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

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 14th, 2014

Another Week of Expert App Reviews


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

Civilization Revolution 2

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


Lomotif

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


Sonic Jump Fever

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


Blackwell 1: Legacy

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


Age of Booty: Tactics

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Doug Dug

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


Boom! Tanks

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


Stickman Soccer 2014

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 6th, 2014

Apps Are Us


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


Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

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


World of Tanks Blitz

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


X BEATS

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


Lars and Friends

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


yantouch Diamond+ "Music+Light" Bluetooth Speaker

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

Wave Wave

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


Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville

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


First Strike

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 28th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Star Wars Scene Maker

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


Mecha Ace

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


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

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


Transformers: Age of Extinction - The Official Game

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


Science Museum Splash!

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Winning Kick

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


Flick Soccer Brazil

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


Swipe Tap Smash

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

This Week at 148Apps: June 9-13, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 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.

Spendbook

Secretly, I doubt anyone wants to keep track of their finances. All too often it’s a stark reminder that one’s bank balance just isn’t as high as one would like. Having said that, tracking transactions is very useful in making one realize that spending a ridiculous sum of money on old movies and cake isn’t always wise. Or at least that’s what I hear, because there’s no way that I do that. No way at all. Spendbook is a simple yet effective solution to tracking such things. With a look that suits iOS 7 perfectly, Spendbook keeps things simple and clean yet still offers plenty of opportunity to include all the relevant information about day-to-day living. --Jennifer Allen


Bubble Witch Saga 2

Candy Crush Saga may be King’s frontrunner, but there are plenty of alternatives to the puzzler to choose from – in particular is Bubble Witch Saga, an homage to Taito’s classic Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move. Homage is being kind, actually; Bubble Witch Saga 2 and its predecessor are outright facsimiles of Taito’s addictive puzzler, but the latest iteration incorporates new and original ideas to ensure the formula remains fresh. Bubble Witch Saga 2 is slick, colorful, and challenging, and while it doesn’t break entirely new ground on the puzzle front, it’s still a great choice for a few bites of playtime here and there. If you’re unfamiliar with the original Bubble Witch Saga, it’s a puzzler where you’re given one colored bubble after another to aim at even more bubbles suspended at the top of the screen. You need to match three or more of a kind to burst the bubbles and clear them from the play area. This is accomplished via precise aiming with the touch screen, and strategic bouncing of colored bubbles against the “walls” of the play area. If you play your cards right, you can collapse an entire cache of bubbles with a well-placed shot. They’ll rain down in a shower of color, and at the end of each level they’ll randomly bounce into pots that collect them for points to tally onto your score. --Brittany Vincent


Rival Knights

A jouster’s foe isn’t his opponent. It isn’t the lance, or the fury of the charge, or even the thunderous clash of horse and weapon and rider. A jouster’s true enemy – that subtle foe he must face every time he mounts – is his own fear. Fear makes the rider worry his horse out of rhythm. Fear makes him charge too soon, or hold an instant too long. And it is fear that makes him turn aside from his strike rather than into it, leaving his lance shattered and his body thrown to the ground. To be a jouster is to conquer your fear and to never back down. Also, there’s apparently some rhythmic tapping involved. --Andrew Fisher


Battleheart: Legacy

Battleheart: Legacy is a cartoony and light action-adventure RPG that makes a lot of its competition on iOS look archaic and old-fashioned. Although the game doesn’t necessarily push the boundaries of gameplay originality or storytelling, Battleheart: Legacy is an extremely good-looking and well-made game. Players of Battleheart: Legacy begin the game by creating a character and working their way through a tutorial sequence, but from there the game is quite a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure kind of deal. There are quest givers and such, but the main focus of the game seems to be exploring new areas, fighting enemies, and custom leveling a character with abilities. --Campbell Bird


Bug Art

Parents will be excited to hear of a new app from the developers of Bugs and Buttons – a creative app that still includes a quirky bug theme that the developers at Little Bit Studio are known for. Bug Art is a lovely app that allows children to design their own critter, be it different types of beetles, dragonfly, ant, or the like, using a nice variety of art supplies and bug-shaped templates that one can fill in and decorate. They can also select from many color choices and drawing points, including three paintbrush heads, a pencil, and a marker choice, as well as other tools for bug personalization. Do check out the rainbow color button that enlarges the color selections, adding a larger collection of secondary and immediate colors as well as the related darker, muted shades that I appreciate a great deal. Glitter is an option, as are the inclusion of bug images, stamps, stickers, and even one’s own photos. An eraser is included that will remove all marks from the page, but an undo button would have been helpful as well, as it would allow children to subtract the last detail added to their work instead of having to restart from the white, paper-like background if the eraser is employed. --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

Crush II

At first, when looking at screenshots, Crush II doesn’t look like that big of a deal. But when players get in to it, it will get real hard, real fast. Crush II is a relentless puzzle game. In Crush II, players are tasked with combining two block of the same color, while other blocks keep on falling on top of them. Don’t think to lightly about that: In Crush II, players will get baffled by the speed of those colored little terrors – I know I did. At the beginning of a fresh new game, I always thought: now is my time to shine. And for a while, I did shine. Heck, I shined for quite some time. But there is a moment in every game of Crush II where to falling blocks will beat players at their own game. A defeat is inevitable – but somehow, by playing the game more and more, players will get better at it and will raise their own high scores frequently. The only thing crushers have to endure is the constant feeling of defeat, every time the game ends. --Wesley Akkerman


