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This Week at 148Apps: January 27-31, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on February 2nd, 2014

Shiny Happy App Reviews


The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Chunky Comic Reader

In the year 2014, Comic Books couldn’t be any more popular than they have been at any point in history. No longer is Batman being blamed for ADHD or Deadpool tantalizing children to crime. Heck, people don’t even point a finger at Rick Grimes for any violent public acts. At the same time, we’ve also been blessed with new ways to read our beloved illustrated stories; such as computers, phones, and tablets. 20 some years ago people would get teased for reading Amazing Spider-Man at school, but now that same person looks like a rockstar. Especially with the new tech. A popular way to read electronic comics has been using PDF, CBR, or CBZ files, which are offered through a variety of different publications for purchase and are DRM free. Obviously, readers will want to view their new comics on a device that feels natural to read them on, not on a laptop or desktop. So here to save the day, giving users the best reading experience for the iPad, is Chunky Comic Reader! --Mike Deneen


Dungeon Keeper

I’m sure the fact that I haven’t given this game a score Captain James Hook could count to on his bad hand will earn me a fair bit of scorn, but hear me out. While Dungeon Keeper isn’t the same game that’s been a permanent fixture on my Top 10 list for years, it is a decent freemium title that happens to incorporate the theme from one of my favorite games. And honestly, that ain’t half bad. This Dungeon Keeper follows a structure similar to the often-imitated Clash of Clans. Players assume the role of the Keeper and immediately begin ordering their imps to hollow out areas to use for various rooms. Every room, trap, and door takes up a specific amount of space that needs to be cleared out in advance, but once they’re built players are free to move them around as they please – so long as they can fit. They can also use their dungeon heart to summon more minions, with different rooms allowing for different creatures. --Rob Rich


Rocket Robo

Making a console quality game for mobile isn’t as easy as just porting over some PS2 game with snazzier graphics and bolted-on touch controls. It means making a game with the same level of care given to the gameplay and presentation as a big, AAA release that still makes sense being on mobile. Need an example of what that means? Just check out the fantastic Rocket ROBO. When his elderly creator needs more stars to power their galactic lighthouse, Rocket Robo journeys out into the storybook cosmos to find some. It’s the perfect set-up for Rocket ROBO‘s delightfully whimsical acoustic guitar sci-fi sensibilities. While later stages take place in more traditional interstellar environments, as well as an upcoming candy planet, players will start their 2.5D platforming adventure in a world made up entirely of arts and crafts. The aptly named Material World features woven patchwork walls, bouncy sponge platforms, and button pig enemies all made gloriously textured and tangible by the impressive 3D engine. While it’s maybe not quite on the same level as the similarly stylish Kirby’s Epic Yarn or LittleBigPlanet, creator Aaron McElligott’s background as a console gaming environmental artist shines through in the splendid visuals. --Jordan Minor


Road of Kings

The current American political climate suffers from a bad combination of money and politics. However, this isn’t entirely unique to the 21st century as money has almost always equaled and guaranteed power. In Dancing Sorcerer’s latest title, Road of Kings, the goal is to accumulate 500 gold pieces within a 100 days to prove who’s be the best candidate to be King of the people. Political commentary aside, Road to Kings is a neat experience. It plays like a 4-hex board game, where players move their dude (Sorry ladies, only comes as a guy) around the board with random events taking place; anything from encountering an enemy to finding out the main character got lost in the hills due to his poor navigation skills. Movement on the board, as well as events, are very much dictated by the terrain on any particular space, be it good or bad. But at the end of the day, Road of Kings feels a lot like a single player board game minus dice rolling or dropping $70 on a boxed version. --Mike Deneen


INKredible

Sometimes, whether it’s for aesthetic reasons or for the sake of practicality, it’s just plain better to write rather than type some kind of content. That’s where INKredible comes in. It makes it attractive and simple to write on the iPad, providing a great distraction-free experience. The app offers a blank canvas with a choice of paper-based background, thereby allowing users to get on with whatever they want to write or draw. It particularly lends itself to note taking and when one wants to join together text and hand-drawn diagrams or sketches. --Jennifer Allen


The Animal Alphabet Singers

The Animal Alphabet Singers, as the name may imply, is an app for babies and toddlers that helps them learn the alphabet as well as animals associated with these letters. This app includes sections that allow children to explore the alphabet in many ways. One section of this app, also named The Animal Alphabet Singers includes a group of 26 animals – each of which can each be tapped to hear the corresponding letter to be sung, with the letter also being highlighted below for a nice effect. Do tap on a letter as well because doing so will trigger singing from the related animal. --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

TowerMadness 2

TowerMadness 2 is perhaps not the most innovative tower defense game of all-time, but it’s a solid effort. Really, standard open-field tower defense rules apply: there’s towers with different ranges and effects, they can be upgraded to do more damage, or sold if not part of a good strategy any more. Success is based on whether players kept the aliens from getting in and taking too many sheep through a star system, with Invasion Mode, where waves come in faster, offering a fourth star. Players can also send in waves faster themselves to get faster times for the leaderboards. --Carter Dotson


