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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.

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.

Adobe Talks New Mobile Apps at MAX 2014

Posted by Ellis Spice on October 7th, 2014

Yesterday at their MAX conference, Adobe unveiled a series of new mobile apps and the public beta of the Creative SDK, which will allow third parties to link mobile apps into Creative Cloud.

New 'Creative Profiles' allow users to connect to files, photos, colors, fonts, and more from wherever they are, from whatever device they're using, and from all of their CC-supported apps - with assets appearing automatically in contexts where they could be suitable. Nine new mobile apps were also unveiled, each with their own unique function that feeds into the Adobe ecosystem. The announced (and now released) apps are:


  • Photoshop Sketch - Allows for drawing with new built-in brushes and integrates with Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC.

  • Photoshop Mix - Updates to Mix allow for precise compositing and enhanced integration with Photoshop CC.

  • Lightroom Mobile - Builds off of Photoshop CC and allows clients, friends, and family to select favorites and leave comments on photos shared online.

  • Illustrator Draw - Formerly Adobe Idea, this new vector drawing tool gives users a more modern interface and integration with Illustrator CCAdobe Ink, and Slide.

  • Illustrator Line - A precision drawing app, Line features new functionality for perfectly distributing shapes as users draw and for sending sketches to Illustrator CC.

  • Adobe Premiere Clip - Premiere Clip allows users to quickly edit their videos on the move and send them to Premiere Pro CC for further editing.

  • Adobe Brush CC - Using this app, users can create unique brushes from any photograph and use these brushes in Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, or Adobe Illustrator Sketch.

  • Adobe Shape CC - Shape CC allows users to create shapes from high-contrast photos of anything, with these photos turned into vector art that can be used immediately in Illustrator CC and Illustrator Line.

  • Adobe Color CC - Formerly Adobe Kuler, colors can be captured and saved as themes for further use in other Adobe applications.

All of the above apps are free to download on iOS and are available now.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 6th, 2014

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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

Monsu

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


Card Dungeon

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


Galaxy Trucker

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


Nexticy

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


BuggyFun

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Cannon Crasha

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


Antec 4 Port USB Charging Station

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


Keeper Password Manager

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 8th, 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.


Valiant Hearts

Humanity has loads of awful wars to tuck under its belt, but few were as grimy or bloody as the First World War. Appropriately referred to as “The Great War” during its tortured four-year lifespan, the conflict still dredges up images of trenches, sucking mud, lung-searing gas, and a bizarre clash of old war (horse-mounted cavalries) versus new war (machine guns, tanks). The First World War isn’t a period of time to be taken lightly or disrespected, but thankfully Valiant Hearts: The Great War by Ubisoft and Future Games of London treats its subject matter solemnly. The story driving this stark-looking puzzle/action game is packed with emotion, and its characters stick with the player long after the app is shut ff. Players are never asked to judge – only to observe the ongoing events. There are even history lessons galore, courtesy of succinct but informative in-game summaries and item collections. --Nadia Oxford


Heavy Metal Thunder

Heavy Metal Thunder isn’t like other game books. For one thing, you have to pay attention to it and the decisions you make. Some other titles, you can let your mind wander slightly or make a somewhat foolish decision and not be punished for it. Heavy Metal Thunder responds to any foolish call by smacking down on you – hard. It’s a satisfying adventure game, but don’t expect to complete it any time soon. The early stages ably demonstrate what’s expected of you. Plenty of different skills are available, giving you a fairly varied experience. You can choose to be a stealthy warrior or to be a charismatic leader with a plethora of options at hand. It’s not long, however, before the decisions you make can bring huge ramifications. --Jennifer Allen


Spring

For online shopping, websites are becoming increasingly old fashioned. After all, many of us are using phones and tablets to browse and surely an app designed for that discerning market is what you want? That’s the thinking behind the label-focused shopping app, Spring. It’s simple yet stylish, ensuring you can get all the information you want on a product and easily order it. The simplest way to sign up is via Facebook, with Spring promising to not post without your permission. You can then choose from a variety of different brands and labels to follow, so you can always see what your favorite designer is up to. A tabbed interface means you can easily switch between the options available. --Jennifer Allen


Tiny Tower Vegas

Tiny Tower was a big success, given its main draw was in enticing you to build a bigger skyscraper than your friends. It was oddly appealing and spawned many clones. Here we are then, with the true sequel of sorts: Tiny Tower Vegas. And this time around, there’s a bit more going on. The core aim is still there – you build new floors on your skyscraper in a bid to earn coins to carry on building new floors. Keeping each place stocked with stuff to sell is essential, with plenty of timers and checking in on how things are progressing. But this time around you don’t have people living here. Instead they stay on hotel floors, meaning you can additionally earn money that way, too. A lobby at the bottom of the tower provides a place for potential employees to hang out, with up to five sticking around at any one time. --Jennifer Allen