Racing Rivals

Racing Rivals is a 2.5D drag style racing game, where players can compete againts computer controlled and (online) human opponents. At first, I though this would be another simple iteration of the old concept, but now with slicker visuals. Boy, was I wrong. At its core, Racing Rivals offers a simple base. Players take control over a car in a 2.5D drag style race and have only three buttons to press. There is a launch, accelerator and shift button and every one of them a neatly placed at places one’s thumb can easily rest. Steering is not an option, bacause it thrives on speed, momentum and perfect shifting. Players will know excatly when to shift, because there is a line of blue colored dots that eventually lead onto a green one – and that’s the moment to strike. But the game requires perfect timing from its drivers. When players are a fraction to late or even to early, it gives the opponent the chance to drive right past them. --Wesley Akkerman


Game of War: Fire Age

Game of War: Fire Age is a city builder with a huge scope. Taking control of a tiny city with some wooden walls and not a lot else, the player must construct an epic city, train an army and work with others to become powerful. At its most basic GOW:FA seems like any other city builder. The player taps a plot in their city and chooses a building, which takes real time to construct. There are a ton of buildings in game and the building system is quite in depth. There are the basics, like farms for food and barracks for troops but there are also embassies to work with other players, upgraded walls and traps to stop enemies and a dizzying array of resource and research buildings to construct. GOW:FA’s world is divided into vast areas called kingdoms where player cities reside. Unlike most games cities are actually located somewhere on the land in a kingdom, so it’s possible to view a world map and see the city and other player’s cities like an actual world map, rather than the more abstract “neighbors” common to this type of genre. --Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer took a look at Hitman: Sniper and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite at E3 2014, kicked off the World Cup with some top football games, and reviewed games like VVVVVV, Fluid SE, Angry Birds Epic, and Broken Age. Read everything right here.

WWDC 2014 - App Store Changes Unveiled

Posted by Ellis Spice on June 2nd, 2014

Apple has announced some interesting updates to the App Store over at the WWDC keynote today, which both developers and customers alike will enjoy the sound of.

App bundles are set to be introduced in iOS8, allowing users to buy multiple apps at the same time at a discounted price. Preview videos are also set to be added for apps alongside the already-familiar screenshots. Finally, the beta-testing service Test Flight is set to become official, making it easier for devs to invite users to break test their upcoming apps.

These changes to the App Store will arrive in iOS8, which is available in beta form now.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 31st, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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


KeroBlaster

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


Thomas Was Alone

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


UNcanny X-Men: Days of Future Past

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


Next

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


Sago Mini Space Explorer

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker

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


Zombie Road Trip Trials

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


Tales of the Adventure Company

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 25th, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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


Overkill Mafia

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


Mr. Jack Pocket

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


Alone in the Dark

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


SXPD

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


Darkin

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

FreeDum

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


Striker Soccer 2

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


JotterPad X

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

This Week at 148Apps: May 5-9, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 10th, 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.

dEXTRIS

dEXTRIS is not related to Tetris, so the “tris” part of the name doesn’t make much sense. But it is a game of dexterity that will cause the spewing of a multitude of profanities – in a good way. Players use their two thumbs to navigate two blocks around hazards. Tapping and holding on the left or right moves both blocks that direction, holding both sides splits the two blocks apart, and doing nothing leaves them in the center. This neutral state is mentioned specifically because some of the hazards require being in that neutral state. Some of the challenge comes from the fact that the blocks move quickly, but not instantaneously, and the hazards are diagonal: One must act about a split-second ahead of what’s coming at all times. --Carter Dotson


1849

Spending most of my school-aged years in Northern California as I did, the subject of the mid-1800s California Gold Rush is indelibly etched into my brain. We went on gold panning school field trips to Placerville and hiked the same trails that the miners had a hundred and fifty years prior. When SomaSim’s 1849 went up for review, a glance at the screens filled my heart with hopes for a Gold Rush-themed Sim City. But as any seasoned Forty-Niner can attest, I probably shouldn’t get too excited about every sparkly nugget that catches the light. After all, there’s plenty of fool’s gold in these App Store hills, so it’s best to stay cautious. My assumptions were at least partially correct: 1849 IS a boomtown city simulation. But rather than the open sandbox format of a lot of city builders, 1849 takes a much more focused, scenario-guided path. Players jump from city to city across Central and Northern California during the height of gold fever, helping kickstart a series of small encampments and grow them into prosperous communities. Usually this takes the form of needing to import or export an amount of specific goods from surrounding towns, hitting population milestones, or the like. Upon arriving at the new settlement, players pick from one of three starting package options, which will determine the amount of money and/or free resources the settlers begin with. --Rob Thomas


Gunship X

At its most basic, Gunship X is a lot like Zombie Gunship. In fact, even at its most complicated, Gunship X is a lot like the zombie blasting hit. That’s no bad thing exactly, but enjoyment levels are heavily dependent on how much one enjoys mindless shooting. The idea is incredibly simple. Aliens are rushing at humanity and, most importantly, various landing areas. Humans are trying to flee to safe zones and it’s down to the player, controlling an AC-130 Gunship to protect them. Players don’t directly control the Gunship; instead they are reliant solely on its offensive capabilities. What this means is that the screen offers one large aiming reticule and a place to switch weapons. --Jennifer Allen


Sumotori Dreams

Previously a popular PC game, Sumotori Dreams is a pretty quirky title. It’s a form of sumo wrestling simulator, but one that’s far more focused on humor than realism. While in single player it’s a little forgettable, it’s a fun experience when participating with friends and certainly like little else out there. The key to success in Sumotori Dreams is to defeat the opponent. This is done through either pushing them over, forcing them out of the ring, or sometimes simply waiting for them to make a mistake and stumble over. The center of gravity for these characters is a bit wacky, meaning falling over is just as likely as being pushed. This is particularly noticeable when partaking in different arenas that actively encourage such problems, such as one level based on a giant seesaw and another at the top of a flight of stairs. --Jennifer Allen


