recycled materials. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Attack of the Spooklings

 
spooklings

Mobile games that offer their players to smash the opponents using nothing but their very fingers were at the very start of the touch-screen revolution, but lately it seems that somewhat counter-intuitive habit of putting buttons on touch-screen has largely rendered the “clean” touch-screen games mostly obsolete. Someone should analyze this trend to some revealing, but ultimately unnecessary results. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Attack of the Spooklings. It’s a fine, but incredibly simple game. How simple? It takes longer to read this sentence than to see the whole game. It’s not surprising, considering that it consists of an astonishing single screen, and single enemy. While I’m all for the games with minimalistic design, they should also be complemented with really incredible gameplay. Attack of the Spooklings is quite exciting for some time, sure, but it simply lacks any sort of complexity to be interesting. –Tony Kuzmin

GP Retro

 
gpretro

GP Retro is a racing game that isn’t scared to rock looks of old, and I suspect it is aware of my abject weakness for titles that bring back the wonderful things of days gone by. The game comes at us in glorious 2D, and in this one, retro is no misnomer. The chunky pixels underscore the jittery unsure animations that make these type of games fun to look at. The purposely un-sharp colors were done well, and even the intro pages for the drivers were nicely formatted to fit with the retro look. As for gameplay, it is basically top-down view simulated Grand Prix open-wheel (to start) racing over mostly asymmetrical raceways. Sharp turns characterize the racing; losing control and ending up on grass slows down the race car considerably. There are valuables and power-ups to be collected, as well as hazards to be avoided. –Tre Lawrence

Cross Horizon

 
cross horizon

Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out? The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way. I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details. –Tre Lawrence

 

Celebrating the App Store’s 5th Anniversary

 

App Store Insiders

First up, check out the over 20 interviews that Jeff Scott (with a little help from Carter Dotson) did with the App Store’s best and brightest, like this one from Tapulous co-founder, Mike Lee:

Mike Lee148Apps: If you have one single success within the App Store you’d like to highlight, what would it be?

Mike Lee: I’m really excited about the work the New Lemurs are doing. I’ve been trying to blend technology and altruism both on and off the App Store since before it was a thing, with everything from the Club Thievey fundraising drive that linked Mac developers with the Madagascar Fauna Group to the Obama ’08 app to Appsterdam and on into Lemurs Chemistry.

What distinguishes my work now from what I was doing 5 years ago is this: while I’m still focused on providing great products and experiences to people, that has stopped being the end in and of itself. Now I am much more concerned with spreading good memes. My abilities as an App Maker, and my ability to be an example of what kind of apps we should make and what kind of App Makers we should be, have switched seats.

My current obsession is the idea that games would not be a waste of time if they were made based on science. By replacing the arbitrary game mechanics with rules from nature, you end up with games that happen to be educational as a side-effect, instead of trying to gamify education. Lemurs Chemistry is the embodiment of that idea, and it’s the best game I’ve ever produced.

Be sure to read all of the interviews, chock full of insight and info, right here on 148Apps.

Looking Back

It was a special week across the 148Apps network of sites, as we celebrated the App Store’s 5th anniversary with a wealth of original content from our team of reviewers. Take a look at some of their picks for the best apps from the past five years.

Fairway Solitaire

 
fairwaysolitaire1

In all my time playing iOS games, I’ve never been quite so tempted to buy an in-app purchase as I was while playing Fairway Solitaire. This isn’t because there’s so little content bundled with the free version (there’s enough) but because it’s so addictive that I didn’t want to stop playing. For a game that’s essentially a twist on card game solitaire, this is praise indeed. As the name suggests, Fairway Solitaire is a version of Golf Solitaire, a classic variation on the card game that everyone knows and loves. The difference here is that rather than create suits such as in regular Solitaire, the player must score runs by clearing the card deck using the least amount of moves. Once the pile of cards run out, the par is determined and the player moves onto the next hole. At the end of the course, a star rating out of three is offered as a way of encouraging players to master the stage. –Jennifer Allen

