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This Week at 148Apps: May 4-8, 2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 11th, 2015

A-MAY-ZING Reviews at 148Apps

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.

Calling All... Android Users? Right, Well, Here's How You Can Win a $25 Google Play Gift Card

Posted by Rob Rich on April 2nd, 2015

It's true that we don't normally touch upon anything Android related here at 148Apps but our sister site, Android Rundown, is currently taking part in a giveawaywith NetEase Games that could get you a free $25 Google Play gift card. How could we not share the opportunity?

You can read up on all the specifics over on Android Rundown's announcement page, but the abbreviated version is thus according to the post:

  • Sign up for the Speedy Ninja beta at the Google sign-up sheet.
  • Answer the question “What color best befits a Ninja”? Put the answer as a comment to this post.
  • Wait with fingers crossed; we’ll have a drawing and announce the winners.

For accuracy, make sure that your signup name and email match the name and email you sue to answer the questions in the comments.

The rules: one word (color) answers are fine. No profanity. Single entries. Boom.

This Week at 148Apps: March 16-20, 2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 24th, 2015

Spring Roars In At 148Apps

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.


Take It Easy

The single player side of the game is divided into a few different modes - each with a different challenge in mind. For the most part, your goal is to gain as many points as possible. Each board consists of a series of hexagonal shapes and you have to place down tiles to create lines and rows of numbers. Each tile looks a little like a small pipe layout and the most points are gained for combining these to good effect.Classic mode simply requires you to gain as many points as possible, with satisfaction gleaned from a job well done. Puzzle mode has a bit more going for it than that, requiring you to meet a particular score in order to progress to the next level. Obstacles can get in your way, such as locked tiles that can’t be moved, but you can also be aided by wild card tiles, too.--Jennifer Allen


Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager

The nearest that pretty much any of us are going to get to exploring space is through a game. Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager takes a different route to the usual space based games, concentrating on the management efforts on Earth in order to make it possible. And thanks to some overly-wordy tutorial screens it’ll seem more more complicated than it actually is. Once you’ve cracked the surface though, you’ll soon see that Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager is a game focused squarely on Resource Management rather than anything more lofty. One of those key resources is the value of time. Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager is broken up into various seasons. Each task, such as building a new unit or working towards improving upon a rocket design takes a number of season to complete. A lot of the time, you’re going to be assigning tasks before hitting the ‘end season’ button and waiting for a report back to see how well it all went. --Jennifer Allen


Real Steel Champions

The first Real Steel game was a surprising hit, so what’s less surprising is that there’s a sequel - Real Steel Champions. It’s a very simple fighting game that’s mostly a cover for a plentiful supply of freemium elements, but it’s not without some merit. In a structure not unlike games such as CSR Racing, you’re following a series of levels in order to unlock new stuff and generally profit. Each level is a fight between you and another robot. You control your robot through movement buttons and a few action buttons, allowing you to inflict heavy, light, and special attacks. You can interact more so with those special attacks, by hammering a finger to the screen. Don’t expect too much depth though, Real Steel Champions is a game more about levelling up your stats than actual fighting skills. --Jennifer Allen


The Hero of Kendrickstone

The Hero of Kendrickstone is a particularly meaty adventure game book app, and one that is asking for multiple replays. Weighing in at an impressive 240,000 words, it isn’t a title to skim through. That alone means that it’s easily worth its $2.99 asking price.You play a young hero, as they find their way in the world, gain employment from various dubious sources, and discover the world. There’s a main plot line involving you rescuing the city of Kendrickstone, but it’s not the only thing you can achieve here. Instead, you feel like an adventurer with plenty of options at hand. Such freedom is refreshing. --Jennifer Allen


David Wiesner's Spot

Few apps transcend age barriers as David Wiesner’s Spot does - a picture book without words and a wonderful piece of artwork developed for the iPad for children and their adults, young and old alike. Many readers will know the work of David Wiesner, a three-time Caldecott winner known for his fantastical wordless picture books that I greatly admire. Here, David Wiesner’s Spot is also reminiscent of the Zoom books by Istvan Banyai - books that begin with a close-up of a detail and with the turn of each page the image one sees becomes zoomed back to show a bigger picture.Here, one begins the journey of Spot with the ability to enlarge the image of a ladybug large enough to look inside its center spot, bringing you into a world where one can zoom the pages closer and closer with the use of a fingertip, diving into the brilliantly detailed worlds of five distinctly different stories. --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


Sony Xperia Z3v

For Android smartphone aficionados, every OEM has something about it. We do associate things to different OEMs — some good, some bad. Personally, I love being able to see unbranded hardware and more or less guess who makes it based on some design cues. Since Android is blessed wit device makers that have backgrounds in varied consumer electronics ventures, it’s interesting to see how their Android smartphones extend the brand.Sony definitely has a rep in consumer electronics, and its Xperia line is the embodiment of that reputation in te personal computing space. Specifically with the Sony Xperia Z3v, one of its latest devices, Sony shows us how even the sleek can get, well, even sleeker. --Tre Lawrence


Goats on a Bridge

So what happened to the billy goats after the fable? That’s the story Goats on a Bridge tries to tell.Goats on a Bridge is a new game that re-imagines Three Billy Goats Gruff in the essence of a platform puzzle and race game.The idea is fairly easy, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t start off by mentioning how it looks. It packs a vivid visual punch, with bright colors that are seemingly made to underscore the gameplay. The animations are not too complex, and invoke a playful air. --Tre Lawrence

Finally, we have Nintendo doing the unthinkable, a cool new SHMUP, and a rubbish looking movie. It's all kicking off on AppSpy.

This Week at 148Apps: February 2-6, 2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on February 9th, 2015

Warm Your Winter With New Apps!


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.