Metal Slug Defense

Metal Slug Defense is a 2D, real time, side-scrolling strategy game based on the popular arcade shooter series. Although not the typical Metal Slug experience, Metal Slug Defense does a pretty great job of translating the charm and spirit of its predecessors into a mobile and more strategic form. In more typical Metal Slug titles, players take control of an individual soldier as they run, gun, and jump their way through 2D levels full of enemy soldiers and creatures. In Metal Slug Defense, players instead take control of a base that is capable of spitting out soldier after soldier, with the ultimate goal being to destroy the enemy base on the other side of the level. --Campbell Bird


Moo Said Morris

I would like to introduce readers to Moo Said Morris, a storybook app for iPad that children and their parents will enjoy. Meet Morris: a young mouse who is a bit of an outsider. While all the other mice at school and in his town make the traditional squeaky noises, Morris makes sounds that are certainly un-mouse-like such as mooing like a cow, quacking like a duck, and even sounding like a car or airplane – much to the dismay of his teacher and to the disappointment of the community who find his unusual noises disconcerting to say the least. That is until his ability to sound like something that he is not comes in handy at the end. I really enjoy this story of Morris, a character that children will be able to relate to. The illustrations are delightful, full of details, and with a hand-drawn quality that I am really drawn to. The moments when Morris speaks are simply delightful, with a speech bubble including the image of an animal such as a horse or donkey making noises and complete with the name of their sounds written out, aiding children who may be new to animal sounds 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

Snatz

Jumping on a trampoline, opening windows and stealing TV’s. All while being a little rat – that is what Snatz is all about. But is it any fun? Yes and no. It seems a bit random: rats stealing TV’s for a living, while they’re jumping on a trampoline from house to house and entering them one window at a time. Yes, but that’s excatly what Snatz is all about. In this game, players have to open windows by getting to them via a trampoline. The building the rats visit are very high and will get even higher later on in the game. If the residents see your little rat face one time to often, they will call the police. And when they come, the rats flee the scene of the crimes. This results in a car chase – dropping the stolen tv’s on the police, will stop the chase. --Wesley Akkerman


Crazy Pixel Run

Running around like a hopped-up hyperactive hare – that’s the best description for this Russian indie game featuring a colorless bunny in a colorless world. In Crazy Pixel Run you control a rectangular, colorless bunny. The little fella is born in a world where everything is grey. He’s main goal in life: bring more color to it. It is platformer style indie game where you have to collect energy to stay alive in a randomly generated and infinite world. The bring color to the world, you need to run around like a crazy pixel-rabbit and collect special glowing things. Every part of the world you touch collecting these things, will brightening up your world. --Wesley Akkerman


Song of Hero

Song of Hero is a rhythm RPG, a combination between rhythm games like Guitar Hero, and a role-playing game. The player needs to organize a 4-man battle band that fights against various monsters. The battle consists of several phases, as heroes and the monster take turns attacking and using special abilities – but for player, the task is always the same – just hit all upcoming beats on time, as they reach the end of their lanes. Although the outcome greatly depends on the player’s accuracy, it’s still possible to fail the battle if the monster isn’t beaten by the end of the playing song. The songs are about a minute and a half long, and although I couldn’t name a single performer, each one of the songs was of a good quality. --Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer celebrated the best month in iOS gaming EVER, discussed the controversy surrounding Nintendo's Tomodachi Life, and took a look at Techland's Hellraid: The Escape. Plus - get a full walkthrough to Bridge Constructor Medieval and learn how to build the perfect deck in Hearthstone. It's all right here, right now.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 4th, 2014

Another Week of Expert App Reviews


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

Intake: Be Aggressive

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


Lethal Lance

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


Sharebrands Stereo Headphones

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


Racer 8

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


Accompli

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


Sago Mini Monsters

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Greedy Dwarf

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


Dancing Samurai

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


Brandnew Boy

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on April 28th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Wayward Souls

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


Leo's Fortune

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


Strongarm Universal Mount

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


Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

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


Boxer

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


Petites Choses

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Voxel Rush: Free Racing

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


Letters from Nowhere: Mystery

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


Smash and Dash

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

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on April 20th, 2014

Spring Into Our 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.

Unpossible

Unpossible is another fantastic minimalist arcade survival game in the vein of Super Hexagon and Pivvot, this one adding in the wrinkle of being in first-person. Essentially, the game is the same as any other arcade survival game: don’t hit the obstacles. Simple as that. The obstacles and the way they’re laid out is anything but simple, though. There’s three difficulty modes: Simplicity, Futile, and Ultra. Simplicity starts out very easy, and it can be a bit disheartening at first for the player looking for a challenging experience because it’s fairly easy. However, things really jump up at Futile, where getting the requisite 60 seconds to unlock the next game mode is very difficult. And Ultra difficulty is, in fact, ultra-hard. --Carter Dotson


Hitman GO

Hitman GO is one of the odder big-name games that I can remember in recent memory. It takes the core tenets of Hitman, and turns it into a strategic board game. It’s a unique choice with a unique presentation to match, and while it’s certainly odd at first, it comes together beautifully. This is an intelligently-designed, wonderful experience. This is a turn-based affair, where players control Agent 47 along circuit-like boards where he can move one node at a time. He must make it to the exit without being spotted by the enemies on the board, who all move after he does, so they have an advantage, though each enemy has predictable behaviors. Thus, it’s about using their patterns and the limited tools available, like noise makers and disguises, to avoid and even take out the various enemies. --Carter Dotson


Livescribe 3 Smartpen

The Livescribe 3 is a Bluetooth enabled pen with a little infrared camera in the front that tracks what is written and stores that as a sort of digital ink. That ink can then be dictated to an iPad/iPhone with the free Livescribe+ app and a Bluetooth enabled iOS device. What results is nothing short of amazing. Once the writing/drawing/doodle/whatever that has been written on the special notebook and has been transferred to the iOS device, then the real magic starts. Whole pages or just sections can be emailed, transferred to Evernote, turned into calendar events or reminders, etc. And if the handwriting is legible (i.e. better then mine), any written words will also be converted to text for easy searching and emailing. --Jeff Scott


