I’ll confess that I’d heard of Anki Drive before, but it was really only in passing. So when I was given the opportunity to check everything out first-hand, I was definitely curious. There were some surprises and a few disappointments, but after some time spent tearing around the track I couldn’t help but be impressed. Is this the next step in remote control racing? That’s not for me to say, but it’s definitely in interesting experiment.
Imagine a semi-futuristic racing game in which you can compete with your friends or AI opponents on various tracks in an attempt to upgrade existing cars and possibly gain access to new ones. Picture all of the vehicles in each race have weapons and shields. Now imagine that the cars are actually physical electronic toys you can carry around with you. Now you’ve got a good idea of what Anki Drive is.
Each starter set comes with two cars and the necessary cables, as well as a track printed on something akin to vellum. You’ll also need to download the free Anki Drive app to control everything, of course. Once you do, simply turn on your cars, place them on the track, then use the app to find them and add them to your “garage” where you can spend points won through races to upgrade their stats. When you’re ready to start, you just set up a race and select your vehicle. If you want to invite a friend they can simply select the other car, or you can scan it in yourself and race against the AI. Yes, the physical car is controlled by AI. In fact, one of the newest additions to the lineup, Corax (pictured below), can only be used as a player vehicle if it’s beaten in an AI race first.
Weapons are also important, and will allow you to incapacitate your opponents temporarily during a heated race. Or you can simply battle each other to see who scores the most hits. The interesting thing is, again, that this is all happening with real remote controlled cars via your iPhone. When a car takes too much damage or runs out of juice, it will actually grind to a halt for a few moments while it recharges itself. Heck, these things can even recognize when they’re driving the wrong way and turn themselves around automatically.
The thing is, I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is. The cars seem fairly durable and were able to shrug off the occasional collision easily, but at almost $70 apiece they’re a bit outside the realm of a children’s toy. $199.99 for the starter kit is nothing to sneeze at, either. And yet, the underlying tech is pretty darn cool. I guess you could say your mileage may vary.
Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
Occasionally frantic, Gentlemen! is never short of gloriously great fun. Lone gamers won’t be so keen given that it’s exclusively for two players, but it’s the perfect reason to get a friend involved. The idea is simple enough: players must defeat each other in a duel to the death. Just like in the old days of honor and explosive birds, ok, maybe not so much. Presented in portrait mode, each player’s controls are set on opposite sides of the screen. In a nice move, menu buttons and other descriptions are similarly laid out, for either player to easily interact with. Controls are simple with left and right, alongside a gravity flip button and the use of a weapon. Weapons vary, mostly thanks to a switch in the middle of each game enabling players to change around. Knives, bombs, dynamite, electric shields and explosive birds all play a role, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s as zany as it sounds, while adding a surprising tactical edge to proceedings. –Jennifer Allen
I have a handful of photo apps on my iPhone 5 that I keep handy when I feel like making my pictures look fancy. Each app has its own perks like frames, filters and adjustments. I tend to rotate between them until I find the one that transforms my picture into a work of art. I’m always on the lookout for new photo apps because I’m really looking for that one that will replace all my other go to camera apps. I reviewed PhotoNova+ 2 a few months ago, which is a free version of their paid app. PhotoNova 2 offers users more advanced features like a variety of selection tools, an option to switch out the background of photos that have a green background and an impressive effects selection. –Angela LaFollette
Many photography apps tend to do quite similar things to imagery, mostly involving applying filters to photographs. Tangent doesn’t quite do that. It might involve applying new effects to an image, but through a vector art style overlay, improvements are being added to the image, rather than replacing anything. There’s a fairly simple process to follow throughout the app. Users can either import or take a photo directly from within, before opting for a specific style. Tangent offers both straight-forward and quick applications, as well as plenty of choice for those who want to adjust things individually. Shapes form the first set of choices, with circles, rectangles, triangles and plenty more, available to apply to an image. It sounds gimmicky, but it can really set off a photo nicely, giving focus to the important part of a photo. There are plenty of shapes available too, with in-app purchases provided for those who want even more choice. That’s a trend that continues throughout, with plenty of additional blends and colors available at a price. Fortunately, it’s always possible to preview them first. –Jennifer Allen
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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:
Peapod Labs has developed a favorite series of educational ABC apps and has recently added two new titles – ABC Aquarium and ABC Bugs, each terrifically educational and including exceptional photography to allow children to view these different creatures in a way that highlights all of their unique attributes. Each of these apps, now eleven and counting, features a wide amount of content, including terrific, detailed photos of each subject as well as narrated fun facts, curated videos gathered from the Internet and simple, intuitive interactions which young children will enjoy a great deal. –Amy Solomon