Dark Echo

Monsters aren’t what makes horror movies scary. It’s the idea of the monster that truly frightens us. The shrouded inhuman figure we can barely make out forces us to fill in the terrifying details with our own imagination. That’s why whenever the monster fully arrives, it just looks silly and the fear disappears. What makes Dark Echo one of the tensest, most ingenious horror games on the App Store is that it’s all about not seeing the monster. Based on the development team’s Ludum Dare game You Must Escape, Dark Echo puts players in the poor shoes of some anonymous victim stuck in a pitch black hallway. Virtually blind, the only way to move around is to rely on your other senses, particularly hearing. The game represents this Daredevil-style echolocation by showing sound waves as white lines bouncing around the black screen. Beyond just being a striking visual effect, this gives players enough information they need to progress while also leaving them incredibly vulnerable. --Jordan Minor


The Detail

It’s a good sign when finishing a game causes me to audibly yell “Nooo, don’t finish there!” at my iPad. It’s also a sign that the first episode of The Detail could perhaps do with being a little longer. It offers just enough to really grab your attention, but its premium price tag doesn’t quite match up with the quantity offered here. The App Store description suggests a mixture of The Walking Dead with the grim realism of The Wire. That’s about right, too. The Detail is a pretty dark game, even this early on, but it hooks you in fast. Following two very different characters – a grizzled and cynical veteran detective and a reformed criminal with a family – it’s not long at all before you’re drawn into the storyline. Action is much like other adventure games with you tapping on hotspots to interact with them in some way. Within a few minutes, you’re inspecting a body, trying to glean clues as to what’s unfolding. You can also talk to people, ask them questions, and adjust your tone accordingly. --Jennifer Allen


The Witcher Battle Arena

The Witcher Battle Arena is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) for people who have never played one before. It lacks the depth of most of the rest of the genre, as well as a few other features that would beguile you. Instead, it’s a bit too simple to really recommend, although I guess it works as a gateway to superior offerings. Unlike other MOBAs, each match is very straightforward with little opportunity for tactical play. Games are 3-vs-3, with teams having to capture the three checkpoints across each map in order to whittle down the opposition’s tickets. Starting out with 500 tickets, games typically take around 10 minutes to complete but will sometimes run a little longer. --Jennifer Allen


Potatoman Seeks The Troof

While games on the whole are noticeably simpler and easier than the games of the 80s and 90s, there’s also a genre full of games keen to remind you of why you enjoyed such challenges once upon a time. Potatoman Seeks The Troof is part of that genre, testing your ability to react exceptionally quickly. Some control issues aside, it’s mostly quite fun if all too brief. With the graphical prowess of an 8-bit console or computer, Potatoman Seeks The Troof is simple looking but also quite charming. Your sole objective is to dodge everything and survive. There’s a certain amount of pattern recognition involved here, but just when you think you fully get it down, it changes things up. Early on, you jump over various cacti. Then, inexplicably, one cactus leaps in the air – usually catching you out the first time round. So, Potatoman Seeks The Troof isn’t just about pattern recognition but also trial and error. Fortunately, it restarts quickly so you never lose out too much. --Jennifer Allen


Radiation Island

As far as conspiracy theories go, the Philadelphia Experiment is a good one to base a game around. Urban legend states the priject, which was supposedly conducted by the United States’ Army in 1943, turned a US Navy destroyer invisible – thus paving the way for technology that would hide other ships and weapons from enemy eyes. But where do “invisible” things go once they’re zapped out of our realm of existence? According to Radiation Island from Atypical Games, the answer is “some mysterious place that’s super-hostile.” Thus begins a game that’s all about survival, crafting, and exploration. --Nadia Oxford


Toca Kitchen 2

Toca Kitchen 2 is a companion to the popular Toca Kitchen – a favorite digital toy for both children and adults. I admire Toca Boca for their willingness to update their apps as well as to develop new versions of their creations in order to continue to challenge the creativity of young people in their various Toca Hair Salon apps, as well as Toca Kitchen apps – be it Kitchen Monsters, the original Toca Kitchen, and now Toca Kitchen 2. A few things have changed from the most recent update of Toca Kitchen; specifically the ability to combine ingredients both in the cooking process as well as on the plate to serve. The other major change here is the use of 3D graphics – as also seen in Toca Nature – when representing the three customers, as well as using muted shades of food textures to replicate the ingredients instead of the bright and colorful food illustrations I was fond of in the original app. --Amy Solomon


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

Puro Sound Labs Kids Bluetooth Headphones

Here’s the problem: I’ve come to appreciate quality earphones the older I’ve gotten. I won’t describe myself as an audiophile, but I do enjoy the output a quality set of phones can bring. As such, I do have write a few. Wired, wireless, over-ear, in-ear, lounging, sport… you name it, and I probably have a set for the occasion. I baby them too. They’re cased when not in use, and issued in places that negate the possibility of silly mishaps, like (gasp!) sitting on them. All because I like having options, and dislike procuring stuff twice.
You know what is kryptonite to gadget longevity? Kids. Take my daughter for instance. Ariana Grande must be heard, ave outside hearing the SAME song played on loop, I have to reluctantly lend her a pair of mine. Why aren’t there more gadgets available for kids? That’s a question the Puro Sound Labs Kids Headphones looks to answer. --Tre Lawrence


City Island 3

City Island 3 plays somewhat like a simpler version of SimCity. The player begins with a empty island and must construct a city from the ground up. Houses are placed for your citizens to live in and just like SimCity it is best to construct ones that hold more people to make maximum use of space. Businesses can be placed as well and these are the ones that generate money for the player, using a familiar timer based system. Businesses must be staffed with employees and thus you need to balance the amount of houses and businesses so there is always enough staff to crew your profitable businesses. --Allan Curtis


Checkpoint Champion

Checkpoint Champion is a cool new driving game that rewards careful, skilful driving. Taking control of cute SD versions of well-known cars the player weaves their way to greatness. Checkpoint Champion is a great fit for mobile gaming. Using a simple control system, the player must weave their way through very short ten second challenges. These involve driving into checkpoints before time runs out. Each challenge features plenty of fiendish challenges like hairpin turns; handbrake turns, obstacles that need to be avoided and plain tough driving. Checkpoint Champion rewards precision and it is very satisfying to get a level right. --Allan Curtis

And have you met GEOFF? You should really meet GEOFF. GEOFF is going to change the way you think about video games. Come to AppSpy to find out why.

Finally, this week Pocket Gamer got you free currency in Midnight Star and free critters in Pokemon, picked the best iOS and Android games of January, and handed out its first 10/10 of 2015. What was the lucky game? You’ll just have to click here, won’t you?

This Week at 148Apps: January 5 - January 9, 2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 12th, 2015

New Year - New Apps!


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.