Trials Frontier

At last, the Trials series hits mobile with Trials Frontier, now available worldwide after its Canadian soft launch! Unfortunately, it’s free-to-play. I don’t say this in the way that some people automatically despair about games going free-to-play. No, after playing Trials Frontier, I think the way that its business model affects the game diminishes what is otherwise a great experience at its core. Developed by RedLynx, creators of the Trials series and of the similar MotoHeroz, this is a level-based stunt biking game. Players ride their motorbike through a level, trying to avoid hazards and navigate the tricky terrain in order to make it to the end in one piece while performing flips along the way because they’re cool. It’s a game that requires patience, as many levels will require restarting from checkpoints (which are thankfully frequent) to make it through – but greater rewards come to those who complete levels faster and in fewer restarts. --Carter Dotson


Runtastic PRO

It’s probably safe to say that Runtastic PRO is the Swiss Army Knife of running apps. It goes one better too, by being more than just for running – covering all manners of different movements from cycling to skiing. As a general one stop shop kind of app, Runtastic PRO has it covered. Runtastic PRO is immediately pretty quick to set up. A clearly laid out screen is there, ready for the beginning of a run or cycle. It’s easily adjusted too, with holding a finger to a number opening up a choice of values. Duration, pace, speed, distance, average pace and speed, as well as elevation and maximum speed can all be given focus here. Heart rate can also be tracked with the relevant equipment to hook up to the app. A map or music player can complete the selection. --Jennifer Allen


Dinosaur Train A to Z

As parents of Dino-loving children know, there is a nice selection of books and apps that are dedicated to the combining of dinosaurs and the alphabet – typically including 26 dinosaurs and allowing one to correlate with each letter. Dinosaur Train A to Z is an app of this style, introducing children to many interesting facts about these prehistoric creatures. As the name may imply, this app is based on the hit PBS TV show, Dinosaur Train. Fans of the show will find the highlighted text and included narration familiar and inviting – something I appreciate as I honestly don’t enjoy trying to pronounce the long names that many dinosaurs possess. --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

Trial of Bones

Man, skeletons are stupid. The undead kind, not the good kind that is just calmly resting inside of our bodies. I mean, animating a skeleton should be about the most difficult thing in magical world, because there’s absolutely no way they could move on their own – and yet, walking skeletons are the most basic enemy a hero can ever meet. Trial of Bones takes it to the next level by making skeletons the sole enemies. Sturdy and dangerous enemies, at that. I don’t want my life to be ended by a pile of calcium – give me real monsters! Bearing that in mind, Trial of Bones is actually quite good, although it severely lacks content. There’s a short prologue that I frankly can’t remember by now, but the problem at hand is that the main hero is trying to get through a dungeon that is filled with skeletons with the help of his awesome sword, as well as the objects he finds on the way. --Tony Kuzmin


Fly Catbug Fly!

This is a game about a cat. Not just any cat – it’s a game about a flying insect cat that collects flying trash. Fly Catbug Fly is a bit close to Flappy Bird, but it’s closer to the old helicopter game that Flappy Bird was ripped off from. Catbug (of Bravest Warriors fame) flies through the never-ending corridor, bordered by solid matter on top and bottom, and has to evade it, as well as some small “islands” in the middle, while collecting trash. The trash consists of truly random items, ranging from old bottles to what to my twisted mind looked suspiciously like dirty toys, to leprechauns. There are portals scattered around the levels, which take the trash from Catbug, and give some cash in return. After picking enough trash, a hyper mode of sorts kicks in and you lose. At least that’s what happen to me all the time. --Tony Kuzmin


Sonic Racing Transformer

When it comes to kart racing, Sonic is the man. And the hedgehog. Whatever… Sonic is the consummate console competitor, and he and his friends have done well on mobile devices too. Sonic Racing Transformed is yet another opportunity for us all to see how fast our blue bandit has come on Android OS. It is an intense game, and definitely not for the spec faint of heart. There are two modes off the bat, Single player and multi player, with the single optioning into the advertised new World Tour. There is also the Weekly Challenge, which allows players to compete for streaks and prizes. --Tre Lawrence

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 31st, 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.


Game of Thrones Ascent

Game of Thrones, both the TV series and the novels that serve as the source material, can be best described as dense. Game of Thrones: Ascent is similarly dense, but may be fun for people who welcome the density. Ascent takes place around the beginning of the series – players control a new noble trying to find their place among the figures that rule Westeros and ascend to the Iron Throne. Players can customize a variety of factors, including their stats – prefer to fight with the sword, or with a forked tongue? Want to rise under the Lannister barrier, or as a Targaryen? Many options, including one’s lineage, are available. --Carter Dotson


Star Wars: Assault Team

I admit that Star Wars: Assault Team did not leave me very excited when I first heard of it, if only because I’m perhaps a bit jaded when it comes to collectible card games and free-to-play RPGs. Well, I went in with an open mind, and found that while the game is certainly simple, it’s not dumbed down. True to form, players collect cards of characters in the Star Wars series, featuring various tiers of cards that can be earned in story missions or bought in card packs purchased with soft or hard currency. Then characters can be upgraded by using item cards and spending more and more soft currency per upgrade to make them stronger for later story missions and when the PVP becomes available. There’s also limited-time promotion missions to help promote coming back on a regular basis. It’s a fairly-familiar formula to say the least. --Carter Dotson


Glint

When it comes to gameplay vs. graphics, gameplay is totally where it’s at as far as puzzle games are concerned. Tetris on the original Game Boy has visuals straight out of a late 70s calculator, and yet it’s still a perfect video game. It’s strange then that Glint tries so hard to look so pretty while leaving its gameplay to suffer. The tradeoff succeeds, but is it worth it? In Glint, multicolored circles flood onto the screen and players must clear them before they fill the map completely. To clear circles, players simply swipe their fingers across circles of the same color in one continuous stroke. It doesn’t even matter if the stroke touches other circles along the way. Short swipes are good for fast matches, but longer swipes lead to more points. Players can also purchase power-ups that extend swipe range or clear multiple circles at once. --Jordan Minor


