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148Apps 2014 Holiday Shopping Guide for Gamers

Posted by Rob Rich on December 11th, 2014

Welcome, one and all, to another 148Apps holiday shopping guide! Are you having trouble figuring out what to get for a distant relative, new neighbor, or estranged second cousin? Thankfully there are people like us putting together handy-dandy holiday shopping guides for you! Whether you’re looking for new hardware and accessories, or just something a bit less impersonal than an iTunes gift card, we’ve got you covered.

Other 148Apps Holiday Gift Guides: for [Health Nuts] [Socializers] [Creative Types] [Power Users]

Today’s guide centers around iOS gamers. These are the folks who love their portable games and spend most of their morning commute matching pieces of candy or fighting immortal titans. If you’d like to make the gamer(s) in your life have an overall more pleasant and convenient gaming experience, or simply get them some really cool stuff to play, check out our list below for some ideas.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 8th, 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.

Peggle Blast

Take the monetization format of Candy Crush Saga and add the wonderfully addictive Peggle, and what do you get? Peggle Blast – a suitably enjoyable yet similarly cynical version of everyone’s favorite adaptation of Pachinko and Bagatelle. First things first: Peggle Blast plays just as well as any other Peggle game. It’ll still occasionally feel a touch random, but it’s satisfying for the most part. Dragging a finger around the screen manipulates where the ball goes, with holding it down will magnify the area. Lining things up perfectly to perform a loop-the-loop in order to take out loads of tiles at once is particularly satisfying. And, of course, Ode to Joy is still in there for when you succeed at a level. --Jennifer Allen


Wicked Lair

It’s like some kind of unspoken rule that floats through the universe: good guys build towers to the heavens, and bad guys build underground lairs that go down, down, down. Wicked Lair by Stefan Pratter is all about building a hideout that stretches down into the Earth’s molten bowels. If that’s not enough of a hint, let’s just say it outright: Wicked Lair casts players as a lair-loving bad guy. And that’s OK, because foiling goodie-goods with a trapped underground hideout is as fun as it sounds. Wicked Lair is a mash-up between tower defense and tower building. Players assume the role of a berobed baddie whose subterranean lair is under constant threat from heroes that don’t know how to keep their noses in their own business. --Nadia Oxford


Offroad Legends 2

Clearly heavily influenced by the Trials series of games, Offroad Legends 2 is a less refined but mostly enjoyable physics-based racer. It can’t quite compare with the mighty Trials, but given the limited options for the franchise on iOS it’s a worthy substitute. With plenty of variety at hand, you won’t just be racing motorbikes either. Instead, you’ll be using trucks, buses, monster trucks, and more to negotiate the various obstacles within each level of Offroad Legends 2. That comes with its own issues – namely that you never quite get fully comfortable with one vehicle before you move onto the next, but this does keep things interesting. --Jennifer Allen


Earn to Die 2

At first, Earn to Die 2 is a lot of fun. Kind of like an endless runner but with more of a structure, you attempt to drive a vehicle from one end of the level to the other. The problem is that there are waves of zombies in the way, plus the terrain itself is far from safe. The other, more significant problem is that things soon turn a bit repetitive and Earn to Die 2 turns out to be too long for comfort. That’s a real shame, as early on Earn to Die 2 easily has that ‘one more go’ factor. Controlling your vehicle is simple enough with buttons to the right adjusting for acceleration or using a boost, while the left side of the screen offers buttons that dictate the trajectory of your vehicle while you’re in the air – much like in a physics based racing game. At first you can mostly get away with hitting the accelerate button and seeing what happens, but soon enough those little tweaks make all the difference in helping you explore. --Jennifer Allen


Bruce Lee: Enter the Game

When dealing with the legacy of its title character, Bruce Lee: Enter the Game smartly opts for a more old-school approach – in more ways than one. The gameplay is classic beat ‘em up and has players swiping the screen to clobber goons with fast fists and feet of fury. It’s not the deepest fighting style, but it unfolds at a blistering pace that feels great to execute. In fact, it’s when the system awkwardly tries something more complex, like charging special moves to take down guarded opponents, that it stumbles. Players can also augment Bruce with limited shields and health boosts as well as a power-amplifying fury attack. They can even give him outfits lifted from his films, each with their own bonuses. --Jordan Minor