Gro Recycling is a cute and fun interactive universal app that allows children to sort recycling into different receptacles, totaling six in all, including a unique choice of recycling batteries as well as a compost container. Game play is charming and intuitive as one simply drags a piece of recycling to be recycled to the correct container, as these bins happily and hungrily eat what they are being served, while a mistake will result in the spitting out of the wrong material. This app is lovingly styled with the delightful humanizing of these recycling bins as cartoony faces, which are included with fun, witty noises that each of these characters makes, hungry to eat recycled materials. –Amy Solomon
Mobile games that offer their players to smash the opponents using nothing but their very fingers were at the very start of the touch-screen revolution, but lately it seems that somewhat counter-intuitive habit of putting buttons on touch-screen has largely rendered the “clean” touch-screen games mostly obsolete. Someone should analyze this trend to some revealing, but ultimately unnecessary results. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Attack of the Spooklings. It’s a fine, but incredibly simple game. How simple? It takes longer to read this sentence than to see the whole game. It’s not surprising, considering that it consists of an astonishing single screen, and single enemy. While I’m all for the games with minimalistic design, they should also be complemented with really incredible gameplay. Attack of the Spooklings is quite exciting for some time, sure, but it simply lacks any sort of complexity to be interesting. –Tony Kuzmin
GP Retro is a racing game that isn’t scared to rock looks of old, and I suspect it is aware of my abject weakness for titles that bring back the wonderful things of days gone by. The game comes at us in glorious 2D, and in this one, retro is no misnomer. The chunky pixels underscore the jittery unsure animations that make these type of games fun to look at. The purposely un-sharp colors were done well, and even the intro pages for the drivers were nicely formatted to fit with the retro look. As for gameplay, it is basically top-down view simulated Grand Prix open-wheel (to start) racing over mostly asymmetrical raceways. Sharp turns characterize the racing; losing control and ending up on grass slows down the race car considerably. There are valuables and power-ups to be collected, as well as hazards to be avoided. –Tre Lawrence
Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out? The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way. I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details. –Tre Lawrence
With Real Racing 3’s stateside release right around the corner, we figured it might be fun to take a look at the game’s extensive lineup of vehicles and pick out a few of our favorites. When a game has over 40 real-life vehicles to choose from, the competition is bound to come down to the wire. So in no particular order, we present to you the five hottest rides of Real Racing 3.
Porche 918 Spyder Concept
Planned for release in September of 2013, this beauty accelerates from 0-60 in a mere three seconds, can stop on a dime and starts out at a beefy 200mph. The most remarkable thing about this piece of motorized madness is that it in real life it burns up the track with Porche’s first ever hybrid, 580 horsepower engine, buoyed by the aid of two electric motors outputting a healthy 243 horses apiece. But be warned, this beast is going to set you back almost $850,000 in in-game cash, so start saving your pennies early and often.
If there were ever a car that epitomized high speeds and sleek design, this bad boy would take the cake. Its twin V-12 engine manages to produce a staggering 730 horsepower that to start top out at 222mph, but when upgraded can exceed 230mph. The Italian produced dream machine is also highly touted by the good folks over at Top Gear, having crowned it the fastest street-legal vehicle in the program’s history, completing their coveted track in 1:13.8. As mind blowing as that may be, it also comes with a bit of sticker shock as well, because it will set you back 1.35 million big ones to park this in your in-game garage.
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
Though it may sound odd to say, the Aventador is a bargain relatively speaking, clocking in at only $597,700. Without question, it is one of the crown jewels of Real Racing 3’s S Class. Originally put into production back in 2011, the vehicle’s availability is extremely limited, with only 4,000 ever planned on being produced. The in-game model has a top speed of 217mph, and a 0-60 in an impressive 2.9 seconds, making it one of the highest performing cars under three quarters of a million dollars.
Originally dubbed as, “…The finest driving machine, yet built for the public road,” this extremely specialized vehicle was one of the most beloved and coveted sports cars ever produced. Despite production on the model ceasing way back in 1998, it is still thought by some to be one of the most perfected pieces of machinery on the planet. The $1.25 million price tag not only reflects the car’s rarity, but also its performance as well. Starting out with a 234mph cap speed, you can only begin to guess how high it can go with the help of a few, albeit expensive, part enhancements.
Koenigsegg Agera R
Last, but most certainly not least, this Swedish supercar begins to blur the lines between vehicle and rocket. Don’t let its sleek exterior fool you, because this slice of heaven is just as much about performance as it is about perception. Holding an impressive six different land speed records, this is the type of finely tuned excellence that can accelerate to 300kmh in only 14.53 seconds. Needless to say, but a top speed of 273mph is not going to come cheap. In fact, it is so expensive that it can only be purchased using 800 in-game tokens, not even cash! To put that amount into perspective, it would cost $99.99 in real life money to purchase 1000 race tokens, so watch your wallet. Perfection comes at an extremely hefty price.
