Posts Tagged blake grundman

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

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

Civilization Revolution 2

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

Lomotif

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

Sonic Jump Fever

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

Blackwell 1: Legacy

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

Age of Booty: Tactics

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

Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Doug Dug

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

Boom! Tanks

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

Stickman Soccer 2014

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

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

Expert App Reviewers

 

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

Star Wars Scene Maker

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

Mecha Ace

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

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril

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

Transformers: Age of Extinction – The Official Game

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

Science Museum Splash!

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

Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Winning Kick

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

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

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

Flick Soccer Brazil

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

Swipe Tap Smash

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

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

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

Intake: Be Aggressive

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

Lethal Lance

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

Sharebrands Stereo Headphones

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

Racer 8

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

Accompli

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

Sago Mini Monsters

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

Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Greedy Dwarf

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

Dancing Samurai

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

Brandnew Boy

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

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

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.

In Fear I Trust

 
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I’m always a little skeptical when it comes to horror games, especially those in the survival horror sub-genre. That said, In Fear I Trust was one of those games that certainly caught my eye – not just for its outstanding visuals, but because it looked and sounded highly intriguing. A man finds himself waking up in a creepy abandoned facility deep in the heart of Soviet Russia. He can’t remember who he is or how he got there, just that something rather unsettling has been going on. Designed with the Unreal Engine for iOS, the game delivers an imaginative story over a number of episodes. And fortunately, the first two are filled with enough content to indulge oneself in until the release of the later episodes. –Lucy Ingram

Redd

 
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I have to admit, until recently I never really ventured into the world of Reddit. I’m not a huge fan of the site interface, and for some reason it never really occurred to me to seek out an app for my phone. This has possibly all changed with the introduction of Redd; a Reddit client made especially for those who want to avoid the clutter and chaos of the main website. And one that is perfect for those who, like me, just want to use the dip-in/dip-out approach. The remarkably clean and simple looking interface is the first thing one will notice as they load the app. A sea of whitespace highlighted with a touch of red – it’s easy on the eyes, and a breeze to navigate. The typeface is fairly easy to read despite its light and thin demeanor, and its ability to filter the posts from the tabs at the bottom make it practically effortless to handle. –Lucy Ingram

Baldur’s Gate II

 
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It is impossible to reflect back on the annals of RPG history without hitting on the classic Baldur’s Gate franchise. Fourteen years after the release of Baldur’s Gate II, Overhaul Games have stepped in and given the second iteration in the series a fresh coat of paint. Can an iOS port of such a beloved title ever live up to the expectations of the nostalgic PC gaming audience? The answer to that question is not as straightforward as one might assume. –Blake Grundman

Scribe

 
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Scribe is a new utility for the iPhone that gives users the ability to copy data snippets from their Mac to their iOS device without the need for a Wi-Fi connection. It uses the Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) profile supported by most of Apple’s current-generation devices and Mac systems to send small snippets of text, URLs, and small photos over the air to one’s iOS clipboard. Using Scribe for the iPhone is as simple as making sure the Bluetooth setting is activated. This can be achieved by heading to Settings > Bluetooth > On. Users will then need the Scribe menu bar client. This is sold separately and available on the Mac App Store for $2.99. They will also need to ensure that they have a supported Mac. Scribe currently supports the Macbook Air (2011 or newer), Macbook Pro (2012 or newer), iMac (Late 2012 or newer), Mac Mini (2011 or newer), Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer), iPhone 4S or newer), iPad (3rd generation or newer), iPad Mini (all generations) and iPod Touch (5th generation or newer).

Snowball Shootout

 
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Recently over winter break I discovered that one of our truly favorite developers, Busythings, had developed a new app for iPad named Snowball Shootout. Downloading this app was an absolute no-brainer as a free application, but I soon forgot that I had added this to our device. It was my son who discovered it, instantly understanding that this was a new game from one of his favorite developers as their style is utterly recognizable, even from the small thumbnail image seen on the iPad. Snowball Shootout has quickly become a new favorite game of my boy’s, as he has reached a new low in asking me to leave the iPad in his bed so he can play this new game immediately upon waking – a request I denied. There is a lot going on that my son really enjoys with this game, incorporating some elements seen in Angry Birds such as a sling shot that needs to be manned, here used to shoot snowballs at the blob-like Pink Men that are seen hiding in trees or popping out of igloos. Controls are simple as one controls both the strength and angle of each shots with the drag of a finger allowing snowballs to be lined up in an exact manner, which I prefer to “pullback and pray” gameplay of Angry Birds. –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

Little Galaxy

 
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Little Galaxy is a story of hope. It’s about dreams, resourcefulness… and moon boots. It tells the tale of a scientist who believes that sky isn’t a limit in his quest to jump from celestial body to celestial body. And the game developers, smitten with the inspirational story but unable to help improve the moon boots, do the next best thing: they create this game. Thankfully. –Tre Lawrence

Galaxy Factions

 
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Galaxy Factions takes the CoC clone genre to space. With lotsa lasers and guns does it have an edge over its sword sporting brethren? Galaxy Factions sets the player up with a command center, a transport ship and little else. As is common with this genre, Galaxy Factions is all about constructing a base, mining resources and taking the fight to pirates and rival mining bases in single player or to other players in multiplayer. –Allan Curtis

