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This Week at 148Apps: September 29-October 3, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 6th, 2014

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.

Monsu

All too often, endless runners lack some much-needed personality. They can be mechanically sound and still quite satisfying to play, but they rarely feel particularly charming. Monsu aims to buck that trend, even despite the fact it doesn’t really offer much of a story. All you need to know is that you’re attempting to retrieve treasure from thieving villagers. This ties into your reasoning for running wild and bouncing on the heads of spear wielding enemies. You automatically run, with one tap for a single jump and two for a double-jump. Controls are simple yet tight; not once was there a sign of unresponsiveness. --Jennifer Allen


Card Dungeon

Card Dungeon is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the roguelike genre, eschewing lackluster Western fantasy imagery and the trappings of “normal” turn-based dungeon exploration with (of all things) two-dimensional art and cards. The delightful whimsy of Card Hunter, similar in scope to this title, shines through as Play Tap Games expertly marries the addictiveness of a card game with the strategic requirements of a rogue like. The game gets underway as you select from a handful of cards for how your character will perform. Once you’ve chosen them, you can choose a campaign from a wide selection of areas as the adventure begins. The game and the tutorial mode are one in the same as you make your way through your first dungeon floor, tapping on tile after tile to navigate through. The game is turn-based, with you tapping on a directional tile on the dungeon floor to navigate, then selecting cards from the bottom of the screen in order to play different actions. It’s simple enough to understand by just tapping around to get a feel for what’s going on, but difficult enough that it’s hard to master unless you truly pay attention to the varieties of cards you can use for equipment, defense, attacks, and so on. --Brittany Vincent


Galaxy Trucker

If you’ve come to Galaxy Trucker looking for a grim, seedy simulation full of illicit stimulants, questionable encounters with alien females in the docking bays of intergalactic refueling depots, and tiny, pine tree-shaped air fresheners then you may be a bit disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re after an iPad adaptation of a 2007 board game classic that has been nominated for multiple awards, then I have much better news for you. Apparently, in the future, interstellar freight hauling vehicles are made out of jumbles of leftover pipes. Yeah, it seems like a weird choice to me, too. Now, pilots of these long-haul junk freighters are competing with one another for the most choice parts in an attempt to cobble together a ship that will withstand the rigors of deep space, pirates, and the occasional meteor shower. Oh, and also still turn a profit while doing so. --Rob Thomas


Nexticy

It’ll take some practice to truly figure out Nexticy but once you do, you’ll realize it’s a very useful tool for those in many different forms of business. Its flexibility is quite impressive. It’s a form building tool. At its simplest, you can use one of many templates to get started. There are templates for all kinds of situations, such as a nutritional log, invoicing, meeting report, quiz, and even a professional resume tool. For many, a great starting point is to use one of these and edit it to your needs rather than start from scratch. This is especially true when bearing in mind that the app could do a better job of explaining things. Experimentation is key here. --Jennifer Allen


BuggyFun

As readers may know, my family really enjoys a good building or math app at our house – very useful for when I need to get my boy tucked in and out of the way so I can perform family business such as dealing with contractors, make other important phone calls, or sometimes just early in the morning when my son wakes prematurely but is not looking to get really active just yet. Although we find applications very helpful at these moments, I do prefer him to work with building toys and other manipulative items during the rest of this free time. We have more natural wood building blocks than I care to admit, but the toys that I feel most overrun by are those that form some kind of tracks and include dozens of smaller pieces needing to be fitted together. I acquired a large amount of Zhu Zhu tracks free with the purchase of robotic hamsters from a woman eager to rid herself of these plastic parts, along with too many fractured Hot Wheels sets as well as the Nano Bug habituate tracks that my son had to have, which he is still working on earning – a day I am not looking forward to. Although I obviously see the value in being able to construct these kinds of toys in many different and creative ways, the reality of all these pieces is at times too much to bear. --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

Cannon Crasha

Man, Cannon Crasha is ‘one of those games’. In a good way! When you like games like Worms and Swords and Soldiers, you will definitly like this instant classic Android game. Go play it. No seriously. This is one of those games. One of those games where the only thing you need to know is that you need to play it. It should be one of those games everybody should talk about, you know, like the time you were in high school, still playing those GBA games. Cannon Crasha is a turn-based-ish, real time strategic-ish game that borrows elements from games like Worms and Sword and Soldiers, covered up in light-humoured conversations and easy to learn controls. --Wesley Akkerman


Antec 4 Port USB Charging Station

I love my gadgets. I’m told that as far as addictions go, it could be much worse, so there is that. With a family that likes to be connected, the most important resource in our home can sometimes be an unoccupied power outlet. With that in mind, and keeping with the drive to keep solutions simple, it’s relatively easily to see why a gadget like the Antec 4-Port USB Charging Station would catch one’s eye. As with most things from Antec, the device looks sleek without being overly flashy, compact and seemingly well constructed. It is in the rough shape of a rectangular cuboid, except that the hard plastic exterior tapers into a curve on the one side of its 5x5x6 inch frame; it isn’t too heavy either at less than 13 ounces, and the sedate finish is only really broken by the USB ports and input slot. There is an LED indicator at the top; the package also comes with AC cable and documentation. --Tre Lawrence


Keeper Password Manager

At this point, we hope that the need for a good password manager is akin to common sense. We’re regaled with stories of database intrusions daily; it’s smart to protect one’s self with the basics of password security: using different unique password for different websites. Also, passwords should be changed to new unique ones at regular intervals. But, if one even has only a dozen websites to log in to every now and then, those passwords start to blend together; that’s where mobile password keepers shine. Keeper Password Manager looks to be another option in this category, and we got to take it for a spin. First thing to do is to to sign in with a master password. Off the bat, I liked the UI options; who says a productivity app can’t have some personality? It’s possible to change the main color, and while this isn’t life-changing, I feel that one can’t put a price tag on the ability change up looks. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, it was a bumper week for new iOS games, but Pocket Gamer has covered the lot of them. Plus: the best games of September, the most anticipated games for October, and hands-on with The Room 3, Assassin's Creed Identity, and Hitman: Sniper. Read all about at Pocket Gamer.