Tizzy ZigZag Cars

There was a bit of a reversal in our home recently, as I was eager to introduce my son to a new app that I had downloaded onto our iPad: Tizzy ZigZag Cars, a car racing app with a heavy use of physics. Little did I know that my son had already taken a closer look at it earlier and was more than happy to walk me through what he had learned about this application. Tizzy ZigZag Cars allows children to build their own simple car as they choose front and back tires as well as the body, keeping in mind that the car will be flipping over and continuing to race as one drives on the included courses. My boy and I appreciate that the selections include two sizes of wood and metal tires, as well as other choices that will directly affect how the car responds to the fantasy track that one will be driving on – possibly driving too fast and not maintaining enough control to collect star badges, or driving so slowly that you lose the momentum you need to move around the course. These tracks – fifteen in total – spread evenly over five different themes including space, candy, western, sports, and a colorful wood option. As the name may suggest, these tracks are reminiscent of the zigzag racetrack, also known as switchback or click-clack tracks, where gravity allows a car to roll down a series of ramps, flipping over to the reverse side of the vehicle as the car falls controllably to the next track to continue on. While these young children’s toys tend to be basic contraptions, the ZigZag tracks include a lot of interesting details that create almost a maze-like effect as one travels on a series of ramps – complete with loops, drops, and flags that will give the car a burst of speed when collected, as well as other themed objects it interacts with. --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

Yahoo Aviate Launcher

The ability to customize is one of Android’s biggest virtues, and third-party launchers are a big part of the experience. Thing is, there are a lot of launchers on the scene; as such, new options by the Yahoo acquisition Aviate have to do quite a bit to stand out. Upon starting the app, one gets the “Simplify your phone” mantra, an invitation that is hard to ignore. There is a video intro and tapping on the blue “start” button opens up a three-page promo portion which eventually leads to the set-up, and after selecting Aviate as the permanent launcher, its ready to go. --Tre Lawrence


Game of Thrones Ascent

Finally, Game of Thrones Ascent is released on Android devices. But will the trip through Westeros be worth your time? Let’s find out. One of the coolest aspects of the Xbox 360 game Fable 3 is that players could make a string of decisions at the end of their adventure. Maybe it wasn’t the best solution for that game at that very moment, but the ability to decide what is best for yourself or others is a concept in video games I very much enjoy and appreciate. The Android game Game of Thrones Ascent starts with a couple challenges waiting to be tackled by choosing the option one prefers. A very strong start of the game. --Wesley Akkerman


Sumico: The Numbers Game

Who would’ve thought that solving math challenges would be so much fun? In my book, that can only be when the game’s design is top notch and with Sumico, from the Dutch developer Ludomotion, that is just the case. In Sumico, players will face some harsh math problems. That sounds utterly dull, but bear with me here. The game’s design is really flawless. At it’s core, it is solving math, yes. But this game offers clever use of the renowned Candy Crush design. Players need to solve those problems at a grid full of hexagons. On these hexagons are numbers displayed. Players need to combine them with hexagons showing typical math signs, like the plus and minus, etcetera. By holding the first number, swiping and combining it with a math sign on to another number, a sum is made and the answer shows up on screen. With the answer, it is possible to make a new sum. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of August, investigated smartwatches and virtual reality, asked Rovio if Angry Birds Stella is just for girls, found the best gaming phones under $500, rounded up all the iPhone 6 rumors, and looked at a stunning monochrome heist game for iOS called Calvino Noir.

This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 30th, 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.

Hyperlapse

As someone who’s been around for much of the internet’s mainstream rise to success, I’ve got a feeling our attention spans are depreciating quite quickly. Video technology has grown to the extent that YouTube stars are a reality, but there’s a side effect to that. People want things quicker, which is how we’ve ended up with six second vines and Tumblrs full of GIFs because they’re just so much faster than videos. Hyperlapse is the natural step forward from this. It allows you to very quickly make time-lapse videos before uploading them to Facebook or Instagram. It’s pretty great, too. There’s hardly any set up involved here. Hyperlapse knows you want to get on with taking videos and is very simple to use. Simply hit the record button and away you go. Once you’ve finished recording whatever it is, you can then use a slider to adjust how fast you’re taken through each snap. Finished there? Then hit the share button and you’re done. --Jennifer Allen


Bioshock

Only a couple of months after the very first iPhone became available, Bioshock was let loose on an unsuspecting public. Okay, it was probably expected. Alright fine, it had an express ticket on the Hype Train. My point is that when Bioshock first started impressing the heck out of players and critics alike, smartphone tech was still in its infancy. Nobody could have expected that one day, seven years later, we’d be able to explore Andrew Ryan’s failed utopia on our phones. Now that we can, I have to say it’s rather cool. For the most part. --Rob Rich


Madden NFL Mobile

Right in time for next week’s kickoff and following the example of its console brethren, EA Sports is taking another whack at the gridiron on iOS with their newly-released Madden NFL Mobile. Will this offering trump their past attempts at transitioning the pigskin, or will the result be another tragic punting situation? It seems like Madden NFL Mobile is the culmination of several years’ worth of fan feedback and tuning. That doesn’t mean that the freemium shenanigans are gone, but they’re certainly nowhere near as influential as in previous seasons – for example, plays are still locked behind a leveling wall. However, the need to pay in-game currency in order to use locked plays has mercifully been removed. Instead, the initial playbook has been bulked up significantly and the rate at which newer plays are unlocked seems accelerated. --Blake Grundman


