Posts Tagged apps

Castro – High Fidelity Podcasts Review

Castro – High Fidelity Podcasts Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Castro is an elegant-looking podcast app, but does it have what it takes to dethrone de facto standards like Downcast and Instacast?

Read The Full Review »

This Week at 148Apps: December 9-13, 2013

Apps For The Holidays

 

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

Seagate Wireless Plus 1T Wireless Hard Drive

 
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We’ve previously looked at the Sandisk Connect Wireless Drives. Wireless storage is something that many companies are trying out. Seagate takes things to an extreme; giving us a one terabyte drive capable of holding 500 HD movies, then making it portable and wireless. The drive comes with wireless N, which allows much quicker transfer, and also includes a USB 3 connection for the fastest transfer of data when not in wireless mode. In testing, moving media to the drive in wireless mode was nice and speedy. Regular USB was rapid as well, although I could not test out the USB 3. With the terabyte of space, it stored everything I threw at it. –Jeff Scott

Band Stars

 
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Limber up those fingers and start humming vocal exercises, because developers Halfbrick and Six Foot Kid are ready to help indulge everyone’s inner rock and roll superstar. Their newest release, Band Stars, puts players in control of a budding ensemble on the verge of breaking it big. Can this new music management title strike a chord with its audience, or will it simply get lost in the roar of the crowd? Step aside Game Dev Story fans, because there is a new management game in town. This time around, instead of trying to produce fictional games the product is melody. Each band consists of a collection of characters who have different skills that help contribute to the song sculpting experience. Tunes are produced in three stages: writing, recording, and mixing. One musician with high lyrical and creative abilities is assigned to writing a base track while the entire group performs it and a single member polishes the final mix. There is even an option to highlight solos in each performance, just to give the future smash hit a little bit more juice. –Blake Grundman

The Room Two

 
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A year after the runaway success of the original The Room, we find ourselves with a new set of puzzles in the appropriately titled The Room Two. Can it stand up to the exceptional quality of the original, though? Well, yes. It does exactly that. It’s required that I write more than that of course, but fans of the original should stop here and immediately start downloading The Room Two. It’s everything one could hope for from a good sequel; building upon what worked so well for the original. –Jennifer Allen

Olloclip 3-in-1 Macro Lens for iPhone 5

 
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I’m a huge Olloclip fan. I have been so since their first model for the iPhone 4. As an amateur photographer for many years, I’ve gone from film to digital very early on, to a killer DSLR, and now to almost exclusively the iPhone 5. In that time I’ve lost a little bit of the options for creativity on the hardware side, but slowly they are coming back. This latest 3-in-1 Macro lens set really plays to my interests. I love taking creative macro photos, and this lens set will be a great addition to my camera bag. Like the other Olloclip lens sets, this one has three different lenses; all of them macro on this edition. A 7x, 14x, and 21x lens allow varying levels of magnification on the subject. The Olloclip macro set also includes light diffraction hoods for the lenses. This allows the camera to be placed right on the subject but still allow light in. –Jeff Scott

Angry Birds Go!

 
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The latest in the series of games from Finland-based studio Rovio Mobile that took the world by storm with its creation of the Angry Birds franchise, Angry Birds Go! arrives as a casual racer that still has that unmistakable Rovio touch. Starting out, players can choose to jump right into the race or visit “Toons.tv” – Rovio’s animation service that aims to bring the Angry Birds characters to life in a 52-episode marathon. Jumping in will see one go through a short tutorial consisting of a single solo race, and later having those pesky pigs join in for the ride. –Arron Hirst

The Wolf Among Us

 
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The Wolf Among Us is the latest title from Telltale Games, bringing a story of fairytale fables who live in secret within the real world. This is a five-episode series based on a mature graphic novel series known as Fables. Players take the role of Sheriff Bigby Wolf, previously known as the big bad wolf – a character that is feared and disliked by many. The mood is set early on as players venture into an altercation with another Fable. The decisions made affect the entire story and outcome, so each decision comes with consequences. The story is very intriguing and pulled me in at a hundred percent. It’s a story that turns players into a detective as they try to discover the mystery behind a murder. It definitely takes a dark turn into this world of fairytale characters, and that’s one of the factors that makes discovering what happens next so intriguing. –Andrew Stevens

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

Any.DO Cal

 
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Any.DO is the development house behind one of the most respected task utilities on Android, and its Android calendar app, Cal, is definitely one that needs to be looked at. Forgive the slobber; this app is gorgeous. It comes in with bright colors, pictures and live animations to complement the default white look of the calendar information. the app automatically pulled information from my selected calendars, and presents them in a slick day-in-week view that can be pulled down to expose a monthly date look. Swiping to the left gives the previous day, while the right predictably brings the next day up, and so and so forth; months can similarly be manipulated in the cal1month view. Events on the calendar are ever so gently color-coded. –Tre Lawrence

Tower Madness

 
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Tower Madness is a tower defence game that looks like a lot of things at the same time. Of course, it’s not exactly easy to stand out from as numerous crowd as tower defence, and it’s not like Tower Madness isn’t trying, but I still found myself drawing parallels to other similar games, and especially Fieldrunners, quite a bit. The story is laconic and ridiculous. Aliens need your sheep, all eight of them, and you need to stop them. The stopping power includes about a dozen different kinds of defences, all of which can be upgraded, and should probably be a lot more interesting to aliens in the first place. The aliens come in waves, being delivered by UFOs, and heading straight to the sheep’s pen, with their walking routes being marked by arrows. When the player places a tower in their way, the aliens find a new path, around it. Thus, playing with tower positions, the player eventually creates a corridor of death that can eradicate even the most resilient of otherworldly scum. –Tony Kuzmin

Aztec Antics

 
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Aztec Antics is an interesting platform-based thriller from Bouncing Ball Games that celebrates the golden days when arcade games ruled the roost. It had a decidedly retro look, with an eye-pleasing array of 2D pixelated graphics making up most the background. The characters are itty bitty things, full of vigor and hungry to move. Blocks form platforms and naturescapes set against a soft background denoting jungle and temples. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed The Room Two, GTA: San Andreas, and Angry Birds Go!, picked out the top smartphones you can buy right now, went hands-on with Trials Frontier, and started its complete walkthrough to The Room Two. All that, and loads more, at the Pocket Gamer Week in Review.

This Week at 148Apps: December 2-6 2013

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.

Skulls of the Shogun

 
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Death is a very common thread in gaming, though admittedly in most cases it is being used as a motivating factor that the player wants to avoid. In the freshly ported iOS version of Skulls of the Shogun, the focus is actually on what happens after the main character has left the land of the living. General Akamoto and his ragtag group of hoodlums are trying to fight their way to the proverbial pearly gates, one decapitation at a time. Naturally they face quite the uphill struggle, with plenty of amusing shenanigans along the way. –Blake Grundman

Assassin’s Creed Pirates

 
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Assassin’s Creed Pirates is a game that’s appropriately multi-faceted: it encompasses multiple types of gameplay in its quest for pirate action in the Caribbean seas around the time of Assassin’s Creed IV. It’s a game with plenty to do and offers fun looting and boat-sinking times, it’s just structurally sub-optimal. There are two main parts to the game: sailing and combat. Sailing takes place in two different environments: a top-down map view that allows for just drawing lines to get around, and an “immersive” view where players can actually steer the ship, raise or lower the sails to control their speed, find random items to pick up, and challenging neutral ships that they cross. This is more fun, just more time-consuming. Certain missions require a certain view: race missions require immersive view while assassination missions which require stealth to sail past ship patrols use the top-down view. –Carter Dotson

Maps Pro With Google Maps

 
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Offering fairly powerful mapping features tied into Google Maps, Maps Pro with Google Maps is the kind of app that regular travellers are going to want to keep on their iPads for future reference. So much simpler and more intuitive to use than the website, it’s a very handy tool. Even better, it hardly needs learning. That’s how easy it is to figure out. Immediately placing a pin on the user’s current location, everything about Maps Pro with Google Maps is easily laid out. The opening page offers up directions, sharing, street view, settings, and a search bar. –Jennifer Allen

PDF Expert 5

 
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PDF Expert 5 isn’t an update to the already popular app, but is instead a newly redesigned package that provides iPad users with more features. It handles everything about a PDF – like reading, annotating, and editing. The app was just released this week and its fresh and sleek design make it a perfect fit for iOS 7. Whether users are familiar with previous versions or are just trying it out for the first time, it’s clear that the new features help to make navigation easier. For starters, there is a new PDF viewer that allows users to open large files, search through text, extract text from PDFs, and even open password-protected documents. There’s plenty of room to view PDFs thanks to full screen annotations and the smart zoom option that help users make notes and draw with ease. –Angela LaFollette

Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure

 
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Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure is a terrific universal puzzle adventure app for all ages, adapting the richly detailed illustrations of Roxie Munro’s previous puzzle app, Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure, into a jigsaw puzzle that players of all abilities will enjoy. This app consists of a colorful, stylized, and magnificently drawn landscape that is then broken up into 16 different smaller puzzles. I appreciate how up to five players use this app and their game will be saved independently, and how players can choose to break these individual puzzles into a number of puzzle pieces ranging from six chunky pieces to 260 small pieces on the iPad and 130 pieces on the iPhone, giving young children as well as seasoned adults a chance to enjoy this app equally. –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

Banana Kong

 
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In Banana Kong, the players can learn an important lesson: eventually, your possessions and greed turn on you. And the more things you get, the harder they will fall on your head, and no matter how long you run, they will eventually bury you. Unless you have a hog you can ride on. This is where the analogy kind of falls apart for me. –Tony Kuzmin

Dream of Pixels

 
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There’s no point beating about the bush when talking about Dream of Pixels. It’s Tetris but with a twist. There’s no other way to explain it. Dream of Pixels is a puzzle game where you have to place familiar look shapes onto the screen. Unlike the game it clearly derives from, these shapes don’t drop down from the top of the screen, so there’s no need to shift your shapes from left to right before they hit the bottom. Instead, Dream of Pixels slowly (at first) scrolls the entire screen upwards. Your job is to ensure that no empty spaces make their way to the bottom of the screen. This means you need to use your shapes to ensure that each line is full of blocks. –Matt Parker

Thor: The Dark World

 
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Thor: The Dark World is an arcade pseudo beat-em up arcade game that also serves as an official Android companion game to the movie of the same name. The game is nice to look at. Thor’s hair has the golden yellow halo effect, and the virtual environment is a fine interpretation of of cinematic imagination. Bright colors, interesting beasts and nicely animated characters rolling to the booming voice of Thorish proclamations. There is a judicious use of color, and while some of the animations are a bit formulaic they are altogether hard not to enjoy. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Blek, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Space Hulk, and The Wolf Among Us, picked the best iOS and Android games of November, tore it up with Touchgrind Skate 2‘s video upload feature, went hands-on with The Room 2, and put together holiday gift guides for 3DS and Vita. For all that and loads more, Head to Pocket Gamer for their weekly wrap-up.

Roccat Power-Grid Review

Roccat Power-Grid Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Roccat Power-Grid is a customizable and extensible app that can turn an iPhone into a way to remotely display computer stats and issue controls.