Ravensburger Puzzle

I’m not convinced there’s any game out there that could capture the joy that comes from clicking in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s too tactile in its satisfaction for even the rather excellent Ravensburger Puzzle to achieve. However, Ravensburger Puzzle does also circumvent the issue of having to collect up all the pieces and put them back in the box, so that’s something. Either way, it’s a great app for the jigsaw fiend. Included for the asking price are a bunch of puzzles ready to be tackled, as well as some in-game coins that can be used to buy more. Expect to chip in for a few more images via some in-app purchases but it’s nothing too harsh. With each image, it’s possible to create a jigsaw of between 20 and 500 pieces, covering all skill levels. --Jennifer Allen


The Collectables

A simple to learn strategy game, The Collectables starts out pretty fun. That is until one scratches under the surface and soon learns that it encapsulates much of what’s most infuriating about freemium games. The set up is decent. Players control a bunch of renegade soldiers as they complete a series of missions of similar proportions. These typically involve wandering through stages and shooting the foes in one’s way before collecting or destroying various targets. It’s simple stuff but it works well on the mobile format, given much can be achieved in a short space of time. --Jennifer Allen


Pixel Hunter

I would like to soundly punch in the face the wisenheimer who thought that virtual d-pads were good enough to make precisely controlling platformers a viable option on iOS. Allow me to clarify. I don’t wish harm on the developers of Pixel Hunter over at Lemondo Entertainment; I’m sure they’re all great, hardworking folks. I’m really speaking in general terms of the main frustration that I have with this game and others like it. If old-school platforming is where timing and positioning are the difference between triumphant progression and a frustrating restart is going to be the crux of a game, then it either requires tactile feedback or needs to be extremely forgiving. Unfortunately, Pixel Hunter doesn’t hit the bullseye on either mark. --Rob Thomas


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

Glyph Quest

Glyph Quest is another in the crowded field of combat puzzlers. Will it cast a spell on you? Glyph Quest boils down to a long series of fights that take place across a map. There are dozens of fights to get though and between fights earned coins can be used at the shop to buy new upgrades and items to help in battle. Glyph Quest has highly focused and enjoyable gameplay. The game takes the form of a battle, like a lot of puzzle games today. Matching elemental symbols results in an attack of that element, the more symbols the stronger the attack. Alternating between elements results in bonus damage if opposite elements are used, but linking opposing elements in the same attack results in a backfire, which damages your mage. A steady stream of abilities and spells are unlocked as the player levels up, enemies are nice and varied and there are plenty of status effects and other quirks to force players to mix up their strategies. For example, goblin mages can hide all the tiles under question marks and spiders can use web attacks that make certain tiles unavailable to use in a combo. --Allan Curtis


Ignis Castle Adventure

In gaming, one incontrovertible fact is that one can’t — or rather shouldn’t be able to — go wrong with a platform runner. I mean, they are simple and straight to the point. Thus, a lot of times, games like Ignis Castle Adventure have the built-in advantage of familiarity. The playing area is crafted in 2D, with the overall look of an old-age dungeon. The animations are decent enough, with the purposefully monochrome look broken by bright splotches here and there. --Tre Lawrence


Doodle Tank Battle

Doodle Tank Battle brings simple battle to the world of tank conflict. There are two main modes, Campaign and Endless. Using Campaign as the initial play mode, one can use the tutorial to gain familiarity. The playing area is designed to be used in top-down fashion, with the home tank being green, and the red tanks signifying enemy units. The tanks are simple, genial affairs; the terrain differs slightly from level to level, but mostly retain the same design elements. The control layout can be tweaked, but by default there is a liberal joystick on the left, and tapping on the right incites firing. The controls are responsive, and everything on this end is fairly intuitive. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week over at Pocket Gamer you'll find previews of Isolani, Midnight Star, and Noir Syndrome, the top games from the GDC Big Indie Pitch, the most anticipated mobile games for April, tips for beginner Boom Beach players, first impressions of the HTC One M8, and loads more. Go go go.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 23rd, 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.

Galaxy on Fire-Alliances

Galaxy on Fire – Alliances follows in a long line of well-established mobile games in a couple of different ways. First, Alliances is set in the same sci-fi universe of the previous two Galaxy on Fire games. Second, Alliances is a management style game the likes of which are all over the App Store. As someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of familiarity or reverence for either of these mobile game establishments, I find myself compelled to keep playing Alliances primarily because the game does a great job of making players feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. At first, Alliances appears to be a pretty rote menu-based game where players build structures, apply upgrades, and so on and so forth for the sake of progression. For the most part, it appears this way because that is the game. However, with a huge galaxy of multiple planets to explore, the game allows for players to form alliances, which makes all of the relatively mindless upgrading feel much more meaningful than it would otherwise. --Campbell Bird


Cover

The same old movies, music, and video games can become boring and mundane. Sometimes it’s great to experience something new and interesting. Cover is an app that helps iOS users discover old, new, and upcoming releases so that there’s always something entertaining to enjoy. When Cover is opened, users will see a screen that looks somewhat similar to the App Store. A banner at the top displays an ad, but it also displays new releases and categories. Underneath this changing screen are featured lists to explore like Movie Classics, Inspiring Favorites, Most played on Spotify in 2013, and Great iOS games. Tapping on a category brings up a list that users can interact with in order to find something of interest. For instance, tapping on the Spotify list brings up a list of songs that can be previewed and purchased from iTunes. Additionally, tapping on a movie allows users to play a preview and they can also view the actors, a release date, and even read a description. --Angela LaFollette