Monopoly Bingo

 
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Ever since getting their hands on the Monopoly license, EA has punched out a good number of Monopoly licensed games on the mobile platform. Games like Monopoly Slots and Monopoly Hotels take the iconic board game and expand upon it or mash it up with other styles of games. As cool as that might sound, it isn’t all its cracked up to be sometimes. In the case of these titles, more often than not, they come off as cheap marketing gimmicks, using the popular Monopoly name to garner more players and possibly more money. Monopoly Bingo, of course, is yet another one of those games, feeling more like a desperate attempt to push an otherwise freemium Bingo game, than putting out a quality product. EA has been so hot and cold this year with their free to play lineups; FIFA 14 and Plants vs Zombies 2 knocking it out of the park, while other titles floundering. Monopoly Bingo attempts to spin the age old game of Bingo with one of Hasbro’s most popular board games, hoping to create something new and interesting. However, this attempt faltered short, instead creating a Bingo game with achievements, leveling and a backdrop that is supposedly based around Monopoly. –Mike Deneen

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Atomic Fusion and Hopeless, picked the best Roguelikes on the App Store, wrote a huge guide for Hoplite, reported on the Very Big Indie Pitch in London, and chose the best iOS and Android games of the week. It’s all right here!

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!

 

With less than a week to go before Christmas, the rush is on to find the perfect gift. Why wade through endless streams of furious shoppers when the perfect app is right here? Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Remastered

 
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Sure, the Sonic the Hedgehog series is known as a classic now, but for me, the moment when the series jumped from being about “blast processing” and Not-Mario to being a classic in its own right was Sonic 2. It was a rather comprehensive game, laying the groundwork for much of the series’ conventions. So when Christian Whitehead got his chance to helm a remastering as he did with Sonic CD and the original Sonic, there wasn’t too much he could add. But what has been added preserves what made the original game great, modernizes just what needs to be done, and adds one very cool easter egg for die-hard fans. –Carter Dotson

Star Trek: Trexels

 
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For some unknown reason, no one seems to be able to make a decent Star Trek game. Some argue the last time a good Star Trek game came out, it was for the Sega Genesis. Some would even go farther back, saying it was on the NES. Regardless, every Star Trek related game from older PC games up to the most recent one based on the J. J. Abrams adaptation of the series have not received high praise from critics. So, does a simulation/management style mobile game fare any better? –Mike Deneen

Jam Fusion Wireless Stereo Headphones

 
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The Jam Fusion Wireless Headphones are on the budget end of the spectrum for wireless headphones, coming in at just $63 on Amazon currently ($99 list). The headphones offer a modest 6 hour playback time, so make sure they are charged before that long flight. The headphones do have a decent sound, though they’re lacking a bit in the low end. I must admit that I have a big head but I can only judge comfort by the head I have, and these are too tight to use for any length of time. There is not enough give in the arm to allow the on-ear pads to sit comfortably on my ears. –Jeff Scott

Cut the Rope 2

 
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Om Nom just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet candy. Seriously, I think he has a problem. The lengths he would go to were pretty intense before, but in Cut the Rope 2 things are even crazier. He’s got more worlds to snack in, more obstacles to overcome, new creatures to help him, and unfortunately a few unwelcome monetization methods. Spiders have stolen Om Nom’s candy stash using a hot air balloon (naturally), and the little addict is dragged along with them as they make their escape. Literally: his adorable little foot gets tangled in the anchor line and he goes for a ride. Once free, players must stuff him with sweets as they work their way through 120 all-new levels. Cut the Rope 2 is in many ways similar to the original – what with the rope cutting and all – but a number of new elements have also been introduced that change the formula up quite a bit. –Rob Rich

Ridge Racer Slipstream

 
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I’m confident I wasn’t alone in being mildly worried about Ridge Racer Slipstream when a teaser trailer was released for it. Looking like it was going to pursue a freemium route, it made me twitchy. Fortunately, there was little need to worry. Ridge Racer Slipstream is a premium title that’s backed up by the availability of in-app purchases rather than reliant upon them. They’ll speed things along a fair bit, but a lack of an energy bar system is quite reassuring. –Jennifer Allen

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

 
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If anyone were to take a generic straw poll of journalists who reviewed games during the PlayStation 2 era, asking what their “Game of the Generation” was, there is a very good possibility that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would top at least a few lists. Not only was it well received critically, it went on to smash top sales records all over the place. But the question remains: have the last nine years been kind to this storied classic? In the legendary words of Dr. Dre, “HELL YEAH.” –Blake Grundman

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

Sticky Password Manager & Safe

 
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Digital password safes are almost necessities for the productively mobile in this day. There are several options available to Android users, and this is a god thing, as this means only worthy candidates will step into the ring. Enter Sticky Password Manager and Safe from Lamantine Software. Sticky packs AES encryption, and boldly looks to be the consummate password solution; off the bat, I like having the choice if either using the app as a standalone option, or getting in on cloud sync on one or more devices for $20 a year. Signup is a breeze and can be done on mobile device or the web. –Tre Lawrence

Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure

 
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A disintegrating plane. Scattered luggage. Iced up animals. A snowboard. Such is the world of Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure from Android development vet Ezone.com. To understand the gameplay, one must understand the backstory. It revolves around a successful explorer (Professor Headwind), who, in his travels to exotic locations, has accumulated a veritable horde of exciting items. On the way home, an ill-fated shortcut has dire consequences; his plane breaks apart, strewing his property and plane parts on snow covered mountains. –Tre Lawrence