Read The Full Review »

Apps Are Us

 

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

Clumsy Ninja

 
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Clumsy Ninja is a casual “Tamagotchi-style” game starring an inept ninja and a humorous physics engine. The game has players train their ninja with the hope that, one day, they will no longer be clumsy. Between the rather impressive physics, fun challenges, and relatively innocuous free-to-play design, Clumsy Ninja is actually a pretty fun game. To play Clumsy Ninja, players can touch the environment or their ninja to interact with it. There are also a couple of menus that allow players to take on challenges for experience points and add new items to their training grounds. Almost everything a player does yields experience points, but the fastest way to move up the ninja ranks is to complete challenges – which can vary anywhere from punching bag training sessions to flinging the ninja on top of a roof. –Campbell Bird

Touchgrind Skate 2

 
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The original Touchgrind was one of the first games on the App Store that truly used multitouch controls to their potentital. Since then, so many games have continued to just use virtual controls, not truly taking advantage of their platform. However, Illusion Labs is back to show these sucka MCs just what’s up with the wonderful Touchgrind Skate 2. The game has been reborn in 2013 as something more like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games in that players skate around a various skatepark-y environments chaining together tricks like spins, flips, and edge grinds. There’s a lengthy tutorial that has players seeing how to pull off the various maneuvers, with the ability to go back and re-watch and try individual sections in case more practice is necessary. Once in the actual game players can play a 100 second mode where they try to get the most points in that time limit, or a best line mode where a chain of tricks in a short time period can be attempted with the goal being to get the highest-scoring line. This mode is endless, with players able to keep playing until they get a score they’re satisfied with. –Carter Dotson

Lords of Waterdeep

 
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Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons-themed board game that has found its way onto iOS. Unlike other D&D adventures, players do not create characters and live out their fantasy lives in the land of Forgotten Realms. Instead, players take control of one of the masked lords of Waterdeep and manipulate warriors, rogues, and wizards to do their bidding for them. The result is an extremely well-designed, well-executed, and awesomely-themed worker placement game for 2 to 5 players. For the uninitiated, a worker placement board game is one in which the main action involves placing tokens – representing workers – on strategic locations on the game board. Placing a worker yields some sort of material gain, while (typically) also preventing opponents from accessing the same resources. In Lords of Waterdeep, the primary resources are money and adventurers (priest, warrior, rogue, and wizard); and these resources are gathered in order to complete quests. Upon completing quests players receive victory points, and the player with the most victory points at the end of eight rounds is declared the winner. –Campbell Bird

Oceanhorn

 
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Oceanhorn, the Zelda-style action-RPG from Cornfox & Bros., has been anticipated for a while; but I came upon a game that falls short of the hype and its inspirations. Now, a high-quality 3D Zelda-style game just hasn’t been attempted much on mobile. And getting Nobuo Uematsu, composer for many of the Final Fantasy games to do the music? Unheard of! This is a game with a heady pedigree, and the ambition is rather apparent: it’s a beautiful-looking game. Play this on a retina iPad if possible: it chugged a bit on the new Retina Mini at times, but it looks absolutely immaculate. Whether it be in a dark dungeon, in a sunny town, or sailing on the high seas, this is a visual feast. And the orchestral soundtrack sets an appropriately epic mood. On the surface,Oceanhorn lives up to the hype. –Carter Dotson

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

 
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Arriving at the perfect time in the Holiday Season, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is an utterly beguiling book app. It tells the classic tale of the same name, following Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they discover the meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s easily a great read to share with the rest of the family. The app is laid out in a very family friendly format. An easy to understand tutorial ensures that young and old will know how to navigate through the app, mostly through a matter of swiping to the side. Occasionally, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving reacts a little strangely, potentially down to the increasingly dated iPad 2′s loading times, but it’s mostly a smooth process. –Jennifer Allen

BeBop Blox

 
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BeBop Blox is a cute and charming puzzle app for toddlers that adults will enjoy as well. BeBop Blox is a brightly-colored and musical puzzle app with Tangram elements that young children – through the use of stacking blocks – can use to create playful shapes including a train, boat, camel, or whale as well as other fun animal shapes. Gameplay is simple as children are guided in their building with the use of block templates which one fills. I admire that, although there is a moment where the more complex design can be seen. Building begins from the bottom up, allowing children to slowly add pieces – exercises that later may help them construct their favorite designs with their own building blocks. –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

Random Heroes

 
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May 2D platformers never die. Long live Random Heroes. As far as platforms go, this one has the basics down: adjusted left to right running, with baddies and leveled platforms to get to. Our hero is outfitted with a gun, but the gun does not perpetually shoot; the a button nestled to the right only shoots when pressed. Just to the left of this button is the jump button, and the bottom left of the screen has two directional buttons. –Tre Lawrence

Zombitsu

 
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In Zombitsu, we get a running game, a ninja sword and zombies. Our ninja (Hiro) is outfitted with a sword to begin, and runs slicing up undead villagers and avoiding hazards that creep up along the way to stop progress. The view is an abbreviated top-down and behind angle, and this is affected by some game actions for brief moments. The zombies are all over, roaming on the sides of the running area and even directly in front. The base zombies are remarkably spry; there was a time or two I thought one was out of range only to have it knock me down behind some serious closing speed. –Tre Lawrence

Kunundrum

 
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Kunundrum is a fancy puzzle game with neon graphics. Its gameplay reminds of classic Sokoban, but the rules are different. To be fair, there’s no way to describe them, without sounding like an accountant on his weekly report, so bear with me. The players are tasked to deliver several differently-colored shiny dots to their respective slots. The dots can be swiped across the field vertically and horizontally, and only stop when they hit a wall. If a dot is launched over its slot, it will skip over it, unless there’s a wall, or some other object in the way. Thus, the player needs to arrange the dots in such a way, that they would stop exactly over their slot. The fields are greatly different and contain lots of unique tiles. Some of these tiles change the direction that the orb is going, others act as switches for collapsible walls, and others teleport the sphere to another part of the level. The levels are numerous, so there are plenty of easy, mediocre and completely insane difficulties available. Three stars are awarded if the player manages to complete the level with the least possible number of moves. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer went hands-on with the first official licensed iOS controller, reviewed Touchgrind Skate 2 and Shivah, highlighted the 17 best iOS and 10 best Android games of the week, picked out the hardest games on mobile, and helped you avoid scam apps on Google Play. All that and more, here.

Knock Review

Knock Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Knock is a nifty utility for unlocking a Mac without inputting a password, but the actual utility of it is limited.

Read The Full Review »

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.

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

 
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The great strategy of Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol returns with Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies. It’s set during World War II; where players have the choice to play as the US Navy, US Army, Imperial Japanese Navy, and Imperial Japanese Army. It certainly has a familiar presentation for those who played the original, but it’s also more polished and enhanced. The mission set-up is different as players are given one mission instead of a choice between three. I also find the visuals to be more polished and likable, but that’s probably because I love the old warbirds. –Andrew Stevens

Rayman Fiesta Run

 
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Rayman Fiesta Run is the sequel to Rayman Jungle Run, Ubisoft’s mobile version of their Rayman revival series, taking the form of a level-based auto-runner. Rayman Fiesta Run really only serves as an iteration on the previous one, but more of the familiar excellent gameplay and an improved level structure make this a better game. Players control the jumps and punches of Rayman, who can’t stop running for reasons both justified and unjustified depending on the level, trying to collect Lums and just get to the end of each level in however many pieces is optimal for Rayman because he has invisible limbs. Levels, which take on many forms from horizontal platforming to back-and-forth ascents – with the occasional wall-running and jumping, too – are challenging due to the timing needed to succeed and survive the various hazards. –Carter Dotson

Tiny Death Star

 
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Tiny Death Star is one of those ideas that’s absolutely brilliant: take Tiny Tower and put it in the Star Wars universe, having players build a Death Star instead of a non-descript tower. Oh, and the bitizens are all Star Wars characters. If that sounds appealing, then go download Tiny Death Star. It really isn’t too much different from the original Tiny Tower, the game where players earn money by stocking floors of a tower that sell different items, building new stores and residential floors for new people to move in to. Managing where bitizens work is important because they’re more efficient at certain floor types. This whole process continues until one’s tower is as high as players want it to be. It’s just all decked out with Star Wars characters and themes this time. –Carter Dotson

Hipster CEO

 
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Let’s get this reviewing cliche out of the way: Hipster CEO is an acquired taste. It sounds like an excuse to basically say “Some will like it, some will hate it,” but it’s remarkably true in the case of this game. Unlike so many other titles on the App Store, Hipster CEO doesn’t mollycoddle its players. There’s a gameplay guide rather than a comprehensive tutorial, but even that isn’t as useful as simply giving the game a shot and gradually figuring things out. It’ll be rewarding, but it will take patience for those who want to succeed. Occasional moments of being crash-prone can irritate, too. –Jennifer Allen

Sorcery! 2

 
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Bigger, better, stronger. That sums up Sorcery! 2, the sequel to the rather great Sorcery!. Feeling substantially weightier than its predecessor, much like the book it’s based on, Sorcery! 2 is a veritable bargain even despite its premium price tag. It’s been promised that there are over 300,000 words to it with more than 10,000 choices. I have no reason to doubt such a claim as there are plenty of hours of content here. Continuing from its predecessor, it’s not essential to have a save file at the ready but I’d recommend it, purely to carry on the storyline. Players explore Khare: the Cityport of Traps, and it’s a huge city indeed, as they attempt to move forward in their quest, potentially overthrow the city port’s council, and more. I’m grateful that Sorcery! 2 has such an extensive backtracking feature as there really is a lot that can be done here. –Jennifer Allen

ProCam 2

 
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ProCam 2 is the kind of photography app that should, theoretically, mean that no other photography app is really needed. While some might find themselves keen to stick to an app they’re more used to, or with a slightly different look, ProCam 2 covers all the bases meaning that there really isn’t a need to do so. I’m assuming the developers wrote up a list of requirements for a good quality photography app, then kept working until every single one had been included. I’m struggling to think of anything that could have been missed. –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

Dot.Stop.Run

 
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Dot.Stop.Run is a pretty eye-catching runner, but how does it play? Players control Dot, an enigmatic female as she runs along a landscape littered with hazards, such as pits, falling blocks and moving platforms. Using well timed jumps, the player must guide Dot through each level. Dot.Stop.Run has the bare vestiges of a story. Dot has escaped from the unseen system and now runs through an endless binary domain that changes constantly to recapture her. Only by making her way safely through the binary domain can the true power of Dot be unleashed. This story doesn’t really make an appearance in game, but at least it sets the tone for the trippy gameplay to follow. –Allan Curtis

Lost Chapters HD

 
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There has to be some science behind the way certain games force you to stop playing and instead ‘come back later’. I’ll happily admit I’m no expert in the economics of designing free-to-play games, but I always thought turning people away was a dangerous idea. They just might not come back. It’s with this in mind that we talk about Lost Chapters HD. It’s a game all about exploration of an island, completing tasks to unlock new buildings and discovering treasure along the way. –Matt Parker

Wake the Cat

 
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Cats. Lovable bundles of fur or feline freeloaders? How you feel about cats will determine how you want to look at this game. LIKE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you gently roll a ball of yarn towards a sleeping kitty so that you may wake them from their peaceful slumber and play with them. HATE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you launch a ball of yarn (maybe with a rock in the middle of it) so that you stir the cat from its unearned slumber. Maybe to then throw the cat out of the house. I don’t know. –Matt Parker

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of October, reviewed Rayman Fiesta Run, provided some top tips for Tiny Death Star, and followed the saga of an indie developer who got rejected from the App Store… twice. Check out the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up right now!

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.