This Week at 148Apps: September 22-26, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 29th, 2014

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.


Cursed Treasure 2

Previously a browser-based game, Cursed Treasure 2 is a reasonably enjoyable Tower Defense title. There’s a catch though – it’s not overly original, mostly incorporating elements we’ve seen elsewhere. For a change, you play the bad guys attempting to stop the good guys from retrieving the treasure from your castle. Each level offers a series of positions for you to place your towers and attempt to wipe out the ensuing hordes. Different colored terrain offers up different types of tower and you can’t mix and match. Besides restricting you to certain places amongst the landscape, Cursed Treasure 2 also restricts the types of tower you can use. There are only three, although they can all expand into more powerful forms over time. --Jennifer Allen


Leaf on the Wind

The snappy, spicy nights of Fall are well on their way, which makes this as good a time as any to play a game like Leaf on the Wind by Pangea Software. This colorful physics/puzzle game involves piles of leaves dancing on the wind – the kind of thing that makes people think of pumpkin spice lattes, apple-picking, and of course, decorative gourd season. However, while Leaf on the Wind‘s graphics are pretty and calming, its gameplay makes the blood race a little bit. In fact, it’s a tricky game – a little too tricky in parts – leading to some needless frustration. --Nadia Oxford


Goblin Sword

Goblin Sword is an action platformer set firmly in the medieval fantasy genre. You will control the blue-haired protagonist as he double-jumps and hacks his way through forests, caves, and castles, slaying beasts and collecting gems. The game features a ton of stages, though each level is quite short – you’ll easily beat most in under 2 minutes, making them excellent bite-sized servings. Goblin Sword has a colorful, cartoonishly retro aesthetic, and the music matches the visuals nicely – if you aren’t sick of the pixel revolution in gaming (and you shouldn’t be, because it’s great), you’ll find a lot to love about its look and feel. The controls are fairly tight, and I never felt as though the controls were at fault when I accidentally walked into a spike pit or got hit by an enemy. --Andrew Fisher


The Strongest

It’s only human nature that we all face a certain point in our lives when we just want to punch something. Anything. That’s where video games come in; they’ve always presented a healthy outlet to safely unload all of that frustration. Laboratory’s The Strongest is one of the best recent examples of note when it comes to channeling all the good that can come from indulging the thralls of mindless aggression into a gauntlet of cerebral challenges. --George Fagundes


Astropolo

Astropolo is a creative new app with a space travel theme that allows children to help astronaut Polo travel from Earth to planet Tropy. Astropolo includes eight mini-games that children will find fun and unique. Adults will appreciate these activities for their educational benefits as they strengthen areas such as fine motor and problem-solving skills. Although these games are intuitive to play once understood, written directions will need to be read in order to be followed – be it by the user or an adult working alongside the child. A short video of the gameplay of each of these sections is also included that children can follow, even if they are not up to fully reading the description – a really nice touch that also may give a few hints on the best way to play these mini-games. --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

TruGlide Pro Universal Stylus

There was a time the stylus was a sign of having arrived. Why? This was before smartphones, when Palm and WinMo battled to win the PDA market. True capacitive touchscreens as we know them were not on the scene yet, and a good stylus was more important than having fingers. Then, in 2007, a lot of that changed. As screens get bigger, brighter and more responsive, styli have made a comeback. As tablets and smartphone (and everything in between) become more comprehensive means of data entry, and creatives use digital tools to output thought, having tools that mimic traditional modes of data entry is especially invaluable. This is where tools like the TruGlide Pro Stylus are potentially worth their weight in gold. --Tre Lawrence


enCharge Power Jacket Case

You’re device battery is probably not bad. Wait… hold the rocks for a hot second. I understand that y’all smart-device newbies think it’s bad, but trust me: power management has come a long way. There is still so much more that can be done, yes, but if the amount of OEM batteries I have carried over time is an indication of the progress we have made (three down to zero), I think we can gently tap ourselves on the back. It wasn’t too long ago that I foreswore devices with non-user serviceable batteries; my last two devices actually had/have sealed batteries. Go figure… having a device that lasts 24 hours on one charge might not be that futuristic after all. Still, being prepared is the name of today’s mobile game, and this is why external batteries seem to be the most talked about mobile accessories. Finding device-specific cases that double as external power sources is also an option, and the enCharge Power Jacket Case looks like the tool many a user could get used to… as a semi-permanent tool or ad-hoc solution. --Tre Lawrence


Empire Run

Will Empire Run be different enough to stand out from all the other endless runners out there? Endless runners need to pack some great content to be noticeable in the Google Play Store. Either that or they must have a great theme or graphical appeal to have a chance to be downloaded. Because there are lots of endless runners out there. Perhaps to much – but that is for another rainy day. The endless runner Empire Run is a game that does things right: it has a very nice graphical style and offers some nice gameplay tweaks, in its attempt not to be overlooked by the public. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played Angry Birds Transformers (and discovered the best pause screen in a mobile game), found 24 amazing iOS puzzlers, figured out how to downgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 7, made a gamebook, reviewed Anomaly Defenders, and reviewed the new Super Smash Bros game. Read all of this, and more, right here.