Marvel Contest of Champions

One of the first comics I can remember buying with my own money as child, purchased from a newsstand near my great-grandmother’s apartment, was an issue of Marvel’s Contest of Champions. Contest of Champions was groundbreaking in a couple of different areas: it was Marvel’s first publication released in a “limited series” format, and it was also one of the first attempts to blatantly strip out any attempt at more nuanced story arc by instead offering three issues of heroes clashing against one another in page after page of epic battles as cosmic puppet masters tugged at their strings. Despite revisiting the concept a couple of times in intervening years, nothing ever quite captured that same spectacle that my five year old self felt while leafing through those pages. However, Marvel and Kabam are dragging the old chestnut out of mothballs again in the form of a head-to-head fighting game. And despite a couple of issues, it’s actually not the worst licensed game I’ve seen. --Rob Thomas


Area 777

How lucky do you feel? Area 777 is heavily dependent on luck, so you’d better hope that you’re a naturally fortuitous person. Thanks to that dependency, it’s not overly gripping. Even when it eventually introduces new chip types it feels like too little, too late. The concept behind it is that it’s part slot machine, part tower defense game. In reality, it’s almost all slot machine with a hint of tower defense. Each level consists of a slot machine, with enemies slowly making their way across it in order to cause you damage. You have to hit the spin button and, mostly, hope that the reels line up and you take them out along the way. There is some element of strategy in there, mostly through the acquisition of chips, but it’s fairly basic. These chips frequently correspond to an element, such as fire or ice, thereby allowing you to set the enemies on fire or freeze a reel in a particular position. It’s helpful but hardly enough to make you feel fully in control of the game. --Jennifer Allen


SimplePlanes

SimplePlanes gives players all the tools they need to build airplanes from scratch. But successfully making use of those tools means wrapping your head around all the different parts and physics that, presumably, actual engineers need to consider. The game tries to help ease players in with its extensive manuals explaining the difference between an airfoil and a fuselage, but absorbing that data takes time and practice. There are a few convenient shortcuts, like the ability to mirror the plane so players won’t have to waste time sculpting the perfect wing twice. But like Minecraft, the best rewards – whether it’s a speedy biplane or functioning VTOL aircraft – will come to those with the patience to literally construct them piece by piece. --Jordan Minor


Luna League Soccer

Luna League Soccer is the kind of soccer game that you’ll dive into for a few minutes here and there, but not exactly think too deeply about. It’s an arcade sports game through and through, meaning it takes seconds to master. On the left of the screen you have a floating joystick, while the right offers a contextual button that enables you to shoot, pass, tackle, or switch players depending on what’s going on during the match. It’s very simple to pick up, with each team bringing their own special moves to the fold. --Jennifer Allen


Maximum Overdrive

The graphics are pleasantly glitzy; the several environments showcase the developer’s penchant for being able to highlight artistic perspective and use of lighting and corresponding virtual colors. The animations are cool, and one can almost taste the kicked-up dirt. When the optional sound effects are tossed in, it’s hard not to appreciate the complete package of sights and sounds. When it comes to gameplay, off the bat I liked that I could get into the nitty-gritty with a minimum of interactions. As noted, this is mostly about destroying other combatants without being destroyed, and the tool at hand is a heavily weaponized truck on big wheels. The controls are virtual in nature, with buttons for shooting, accelerating, braking/reversing, and steering – the last of which can be switched to tilt or arrow control. With this, and after one picks the format (multiplayer vs single player), it’s off to the races. --Tre Lawrence


Hi.Q Health IQ

Online quizzes are a big deal these days. They’ve always been fairly popular but the rise of Buzzfeed, Playbuzz, Zimbio, and so many other places has really strengthened our love of answering a bunch of questions to figure out what animal/TV show character we are. It turns out such structures can be used for good as well, such as in the case of Hi.Q – Health IQ. It’s an app that offers you thousands of health-related questions, devised by experts, and can therefore teach you some valuable facts. Dive in and you’ll immediately notice that Hi.Q – Health IQ is stylishly laid out. Looking like it’d easily fit into a lifestyle magazine, each quiz is clearly described along with an attractive photo to further sell its purpose. Some quizzes may offer a lot of different questions but they rarely take too long to complete. Each time you answer a question the answer or an explanation is shown, meaning you’re constantly learning. --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

Amazing Ninja

Ninja. Running. Swords. Enter Amazing Ninja. Side-scrolling action is the name of the game. Our protagonist martial artist runs aggressively from left to right, looking to avoid or confront different obstacles on the left. The ninja is stick-figurish in appearance, is armed with a sword and has enviable ups at speed; jumping and slashing are his only means of recourse. Tapping on the left side of the screen invokes jumping; on the right causes a slashing motion. The first type of obstacle are the blue-colored “deserters” that are seemingly fleeing the very conflagration that our hero is eager to get to. These terrified soldiers can be dangerous in their haste, and can end a run by making contact. Slashing the deserters has dire consequences, and as such, our boy has to jump over the blues. --Tre Lawrence


Olixar Light Bulb Speaker

We get pitched a fair amount of accessories to take a look at, and, frankly, some are very, uh, unique. Not all work, either; some are ambitious, but might have a fatal flaw. Or two. Or seven. In any case, mobile accessories can be interestingly varied. I’d like to say I am open-minded, and I do feel like a decent assessor of product, but every now and then, I am surprised. But hold a sec; let’s talk about the Olixar Light Bulb Speaker. The name says it all: it’s a light bulb that doubles as a bluetooth-enabled speaker. The review package MobileFun sent us highlights the unit; in hand, it is mostly white, with a gold mid-section. It is more streamlined than “regular” bulbs, but also weighs a bit more. It sports LED light too, and emits 3W light (which the distributor says is equivalent to 50W from a standard bulb. It screws into regular receptacles (the package comes with an adapter piece for European light sources) and works the same way. Turn on the switch, and it bathes the room in bright, warm light. It functions well upright and upside down. --Tre Lawrence


Amazon Fire TV

The past couple of years have definitely been the years of the streaming media unit. All the big players have a hat in the Big C, and with good reason: we like content. Lots of it. Enter Fire TV, the still-relatively-new offering from Amazon. Amazon provided us a gaming bundle package to check out, containing the black unit, black remote, power cables, batteries, and the optional bluetooth gamepad (one should ensure one has HDMI cable). It’s fairly svelte, a bit smaller than one would guess, coming in at 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches and just under 10 oz. It has a quad core processor and 8 GB of storage, and supports output of 720 x 1080p up to 60fps. Specs aside, there is little to dislike about Amazon Fire TV. It looks good, and is a veritable source of content. It has a lot of the go-to programs that can be downloaded to it: Netflix, WatchESPN, Pandora, Crackle, Showtime Anytime (based on provider) and, of course, Amazon Instant and Amazon Music, among other offerings. Setup is easy, and the included control is definitely a huge positive. On its own, as a streaming accessory, it holds its own against the competition. --Tre Lawrence

Also this week, Pocket Gamer reviewed Gunbrick and Sol Invictus, played Metamorphabet and Need for Speed: No Limits, and figured out how to play PS4 games on any Android device. All that and loads more, right here.

