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This Week at 148Apps: June 16-20, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 22nd, 2014

Shiny Happy App Reviews


The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Angry Birds Epic

Proving to be quite a departure from the usual Angry Birds motif, Angry Birds Epic feels more like an introduction to the RPG genre than anything more substantial. There’s potential there, but all too often it isn’t fully exploited, which seems a shame. While technically there’s a storyline in there somewhere, progress is solely dictated by a map screen in which one follows the game along from fight to fight, rather than anything more interesting or exciting. Occasionally there will be other paths to take but it’s still mostly linear. Combat is fortunately more interesting, offering a surprising amount of depth for such a simple idea. --Jennifer Allen


Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka is a game that curiously eschews many of the trappings of modern mobile gaming. It’s a game that could easily use things like a star system, like seemingly every other game, but it stands out because of the lack of such modern trappings. Players control a Kiwanuka shepherd who must lead a group of followers to an encased shepherd in the level who has become trapped within a prism. Forming chains of followers with the lightning staff to navigate around the levels is necessary: they can swing in a circular motion, and create bridges and ramps when attached to another point. The game becomes about figuring out when and where to create the chains to properly navigate to where the trapped Kiwanuka follower is. However, there’s no limit to how many chains of followers can be used, or timers, or anything: beat the level and it’s beaten, and the next one is unlocked. --Carter Dotson


VVVVVV

VVVVVV doesn’t look particularly inspiring, does it? For those who grew up during the home computer era of the Spectrum and Commodore 64, it’s the kind of look that can be forgiven more easily than for the younger gamer, but it’s still hardly a looker. Get past that shallow thinking though, and one will find that VVVVVV is exceptionally good – albeit ridiculously frustrating in equal measures. Previously a PC release, some players including myself will have enjoyed the suffering that VVVVVV has provided in the past. It’s tough and sometimes deeply infuriating, but thanks to some clever placement of checkpoints it’s also the kind of game that will keep players coming back until they’ve beaten it. --Jennifer Allen


Soccer Stars

Despite the name, Soccer Stars owes a lot more to Billiards than it does to Soccer. Rather than conventional ball-kicking skills, the key to Soccer Stars is to be able to bounce the solid orbs that represent the players around the arena and hopefully towards the goal. It’s a different mechanic than most but it mostly works. Soccer Stars focuses very much on online competitive play, although an offline mode does exist. A mixture of one on one sessions and tournaments, the point of the game remains the same – score 2 goals before the other player. Each team is made up of five orbs that can be bounced around in numerous ways. One drags a finger behind the orb in order to push it towards the objective. They’re pretty sensitive so they can bounce off of other orbs, as well as the walls surrounding each pitch. Given the drag mechanics, when near the edge of the screen an extra finger is needed to cover for the missing space. That can make things awkward, but it mostly just about works. --Jennifer Allen


Broken Age

In this new age of game design, projects have found countless ways in which to spring to life. In the case of Broken Age, Double Fine’s first uber-successful Kickstarter venture, the masses spoke with their wallets loud and clear, showing an undying support for the long-languishing adventure game genre. So, does the first half of this quest live up to the title’s impressive budget and hype, or will the unfinished storyline leave players craving more? One fantastic aspect of adventure titles are their emphasis on building a cohesive and compelling narrative. Broken Age tells the seemingly disparate story lines of Shay and Vella. In a neat move, typical of Double Fine’s outside the box thinking, the plot can be consumed any number of ways, allowing the player to switch back and forth between characters at will. Though both Shay and Vella exist in two seemingly different worlds, as one might expect, their stories eventually converge. Ultimately this ends up fleshing out a much larger universe than would be achievable through a single through line. --Blake Grundman