This Week at 148Apps: September 15-19, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 22nd, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Goat Simulator

Looking for a serious goat simulation game involving a bit of grazing, some goats screaming like humans (YouTube it), and a bit of mild milking chucked in for good measure? First of all, what’s wrong with you? Secondly, there’s none of that to be found in Goat Simulator. Rather, it’s about what would happen if an invincible and inexplicably angry billy goat went on a rampage through a countryside village. Players are free to explore the small but largely destructible environment with its challenges, collectibles, and quirks at their leisure. There’s a lot here, from goat slingshots, to goat sumo wrestling, to a sacrificial offering (that last one was unexpected, right?), and it’s great fun to discover what the world has to offer. --Lee Hamlet


Kitty Powers' Matchmaker

Cheers, loves. Looking for snuggles, cuddles, and beyond? Miss Kitty Powers is ready to hook the lovelorn up with the good stuff in Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker. Well, to clarify, Miss Kitty Powers will be on the sidelines offering advice – and snark. It’s the player that needs to get their hands dirty by digging up clients’ interests, matching up personalities, and finding them ideal mates. Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is a dating/matchmaking sim, which isn’t a rare species on mobile platforms. What makes it special is its fast pace, its payoffs, and above all else, its wildly weird sense of humor. --Nadia Oxford


Dragon Quest I

There are legends that are told time and again; the sort of elemental tales that, in one form or another, define an entire genre. These stories are copied, referenced, and remade endlessly, all because they represent a fundamental part of our shared culture. For RPG fans of any age, one such tale is Dragon Quest. If you loved Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire, the Mana series, or any of the hundreds of other awesome old-school RPGs out there, you owe at least a little to Dragon Quest. Originally released in 1986 for the Famicom/NES as Dragon Warrior, Dragon Quest for iOS is an updated remake of a truly classic game. The visuals strike a great balance between looking like something from an early-era RPG (palate-swapped enemies FTW!), but are still cartoony and fun. The music is good, though you will get sick of the horn trill that sounds at the beginning of every random encounter. The script, written in a faux-Shakespearian tongue, is charmingly full of ‘thees’ and ‘thous’, making for a fun, campy experience. --Andrew Fisher


Plunder Pirates

Another week, another Clash of Clans style game, right? That’s what you’re probably thinking when looking at Plunder Pirates, and who could blame you. It does look a lot like yet another one of those kind of games. Fortunately, Rovio Stars has a few tricks up its sleeves, ensuring that Plunder Pirates has more going for it than you’d expect. Starting out, it’s a lot like any base building game. You have an island with the basic structures already in place, and it’s down to you to develop it and become the greatest pirate out there. Or something like that. This is done through a number of different methods. Developing each building and upgrading them while also placing new things is vital. --Jennifer Allen


Kunin

There are no frills or microtransactions in Kunin. It lives or dies by the sharpness of its steel and the strength of its twitch arcade gameplay. But from that trial it emerges a nervous yet nice test of ninja reflexes. In Kunin, players try to keep their little ninja alive as long as possible by deflecting oncoming knives and throwing stars. Tapping each side of the screen causes him not only to jump but also face that direction. Turning the right way is crucial because threats come on all sides and strikes from behind are lethal. --Jordan Minor


Pizo Animals

Recently I came across some puzzles that are now too young for my six year old son – jigsaws that fit into wooden-backed frames instead of being boxed like the larger puzzles he now enjoys. Much to my chagrin, I realized that many of these puzzles were missing a piece or two, making them unacceptable for charity donations. I still remember the frustration of trying to keep all of these puzzle pieces together that even when completed did not sit well enough in their frames to keep these puzzles intact. Because of this, during his time at preschool we began to work on a lot of puzzles for the iPad and iPhone where the loss of pieces was no longer a concern, allowing them to be enjoyed while laying in bed or on the go. Even better was that, typically, different levels of difficulty were included within these puzzle apps that would grow with my son. Because of this I am always happy to test new puzzle applications, and I am eager to let parents know of a new puzzle app, Pizo Animals. --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

Soccer Fitness Gols

Sometimes, we get apps to review that are so natural to use. As a licensed soccer coach who has played and coached The Beautiful Game most of my life, I have an intimate understanding of how seriously fitness impacts the sport. It’s an important, and there are quite a number of wearables aimed at this segment. In any case, checking out apps like Soccer Fitness Gols not only feels natural, it feels like its my duty. So there. The app itself is simple in design, with bright green, turf-like graphics making up the main background. The developer uses different shades of green in places to contrast the mostly white main screen text. The UI, as noted, is simple, and uses mostly uses taps and some gestures as the main modes of navigation. --Tre Lawrence


Agenday Smart Calendar

Making everyday business activities easier is a worthy goal that definitely earns developers a spot in heaven. With Agenday Smart Calendar, PGi might have a chance to go up yonder. The use interface is appropriately businesslike, with the default soft hues and flashes of orange. The welcome screen is tastefully crafted, with weather, date and meetings that are planned for the current day. The date bar is scrollable, and there is a calendar button nestled to the top right, along with the familiar Android-standard three-button menu access. Tapping on a specific part of the weather information leads to Weather Underground, from which more specific weather information can be procured. Altogether, the UI feels clean and intuitive, and avoids the pitfall of being too cluttered. --Tre Lawrence