Castle Raid 2

 
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To say the truth, I’ve only played original Castle Raid for a little while, so my experiences with this sequel aren’t really comparable. I’ve seen enough to suggest that the games aren’t wholly different. Castle Raid 2 is just as fun, has a bit better graphics, more units, and a larger campaign – but the gameplay only differs in details. It’s still a hellish time-sinker, regardless of whether you play it with a friend, or against an AI. Story in Castle Raid 2 spins in a surprising direction from the original. While human armies are fighting against each other, the whole kingdom and nearby lands get overrun by orcs that drive the humans off their own land. This forces the old enemies to band together, and claim their lands back. This means that the blue units are now people, and the red – orcs, both having distinct armies with different looks – although they’re still completely identical in powers, abilities and costs. Honestly, my biggest – and probably, only – peeve with Castle Raid 2 is that I really wanted to see at least two sides with unique units and abilities. That would turn this fine strategy into an amazing one. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, Pocket Gamer reviewed Walking Dead: Season 2, Republique, Colossatron, Cut the Rope 2, and Ridge Racer Slipstream. The guys chatted to Republique creator Ryan Payton about moving from Kojima to Kickstarter, and picked out the best tablets you can buy. All that, and loads more, here. And, in AppSpy’s latest video wrap-up, you can watch reviews of games like The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. They also went hands-on with new releases like Cut the Rope 2, Ridge Racer Slipstream, and Colossatron: Massive World Threat. Click here to see all these games in action.

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.

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.

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 Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Shadowrun Returns

 
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What was old is new again. Thanks to popularization of crowd-funding services like Kickstarter, many forlorn, neglected, and abused franchises of yesteryear are receiving a new lease on life. One such series seeing a massive resurgence is the strategy RPG and table-top classic, Shadowrun, which finally found its way to iOS in the form of the newly released Shadowrun Returns. Can it somehow live up to the nostalgia laced, sky-high expectations of fans, or will it suffer the same fate as the attempted Xbox 360 reboot? Looking back through the annals of history, the last time that a proper Shadowrun RPG was released, Sega was trying to hock the Sega CD. Thankfully, time has been kind to the genre, and the developer, Harebrained Schemes, has went to great lengths to assure that the title’s mechanics meet up with the expectations of a modern audience. The action itself plays out from a third-person, isometric view, akin to what would be found in most modern tactical RPGs, and is coupled with an extremely organic screen tapping control scheme. –Blake Grundman

Incredipede

 
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Incredipede by Sarah and Colin Northway, is almost two different games built into one title. The first is the main adventure, one where players control Quozzle, a spunky little cyclops gal going through those awkward years where one doesn’t know how many limbs and muscles one has at any given time. There’s not just that, but there’s also the need to collect fruit to save the fellow members of one’s species who have been kidnapped. So the player, serving as the control agent for Quozzle’s muscles, tries to both get Quozzle to the end and to collect the fruit in the levels, which are used to unlock future levels. –Carter Dotson

Pixel This!

 
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I suppose a sign that a game is really good is when I lose all track of time; just constantly diving back in, ignoring all other responsibilities, just playing the game again and again until there’s no more game to play. That’s Pixel This! by Mark Brown , a game he created because “Most of the Picross apps on iOS kind of suck, so I made a better one.” Well, he succeeded. –Carter Dotson

Projector Up!

 
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As a freelance writer and small business owner, keeping tabs on all of my finances and projects can become quite daunting. Plugging numbers into excel, cross referencing projects and figuring out my profits are just a few tasks that can get overwhelming. Now that there’s an app for pretty much everything, I was intrigued by what Projector Up! had to offer myself and other freelancers. The app’s main purpose is management of accounting. It focuses only on small studios and freelancers and isn’t intended for big businesses. Aside from its simple and clean interface, Projector Up! boasts many features like goal tracking, financial planning and visual tracking. –Angela LaFollette

Gappy’s Mystery Letters

 
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Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a charming and effective interactive letters app starring Gappy, the cartoony character from Spinlight Studios’ earlier app Gappy’s First Words. Here, Gappy will be thinking of a letter and asking children to trace with a finger a moving star which engages children to draw a letter that they will then match up with a series of letters to choose from. I believe that the sense of mystery, complete with fun and suspenseful music, will keep children engaged longer than simply tracing over a template which can oftentimes be scribbled over instead of specifically worked with, as this app taps into a child’s sense of wonder as they form these letters. Another nice moment is revealing the gift Gappy receives that corresponds with the letter in question, such as wagon for “W” – nicely stylized as an image later to be used as a coloring page – a nice touch as this cute moment will not register the way it would if Gappy were being given a whole lot of “stuff” like more tangible toys. I would, however, like to be able to control the speed that one needs in order to follow the star as I could see a child new to tracing or printing having difficulty at first – a minor concern really as this is a great app for those new to learning their letters but who are looking for something a little different. Also included is a blank drawing page as well as 52 coloring pages based on the alphabet that can be unlocked by slowly solving the mystery games found within this app. –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

Blood Battalion

 
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Sometimes it is fun just to watch games. Anyone who’s played the Sims knows that watching the drama unfold can be as fun as creating the drama. These types of players will likely love Blood Battalion, a strategic RPG which is light on the gameplay and heavy on the spectacle. Players begin the game by selecting a hero. It’s possible to pick from such heroes as a healer girl who’s fairly useless in a fight, but has the vital ability to keep other troops alive, to a swordsman who has immense power but not much else. –Allan Curtis