Tweetbot 3

 
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Tweetbot is the best Twitter app that’s out there, hands down. It’s feature-packed and easy to use. Tweetbot 3 continues this app’s legacy as the best, and is a must for anyone who uses Twitter. Now, Tweetbot 3 is a new app, not just an update to the now-previous version of Tweetbot. While the two apps are pretty much feature-identical, there’s been some usability tweaks and a revamped look and feel for iOS 7. It no longer sticks out like a sore thumb – it fits, and it’s a welcome redesign. It is a bit jarring jumping from the new look to a version using the old one, but the Mac version will be updated for Mavericks soon, and Tweetbot for iPad is in the works down the road. –Carter Dotson

Pocket Titans

 
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Pocket Titans mixes a puzzle game with the kind of row and column switching seen in Candy Crush Saga and 10000000. Yet this casual puzzle gameplay is all wrapped up in the veneer of a squad-based RPG. The way it works? Players have their squad of heroes from the various RPG archetypes: warriors, rogues, archers, et cetera. They and the enemies are on a small grid, with the ability to move an entire row or column in one’s turn. Players get to make two moves to put their characters in their ideal position to attack enemies or use their character’s ability. For example, warriors attack enemies nearby (and their attacks can hit all enemies in a nearby radius), archers can hit enemies either diagonally or straight away from them in their line of sight (no obstructions in the way), healers can, well, heal. As well, each class has secondary abilities that activate when they can’t use their primary one. Everything happens automatically, so to learn how to play just requires learning how the various classes work, which is simple enough. –Carter Dotson

Zombie Cupcake Attack

 
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Zombie games aren’t going away anytime soon, but a new zombie game that has landed in the App Store puts a spin on the craze. Starring Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman, Zombie Cupcake Attack features undead treats that need to be annihilated in order to save the world from the apocalypse. The graphics are quite impressive for an endless runner. At the start of the game, it’s evident that the developers put a lot of details in all five endless levels. While it has more of a kid-friendly appeal, adults will find themselves having a lot of fun as well. –Angela LaFollette

Hello World – Book 1: The Lonely Islands

 
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Imagine a magical and whimsical fantasy world full of interesting people, epic battles, mediocre coffee, and a talking cat. This is where the story of Hello World takes us; on a journey through a 3D universe populated by a whole variety of mythical creatures and bizarre people. Hippies, vampires, zombies, trolls, chupacabras; there is no shortage of strange beings. In this first-person adventure, Cap and Leet must quest through a universe unlike any other in order to save the magical and semi-sentient land of “Fred.” Set in the style of an RPG, players must explore forests, caves, and sail the sea, all while meeting the most unique of characters and poking squirrels with sticks. –Lucy Ingram

My PlayHome Stores

 
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My PlayHome Stores is the much-awaited sequel to the popular app My PlayHome; a digital dollhouse app that allows children to interact with a play family within their house, including a vast amount of interactive options. My PlayHome Stores now allows this family a day of shopping as children can explore a variety of stores including clothing and ice cream shops, a smoothie shop, and a restaurant. These apps are lovely, simple, and sweet, bringing the creative play of a traditional dollhouse and other creative play to the iPad and iPhone, and as such bring an intuitiveness children will enjoy a great deal. Fans of My PlayHouse as well as those new to this series will enjoy the many interactions as one places a character into these scenes. Do note that although the family from My PlayHome (a mom, dad and three kids) can be seen at the top right of the screen, one also has easy access to a large cast of characters that include men, women, and children of various races and backgrounds – a very 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

Look Out Below

 
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More and more mobile games are utilizing physics in unique ways. Ever since the rise of Angry Birds, developers are looking for new ways to bring the force that dictates all things in the real world into the games that appear on phones and tablets. Physics are implemented in a variety of different games, offering unique game play options and interesting ways of using the laws of science within the game. Look Out Below is one of those games that offers an uncommon usage of physics while offering a simple, but testing game play. –Mike Deneen

IceBurgers

 
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IceBurgers is an environmental tale. Two ships collide in the Antarctic, spewing burgers and letters, and a penguin has to clean it up. Alrighty. Interestingly enough, what makes this game unique is what probably is its best feature: the lack of frills. It rocks a simple motif and features even simpler gameplay, and, as such, can be a formidable time waster. The gameplay is an atypical mix of crossword puzzle and Scrabble. A square grid of 25 tiled letters makes up the playing area, and words are supposed to be created via swiping a finger across letters in fairly liberal fashion. When a word is formed, it lightens up and explodes, and the tiled letters are replaced randomly by falling tiles from above. –Tre Lawrence

BBM for Android

 
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Yes, BlackBerry (formerly RIM) has had better days. The iconic technology company made devices that signified corporate success and helped shape the smartphone market. It’s current troubles are well known, and the company and its devices have arguably lost some of their previous luster. One piece of the BlackBerry ecosystem that has always been respected is BlackBerry Messenger, its eponymous messaging system. It’s always-on nature, perceived reliability and PIN-based connection service is almost universally respected, even by non-BlackBerry device users. So, when BlackBerry announced that it would be opening up the hitherto proprietary messenger to iOS and Android users, ears perked up. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Dead Trigger 2, highlighted the stand-out hits from its Big Indie Pitch event, found 8 tablet-only games to play on the new iPad Air, reviewed Ace Attorney on 3DS, and went hands-on with Vita charmfest Tearaway. Head to Pocket Gamer now for their weekly wrap-up.

Nifti Review

Nifti Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Nifti is a new app that wants to become the online companion to its user's shopping experience.

Read The Full Review »

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.

Device 6

 
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I love what Simogo is doing in 2013. While the studio has always been a purveyor of a different kind of experience on iOS, this year their releases have been centered around story-telling and puzzle solving. It started with Year Walk and now continues with Device 6. They’re creating unique and intelligent experiences that deserve to be seen and heard. Now, much like Year Walk, this is something that is best when not spoiled so I’m only going to touch on cursory details of the plot and scenario: this is a sort of interactive piece of fiction that players read through that frequently wraps around the screen, requiring players to rotate their device to keep up with where everything is going. The story is about a woman named Anna, who wakes up in mysterious circumstances. To advance the story, certain puzzles, whose hints are embedded in the narrative and visuals, must be solved. The challenge comes from solving the puzzles and putting together the hints – have some pen and paper or some kind of writing app on a computer or other device open to take down notes to solve everything and to advance the story. –Carter Dotson

Soul Gambler

 
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Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend. A successful scholar who, dissatisfied with his life, makes a pact with the devil and exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge and worthy pleasures. The legend of Faust has been retold throughout history via many forms of media, and has been the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works. Soul Gambler is the remake of the original free unfinished interactive visual novel inspired by Goethe’s famous German tragic play, “Faust,” that has had a complete revamp; and with the success of its Kickstarter, has been made into a fantastic-looking interactive graphic novel that combines the art style of comic books with playable mechanics most commonly found in video games. –Lucy Ingram

Fist of Awesome

 
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An unlikely hero. Bears. Lots and lots of plaid. A talking, time-traveling fist. These are only a handful of examples as to what players can expect when they jump in to FIST OF AWESOME. It’s certainly a weird, wacky, and wild beat-em-up with old school brawler roots and a few modern concessions. There are a few not-so-awesome issues nestled in with all those homicidal talking bears, however. Tim Burr is just a hard-working lumberjack with simple aspirations and a close group of friends. His is a happy life, and he envies no one. That is until the timeline is inexplicably altered and bears become the dominant species of Earth. Tim’s hand begins speaking to him, identifying itself as the FIST OF AWESOME and taking him on a journey through several eras in history – all overrun with bears – as the unlikely duo set out to fix history. –Rob Rich

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone

 
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OmniFocus 2.0 for iPhone is a to-do list and task management app that’s built for the person who’s deadly serious about tracking what they need to get done and when. After all, the app for iPhone is $19.99, which is well above what most apps are priced, but OmniFocus has a wealth of features and syncing options to help justify it. Still, it’s a cost that just may be worth it, because this is comprehensive yet still somewhat simple. It’s like fishing with grenades. –Carter Dotson

PumaTrac

 
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PUMATRAC may sound like just another fitness app at first, but it provides a unique user experience that others like it currently don’t offer. PUMATRAC is designed to keep runners motivated by giving them insights on conditions that affect running performance so that workouts are actually more fun and rewarding. This means that the app can tell whether users run faster to pop music or longer on Fridays just by analyzing many different conditions thanks to Tictrac technology. –Angela LaFollette

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

Cavemania

 
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Free-to-play match-three puzzles are as inescapable as bathroom issues after an all-you-can-eat night at Taco Bell, and are just as expected. Although I know I should hate them for their complete lack of originality, or artistic merit, my primitive synapses still get their share of enjoyment, just from matching things in the right order, without any particular reason and reward. Perhaps, my mom was right, and I should have gone in accounting. In any case, Cavemania tries to introduce some new mechanics, but it’s unclear whether they help overall game, or just get in the way. –Tony Kuzmin

Lumber Jacked

 
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It’s too primitive that lumberjacks are always seen as the most manly of all people. So what if they have muscles of iron, and spend days at a time, uniting with nature and flinging mighty axes all day? Internet critics also have cramped up muscles, unite with nature every five to seven hours, and fling mighty keys up and down. Still, I’m yet to see a single game that gives the credit where it’s due, and features the mighty and the powerful, as the ultimate example of manliness. But, while the ungrateful, primitive culture moves down the familiar road, we get Lumber Jacked, another game, where lumberjack is the mighty hero yet again. It’s not like I remember any other games with lumberjacks, but there have to be lots of them, or this whole paragraph makes no sense. –Tony Kuzmin

Drift Mania: Street Outlaws

 
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Drift Mania: Street Outlaws is the latest in the series of Drift Mania games by Ratrod Studios, with the scene shifted to street racing. But is it worth playing? There isn’t much content available without a lot of gameplay in Drift Mania: Street Outlaws. From the start of the game one car and one track is unlocked. Unlocking additional tracks is far from a simple task. For each track you can race on there are a number of achievements, such as drifting a certain distance or finishing in a time limit. Once enough of these are achieved, the next track is unlocked. Cars can be bought at any time, but are very expensive. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed DEVICE 6 and compiled a complete walkthrough to the game, went hands-on with Dungeon Keeper and Tiny Death Star, and made some bold predictions for next week’s Apple press conference. Head to Pocket Gamer for their weekly wrap-up.

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.

Monster Adventures

 
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I enjoy Roguelikes. I have a thing for RPGs. I love action-adventure games. I even dabble in monster-collection fairly often. But in all honesty, would anyone expect all of those great tastes to taste great together? Turns out it doesn’t matter because Foursaken Media has mixed them all in the big proverbial jug that is iOS, and the result is so good it just has to be fattening. Monster Adventures begins (and pretty much stays in) the town of Yerpa. It’s a quaint place surrounded by forests, mountains, and snowy plains, all of which are crawling with monsters. Fortunately our hero/playable character stumbles upon a friendly critter in the town’s well, and the duo set out to be the very best. Possibly like no one ever was. –Rob Rich

Gunner Z

 
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There haven’t been a lot of serious attempts to replicate the formula of Zombie Gunship, which is unfortunate: that game made zombie killing fun in a special way. Gunner Z is one of the few that takes it on, but it struggles due in large part to its structure. The game puts players in the gunner seat of a truck that’s out to go blow up some zombies and the human sympathizers that seem to all have military ranks. Players can raise or lower their height to get the perfect angle against zombies, though it never feels like it’s of much practical use. Players get a standard gun of their choice with unlimited ammo, and a set of rockets that can be used to help take out more powerful enemies and large groups of zombies. If the zombies get close they’ll do heavy damage to the truck, and if the truck runs out of health it’s mission over. –Carter Dotson

The Cave

 
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Back before there was ever a Master Chief or even an Angry Bird, there was once an adventurer named Guybrush Threepwood. Ron Gilbert was one of the brains behind the success of LucasArts’ original run of Monkey Island PC titles, later departing from the studio to pursue other projects. Fast forward to 2011, Gilbert re-teamed with fellow LucasArts alum Tim Schafer to re-imagine the adventure game for the modern generation. Has The Cave recaptured the magic of old, or is this a nostalgic trip down frustration lane? Adventure games have had a long legacy of turning a player’s mind to mush. For this reason, it only seems fitting that The Cave harkens back to the classic Maniac Mansion, where the player is faced with selecting which three of the seven available characters to use for the entirety of the game, right out of the gate. Decisions, decisions. Depending upon the selected avatars the puzzles and story may be modified slightly, lending itself well to a least two additional replay sessions. –Blake Grundman

Perfect Shot

 
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Capturing that one perfect shot of a group of friends can be difficult. There’s almost always someone who is blinking, not looking at the camera, or forgetting to smile. Now there is an app available that solves all these problems and more. Perfect Shot couldn’t have a better name since it essentially describes exactly what the app does. Designed specifically with iOS7 in mind, Perfect Shot detects the number of individuals in a photograph and can detect their eyes and smiles. What’s amazing about this app is that it automatically captures a photo once everyone in the group is smiling and not blinking, so there’s no need to press the shutter button. Of course, eye and smile detection can be turned on or off by tapping on the gear icon in the lower right corner. –Angela LaFollette