Duckie Deck Bird Houses

Toddlers and preschool-aged children will be delighted to try the new app, Duckie Deck Bird Houses, which allows them to explore this helpful craft. From first glimpse, adults will marvel at the use of the depth of field that this app has to offer as a lush green and mildly interactive landscape can be seen in the distance while one chooses a tree to build a birdhouse for. I am fond of the look of all of the tree selections as they are various shades of brown and grey – wonderful representations of real trees that most people have come across, complete with distinguishing features such as maple leaves, apples, or acorns. They are all very nice choices that will jog the memories that children have of trees from their adventures in nature. Also of note is the well-crafted background music used throughout – upbeat and a little quirky, which adds to the overall experience for both children and 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

MageCraft: The War

Magecraft: The War is yet another in a very long line of freemium city builders for mobile. Aping games like Clash of Kings and injecting a well-worn fantasy vibe does it stand out? Magecraft starts off a lot like most city builders. Starting with a threadbare base, the player must construct buildings and crank out troops to capture resources from enemies and become stronger and gain experience to become even stronger and so on. All player cities exist on the same map so rather than the arbitrary “neighbors” system common in other social games cities must be marched to to be attacked and distance always matters. --Allan Curtis


Antec PULSE Lite Bluetooth Headphones

Antec should be known by now for its mostly great, affordable accessories; we’ve had the opportunity to look at several of its offerings. Its line of headphones, as exemplified by the PULSE (which we reviewed a few months ago), are nice value propositions, and we expected similar of the Antec PULSE Lite Bluetooth Headphones that were sent to us to review. So what comes in the box? Well, there’s the white headphones, matching white micro-USB charging cable, and ( I liked this small touch) a simple black drawstring carrying pouch. --Tre Lawrence


Red War

Red War may look a bit like Clash of Clans but it is in fact a mobile clone of War Commander, a Facebook game that allows players to build a base and take the fight to other players. Red War has the player take control of a basically non-existent base. After rebuilding some basic structures and receiving a small force of units the player must build a base, crank out more troops and generally roll over anyone who gets in their way. The game features a pretty familiar set of units. There are the ever useful rifle armed infantry, heavy machine gunners and snipers. Later on vehicles such as tanks and APCs come into play and medics and engineers round out the tactical options. --Allan Curtis

And finally, Pocket Gamer returned from the Basque Country with the winners of another Big Indie Pitch, reviewed Game of Thrones and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, picked the best iOS and Android games of November, and recommended some freebies to hold you over until Christmas. Check it all out right here.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 1st, 2014

Your Cure For Black Friday


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


Proun+

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


VainGlory

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


Call of Duty: Heroes

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


Knituma

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


Kingdom Rush Origins HD

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


The Journey of Alvin

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

MOS Cable System

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


Recoil Winders

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


Dark Guardians

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 24th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

SteelSeries Stratus XL

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


Fantasy Solitaire

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


Reckless Racing 3

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


Click Cam

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


AffordIt

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


Toca Nature

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Tank Invaders: Shmup Evolved

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


Joinz

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


Ironkill: Robot Fighting Game

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 17th, 2014

Apps Are Us


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


GoatPunks

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


XCOM: Enemy Within

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


Candy Crush Soda Saga

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


Super Secret Service

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


This Is My Car: Mechanics for Kids

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Dragon Quest

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


Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Earpiece

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


Circle

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

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 10th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Winterforts: Exiled Kingdom

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


Smash Champs

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


Twisty Hollow

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


Dino On Fire

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


Hygiene Essentials

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

The Wolf Among Us

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


Monkey Racing

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


Edifier Prisma Encore Bluetooth Sound System

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

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: October 27- 31, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 3rd, 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.

Retry

Unlike the endless procession of knock-offs, cash-ins, and clones, Retry actually finds Rovio substantially iterating on the Flappy formula, mixing in the star-ranked progression that drove their own mega-hit. Instead of tapping and flapping through an endless procession of pipe gaps, Retry has players guiding their tiny propeller-driven plane from airport to airport in an elusive search for that perfect landing. It’s no easy feat to fly in Retry, with the inexorable grip of gravity and the drag of momentum screwing up those carefully laid flight paths. Too steep of a climb will pull you over into a loop. Not enough feathering of a descent sends you propeller-first into the ground. But when that sweet spot is delicately finessed out of the greedy grip of physics’ and you manage to glide gracefully out of a near-fatal dive, taxiing to the very edge of the final runway? Sublime. And hey, if not, just tap the screen again; there’s always another retry waiting. --Rob Thomas


