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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: 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 2-6, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 9th, 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.

Panzer Tactics HD

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


Tales of the Adventure Company

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


Habbo

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


Outernauts: Monster Battle

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


Wren V5AP Wireless Speaker

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


Silly Family

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Colossus Escape

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


Push Panic

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


Mini Dodge Ninja

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


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

This Week at 148Apps: May 26-30, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 31st, 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.


KeroBlaster

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


Thomas Was Alone

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


UNcanny X-Men: Days of Future Past

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


Next

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


Sago Mini Space Explorer

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker

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


Zombie Road Trip Trials

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


Tales of the Adventure Company

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

This Week at 148Apps: May 19-23, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 25th, 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.


Overkill Mafia

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


Mr. Jack Pocket

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


Alone in the Dark

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


SXPD

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


Darkin

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

FreeDum

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


Striker Soccer 2

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


JotterPad X

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

This Week at 148Apps: May 12-16, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 18th, 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.

Godzilla-Smash3

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


JoyJoy

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


Dark Lands

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


CIRCA6

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


Toy Rush

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


WordGirl Superhero Training

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Lost Bubble

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


Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies

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


Go Kane!

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: April 28-May 2, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 4th, 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.

Intake: Be Aggressive

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


Lethal Lance

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


Sharebrands Stereo Headphones

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


Racer 8

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


Accompli

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


Sago Mini Monsters

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Greedy Dwarf

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


Dancing Samurai

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


Brandnew Boy

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on April 28th, 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.

Wayward Souls

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


Leo's Fortune

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


Strongarm Universal Mount

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


Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

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


Boxer

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


Petites Choses

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Voxel Rush: Free Racing

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


Letters from Nowhere: Mystery

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


Smash and Dash

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

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

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

148Apps is Looking for News and Review Writers - Grab Your Hat, Find a Ring, and Throw

Posted by Rob Rich on April 23rd, 2014

Looks like it's that time again. We've finished draining the nutritious goo from our victi-I mean we're looking for more writers!

So if you love you some iPods, iPads, and iPhones, and have access to up-to-date iOS hardware (and have a knack for this whole “writing” thing), give us a shout. We’re currently looking for reviewers and news writers to bring aboard.

Potential reviewers should be able to cut a swath through apps and games (that’s right, apps and games; you have to be up for both) without breaking a sweat, be able to critically analyze their subjects, and express themselves well and with authority. They should also be willing and able to edit their own posts and upload their own screen shots so that their work is ready for publishing as soon as they hand it in. But most of all we’re looking for someone who can manage to pull all of that off and keep things fun and interesting.

Potential newsies need to be able to turn out articles quickly and with regularity. They should have a knack for spotting the important bits in each story, getting the information out accurately, linking to sources, and be able to do it all without reading like an official press release. News writer hopefuls should also note that this position requires adherence to a set schedule, and during this time they’ll be collaborating with us directly on coverage of the day’s events. Otherwise how could we stay on top of everything?

If you think you’ve got what it takes for either of these positions, here’s our list of Musts:

- have an iPhone 5, iPad (2, mini, or later) or iPod touch (5th gen or later) and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread
- have a general knowledge of and interest in the iOS community
- can write at a higher than average level, like what you might see in a magazine or newspaper
- have some familiarity with WordPress or similar CMS platform
- reviewers: have the time to write and post at least three reviews a week
- newsies: churn out 4 to 5 news items per day and adhere to a weekly early morning schedule starting around 6am or 7am Pacific, Mon. through Fri.
- must be 18 years of age or older


What do you get? Writing for 148Apps gets you exposure. With millions of eyes reading your posts, that’s a lot of exposure to be had. You also get some money, per post, at a competitive rate. That’s not bad, right? We do ask that you only apply if you can keep up a regular posting frequency. While this isn’t a full time job, it’s not a once-in-a-while hobby, either. Our best writers are the ones that can keep the same quality output coming week after week.

If you think this is something you might be interested it, take a quick read of our review style and send us three of your best clips. These are the best portfolio works of review writing you’ve done. The closer to an app review your clips are, the better chance we’ll have of understanding your style. Don’t have any written samples? Write one up! Pick your favorite app or two and write up a 300 – 500 word review, with proper spelling and grammar, and email it to helpwanted {at} 148apps {dot} com. We look forward to hearing from you, and we’ll get back to you soon.

Image Credit: TechnaBob