Super Monkey Ball Bounce

Super Monkey Ball Bounce has a lot of problems, and being a cash cow is just one of them. It is a shame to see what Sega has done to the once beloved series of challenging games. When you love Peggle or games like Peggle, you will clearly enjoy Super Monkey Ball Bounce. That game doesn’t just take inspiration from Peggle, it rips it off completely. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing; one can better steal something good, than make up something bad. It is all in the details; and with details, I mean stuff like themes, power ups and level design. And that’s the part Super Monkey Ball Bounce doesn’t fail to be enjoyed by gamers. Because the base is pretty good. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week the chaps at Pocket Gamer went big on iOS 8, with loads of tips and an investigation into Apple's new Metal tech. Plus, the guys across the pond looked into iPad virtual reality, the future of Minecraft, and asked if 2014 was the year mobile gaming grew up... Read all about it right here.

This Week at 148Apps: September 8-12, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 14th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Kapsula

Kapsula isn’t an easy game by any means, but it is an appealing one. It combines the obvious mixture of racing and Match-3 gameplay, because that’s a partnership that we’ve all been waiting to see! It sounds odd, but it works by relying upon some very fast reactions and quick decision making. You control a car as it races across some futuristic-looking landscapes. The visuals are quite crude but they match the theme well, adding a kind of beauty to such simplicity. Controls are a matter of tapping on either side to move around and that’s as complex as Kapsula gets. The tricky part is moving at the right time. While racing along, various colored gems called kapsulas (hence the name) appear. Drive alongside one and you snag it to the side of your car. The trick here is to match it up with another of the same color to earn points. --Jennifer Allen


Spider-Man Unlimited

There’s no shortage of endless runners on the App Store. Good endless runners, though? Now, there’s a trickier thing to find. Spider-Man Unlimited is one of those rare delights, made all the rarer by the fact it uses a popular license and still manages to be enjoyable. It’s a narrative led running game, which means it’s split into two parts. There’s the Endless mode that lives up to its name, but there’s also the more structured story mode that offers up some reason to run. Divided up into issues, issue 1 involves you tackling the Green Goblin while issue 2 pits you against the Vulture – with future issues coming soon. --Jennifer Allen


Ninja Warrior Temple

Ninja Warrior Temple understands that the way of the ninja is never an easy one. It takes skill and insight bordering on the supernatural: a perfect melding of body and mind. But while its clever designs show its mind is in the right place, the slippery controls suggest the body still needs work. Ninja Warrior Temple is a textbook “masocore” game where players take on super short but devastatingly difficult platforming challenges. While early stages use fairly formulaic layouts like “jump over spikes in an incredibly tight time window,” the game soon reveals its smarter tricks. --Jordan Minor


The Nightmare Cooperative

The Nightmare Cooperative is a dungeon-raiding puzzler and strategy game that forces players to think on their feet while taking multiple factors into account at once. Taking place over 12 levels through 4 zones, players must navigate their team over a checkered game board via up and down swipes that control the whole team at once, moving past deadly enemies and fiery pits. Of course, there is the option to fight back by either bumping into enemies repeatedly or by pressing the special ability button. Enabled by the collection of potions, each character class has their own special ability – including healing, brute strength, and long-range weapons – that will help with getting their teammates and themselves to the exit in one piece. --Lee Hamlet


Gro Flowers

As readers can imagine, my son is fortunate to have a chance to test a variety of educational apps that I download as part of my review process. Typically for him, this is alone-time when he chooses not to have a lot of interaction with others as he becomes deeply involved with an app of his choice. Gro Flowers, an app from a favorite developer of ours – Gro Play – is a unique case, as my boy invites me into his world while working with this application. It’s a lovely combination of art and ecology, allowing children to decorate their own flowers to later be pollinated by bees that also produce honey in need of being caught as it drips from the hive. Do shoo away bug spray bottles with a tap, keeping the bees safe and happy. I would first like to point out that Gro Flowers, along with other Gro Play apps, allows multiple players to explore and interact at the same time – working together decorating flowers as well as dragging bees to like-flowers in the interest of pollination, as well as collecting honey and discouraging the use of pesticides, making this app a lovely exercise in cooperation that my son really enjoys sharing with others. The pacing of Gro Flowers, also like the other Gro Play apps, is a little on the slow side compared to arcade games some children play with these days, but I do admire this choice. It allows my son to slow down as well – a lovely nod to the time it takes nature to grow a field of flowers or create honey one drop at a time. --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

Appointment with F.E.A.R.