And finally, AppSpy kicks 2015 off by giving you the definitive rundown of the best Nintendo-esque games on mobile, showing you the first gameplay video of Need For Speed: No Limits, a world exclusive look at Team17's Flockers, and much more. Join us, won't you?

This Week at 148Apps: November 24-28, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 1st, 2014

Your Cure For Black Friday


What to do with all of that post-Thanksgiving holiday time? Search for the latest and greatest apps, of course! Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.


Proun+

During each race, you guid a ball traveling at speed along a pipe. While the ideal scenario is to also beat your competitors to the finish line, early on you’ll just be pleased to maintain momentum and dodge most of the obstacles up ahead. Traveling forwards is mostly automatic, with a boost and brake button affecting how fast you go. The main requirement of you is to duck left and right to dodge what’s coming up. There are plenty of twists to negotiate and Proun+ is far from forgiving. Get stuck behind a post and you immediately lose a lot of speed. It’s fun though, if slightly frustrating at first. Tracks are designed with a sense of speed in mind, with various tunnel style effects arising at regular opportunities. If you want to dodge some frustration you can turn the difficulty level down by playing the ‘relaxed’ set of levels, but I found these a little unexciting. They’re too slow for anything more than coming to grips with the controls, and you’re better off persevering at harder tracks. --Jennifer Allen


VainGlory

I’m a huge fan of action RPGs like Diablo and its iOS clone, the Dungeon Hunter series. I’ve been playing them for years. Sadly, as my hand has stopped working, the games have integrated more and more complex controls and left me behind. VainGlory is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) that also feels like very modern take on the action RPG genre, and it returns to the perfect basic controls of yesteryear. Simply tap where you want to move, and tap to attack your target until it’s dead. You pick a fighter of your choice to work with and level-up, each with a unique way of fighting and different special moves. As they level-up, you can make these moves more powerful. You fight your way through battle maps, killing other team’s grunts, gun turrets, and eventually their power crystal, which acts like the king in chess. Once that’s gone, you win. --Jade Walker


Call of Duty: Heroes

As before, you build up a base – sucking up resources around you, waiting for things to upgrade slowly – while also taking out enemies at regular points. There’s a choice of PvP battles or a single-player campaign here, with a mixture of both being most effective when it comes to leveling-up. Call of Duty: Heroes eases you in gently, with a protective shield keeping you away from PvP early on if you so choose to keep it active. You spend much of your time training troops before unleashing them on your enemy, watching them all be used up, before repeating the process. Fortunately, Call of Duty: Heroes does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Namely, as the name hints at, you can use heroes from the Call of Duty games, such as Price and Soap. You can control them individually, plus they can level-up and gain their own Killstreaks. It’s a decent step in helping Call of Duty: Heroes stand out at least a little. --Jennifer Allen


Knituma

Knituma is a game about gathering the right objects as they are tossed into the air while avoiding the wrong ones. But in practice it’s surprisingly different from the Fruit Ninja clone that description suggests. Players tap on flying balls of yarn and drag a thread from them into the basket at the bottom. However, if anything interrupts that thread, whether it’s a gliding pair of scissors or the player accidentally lifting their finger, the ball is lost. Combining such a deliberate motion with the pressure to act quickly gives the game a unique rhythm. Plus, the obstacles change nearly every round and introduce new rules. Sometimes cats show up to bat yarn balls away, sometimes moths fly into and ruin the basket if they aren’t crushed, and sometimes nails get driven onto the board to twist up strands. It’s always more than just a bomb. --Jordan Minor


Kingdom Rush Origins HD

With slightly more of a focus on fantasy than before, Kingdom Rush Origins HD offers up new towers, heroes, and upgrades, but is mostly just what you’d expect from the series – some tricky but well-balanced tower defense. You’ll be placing turrets in useful positions, attempting to devise choke points to thwart your enemy, and upgrading things as and when the coins come in. Once more you can control the heroes directly, each now offering their own special spell that can be triggered at an appropriate moment. You’ll find yourself depending on them more than before too, as they really can make the difference in battle. A variety of upgrade options mean you can adapt your turrets to your needs, with each offering a choice of different paths to take the further you progress. --Jennifer Allen


The Journey of Alvin

I would like to let readers know about a new storybook app, The Journey of Alvin – based on the true story of Alvin Straight, who drove a riding mower a great distance to visit his ailing brother. Adults may wonder from this description if this tale is in some way connected to the David Lynch movie, The Straight Story, and they would be correct as The Journey of Alvin brings this tale of love and determination to children in a way they can appreciate. I am quite fond of The Journey of Alvin as it combines many elements such as including both Spanish and English editions, computer-generated animation, music, ambient sound effects, and narration for a truly magical effect. I admire how the perfect radio voice tells this simple story of Alvin driving his mower to visit his brother, explaining to children how the journey is long as the mower is slow, making this story a process piece about the journey as Alvin comes across various other vehicles on the road that he is passed by – such as a train, a bunch of bikes, and even a turtle. --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

MOS Cable System

At any given time, I am blessed with an opportunity to review a lot of devices and accessories. I enjoy pitting products against each other, and I love the prospect of squeezing functionality out of our mobile devices by pitting accessories against each other. Survival of the fittest… There are very few downsides to this, but if I were to nitpick, I’d whine about the proliferation of cables. They are all over the place, seemingly sticking out of every outlet. With so many devices, and such a need for juice, it’s understandable, but even my workspace does descend into an infuriating pile of cables quite frequently. --Tre Lawrence


Recoil Winders

So, if you’ve been keeping tabs on our hardware reviews, you probably know that my latest rallying cry is organization. Yes, through all the fantastic accessories — and especially amid all the cables we use to power said accessories — we could all definitely use a helper or two when it comes to corralling the requisite wire. Enter Recoil Automatic Cord Winders. --Tre Lawrence


Dark Guardians

For some unknown reason, there’s literally no backstory in Dark Guardians – and unlike with many generic fantasy games or cartoonish runners, Dark Guardians actually makes me want to know it. As it is, the game presents the player with a badass ancient nordic warrior, who runs through mystical, snow-bound forests, mountaintops, and other picturesque landscapes, and fights against a horde of demonic spirits that are seemingly led by a flying horned demon thing, who looks somewhat like Krampus. The warrior possesses a mighty sword that can smite the undead with a single strike. --Tony Kuzmin

This Week at 148Apps: November 17-21, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 24th, 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.