Star Wars: Commander

The handy thing about having the Star Wars franchise under your belt is that it’s essentially a free pass. I want to mutter about how Star Wars: Commander is a Clash of Clans clone in many ways because it kind of is. But it also captures the magic of controlling the Empire or Rebel Forces quite well and even throws in a decent narrative, meaning you’ll most likely end up forgiving it. At least, assuming you’re a Star Wars fan. Starting out, you can choose whether to go to the Light or Dark side with that choice affecting what heroes you can use (for a time, at least). It’s a neat move in making you feel like Star Wars: Commander is a different game from Clash of Clans and it does a fine job of using the Force to keep the illusion real. --Jennifer Allen


Pac-Man Friends

Pac-Man Friends by Namco Bandai does more than supply players with Pac-Man themed puzzles: it also serves as a reminder that the Pacster has a large network of family and friends. After all, when destiny calls on him to run through a maze and gobble up ghosts, he usually works alone. Not this time, though. Pac-Man Friends challenges players to solve dozens of mazes, all of which carry an action-based Pac-Man theme. Pac-Man Friends is definitely unique as a consequence, and there’s still enough variety to keep players engaged level after level. Some control issues keep it from the upper pantheon of Pac-Man’s greatest outings, however. --Nadia Oxford


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

Star Fleet Deluxe

Star Fleet Deluxe is a tactical game that apes Star Trek more than a little. Taking command of a huge starship, the player stands alone against a huge force of murderous aliens, hell-bent on eradicating any and all humans in the galaxy. Star Fleet Deluxe is a very in-depth, turn based strategy game. The game takes place over a huge area, 81 quadrants of galaxy space to be precise, filled with stars, colonies, planets and starbases. --Allan Curtis


Notepad Reminder

Smartphones are predicated on convenience. The best apps are simple to use and make people’s lives easier. But for some reason, app developers have not harnessed the convenient potential of widgets. At least, that is the concept behind Notepad Reminder, a note-taking widget that is easy to use and easier to access. Rather than digging through menus and taking time to open an app, widgets offer a way to interact with an app right on an Android device’s home screen. This feature is typically used to relay emails or check sports scores at a moment’s notice, but Notepad Reminder takes it to another level, adding usability and productivity right to the home screen. --Ryan Bloom


Wipeout

Years ago, I was flipping through the TV, and stumbled across a show that forever changed my TV watching habits: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC). The show itself was a irreverent Americanized version of the Japanese obstacle course show Takeshi’s Castle. The original show was a funny in and of itself, kind of like American Ninja Warrior on funny steroids; the added layer of deliciously re-edited and re-dubbed footage from the original took the show to hysterical heights. A “true” American-centric version of the show popped up on the scene a few years ago called Wipeout. It is very similar to the original Japanese shows, down to the pain inducing obstacles and the zany commentary by the hosts. It was only a matter of time for the game to hit consoles, and it has since come to Android. --Tre Lawrence

Finally, this week Pocket Gamer gave a Gold Award to three games: ALONE, The Nightmare Cooperative, and Appointment with F.E.A.R. Plus, get the lowdown on 2K's Bioshock port, some Motorsport Manager tips, and 10 upcoming iOS games for September. Check it out right here.

This Week at 148Apps: August 18-22, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 25th, 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.

Doctor Who: Legacy

Take the perennially popular Match-3 genre, combine it with a well-loved TV show, and what do you get? Doctor Who: Legacy. That’s all you need to know about it, really. If you enjoy Match-3 games and Doctor Who, you’ll enjoy this. Don’t expect much innovation, though. This is a puzzle game we’ve all played before. Divided up into seasons, you’re able to take The Doctor and his relevant trusty companion on an adventure through time and space by, well, matching gems to defeat Daleks and Cybermen. Yes, it’s a curious use of the license but it kind of works. Deviating from the typical Match-3 path you can move gems anywhere on screen, thereby setting up some great combos. Doctor Who: Legacy keeps it fairly light and easy, but it’s still quite satisfying to take out an enemy in one move. Also, there are special attacks to inflict on your foe that are very loosely Doctor Who-esque. It’s all very typical of the genre but less so of the show. --Jennifer Allen


Hanx Writer

Oscar winning actor, all-around Hollywood nice guy, and now app creator? Is there anything that Tom Hanks can’t do? It appears not. Hanx Writer taps into the actor’s love of old-fashioned typewriters and attempts to bring the nostalgia to your humble iPad. It’s a pretty cool typing app too, even if it’s not going to replace more modern fare. Replicating the typewriting experience, you’re given a form of typewriter for free with more available via in-app purchases. It brings with it the right noises for when you’re typing, as well as the choice to remove the delete key for the true authentic experience. After so many years of not hearing the ‘proper’ noise of keys being hit on a keyboard, it’s kind of cool to hear Hanx Writer replicate those noises from years gone by. --Jennifer Allen