Appointment With F.E.A.R casts the player as a hero with powers of their choosing out to stop an evil meeting of the minds as the criminal organization known as F.E.A.R meet in three days to hatch an evil plot to take over the world. Players begin by picking their powers. What powers they have affects the story great deal. They may be able to fire energy blast from their hands or simply be a Batman like gadget genius with no actual superpowers besides being clever, among others. A few of these feel a bit half-baked though. The engineer type doesn’t really get enough chances to use his gadgets and the mind reader doesn’t get to really read minds, more just use their physic skills to hurl objects at enemies and so on. --Allan Curtis


Help Me Fly

There is no shortage of puzzle games in all of the app stores, including the Google Play Store. But finding that must play puzzle game, might be a challenge. Don’t look any further, because we’ve found one. Puzzle games and app stores: it’s like a combination made in heaven. And why wouldn’t it be? Most of those puzzle games are easy to understand, offer a great challenge and have some pretty user-friendly interfaces for us to enjoy. A good puzzle game has all of the above mentioned elements and I’m glad to say that the game Help Me Fly vg fits right in to the description of a good puzzle game. It even has some solid looking graphics that are easy on the eyes. --Wesley Akkerman


Angry Birds Stella

The new Angry Birds Stella game just came and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to give the birds a swing again. Only this time, we’re swinging female birds with more tactics at their disposal. With every new Angry Birds installment I always ask myself: what did Rovio do this time to not make me think this game is just like the one before? The gravity mechanic in Angry Birds Space was a first for me, thinking the developer actually did something to improve the basics of the game. And now, I’ve got the same feeling. Angry Birds Stella is, to be very direct, a new Angry Birds game that builds upon the basics of the core of the franchise and really offers something new. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, Apple made headlines on Pocket Gamer, too. The guys have got tech and size comparisons for the new iPhones, and thoughts on the Apple Watch's gaming potential. Plus, a preview of Space Age, along with reviews of Goblin Sword, Phantom Rift, and more. Read everything right here.

This Week at 148Apps: September 1-5, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 8th, 2014

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.


Valiant Hearts

Humanity has loads of awful wars to tuck under its belt, but few were as grimy or bloody as the First World War. Appropriately referred to as “The Great War” during its tortured four-year lifespan, the conflict still dredges up images of trenches, sucking mud, lung-searing gas, and a bizarre clash of old war (horse-mounted cavalries) versus new war (machine guns, tanks). The First World War isn’t a period of time to be taken lightly or disrespected, but thankfully Valiant Hearts: The Great War by Ubisoft and Future Games of London treats its subject matter solemnly. The story driving this stark-looking puzzle/action game is packed with emotion, and its characters stick with the player long after the app is shut ff. Players are never asked to judge – only to observe the ongoing events. There are even history lessons galore, courtesy of succinct but informative in-game summaries and item collections. --Nadia Oxford


Heavy Metal Thunder

Heavy Metal Thunder isn’t like other game books. For one thing, you have to pay attention to it and the decisions you make. Some other titles, you can let your mind wander slightly or make a somewhat foolish decision and not be punished for it. Heavy Metal Thunder responds to any foolish call by smacking down on you – hard. It’s a satisfying adventure game, but don’t expect to complete it any time soon. The early stages ably demonstrate what’s expected of you. Plenty of different skills are available, giving you a fairly varied experience. You can choose to be a stealthy warrior or to be a charismatic leader with a plethora of options at hand. It’s not long, however, before the decisions you make can bring huge ramifications. --Jennifer Allen


Spring

For online shopping, websites are becoming increasingly old fashioned. After all, many of us are using phones and tablets to browse and surely an app designed for that discerning market is what you want? That’s the thinking behind the label-focused shopping app, Spring. It’s simple yet stylish, ensuring you can get all the information you want on a product and easily order it. The simplest way to sign up is via Facebook, with Spring promising to not post without your permission. You can then choose from a variety of different brands and labels to follow, so you can always see what your favorite designer is up to. A tabbed interface means you can easily switch between the options available. --Jennifer Allen


Tiny Tower Vegas

Tiny Tower was a big success, given its main draw was in enticing you to build a bigger skyscraper than your friends. It was oddly appealing and spawned many clones. Here we are then, with the true sequel of sorts: Tiny Tower Vegas. And this time around, there’s a bit more going on. The core aim is still there – you build new floors on your skyscraper in a bid to earn coins to carry on building new floors. Keeping each place stocked with stuff to sell is essential, with plenty of timers and checking in on how things are progressing. But this time around you don’t have people living here. Instead they stay on hotel floors, meaning you can additionally earn money that way, too. A lobby at the bottom of the tower provides a place for potential employees to hang out, with up to five sticking around at any one time. --Jennifer Allen


Tizzy ZigZag Cars

There was a bit of a reversal in our home recently, as I was eager to introduce my son to a new app that I had downloaded onto our iPad: Tizzy ZigZag Cars, a car racing app with a heavy use of physics. Little did I know that my son had already taken a closer look at it earlier and was more than happy to walk me through what he had learned about this application. Tizzy ZigZag Cars allows children to build their own simple car as they choose front and back tires as well as the body, keeping in mind that the car will be flipping over and continuing to race as one drives on the included courses. My boy and I appreciate that the selections include two sizes of wood and metal tires, as well as other choices that will directly affect how the car responds to the fantasy track that one will be driving on – possibly driving too fast and not maintaining enough control to collect star badges, or driving so slowly that you lose the momentum you need to move around the course. These tracks – fifteen in total – spread evenly over five different themes including space, candy, western, sports, and a colorful wood option. As the name may suggest, these tracks are reminiscent of the zigzag racetrack, also known as switchback or click-clack tracks, where gravity allows a car to roll down a series of ramps, flipping over to the reverse side of the vehicle as the car falls controllably to the next track to continue on. While these young children’s toys tend to be basic contraptions, the ZigZag tracks include a lot of interesting details that create almost a maze-like effect as one travels on a series of ramps – complete with loops, drops, and flags that will give the car a burst of speed when collected, as well as other themed objects it interacts with. --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