LavaCat

 
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Fast Cats and lava. Welcome to LavaCat from PocketCake. The basic premise is what one expects in a side-scrolling adventure: moving from the left of the screen to the right, the main objective is to get as far as possible without getting fried by any of the heat-related dangers that lined the playing area. In the interest of fair disclosure, it should be noted that the playing area is molten lava travelway with falling spikes and steam geysers that can do lethal damage to a poor little puddy cat. The controls are minimalist. One bank has a direction button set that controls “forward” and “backward” movement. There is also a jump button. An hourglass button rounds out the core controls. The cat remains stationary on the bottom surface unless a button is being held; not a lot of momentum is retained when movement in either direction is not engaged. –Tre Lawrence

Total Conquest

 
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Ever wanted to build a charming Roman village from the ground up, build a thriving economy and then shatter the peace by recruiting a huge army to crush friends and rivals, then look no further than Total Conquest, a new game from Gameloft where aspiring generals can do just that. In Total Conquest the player starts off with a Town Hall and not much else. From there villas are constructed to generate gold and farms are planted to generate food. Each building can be upgraded multiple times. Temples can be raised to gain blessings from the gods, bestowing faster or stronger attacks and players can also build a bunker like Militia building which garrisons troops in case of attack. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week This week, Pocket Gamer reviewed The Cave and Transport Tycoon, crowned the best iOS and Android games of September, looked at the most exciting mobile games for this month, and went hands-on with The Room 2, Monument Valley, and Framed. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

New iPhone? New apps? You Need Our Know-How!

 

Each week brings with it a wealth of new apps, but, we’ll admit, some weeks are just more exciting than others. Such is the case with this week, with its iPhone 5s and 5c announcements coupled with the long-awaited release of iOS 7. Be sure to catch up on our continuous coverage by checking in at our iOS 7 hub. And if you want more app reviews than you can shake a stick at, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Diptic PDQ

 
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Conveniently fitting into the iOS 7 aesthetic that we’re all growing to quite like, Diptic PDQ lives up to its name by being a Pretty Dang Quick photo collage creation app. It’ll prove immensely useful to those who want to create a collage out of their photos and don’t have much time to do so. Distinctly speedy to use, Diptic PDQ dispenses with any bells and whistles that really aren’t needed; immediately requesting the photos that the user wants to import (as well as offering options to take images directly through the iOS device’s camera). Users are then able to drag and drop the photos into their respective places on the layout. There are 35 layouts in all, and each are the kind of template that one would actually use rather than the kind that are too wacky to be practical. –Jennifer Allen

Angry Birds Star Wars II

 
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There once was a man named George Lucas who decided he wasn’t prosperous enough. In search of never-ending wealth, he released three new films in his storied Star Wars franchise. After eventually completing his quest for riches and fortune, Lucas licensed out the rights for his films to Rovio, the brains behind the Angry Birds franchise. And thus a glorious gaming baby was born in the form of Angry Birds Star Wars II. Can this entry make just as big of a splash as the first installment, or have the days of Force-wielding fowl long since passed? Marketing professionals go an entire lifetime dreaming of working with a single brand that even remotely has the clout of a singular Star Wars or Angry Birds. Melding these two juggernauts together is a cross-promotional fantasy that has probably sold an iOS game or two… million. Taking a whack at the more recent trilogy is the aim of the sequel and this time around Rovio has ambitions of pulling out all of the stops. –Blake Grundman

Marvin

 
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Previously quite the hit for iPad-owning reading fans, Marvin has made its way to the iPhone ably demonstrating just what a great eBook reader the device can be. For those who enjoy reading on the move, Marvin should be a firm choice for a while to come. The app is immediately simple to use. Relying upon DRM-free EPUB books, it comes with a selection of great classics such as “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “Crime and Punishment,” and many more. Importing others is just as simple, done via iTunes, Dropbox, or a Calibre plugin. Tutorials for doing such things are located via Safari rather than built into the app, but fortunately it’s all quite straightforward. –Jennifer Allen

Double Dragon

 
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Double Dragon celebrated its 25th anniversary with an updated iPhone version, but has it managed to hold on to everything that has made it such a legendary franchise in the process? I was happy to see that the classic visuals, 80′s soundtrack, and damsel-in-distress story were all still present and cheesier than ever before. In terms of the game screen, the amount of buttons is deceptively simple. Although there may only be one directional button and four attack buttons there is an impressive array of moves available as laid out in the command list. Uppercuts, flying knees, head-butts, and special attacks all go towards keeping gameplay varied and particularly challenging to master (especially when it comes to initiating juggling). Let’s not forget the infamous weapons either. Barrels, whips, and steel pipes are all available to pick up and wield against the never-ending parade of thugs. –Lee Hamlet

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

Monster Match

 
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A lot of games find it hard to stick to one ‘type’ nowadays. It seems that every game is of type X though has Y components. It’s not enough to find one solid game mechanic, it seems the trick is to mix several together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m happy to say that Monster Match‘s attempt at mixing Pokemon and Connect 4 has worked a charm. The premise, as with most good games, is simple. You have a board which is full of coloured gems. You need to swipe at these gems connecting 2 or more of the same color. The more you connect, the better. Better how? Let me explain. –Matt Parker