Star Realms

The Blob have arrived, and all who stand against them will be reduced to ash. Their fleets – massive, terrifyingly organic ships – arrive with the catastrophic finality of a lightning strike, decimating anything in their path. The civilized races of the galaxy respond the only way they know how: they form and break alliances, taking the disastrous arrival of the Blob to grab for power. And so the fleets arise, intent on nothing less than total victory. Star Realms started as a deck-building card game of titanic popularity, and this digital adaptation attempts to successfully capture the fast-paced, simple-yet-engaging gameplay of the physical version. For the most part, it succeeds overwhelmingly. Players take turns drawing cards from their ever-increasing decks in order to gain Trade, Authority, and Combat. Trade is spent on new ships, authority acts as the game’s hit points, and combat is used to destroy your opponent’s outpost and damage their Authority. --Andrew Fisher


Assault Vector

Despite marketing positioning it as a turn-based strategy game, Assault Vector feels more like a re-skinned version of some sort of hyper-future checkers where all the other pieces are out to murder you. Players move their ship around a hex-based “sector” of space, trying to either destroy all of the opposing spacecraft or make their way to the green exit gate. Destroying the enemy ships nets you the opportunity to upgrade your own, while making it to the exit space just guarantees safe passage to the next board – without any benefits beyond surviving another day. The player and the enemy fleet alternate turns, moving one hex at a time. Each enemy ship has a firing arc, which can be viewed in red by tapping that specific ship. Most of these are along straight or diagonal lines, but the occasional ship has a circular danger zone surrounding it on all sides. Enemy ships are destroyed by moving into one of their bordering safe hexes, allowing the player’s ship to get the first shot off. Jumping into a hex that’s on the firing line, on the other hand, gets the player’s ship blasted instead, shaving off a point of health. But the player has a couple of other tools on hand to assist, each one usable once per sector. The Hyper Jump allows for one single move of a greater distance than the usual one hex. Similarly, the Neutron Cannon allows one enemy ship to be attacked from a far away, rather than the usual point-blank range. --Rob Thomas


Space Colors

In space, no one can see a ship explode into hundreds of really cool colors. Wait – colors still show up in a vacuum, right? It’s not like sound, or – eh, never mind. What’s really important is that Space Colors by Team Chaos is a fun, fast-paced shooting game that looks great right here on good ol’ Terra. Space Colors is primarily a shooter, but it contains some mild roguelike elements, too. Players travel from planet to planet, each with a randomly-generated mission. There may be asteroids to dispose of, or crates to collect, or enemy forces to trade gunfire with. When players emerge victorious, they’re allowed to move on to the next planet in the system. --Nadia Oxford


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

Freaking Math

Simple games often thrive on phones. The format just suits simple games that can be played for minutes or even seconds when there’s a quiet moment or passing a phone between friends, trying to beat each other’s record. Freaking Math takes simplicity and files it down into something even more simple that simple. The result is a pretty damn simple game that looks like it took a few minutes to make, but is addictive, tough and a bit of fun. Freaking Math is aptly described by its title. It makes you say freaking a lot and it is math. A series of sums appear on a colored screen that may be correct or incorrect. They are always very simple, elementary math level problems, such as 1+1=2 or 2+3=4. There is a tick and a cross button and the object is to tap the button to say whenever the sum is correct or not before time runs out, much like the little known 1977 Atari 2600 game Basic Math. Easy right? The catch is the time limit is literally one second. Taking more than one second to answer the sum or answering it wrong ends the game and displays the high score. The game is hard so games rarely last more than a minute and the game has a distinctly Flappy Bird-ish vibe to it, what with its super simple presentation and short game length. --Allan Curtis


Unpossible

I’m an emotional mess, and it’s all because of Unpossible. On paper, it’s a racing game, but it goes a bit beyond the basic paradigm. It starts from the intro screen, with the dazzling blue interspersed with dark undertones. The background cityscape is bathed in moonlight, and the electric feel is almost tangible in the way it invokes the night. The raceway is a blue-lined dark, tubular affair that extends in seemingly unending fashion over barren land. --Tre Lawrence


Brave Tribe

Brave Tribe is another freemuiem citybuilder, but this one tells the story of a small Celtic village completely surrounded by Romans who like their food and a good fight. If this sounds familiar it sure is. The opening cutscene has a lot of homages to a certain heroic little Gaul and there is even a Monty Python reference squeezed in there. All this personality pretty much disappears when the game begins though. Taking control of a nearly featureless village, the player must build it up into a stronghold capable of supporting stronger warriors and defeating the encroaching Romans. Fighting off the Romans is as simple as tapping on them a few times though at least after the player has waited an hour or two to produce swords. A few basic quests provide direction and additional things to tap on. --Allan Curtis

And finally, this week the guys on Pocket Gamer subjected Peter Molyneux to a grilling, celebrated the return of Flappy Bird's creator Dong Nguyen with a harsh review, experienced disappointment at Clash of Clans clone Star Wars: Commander, and told everybody about Humble's latest charity mobile bundle. Read all of this, and more, right here.