Yahoo Aviate Launcher

The ability to customize is one of Android’s biggest virtues, and third-party launchers are a big part of the experience. Thing is, there are a lot of launchers on the scene; as such, new options by the Yahoo acquisition Aviate have to do quite a bit to stand out. Upon starting the app, one gets the “Simplify your phone” mantra, an invitation that is hard to ignore. There is a video intro and tapping on the blue “start” button opens up a three-page promo portion which eventually leads to the set-up, and after selecting Aviate as the permanent launcher, its ready to go. --Tre Lawrence


Game of Thrones Ascent

Finally, Game of Thrones Ascent is released on Android devices. But will the trip through Westeros be worth your time? Let’s find out. One of the coolest aspects of the Xbox 360 game Fable 3 is that players could make a string of decisions at the end of their adventure. Maybe it wasn’t the best solution for that game at that very moment, but the ability to decide what is best for yourself or others is a concept in video games I very much enjoy and appreciate. The Android game Game of Thrones Ascent starts with a couple challenges waiting to be tackled by choosing the option one prefers. A very strong start of the game. --Wesley Akkerman


Sumico: The Numbers Game

Who would’ve thought that solving math challenges would be so much fun? In my book, that can only be when the game’s design is top notch and with Sumico, from the Dutch developer Ludomotion, that is just the case. In Sumico, players will face some harsh math problems. That sounds utterly dull, but bear with me here. The game’s design is really flawless. At it’s core, it is solving math, yes. But this game offers clever use of the renowned Candy Crush design. Players need to solve those problems at a grid full of hexagons. On these hexagons are numbers displayed. Players need to combine them with hexagons showing typical math signs, like the plus and minus, etcetera. By holding the first number, swiping and combining it with a math sign on to another number, a sum is made and the answer shows up on screen. With the answer, it is possible to make a new sum. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of August, investigated smartwatches and virtual reality, asked Rovio if Angry Birds Stella is just for girls, found the best gaming phones under $500, rounded up all the iPhone 6 rumors, and looked at a stunning monochrome heist game for iOS called Calvino Noir.

This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 30th, 2014

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.

Hyperlapse

As someone who’s been around for much of the internet’s mainstream rise to success, I’ve got a feeling our attention spans are depreciating quite quickly. Video technology has grown to the extent that YouTube stars are a reality, but there’s a side effect to that. People want things quicker, which is how we’ve ended up with six second vines and Tumblrs full of GIFs because they’re just so much faster than videos. Hyperlapse is the natural step forward from this. It allows you to very quickly make time-lapse videos before uploading them to Facebook or Instagram. It’s pretty great, too. There’s hardly any set up involved here. Hyperlapse knows you want to get on with taking videos and is very simple to use. Simply hit the record button and away you go. Once you’ve finished recording whatever it is, you can then use a slider to adjust how fast you’re taken through each snap. Finished there? Then hit the share button and you’re done. --Jennifer Allen


Bioshock

Only a couple of months after the very first iPhone became available, Bioshock was let loose on an unsuspecting public. Okay, it was probably expected. Alright fine, it had an express ticket on the Hype Train. My point is that when Bioshock first started impressing the heck out of players and critics alike, smartphone tech was still in its infancy. Nobody could have expected that one day, seven years later, we’d be able to explore Andrew Ryan’s failed utopia on our phones. Now that we can, I have to say it’s rather cool. For the most part. --Rob Rich


Madden NFL Mobile

Right in time for next week’s kickoff and following the example of its console brethren, EA Sports is taking another whack at the gridiron on iOS with their newly-released Madden NFL Mobile. Will this offering trump their past attempts at transitioning the pigskin, or will the result be another tragic punting situation? It seems like Madden NFL Mobile is the culmination of several years’ worth of fan feedback and tuning. That doesn’t mean that the freemium shenanigans are gone, but they’re certainly nowhere near as influential as in previous seasons – for example, plays are still locked behind a leveling wall. However, the need to pay in-game currency in order to use locked plays has mercifully been removed. Instead, the initial playbook has been bulked up significantly and the rate at which newer plays are unlocked seems accelerated. --Blake Grundman


Star Wars: Commander

The handy thing about having the Star Wars franchise under your belt is that it’s essentially a free pass. I want to mutter about how Star Wars: Commander is a Clash of Clans clone in many ways because it kind of is. But it also captures the magic of controlling the Empire or Rebel Forces quite well and even throws in a decent narrative, meaning you’ll most likely end up forgiving it. At least, assuming you’re a Star Wars fan. Starting out, you can choose whether to go to the Light or Dark side with that choice affecting what heroes you can use (for a time, at least). It’s a neat move in making you feel like Star Wars: Commander is a different game from Clash of Clans and it does a fine job of using the Force to keep the illusion real. --Jennifer Allen


Pac-Man Friends

Pac-Man Friends by Namco Bandai does more than supply players with Pac-Man themed puzzles: it also serves as a reminder that the Pacster has a large network of family and friends. After all, when destiny calls on him to run through a maze and gobble up ghosts, he usually works alone. Not this time, though. Pac-Man Friends challenges players to solve dozens of mazes, all of which carry an action-based Pac-Man theme. Pac-Man Friends is definitely unique as a consequence, and there’s still enough variety to keep players engaged level after level. Some control issues keep it from the upper pantheon of Pac-Man’s greatest outings, however. --Nadia Oxford