Quad Drawer

 
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The past few renditions of the Android devices have had a lot more memory to store apps. The problem is, we can add more stuff to the phone because we have more space, so we do. When we have a hundred or more apps on our devices, it can take some time to find the right app to open. Quad Drawer is a great solution for most people to help find apps faster. After it’s downloaded, Quad Drawer will run a check to find all of the apps on the device. Once it does, finding an app is super easy. The apps are found by simply typing in the name of the application. While this may sound pretty simple, the majority of phones and other Android devices out there do not have a feature like this. –Trevor Dobrygoski

Infectonator Hot Chase

 
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Infectonator Hot Chase has a tough legacy to follow. The original Infectonator was an insane stew with zombies, tactics, humor and originality. This game only has zombies. Being worse than Infectonator still counts as a praise, although I’d much rather have original gameplay extended. But oh, well, maybe we’ll see that later. Infectonator Hot Chase is still fun, though. If you played Dead Ahead, then it’s easy to understand the concept of this game: it’s the same as Dead Ahead, but the heroes are zombies, not the survivals. The main zombie is running constantly to the right, just as the still-surviving humans do. He is also steering automatically to the bottom of the road, while pressing at the screen makes him strafe to the top. The player’s task is to “catch” the humans as the main zombie runs past them, and infect them. The freshly-infected start running alongside the main zombie, and help infect more people, or pick up gold and power-ups. The zombie slows and loses health over time, both of which can be replenished by eating people, or picking power-ups. When the main zombie dies, the gold he picked up is added to the bank, and can be spent to upgrade himself, or special mutations that temporarily imbue him with new powers. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviews Infinity Blade III and Angry Birds Star Wars II, charts the history of Grand Theft Auto on handhelds, goes hands-on with Pokemon X & Y, investigates FIFA 14‘s in-app purchases, and celebrates iOS 7’s best and hidden features. Check out the Pocket Gamer Weekly Wrap-Up for all of this and more.

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

 
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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

 
scribblemix

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

 
qbqbqb

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

This Week at 148Apps: April 15-19

Your Trusted Source for App Reviews

Having trouble making sense out of the overwhelming number of apps released each week? Have no fear! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift through the vast numbers of 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.

Trial of the Clone

trialoftheclone3

I won’t dawdle with getting this out there: I love Trial of the Clone. It made me laugh numerous times and it made me want to replay it many, many times just so I could see how things could work out differently. Like all of Tin Man Games’s other releases, it won’t be for those who want fast paced gaming, but for those who want to read an entertaining story while interacting with certain elements, it’s fantastic. The story, based upon the book of the same name by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s Zach Weinersmith, follows the tale of a clone in a distant future, as they find themselves having to undertake a special destiny. It all sounds incredibly pious and worthy but it’s merely the backdrop to some great self-referential humor and some playful digs at popular Science Fiction. Consistently tongue in cheek, not only will players find themselves having to decide what to do about the galaxy’s fate, but they’ll also find themselves having to fight angry mothers, outwitting little old ladies and getting drunk with fellow soldiers. –Jennifer Allen

Vendetta Online

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Online games are lucky to maintain a fan base for weeks, let alone for months, or even years. In the case of the interstellar MMO Vendetta Online, the game has managed to feed a thriving fan base since 1998. For those of you keeping track at home, that is a whopping fifteen years! Now that the game has managed to conquer most major platforms including the likes of PC, Mac and Android, the company has now set its sights on iPad. Can this massive experience make the jump to iOS, or will the gigantic scope overwhelm the more mobile-minded gamer? Everyone who has ever complained about the lack of a significant PC-centric MMO experience on iOS now has permission to sit down. Vendetta Online has somehow managed to port its entire online platform to iPad in a way that would seem impossibly succinct given the depth of the experience, yet just as fully featured as its big brother counterparts on Mac and PC. If it sounds too good to be true, rest assured, it isn’t. Just know that depth comes at the cost of a steep learning curve. –Blake Grundman

Fish Out of Water!

FishOutOfWater-03

Fish Out of Water is Halfbrick’s long-awaited next game; it’s hard to believe that their last mega-release, Jetpack Joyride is over a year and a half old at this point. It’s very playable, but may not be something with a lot of longevity. The goal is to launch three different fish across water, trying to maximize the distance they go along with the number of times they skip across the water, to try and impress the five different crab judges who score on various criteria. Most fish should be launched at a low enough angle that they go far, but won’t just fall in to the water. Some fish are wildly different – for example, Finlay the dolphin (yes, the game knows dolphins aren’t actually fish) can jump and dive out of the water, with each dive counting as a skip. However, he shouldn’t touch the bottom of the water, because that will slow him down immensely. The brothers split into multiple fish, so if used properly, they can rack up massive numbers of skips. –Carter Dotson

Might & Magic: Duel of Champions

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Might & Magic: Duel Of Champions is a digital card battler, much like Wizards of the Coast’s Magic 2013 or Gameloft’s own Order and Chaos: Duels. There are some subtle differences in the mechanics of the basic ruleset, but the idea is the same: lay out artistically rendered cards on a grid, using warriors, spells, and events to outscore an opponent, dropping hit points of the enemy Hero card to zero. Duel of Champions works similarly. Players get a deck of cards and an initial hand of randomly dealt creatures, events, spells, and fortunes to lay out on the grid. The virtual game space is laid out left vs right, with the player taking the spot on the left. Turns proceed in phases that are less linear than, say, Magic 2013, in that players can increase resources, play cards from their hand, or utilize special cards in any order. Instead of resource cards, here, players increase either Might or Magic via the Hero card, which is chosen for them initially by the specific deck they pick during setup. –Rob LeFebvre