This Week at 148Apps: July 28th-August 1st, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 3rd, 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.

80 Days

The Sorcery! series has been great so far, which means anyone with an interest in interactive fiction should have been pretty excited by the upcoming release of 80 Days. Guess what? You were right to be psyched! 80 Days is a fantastic game for the interactive fiction aficionado, providing plenty of interesting choices and some much-requested replayability. Based upon the classic novel by Jules Verne, you take the role of Passepartout, Phileas Fogg’s loyal servant, as the pair attempt to travel the world in 80 days. Changing things around from the book, there’s a steampunk twist to everything here and it works well at offering a fresh take on an otherwise familiar story. --Jennifer Allen


Star Admiral

I hate to keep returning to Hearthstone as a point of reference throughout this review, as Hardscore Games’ Star Admiral most definitely stands as a solid offering in its own right, but it quite clearly treads strongly on the path that Blizzard’s wildly successful digital collectable card game has already paved. Take the core CCG formula, strip away excess complexity, and distill what remains into a refined essence wrapped in a visually appealing skin. Only Star Admiral takes it a touch further still. While Hearthstone replaced the visuals of cards in play on a virtual tabletop with stylish little cameo portraits that shake and thump and slide their way around the virtual tabletop, Hardscore rips the tabletop conceit out completely and tosses the whole mess into deep space. Cards? What do you mean, cards? We’re battling with spaceships, baby! --Rob Thomas


Traps n' Gemstones

Traps n’ Gemstones is an action adventure game in which players explore an ancient tomb to discover its mysteries and undo the misdeeds of a mysterious looter. The game bears quite a bit of a resemblance to classics like Castlevania and Metroid in terms of overall structure, gameplay, and quality. Much like the games it is modeled after, Traps n’ Gemstones revolves around players exploring a complex, interconnected environment where puzzle-solving, traversal, and combat must be used together to reach new areas, gather items, and progress through the game. In this game in particular, players are bent on capturing a temple looter who is hiding behind a mysterious forcefield that can only be broken by recovering lost relics and placing them in their proper locations. Although because the setting is an ancient underground temple, finding these relics involves fighting mummies, outrunning boulders, riding minecarts, and many other Indiana Jones-type situations. --Campbell Bird


The Phantom PI Mission Apparition

Busting ghosts makes you feel good. This is a scientific fact. And it’s as true in video games as it is in the real world. Solving puzzles, nabbing spooks, and exploring haunted mansions in The Phantom PI Mission Apparition will definitely make you feel good. Players put on the monocle of Cecil Sparks, the titular Phantom PI. Instead of helping the living with their ghost problems, as one might expect, Sparks helps ghosts deal with other ghosts upsetting their peaceful afterlife. In this particular mission, he’s helping deceased rock star Marshall Staxx recover his stolen gear from a bullying, gluttonous, Slimer-esque specter named Baublebelly. Along the way, players will learn more about Staxx’s time on Earth through newspaper scraps, demo tapes, and other effective forms of emergent storytelling. --Jordan Minor


ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers

From a very young age, many of us have aspired to create comic books. That spark of imagination is something that never really leaves, but unfortunately the spare time fades instead. Fortunately, there are apps to ensure you can still live your fantasies as a comic book writer, which is where we come to ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers. ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers is a pretty vast app. It’s as simple or as complex as you want it to be, allowing you to add multiple different comic book stickers, captions, and filters all in a bid to create an awesome looking strip out of your photos. --Jennifer Allen


Note

Is it possible to have an app that’s almost too simple? In the case of note taking app, Note, that seems quite likely. As the name suggests, it’s an app for entering notes and other information that you need to enter quickly. The issue is that there really isn’t much more to it than the stock app, which makes that $1.99 asking price a bit of a shock. The app starts out very cleanly, allowing you to get started straight away or dive into the options side of things. Options wise, it’s possible to change the font used, as well as set up the app to save to iCloud. Don’t expect more depth than this because that’s pretty much Note‘s limit, unless you count being able to open the app on a blank note each time. --Jennifer Allen


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Globber's Escape

More than 30 years since its initial release, Pac-Man is still one of the greatest video games ever created. Although Pac-Man holds up surprisingly well today, the game’s formula could use some tweaking and updating for modern audiences. Well, at least that seems to be the thought behind Globber’s Escape, a new Android title that puts a modern spin on the Pac-Man formula. Globber is a gelatinous glob attempting to escape the science lab where he is being held. It is up to players to help Globber find its way through the rooms of the lab. Along the way, players must guide Globber away from evil scientists roaming levels and towards alien flunkies and objects. The premise is refreshingly simple, and gameplay is frantic and fast-paced. --Ryan Bloom


Rush Rally

Rush Rally harkens back to the warm, hazy past of video games where top down racers sat in smoky arcades waiting to eat quarters. Rush Rally is a cool topdown rally racer. It’s the player against the clock in their steel gray steed of speed. Using a very simple control scheme with just buttons for turning left and right and a brake and accelerator the player throws their little car around various courses. The player races both at night and during the day and on sand, snow gravel and good old tarmac so there is always something new. There are plenty of barricades and trees to run into, but if the player goes too far off track or seems to get stuck, the game will helpfully replace the car back on the track, ready to roar off. --Allan Curtis