Toca Town

Toca Town is Toca Boca’s new highly open-ended digital toy, bringing dollhouse play to iOS devices. Toca Town allows children of all ages to manipulate a very nice selection of Toca characters around six locations that include a park, restaurant, family home, apartment, grocery store, and police station. Characters can be moved around within each landscape as well as transported to new areas of this app easily, including any object they may be holding at the time, making transitions between areas simple and intuitive. Objects like foods, books, or other more specific items such as keys found at the police station can also be held as children drag figures around the screen while acting out their own stories, much like one would with a classic dollhouse in real life but without the little pieces that parents need to keep track of. --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

Cow Dash

Cow Dash is a charming entry from Retroid Interactive that is able to swaddle retro-looking graphics in the familiar, tried-and-true frame of an arcade adventure. The controls are deceptively simple, and almost conceal the challenge of the game. Almost. The travel-happy cow starts off in a outdoor naturescape environment set in deliberate platforms of differing heights. The cow moves on its own when a tap is administered to start the level; it continues moving in a set direction until it is impeded by an object, at which point it turns on its heel and goes in the opposite direction. --Tre Lawrence


Drive In The Line

One of the new fads on Google Play of this moment, are games where players need to guide a something between lines. In this game, it’s a car between both sides of the deserted road. If players fail… Well, then the car explodes. So, yeah. There is something about games that are very simple and really hard at the same time. Drive in the Line is one of those games. In Drive in the Line, players drive their way through an endless desert apocalypse. Somehow, the driver of the car is stranded somewhere on earth where there is nothing but an endless, ever changing road that leads to virtually nowhere – with only one goal in mind: just keep in driving and don’t look back. Now, a premise like this surely sounds interesting, and it is in its own way. Players take control of the driver’s car and need to help him navigate the endless road ahead of him. Since this is a high score based game, and games are generally short by nature, this game soon went from ‘this is nice’ to ‘I need to set a new high score’. Because, when one plays this game, it is something that will play in their minds. Mainly because players know they can do it. --Wesley Akkerman


Hazumino

Often videogames get criticized for retreading old ground. People will complain that ‘they’ve played it before’ but sometimes revisiting old ideas that you get new ones. Hazumino goes back in time to visit both Tetris and Canabalt and by doing so comes back with something new yet reassuringly familiar. The reason that Hazumino‘s goal will be instantly clear is because of the world famous shapes that occupy the right-hand side of the screen. These ‘tetrominos’ need to be rotated and shifted up and down before being launched to the right. The reason why you’re placing these shapes is because you need to form a bridge of sorts. --Matt Parker

Autobirds Roll Out! Rovio has Announced an Angry Birds/Transormers Crossover

Posted by Jessica Fisher on June 16th, 2014

Rovio Entertainment and Hasbro, Inc. are combining one of the most downloaded games world-wide with one of the most cherished 80s cartoon classics. Angry Birds Transformers roll out! The Autobirds will face-off against the insidious Deceptihogs. From the video it looks like we can look forward to seeing characters like Redimus Prime and Chucklebee.

Blanca Juti, Chief Marketing Officer of Rovio, said “We’re really excited to combine the iconic Transformers universe with the quirky world of Angry Birds. This mash-up is going to appeal to those who grew up with the brand in the 80s, as well as fans of the brand today. People are going to love it!”

Later this year they will also be introducing Angry Birds Transformers TELEPODS. The toys will allow players to add characters and upgrade powers in the game.

Look out for these ro-birds in disguise later this year.

Angry Birds Epic Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on June 16th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: SIMPLE RPGING
Providing a basic introduction to the humble RPG, Angry Birds Epic is sometimes fun but often a little too keen for your money.
Read The Full Review »

Turns Out Angry Birds Epic isn't Just Angry Birds in Medieval Times

Posted by Rob Rich on March 12th, 2014

9to5Mac has gotten the low-down on Rovio's newest Angry Birds title, Angry Birds Epic. And it seems as though it's not the sort of game we were expecting.

Rather than giving players something akin to Angry Birds in a medieval/fantasy setting, Angry Birds Epic is going to be a turn-based RPG with a crafting system of sorts. Color me intrigued. No, seriously, it sounds far more interesting than yet-another physics puzzle game.