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

Mystery Math Town

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Mystery Math Town is a wonderful new math app that will engage both children and adults. I am really impressed with this app, as players here guide a friendly ghost who has agreed to help release fireflies that have been caught in jars hidden among rooms and outdoor spaces of wonderfully stylized houses – per the plead of their firefly mom as seen in an introduction to this creative math application. To do so, one will need to gather numbers that are to be used in math problems that one will come across in order to enter or leave any of the rooms of outside spaces connected to the house, be it by simply crossing over a threshold of a door, climbing up or down stairs or a ladder or even levitating outside the house as well as other unique ways of coming and going. –Amy Solomon

Sid the Science Kid: Sid’s Slide to the Side

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Sid the Science Kid – Sid’s Slide to the Side is a fun and educational application which delivers an episode of the terrific PBS kids’ show of the same name, developing into an interactive, animated storybook appisode that reads much like a traditional storybook which includes optional narration as well as illustrations often animated, allowing readers to propel the story with the tap of a finger, bridging the gap between an illustrated storybook and an interactive application, also including two mini-games as well. Parents who do not know of Sid the Science Kid are missing out on a great educational science-based show, bright and colorful, about Sid and his friends from school who learn about science in ways children will find most engaging. –Amy Solomon

Gro Memo

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Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon is a charming new app in a series of delightful role-playing applications for children that let them explore different characters such as a doctor, chef in a restaurant, farmer and now a worker at a beauty salon for animals. Fans of these Dr. Panda apps as well as those new to this genre will delight in all that this salon has to offer their animal clients, many of whom have starred in previous applications, as well as a few new faces. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Blocks Party

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Simple games will always find a home with me. Blocks Party, come on in. Blocks Party is a game with an easy premise. You guide a rolling ball on a track with plenty of bonuses and obstacles to the end as fast as possible. Now, it’s the type of obstacles — coupled with the breadth of control options — that really made the game such a compelling option for me. The colors were sharp, allowing for the visual separation that made playing a quick-reaction game of this type possible. It was a rich fantasy environment, with beautiful pastels outlining the sky, the ground and everything in between. The green foliage that showed up in most screens evoked memories of the Dorothy prancing down the Yellow Brick Road. –Tre Lawrence

Smart Bags

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I can speak from personal experience, and I am sure that many of our readers can as well, but there is nothing more nerve-wracking that bringing a smartphone along in a place that can get messy. Be it out in the garden, in the shop, on the lake, or in the kitchen; smartphones take a beating and, for the most part, bounce right back up. I am not talking about falls but more spills and general debris that can accumulate on phones in dirty environments. Picture someone working on a car who has grease and oil on their hands, but still needs to answer their smartphone to answer an important call. Usually they will have to completely clean their hands or bite the bullet and dirty their screen, but now with an incredibly simple and inexpensive KickStarter project that decision will become obsolete. Smart Bags are honestly nothing more than reinforced and fully biodegradable sandwich bags which are tailored to fit around conventional smartphones. People have been doing this for a while but never has their been bags that are disposable and offer the ability to conform to specific brands. Because the plastic is thicker and anti-static the risk of damage is incredibly minimal and any user should feel more than safe bringing their phone with them to the beach or out camping during a misty, muddy afternoon. The plastic still allows use of the phone without the threat of a scratched screen or water damage, and its thickness prevents the bunching and sticking that is common with regular sandwich bags. –Joseph Bertolini

Crazy Labyrinth 3D

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I like simple games, and if there is one nice thing that accelerometer-equipped devices have spawned, it is the proliferation of cool labyrinth games like Crazy Labyrinth 3D, that continually seem to push the envelope. Pleasantly. Crazy Labyrinth 3D is really nice to look at. I loved the graphical three-dimensional representation of the playing area. I could practically smell the wooden surfaces, and liked the glow of the ball and shadows of the barriers. The animations were sharp and responsive; even the slight rebound of the ball looked remarkably real. It looked like the developer spent valuable time and effort on the interface, and I, for one, loved it. –Tre Lawrence

We Are Your App Review Source

Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of 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.

AppCooker

Creating an iOS app isn’t just a matter of typing in code and seeing what happens. Well, it can be but it’s not recommended. Instead, it’s far wiser to create mock ups and design the general look of the app, checking it all works and makes sense. This is where AppCooker comes into its own. It’s an app that allows users to work on app mock ups, their app’s icon and even the marketing side of things, all within this one tool. It might appear expensive at first glance, but it should prove hugely helpful to designers. AppCooker could have been intimidating to use but I found it didn’t take too long to figure out. Creating a new project is quite simple with options dictating what format the app will be on (either iPhone or iPad), followed by an easy to use mockup creator. A series of wireframes and widgets make it possible to set up the basics, before linking each screen together to, hopefully, form a fully fledged app design. Being so visual and informative, it’s simple to look through and work out if something is missing or whether everything works ergonomically. –Jennifer Allen

Star Wars Pinball

The team over at Zen Studios has made a living taking our favorite characters and worlds, shaking them up a bit, and finding a way to squeeze them onto the player’s platform of choice. Despite their steady support of iOS through DLC for Zen Pinball, the team hasn’t released a new app on the platform in over a year. Can they channel their collective efforts to start off Star Wars Pinball on the right foot, or are they looking a little rusty this time around? Matching up LucasFilm (and now Disney’s) coveted Star Wars universe with pinball seems like a match made in nerd heaven. The lush back story, compelling characters and intriguing locales all seem custom fit for the world of the steel ball. Face it, swapping out flippers with lightsabers in battle just makes sense. Now if only they could find a way to get Yoda to shut the heck up. –Blake Grundman

