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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.

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

Scanbot, the iPhone App for Scanning Important Documents to the Cloud, is Free Today Only

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 22nd, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Scanbot, the app that makes it easy to scan receipts, documents, whatever else, and easily upload said documents to the cloud, has gone free for iOS for today only, after selling 50,000 copies. It's normally $1.99, but now those who need to scan their documents can do so for free if they act quickly. And there's no in-app purchases right now, so there's no catch, either. Act fast!

Swarm by Foursquare Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Campbell Bird on May 20th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: NEW FOURSQUARE
This new Foursquare app specializes in the more social aspects of location-based social networking.
Read The Full Review »

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 18th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Godzilla-Smash3

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


JoyJoy

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


Dark Lands

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


CIRCA6

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


Toy Rush

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


WordGirl Superhero Training

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Lost Bubble

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


Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies

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


Go Kane!

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

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

Smule Pass Unifies VIP Subscriptions in Magic Piano, Guitar!, Sing! Karaoke, and AutoRap

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 14th, 2014

Smule has announced their new Smule Pass service for unlimited access to music and features across several of their music apps. Users of Sing! Karaoke, Magic Piano, AutoRap, and Guitar! can buy a subscription in one app and get unlimited song access and storage, pro studio effects, and the ability to upload Sing! tracks to Smule.com.

Right now, all existing and upcoming purchases of VIP subscriptions in each individual app will get the Smule Pass for all four apps for the life of their subscriptions. It's not possible to purchase a "Smule Pass" per se - we've reached out for clarification on how future purchases will work.

Update: According to a Smule representative, anyone who buys a VIP subscription in an app and has the app linked to their Smule ID will get the Smule Pass, enabling access in the other apps.

GoodReader 4 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on May 14th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: STILL GOOD
GoodReader is an excellent utility for any iOS device, it's just not necessarily a required update for current users of the app.
Read The Full Review »

StandWith Will Help Those with Cancer and Other Serious Ailments Get the Actual, Practical Help They Need

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 12th, 2014

Yael Cohen, founder of the "let's not mince words" Fuck Cancer organization, has announced a new app help caregivers get the people they're taking care of the actual day-to-day help they need. StandWith will allow caregivers to help dole out tasks like getting groceries, picking up the kids from school, and anything else that needs to be done. These tasks can be assigned to friends, family, and acquaintances, with people able to be brought in by Facebook, email, and Google+.

The app is currently in closed beta, with signups available on StandWith's site..

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.

L2Code Releases New Apps to Teach Javascript and jQuery Programming Languages

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 9th, 2014

SparkNET has released two new apps as part of their L2Code series that uses apps to help teach people how to code various programming languages. L2Code jQuery and L2Code Javascript will help users make their own web pages, with Javascript being a great entry point for doing things like making games.

L2Code jQuery and L2Code Javascript are both available now, for $4.99 and $2.99 respectively.

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.

Noot Intends to Make News Discovery Easier and More Intelligent Through its Learning Engine

Posted by Carter Dotson on April 30th, 2014
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Noot Mobile for iOS is a new app, described as a "news discovery engine" that's intended to make finding relevant news on the go simpler. Launch the app and choose from thirteen news categories, including Entertainment, Sports, World News, and more, each with their own subcategories, all aggregating news from numerous sources. Articles can be shared, saved to the front "Saved Articles" section, and sources subscribed to for easy access from the front page. As well, there's a "Learning Technology" that's meant to help suggest new topics that match the user's interest over time.

You can download Noot Mobile off the App Store now for free.

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