Angry Birds Epic will be "soft launching" in Canada and Australia soon.

Image Credit: 9to5Mac

The Angry Birds Go! Community launches

Posted by Jeff Scott on February 28th, 2014

If you're obsessed with Angry Birds Go! then our pals at Pocket Gamer have just the site for you: The Angry Birds Go! Community.

This dedicated space for fans of the game to gather, meet, and even improve how they play the game is jam-packed with detailed toy guides, character profiles, strategy guides, achievement listings, community screenshots, fan art, and much more besides.

Best of all, it's a space that's shaped by you, the fans, giving everyone the opportunity to help build the greatest Angry Birds Go! site ever made.

So stop stalling, and race on over to The Angry Birds Go! Community now to see what everyone's talking about.

Angry Birds Creator Rovio Announces Kid-Centric Publishing Initiative

Posted by Jeff Scott on February 27th, 2014

Makers of the two billion times downloaded Angry Birds series of games, Rovio, have announced via sister site Pocketgamer.biz that they are opening up a publishing division focusing on fun learning apps for kids 3-12. The goal being to take learning games in a whole new direction. Rovio is looking for developers in this space that can help them in this quest. The first chance to talk to them about it will be at our Big Indie Pitch event during GDC week in San Francisco.


"When kids are bored, their learning plummets," detailed the Finnish firm in a statement given to PocketGamer.biz.

"When they're engaged, anything's possible. So we're looking for new game ideas to entertain kids and motivate them to learn. Games that parents can also feel good about."

Rovio Announces Angry Birds Stella - and That's Pretty Much it

Posted by Rob Rich on February 13th, 2014

Today Rovio has pulled the curtain back on their latest project to reveal... another curtain. Angry Birds Stella is going to be a game set in some area of the Angry Birds world we've yet to see, and it's going to be spread out over several different forms of media. We're talking games, cartoons, toys, etc.

About the only other bit of info that can be gleaned from the announcement is that Rovio is trying to up the serious in this one. “Angry Birds Stella is breaking the mold by introducing strong, passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and reality into the mix," says Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment, in the press release.

I dunno, it sounds kind of like The Real World: Angry Birds to me.

Angry Birds Star Wars II is the App Store's App of the Week - in Other Words, it's Free!

Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FORCE WIELDING FUN :: Read Review »

Amidst all the holiday sales and out-of-nowhere releases, it's important to remember that the App Store still picks one app or game out of the crowd to be featured as its App of the Week. And to get a price drop to zero dollars for the duration. This week, they've chosen Angry Birds Star Wars II.

In his review back in September, our own Blake Grundman said, "The Force is strong with this one. This IS the game we’re looking for." Seems like more than enough of a reason to check it out for free, right?

Angry Birds Update Adds 30 Brand-New Levels and a New Shock Ability for Bomb Bird

Posted by Andrew Stevens on November 26th, 2013
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: GREAT :: Read Review »

Pocket Gamer reports that Angry Birds has received 30 brand-new levels that takes you deep into the Piggy laboratory. There players are met with three new piggy potions that change the appearance of the piggies. Also, there is a new Shock Wave ability for the Bomb bird that creates a strong electric blast during play.

Puzzle & Dragons and Angry Birds Team Up in New Collaboration Event

Posted by Andrew Stevens on November 4th, 2013

Angry Birds and Puzzle & Dragons! Angry Birds and Puzzle & Dragons!!! ANGRY BIRDS AND PUZZLE AND DRAGONS! OH MY! Yeah, sorry, anyway...

GungHo Online Entertainment, the publisher behind the rocking Puzzle & Dragons, announced that it'll be collaborating with Rovio Entertainment to bring an Angry Birds-themed event to their Puzzle & Dragons game. Starting Monday, November 18, and lasting until Sunday, December 1, fans will be able to enjoy the Angry Birds characters in a special dungeon event within Puzzle & Dragons.