Rage of Bahamut

 
rage

Rage of Bahamut wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It definitely involves collecting cards and battling other players, but it’s more akin to a browser game than what most would consider a “proper” iOS title. Whether or not this is a bad thing depends a lot on personal preference, but anyone willing to look past the clunky interface just might find themselves having a great time. At its core, Rage of Bahamut is all about gathering cards in order to complete quests (or battle other players) in order to get better cards, etc. But that’s just the basics. Quests can be completed in order to acquire treasure, more cards, cash, and experience for whichever card has been designated the Leader. It’s all used as expected (i.e. buying car packs, building a stronger deck, etc), really. –Rob Rich

Disc Drivin’

 
disc

Disc Drivin’ is a game whose immediate goal might not be apparent; the easiest way to explain the game is that it is like Mario Kart crossed with Words With Friends. You and your opponents take turns sliding your disc across the tracks, replete with tricky turns, turbo boosts, and powerup icons. The Words with Friends-esque element comes from the turn-based gameplay; when you take your turn, your opponent then takes theirs, and so on until someone completes 3 laps and wins the race. The game supports up to 8 players in either hotseat or local wifi multiplayer, and up to 4 people online, with push notifications notifying you when it is your turn. There’s a reason why I describe this as being similar to Words With Friends in particular, and it is because Disc Drivin’ is just as addictive and viral as that game was around its popularity peak. If you start up one game, you’ll quickly find yourself wanting to start up more and more, and anxiously waiting for your opponents to make their moves so you can play some more. The physics engine with the discs adds to the fun, as wacky things can happen when you hit ramps, bombs or other discs; there is plenty that can happen when discs go flying to cause you to shout for joy or shriek in error. You never know what you’ll see next. That, and just the whole addictive and surprisingly fast-paced nature of the asynchronous multiplayer, is what makes this one a gem. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. GiggleApps writer Amy Solomon served up her App Store favorites during this week’s fifth anniversary festivities:

GiggleApps

 

Toca Tea Party

 
tea party

Toca Tea Party is a wonderfully creative app from one of my new favorite developers, Toca Boca. This app creates a lovely interactive tea party environment which has become a huge hit with our entire family. This is a wonderful iPad app which simulates a tea party for three, be it a child and two adults, a child and two dolls or stuffed animals, or three toys with the help of little hands. This app has been enjoyed in our house in every conceivable way and I can say that my husband, son, and I all love this application. –Amy Solomon

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

 
flyingbooks

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is a very special interactive storybook for iPad that is perfectly realized in every way. Strong words, I know, but this app is simply wonderful, poetic and beautiful experience for all ages. Based on the short film of the same name, this ebook has interwoven interactions and other animated visuals that are simply striking for use of imagery that will stay with the reader for a very long time. It is hard really to write this review as I would encourage readers to experience this themselves, as I don’t think my words here will do this app justice. The story is said to be inspired by hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, and the Wizard of Oz equally, and is about a man who is currently writing a book about his life. One day, his world gets turned upside down but is fortunate to later find a library filled with books with flying abilities that need a caregiver. In reality, this app is really about so much more. My son, at 3.5 years, still takes things on face value, and for him, this story book is about the love of reading and the warm embrace books deserve as the protagonist takes care of these flying books as if they are living, breathing things. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Smash Spin Rage

 
smashspin

Beautiful, drop dead gorgeous 3D graphics. Relatively easy controls. Frankly who cares about backstory?
Smash Spin Rage is a game that brings mythical elements to 21st century handheld gaming. It brings to bear murder, the supernatural and an unquenchable desire for revenge. I mostly like the graphics in this one. The colors avidly bring to life the spooky ambiance of the location, with natural light combining and contrasting with shadows at the same time. The animations are smooth, and the supernatural effects worked well. From the opening cutscene to the battles all the way to the creativity of the belligerents, the game looks good. –Tre Lawrence

Ultimate Stick Fight

 
stickfight

So many of us cut our gaming teeth on scrolling beat em ups. You know, those games like Fighting Force that gave us the opportunity to graphically beat up hordes of violent thugs. There was usually the simplest of backstory, plenty of swinging limbs and even a weapon or two to procure. Ultimate Stick Fight is in that same glorious vein. Jumps, kicks, punches and tons of people to practice them on. And stick figures. Part of what sets this game apart is the look; instead of regular-looking characters, we get souped up, colorful stick people. Interestingly enough, the developer does well with colorization, and is able to imbibe a good deal of character into the thin guys. The movements and animations were fairly life-like, but kept the whimsical nature that we expect in characters of this genre. When matched with the numerous, creatively diverse backgrounds, it makes a pretty compelling 2D visual feast. –Tre Lawrence