Toca Cars

 
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I am pleased to have had a chance to review Toca Boca’s new app, Toca Cars. As many may know, Toca Boca is known for their wonderful digital toys based on the real world playthings children use every day, and Toca Cars continues in the footsteps of their other great apps. It is worth explaining that Toca Cars is not so much a first-person POV driving simulator. Instead, it allows one to drive a car around a track with the drag of a finger. More impressive is the chance to drive and crash into the landscape the track has incorporated within; including many various buildings, street signs, a few animals or other characters, colorful ice cream puddles, ramps, and many more details too numerous to name. –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

Autumn Dynasty

 
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Good pure RTS games aren’t exactly easy to find on Android. Sure, there are a few good ones, but few can match the strategic depth to be found in Autumn Dynasty. Autumn Dynasty tells the story of a Royal Scholar, an important, intelligent man sent on a routine journey by the ruling government. He runs into a spot of trouble and, after proving himself against his enemies, you’ll follow his story as he grows into a leader and unearths a sinister plot. AD tells a great story and the very well done character art and interesting dialogue really drive the game’s story onwards and gives a lot of incentive to complete the next mission. –Allan Curtis

Evomail

 
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Evomail is part of the new generation of email apps, ones that shoot for a greater degree of accessibility and inbox management. But for me, Evomail comes with one killer feature: the ability to remove emails from the inbox temporarily by ‘snoozing’ them. On my iOS devices, Mailbox’s ease of use and interface has made it my client of choice. This is a problem because I rely on its ability to easily delay emails to a later time to help keep my sanity. Yet despite Mailbox’s expensive acquisition by Dropbox, it’s still an iOS-only affair. It’s frustrating, because it’s something Google has yet to add in as a built-in feature despite making the Android Gmail app more like Mailbox and Evomail with things like swiping actions. So now Evomail is on Android, and with it, the ability to procrastinate on answering emails. But it’s not quite the great email experience that I wanted. –Carter Dotson

PinWar

 
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Pinball is one of those old-school games that are almost always perfect as-is. Why? It presents the perfect union of physics, chance and human skill. It’s beautiful… even the electronic versions seem best when they are presented “traditionally.” Maybe, just maybe PinWar is an exception. “The” exception? In this game, basic pinball gets souped up into a battle zone that pits fast reflexes against human opponents or artificial intelligence. There are a few different play modes. In Quick Battle, it’s a war of attrition; play continues until one side loses all available tokens, with friends being expended with every pinball conceded. This mode is s quick shootout. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer took a look at the new and noteworthy iOS games, including Costume Quest, KAMI, Duet, and Ring Run Circus. It also investigated Codea, an app that lets you make games on your iPad. And the site reviewed huge new 3DS adventure, Pokemon X and Y. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

This Week at 148Apps: September 9-13, 2013

We Know Our Apps

 

Sorting through the gigantic swarm of apps out there can be daunting. 148Apps is here to help. 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.

Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs

 
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The age-old battle between samurai and ninjas has been told throughout time across several forms of media, but Eutechnyx has taken it to a whole new level with Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs. Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs is a tower defense game in which the field of battle is divided up into five lanes. There are a variety of towers available to build that each have various functions and resources, but there are only five spaces in which to place them so it has to have some sort of strategy. Otherwise it’s just a case of trial and error. Units are created and deployed from these towers, which are generated as cards that all have different abilities. Once the decision to deploy a unit has been made it is then possible to choose where to place the character, with the aim of getting them across to the other side to destroy enemy towers. If a character, be it a ninja cat or a samurai dog, passes an enemy on their path (or adjacent to, depending on abilities) there will be a face-off to the death and the victor will advance forward. –Lucy Ingram

Heroes of Loot

 
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Distilling a genre down to its basic elements isn’t necessarily a difficult task, but doing it well absolutely is. Just cutting gameplay and other mechanical elements out at random won’t do; it really requires surgical precision. And yet, Orangepixel pulls it off so well with Heroes of Loot they make it look effortless. Heroes of Loot, at its most basic, is what happens when a game like Gauntlet is combined with Roguelike elements. The four adventurers (Elf, Warrior, Wizard, and Valkyrie) are in it for the money and not much else. Once players select their character, it’s on to adventure! Or in this case something akin to an arcade dungeon crawl. Randomized dungeons, quests, and special items make an appearance along with permadeath, but it’s all been streamlined to the point that dying is merely a (very) temporary setback. –Rob Rich

Junk Jack X

 
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The 2D mining and crafting genre is becoming a crowded one on iOS, with The Blockheads leading the way (in this writer’s humble opinion), Terraria making the jump to iOS, and now Junk Jack X – a follow-up to the 2011 2D crafting game that launched on iOS. And for those looking for a fun 2D crafting game can’t go wrong with Junk Jack X. Now, as someone intrigued by the genre but not an expert on them per se, I find the way that a game like Junk Jack X decides to just leave players in the middle of nowhere to start off with, left to fend for themselves, absolutely fascinating. In a world of handholding it’s kind of refreshing to be left to fend for myself. Of course then nightfall comes and I’m being assaulted by zombies, slime monsters, and spiders constantly, and I’d kind of appreciate some hand-holding! The ability to zoom way out to see where one has been and what the upcoming landscape may hold is great, especially handy for after a death, trying to make it back to the place one worked from. –Carter Dotson

Disney Princess Royal Salon

 
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Disney Princess Royal Salon is a very nice universal application that allows young children to dress up Disney princesses as well as style their hair with a tap or drag of a finger. Having only a son, we never got into the princess theme the way some children do, but I did spend a few years looking for a moderately-priced styling head that was not attached to Barbie as my boy showed interest in trying to style my hair and apply pretend makeup to my face, so I think he would have fun with this kind of pretend play toy. It is these kinds of styling head toys that came to mind as I tested the Disney Princess Royal Salon app as after choosing among Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel, and Ariel one gets to decide which of four invitations to select, and one has a chance to style a princess’s hair with the tap of a finger. –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

SimpleRockets

 
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Space. The final frontier. The strange, black mass around the Earth that’s calling out to us, daring to come at it with all the technologies we could think of. As the space exploration in real world is stalling behind the schedule, videogame spacemen are orbiting on the countless devices, including mobile phones. The most popular among the “realistic” space exploration simulators is, undeniably, Kerbal Space Program. It’s a whole another topic, worthy of a hundred of articles, but it’s quite obvious where SimpleRockets took the inspiration from. Although it’s a lot more simple, it’s fitting perfectly into the mobile screen. –Tony Kuzmin

Wordcraft

 
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Wordcraft is a combo word game from Littlebigplay. The game is an interesting mix of word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles. The playing area is a rectangular grid made up of squared letter tiles set up in 8×13 fashion. The letters are random, and contain all the letter of the alphabet with varying probabilities. As in Scrabble, each letter has a number value that seems to be based on the use of the letter in the English language. Thus, E, T and A have the lowest values, and K, X, Q, J and Z have high values. –Tre Lawrence

Daddy Was A Thief

 
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Isn’t it strange that a game is only perceived as mature when the developers consciously try to make it so? By all accounts, Daddy Was A Thief is a hardcore circus of violence and destruction, but since it has nice music and cute graphics, it feels like a completely peaceful game. And I’m definitely digging its style. I’ve already reviewed it a while ago on iOS, and since Daddy Was A Thief got an update, I figured it would be a great time to also review this great game on Android, as well. –Tony Kuzmin

Also this week, Pocket Gamer went preview crazy, with first impressions of Infinity Blade III, Trials: Frontier, Gunner Z, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, Pocket Trains, Valiant Hearts, Fist of Awesome, and Rayman Fiesta Run. Get more reviews, news, and videos in Pocket Gamer’s weekly wrap up.

And finally, in this week’s AppSpy News Wrap-Up, James talks you through the Infinity Blade III trailer, and shows you the first gameplay video from Trials Frontier, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, and Rayman Fiesta Run. He also talks in a pirate voice for longer than is strictly necessary. Visit AppSpy.com for more video reviews, news, and previews.

This Week at 148Apps: September 2-6, 2013

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.

Bombcats Special Edition

 
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Bombcats Special Edition is a puzzle game from Chillingo with an odd premise. In the game’s world, cats explode, and they only don’t explode if they are kept in a cage. The funny thing is these cats want to explode, so the goal of the game is for players to use exploding cats to jump their way over to captive cats and free them so they can explode, too. This zany premise ends up working though, as Bombcats is an absolutely delightful puzzle game. –Campbell Bird

Star Wars: Force Collection

 
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I find myself stuck in the awkward no-man’s land between familiarity and rabid fandom. I’d call myself a Star Wars fan, certainly, but not I’m not a Fan. Even so, I was scowling with disgust and groaning out loud when Princess Leia was asking me to help her fend off storm troopers in a spectacularly cornball re-imagining of the first film’s opening moments. And yet, despite the patronizing fan service that makes even my low-level fanboy blood boil, Star Wars: Force Collection is actually quite good. –Rob Rich

Jumping Jupingo

 
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Even someone with arachnophobia will enjoy Jumping Jupingo; a slick platform game with just the right dose of strategic thinking and action thrown into the mix. A baby spider rescue mission with a difference. Does it offer enough entertainment for the price tag? Playing as furry spider Jupingo, one’s mission is to guide our fearless (and rather cute) friend through the wilderness to rescue baby arachnids from the clutches of a race of evil alien invaders called the Clopters. Armed with just a set of strong springy legs and elastic silk thread, players must guide the jumping spider across the wilderness and aid the little ones back to safety. –Lucy Ingram

Sago Mini Pet Cafe

 
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I have been charmed by Sago Sago’s new app, Sago Mini Pet Cafe – a universal interactive app for children. For those who do not know, Toca Boca has joined forces with zinc Roe to create delightful applications for toddlers. I have been a big fan of both Toca Boca and the Tickle Tap apps once developed by zinc Roe, many of which are re-developed for Sago Sago. Sago Mini Pet Cafe is a new title with elements that I remember from these earlier apps. It is nice to see these details within other titles. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

The Last Express

 
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Solvable mystery adventures are the cream of the mobile gaming crop as far as I’m concerned, and it’s not everyday we get a port like The Last Express on Android. It is borne from the popular PC game of the same name by the renown creator of the Prince of Persia line, Jordan Mechner. The game is played in the character of Robert Cath, a likable fellow fleeing his own troubles. He is on the move, and is looking to hook up with an old friend on the Orient Express. From there, the story explodes. Literally. –Tre Lawrence

Save the Snail

 
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Save the Snail is a fun little game that brings another perspective of positional physics to Android gaming. Familiar gameplay rules the roost these days, and it is nice that this one brings it while stepping out on a ledge. And no, this isn’t just Yet Another Angry Birds Clone. In this one, the goal is to keep the snails safe from aerial dangers that can cause injury. Basically, there is usually a snail (or two) that exist in the playing area. The overall goal is to prevent the mollusks from being crushed by falling rocks (don’t ask) or being zapped by especially vicious sun rays. –Tre Lawrence

Mine Maze

 
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I am positively sure that mining is the most popular current profession in all of gaming culture. Not even counting Minecraft, there are tons and tons of games that are based around mining, or have it as one of primary mechanics. It could be great to actually have a realistic game about mining, but it would probably be something completely dull, except for occasional cave ins, which result in an inescapable death traps – so, it wouldn’t be great at all, come to think of it. Mine Maze was released recently, and although it revolves around mining, it has about as much realistic mining gameplay as Angry Birds has ballistic models. –Tony Kuzmin

Also this week, Pocket Gamer has reviews for huge new shooters Call of Duty: Strike Team and Killzone Mercenary, and beginner’s guides for Junk Jack X and Terraria. The guys also list their favourite iOS and Android games in August, find more games like The Room, and tell you everything you need to know about microconsoles. All that and more, in the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up.

And finally, in this week’s episode of the AppSpy News Wrap-Up, we get flanked by an unexpected Call of Duty game. We also take a look at the Telepods in the upcoming Angry Birds Star Wars II, and check out 2K’s shamelessly self-referential new racer, 2K Drive.

GregoryColemanNexercise, the app for tracking exercise among friends, has always been about gamifying the workout tracking experience. But for the recent 2.0 revamp, Nexercise has undergone major changes in order to make it more game-like, and to hopefully make its users more effective in getting out and exercising. With multiple rewards systems like Kiip and Pocket Change, President and COO Gregory Coleman hopes that his app can be a smashing success. I spoke with him recently about what his company is trying to do with Nexercise.