Logitech Protection + Power iPhone 5/5s Case

This is going to sound funny, but I have clinically diagnosed OCD. One of the weird quirks for me is that I obsess about having several cases or carrying bags for everything. So the idea of a new, very functional case really excites me. When asked about reviewing a case that provides drop protection and an extended battery, I think I replied to the email less than twenty seconds. Sadly, I was told the only colors were black, blue, grey, and white – I was hoping for purple or pink. I really like cases. The Protection + Power comes with a charging cable (USB to micro USB) and a headphone extender (the case lengthens the hole to the jack). Attaching it to my phone was really easy – honestly, it’s the easiest of any battery case I’ve owned. You slide the phone onto the lightning connector, which tilts slightly, then gently push the phone back into the case. Once inside, it seems really secure and safe from most gentle drops. Since it was early in the day, I plugged the charging cable into my desktop computer and watched the lights on the back begin to blink. I went through regular use that day, and took the charging cable to bed. When upstairs, I pulled my lightning cable out of the jack in the wall, and put the USB/microUSB cable in its place. I’ve done this with numerous other charging cases in the past with no issue. In the morning, my phone was at 55% power and the case’s battery was dead. It never charged. --Jade Walker


Dragon Quest II

Opening with the sacking of the city of Moonbrook by the villainous Hargon, Dragon Quest II follows the adventures of a group of young heroes descended from the legendary Erdrick, a recurring character in the series’ mythology. It is as full of cheesy and wonderful faux-Shakespearian dialog as its predecessor was, with the classic RPG mentality that one should speak to every NPC in order to learn about the world and one’s quest. The visuals are bright, colorful pixel art that has been updated for modern devices while retaining that old-school flair. The music, on the other, hand is quite symphonic and adds a sweeping grandeur that enhances the atmospheric qualities. It’s a great juxtaposition of old and new, and it really improves on the gameplay experience. --Andrew Fisher


Agents of Storm

The first thing you’ll notice about Agents of Storm is that it’s really rather pretty – especially compared to other games of its ilk. That’s the second thing. Games of this ilk – freemium base building games – are incredibly common. Unfortunately for Agents of Storm it’s mostly business as usual, despite a few vaguely original tweaks. Notably, you don’t design your own base. It’s all made for you instead, taking away some personalization and sense of ownership from the whole experience. That base gradually expands the more you level-up, with a couple of taps getting things all set up. --Jennifer Allen


Toca Boo

I am eager to let readers know about a new Toca Boca app – Toca Boo – right in time for Halloween. This app is a bit of a departure for Toca Boca, known for their apps that include cleverly themed mini-games and role-playing apps that allow children to pretend to play store, tea party, or drive a train, as well as apps that allow children to build cities or landscapes to drive cars around on. Here, Toca Boca introduces Bonnie, a girl who enjoys being scary, wandering around her house looking for family members to frighten. Children will have fun increasing the creepiness factor for her unassuming victims by turning lights off and on as well as incorporating static on the radio, an alarm clock that rings suddenly, and other objects that can startle others when turned on or off mysteriously – which is done with the tap of a finger, and to be assumed the work of this mischievous girl. Listen to the heart beats rise in the characters as the intensity is increased – a great time to tap one of these characters, triggering their frightened reactions. --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

Trigger Happy

Lunagames launched a Halloween-themed shooter for Android, but is it worth you time? Well, that depends: do you like murdering zombies? Trigger Happy from Lunagames is a straightforward action packed shooter. In it, you need to shoot every zombie or other Halloween themed monstrosity that’s coming right for you. You can do that with just your handgun, including unlimited ammo – the way I prefer to play my Halloween/horror games. But that won’t do the job in Trigger Happy. --Wesley Akkerman


Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

I had the misfortune of having some serious health issues a short while ago, and, without getting overly conversational about it, it changed me. It made me take health more seriously, and one fringe benefit is that it allowed me to take a longer, more appreciative look at the burgeoning area of connected health devices. “Burgeoning” is somewhat of an understatement; the category is exploding. As part of my personal fitness odyssey, I’ve had the privilege of trying out interesting connected gear. The Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is one of them. Personal blood pressure monitors are not new; I have had a generic one for quite some time. While convenient, the one drawback is the collation tool is not self-contained. I used my smartphone to collect the data via my all-round app HanDBase, and while the solution worked, I’d like a more homogeneous fix. --Tre Lawrence