Don’t worry, this is just the tip of the gas-guzzling iceberg. There will be plenty more affordable hot rods awaiting you when Real Racing 3 launches later this week. Until then, keep those engines revving, gearheads!
I think there was a moment in my late childhood when my dad really wanted me to understand how cars work. I didn’t pay much attention, honestly, as I was generally lost in my own little world throughout my days of kid-dom. Today, though, there are times when I really wish I had paid more careful attention to the lessons of my youth. And that’s where How Cars Work comes in. Simply put, it’s an instructional app that teaches…yep…how cars work. From steering and suspension to powertrain and braking, pretty much all of the basics are covered in this tidy little app.
Now, in version 1.3.0, developer Aymen Alshawi has added a basic maintenance section to help those who may not know how to perform basic maintenance like changing a tire on their vehicle. It’s a handy and quick way to find information if it’s needed in an emergency, and while all makes and models are different, this app covers the basics that apply to pretty much every vehicle. And more is on the way in future update, including a guide to vehicle modifications.
Make up for those lost lessons of youth and learn a little more about your car with How Cars Work.
Top Gear has evolved from its unexciting beginnings into a thrilling TV show of fast cars and caravans and trailers being blown to pieces. The iPad game, Top Gear: Stunt School captured that spirit pretty well despite its rough and ready nature.
Now, there’s a Top Gear revolution afoot, namely new release Top Gear: Stunt School Revolution. The game offers similarly frantic stunt based action as before but it’s completely free to download with the option of partaking in some in-app purchases to speed things along.
The game offers the chance to balloon hop across the Grand Canyon in a motor home, escape Alcatraz in a sports car or even use a pickup to speed through a roller-coaster on a New York skyscraper with a cow on the back. Yes, it’s pretty zany stuff and a great way of using some iconic locations from around the world.
A plethora of cars and vehicle customization options are bound to keep petrolheads entertained.
Even better, Top Gear: Stunt School Revolution is an Universal app meaning everyone can join in this time round!
This little ad supported game is a city-wide destruction derby that takes the player through many different situations with lots of different goals and absolutely no sense of traffic laws. In Crash Mayhem the player takes control of their car and uses their finger to point out the direction on screen where they’d like the car to accelerate. Missions are varied and change from level to level. Sometimes players will have to crash as many cars as they can in a single intersection. much like a very watered-down version of Burnout CRASH! at a much lower price. In other levels, players will have to run rampant through the open city in search of items to collect before the time runs out.
The simple finger controls in Crash Mayhem work pretty well and the cars handle well too, depending on which car players are driving. As the game progresses, players gain control of faster and more responsive cars to take around on their destructive missions. The AI on other cars is virtually non-existent and they more or less run on tracks until they are hit or hit something in their path. The claims that this game is an “open world” game are a little misleading. It’s true that each level takes place in a different section of a larger sprawling city, but the action is broken into levels with no way for the player to explore the city by themselves with no pressing mission or goal to worry about.
The design of the cars and city is simplistic, but it really works for what this titles is. With such a large environment and many different things to see in each level it doesn’t matter that the city and cars aren’t rendered in super high quality 3D models. There is a certain charm to the visuals of Crash Mayhem that lets the player enjoy the gameplay.
Crash Mayhem basically boils down to a mini-game collection that brings together many of the gameplay elements and mechanics made popular in other iOS driving games. The game is ad supported which can be very annoying when ads are shown almost constantly and sometimes even cover buttons or gameplay. Still there is an unlock available via in-app purchase to get rid of the ads for players who really end up loving this title.
From Nascar to F1, people of all sorts of tastes and backgrounds can have an affinity for cars. Just look at the size of the crowds an auto show can bring in. Pyrolia is trying to bring that experience home for car lovers everywhere with ROAD inc, their new iPad app.
The app boasts an impressive amount of content featuring dozens of videos and engine sounds, hundreds of photos and pages of car descriptions and 3,000 archival documents like ads and press releases. Most notably though is the effort that went into the 3D renders of classic cars like the 1970 Porsche 917 K or the Rolls Royce Phantom II. Pyrolia spent over a million dollars working with automotive auction houses, factories and restoration specialists in order to bring these cars to life using the software behind Avatar and The Lord of The Rings.
Costing $9.99, ROAD inc may sound a bit pricey. However, considering the alleged amount of detail, one can see the argument that, as with a nice car, it’s a premium price for a premium product.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted August 5th, 2009 by Jason Philo Our Rating: :: RECOMMENDED
Racer is a beautifully graphic game from a new developer Tatem Games. This game has a lot of style, but a little room to grow in functionality. It's not a bad game though and its style alone is enough to encourage playing it.
Gridlocked is a good one for picking up and messing with for short periods of time. There's no learning curve, no real brain aches, and a fantastic pause button for when things get crazy. But, I still wanted more.