Nexercise1148Apps: With the major revamp to the app, what were your goals in changing and improving the experience?

Gregory Coleman (GC): We wanted to make the entire experience easier, more intuitive, and more elegant. We want new users to quickly figure out what to do and how to do it. We felt like some aspects of the old version created some confusion and friction points.

148Apps: Many of the new features resemble the kinds of rewards and tactics that a lot of free-to-play social games use. Was this intentional? And if not, did you do any further research into how they could help you out?

GC: This is intentional. The key to casual games is that they are quick to use, easy to learn, and fun to play. Our goal is to accomplish the same thing with Nexercise and we deliberately tried to tie into the same psychological components.

148Apps: Have you seen actual users taking advantage of the rewards and social features?

GC: Absolutely! According to surveys of our users and our own internal data, those are two of the most popular aspects of the app.

Nexercise2148Apps: How do you ensure that users don’t try to cheat the system?

GC: If a user allows us to use the smartphone sensors to actually track the exercise session, we give them bonus points. This also allows us to do some pattern matching on the backend to validate the activity and reject cheating. As far as self-reporting, it is an honor system. However, our community tends to police itself and is pretty quick to call out cheaters.

148Apps: Do you encourage certain behavior patterns for users?

GC: Yes. Our mechanics are based heavily on the psychology of exercise. We reward behaviors that are scientifically proven to make people more successful in living an active life (exercising first thing in the morning or on Monday for example).

148Apps: What are your plans in the near future for the app?

GC: We’re looking very heavily at integrations with the other tools that our users use. We currently integrate with the RunKeeper app and are evaluating what, if any, other tools we want to connect with.

Thanks to Gregory for his time.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-11 :: Category: Healthcare & Fitness

Pocket Audio ToolsMain LogoIf you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. That’s what George Hufnagl, a Chicago-based sound designer, did. In need of easy-to-use portable tools for audio and video editing, he set out to do just that. And the result? Pocket Audio Tools.

He partnered with Canada-based Christian Floisand, who is also a programmer but learned Objective-C specifically to make this app, to help bring Pocket Audio Tools to life. The app itself is a bit technical, and of use primarily to certain audiences, which George Hufnagl was glad to show me in this demo video running down the various features:

The app currently has four features: a tempo finder for finding the BPM based on a region’s duration, beats, and the type of notes being played. This relates to the Modulation section, where particular tempos can be modulated to different values when trying to slow down or speed up a piece for particular uses. The SMPTE section allows those who work with audio along with video to calculate particular frame values based on SMPTE (Hours:Minutes:Seconds:Frames) timing or frame timing, to help get audio down to the specific value they need it to be at, with the ability to save favorite values.

Pocket Audio ToolsTempo FinderThe scale frequency section is the only one that actually features sound output! This lets sound designers see the frequencies of certain notes, their MIDI key equivalents, and to output that frequency to test how it will sound. Different scales based in different notes can be chosen to help get the exact frequencies necessary.

But most importantly, this is an app that George says that he uses regularly, especially the tempo finder in the sound projects that he works on.

This is just the beginning for Pocket Audio Tools: the app is planned to be updated over the next year with additional features added in (the Feedback link will send an email to the programmer, Christian) as per users’ requests and with plans to bring the app to other platforms including desktops. This is a tool meant to be handy for audio professionals, and considering that the creators are audio professionals themselves, they don’t just have to live up to their users’ standards: they have to live up to their own.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2013-08-21 :: Category: Productivity

MixBit Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
MixBit has a great app and service - but will anyone actually use it?

Read The Full Review »

Apps Are Us

 

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

Zombies Ate My Friends

 
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Zombies and video games go great together. We tend to forget this, especially as zombies in general become increasingly played out, but it’s a fact regardless. While Zombies Ate My Friends is no The Walking Dead, or Zombies Ate My Neighbors for that matter, it still showcases why this combination is so strong in the first place. As a zombie apocalypse tears through the town of Festerville, players loot and scavenge just to survive. However, since this is an RPG, that is only the beginning of the lengthy, 8-episode story. Throughout their quests, players will reconstruct helicopters, recruit new survivors into their camp, and desperately search for cures for their infected teammates. Sharp writing keeps even the grind-heaviest missions from getting stale. Complimenting that is the excellent art style best described as “Scott Pilgrim” but without the video game aesthetic. Raiders, boss zombies, and other characters have big, expressive, chibi cartoon heads and fluid animations that energize the presentation. Meanwhile dark, moody colors and macabre background details like “Murphy’s Law Office” constantly reinforce the funny yet bleak tone. –Jordan Minor

Cloud Spin

 
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Cloud Spin is a quite gorgeous game to look at. Never skipping a beat visually, it uses the Unreal Engine well to provide a fast-paced and enjoyable racing game like few others already out there. Do be aware of slightly flaky controls, though. Keeping it relatively simple, Cloud Spin offers a delightfully uncluttered interface. Straightforward instructions early on provide everything one needs to know. Flying around the screen is just a matter of swiping a finger in the relevant direction. Holding a second finger to the screen gives the player a speed boost, and that’s pretty much all that needs to be taught. Then it’s just a matter of gliding around each arena, collecting stars, dodging obstacles, and hoping to gain a precious medal at the end. –Jennifer Allen

Donna, Manage Your Day

 
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Donna, Manage Your Day is an app that’s designed to get its users to their scheduled appointments and events on-time in an intelligent way, but it’s definitely not flawless. Donna links in to contacts and calendars; automatically adding events scheduled for the next 3 days and letting users specify where they are and how to get to them. By default only one calendar is added, but the settings offer ways to toggle other calendars on the device. Users can specify in the settings their home and work locations, as well as handy shortcuts for common starting and stopping points. Destinations can be searched for by address and venue name. When getting directions, users can specify which transportation method they’re going to use – perfect for those in big cities who might switch between walking, public transit, a bike, and/or car as necessary. It also shows the weather! Then, when it’s nearing time to leave, a notification pops up to head out. –Carter Dotson

Bramble Berry Tales: The Story of Kalkalih

 
Bramble Berry Tales-House

Bramble Berry Tales – The Story of Kalkalih is an important interactive storybook app as it incorporates the oral histories of Canadian indigenous people of many, many generations past. An app of undeniably high quality, I enjoy the palette of warm earth tones and stylized animation that include interactive hot spots that one can trigger with a swipe or a tap, as well as how the words to this story are highlighted when read by optional narration; always a nice touch. This tale is a story within a story. First, siblings Lily and Thomas get dropped off to spend time at their Kookum and Mooshum’s house, which is Squamish for grandmother and grandfather. Lily can be a handful, however, as she is too excited to stay in her bed at night, sneaking into the kitchen to help herself to next morning’s homemade jam, and even turning on the radio and waking up the others who are sleeping. –Amy Solomon

Asphalt 8: Airborne

 
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Gameloft’s Asphalt series returns to take arcade racing pleasantries to a new height. Asphalt 8: Airborne features everything players are familiar with, especially the vehicle handling during each race. There are numerous cars to purchase and upgrade, and multiple objectives to accomplish besides the typical potential three star earnings by placing in the top 3. However, what it really brings to the table – besides an overhaul of the user interface and graphics, which look nice – is a new way to launch vehicles in the air while performing stunts. Airborne. That’s the key word in the title and the main focus in the game, and it elevates the entertainment that it provides by letting players watch their vehicles go flying across the screen. Plus it’s pretty awesome when the boost is activated and players come crashing down on top of other vehicles for a takedown. I’ve always had great fun with arcade racers and enjoyed the previous Asphalt entries, but something as simple as adding ramps and a few stunts to the action has really taken this series in a new direction. Up! –Andrew Stevens

Mynd Calendar

 
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The App Store is flooded with productivity apps and calendars, but each of them is a little bit different from the rest. Mynd Calendar is trying to break away from the mold by presenting users with a smart calendar that doesn’t just record things but helps users do them. It’s easy to get started. With the user’s permission, Mynd asks to integrate with any calendars, add contacts, use location services, and send push notifications. With just a few quick taps and some edits in the Settings menu, users are ready to use Mynd to help them get through their daily tasks. –Angela LaFollette

Timeline WWI

 
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Much like Timeline Civil War, Timeline WW1 is a fantastic resource of information for those interested in certain periods of history. Capturing the essence of the battles involved, as well as how the Great War affected the people wrapped up in it, Timeline WW1 is both a fascinating and bleak reminder of what our ancestors struggled through. The interface is much like Timeline Civil War; proving immensely simple to browse through for young and old alike. Using a multitude of different types of media users can read through the interactive timeline to gain snippets of information on each event, while also choosing to delve further in and discover pertinent facts through video, audio, and photography. With 500 images and over 100 film clips and newsreels to explore, there are hours upon hours of content here. –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

Fleet Combat

 
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Tower defense in a new, sea-bound world is the name of the game in Fleet Combat. This adventure is set on the high seas, and I admit that I did not mind the intro backstory: no zombies in this apocalypse; just good old Mother Nature in the form of engulfing sea levels. The resulting disaster leads to a restructuring of power, and our game story revolves around resistance against invading enemy forces. The game developer was prudent enough to put in an interactive tutorial, which helps explain the game “pieces” and general strategy. The defending pieces will be familiar to US Navy aficionados, taking the form of different types of warships (the whole setup when looking at the ships is somewhat reminiscent of Battleship, but I digress). –Tre Lawrence

Fantashooting

 
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Some titles don’t really need explaining. Some games just simply throw you into the action and give you the experience you’re after right out of the gate. Fantashooting is one of those games and, following its example, I’m going to get right on with the review. Fantashooting is a ‘dual-joystick’ shooter where instead of joysticks you use the touchscreen. Most of you will know how this works, but for those that don’t be aware that there are two on-screen ‘joysticks’ that you move around by touching the screen. One joystick moves the character and the other shoots a weapon or throws a magic spell. Shooting at what and magic spells at who? Well, quite simply, you’re killing monsters. A lot of them. Fantashooting is simply a wave survival game where you aim to kill as many monsters as you can before being killed yourself. The more you kill, the more money and points you get. Some of you may have guessed this already – the money and points can be spent on upgrading your character. –Matt Parker

KungFu Quest: The Jade Tower

 
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I am an old timer. I used to go to the 7-eleven and pump all of my paper route money into the arcade games. Usually there was to of them so there was some choice. KungFu Quest : The Jade Tower reminds me of an old game I used to play there, so I was excited to do this review. The tutorial dojo is a good place to get and idea of how KungFu Quest : The Jade Tower is played. The side scrolling method of game play helps eliminate the need for an on-screen D-pad. I was glad about that because I am not a fan of those. Instead, on the bottom left side of the screen, there are left and a right arrows that work well. On the bottom right side of the screen are the attack buttons. The action button will punch and kick, the other is to jump. –Trevor Dobrygoski

Donna, Manage Your Day Review

Donna, Manage Your Day Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Donna isn't the greatest personal assistant ever, but she comes in handy.

Read The Full Review »

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.