Smart Dynamo Activity Tracker

As part of our ongoing health series, we explore connected health accessories with an Android connection. For an introduction to Android Rundown’s mobile health series, check out our editorial. Health bands and smartwatches are all the rage now; there are several out in the wild, and, thankfully, several corresponding price points. Being healthy is becoming easier to incorporate in one’s lifestyle — in theory, at least. For a lot of folks, having a connected health tracker just makes sense… especially when it can be paired to a ubiquitous always-on device such as a smartphone. Oregon Scientific is a tech company with good pedigree, and has made a name for itself in the area of personal and home electronics; it’s not too much of a stretch to see why it would throw its hat into the fitness tracker ring. the Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker is the fruit of this endeavor. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, head on over to AppSpy, because we've been eating loads of English Breakfasts, watching kids poop their pants in fear, playing the best new multiplayer indie racer, and getting spookier than that Michael Jackson video where he's a zombie (Thriller? Is it Thriller? I want to say it's called Thriller). And it's all right here.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 27th, 2014

Apptastic Reviews!


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

Puzzle to the Center of the Earth

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


The Silent Age Episode 2

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


Angry Birds Transformers

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


Zero Age

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


Sleep Attack TD

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


Montessori Math City

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Republique

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


Dementia: The Book of the Dead

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


Five Nights at Freddy's

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: October 13-17, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 20th, 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.

Pokemon TCG

I’ve been playing and enjoying collectable card games for 20 years, now – yeah, I’m old, shut up. While Magic: the Gathering has always been my main game, I’ve tried and enjoyed several others over the years. One of my favorites was always Pokémon, but at my age (I said shut up!) almost none of my peers play. The only way I could enjoy a game was to go to a tournament and play almost entirely against children. Since that’s as awkward as it sounds, I haven’t played in years. Now there’s a solution to that problem. And unlike Magic’s foray into iPad, Pokémon TCG allows a great deal of freedom. --Jade Walker


Diner Dash

Almost a decade after its launch, the classic time management franchise Diner Dash has returned once again to cause stress headaches in a whole new generation of mobile gamers. It’s been about four years since the last entry in the series – Diner Dash 5: BOOM! – and PlayFirst has revamped the venerable workhorse into a mash-up of classic and all-new styles. And, for the first time ever, the series has embraced the free-to-play model. How well do Flo and the crew make the transition to freemium? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone these days who isn’t at least passingly familiar with the basic concept of Diner Dash. Players are in charge of Flo, a good-natured (but doubtlessly exhausted) waitress whose job is to seat, serve, and generally keep happy all of the customers of her restaurant – many of whom have specific quirks and needs. Unfortunately, as Flo is only one person with two hands, she can only do so much at a time. This leaves her sprinting about madly to take orders, make coffee, clean up dirty tables, and more, all before customers lose their patience and leave. You really have to wonder why this place doesn’t hire at least a busboy, right? --Rob Thomas


Air Supply-SOS

Sheep aren’t loaded with natural defenses. They’re great at standing around, chewing their cud, and waiting to be sheared. That’s about it. That’s why Air Supply – SOS calls on players to foil the Time Travel Company: a greedy organization that kidnaps sheep, robs their fluffy down, and makes clothing. Though these distressed sheep are quantum sheep, they’re still incapable of defending themselves. Do the right thing. Save Our Sheep (“SOS” – get it?). Air Supply is a shooter inspired by the classic ZX Spectrum game Jetpac. Players endure waves of aliens while catching the quantum sheep that fall from the sky. The sheep need to be returned to the rocket ship waiting at the bottom of the screen. Once the requisite number is loaded, the player gets to progress to the next level (often accompanied by a “sheepy hug” of thanksgiving). --Nadia Oxford


Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary

Like in the original, players control Rockford: a scrappy young spelunker exploring a series of caves. But these aren’t just ordinary caves; they’re full of gems, and to open up the exit Rockford must collect a certain number of gems before time runs off. From that description, one might think that gem-collecting would be, if not a difficult process, then at least one that took some thinking. But in Boulder Dash, most of the initial free levels can be beaten by tracing the most straightforward route through the dirt and collecting the obvious gems in plain sight. Players spend the majority of the game performing this deeply uninteresting act again and again. Sure there are a few enemies, but with Rockford’s ability to move basically anywhere and survive anything short of a falling rock, there’s far too little in the player’s way. It almost makes one wish the controls weren’t as smooth and forgiving as they are. Later worlds do ramp up the challenge, but the dull and lengthy introduction discourages players from grinding and earning the stars necessary to unlock the more interesting content for free. --Jordan Minor


Bug Mazing-Adventures in Learning

Bug Mazing – Adventures in Learning' is a new title from Little Bit Studio, the developers known for their series of apps such as Bugs and Buttons, Bugs and Numbers, and a recent favorite, Bug Art. As the name may suggest, Bug Mazing is a maze app with a bug theme that includes activities such as working with numbers, letters, colors and tracing in ways that children will find engaging and adults will appreciate for their educational value. Nature is a big part of these apps and the landscape may either be beautiful and pristine with flowers and insects like bees and ladybugs or include worn details that are possibly less beautiful, but I find these details quite interesting. It also includes a fantasy adventure theme as well as bugs that are styled with different adventure elements, such as Indiana Jones’ hat and other details. A narrator gives encouragement while on each exploration and valuable coins and precious gems are collected as rewards. Each area of this app includes different levels of difficulty and unique bugs select. Do note the selection of languages that is also included within this app – always a nice touch. Multiple children can also keep their own games separate, which is good for at home or the classroom. --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

Entwined Challenge

Twitch games are an addiction of mine now, so checking out Entwined Challenge was destined to be. The visuals rely on simulated distance perspective; to start, the two flying beings are colored red and blue. In the distance is a circle with colored segments; the colors of the segments are generally red, blue and green. the flying beings can be controlled by thumb gestures on either side to move along the axis of the circle, so that each flying being is guided through a matching color segment. As progress is made, the game adjusts too; for example, where the color segments were stationary, they begin to move, forcing the player to make adjustments and quicker decisions on the fly. While the concept remains simple, the developer does a good job of delicately layering levels of difficulty upon the easy-to-understand premise, and it flows well, with no major deviations to distract from the chase of excellence. --Tre Lawrence


Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger

Yes, batteries in mobile devices have gotten better, but in the spirit of being prepared, it just makes sense to have a backup plan. Way back when, getting a couple extra OEM batteries was sufficient. Now, sealed batteries are more commonplace, and having multiple devices at any given time is not unheard of; in any case, all those extra batteries start to add up. Nah, it makes sense to have a portable battery, and when it comes to mobile power solutions, few are as capable of Antec; hence, checking out the new LifeBar 10 Portable Charger is far from a chore. --Tre Lawrence


Withings Smart Body Analyzer

Health tools with a mobile component are especially compelling, and as such, we jumped at an opportunity to check out the Withings Smart Body Connected Scale. The black (white is an option) review unit Withings sent us is pretty much ready to go. At first glance, the first thing that comes to mind is that somehow, the product pictures do not do it justice. It looks like a chiseled dark colored slab. frankly, it look dashing, managing to be modern without being Jetson-silly. The full dark look is accented, and the silver center piece highlights the whole package. The expected display is digital in nature, and still manages to effect art. The battery compartment is at the bottom of the unit, and there is a tab preventing the batteries from cycling; beneath that are two buttons for syncing and selecting units. It looks like a “traditional” scale, but clearly wants people to know it has an extra trick or two up its sleeve. Officially, it comes in at 12.8 x 12.8 x 0.90 inches and 4.62 lbs. --Tre Lawrence


And finally, this week Pocket Gamer covered Apple and Google's big announcements, wrote a massive guide for The Silent Age: Episode Two, tackled GamerGate, and picked 11 iOS games that you may never get to play. All that and loads more, right here.

Apple Unveils the iPad Air 2 - Their Thinnest Tablet Yet

Posted by Rob Rich on October 16th, 2014

In a move that surprised nobody, mostly because we all saw it coming, Apple has unveiled their latest iPad: the iPad Air 2. It's the new thing you need to buy, naturally.

The iPad Air 2 is, of course, even thinner than the original Air - 6.1mm, to be exact. It also uses a special anti-reflective coating to reduce reflections, which Apple claims has never been done in a tablet before. Touch ID will also be available on the new iPad, and it'll ship with iOS 8.1, but you're probably more interested in performance and such.