Digits

When I looked at the screenshots of Digits, I immediately thought “great, another copy of 2048“. Not that I’ve seen lots of them, but it’s a pretty cheap move. If you want to rip something off, at least find something a bit more challenging. Anyway, my rage went unfounded, as Digits has nothing to do with 2048. What Digits is is a very satisfying puzzle that’s all about reducing numbers, not increasing them. The game consists of dozens of different levels. Each level is a square field of numbers. The numbers and the field’s size change between the levels. The player’s task is to remove all of the numbers from the field by clicking on them. When the player clicks on a number, it is reduced by one point, along with any numbers that are above, beneath, and to the sides of it. So, if there’s a line that looks like “2-3-2″, clicking on the three will make it “1-2-1″. Clicking on the three again will remove the ones, and leave the player with “1″ in the middle, which means that the player failed to remove all of them. The trick is to click on the squares in such pattern that no number gets left behind, as the player can’t click on a number that’s not connected to at least one other number. Thankfully, there’s no penalty for using an undo button and retracing the steps to any point of the level. And really, there’s not much need to do it, as when you get to know the ropes of Digits, it becomes almost impossible to fail. --Tony Kuzmin

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 27th, 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.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

Gameloft is responsible for bringing us some of the most polished and frenetic mobile shooters for the iOS platform in the form of Modern Combat. The latest entry, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, raises the bar even higher, despite still having some of its own setbacks. This fifth entry is certainly an improvement that demonstrates what can be done within the mobile genre. Players take up the role of Caydan Phoenix, an ex-marine who was deployed into Venice to tackle an uprising sweeping the area. After Phoenix is inevitably set up, he finds out that the international security agency who sent him in is up to no good – in fact, it’s acting as a front for an international terror organization. That’s where you come in: righting all these wrongs and clearing his name; with guns. --Brittany Vincent


The Order of Souls

The Order of Souls is a turn-based, free-to-play role playing game set in a fantastical world that melds science fiction and fantasy elements. Throughout the course of the game players can expect a surprising amount of interactive story elements, but most of that requires them to grind through a middling series of combat scenarios that really drag the whole game down. The Order of Souls‘ various elements include head-to-head multiplayer, crafting, singleplayer combat, party management, etc. Most of these systems and mechanics seem familiar to those that have played RPGs before, but the game does very little to do unique things with them. It’s almost like the developers were more concerned with checking features off a list than they were thinking about how they might add a unique dimension or dynamic to the game. This is not to say that it has any seriously flawed mechanics, but they just aren’t as interesting as they could’ve been. --Campbell Bird


Revolution 60

Revolution 60 has a lot of influences. It wants to be a sprawling sci-fi action RPG full of choices like Mass Effect. It spices up its numerous cutscenes with quick time events like Heavy Rain. Parts of its plot recall Metal Gear Solid, and its stylish 60s espionage vibe is probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to another No One Lives Forever. However, instead of being derivative, Revolution 60 emerges as a fantastically fresh original vision and a great debut for developer Giant Spacekat. Starting Revolution 60 feels like stepping into a wholly realized sci-fi world. In fact, the lore can get so dense at times it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on, but players will pick up enough. Plus they can purchase a separate guidebook explaining the universe, which fortunately seems interesting enough to warrant such a cost. Besides, the characters are what really matters, and Revolution 60’s cast is definitely worth getting invested in. --Jordan Minor


Secret Files Tunguska

Previously a PC, Wii, and DS release, point-and-click adventure Secret Files Tunguska has made its way to iOS, and it’s quite enjoyable despite its dour tone. Veering away from the casual nature of many other titles in the genre, Secret Files Tunguska sticks to the traditional scenario of plenty of asking questions and combining items to create further useful tools. Set around the Tunguska event, a mysterious large explosion that occurred in 1908, the game delves into conspiracy theories that would make Mulder and Scully proud. You play a woman whose father, a scientist investigating the event, has gone missing, and soon enough various intelligence agencies are out to get you. --Jennifer Allen


MTN

MTN is not a game. It is not highly interactive app. What it is, is a serene part of your day that will bring you a few minutes of amusement. The MTN app, by David O’Reilly, opens by asking you to draw things based on 1-word prompts. According to David O’Reilly, “The drawings influence things like the shape of the mountain, the type of vegetation, the amount of vegetation, the length of your summers, the amount of snow you’re going to get, all sorts of different things.” After the prompts are answered the app generates a small, free-floating mountain in the middle of space. --Jessica Fisher


Bio Inc

Mama, just killed a man. Pinched a vein inside his head. Pressed “OK” and now he’s dead. Bio Inc is a “biomedical simulator” from DryGin studios. While there are dozens of medical/surgical simulators available on PC, mobile platforms, and consoles, Bio Inc is a little different. Other medical-based games ask players to save patients in peril (even if said players may wind up removing the patient’s brain during a routine appendectomy, either accidentally or on purpose). Bio Inc, on the other hand, requires players to drag the Hippocratic Oath behind the hospital and shoot it. --Nadia Oxford