Shuyan the Kung Fu Princess

Aimed at the slightly younger market, Shuyan The Kung Fu Princess is an ideal interactive story for showing kids how violence isn’t always the way forward in gaming. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the positive message within remains throughout. The story revolves around Shuyan, a princess in ancient China who is haunted by a secret burden. Players help her along as she discovers new talents and learns that peaceful intervention is often better than aggression. It’s a fairly simple game. Each level is comprised of Shuyan going up against a series of enemies. These enemies aren’t the conventional sort though, in that they can be pacified through greetings and gentle slaps rather than punches. It’s possible to knock them out as well as anger them, causing them to be more violent, but often the game rewards one for non-confrontational dealings. Shuyan must often carry small stones from one side of the level to the other, avoiding fights so as to not drop the stones. --Jennifer Allen


Bonza Word Puzzle

Bonza Word Puzzle claims to be a crossword puzzle with a difference, and it stays true to its word. It effectively turns the crossword puzzle on its head, giving players the answers first and a common category second. Players must then go about composing a complete crossword from separated parts, whereby they must place the fragments near their companions by sliding them together. They will then click into place, and be movable as one. If a part is in the wrong place, the game will let players know by leaving a tiny gap in between the tiles. For some added perspective or just to create some extra space, players can also zoom out using a quick pinch of the screen. --Lee Hamlet


Word Forward

It’s a little simple to look at but don’t let that fool anyone, Word Forward is a highly enjoyable word game. It’s a game all about making words out of a series of tiles within a grid, which is a concept that might seem a little too familiar to some. Word Forward mixes this idea up though, with the idea being to gradually reduce one’s score by doing so. Each tile is given a score according to its difficulty rating with 100 points going to Z and U, while 10 points go to A or E. Each level requires reaching a particular target score by removing expensive tiles, so the key is targeting the trickier letters. --Jennifer Allen


Toca Pet Doctor

I always find it exciting when Toca Boca releases a new digital toy for children, and I am excited to let readers know about their new app, Toca Pet Doctor – an application that will allow toddlers and young preschool-aged children a chance to express their empathy as they mend sick or injured animals in this charming application. Toca Pet Doctor allows children to peruse a veterinarian’s waiting room complete with 15 animals that could use a little help. I am really fond of the tone of this app, bringing out the caring side of children who will enjoy all the different animals looking for a little TLC such as a gassy mouse, an itchy, flee-bitten puppy, or my favorite, an iguana with a belly ache. Each of these creatures looks uncomfortable in its own way but Toca Pet Doctor is devoid of drama, as no creature looks too sick or unhappy that it would make children uncomfortable – which I really appreciate. --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

Penombre

Penombre is a side-scroller with a dark mission. For an endless runner, the game relies heavily on it’s theme. It’s a mostly black and white affair, with dark object silhouettes “moving” from right to left as the dark running avatar of Umbra is doing her thing in standard endless runner form. Lighter colors make an appearance, but play second fiddle to the absolutes and red, which mostly signifies dangerous objects. There is a life bar to the upper right and counters to the bottom right and top left. --Tre Lawrence


Royal Revolt 2

Royal Revolt 2 does a good job of making the player feel like a king. As one of a huge number of feuding kingdoms providing subjects with food and gold is just as important as raising armies to plunder enemies and gain more power. Royal Revolt 2 follows the tried and true Clash of Clans formula, at least as far as building up a kingdom. Players will partake in all the familiar tropes for this genre, such as constructing and upgrading resource buildings to generate resources, which are then used to build new buildings and upgrade existing ones in a never ending snowball of economic growth. --Allan Curtis


Caveboy Escape

Caveboy Escape is an enjoyable combo-type puzzler. It takes the match-3 paradigm, and tosses in some tile travel to create a fun series of puzzle situations. The tutorial does a fine job of walking players through the finer aspects of the gameplay. The successive playing areas are rectangular, and made up of smaller tiles. The tiles are of different colors seemingly randomly placed, and there are usually two special points, start tile (point A and an end tile (point B). Facilitating the escape means moving the avatar from point A (usually at the bottom of the screen) to point B (towards the top). --Tre Lawrence


And finally, this week Pocket Gamer went to GDC and saw Framed, Monument Valley, Spider 2, and more. Plus, the guys previewed Angry Birds Epic, picked out the best RPGs on iOS, and chose 5 awesome games like Terraria and Starbound. Read the full rundown right here.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 9th, 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.

Principia

Principia is definitely not a “casual play” game for those looking for a quick fun fix. Rather, it is a challenging and fulfilling experience that requires the player to play the roll of engineer/creator to solve puzzles and build various devices and contraptions. Principia begins by offering the player three options: Play, Discover, or Create. Choosing the Play option allows them to either complete an introductory level (highly recommended for new players) or dive into the game’s main puzzles (which are divided into more than 30 levels). Each puzzle challenges the player to move a robot around the playing area and accomplish some sort of task (or tasks). The player has the ability to move certain objects around on the screen to help accomplish the task but what sets Principia apart from many other building games is the complexity of the objects that can be manipulated, including mechanical, electrical, and robotic objects. --Charlie Miller


Sherlock: Interactive Adventure

The tales of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes are quite timeless, with many TV adaptations, film versions, and more ensuring that his eccentric ways are forever at the forefront of our mystery-tackling minds. The books themselves are wonderful too, and well worth checking out, which is precisely where SHERLOCK: Interactive Adventure turns into an attractive proposition. The app is an interactive version of “The Red-Headed League,” one of the many short stories of Sherlock Holmes. It won’t take regular readers a particularly long time to read through, but its interactive components do ensure that it’s a different experience from simply reading a conventional e-book. --Jennifer Allen