“We are excited to announce the collaboration of Puzzle & Dragons and the Angry Birds games from Rovio Entertainment,” said Daisuke Yamamoto, Producer and creator of Puzzle & Dragons, in a press release. “Angry Birds is one of the most recognizable entertainment franchises in the world, and we are thrilled to be working alongside Rovio to give our fans a look at what it would be like if Angry Birds characters invaded the world of Puzzle & Dragons.”

Angry Birds Go! is a New Downhill Racer Featuring Everyone's Favorite Birds. Seriously.

Posted by Rob Rich on October 15th, 2013

The birds are back (again)! Not content with simply hurtling avian critters into pork-filled structures, Rovio has changed things up significantly for their next offering. Angry Birds Go! is a fully 3D kart racer featuring a bunch of recognizable series characters, loads of special powers, and upgradable vehicles. Yes, you read that correctly; it's a kart racer.

Angry Birds Go! will be hitting the App Store on December 11 for free, and I have to admit the video makes it look pretty interesting despite the severe change in direction (and genre). What do you all think? Is it too ridiculous to fathom? Are you anxiously waiting to get behind the wheel? Did the video sway you either way? Feel free to chime in below!

Angry Birds Star Wars II Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Blake Grundman on September 19th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FORCE WIELDING FUN
The force is strong with this one.
Read The Full Review »

That's No Egg... Angry Birds Star Wars II is Out Now!

Posted by Rob Rich on September 18th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FORCE WIELDING FUN :: Read Review »

Beware the pork side. Rovio's sequel to their spin-off based on one of the most popular movie franchises of all time is here!

Angry Birds Star Wars II follows (loosely) the events in the "Star Wars" prequels, and even lets players decide whether they want to be good, or play for "The Pork Side." It's more of the same great Angry BIrds physics mayhem you know and love but with two sides to play, over 30 playable characters, the ability to swap characters in the slingshot as you play (finally!), and Telepods integration.

Angry Birds Go - New Video Shows How Birds Can't Run, But They Can Drive...Kinda

Posted by Andrew Stevens on August 27th, 2013

Get ready to leave your feathers in the dust!

Rovio has teamed up with Red Bull to release a new video that answers some of our questions about what type of game Angry Birds Go will be. It showcases what an Angry Birds endless runner would look like, which ultimately hit a snag and fell over. So, they went one step further to show us what it would be like with birds behind the wheel! Check out the trailer below!

I wonder how much road rage there will be in Angry Birds Go? I mean these are Angry Birds after all.

Angry Birds Star Wars II Is Announced, Adds Interactive Toys That Teleport Into The Game

Posted by Andrew Stevens on July 15th, 2013

Rovio Entertainment announced Angry Birds Star Wars II, which will follow the story of the three prequel Star Wars movies. Things are in place to take a twist towards the dark side in the upcoming game as well as players can choose to "join the pork side" and play as one of the evil piggies.

Angry Birds Star Wars II is set to get even more interesting as Hasbro is adding an interactive capability to the gameplay and content of the game by releasing Telepods. Think Skylanders; Telepods are physical toy characters that players can place on their iPhone or iPad camera and scan it into the game. There will be over 30 physical characters at launch for players to teleport into their games, Skylanders style.

Being a fan of Skylanders myself, I'm highly interested in checking out this new Angry Birds experience, which will launch on the App Store this September, 19th.

Angry Birds Star Wars was a blockbuster hit for us and Lucasfilm with over 100 million downloads since its release. We are thrilled to be able to introduce the exciting next chapter in the Angry Birds Star Wars saga to our fans around the world,” said Jami Laes, Executive Vice President of Games at Rovio Entertainment, in a press release. “Some of the most amazing character additions are versions of young Anakin, Mace Windu and Darth Maul. Hasbro’s TELEPODS technology also provides a great way to extend the experience beyond the app and bring a whole new dimension to the gameplay.”