The tablet will use an all-new A8X processor, which (at the moment) will only be available in the iPad Air 2. The result is 40% faster CPU performance, and apps that can run over twice as fast - up to 180X faster than the original iPad. It's also got a 10-hour battery life, which is decent I suppose.

The iSight Camera has been updated as well, with 8 MP, 1080p HD video, and the ability to take all sort of fancy shots - slow-mo videos, 43 MP panoramas, burst photos, timelapse, and dual microphones. There's also an improved Facetime camera for the front that allows for improved facial detection and burst selfies (hurray?).

The online features have been improved as well, with faster wifi (up to 866MBps) and faster LTE (20 LTE bands).

The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB for the wifi models. There's also going to be a new iPad Mini 3, with a 7.9" Retina display, a 5MP iSight camera, 1080p HD video recording, the improved FaceTime camera, Touch ID, and the improved wifi (802.11n with MIMO). Both new iPads will be available for preorder starting tomorrow and they'll ship by the end of next week.

This Week at 148Apps: October 6-10, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 13th, 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.

Banner Saga

Titles that feature the graphical polish of Stoic’s Banner Saga don’t come around every day. Seemingly pulling inspiration from the art style featured prominently in Disney’s animated films such as 1963’s “The Sword in the Stone,” the game tells two parallel storylines of parties venturing into the wilderness and relative unknown, with the simple goal of surviving to see another day. Amazingly, the animated aesthetic doesn’t dull the bite of the compelling storytelling and weighty decisions facing the player. People can die at virtually every juncture; so try not to get too attached to any one character. The action itself plays out through the standard fare of conversational decision trees and third person tactical turn-based combat. Depending upon the abilities of any one character, as well as their prior achievements on the field of battle, they can be upgraded to better meet the steadily increasing challenge brought forth by AI combatants. Any player who is familiar with the tropes of the tactics genre will find that Stoic has stuck very close to the formula, which also reflects well on Banner Saga’s approachability. --Blake Grundman


Skylanders Trap Team

Before I delve into the particulars it’s worth noting that the download for Skylanders Trap Team is free, but you’ll need to own the Trap Team Starter Pack ($74.99) – and an iPad 3 or up – if you want to play the full game. The price is nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but bear in mind it comes with a wireless Skylanders Portal, one Trap Master and one slightly less fancy Skylander, two Trap Crystals (more on those in a bit), and a wireless controller. The gameplay should be familiar to Skylanders fans. You’ll be wandering around various levels with your characters, fighting against the forces of the evil wizard Kaos, solving some relatively simple puzzles, platforming on occasion, and swapping between Skylanders in order to access special element-specific gates. It’s a bit on the simple side, which is an understandable byproduct of being a game meant for a younger audience, but it’s absolutely overflowing with charm. --Rob Rich


Acorns

Money management and investing in the markets can be daunting for even some of the more seasoned adults, let alone 20-somethings and those making their first long-term financial decisions. With all the heavy fees and blind trust in traders with sometimes dubious intentions it can seem like the risks far outweigh the potential rewards. Acorns is an ambitious app that aims to gain a following by removing all of the hassle of financial planning; even if that means over-simplifying the process. I will say that Acorns does a lot right. The app looks great and navigating throughout the windows is a joy, even if the initial task of finding where all the windows are can be a bit arduous. The simple graph on the front page gives users a simple summary of how their investment is doing, and a more detailed breakdown can be found by simply swiping to the left. Money can be invested either by direct transfer or by linking a bank account and letting Acorns round up purchases made via credit or debit card. This means on a $5.88 purchase, $0.12 would be siphoned into Acorns. --Joseph Bertolini


Just Dance Now

Normally, with console versions of Just Dance, you’d use your controller (or Kinect, or motion control, as it were) to dance along to the choreographed dancers on-screen, but with Just Dance Now all you need to do is download the app. Anyone who wants to join in can download it as well, then hop into your game by providing a code that can be found at the app’s official website. What follows is a surprisingly complete experience, with a catalogue of pop songs that’s quite impressive. While many are locked behind a paywall in the form of a VIP Pass, many of the free songs are refreshed each day so you can at least have some semblance of choice. You’ve got songs like “Gangnam Style” and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” and there’s a fun selection of free songs so you don’t have to worry about spending money. --Brittany Vincent