Block Fortress: War

I’m just going to rip this band-aid right off – Block Fortress: War has some issues. There. I said it. It feels good to get it out. This spin-off from Foursaken’s critically acclaimed Block Fortress shares a great deal of its predecessor’s DNA. The block-based visuals, UI elements, even the loading screens will feel instantly familiar to veterans. What differs is in how players will go about mowing down the lumbering, cubic hordes. --Rob Thomas


Tanuki Forest

Look, a new Endless Runner on the App Store! No, wait, don’t run away. Tanuki Forest is actually quite charming and offers some fun things that aren’t commonly included in the genre, honest. Amongst some quite luscious hand-painted imagery, players must help a flying squirrel explore a dark and dangerous forest while saving animals along the way. It’s a very simple title to play with one-touch controls at all times, but it also offers up some neat twists. For instance, animals are saved by flying them through gates, gaining points but also reducing the multiplier for the player. There’s a risk/reward system here given that animals are lost when one clashes with an enemy or spike, but more points are gained for accruing many at once. --Jennifer Allen


Dr. Panda's Restaurant 2

As readers may know, our family really enjoys the Dr. Panda series of apps that include friendly, recurring animal characters and child-friendly themes that may allow children to role-play at being a doctor, farmer, or handyman. One of my son’s favorites of these apps is Dr. Panda’s Restaurant – where one can prepare foods for animal clients in an upscale restaurant setting. Because of this, my son was really excited to find Dr. Panda’s Restaurant 2 downloaded on our iPad. Here, players will cook in the kitchen of a more casual waterfront restaurant. I really like how the hungry animal customers arrive by boat and ask for a specific dish, then approach a window to the kitchen to give the OK on the ingredients one is looking to cook with. Children will enjoy supplying favorite foods as well as choices these animals are not fond of in many different ways. Explore kitchen tools such as a knife, grater, or food processor as well as bake, boil, and sauté in the safety of one’s own homes and without help from adults. --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

Slash of the Dragoon

Slash of the Dragoon is a collection RPG with a difference. Working though a world map with a team of monsters and warriors it’s the player’s job to chop their way through increasingly harder staged with parties of enemies. Completing a stage awards more monsters and these monsters can be used to level up other monsters and eventuality evolve them into new, more advanced versions. The big difference in Slash of Dragon is its combat method. Rather than tapping enemies and just watching the battle, the player must slice their way through blocks that appear on the screen. --Allan Curtis


Dubstep Hero

Many people, including myself, often ask just what the heck is Dubstep. The simplest explanation is that it’s a form of electronic/techno music that focuses on drum and percussion lines that focus on bass and sub bass frequencies. To some, it’s just a lot of noise. But to a growing number of folks, dubstep is the hottest musical trend, brought into the spotlight like artists such as Skrillex. Despite your feelings on the genre, there is no denying it’s growing popularity and adaptation in contemporary pop music. Now, some of you will also remember for a moment when rhythm/ band karaoke games were all the rage. Titles such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero were quintessential titles to have if you owned a gaming console. However, those times are a thing of the past, with interest in those games being as great as public opinion of freemium games. But that doesn’t stop some indie devs from making games similar to the old popular rhythm titles, such as Brus Media’s Dubstep Hero, which brings the world of Dubstep to the once loved rhythm game style. --Mike Deneen


Word Puttz

Word games come a dime a dozen on Android, and thus, it takes a decent game to make headway. Gotta tell you, with the elements Word Puttz brings to the table, it might just have more than a passing flirtation with success. At first blush, it reads like one’s run-of-the mill crossword puzzle, except for the limited area. But the first glance is deceptive, and leaves one wondering how word search, scrabble and putt-putt (yes, people, the mini-golf game) get added to the mix. --Tre Lawrence


LAWLESS

LAWLESS is one of those games that appeals to our collective decadent side. It is a game from powerhouse Mobage that is able to combine a few different elements into a neat (but explosive) package. It is a career crime game, perfect for the straitlaced do-gooders out there. To begin, the player has the option of selecting his/her main character, which is decked out with weaponry and tasked with being good at being bad. --Tre Lawrence


And finally, this week, our pals at Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of February, took a look at Insomniac's Outernauts, and provided some handy tips for sci-fi drama Out There. Oh, and you won't believe how often a new Flappy Bird clone is released... Take a look, in PG's weekly wrap-up.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 2nd, 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.

Disco Zoo

NimbleBit teams up with Milkbag Games – featuring Matt Rix of Trainyard fame, and Owen Goss – for Disco Zoo, a simulation game about building a zoo where disco parties can be triggered. It’s one of those “exactly what it says on the tin” games, and it should amuse fans of NimbleBit’s simulations even as it takes a slightly different approach. The crux of the game is to rescue animals from the wild to bring in to the zoo, which helps attract people, thus making money for the player, until they fall asleep and must be awoken. The player can use bux to start disco parties, which awaken all the animals and get them dancing and raising double money for the disco’s timeframe. --Carter Dotson


Beyond Space

Beyond Space is like a great summer blockbuster. It’s fast-paced, crowd-pleasing, and has production values so spectacularly high they practically ooze out of the screen. Experiences like these always have their share of problems if one thinks about them too hard, but it’s hard to deny just how entertaining they are. The game starts off with a bang as a lavish, pre-rendered cutscene introduces players to a universe of intergalactic spaceship armadas, pirates, and mysterious aliens. Players take control of Max Walker; a mercenary pilot who becomes increasingly embroiled in a “galaxy-spanning conflict.” Between its frequent cutscenes and full voice-acting, the game actually seems to care about its narrative. But the “Top Gun in space” tale is so cheesy and clichéd players will keep their thumb on the skip button during repeat playthroughs, which are highly encouraged since the game only lasts about two hours. --Jordan Minor