Nightsky

It’s not often that I can become so enthralled with such a slow paced game that offers very simple techniques with its gameplay. However, NightSky provides beautiful visuals, blissful gameplay and an overall peaceful time while going through each area of the game. NightSky sets a mood and that’s exactly how this title wins with its physics-based puzzle gameplay. It starts with a short story of a boy who finds a glowing sphere on a beach and ends up taking it home with him where he begins having strange dreams of the sphere in many peculiar places. This is where the gameplay takes place, as players control the sphere by easily swiping or tapping the screen throughout many of these unique surroundings that are full of obstacles. The light ambient soundtrack makes for an even more calming experience. –Andrew Stevens

Repix

Part of a continuing trend of photography apps that aim to subtly change the appearance of a photo, rather than turn things too garish, Repix is a simple yet useful tool. Repix uses a brush style interface, requiring users to brush their finger along an image to add the desired effect. It immediately empowers the user, ensuring they don’t have to rely upon an entire filter doing what they wish it to do. Nine brushes are available in this free package, with more purchasable via the in-app store. Impressively, these add on brushes can be previewed before purchasing. A useful feature that more artistic apps should offer. The bundled in brushes are a suitable bunch to start out with, too, including tools for adding charcoal coloring, a flare effect as well as adding a cartoon or poster style to the image. Painting with one’s finger means it’s easy to implement, as well as undo through a comprehensive undo button, as well as an eraser brush. –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

Tizzy Driving Adventure

Tizzy Driving Adventure is a charming universal driving simulator for young app users. I do love role-playing apps in general, as they can foster a great deal of creativity in children. Tizzy Driving Adventure is the digital equivalent to the driving toy that kids love where one can pretend to drive while turning an attached steering wheel. Here, too, after choosing from a boy or girl character, the user while driving and steering has the point-of-view of looking out the front window and onto the street. –Amy Solomon

Dandelion

Dandelion is an interactive universal app with a wonderful sense of style, developed as an app with a message about bullying. There is a lot that I enjoy about this app, recently chosen as an application of special interest in the books category by iTunes. The most striking element of this app is the sense of style, shown not quite in black and white, as more of a sepia-tone look is included, adding the slightly warmer shades of subtle desaturated browns – an interesting choice – which allows areas of the screen to pop softly, adding a vintage, almost timeless look to this app that is also quite modern-looking as seen on the screen of one’s device. –Amy Solomon

Dr. Panda’s Supermarket

I am pleased to see that a new Dr Panda role-playing app is now available, Dr. Panda’s Supermarket, a universal app that allows children to explore ten shopping mini-games from both the point-of-view of the shopper as well as store workers. We love the various role-playing games by Dr. Panda, as they are bright and fun as well as including a cast of re-occurring animals and their families as we have tended to them in a hospital, served the adults in a restaurant app, taken care of these characters’ animal children at daycare, grown fruits and vegetables for them at a farm, and now help these characters shop in a supermarket. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

The Simpsons Tapped Out

The Simpsons is a national institution. It embodies everything so wrong — and right — with our family units. Long before South Park, The Simpsons made us gasp in horror and rueful self-recognition. Thus, for anyone who grew up in that era, The Simpsons Tapped Out should be a welcome trip to yesteryear. Homer is definitely Homeric in this game. Inexplicably, he is still the safety inspector at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and, as we all came to expect, his incompetence (and apparent love of goofing around on a tablet) finally destroyed Springfield. My job was to manage this construction simulation game and rebuild Springfield, as well as find the other eponymous members of the Simpson clan. –Tre Lawrence

Prizm

While many of us are not privileged enough to have a smart home that operates with more autonomy than an average car, the future certainly is here as cost decreases and standardization has increased. As costs come down and a newer generation starts purchasing homes for the first time these products will see a large spike in sales, and suddenly there will be a battle for footing in this burgeoning industry. We have seen this in products like the Nest thermostat and different “smart” refrigerators which put the smart home appliance in the collective conscious of the general public. While the idea of a refrigerator or oven with Twitter capabilities is fundamentally absurd, the general idea of having a fridge that communicates with the consumer is not. Security systems have been doing this for a while now; giving their customers the ability to lock and arm their houses by means of a smartphone. I think that it is the dream of many homeowners to be able to monitor their home from anywhere on the globe. The goal is summed up in the image of an exhausted worker leaving a late shift and on the way home he turns on his lights, preheats the oven, turns up the temperature, and even starts playing a favorite album over his stereo system. Theoretically, this is all possible and incredibly desirable…So, enter Prizm… –Joseph Bertolini

Google Keep


A lot of people — the whole wide world, seemingly — are not too happy with Google’s decision to discontinue its popular Reader application. If Google Keep (it’s newly unveiled cloud-supported note taking app) is supposed to be a mea culpa, Google might already be back in our hearts. Maybe. The Android note-taking space is not sparse by any means. There are plenty of note apps, and the competition creates a very high bar. Google’s last offering, Notebook was okay, but lacked oomph. Thus, even Google needs a pretty good offering to stay abreast. Keep, I think, does that. –Tre Lawrence

The Portable Podcast, Episode 156

Thinner and lighter, and we’re not talking about the length of this podcast; it’s a long one.