Leaping Legend

 
leaping

Leaping Legend is an arcade-style infinite climbing/running game. The virtual world is decidedly medieval, with the jittery characters and animations presented in 8-bit retro glory. As noted, all the elements come together to create a game with an arcade feel. The animations are fairly utilitarian, and do the job without being too flashy. If creating a remarkable ode to the past is the goal, I think the developer mostly succeeds admirably. In this one, the higher up one goes the better. Trying to free the fair-haired maiden at the “top” is the goal, and to accomplish this, our protagonist has two parallel walls to run up, as well as the ability to leap from one wall to the other on the quest to the top. This ability to leap is invaluable, as along the way, there are all sorts of run-ending obstacles, ranging from scary looking rotating blades to barrels and plenty of dropping debris. –Tre Lawrence

Expert App Reviews

 

Week-in and week-out, 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.

SuperBetter

 
superbetter

A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. –Jennifer Allen

Layton Brothers Mystery Room

 
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Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. –Rob Rich

Limbo

 
Limbo-1

Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet

 
coolsons

As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. –Amy Solomon

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

 
eyeville

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Space is Key

 
space

The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. –Tre Lawrence

Warmly

 
warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence

LandGrabbers

 
landgrabbers

Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. –Tre Lawrence

Expert App Reviews

 

Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of 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.

Magic 2014

 
IMG_0522

Fantasy based card games are very much an acquired taste. Some have been drawn to the genre since grade school, while others join later in life, but one thing remains the same: Magic the Gathering is by far the most popular example of the genre. On the heels of last year’s Magic 2013, it would only make sense for Wizards of the Coast to follow up their smash hit, for a new year. Can Magic 2014 manage to meet the same bar of excellence raised by the original installment, or is this essentially a glorified re-skin? Fans of last year’s Magic installment have a very similar experience awaiting them when opening Magic 2014. Most of the game’s core interface has remained fairly unchanged, but it really was never broken to begin with, so there was no need for a fix. Newcomers and veterans alike will find more than enough card based shenanigans to keep them busy for countless rounds. –Blake Grundman

JetScanner

 
jetscanner

The App Store is loaded with many apps that scan documents, but most of them seem to take an eternity to process files. Additionally, they aren’t always accurate. I’ve scanned business cards and manuals, only to go back and enter additional information in manually. There’s a new app that promises users that they will no longer have to wait and it boasts that it can produce PDF documents from any photo at a very high speed and at the highest image enhancement quality. It’s easy to get started with JetScanner as a quick start guide helps users learn the ropes. There are two ways to create documents. Users can either tap the camera icon or tap the album icon. Once a document is created, users can make adjustments by tapping on the wizard icon to adjust the smart crop or edit additional processing options like adjusting color, making the image black and white or quickly reverting back to the original. Additionally, users can tap the information button in the upper right corner to change the paper size of the PDF. –Angela LaFollette

Cling Thing

 
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Cling Thing starts off with some great, but little, moments. They feel fleeting. However, then another great little moment appears and another and another. Eventually, these seemingly small yet neat tricks cling together to form a superb whole. In Cling Thing, players guide wacky Madballs-esque creatures to the end of each stage by using their slimy, stretchy, sticky tendrils to move around. The action resembles World of Goo but with just one ball to manage instead of dozens. Those two games also share a similar creative drive to get the most out of their deceptively simple yet deep mechanics. Early levels are pretty straightforward where all the creatures have to do is slime-swing to the end of the stage Spider-Man style. However, later stages introduce doors that need keys, blocks that need moving, wheels that need to be spun, and underwater areas with new physics that need new approaches. –Jordan Minor

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Talking ABC

 
abc

Talking ABC… is a delightful alphabet app which includes charming and impressive claymation animals that will engage adults and children alike. I do love this kind of animation, so I was eager to see the claymation included within, and I can say that these bright and quirky animal creatures do not disappoint, as an estimated 770 pounds of clay was used to create the animals and letters – impressive to say the least. As one may expect, there is a main section of this app which includes 26 letters, each with its own corresponding animal seen to the left of the screen. –Amy Solomon