Kahuna

Kahuna has finally made a transition to the electronic realm courtesy of a new universal iOS app. There could not be a more apt game to make this translation, as Kahuna plays quickly while still providing a strategic challenge. The premise is equally simple. Each player (rival South Pacific magicians or some such thematic mumbo jumbo) is attempting to place bridges between a set of South Pacific islands. When a player controls the majority of the pathways to an island, that player controls the island and scores a point. Bridges are placed by playing a card with the island’s name on it; players then choose which path from the island they wish to occupy. Players can also remove opponents’ bridges by playing the two cards that represent two connected islands. It’s all the stuff of abstract strategy with a thin veneer of a theme, but the mechanics work so well it’s easy to forgive any quibbles with the theme. After three rounds, the player with the highest score wins the game. --Chris Kirby


FlapThulhu: Flappy Madness

There are oh so many Flappy Bird clones now that the game has been pulled from the App Store. Seriously, between those looking to make a quick buck and those paying homage through Flappy Jam and the like, there’s so many ways to flap, it’s insane. Well, not insane enough yet, now that Madgarden has combined flapping with the master of insanity, the Deep One, the eldritch abomination to end all eldritch abominations, Cthulhu. This is FlapThulhu, and it’s the last flappy game anyone will ever need. --Carter Dotson


Qwirkle

Board games are a pretty good usage of all of the strengths of mobile devices; a nice, portable, light weight device with a touch screen in which anyone can do almost anything. That anything, of course, includes gaming. Board games are especially great for mobile devices because they are something that one can play at their own pace, doesn’t require one’s immediate attention, and is overall a casual and fun experience. Mindware, a company who produces educational toys and games aimed at children, is probably best known for their board game Qwirkle, which is now available on iOS. Qwirkle is an amalgamation of Scrabble, Uno, and Dominoes. The point of this game is to match like shapes and/or colors onto a playing surface. The more of a like shape or color players have in a given row, the more points they score. A row of 6 is scored as a Qwirkle, and no more blocks can be placed in that row. It’s very easy to pick up, and while aimed at kids, it’s really fun for all ages. --Mike Deneen


UHR-Warlords

The iPad may not be suited for every type of game there is, but two genres that benefit immensely from its expansive touch display are board games and turn-based strategy games. It’s no surprise then that UHR-Warlords, a turn-based strategy board game, excels on the device. Of course the deep, robust, and challenging gameplay helps too. UHR-Warlords‘ tale of rival demonic armies in a dark and gritty fantasy world should make fans of pewter figurines feel right at home. It’s little more than an obligatory pretext for the epic clashes to come, but the 12 battles spread across two campaigns are so satisfying players will want even more excuses to fight. Each skirmish plays like a cross between a Fire Emblem-esque strategy game and chess. The goal is to drain the other player’s life force by killing their monsters, or destroying their valuable strongholds at the opposite side of the board. --Jordan Minor


Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer

Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer, in one word, is a delight. Developed by Sago Sago – the dream team combined with the talents from Tickle Tap Apps and Toca Boca – this app is as highly engaging as it is colorful; children can go on an adventure with Fins, their new fish friend, as they explore his aquatic home. This new Sago Sago app brings back memories of my son as a younger boy, as Tickle Tap Apps were the first downloads I made, getting me interested in the potential for children’s iPhone and now iPad applications and the worlds they can create, appreciating this as a much less passive experience than watching television or videos produced for babies. I am excited to see a new Sago Sago title that, to me, seems lovingly updated from original application Finding Fins with a few important changes I am really fond of. Now one swims together with Fins instead of seeking him out as he hid behind objects such as rocks or sea weed. I am also enjoying being able to use a drag of a finger to move Fins around the screen instead of tilting the iPhone to navigate as seen in this previous app – wonderful updates that make this app utterly intuitive for the youngest app users. --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

PasswordBox

Two interesting things occurred while working on this review. One was highlighted during a commercial. A couple were working on creating an online account, and were having some difficulty coming up with a strong enough password they could remember. Yep, it advertised a password utility. On network TV. The second thing was an interesting article I read while researching an unrelated article. The Adobe security breach reveals that the only password more widely used than “password” is “123456.”
What’s clear is this: password management needs to be taken very seriously. PasswordBox looks to be just the tool we need. --Tre Lawrence


Planet Descent

Most people wish they were doing something extraordinary, such as running Google, being an Ice Cream taste tester, or piloting a space ship. Sadly, most of us will only be able to act out these dreams through some sort of simulation or game, which is where Planet Descent comes in. In this title, you pilot a space ship around a 2D playing area, dodging asteroids while collecting minerals for fun and profit. This game inhabits a similar approach to the PC game Lunar Flight, except Planet Descent, as previously mentioned, is 2D rather than 3D. Planet Descent is also quite a bit easier, lacking a lot of the realism or complicated controls used on similar type games. That’s not to say that this mobile title isn’t challenging, but you certainly won’t need years of NASA training to get it either. --Mike Deneen


Roid Rage

If you peruse around the Google Play app store, you see there is a race to fill the void left by the departure of Flappy Bird. Most of these clones coming out are the exact same thing, just with slightly altered graphics, some of them actually try to change some things. But then, from minds only St. Louis, MO could produce, comes a game with a slightly similar idea, but way better, called Roid Rage. Roid Rage isn’t some game about Jose Canseco or Sammy Sosa. Rather, it’s a game about the extreme rage you the player will suffer while guiding your spaceship through a massive asteroid collection, while collecting puddles of “Juices” throughout space. Your ship appears to be a one man vessel without weapons, but can turn like no other and doesn’t have a break pedal. You could try to throw the word “endless” on this game, but the better description would be the Atari classic Asteroids on super serum. --Mike Deneen

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer was checking out new gadgets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and still found time to review new games like Out There, Card City Nights, Disco Zoo, and Calculords, played soft-launched games Fates Forever and Supernauts, and picked 8 perfect games that Nintendo could bring to mobile. See it all at Pocket Gamer.