Plants vs. Zombies 2

 
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Game development is a fickle business. One day a studio is the talk of the industry and the next it’s scrambling to save face. Rarely is a team able to attain success and remain a darling of both the press and gamers alike. PopCap is one of the exceptions to the rule that somehow manage to impress, no matter what the obstacle. Their newest offering, Plants vs. Zombies 2, could put all of their hard-earned credibility on the chopping block by opting to implement a free-to-play monetization structure. Does the freemium model suit the franchise, or is this an unnecessary stir of the pot? –Blake Grundman

Notograph

 
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A new app has landed that is simple yet amazing. Notograph is essentially a way to take notes with photographs. It allows users to capture photos of things that they need to remember, and it stores them in a separate location so users don’t fill up their Camera Roll or Photo Stream with pictures that get in the way of their memories. Every time Notograph is opened, it takes users straight to the live camera. It’s designed for quick captures so there’s no messing around with features that aren’t needed. Just tap on the big yellow button to capture. Next to the capture button, users can turn the flash on or off, alternate between the front and back cameras, and view a list of captured pictures. –Angela LaFollette

TeeVee 2

 
teevee

There are a lot of good TV shows out there nowadays to keep track of. Sure, there are a lot of terrible TV to keep track of too, and TeeVee 2 doesn’t discriminate. It just wants to serve as a quick way to track TV shows and see when they’re coming on next. Just search for a show in a widely-available database, and it will be added to the list left under three categories: “upcoming” for shows that have scheduled upcoming episodes, “announced” for shows that are still airing but don’t have future episodes scheduled yet, and the “dead” section serves as a painful reminder that America rejected the witty antics of Happy Endings. America, for shame. –Carter Dotson

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play HD

 
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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play HD is a unique and fun coloring book app that helps children explore 2D and 3D animation. An iPhone version of this app is also available. This application consists of the classic Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse who star in three separate areas of this app, each including various objects which can be painted. When this app opens up for the first time, children will notice three rooms from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – starkly white and without color yet nicely decorated with many props and other objects that one would expect from fully furnished rooms as well as an outdoor scene. These areas – the living room, kitchen, and garden – each include many details that one would expect; be it easy chair or shelf, counter or cupboard, trees and flowers – all in need of some creative color. One can even add personal touches to Mickey and Minnie as well – a nice feature that I really enjoy. –Amy Solomon

ScribbleMix

 
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Taking plenty of inspiration from last year’s social gaming phenomenon, Draw Something, ScribbleMix is a fun re-imagining of the popular format with just enough to make it seem different. This time round, players must draw an entire phrase rather than one word. It makes a significant difference, too, both in terms of challenge and in terms of entertainment value. Rather than simply drawing a cheerleader, one might have to draw a cheerleader dancing in the sea for instance. As the Disney name is strongly attached here, there are Disney themed moments, too, such as my favorite: Iron Man bouncing in a desert. Plenty of categories are available so it’s convenient to be able to use some of the in-app currency to either re-spin for another shot, or choose a different category. –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

After the Gods-An Augmented Reality God Game

 
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Sometimes you’ll come across a game that deserves and needs to be looked at differently. To give After the Gods a score out of ten would be missing the point and would stop discussion before it even began. Why is this? Because, quite simply, After the Gods isn’t a particularly good game. It consists of a fairly basic premise that’s easy to achieve. You have to tap on different statues to activate them and then move your camera around to call upon the selected God’s power. Rain, wind and the power over light are all combined to complete a couple of different objectives. For to get flowers to grow, you need it to be raining and sunny. After a couple of these ‘objectives’, the game’s over. 6 out of ten. –Matt Parker

Gurk III-The 8-Bit RPG

 
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I wanted to start this review by saying how Gurk was an old-school RPG from the olden days, but quick Googling turned up the fact that there was no such thing, and my memory is playing tricks on me. Well, how about that. It’s actually quite a modern-day RPG that was simply made to look like it’s a clone of an old-school game. Still, it doesn’t mean that the game is in any way bad. Conversely, it’s one of the most absorbing role-playing games on the mobiles, and it manages to be like that with only a handful of pixels and colors to spare. In Gurk III, three heroes, a mage, a warrior, and an archer, have to travel across lands and dungeons, eradicating all enemies that are all too eager to munch on their squishy human faces. They are represented by a single icon on the global map, but when encountering an enemy, the map will zoom up on them, and they will fight the enemies in a turn-based battle mode. As in all the other RPGs, there are tons of items to find, and tons of gold to collect. –Tony Kuzmin

QbQbQb

 
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There’s a problem with QbQbQb, and so many other puzzle games, from a reviewer’s perspective: they are impossible to describe. They look fine and simple, when I play them, but when I have to put them on paper – it was easier to describe my feelings to a girl I liked in fifth grade, and get a lifetime of shame, than to explain this stuff. Although QbQbQb is difficult to understand from the screenshots, or my ramblings, it’s actually very simple to play. That said, it’s not easy – and it’s a great combination. Simple to learn, impossible to master. The challenge comes from the twisted way the game looks. It’s a Tetris-esque match-something arcade, but instead of giving a traditional flat surface to throw the incoming bricks on, QbQbQb opts for a circular one. To put it simply: there are various shapes, falling onto a planet from all angles, and the player needs to rotate the planet around its axis, to put them in the required places on top of it. The planet only rotates by 30-degree angles, so there are 12 possible positions the pieces are coming from, and can be placed on, which makes it a bit more manageable. But still difficult to wrap the head around, in the heat of the action. –Tony Kuzmin

TeeVee 2 Review

TeeVee 2 Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Keep track of your favorite TV shows!

Read The Full Review »

Daniel Singer HeadshotEver had the idea for an app, but felt like the lack of programming and design ability was a bit of a non-starter? Well, 13-year-old Daniel Singer has made an app. He’s the designer of Backdoor, a chat app that lets users chat with their friends anonymously, trying to get clues to guess who they are. It’s available now on the App Store.

This isn’t even Daniel’s first thing that he’s helped to design: he helped create YouTell.com, an anonymous feedback site. He says that helped lead to the creation of Backdoor. “One day during a meeting, I was kind of thinking about how you reply to feedback, and if you reply a lot, that turns into a conversation. And from a conversation, the best platform to do that would be a messenger, and [on] iOS. And that’s kind of how it all started.”

While he has a limited iOS programming background at the moment, he’s more a design person, and he just started mocking up Backdoor after having the idea. “I’m primarily a UI designer, so I immediately kind of hopped into Photoshop and just started messing with that.”

How’d he get started with design in the first place? He says “a few years back” (keep in mind that he’s thirteen, almost fourteen years old) that he “wanted to create a gaming youtube channel, because I was in to it at the time, so you had to like make a website and a channel design and all that, and so I had to learn the skills to do that, and from there I wound up liking the skills more than the actual YouTube page, and I kind of pursued those further, primarily with design.”

BackdoorUIIn speaking over the phone with Daniel, his youth is apparent, both from the way he speaks like a typical teenager, and in how he describes how he uses Backdoor: “One of my friends played a prank on me, which was quite funny, which was, I was sitting down at a table and they said “look behind you, it’s me” – and it was complete strangers and I looked behind them, and it was funny. I ended up using clues and I kind of guessed that it was someone I knew and not some random stranger. That was fun.”

But also, he has a maturity to his voice – his voice was deep enough that I was a bit skeptical if he was still thirteen, which he technically is – he turns fourteen soon – and of course, what he’s doing is something that people twice his age are trying to do with startups. He also has a youthful optimism toward what is available with technology that he an do with it: “The skills and the resources are pretty widely available and free as well to the most part. To learn programming and design, in 30 days of your Photoshop free trial, you can learn quite a bit, and then if you’re into it and go ahead and get a student plan, which is not that much. It’s really openly available to learn.”

“I tried looking for a teacher, and there really aren’t for design as far as I was able to find, unless you went to art school, but that’s a college, a conventional course. I ended up teaching myself a lot about design.”

And by going out and learning how to do all of this himself, he’s way ahead of even many adults who have the inkling in their head “Maybe I could create an app…” because he just did it.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2013-06-22 :: Category: Social Networking

This Week at 148Apps: August 5-9, 2013

Expert App Reviews

 

Yet another week has passed, and that means the 148Apps reviewers have combed through the vast numbers of new apps out there in hopes of reviewing the latest and greatest. 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.

My.Shopping

 
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Offering a quite powerful way in which to organize one’s shopping, My.Shopping isn’t going to win prizes for simplicity or minimalism, but it might suit those looking for a more complex solution than the usual methods. A cluttered interface introduces proceedings but a clearly laid out plus sign does at least guide users the right way. It’s possible to add product names and sellers so they’re easier to include in the future, as well as actual shopping lists. Being able to configure sellers accurately to include local area details is a potential option, too. –Jennifer Allen

Disney Animated

 
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Disney animated films are kiiiiinda popular, and have been ever since Snow White was released in 1937. They’ve been going strong ever since. Countless books both official and not have been published documenting the company’s techniques, movies, and so on. However, I don’t think any of them, or even all of them put together, hold a candle to Disney Animated. Disney Animated isn’t a simple eBook. Oh no. It’s an interactive encyclopedia of all fifty-three of Disney’s feature length animated films. Ten different chapters explain the history of the animation giant, its methods (past and present), character development, music, and more. Each of these sections explains a core concept and offers up several detailed examples that can be viewed, and often directly interacted with, via a single tap. Curious about Disney’s animation techniques over the years? Check out the chapter on Animation and view dozens of samples from Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Tangled, and more. Or maybe take a stab at animation itself by doing some simple skeletal adjustments using a model of Vanellope from Wreck-it-Ralph. There’s a remarkable amount of information for Disney fans to appreciate here, and a significant portion of it is either animated, interactive, or both. –Rob Rich

Mikey Hooks

 
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Mikey Hooks takes the sublime speed-run platformer Mikey Shorts and adds grappling hooks to it. I love Mikey Shorts and I love grappling hook games. I’m no mathematician (I’m a writer instead) but that adds up to Mikey Hooks being an incredible game. Through 24 story levels and 12 race levels, players must run, jump, and swing their way through levels as quickly as possible. As this is the second game in the series, the training wheels have been taken off: now players have limited health and can die when touching spikes, and there’s a lot more freedom in path-taking as the trapped humans aren’t in the levels any more. The story levels still have challenges for collecting all the coins (which are used to unlock a wild variety of new disguises) and finding the hidden golden shorts in each level. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 
We are happy to announce that all past and future Giggleapps content will now be featured throughout 148Apps. Here’s some of what Giggleapps writer Amy Solomon brought to the table this week:

Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price

 
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Recently, I have been given the chance to test a new iPad case, the Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price. This case is compatible with 1st 2nd and 3rd generation as well as the new iPad, but a camera is needed to access a section of the related application of the same name. I remember when we first got our iPad 3, my husband was intent on encasing our device in something that would be utterly protected from our sometimes irresponsible – if not occasionally downright reckless – five year old boy. Our old case has done the trick as our iPad has never seen any damage, but not without some cost, as my husband announced after some time struggling to get this piece of hardware onto the iPad that he was NEVER, EVER taking this case off, as it was too difficult to do so. Of course, as we had been given the chance by Fisher Price to review not only this iPad case, but two previously reviewed Apptivity play sets as well, it was understood that this case would have to come off, which it did, with a lot of cajoling. –Amy Solomon

Symmetry School

 
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Symmetry School: Learning Geometry is an app for iPad that helps children understand the principles of symmetry in this engrossing interactive app. Both reflective and rotational symmetry are touched upon here as children drag differently colored geometric shapes onto a grid that needs to be filled in accordingly. Three levels of difficulty are included for both the reflective and rotational sections of this app. Children will have the easiest time starting to explore this app with the reflective section as this is symmetry they may find familiar such as in a mirror image, looking at the details of butterfly wings, or creating Rorschach-like art by adding paint to a folded piece of paper and distributing color equally between both halves. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

 
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How long should a game last? Are you the type of person that demands 30 hours of gameplay before you’d even consider purchasing a title? Well, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes has got you covered. This game is huge. Try and bear in mind I’m being quite relative with my usage of the word ‘huge’. It’s no Skyrim, but for your average Android download, Clash of Heroes contains a campaign that easily clocks in at over 30 hours. Is this a good thing, though? Do we want to grind through 30 hours of Clash of Heroes? It will all come down to how much you enjoy the game’s basic structure and combat. Clash of Heroes is a Strategy RPG title. Battles are turn based and at the end of each fight, you’ll level up, gain EXP and all sorts of other RPG tropes are thrown in. –Matt Parker

Rail Rush

 
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Yes, Rail Rush may induce a double take. In a good way, that is. A decrepit, seemingly endless mine shaft is the scene of this caper; the playing environment is mostly made up of the the running area that this type of running game is known for, but the running path appears as a three-lane rail track that is treacherous in its condition, and the runner is maneuvering a runaway mine cart along the railway. Plenty of obstacles are present, which most of the swipe controls help avoid. Swiping up and down invokes jumping and sucking respectively, while swiping left or right jumps the cart in either direction. This is useful for jumping off of a busted track to a (temporarily) safer one, or for avoiding objects on the tracks. Additionally, there are left and right tilt movements, which are not only effective for avoiding obstacles, but key in collecting gold nuggets, gems and other specials that line the sides of the rails. –Tre Lawrence

Autodesk Homestyler

 
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Some people used to look at me funny when I’d tell them the best bit about playing The Sims wasn’t drowning people by removing a simple ladder, but that it was the building and design phase that I spent most time on. There’s something about creating your perfect home. Something that The Sims made look so simple and didn’t involve a single piece of Ikea flat-packed furniture. Something so easy about it all. It’s that same feeling that Autodesk Homestyler also evokes. It’s a fairly simple design tool that allows you to place furniture within a preset blank canvas of a room or you can import pictures of your own home. –Matt Parker

Instabrowser Review

Instabrowser Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Instabrowser solves a problem, but is it one that people actually have, and is it worth the cost?