Pango Imaginary Car

 
pango

Pango Imaginary Car is an app that allows children to create cars and other vehicles by combining various parts together. I enjoy this app. It is a concept that is not exactly unique, yet this is an app that is of very high quality and utterly appealing. The first thing one will notice when opening this app is color. A bright, sophisticated lime-green color makes up the background of the center screen where one builds his creation, dragging vehicle elements from the tabs seen left of the page. Eight tabs are included, with details that will create the body of the car, such as the front ends of a few differently shaped cars, trucks and a train as well as basic shapes that can be used to create a larger vehicle as well. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Cubed Rally Redline

 
cubed

Most endless runners inspired by Temple Run take the standard behind-the-back perspective. Sure, Pitfall had a more dynamic camera angle, but that’s the exception. Cubed Rally Redline steps things up and does it from an isometric perspective, similar to developer Jared Bailey’s original version of Cubed Rally Racer that Android gamers sadly don’t have. However, where the game also differs from most 3D endless runners is in the number of lanes: there’s five to deal with here. Good luck. –Carter Dotson

Bombcats Special Edition
bombcats

Bombcats Special Edition is Radiangames’ entry into the casual physics-puzzler genre after an assortment of action-oriented titles and block-based puzzle games, and it stands out as a fun and addictive title. The gameplay can be best described as a hybrid between Angry Birds and iBlast Moki. The goal is to free all the bombkittens from their electric cages by launching the bombcats around the levels, eventually using their ability to “tele-splode” (so they don’t actually die) to free them from the cages. However, there’s a fuse on the bombcats, so getting them from point A to point B in a timely fashion is key! –Carter Dotson

Spelling Monster

 
spelling monster

Spelling Monster is a gift from heaven to parents with kids in the early school years. it incorporates several learning tools and exercises into the gameplay, which is wrapped in the pleasing veneer of an Android game. The main menu breaks the game into an adjustable word list and a bunch of mini games. The word list allows for the addition of just about any words, which is great for accounting for, say, vocabulary or multiple kids of different abilities using the app. The game list had five different games: Letter Pop, Missing Letter, Letter Catch, Word Traffic and Word Jumble. –Tre Lawrence

Your App Authority

 

Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of 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.

We also went deep in our coverage of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with a review, strategy guides, and a Commander’s diary. Be sure to check that all out.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

 
xcomeu28

The original X-Com: UFO Defense has been one of my all time favorite games for almost 20 years. There’s something about the combination of naming soldiers after friends and family members, carefully trying to manage finances and tech trees, and the tense search for hostile aliens in unfamiliar terrain that still excites me to this day. So when it was announced that Firaxis, the developers behind the latest entries in the Civilization series, were going to release a modern update of the 1994 classic I was both supremely excited and ridiculously nervous. Of course I was worried about XCOM: Enemy Unknown for nothing. It turned out to be a fantastic re-imagining of my favorite strategy game that trimmed away a lot of the unnecessary fat and added a few more contemporary elements to create an incredibly compelling experience. Then it was announced that Firaxis and 2K China were going to take that same experience and somehow cram it on to iOS devices. Again I found myself excited and worried at the same time. And again I was worried for nothing. –Rob Rich

Where’s My Mickey XL

 
mickey

Disney’s Where’s My Water series has been both a success both financially as well as creatively, with its original incarnation bringing unique physics gameplay and an original character to the table. Now, Disney has expanded the series in part by integrating their known characters into the gameplay. The problem has been that they just haven’t fit all that well: Perry from Phineas & Ferb in Where’s My Perry felt like Disney just slapping a character into the formula, and to me at least, it fell flat. So now, we have Where’s My Mickey, which ramps up the character integration from “secondary character on a Disney Channel animated series” to“ the very face of Disney.” Thankfully, the Disney folks decided that with their superstar, they had to bring their A-game to Where’s My Mickey and by gosh golly, they nailed it. –Carter Dotson