SteelSeries Stratus XL

Pairing the Stratus XL is as easy as it is with pretty much any other MFi controller. You just turn it on, get your iOS device to find it, and you should be good to go. Then you start up one of the hundreds of compatible games and start playing. And it does play them all quite nicely. The controls are responsive, the button placement feels right, and it’s got a nice heft to it. The build quality is also rather impressive. Whereas other MFi controllers I’ve recently played around with felt sort of hollow and fragile, the Stratus XL feel dense and sturdy. You could probably hurt someone if you threw it at them, actually. [Note: 148Apps does not condone throwing your MFi controllers at anyone, for any reason. That’s bad form.] --Rob Rich


Fantasy Solitaire

That’s the main beauty behind Fantasy Solitaire. It uses artwork from fantasy illustrator Ian Schofield, and it shows. Each card looks impressive, with the artwork relating to fantasy characters being really quite delightful. Fantasy Solitaire rewards your success with more cards too, so it soon looks quite gorgeous. Otherwise, Fantasy Solitaire is a fairly typical game of Klondike Solitaire. Each turn involves you drawing three cards before figuring out the best place to put them. The trick, as always, is to try to get the Ace cards pulled out first for any chance of success. Controls are simple enough with taps and drags to place cards, plus an auto-complete button when you’re right near the end of a game. There’s no hints button though, so make sure you’re up to speed with this game type. --Jennifer Allen


Reckless Racing 3

Reckless Racing 3 is here, with driving dynamics that are as satisfying and addictive as ever as spot-on traction physics meets fun-fueled racing. There are 6 new and diverse locations that spawn 6 courses each, ensuring that players will still be kept guessing even though the backdrop might often remain the same. Combine that with the new Gymkhana event (specially laid-out courses that test driving skills), the same wealth of tweaks for controls and settings to enhance player experience, plus the recent addition of 4 reversible classic Reckless tracks, and what’s left is a driving game packed with features. --Lee Hamlet


Click Cam

Click Cam is an interesting new way of sharing photos in that it’s entirely random how it does it. It’s more of a curiosity than an app you’d spend great amounts of time with given its many limitations, but hey, it’s free, so that kind of works. All you need to do is enter a few simple sign up details before taking a photo and uploading it to Click Cam. The actual photo taking interface is pretty basic when it comes to options, but you can choose from a few filters once the image has been snapped. Once you’re happy with what you’ve snapped you can name it, then simply hit the red button so it goes off to some other user somewhere. You’ll never know where or really what the person thought of it. The recipient can rate it but you don’t get to find out how you fared. --Jennifer Allen


AffordIt

A simple interface is both a blessing and a curse for AffordIt. It means it’s very easy to use, but it also means that it lacks some important features that would make it really stand out from the crowd. One such pivotal feature is that AffordIt only allows for one format of budgeting at any one time. For instance, you can set things up to plan out your Christmas shopping, but you can’t then have a separate section for your regular outgoings. That immediately restricts AffordIt to one project at any one time. It does that one project pretty well, luckily. You can easily set a budget for whatever it is, before adding additional credits based on whatever comes your way. Have a Christmas budget organized but then you get a bonus at work that you want to set aside for that occasion? AffordIt makes it easy to adjust accordingly. Adding cases of expenditure is just as easy, with the app keeping it simple and focused on what the item is and its value. --Jennifer Allen


Toca Nature

Rightfully named Toca Nature, the app opens up with a fertile land ready to be transformed into the landscape of players’ imagination as they transform this area into different regions of their choice – be it hills created with a tap that can easily be built up into snow capped mountains, valleys, and even bodies of water, all of which will soon be inhabited by different animals. The effect is quite magical as one watches fish swimming and beavers climbing out onto dry land for the first time as life is brought to their personalized ecosystem. Trees can be planted that will attract a variety of creatures, be it bears, foxes, rabbits, deer or woodpeckers. An axe is also included as a clever way of arbor clearing and of having a chance to change the topography again and again – a helpful tool to be sure. --Amy Solomon


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved

Despite its name, Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved is neither a shmup, nor is it particularly evolved. It’s still pretty good though. The story and characters put McBane to shame with their corniness. The player becomes a missile commander for allied forces that are fighting against the Terror – as in, an organization that literally calls itself Terror. They employ lunatics and fanatics to their side, lacking but a swastika and the actual Devil as their commander to complete the image of a perfect enemy for the forces of democracy and everything that is good. Anyway, the player has to endure endless waves of enemies as they try to destroy the thingy that the player is trying to protect (what is that that we’re trying to protect, by the way?) by shooting a barrage of missiles onto advancing enemies. --Tony Kuzmin


Joinz

Joinz is a puzzle game with deceptively simple gameplay, starting out easy, but very quickly becoming a test for your brain, particularly that part that is responsible for not throwing violent tantrums when you fail to beat a high-score. The gameplay of Joinz is somewhat similar to Lines. There is a square field that has a single building block. The player can slide this block in four directions, making it travel until it hits an object or a border. Every time the player moves a block, another block appears on a random position on the field. Unlike lines, where the player has to create lines from the blocks of the same color to remove them from the field, Joinz requires the player to create one of the three shapes that pop up on the top of the screen. When the shape is complete, the player gets another one to make. As the player progresses, the shapes get gradually more complex, starting from simple tetris-like forms, to the complexities that fill up half of the game board. Also, appearing blocks start to get additional colors, making the field even more difficult to navigate. The player has to “jump” off of the existing blocks in order to create the required shapes. Don’t forget that once two or more blocks are connected to each other, it’s almost impossible to break them apart, so they’ll behave like a singular shape. --Tony Kuzmin


Ironkill: Robot Fighting Game

Ironkill: Robot Fighting Game wants you to fight; it might be the easiest directive to follow in handheld gaming. The gameplay boils down to combat. The initial run is a tutorial of sorts, and the gameplay is laid out with the help of an appropriately named intro robot. The fighting is works as player against a CPU opponent, and is a war of attrition: whoever depletes the other’s life bar first wins, and doing a damage is performed with the help of the control buttons at the bottom. One initiates a quick attack, one does a harder type of attack, and there is a defense button. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, what do you get for spending $3000 in Clash of Clans? What does the new Need For Speed game look like? Which punk rocker is a massive fan of F2P games? We answer all these questions and many more besides, over at AppSpy.