On This Episode:
The iPhone 5 came out, and actual iPhone 5 owners, Blake Grundman and Brett Nolan, discuss with Carter Dotson how it impacts gaming and their thoughts on it, including if it is really worth it. As well, the cast discusses iOS 6’s Game Center Challenges, Blake’s pinball addiction, and the pros and cons of the new Lightning connector, and how it will impact other accessories and upcoming iOS devices.

Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guest: Blake Grundman, 148Apps/EvilCast Recap
  • Guest: Brett Nolan, AppAddict
  • Music:

    How to Listen:

    Apps Mentioned in this Episode:

    FREE!
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2011-11-30 :: Category: Games

    This Week at 148Apps: February 6-10

    This week at 148Apps.com, we celebrated the release of Tweetbot, version 2.0. Blake Grundman and Jennifer Allen broke the news, then Carter Dotson wrote the full review. Dotson says, “There are very few apps that someone could say ‘this has been released!’ that I would buy immediately. Tweetbot for iPad was apparently on that list, because as soon as I saw on Twitter that the iPhone/iPod touch Twitter client was now available on iPad, I went out and bought it sight-unseen with an urgency unlike the way I approach many other things in my life.”

    Read the full review on 148Apps.com.

    $2.99
    iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
    Released: 2012-02-08 :: Category: Social Networking

    Meanwhile, on Giggleapps, reviewer Amy Solomon took a closer look at interactive storybook The Gnat and the Lion. She says, “My kids (ages 10 and 7) and I listened to the read-aloud story and watched the animated short film together before bedtime. We liked the animation, and watching African animals such as the lion and the rhino encouraged a discussion about African grasslands and the animals that live there. We liked the fact that the words are highlighted as the narrator reads them, which is very helpful for children who are learning to read. We also liked the narrator’s voice and accent and how it tied into the African-themed story.”

    Read more at GiggleApps.com.

    $0.99
    iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
    Released: 2011-02-03 :: Category: Books

    Finally, at 148Apps.biz, writer Brad Hilderbrand reported on the explosion of app usage during last week’s Super Bowl. Hildebrand states, “Sunday night’s Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Giants was a classic, but according to a new report from Flurry most viewers were just as likely to be staring at their smartphone screen as they were the game. The company used analytics software built into many popular apps to surmise that of the 111 million people watching the Super Bowl, an estimated 98 million spent at least some time futzing with an app.”

    Read the full report at 148Apps.biz.

    Another week down, but don’t forget to stay on top of all things related to the app-nation through us. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest news, reviews and contests right out of the gate. In the immortal words of Garrison Keillor, be well, do good work, and keep in touch. See you next week.

    This Week at 148Apps, September 26-30

    This week at 148Apps.com, writer Blake Grundman offered part one of his developer interview with the folks behind Squishy’s Revenge, Toy Studio. Grundman writes, “Despite only having been in existence since September of 2009 the team working behind the scenes at Toy Studio have been hard at work, churning out an impressive thirteen games in that short span. Having successfully released titles on both the Nook Color and Facebook, it seemed like the next logical step was to transition into the iOS space.”

    Read the rest of part one at 148Apps.com, and keep checking in for parts two and three soon.

    FREE!
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2011-09-29 :: Category: Games

    Over at 148Apps.biz, founder Jeff Scott reported on Unity’s big announcement at Unite11. Scott says, “Shown during the Unite11 keynote, Unity 3.5 includes lots of new, very impressive sounding features like Multi-threaded rendering, Improved occlusion culling, and Radiosity Normal Mapping lightmaps. All in all, about 40 major new features. I’m thinking this will make some developers very happy — and me, as a game player will reap the benefits! For a full list of new features in Unity 3.5, check out the press release.”

    Read more about the big announcement on 148Apps.biz.

    GiggleApps writer Amy Solomon contributed a review of Snap and Share Kids Cam, stating, “I take a lot of photos of my son, who will also now ask me to take a snapshot many times of things he finds amusing, sometimes asking me to email them to family members. This app easily allows a child his age to take and send photos himself, as this app is very simple to use and contains nice spoken prompts explaining each event leading up to the emailing of photos. So easy to use in fact, that I plan to use it myself as this application is surely quicker than taking a picture, finding it on the camera roll, tapping to email, typing the recipient’s email address and tapping again to send the email on its way.”

    Read the rest of Solomon’s review on GiggleApps.

    $1.99
    iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
    Released: 2011-09-07 :: Category: Photography

    And thus we come to another weekly round-up of 148Apps network goodness. There’s so much more to see on the various sites, so check them out for yourself – and don’t forget to follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for daily news updates and contests galore. See you next time.

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    Steel Media Network

    148Apps - iPhone app reviews and news. The best gosh darn iPhone app site this side of Mars.
    http://148apps.com :: @148Apps

    Android Rundown - Android news and reviews. Where you get the rundown on Android apps and hardware.
    http://AndroidRundown.com :: @AndroidRundown

    Best App Ever - Yearly Mobile App Achievement Awards.
    http://bestappever.com :: @BestAppEver

    Pocket Gamer - Mobile game reviews, news, and features.
    http://PocketGamer.co.uk :: @PocketGamer

    Pocket Gamer.biz - Mobile games industry news, opinion, and analysis.
    http://PocketGamer.biz :: @pgbiz

    AppSpy - iOS game news and video reviews.
    http://appspy.com :: @appspy