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Star Fleet Deluxe

Star Fleet Deluxe is a tactical game that apes Star Trek more than a little. Taking command of a huge starship, the player stands alone against a huge force of murderous aliens, hell-bent on eradicating any and all humans in the galaxy. Star Fleet Deluxe is a very in-depth, turn based strategy game. The game takes place over a huge area, 81 quadrants of galaxy space to be precise, filled with stars, colonies, planets and starbases. --Allan Curtis


Notepad Reminder

Smartphones are predicated on convenience. The best apps are simple to use and make people’s lives easier. But for some reason, app developers have not harnessed the convenient potential of widgets. At least, that is the concept behind Notepad Reminder, a note-taking widget that is easy to use and easier to access. Rather than digging through menus and taking time to open an app, widgets offer a way to interact with an app right on an Android device’s home screen. This feature is typically used to relay emails or check sports scores at a moment’s notice, but Notepad Reminder takes it to another level, adding usability and productivity right to the home screen. --Ryan Bloom


Wipeout

Years ago, I was flipping through the TV, and stumbled across a show that forever changed my TV watching habits: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC). The show itself was a irreverent Americanized version of the Japanese obstacle course show Takeshi’s Castle. The original show was a funny in and of itself, kind of like American Ninja Warrior on funny steroids; the added layer of deliciously re-edited and re-dubbed footage from the original took the show to hysterical heights. A “true” American-centric version of the show popped up on the scene a few years ago called Wipeout. It is very similar to the original Japanese shows, down to the pain inducing obstacles and the zany commentary by the hosts. It was only a matter of time for the game to hit consoles, and it has since come to Android. --Tre Lawrence

Finally, this week Pocket Gamer gave a Gold Award to three games: ALONE, The Nightmare Cooperative, and Appointment with F.E.A.R. Plus, get the lowdown on 2K's Bioshock port, some Motorsport Manager tips, and 10 upcoming iOS games for September. Check it out right here.

This Week at 148Apps: August 18-22, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 25th, 2014

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.

Doctor Who: Legacy

Take the perennially popular Match-3 genre, combine it with a well-loved TV show, and what do you get? Doctor Who: Legacy. That’s all you need to know about it, really. If you enjoy Match-3 games and Doctor Who, you’ll enjoy this. Don’t expect much innovation, though. This is a puzzle game we’ve all played before. Divided up into seasons, you’re able to take The Doctor and his relevant trusty companion on an adventure through time and space by, well, matching gems to defeat Daleks and Cybermen. Yes, it’s a curious use of the license but it kind of works. Deviating from the typical Match-3 path you can move gems anywhere on screen, thereby setting up some great combos. Doctor Who: Legacy keeps it fairly light and easy, but it’s still quite satisfying to take out an enemy in one move. Also, there are special attacks to inflict on your foe that are very loosely Doctor Who-esque. It’s all very typical of the genre but less so of the show. --Jennifer Allen


Hanx Writer

Oscar winning actor, all-around Hollywood nice guy, and now app creator? Is there anything that Tom Hanks can’t do? It appears not. Hanx Writer taps into the actor’s love of old-fashioned typewriters and attempts to bring the nostalgia to your humble iPad. It’s a pretty cool typing app too, even if it’s not going to replace more modern fare. Replicating the typewriting experience, you’re given a form of typewriter for free with more available via in-app purchases. It brings with it the right noises for when you’re typing, as well as the choice to remove the delete key for the true authentic experience. After so many years of not hearing the ‘proper’ noise of keys being hit on a keyboard, it’s kind of cool to hear Hanx Writer replicate those noises from years gone by. --Jennifer Allen


Star Realms

The Blob have arrived, and all who stand against them will be reduced to ash. Their fleets – massive, terrifyingly organic ships – arrive with the catastrophic finality of a lightning strike, decimating anything in their path. The civilized races of the galaxy respond the only way they know how: they form and break alliances, taking the disastrous arrival of the Blob to grab for power. And so the fleets arise, intent on nothing less than total victory. Star Realms started as a deck-building card game of titanic popularity, and this digital adaptation attempts to successfully capture the fast-paced, simple-yet-engaging gameplay of the physical version. For the most part, it succeeds overwhelmingly. Players take turns drawing cards from their ever-increasing decks in order to gain Trade, Authority, and Combat. Trade is spent on new ships, authority acts as the game’s hit points, and combat is used to destroy your opponent’s outpost and damage their Authority. --Andrew Fisher


Assault Vector

Despite marketing positioning it as a turn-based strategy game, Assault Vector feels more like a re-skinned version of some sort of hyper-future checkers where all the other pieces are out to murder you. Players move their ship around a hex-based “sector” of space, trying to either destroy all of the opposing spacecraft or make their way to the green exit gate. Destroying the enemy ships nets you the opportunity to upgrade your own, while making it to the exit space just guarantees safe passage to the next board – without any benefits beyond surviving another day. The player and the enemy fleet alternate turns, moving one hex at a time. Each enemy ship has a firing arc, which can be viewed in red by tapping that specific ship. Most of these are along straight or diagonal lines, but the occasional ship has a circular danger zone surrounding it on all sides. Enemy ships are destroyed by moving into one of their bordering safe hexes, allowing the player’s ship to get the first shot off. Jumping into a hex that’s on the firing line, on the other hand, gets the player’s ship blasted instead, shaving off a point of health. But the player has a couple of other tools on hand to assist, each one usable once per sector. The Hyper Jump allows for one single move of a greater distance than the usual one hex. Similarly, the Neutron Cannon allows one enemy ship to be attacked from a far away, rather than the usual point-blank range. --Rob Thomas