Read The Full Review »

It’s been about a month since the app marketing gurus at Fiksu first reported their findings on the legitimacy of all those ads we’ve grown accustomed to in the Facebook app. As our own Carter Dotson noted, there was an increase of 14.6 million downloads of the top 200 free apps per day throughout the month of May. That’s a lot of downloads, and it was pretty much all because of those Facebook ads. Now the numbers for June are in, and it doesn’t look like the trend is going away. If anything it seems to be building momentum.

fiksuloyalFiksu’s Cost per Loyal User Index, used for measuring the average cost of earning a loyal user (i.e. opens the app three or more times), shows that values have jumped back up to $1.50 for the month of June. What this means is that it’s costing advertisers more money on average – about $0.17 more when compared to May – to attract customers, which Fisku believes is due to a recent influx of developers and publishers looking to advertise on the social media platform.

fiksucompetetiveOn the other hand their App Store Competitive Index, which tracks the average download volume of the top 200 free U.S. apps each day, is showing a decrease of about 9 million total downloads for the month of June as compared to May. A loss of 9 million downloads in one month definitely sounds like one heck of a drop-off, however it’s still a one million download improvement over last year’s numbers; which they attribute to the App Store’s perpetual state of competition.

So those slightly annoying but easily ignored ads we usually gloss over while letting all our friends know what we’re eating for dinner and where, possibly with an accompanying photo, actually serve a purpose. A significant purpose. And it looks like advertisers are going to be fighting over the top spot for some time to come.

Splyce Review

Splyce Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Want to make some super sweet party mixes with little effort? Splyce is here.

Read The Full Review »

Your App Experts

 

Week-in and week-out, 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.

A Ride Into The Mountains

 
rideintomountains05

Sucker that I am for retro-inspired visuals, I was immediately interested in A Ride into the Mountains. It’s not just a visual throwback, however. The fluid animations, beautiful backgrounds, haunting melodies, and simple-yet-complex gameplay come together to make something more than just a retro themed time waster. It’s actually pretty special. Zu and his family have protected the land from evil forces for generations. One day the sacred relic keeping it all at bay is stolen, so he jumps onto his horse and sets out to get it back. A Ride into the Mountains is centered around one main gameplay mechanic: firing arrows. Players must tap and drag their finger across the screen to draw back Zu’s bow and release to fire, with the time spent drawing determining the shot strength. Little by little more mechanics are introduced – such as tilting the device to move the horse or tapping the screen while drawing back on the bow to focus and slow down time – until eventually it becomes an unexpectedly solid little arcade/action game. –Rob Rich

Sky Gamblers: Cold War

 
SkyGamblersCW-6

I admit to not having spent much time playing the Sky Gamblers series. I’ve never been a huge fan of airplane warfare games, and I don’t think that the real world is either – has there been an actual aerial dogfight in the past few decades? I hope not, because war is bad! But yet, aerial dogfighting winds up popping up commonly in games. So when duty called, I decided to give Sky Gamblers: Cold War a shot, and I can see the appeal. This is aerial warfare that’s got a light learning curve to it. Sky Gamblers: Cold War does the one thing that I think every other online multiplayer game needs to have at their main menu: a quick start button! This promotes quick, casual online play by making it super-simple to jump in. There’s still options for creating games (including private matches with Game Center friends), but this subtle little feature goes a long way toward ensuring that people will actually play a game with online multiplayer! I found matches even in the dead of night. –Carter Dotson

Agenda Calendar 4

 
agenda

Keeping a well organized calendar is a crucial part of a good workflow for many, and on the iPhone there are already several great calendar apps available – but is Agenda Calendar 4 different enough to make a splash? I’ve been using Fantastical for all my calendaring needs over the past few months, but Agenda Calendar 4 has a seriously good chance of becoming my new default. –Ruari O’Gallchoir

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Tunnel Trouble

 
tunnel

Tunnel Trouble is a creative and fun universal educational app that to children preschool age and above will seem like a simple and interesting game application, with adults all the while appreciating how terrific this app is for teaching problem-solving in a way that is engaging and full of whimsy. Tunnel Trouble allows players to help a chicken run through a series of maze-like tunnels of an underground passageway, in later levels avoiding a monster who needs to be trapped to let this chicken pass by unharmed. Each of the 25 levels includes a cross-section of the tunnel this chicken is trying to run through. This tunnel is actually made up of a series of pieces that each need to connect to allow chicken free access. –Amy Solomon

Play-Doh Create ABCs

 
play-doh

PLAY-DOH Create ABCs is a new universal app that allows children to enjoy this popular modeling compound, now 55 years old, on their devices as they also learn their letters. Needless to say, I was interested to see how Play-Doh, which is such a tactile toy, translates into an application. There are three sections to this app with its main area being Write and Craft where children, after choosing from a large variety of Play-Doh colors, can trace each letter with the drag of a finger. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Le Vamp

 
levamp

It must be tough being a vampire. You’ve got a limited time of day in which you can be up and about. You can’t check yourself out in the mirror. There’s the whole ‘having to drink people’s blood’ thing. It sounds like a right hassle. On top of that, there are some vampires that have the added burden of parenthood, as in Le Vamp. In Le Vamp you take control of a troublesome vampire who’s barely out of nappies. Assuming vampires use nappies. This cheeky little terror of the night has decided to skip his bedtime and run amok in what I assume is a village outside of Paris. This hasn’t gone unnoticed though, as the petit vampire has managed to upset many French stereotypes meaning an angry mob of farmers, mimes and Napoleon lookalikes will be chasing down our blood-sucking friend. –Matt Parker

Warmly

 
dragon

Mad Dragon is an interesting side-scrolling runner that features an almost lovable fantasy character. A hitherto sleeping dragon is our angry protagonist. In this side-scroller, action proceeds from left to right, and the enraged dragon possesses an exhaustible set of attributes that assist it in its desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. Wreaking havoc, in this game, mostly refers to destroying as many buildings as possible, while avoiding the bombs that are spread out around the place to stop the dragon. –Tre Lawrence

Jungle Heat

 
jungle

War. Often we’re asked what it’s good for and a common response is “nothing”. In fact, some have even gone as far to say “absolutely nothing”. That none-too-subtle Edwin Starr reference is a heads up that Jungle Heat is a game all about war. A war which takes place in a jungle that happens to be full of oil and gold. The game places you in control over an ever-expanding base that you launch attacks from. You can think of Jungle Heat as a Farmville style game where instead of harvesting crops your training soldiers to go and do battle. It’s the training and the battles that make up the two main parts of the game. –Matt Parker

Your App Authority

 

Week-in and week-out, 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.

Gentlemen!

 
gentlemen

Occasionally frantic, Gentlemen! is never short of gloriously great fun. Lone gamers won’t be so keen given that it’s exclusively for two players, but it’s the perfect reason to get a friend involved. The idea is simple enough: players must defeat each other in a duel to the death. Just like in the old days of honor and explosive birds, ok, maybe not so much. Presented in portrait mode, each player’s controls are set on opposite sides of the screen. In a nice move, menu buttons and other descriptions are similarly laid out, for either player to easily interact with. Controls are simple with left and right, alongside a gravity flip button and the use of a weapon. Weapons vary, mostly thanks to a switch in the middle of each game enabling players to change around. Knives, bombs, dynamite, electric shields and explosive birds all play a role, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s as zany as it sounds, while adding a surprising tactical edge to proceedings. –Jennifer Allen

PhotoNova 2

 
photonova

I have a handful of photo apps on my iPhone 5 that I keep handy when I feel like making my pictures look fancy. Each app has its own perks like frames, filters and adjustments. I tend to rotate between them until I find the one that transforms my picture into a work of art. I’m always on the lookout for new photo apps because I’m really looking for that one that will replace all my other go to camera apps. I reviewed PhotoNova+ 2 a few months ago, which is a free version of their paid app. PhotoNova 2 offers users more advanced features like a variety of selection tools, an option to switch out the background of photos that have a green background and an impressive effects selection. –Angela LaFollette

Tangent

 
tangent

Many photography apps tend to do quite similar things to imagery, mostly involving applying filters to photographs. Tangent doesn’t quite do that. It might involve applying new effects to an image, but through a vector art style overlay, improvements are being added to the image, rather than replacing anything. There’s a fairly simple process to follow throughout the app. Users can either import or take a photo directly from within, before opting for a specific style. Tangent offers both straight-forward and quick applications, as well as plenty of choice for those who want to adjust things individually. Shapes form the first set of choices, with circles, rectangles, triangles and plenty more, available to apply to an image. It sounds gimmicky, but it can really set off a photo nicely, giving focus to the important part of a photo. There are plenty of shapes available too, with in-app purchases provided for those who want even more choice. That’s a trend that continues throughout, with plenty of additional blends and colors available at a price. Fortunately, it’s always possible to preview them first. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

ABC Aquarium

 
aquarium

Peapod Labs has developed a favorite series of educational ABC apps and has recently added two new titles – ABC Aquarium and ABC Bugs, each terrifically educational and including exceptional photography to allow children to view these different creatures in a way that highlights all of their unique attributes. Each of these apps, now eleven and counting, features a wide amount of content, including terrific, detailed photos of each subject as well as narrated fun facts, curated videos gathered from the Internet and simple, intuitive interactions which young children will enjoy a great deal. –Amy Solomon

Gro Recycling

 
gro

Gro Recycling is a cute and fun interactive universal app that allows children to sort recycling into different receptacles, totaling six in all, including a unique choice of recycling batteries as well as a compost container. Game play is charming and intuitive as one simply drags a piece of recycling to be recycled to the correct container, as these bins happily and hungrily eat what they are being served, while a mistake will result in the spitting out of the wrong material. This app is lovingly styled with the delightful humanizing of these recycling bins as cartoony faces, which are included with fun, witty noises that each of these characters makes, hungry to eat recycled materials. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Attack of the Spooklings

 
spooklings

Mobile games that offer their players to smash the opponents using nothing but their very fingers were at the very start of the touch-screen revolution, but lately it seems that somewhat counter-intuitive habit of putting buttons on touch-screen has largely rendered the “clean” touch-screen games mostly obsolete. Someone should analyze this trend to some revealing, but ultimately unnecessary results. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Attack of the Spooklings. It’s a fine, but incredibly simple game. How simple? It takes longer to read this sentence than to see the whole game. It’s not surprising, considering that it consists of an astonishing single screen, and single enemy. While I’m all for the games with minimalistic design, they should also be complemented with really incredible gameplay. Attack of the Spooklings is quite exciting for some time, sure, but it simply lacks any sort of complexity to be interesting. –Tony Kuzmin

GP Retro

 
gpretro

GP Retro is a racing game that isn’t scared to rock looks of old, and I suspect it is aware of my abject weakness for titles that bring back the wonderful things of days gone by. The game comes at us in glorious 2D, and in this one, retro is no misnomer. The chunky pixels underscore the jittery unsure animations that make these type of games fun to look at. The purposely un-sharp colors were done well, and even the intro pages for the drivers were nicely formatted to fit with the retro look. As for gameplay, it is basically top-down view simulated Grand Prix open-wheel (to start) racing over mostly asymmetrical raceways. Sharp turns characterize the racing; losing control and ending up on grass slows down the race car considerably. There are valuables and power-ups to be collected, as well as hazards to be avoided. –Tre Lawrence

Cross Horizon

 
cross horizon

Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out? The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way. I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details. –Tre Lawrence

 

Celebrating the App Store’s 5th Anniversary

 

App Store Insiders

First up, check out the over 20 interviews that Jeff Scott (with a little help from Carter Dotson) did with the App Store’s best and brightest, like this one from Tapulous co-founder, Mike Lee:

Mike Lee148Apps: If you have one single success within the App Store you’d like to highlight, what would it be?