Toonia Twinmatch

Toonia TwinMatch, as the name may imply, is an interesting new game for children – a matching game of sorts that players old and young will find far more interesting than the typical app based on “memory” or “concentration” where one needs to flip over tiles in order to create pairs. Instead, Toonia TwinMatch is based on traditional Mahjong Solitaire where 144 tiles are laid out as well as stacked in specific ways, with free tiles in need of being paired are those that can be moved without being blocked by other tiles on either the Left or Right and Top. Likewise, top tiles need to be removed to open up tiles on lower levels. Adults may be familiar with the vast options for Mahjong Solitaire as an online computer game or apps for adults. Likewise, instead of traditional Chinese Character tiles, Toonia TwinMatch includes bright, colorful, and stylized fruits and vegetable tiles to match, as well as a helpful light bulb that can be turned on with a tap that will identify free tiles by darkening the ones currently blocked. Pairs will faintly be highlighted as well if a player is slow to make matches, which is a nice touch. --Amy Solomon


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team

This year, EA shakes things up by only presenting us the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 15 for Android. That’s a fact that you either hate or love, but I must say: I was surprised by that choice. Normally I would start a soccer game review with the words that the game is bigger and better than the version released a year ago. But that is not the case with FIFA 15: Ultimate Team. Instead of making the game, sometimes unnecessary, bigger, Electronic Arts tried to built upon the core of the Ultimate Team mode. You know, the mode where you need to collect cards of players, technical staff, coaches and attributes and build your own team based on the cards you collect. You get those cards by fulfilling certain goals. --Wesley Akkerman


Escape Bird

When I saw the screens for Escape Bird, I thought: this looks like the Dark Souls version of Flappy Bird. Was I right? We all know the type of game Flappy Bird was. It was an unfair and unpolished, but somehow hilarious game about a bird, trying to escape whatever through some odd looking pipes, that somehow reminded us all of a Italian plumber. By tapping we made sure the bird didn’t fall or touch anything and by doing good, we all scored higher points. Or not, depending on the (lack of a good) hitbox. --Wesley Akkerman


Sony Music Unlimited

One of the biggest question a music service has to answer is the one that pertains to content. On this front, Sony Music Unlimited packs a major punch; not shocking, considering we’re talking about, well, Sony here. It boasts more than 30 million songs, which is far from shabby. In reality, it picked up almost every artist I threw at it across genres. I was happy to find entire albums from even obscure artists; it didn’t have ALL, but I think I could be satisfied with the selection. The audio is quite clear (320 kbps High Quality Audio), and no ads to contend with. The ability to access the premium service on the web, multiple mobile platforms, Playstation consoles/handhelds and compatible Sony electronics adds to its allure. --Tre Lawrence


And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played the new VR game from the guys behind Monument Valley, reviewed Skylanders Trap Team, went hands-on with Chaos Rings III, reported on a pair of clever new business models, and shared some sad news for iOS emulation fans. It's all here, and more, at Pocket Gamer.

Pointless or Prophetic - is Apple Pay a Sign of the Times?

Posted by Andrew Fisher on October 8th, 2014

A couple of years ago, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, my mother generously asked me if there was anything I wanted for Christmas. As it turned out my wife and I were just getting into board games as a hobby, but not wanting my mom to bother wandering into a Manhattan board game specialty store I just told her I'd give her the names of a few games we were interested in that I knew she could find on Amazon. She surprised me with her response - that she wasn't going to be able to get me those games because she didn't feel comfortable shopping online.

My mother is the first to admit that she's not the most tech-savvy person around, but I was still shocked that she wouldn't order anything from Amazon, and further shocked that she had never bought anything online. When I asked why, both she and my father explained that they simply didn't trust the technology and that it made them uncomfortable.

I guess the reason I found it difficult to accept is because online transactions have represented the majority of my expenses for years. So the idea that people who are otherwise modern, educated, competent folks wouldn't trust something as universal as online shopping - their instinctive distrust - seemed downright silly to me as someone who is, by upbringing and profession, constantly exposed to the world of social media, online commerce, and internet connectivity.

Which is why I had to stop and scold myself when I saw Apple Pay and immediately shook my head in disapproval.

Sure, there are security features in place. Sure, your credit info isn't technically stored on the device. And sure, what is locally kept is locked behind a biometric defense system, can be disabled remotely, and probably has a dozen other security protocols I'm unaware of. Still, my gut reaction to the idea of using my phone to pay for things was instantaneous distrust - and that's ridiculous.