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

Ruzzle Adventure

What does a developer do when a game around forming words and multiplayer becomes a succes? It takes out fifty procent of that golden formula and turns it to a list of chores. Ruzzle Adventure is a game where players need to form words on a grid full of letters. In the past, we’ve seen dozens of iterations of this concept in the form of Boggle, Wordfeud or even an earlier published version of Ruzzle. In all those games the goal is the same: make as many words as possible, to get the highest score. By making bigger words and combining tougher letters to make words with, the score multiplier raises and so does one’s score. Remember Scrabble? --Wesley Akkerman


Shurican

Man, developers still make flappy games? I thought that that hype was over, but judging by the game Shurican, there still were some… I don’t know what to call it… Innovations..? …left in the subgenre. Yeah, I was surprised as well. How much can different people do with one mechanic? And especially the flappy mechanic? By looking at the flappy games in Google’s Play Store, not very much. Many of the flappy games are direct and shameless clones of the original and unintended successful original one, but sometimes a good one pops up and offers the same, but somewhat a different challenge. Shurican is one of those game, and not only because the game is played in widescreen mode. --Wesley Akkerman


Super Tank Arena Battles

In Super Tank Arena Battles, we get the to see our favorite weapons (tanks) go head to head in our favorite fight environment (an arena). It just gets even more hyper from there. It’s a simple looking game, but still manages to impress graphically, with the opening menu made up of cheery animations and pastels guiding the text. Here, amongst other options, we are presented with 5 game modes: Survival, Catch The Flag, One On One, Mines Rush and Hardcore Survival.The first is open, while the others need a threshold of some sort needed to unlock successive modes. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Modern Combat 5, created an expert guide for Hearthstone's Naxxramas DLC, picked some awesome seeds for Minecraft: Pocket Edition, found 5 games like Monument Valley, and asked Double Stallion whether turning Big Action Mega Fight into a paid game was a success or a huge mistake. Read all of this and more, at Pocket Gamer.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 19th, 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.

Overcast: Podcast Player

For a long time, I have been using Downcast to manage all of the podcasts I listen to. Its ability to create customized playlists and tweak settings for each individual show gave me a complete sense of control over the way I listened to my favorite shows. That being said, I was never 100% satisfied with Downcast for a variety of reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on for a long time. Now, I can safely say that my main issue with Downcast is that it isn’t Overcast: Podcast Player. Although this new podcast app isn’t perfect for every podcast listener’s needs, Overcast: Podcast Player has a very impressive suite of features that are smart, elegant, and super useful, provided you pay to unlock all of its features. --Campbell Bird


Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon

Much like its namesake team of ragtag misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is kind of weird and quirky. You see, while the game’s release date is clearly set to build hype for the upcoming feature film (which hits theaters in just about about two weeks) it’s not solely tied to the movie’s feel or continuity. Instead, it’s a rather strange mash-up of elements, sporting both movie-based character designs and story beats, as well as numerous nods to the team’s greater history and place in the comic-based side of the Marvel Universe. But does playing to both sides dilute the overall experience? And is it even a worthwhile game to begin with? Read on, True Believers! Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon straddles a few different genres as well. It’s a little bit action-RPG, a touch of arena combat, and a dash of side-scrolling beat-’em-up (minus the scrolling). Players assemble a team of characters from their roster of unlocked Guardians, Guardians-adjacent affiliates, and even antagonists in some cases (though they can only be used in the wave-clearing Arena mode), and smash their way through screen after screen of bad guys. Characters are controlled by drawing lines from them to their destination (when moving) or target (when attacking enemies or aiding allies). --Rob Thomas


Cascade

Match-3 games are nothing new and to an extent, Cascade is very familiar indeed. It manages to offer a few twists and turns that ensure that fans should be quite appreciative of its efforts, even if it isn’t as revolutionary as it would like to be. The layout of Cascade is very familiar. You work your way through individual levels of gems that must be cleared in some way, in order to pass onto the next stage. Each stage has a slightly different objective, such as reaching a particular score, clearing a set number of boulders, or vanquishing lighter colored squares. Ultimately though, the principle remains the same – match those gems. Jennifer Allen


Magic 2015

Another year, another updated iteration of Magic: The Gathering’s digital form. Fans of Wizards of the Coast’s long-standing, collectible card game juggernaut know exactly what they’re getting into here. But does Magic 2015 serve as a good introduction for new players into what can be a rather daunting new world? Well, it’s kind of a yes and no at the same time. As someone who already has a fair bit of past history with the game, I still felt the need to trudge my way through the tutorial in order to see how well it presents the game to newbies and, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The tutorial is relatively in-depth, with a fully-voiced narrator guiding new players step-by-step through the basics of the game, though I do feel that it may have dragged on for a bit too long and that some of these lessons could have been combined or condensed. However, that could well have just been my urge to get through the stuff I already knew and into the meat of Magic 2015 proper. --Rob Thomas