Mike Lee: I’m really excited about the work the New Lemurs are doing. I’ve been trying to blend technology and altruism both on and off the App Store since before it was a thing, with everything from the Club Thievey fundraising drive that linked Mac developers with the Madagascar Fauna Group to the Obama ’08 app to Appsterdam and on into Lemurs Chemistry.

What distinguishes my work now from what I was doing 5 years ago is this: while I’m still focused on providing great products and experiences to people, that has stopped being the end in and of itself. Now I am much more concerned with spreading good memes. My abilities as an App Maker, and my ability to be an example of what kind of apps we should make and what kind of App Makers we should be, have switched seats.

My current obsession is the idea that games would not be a waste of time if they were made based on science. By replacing the arbitrary game mechanics with rules from nature, you end up with games that happen to be educational as a side-effect, instead of trying to gamify education. Lemurs Chemistry is the embodiment of that idea, and it’s the best game I’ve ever produced.

Be sure to read all of the interviews, chock full of insight and info, right here on 148Apps.

Looking Back

It was a special week across the 148Apps network of sites, as we celebrated the App Store’s 5th anniversary with a wealth of original content from our team of reviewers. Take a look at some of their picks for the best apps from the past five years.

Fairway Solitaire

 
fairwaysolitaire1

In all my time playing iOS games, I’ve never been quite so tempted to buy an in-app purchase as I was while playing Fairway Solitaire. This isn’t because there’s so little content bundled with the free version (there’s enough) but because it’s so addictive that I didn’t want to stop playing. For a game that’s essentially a twist on card game solitaire, this is praise indeed. As the name suggests, Fairway Solitaire is a version of Golf Solitaire, a classic variation on the card game that everyone knows and loves. The difference here is that rather than create suits such as in regular Solitaire, the player must score runs by clearing the card deck using the least amount of moves. Once the pile of cards run out, the par is determined and the player moves onto the next hole. At the end of the course, a star rating out of three is offered as a way of encouraging players to master the stage. –Jennifer Allen

Rage of Bahamut

 
rage

Rage of Bahamut wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It definitely involves collecting cards and battling other players, but it’s more akin to a browser game than what most would consider a “proper” iOS title. Whether or not this is a bad thing depends a lot on personal preference, but anyone willing to look past the clunky interface just might find themselves having a great time. At its core, Rage of Bahamut is all about gathering cards in order to complete quests (or battle other players) in order to get better cards, etc. But that’s just the basics. Quests can be completed in order to acquire treasure, more cards, cash, and experience for whichever card has been designated the Leader. It’s all used as expected (i.e. buying car packs, building a stronger deck, etc), really. –Rob Rich

Disc Drivin’

 
disc

Disc Drivin’ is a game whose immediate goal might not be apparent; the easiest way to explain the game is that it is like Mario Kart crossed with Words With Friends. You and your opponents take turns sliding your disc across the tracks, replete with tricky turns, turbo boosts, and powerup icons. The Words with Friends-esque element comes from the turn-based gameplay; when you take your turn, your opponent then takes theirs, and so on until someone completes 3 laps and wins the race. The game supports up to 8 players in either hotseat or local wifi multiplayer, and up to 4 people online, with push notifications notifying you when it is your turn. There’s a reason why I describe this as being similar to Words With Friends in particular, and it is because Disc Drivin’ is just as addictive and viral as that game was around its popularity peak. If you start up one game, you’ll quickly find yourself wanting to start up more and more, and anxiously waiting for your opponents to make their moves so you can play some more. The physics engine with the discs adds to the fun, as wacky things can happen when you hit ramps, bombs or other discs; there is plenty that can happen when discs go flying to cause you to shout for joy or shriek in error. You never know what you’ll see next. That, and just the whole addictive and surprisingly fast-paced nature of the asynchronous multiplayer, is what makes this one a gem. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. GiggleApps writer Amy Solomon served up her App Store favorites during this week’s fifth anniversary festivities:

GiggleApps

 

Toca Tea Party

 
tea party

Toca Tea Party is a wonderfully creative app from one of my new favorite developers, Toca Boca. This app creates a lovely interactive tea party environment which has become a huge hit with our entire family. This is a wonderful iPad app which simulates a tea party for three, be it a child and two adults, a child and two dolls or stuffed animals, or three toys with the help of little hands. This app has been enjoyed in our house in every conceivable way and I can say that my husband, son, and I all love this application. –Amy Solomon

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

 
flyingbooks

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is a very special interactive storybook for iPad that is perfectly realized in every way. Strong words, I know, but this app is simply wonderful, poetic and beautiful experience for all ages. Based on the short film of the same name, this ebook has interwoven interactions and other animated visuals that are simply striking for use of imagery that will stay with the reader for a very long time. It is hard really to write this review as I would encourage readers to experience this themselves, as I don’t think my words here will do this app justice. The story is said to be inspired by hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, and the Wizard of Oz equally, and is about a man who is currently writing a book about his life. One day, his world gets turned upside down but is fortunate to later find a library filled with books with flying abilities that need a caregiver. In reality, this app is really about so much more. My son, at 3.5 years, still takes things on face value, and for him, this story book is about the love of reading and the warm embrace books deserve as the protagonist takes care of these flying books as if they are living, breathing things. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Smash Spin Rage

 
smashspin

Beautiful, drop dead gorgeous 3D graphics. Relatively easy controls. Frankly who cares about backstory?
Smash Spin Rage is a game that brings mythical elements to 21st century handheld gaming. It brings to bear murder, the supernatural and an unquenchable desire for revenge. I mostly like the graphics in this one. The colors avidly bring to life the spooky ambiance of the location, with natural light combining and contrasting with shadows at the same time. The animations are smooth, and the supernatural effects worked well. From the opening cutscene to the battles all the way to the creativity of the belligerents, the game looks good. –Tre Lawrence

Ultimate Stick Fight

 
stickfight

So many of us cut our gaming teeth on scrolling beat em ups. You know, those games like Fighting Force that gave us the opportunity to graphically beat up hordes of violent thugs. There was usually the simplest of backstory, plenty of swinging limbs and even a weapon or two to procure. Ultimate Stick Fight is in that same glorious vein. Jumps, kicks, punches and tons of people to practice them on. And stick figures. Part of what sets this game apart is the look; instead of regular-looking characters, we get souped up, colorful stick people. Interestingly enough, the developer does well with colorization, and is able to imbibe a good deal of character into the thin guys. The movements and animations were fairly life-like, but kept the whimsical nature that we expect in characters of this genre. When matched with the numerous, creatively diverse backgrounds, it makes a pretty compelling 2D visual feast. –Tre Lawrence

Leaping Legend

 
leaping

Leaping Legend is an arcade-style infinite climbing/running game. The virtual world is decidedly medieval, with the jittery characters and animations presented in 8-bit retro glory. As noted, all the elements come together to create a game with an arcade feel. The animations are fairly utilitarian, and do the job without being too flashy. If creating a remarkable ode to the past is the goal, I think the developer mostly succeeds admirably. In this one, the higher up one goes the better. Trying to free the fair-haired maiden at the “top” is the goal, and to accomplish this, our protagonist has two parallel walls to run up, as well as the ability to leap from one wall to the other on the quest to the top. This ability to leap is invaluable, as along the way, there are all sorts of run-ending obstacles, ranging from scary looking rotating blades to barrels and plenty of dropping debris. –Tre Lawrence

AltaMail Review

AltaMail Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
AltaMail is an app that's got powerful guts, but a painful user experience.

Read The Full Review »

 

AdamSaltsmanAdam Saltsman is one of the most talented, intelligent, and opinionated developers working on the App Store nowadays. He’s worked on a selection of titles on the App Store as diverse as the influential endless runner Canabalt to the abstract touchscreen game Hundreds. However, there are reasons why he thinks Canabalt isn’t quite as influential as it appears to be, and his concerns about the future of the App Stores and the indies working on it.

148Apps: Canabalt remains one of the most influential games on the App Store as one of the first high-profile endless runners, and the one that seemingly sparked a million more games. What do you think of the game’s legacy, though? Do you see it in similar terms?

Adam Saltsman: So the funny thing about Canabalt to me is that it hasn’t sold as well as a lot of people think. We’ve probably sold maybe 250,000 or 300,000 copies or something, and a lot of those were during sales over the last few years combined. That’s nothing to laugh at, and I’m super thankful and grateful for that response from people, but I think the game had a bigger impact on journalists and other game developers than it did on the general public. Not to mention the hordes of games inspired by the games that Canabalt seems to have inspired, which probably outnumber Canabalt’s direct influences by a few orders of magnitude!

Canabalt

It’s important to remember that lots of games influenced Canabalt too, though, as well as Wurdle. These were not things created in a vacuum! All the same I could not be happier with Canabalt’s reception and impact. It feels like a huge honor, all the time, forever.

148Apps: The way that developers make money within the App Store has definitely shifted in the past 5 years, yet you have remained an outspoken critic of the way that many games use in-app purchases. Why is that? Has your position shifted at all over the last few years?

Saltsman: I don’t think my position has changed much. Most of the approaches to IAP or “free to play” style designs that are deployed on the App Store, especially in financially successful games, remain fairly corrupt or coercive in a way that makes me pretty uncomfortable. Some of these approaches have actually been outlawed in Japan, so I don’t think their coercive nature is completely imaginary. These approaches have even become formalized enough to have actual names (treadmills, energy systems, tight loops, etc).

I think players in general are at least slightly more aware of these systems. This is important, especially for kids. Many of these games still target children with schemes like “give us $5 or your virtual fish will DIE.” It’s good for people to understand that a “game” on their phone might operate that way.

But also there have been games with large IAP components that don’t really feel particularly coercive, like ShellRazer, which I think is cool. These games actually speak to the promise of IAP and F2P as a way of engaging a broader or different type of audience in different ways. These games are very definitely the exception to the rule, though.

148Apps: What do you think about the viability of the App Store over the next five years? Will there be any changes, or any directions that you would like to see the marketplace go in?

Saltsman: The App Store to me seems to really strongly favor a particular kind of approach (if you don’t do IAP of course), which we used on Hundreds. This approach goes something like this: “work on the game in relative secrecy for like 1–2 years, then launch it and hope it gets featured and impresses everybody enough to get the critical mass you need to get good word of mouth and a good long tail in the future.”

Hundreds-3

As a member of a small team, and somebody with a growing family, this approach freaks me out pretty bad, and there are a lot of platforms (especially PC/Mac) where you don’t have to take that kind of crazy all-or-nothing path. I would love it if the App Store could support preorders, and bundles, and a lot of these other things that help sustain small teams through risky development on other platforms.

On top of that, launching on the App Store first places certain price limits on your work in some people’s minds, and selling at a higher price point on other platforms later can be a challenge. For small teams, it seems like designing for PC/Mac first, with potentially touch-screen friendly controls in mind (e.g. favoring the mouse over gamepads), is a really superior way to approach things, from a business and tech perspective.

In the “old days” (ha ha!) it felt like you could just think up a real good game for the only model of iPhone/iPod Touch that actually existed, build it in a reasonable period of time, and kind of blow people’s minds. Prices weren’t quite as low back then either. It’s totally natural and understandable that those early successes would draw in more competition, but at this point, as a small team of 2 or 3, you have to be pretty receptive to the idea that you are up against teams of 10 or 12, with 1–2 years of publisher-backed runway. You can still compete, indies can ALWAYS compete…but if you are trying to make games commercially and take care of your family, you have to be cognizant of these things, and more considered in your approach in the future.

Thanks to Adam Saltsman for his time; it’s always a pleasure.

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