Whether you're an adherent to the Cult of Apple, just think their products are cool, or even if you have no intention of buying Apple's newest miracle device, the fact is that this idea of a unified way of managing your credit, integrated into your mobile electronics, is a very likely technological progression. Of course security will always be an issue, but is there really any difference in using my computer to order something from an online retailer via my credit card or tapping my iPhone against a sensor to initiate the exact same kind of transaction in person? The bottom line is that (semantics aside) there isn't, and I doubt very much that this feature will remain exclusive to the iPhone for long.

I also doubt I'm the only one who looked at Apple Pay and scoffed. But I think that, like my parents not trusting the idea of internet commerce, it's just a product of technological inertia. No, I'm not one of the folks who ran out to get an iPhone 6 Plus on day 1, but I won't be one of the naysayers who resists the direction this new tech is taking us simply because 'it's different and that makes me nervous.'

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 6th, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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

Monsu

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


Card Dungeon

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


Galaxy Trucker

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


Nexticy

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


BuggyFun

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Cannon Crasha

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


Antec 4 Port USB Charging Station

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


Keeper Password Manager

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

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

New iPad Announcements Expected from Apple on October 16

Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 6th, 2014

According to Cult of the Mac, Apple is planning to release its latest update info for the iPad this Thursday, October 16.

Along with the update they are rumored to be announcing a new iPad Air. It will come with a new A8 processor, improved cameras, and a new gold option. Also the Retina iMacs might show up present their new 5120 x 2880 display and updated processors.

Rest in Peace My Beloved iPod Touch, the iPhone Minus The Phone

Posted by Ellis Spice on October 3rd, 2014

I'm an iPod Touch owner, and I think it may be time for me to admit that my device's time is almost up. But firstly, a little bit of back story for you: 

My first iOS device was a 2nd generation iPod Touch, which is long ago enough for it to not have had a camera or microphone. My second iOS device was a 4th generation iPod Touch, with my current device being a 5th generation device. Putting it bluntly, I'm a fan of the iPod Touch.

To me, the iPod Touch was Apple's accidental handheld console. Sure you can purely use it as an iPod with a camera if you so wish, but to someone like me, it was (and still is) my gateway into iOS gaming at a much cheaper cost than an iPhone - one that also just happened to fit into my pocket. The fact that I could access the wide variety of iOS games through a relatively cheap device (compared to other iOS devices, anyway) is the reason I'm here today, on a site devoted to iOS apps.

Once upon a time the release of an iPod Touch was a yearly thing, with the tech in the device just below that found in that year's iPhone. The 4th and 5th seemingly started the pattern of a new device every two years, meaning this year should've bought on the release of the 6th generation. The September 9 iPhone 6 announcement event has long since come and gone however, and the world is seemingly nowhere nearer to seeing a six next to the iPod Touch name.

If you sit down and think about it though, in this day and age the iPod Touch is an unusual thing. It's the size of the phone and does almost everything you'd expect from a modern phone besides be a phone: it has a touch screen, two cameras, a microphone, and the ability to run apps. To be fair, that's also everything the average person would likely expect from a modern tablet as well. And therein lies the rub.

I can understand why Apple seems to be no longer supporting it. In the past year, the hardware giant released four iOS devices - the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, and the 2nd generation iPad Mini. Four devices, all varying in price and size, and each with their own niche to cater to. Within those devices, there's something there for pretty much everyone. You want a phone-sized device to play your iOS games on? Fine, go get an expensive contract and get an iPhone. You want a device devoted to running apps? Fine, go get an iPad or iPad Mini with their bigger screens and better resolutions. You want both? Before, the answer to that question was the iPod Touch. Now, I think Apple would much rather you gave them more money and bought an iPhone and an iPad.

This time next year, we'll likely see the release of iOS 9 and the end of support for the generation of devices that used the A5 chip - including the 5th generation iPod Touch. As much as I hope Apple will announce a new iPod Touch next year, part of me knows that the brand is effectively a dead parrot at this point. And as much as I want to nail it to a perch, it's already pushing up the daises and has joined the choir invisible.

So, farewell iPod Touch. The iPhone minus the phone. The iPad Mini but even smaller. The accidental handheld console. You will be missed.