This Week at 148Apps: November 10-14, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 17th, 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.


GoatPunks

GoatPunks is kind of a hard game to wrap your mind around, but let’s try anyway. Players control a goat (naturally) competing for domination on a mountain full of other player-controlled goats. They can earn a few points by knocking opponents off of their perch or collecting rabbits that pop up and grant various abilities. But the real jackpot comes from making it to the top and staying there until the end. However, heavy are the horns that wear the crown, and although top players can try to defend their position by raining thunder and fire on their foes below, get usurped and they’ll tumble all the way back to the bottom where they started. With all of that nonsense, GoatPunks has the potential to be a silly fun multiplayer party game, but the execution is lacking – or maybe it’s just on the wrong platform. The game encourages the quick tactical thinking and local good-natured trash talk of something like Super Smash Bros. but dragging around the goat from block to block feels sluggish and indirect, while silent online matches against strangers are alien and lifeless since it’s hard to tell if anyone even knows what’s going on. Reaching the top of the mountain only to get bumped off at the last minute should be this huge, dramatic reversal, but instead it just becomes an endless series of anticlimaxes set to music that sounds suspiciously “borrowed.” --Jordan Minor


XCOM: Enemy Within

Enemy Unknown was (and still is) a fantastic reimagining of one of the greatest PC strategy games of all time. But Enemy Within is better. This new iteration isn’t a sequel, but rather a kind of rerelease with extra content. However, it’s not simply a few new maps and some new hair styles. Enemy Within boasts a lot more additions than just maps – although it does have those, too. There’s a new human faction to fight against that goes by the name of Exalt, and they exist purely to muck-up your operation. In order to deal with them, you’ll need to send one of your agents to infiltrate several of their numerous cells – then send an extraction squad in after them to collect vital information. Once you’ve completed enough of these missions, you should be able to narrow down the location of the radical faction’s HQ and can shut them down for good. But be warned: Exalt has access to many the same goodies that your own soldiers do, which means you’ll need to change up your tactics. --Rob Rich


Candy Crush Soda Saga

Had your fix of Candy Crush Saga and you’re still desperate for more? Well, Candy Crush Soda Saga will be perfect for you then, as it’s a lot like the previous game. It offers up a few new game modes to try out, but ultimately it’s more match-3 gaming done well – albeit with plenty of opportunities for monetization. As before, you’ll be matching candies to gain points and work towards the next stage. There are bottles of fizzy drinks, too. Hence the name, and the new mode: Soda. Soda involves matching up bottles with candies in order to release purple soda up the screen, eventually freeing some candy bears. The same method of playing might apply, but the fact you have a slightly different aim does make a difference. --Jennifer Allen


Super Secret Service

Super Secret Service makes a great candidate. From its first speech to election night it says and does all the right things. But like most politicians, it can’t keep every fantastic promise it makes, and by the time the next voting day comes around it probably won’t deserve a second term. If all of those metaphors didn’t make it obvious enough, Super Secret Service is rather political. Specifically, the game is about protecting the President of the United States using an endless supply of expendable secret service agents, each with their own names and birthdays. Reactionary radicals and hoodlums in hockey masks are trying to throw things at the POTUS and ruin his big speech, so by tapping the screen, agents will leap in to take the bullet. --Jordan Minor


This Is My Car: Mechanics for Kids

This is My Car – Mechanics for Kids allows children a chance to peak under the hood of a car as they scroll their vehicle through different stations, allowing them to peel back the exterior and interior layers of their car that include technical information delivered in a well thought-out manner that they will appreciate. As my son – now six years old – becomes older, his questions about the way things work such as the engine of a car or its brakes become more and more complex. Although my husband and I feel capable of explaining such concepts, I appreciate being able to use this app as a tool to explain in detail the inner workings of vehicles – now with visuals that my son can easily follow. --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

Dragon Quest

If you’re in to old school RPGs and you haven’t played the first Dragon Quest, then you’re in for a treat. Ah, the first Dragon Quest. Although I did not play it when I was young, I did manage to pick the game up later on. And as a RPG lover (especially turn-based ones), I loved what I saw and played. Now I that game is out on Android (for a very cheap price, I might add), I is time for everyone to relieve one of the classic and leading RPGs of all time. Well, if you’ve got the time, that is. --Wesley Akkerman


Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Earpiece

I really, really wanna get down to the nitty-gritty with this one: what’s up with the Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Earpiece? Yes… it’s sleek, as the retail unit Jabra sent us shows: different shades of grey with orange accents, gently-sized at 2.57 x 0.61 x 0.95 inches and 0.28 ounces. Coverable micro-USB port, bluetooth 4.0, NFC and A2DP support, plus retail packaging that also contains micro-USB, earhooks and eargels. There is a dedicated button for Google Now, as well as an answer/redial button incorporated towards the rear and LED. Pairing it with a device is easy and intuitive after the requisite pre-charge. --Tre Lawrence


Circle

If you still can’t get enough of Flappy Bird clones, then here’s another one for ya. When it comes to games that look and feel like Flappy Bird… Well, you got a lot of choice. When you look back at the game, it is actually quite unbelievable what that game did. It did not only make one guy very rich (by mistake?), but it also gave life to a new genre, we’ve called the ‘one button gameplay’ here on Android Rundown. If you can’t can enough of those games, here is another one. --Wesley Akkerman

This week was all about the guides, as Pocket Gamer laid out the steps to complete sci-fi adventure Space Age, comic book puzzler Framed, and those awesome new levels for Monument Valley. All that, plus XCOM, Anki Drive, and iPhone 6 vs Nexus 6, right here.

And finally: What is AppSpy? Is it a website about video games? Is it a state of mind? Is it an energy beverage? It's all those things (except that last one), and we'd love for you to come pay us a visit. This week we've been talking about playable Angry Birds cakes, that new Borderlands game, and endless amounts of golf.