Videon

 
videon8

It’s quite difficult to fault Videon. It’s a video recording app that offers mostly everything anyone could want from such a tool. Something that’s bound to be welcomed amongst those planning on recording plenty of videos this summer. Aligning towards many different needs, users can go straight into recording something or choose to change some settings around first. The former is ideal for when the opportunity arises, such as when a child or pet is doing something cute. The latter is great, when planning ahead. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Mini U: Zoo Abracadabra

 
zoo

Mini-U: Zoo Abracadabra for iPad is a charmingly different puzzle app that kids and their parents will both enjoy. This app includes a circus theme where animals create towers holding each other up, creating wondrous shadow-animal shapes. Children are then asked to choose what animal is making up this grand tower from the animal tiles one can select, seen at the bottom of the screen. There are three different levels of difficulty within this app that include an increase in the number both of the animal tiles to choose from as well as the number of the animals balancing together, creating most interesting shapes. –Amy Solomon

Dr. Panda Handyman

 
panda

My family and I are always excited when a new role-playing app becomes available as these types of apps allow children to imagine themselves performing various occupations as well as to engage in pretend play, making these apps favorites in our house. This new app, Dr. Panda Handyman, is such an app, as children work alongside Dr. Panda helping to fix damaged objects of animal friends and neighbors seen within five separate scenes. I enjoy how the different animal connected to each scene may vary as do some of the details found in these scenes. It makes me smile to see some old faces from other apps such as the polar bears or elephants or monkeys, as well as new characters to meet along the way. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Little Nick: The Great Escape

 
nick

Little Nick is a running game game that is based on the popular Nicolas TV and books character. It’s a running game, and the abbreviated top-down view is quite reminiscent of endless runners like Temple Run. In this adventure, we ditch jungle temples and crazed monkey-ish beasts for somewhat suburban streets and Mr Goodman in pursuit. And, we get a bike! For background, Nick is framed for the dastardly destruction of a window, and takes off out the property gates on his two-wheeler to escape the vengeful Goodman after him. But these city streets are littered with obstacles, making escape especially hard. The graphics were more than decent, with good animations. –Tre Lawrence

Warmly
warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence

Neon Snap

 
neon

Neon Snap is one of those games that soothes the mine just by looking it. With the tetrominoes and gridded space, it is practically impossible to not think of Tetris, if just a little. It’s advisable to avoid getting too caught up in the similarities, as Neon Snap sorta turns the gameplay over on its head. The developer uses simple graphics to frame the game. With a mostly dark backgrounds, the play pieces are brightly colored, and the color of the pieces depends on their respective shapes. The animations are decent; rotations are handled in a utilitarian manner, and everything comes together with a minimalist feel. –Tre Lawrence

Your App Experts

 

Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of 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.

Solstice Arena

 
solsticearena12

League of Legends may not have invented the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, but it certainly had a hand in popularizing it. It’s actually become so popular that there have been more than a few attempts at recreating such an experience on iOS. And I have to admit that while Solstice Arena has a few snags, it’s probably the best mobile iteration I’ve played yet. The basic gist of a MOBA is that two teams of players beef over turf until one has wiped out the others’ base. What makes things a little different than every other team-based multiplayer game out there is that the characters feel more like MMORPG classes than anything; each with specific skills that are meant to pair well with other characters’ and each with their own role to play. In Solstice Arena, players must take down the other team’s towers in order to weaken defenses, while simultaneously battling other player characters who are trying to do the same to them. There’s no major penalty for death except for waiting to respawn, although it’s a good opportunity to spend gold on better gear for the match. –Rob Rich

Avengers Alliance

 
avengersalliance10

For several months now I’ve been seeing little Facebook updates about friends and their Avengers Alliance progress. I had about gotten to the point where I was going to see what all the fuss was about when I found out it was coming to iOS, so naturally I decided to check out the more portable version instead. The Earth is in danger (again) from some sort of enigmatic presence. Also super villains. As a new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit, players must team up with a host of notable Marvel heroes as they try to thwart nefarious plots and figure out just what in the heck is going on. The majority of these missions involve turn-based battles with various baddies, but it’s also possible to send characters off on side missions (over a set period of real time, of course) for extra cash and experience. Players can also train their heroes when they’ve acquired enough experience in order to access new abilities that can make a huge difference in a fight. –Rob Rich