Space Colors

In space, no one can see a ship explode into hundreds of really cool colors. Wait – colors still show up in a vacuum, right? It’s not like sound, or – eh, never mind. What’s really important is that Space Colors by Team Chaos is a fun, fast-paced shooting game that looks great right here on good ol’ Terra. Space Colors is primarily a shooter, but it contains some mild roguelike elements, too. Players travel from planet to planet, each with a randomly-generated mission. There may be asteroids to dispose of, or crates to collect, or enemy forces to trade gunfire with. When players emerge victorious, they’re allowed to move on to the next planet in the system. --Nadia Oxford


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Freaking Math

Simple games often thrive on phones. The format just suits simple games that can be played for minutes or even seconds when there’s a quiet moment or passing a phone between friends, trying to beat each other’s record. Freaking Math takes simplicity and files it down into something even more simple that simple. The result is a pretty damn simple game that looks like it took a few minutes to make, but is addictive, tough and a bit of fun. Freaking Math is aptly described by its title. It makes you say freaking a lot and it is math. A series of sums appear on a colored screen that may be correct or incorrect. They are always very simple, elementary math level problems, such as 1+1=2 or 2+3=4. There is a tick and a cross button and the object is to tap the button to say whenever the sum is correct or not before time runs out, much like the little known 1977 Atari 2600 game Basic Math. Easy right? The catch is the time limit is literally one second. Taking more than one second to answer the sum or answering it wrong ends the game and displays the high score. The game is hard so games rarely last more than a minute and the game has a distinctly Flappy Bird-ish vibe to it, what with its super simple presentation and short game length. --Allan Curtis


Unpossible

I’m an emotional mess, and it’s all because of Unpossible. On paper, it’s a racing game, but it goes a bit beyond the basic paradigm. It starts from the intro screen, with the dazzling blue interspersed with dark undertones. The background cityscape is bathed in moonlight, and the electric feel is almost tangible in the way it invokes the night. The raceway is a blue-lined dark, tubular affair that extends in seemingly unending fashion over barren land. --Tre Lawrence


Brave Tribe

Brave Tribe is another freemuiem citybuilder, but this one tells the story of a small Celtic village completely surrounded by Romans who like their food and a good fight. If this sounds familiar it sure is. The opening cutscene has a lot of homages to a certain heroic little Gaul and there is even a Monty Python reference squeezed in there. All this personality pretty much disappears when the game begins though. Taking control of a nearly featureless village, the player must build it up into a stronghold capable of supporting stronger warriors and defeating the encroaching Romans. Fighting off the Romans is as simple as tapping on them a few times though at least after the player has waited an hour or two to produce swords. A few basic quests provide direction and additional things to tap on. --Allan Curtis

And finally, this week the guys on Pocket Gamer subjected Peter Molyneux to a grilling, celebrated the return of Flappy Bird's creator Dong Nguyen with a harsh review, experienced disappointment at Clash of Clans clone Star Wars: Commander, and told everybody about Humble's latest charity mobile bundle. Read all of this, and more, right here.

This Week at 148Apps: August 11-15, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 16th, 2014

App-tastic!


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


Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney-Dual Destinies

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


Vinted

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


Godus

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


NPR One

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


Dragon Quest IV Chapters of the Chosen

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


Rules!

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

The Room

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


Bug Heroes 2

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


Gemhero

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 11th, 2014

App-tastic!


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


Blood Bowl

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


Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 2

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


Time Tangle-Adventure Time

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


iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua Case

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


Micromon

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


Slingbox M1 Hardware

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

Master of Craft

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


Suits and Swords

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


Super Heavy Sword

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 28th-August 1st, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 3rd, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

80 Days

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


Star Admiral

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


Traps n' Gemstones

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


The Phantom PI Mission Apparition

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


ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers

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


Note

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Globber's Escape

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


Rush Rally

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


Digits

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 21-25, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 27th, 2014

Another Week of Expert App Reviews


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

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

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


The Order of Souls

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


Revolution 60

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


Secret Files Tunguska

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


MTN

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


Bio Inc

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Ruzzle Adventure

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


Shurican

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


Super Tank Arena Battles

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 14-18, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 19th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Overcast: Podcast Player

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


Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon

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


Cascade

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


Magic 2015

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


Hellraid: The Escape

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


Hoopa City

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


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

Glowgrid

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


RBI Baseball 14

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


Hopeless: Football Cup

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 7-11, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 14th, 2014

Another Week of Expert App Reviews


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

Civilization Revolution 2

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


Lomotif

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


Sonic Jump Fever

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


Blackwell 1: Legacy

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


Age of Booty: Tactics

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Doug Dug

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


Boom! Tanks

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


Stickman Soccer 2014

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: June 30-July 4, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 6th, 2014

Apps Are Us


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


Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

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


World of Tanks Blitz

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


X BEATS

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


Lars and Friends

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


yantouch Diamond+ "Music+Light" Bluetooth Speaker

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

Wave Wave

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


Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville

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


First Strike

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: June 23-27, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 28th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Star Wars Scene Maker

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


Mecha Ace

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


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

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


Transformers: Age of Extinction - The Official Game

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


Science Museum Splash!

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Winning Kick

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


Flick Soccer Brazil

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


Swipe Tap Smash

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