This Week at 148Apps: November 3-7, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 10th, 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.

Winterforts: Exiled Kingdom

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. In WinterForts players split their time between managing a growing home base and using their resources to fund strategic skirmishes against the computer or other players online. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, and considering the massive success of Clash of Clans, WinterForts decided that formula definitely did not need fixing. Players send workers off to gather raw materials outside the city’s walls, train soldiers and erect defenses to stave off barbarian hordes, and patiently wait as freemium restrictions throttle everything from upgrading buildings to digging up “tightly packed” snow floors. --Jordan Minor


Smash Champs

When I first caught wind of Smash Champs, an animal-based fighting game from Kiloo, I was excited. I’m from the old school: I remember when fighting game developers pit all sorts of fauna against each other in mortal combat, including dinosaurs (Primal Rage) and were-beasts (Bloody Roar). How disappointing to learn Smash Champs has almost nothing to do with fighting. Instead, it’s a Fruit Ninja-style game that lets players “train” their champions, but forces them to sit on the sidelines while battles are carried out automatically. --Nadia Oxford


Twisty Hollow

The town of Twisty Hollow has been contorted by odd ordinances passed down by the burg’s self-appointed mayor. Simple tasks are suddenly herculean thanks to these mix-ups. How is a firewoman supposed to slaughter a pig? More importantly, how is she supposed to slaughter a pig using a fishing pole? It’s the player’s job to restore order from nonsense. Each level of Twisty Hollow takes place on a multi-tiered wheel, and on each layer there’s a person, a tool, and an object. Matching up the butcher with a knife and a pig makes bacon, which can then be given to a demanding customer. Matching up a fisherwoman with a fishing pole and a worm makes a fish, which can likewise be given to a customer. --Nadia Oxford


Dino On Fire

War is hell. The most grave sin against living things is to commit violence against a nation when there is no just cause, and – wait, Dino on Fire is a war game featuring dinosaur soldiers? And armed dragons? Lecture over. Get in line and grab a rifle. Dino on Fire is a Clash of Clans clone with a scaly difference: Instead of commanding barbarians and the like, the player gets to push dinosaurs around. That’s pretty cool. There’s an additional, albeit small difference: Battle tactics depend more on commanding dinosaur heroes than directing smaller, faceless soldiers on where to attack. --Nadia Oxford


Hygiene Essentials

I have always been a fan of Duckie Deck apps, as the use of bright colors, upbeat music and fun sound effects are always present within their applications. The presumably watercolor stains seen on the teeth within With Teeth as well as the textures within the mouth really make this app stand out for its level of polish. I equally appreciate all the different hands that one grooms within Hungry Clipper as both my son and I have spend time clipping in order to see who may be next. Gotta Go includes details that make this a kids’ app honest about what may happen when using the toilet to poop. Although some families may not appreciate most vivid sights and sounds included within, parents are doing their children no service to pretend these bodily functions don’t exist as seen within other potty training apps, making Hygiene Essentials an interesting bundle to possibly download, keeping in mind that each of these apps can be downloaded individually as well. --Amy Solomon


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

The Wolf Among Us

After a stupid exclusive deal with Amazon, The Wolf Among Us is finally out on Android. Was it worth the wait? The Wolf Among Us is a game by Telltale Games, a developer we all know and love thanks to the awesome series The Walking Dead. The Wolf Among Us is also a episodic game. Now it is out on Android, you can get the first part for free and buy the rest of the parts via in-app purchase. In the game, we follow Bigby Wolf, none other than the Big Bad Wolf, in his quest to uncover the truth behind a gruesome murder. We won’t go in to too much details here, because of spoilers. --Wesley Akkerman


Monkey Racing

Remember Monkey Boxing? Wanna see those action junkie primates battle in vehicles Mario Karts-style? Here comes Monkey Racing. Graphically, it looks good, is effective with color without being overdone. Sound is cheery, animations are smooth, and the different locations are designed well. Per gameplay, it flows pretty well; the karts work well as the main racing attraction of the game. It feels a little bit like more entrenched racers, but feels sufficiently different that it doesn’t feel like a clone. It comes in two modes, single and multiplayer, and there are also three different levels to play: easy, normal and hard. --Tre Lawrence


Edifier Prisma Encore Bluetooth Sound System

Speakers are big business, and Edifier has a good reputation in that specific sector. It has a host of offerings, portable and not much so, but for the most part, the name invokes quality. As such, we can’t really pretend to be unexcited by the opportunity to take a look at its Prisma Encore Sound System. The review package Edifier sent us was sizable, and hinted at the goodness inside. The review box came with several pieces: three main pieces in black finish with silver accents, and several smaller accessories. The main unit is the subwoofer, and there are two satellite speakers; there is also a power cord, adapter, 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable, a remote with battery and documentation. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, a few words from our friends at AppSpy: You look nice, is that a new outfit? It really suits you! Anyway beautiful, you should get on over to AppSpy because this week we've been finding out how to make all sorts of Minecraft-themed cakes, gawping at real life fighting robots controlled by your mobile, and seeing all the stupid stuff you can do in Strung Along. It's all in our weekly round-up.

And from Pocket Gamer: This week Pocket Gamer picked 18 mobile games to get excited about in November, offered a contentious take on Simogo's new game, told you all about Seabeard, and hinted at a juicy big game coming next week...

This Week at 148Apps: October 20-24, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 27th, 2014

Apptastic 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.