Rando

 
rando

“You have no friends.” This is a tagline for Rando, a photo-sharing app from ustwo. Initially the statement seems hostile, but it reveals the philosophy behind this app: it’s anti-social. It’s not about status or appearance, like Instagram, the service that this app stands in marked contrast to. It’s all about sharing photos to someone, or no one in particular. See, how Rando works is that it lets users take a circular photo, and then launch it into the universe. It’s saved to the camera roll, but there’s no way to share that photo to any social networks from within the app itself. Later on, a push notification may be received that will say that someone in a certain spot will have received one of the user’s Randos, but that’s it. This is about sharing to just one person. One random person out there in the universe. They might like the photo, they might not, the photographer won’t know at all. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Helping Me and Dad, and Just Grandpa and Me

 
just helping

Helping My Dad – Little Critter and Just Grandpa and Me – Little Critter are charming apps adapted from the storybooks of the same name, now developed by Oceanhouse Media – great choices for Father’s Day. In these tales, Little Critter tries hard to be helpful to his loved ones although he is unaware of the mess he makes in the wake of his helpfulness. In Helping My Dad, Little Critter tries his best to take care of his father, creating more work for him along the way as kids are known to do, such as waking him up early on dad’s day off or making breakfast, causing terrible disarray in the kitchen. –Amy Solomon

Sago Mini Forest Flyer

 
sago

Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a delightful, universal app from Sago Sago, a new developer to be aware of as it is a combination of talents from both Toca Boca as well as the creative minds who developed zinc Roe’s Tickle Tap Apps. As some readers may know, the Tickle Tap Apps are a series of apps that were my son’s first experience with applications, now having been re-developed into new apps. Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a new variation of the earlier app, Field Flyer. Sago Mini Forest Flyer maintains much of what we have enjoyed from Field Flyer as well as adding new elements to have fun with as well. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Block Story

 
block

Block Story is a quest-based adventure in the same vein as Minecraft that puts an adjusted spin on survival style gaming. Gameplay starts straight away: a mini-tutorial greets you with basics of the action. Players learn movement, collection of items, hunting and the procurement of sustenance, and more. The options give a good idea of what to expect; players get to name a new “world” and “world seed” and select from three modes: Story, Creative and Hardcore. Then you can pick or create a character and push on. –Tre Lawrence

Uno & Friends

 
uno

UNO & Friends is a re-polished take on the classic shedding-type card game that tosses in some interesting new features and multiplayer functionality. The standard gameplay applies. Play commences against three other players, each player being dealt seven shuffled and random cards from a deck of four colors (yellow, green, blue and red). The rest of the cards, face down for surprise chance effect, make up the deck and the topmost deck card is turned over and becomes the starter card. The first player then places a card that matches the color or rank of the starter card; each succeeding player then takes a turn in clockwise fashion, also trying to play a card that matches the last card played. If a player does not have a card to play can take it from the bank; if it is playable, it has to be played immediately. The first player to play all his/her cards wins. –Tre Lawrence

Tilt Arena

 
tilt

Tilt Arena is a classic type of game for a modern type of gamer. If the game brings back memories if the iconic arcade shooter Geometry Wars, don’t feel alarmed; that’s a good thing, and the developer isn’t ashamed of the potential mental connection. The gameplay is fairly simple; the goal is to stay alive. It’s set up in a rectangular grid, with the player in control of a white trapezoid spacecraft. Armed with perpetually shooting guns, I had to avoid the randomly appearing enemy spacecraft that were oh so eager to exhibit their contact-based lethality. Darting around and dodging them helped to a small degree, but directing the guns at them destroys them and earns valuable points. –Tre Lawrence

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Steel Media Network

148Apps - iPhone app reviews and news. The best gosh darn iPhone app site this side of Mars.
http://148apps.com :: @148Apps

Android Rundown - Android news and reviews. Where you get the rundown on Android apps and hardware.
http://AndroidRundown.com :: @AndroidRundown

Best App Ever - Yearly Mobile App Achievement Awards.
http://bestappever.com :: @BestAppEver

Pocket Gamer - Mobile game reviews, news, and features.
http://PocketGamer.co.uk :: @PocketGamer

Pocket Gamer.biz - Mobile games industry news, opinion, and analysis.
http://PocketGamer.biz :: @pgbiz

AppSpy - iOS game news and video reviews.
http://appspy.com :: @appspy