Hellraid: The Escape

In Hellraid: The Escape, you will find yourself awoken from a stone tomb and trapped in a violent prison, patrolled by disfigured, demonic guards and decorated with all of kinds of vicious traps. Sounds fun, right? You must then find your way out by solving puzzles, dispatching enemies and collecting items to help pass through each area unscathed. Along the way you’ll find notes with some background information, hints and harrowing tales on them, further fleshing out the gameworld one piece at a time. Controls are simple, with a floating joystick for movement, a swipe to survey the surroundings and a tap to pick up objects or interact with mechanisms. However, these interactions are often more intricate than a mere tap, usually involving multiple gestures, proving how much attention to detail was paid to the environment. Powered by the Unreal 3 engine, the game looks undeniably excellent. From flickering lighting effects to the incredible level of detail throughout, Hellraid: The Escape is one of the best-looking iOS titles to date, and succeeds in creating a real sense of foreboding. --Lee Hamlet


Hoopa City

As readers may know, my son and I are big Dr. Panda fans as many of their apps allow children to role-play their way through differently themed apps such as Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, Dr. Panda’s Veggie Farm, or Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon. Recently, a new app, Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars, changed things up a bit, allowing young children to drive cars around town, free of the mini-games popular within this series. I would also like to introduce readers to another new app from TribePlay, the developers of Dr. Panda, Hoopa City, a city building application for older children that my son simply adores. Hoopa City allows users to build their own urban landscape as they tap areas of the screen, adding roads, buildings or green spaces as they choose from eight different city building elements, combining them to create other details that my son really fancies such as pools or skate-boarding ramps. Hoopa City stars Hoopa the Hippo, famous from other Dr. Panda applications, as well as other familiar Dr. Panda characters who can be seen wandering around town – 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

Glowgrid

Some puzzle games can be really relaxing, while other games of the same genre can be brutal as heck. The ambient puzzle game Glowgrid is a little bit of both, thanks to his two game modes. If one would see the title ‘Glowgrid’ and fires the game up, he would instantly see that the title of the game matches with the aesthetics of it. Like anyone could predict, in Glowgrid players get to fill up a glowing grid with some well know and lesser known shaped blocks, where they need to combine four or more blocks of the same color. The goal is to fill up the bar at the top of the screen, with a total worth of one hundred points. If players get to that point, the bar immediately empties itself. The next goal is to fill it up once again, only now while players need to figure out a way in their own mess, because the grid still contains like ninety pro cent of the blocks one previously placed there. --Wesley Akkerman


RBI Baseball 14

After two straight days of no baseball whatsoever, you may finally be ready to accept it back into your life. And between the many games, you may find yourself wanting to play a game. Well, RBI Baseball 14, the MLB-published revival of the classic series, is finally on Android. This is old-school baseball, for better or worse. Seriously, this game isn’t just RBI Baseball in name only, it replicates the original game to a T. Pitchers can throw fastballs, mid-speed breaking balls, and knuckleballs that move erratically and slowly. Hitters can move around the box to try and hit the myriad pitches coming their way with just swing and bunt commands. Each team has 4 pitchers, with the starter tiring midway through the game. David Price relieving Alex Cobb a day after he started? Dr. James Andrews shrieked in horror. This game eschews realism, and any real gameplay advances of the past couple decades or so, in the name of replicating this classic. --Carter Dotson


Hopeless: Football Cup

In Hopeless: Football Cup, players get to experience a different kind of football videogame. If I have to put a game next to it that closely resembles it, it should be Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football. In the good and the bad way. Hopeless: Football Cup is a game where players need to tap on the touch screen, in order to make the blob on-screen head the ball away. If they don’t, the ball will simply demolish the little bugger and than it is game over for the player. It is a hard concept, similiar to games like Flappy Bird; players just need to keep on tapping at the right moment to succeed in the game. Hopeless: Football Cup perhaps stands even more closely to Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football, a game that featured the studio’s own vision on the simple tap mechanic of Flappy Bird. --Wesley Akkerman

And, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed games like Battle Fleet 2 and Ingress, provided handy tips for Minecraft and Hellraid: The Escape, found some hot new indie games in Brighton, and gabbed to Luca Redwood about his absurdly ambitious new game. All this and more right here.

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 14th, 2014

Another Week of Expert App Reviews


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

Civilization Revolution 2

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


Lomotif

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


Sonic Jump Fever

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


Blackwell 1: Legacy

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


Age of Booty: Tactics

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Doug Dug

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


Boom! Tanks

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


Stickman Soccer 2014

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

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 28th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Star Wars Scene Maker

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


Mecha Ace

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


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

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


Transformers: Age of Extinction - The Official Game

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


Science Museum Splash!

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Winning Kick

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


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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


Flick Soccer Brazil

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


Swipe Tap Smash

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

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 14th, 2014

Expert App Reviewers


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

Spendbook

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


Bubble Witch Saga 2

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


Rival Knights

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


Battleheart: Legacy

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


Bug Art

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Crush II

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


Racing Rivals

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


Game of War: Fire Age

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

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

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