Puzzle to the Center of the Earth

Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a puzzle platformer in the most literal sense. The game has players manipulating platforms with a match-three mechanic, with the ultimate goal of journeying further down toward the center of the earth. With bright visuals, smart mechanics, and a satisfying brand of puzzle-solving, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a very worthwhile download. As a spelunker, players can move about caverns by sliding their fingers across the bottom part of the screen. As they approach sets of colored blocks underground, they can then tap and slide to link blocks of the same color together and break them. Breaking blocks allows players to move deeper down in a level, which contains an exit on the bottom of the screen. --Campbell Bird


The Silent Age Episode 2

You play Joe Average as he leaps back and forth between the 70s and the modern day. As before, this is easily achieved thanks to your trusty time machine. It’s a mechanic that changes up what you see in each room or building, and is the kind of thing that means you can’t help but switch between timelines regularly just to see what’s changed. For the most part, this mechanic is used to get past a closed door or two, which means it’s a little underused in terms of its potential, but it’s relatively easy to forgive The Silent Age Episode 2 for its flaws. --Jennifer Allen


Angry Birds Transformers

Part auto-runner, part side-scrolling shoot-em-up, you control one of many Transformers as they stop the EggBots by taking out their platforms. Instead of flinging birds at your enemies you shoot at them, aiming for weak points in order to vanquish them. It’s simply done, with you tapping to create a reticule. Each level is much the same meaning that Angry Birds Transformers can get a little repetitive, but it’s often fun. At times you can transform in order to duck under obstacles coming your way, which ensures you keep your wits about you. Each level is also pretty brief so it’s an easy game to dip into for a few minutes here or there. --Jennifer Allen


Zero Age

Zero Age‘s visuals and gameplay are both so stunningly well-executed it’s hard to know where to start the praise. Let’s go with the graphics since they’re more immediately striking. The game takes place in a hauntingly atmospheric geometric world filled with vast, cubic vistas. It’s like a minimalist robot city that’s either unfinished or long since abandoned. Guiding the hooded hero through these multi-tiered landscapes while soulful piano music plays would still leave an impression even without the puzzles. Fortunately Zero Age offers some of the most creative and complex 3D puzzles around. Players must get their character to the end of each level. Sometimes that’s as simple as just tapping on the goal, but usually they will have to create a path by manipulating a handful of blocks. Different blocks have markings specifying their rules – some blocks can only move on a horizontal plane, while others are limited to the vertical. However, players can stack cubes on top of each other to move certain blocks in ways they couldn’t before or shield themselves from deadly lasers. Constructing even something as basic as some stairs requires intense levels of spatial thinking. --Jordan Minor


Sleep Attack TD

Each level offers up a series of paths for the waves of enemies to follow. The trick here is that these paths can be rotated around, thereby enabling you to redirect where the foes go. This means that you can send the waves down areas that you’ve fortified particularly well, giving you the edge. The catch is that you have to be constantly aware of what’s going on around you. Unlike other Tower Defense games, where you can usually set up a strong layout then watch it unfold, things change fast and you’re never entirely comfortable about your chances of success. This keeps Sleep Attack TD consistently interesting. It’d be business as usual otherwise, with a typical plethora of enemies to withstand and a bevy of towers that are useful in different scenarios. The rotation mechanic really makes a difference though, and ensures that Sleep Attack TD is more appealing. It looks pretty charming too, with a more fluid style than the usual lane defense mechanics we’re used to within the genre. --Jennifer Allen


Montessori Math City

As readers who follow my posts may know, my son’s favorite subject is math, and he is eager to practice these skills whenever he has a chance. One of his favorite ways is making a bee-line for any app that includes “math” in the title. A new favorite of his is Montessori Math City, which has strengthened his ability not only to count to one thousand, but to be able to build different sums with the use of smaller numbers in a way that is actually quite open-ended. There is also a city area he can build within, providing motivation to continue working with this app. I must admit that when I sat down to review it I was intimidated, because without a Montessori background I felt at a loss to explain the goings-on within this app in the technical terms that one may expect. Although I don’t find the gathering of correct words intuitive to properly explain what this app has to offer, I must remember that my son does find this app utterly intuitive to use. --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

Republique

We’ve been wanting this one for a while. And now that Republique is on Android, we can breathe a sigh of relief. We can stop giving Camouflaj and Darkwind Media the side eye. And we can taste of the goodness that this title unabashedly brings. The gameplay comes in two modes: Story, which allows players to experience the story and explore environments, and Normal, which is the standard experience. Going the normal route allows one to pick an episode, and we’re off. --Tre Lawrence


Dementia: The Book of the Dead

At the first sight, this game looks like another simple survival horror, which are quite popular on the mobiles. Surprisingly, Dementia: The Book of the Dead is neither simple, nor a survival horror, in a true sense. It has great and scary atmosphere, but once you understand that the unholy abomination before you can be dealt with by the means of stuffing it with holy bullets, or smashing its abominable face with not-quite-holy lantern, the atmosphere dwindles somewhat. Not to say that it’s in any way a bad game, but the main character’s death is more likely to summon a groan instead of shivers. It’s still a horror, so the enemies always overpower the main character and running away is often a better decision than fighting. In other words, great fun. --Tony Kuzmin


Five Nights at Freddy's

It is nice to see that some pc games are being ported to Android and that the idea behind the game stays intact. Same goes for Five Nights at Freddy’s. If you have played Five Nights at Freddy’s on pc, than you know what you are up for in this Android version of the game. It is a port of the pc version and one that is very well made. Everything from the first version is the same, only now you use the touch screen as an input source, instead of the mouse. Input methods aside, these game is freaky. Very freaky. The first few times it gave me the creeps and my first reaction was to close the game. When that happens, I say: the objective of the developers must’ve been a success by then. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer went hands-on with the latest Pokemon game, found out how to record iOS games with just a lightning cable and a Mac, picked the best gamebooks, and tried the latest SimCity game for mobile. And it's all right here for your perusal.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 6th, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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

Monsu

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


Card Dungeon

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


Galaxy Trucker

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


Nexticy

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


BuggyFun

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Cannon Crasha

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


Antec 4 Port USB Charging Station

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


Keeper Password Manager

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 29th, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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


Cursed Treasure 2

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


Leaf on the Wind

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


Goblin Sword

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


The Strongest

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


Astropolo

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

TruGlide Pro Universal Stylus

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


enCharge Power Jacket Case

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


Empire Run

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 14th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Kapsula

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


Spider-Man Unlimited

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


Ninja Warrior Temple

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


The Nightmare Cooperative

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


Gro Flowers

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Appointment with F.E.A.R.

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


Help Me Fly

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


Angry Birds Stella

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 6th, 2014

Apps Are Us


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


Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

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


World of Tanks Blitz

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


X BEATS

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


Lars and Friends

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


yantouch Diamond+ "Music+Light" Bluetooth Speaker

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

Wave Wave

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


Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville

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


First Strike

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 28th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Star Wars Scene Maker

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


Mecha Ace

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


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

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


Transformers: Age of Extinction - The Official Game

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


Science Museum Splash!

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Winning Kick

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


Flick Soccer Brazil

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


Swipe Tap Smash

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