Akasha

Akasha is a new mobile exclusive MMORG. Does it tip Order and Chaos from its pedestal? Akasha isn’t the most user friendly game. After a class choice between fighter, archer or mage and a very brief series of tutorial text boxes in a small font the game basically leaves the player to their own devices. Akasha uses a instance based system much like Guild Wars. To fight monsters or party up with other adventurers the player must begin an instance which can be thought of as a mini quest. --Allan Curtis


Dawn of the Plow

Some games hand out points like they’re going out of style. Dawn of the Plow is not one of those games. This arcade game will test players with challenging conditions and a difficult-to-control vehicle, all in the hopes that they can maybe last long enough to do well before being fired. Controlling a snow plow on a snowy day where car drivers need to get to nondescript places, players must try to keep their paths clear. Snow will accumulate that the cars can drive over, but eventually they become impassable piles which take time to plow. The longer a car is stopped, the unhappier it gets and the lower the approval meter gets. If that empties, it’s game over and the player is fired. Of course, that probably won’t happen much. What will happen is that players will hit cars, which is instant game over. Or the cars will get trapped and buried under snow, which is also game over. Not making things easier is that driving a large truck around, especially on snow, is not easy. Thankfully, players have a horn to help manage traffic, and can collect powerups like a salt blaster to clear up snow instantly. --Carter Dotson

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Dungeon Keeper, looked at how FPS developers have approached mobile, picked the best iOS and Android games of the week, and unveiled a slim line PS Vita. Read all it about it right here.

This Week at 148Apps: January 20-24, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 27th, 2014

Another Week of Expert App Reviews


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

In Fear I Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

This Week at 148Apps: January 13-17, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 19th, 2014

Your App Review Source


Each and every week the review team at 148Apps sorts through the latest releases, finding the best of the best for you. Take a look at what we've reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Shadow Blade

The trial platformer, akin to Super Meat Boy on PC or League of Evil on mobile, is a genre that often requires patience and precision. Thanks in large part to its touchscreen-friendly controls, Shadow Blade rocks the house. Players control a ninja who must get past enemies and traps; pulling off acrobatic jumps and deadly attacks to fell those who would dare stop this shadowy warrior. The ninja can double-jump, dash in the air, execute stealth kills from behind enemies or in the air, and just slice the opposition until they’re no longer a threat. --Carter Dotson


Farm Heroes Saga

Regardless of whether it’s actually any good, the mobile release of Farm Heroes Saga was always going to be a big deal. Made by King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga and numerous other Saga games, it doesn’t really have to do a lot to be immediately very popular. Fortunately, King doesn’t appear to have rested on its laurels, with Farm Heroes Saga proving one of the better Match-3 games out there. It’s a very familiar format so those who weren’t keen on Candy Crush Saga aren’t going to be swayed here. It’s a format that works though, and works well. Akin to Zookeeper, players work their way through each level by matching together relevant quotas of crops. Early stages might simply involve matching 5 green smiling crops and 10 strawberries, but this is just the game easing one in gently. Soon enough, things turn much more challenging and also much more satisfying. --Jennifer Allen


Rail Racing

Slot car racing is a pastime that many of us will have enjoyed as children. Offering a more tactile experience than any game could have provided, fond memories are easy to come by when it comes to creating one’s own race track before trying to negotiate it safely and successfully. Rail Racing can’t quite capture that magical spirit, lacking the tactile edge, but it’s still a great form of racing game with a twist. Players must outrace the competition across 50 imaginatively themed stages, gaining up to three stars to gauge success. It’s a simple concept but one that’s fun and easy to lose time to. Each race only takes a couple of minutes to complete, making it ideal for a mobile format. Stages are designed according to various locations that such races would take place; such as a child’s bedroom, the backyard, and even a dusty attic. It’s a neat touch, although ultimately many of the tracks are a little samey. --Jennifer Allen


Eternity Warriors 3

Eternity Warriors 3 is an easy to like game. It’s pretty shallow, offering a Diablo-style experience with a wafer-thin storyline, but much like the allure of MMOs it’s oddly easy to lose time to this action RPG. The game mostly consists of going from A to B, completing simple quests, collecting experience, and returning to the central hub of the game to upgrade equipment and buy new skills. It’s a concept that’s been done many times before, but that’s because it’s an often beguiling mix. Players start out with the choice of taking control of a warrior or monk, with a mage unlocked much later on in the game. Each class offers different advantages and disadvantages, and it shows – providing a slightly different experience each time. --Jennifer Allen


Cook, Serve, Delicious

Finally, iOS users are able to scratch that itch to get their hands dirty and serve up a smile in strategy restaurant sim Cook, Serve, Delicious. Right off the bat it’s easy to see that this is an outstanding port of a game originally released on PC – a game that has been creating some buzz for some time. Heating up the restaurant simulation genre to a sizzling degree, Cook, Serve, Delicious is one wonderfully addictive game that had me hooked the second I picked it up. For first-timers here, there’s a lot to learn, but it didn’t take long before I was juggling orders and taking out trash, trying to appease the masses of customers who expect the crème de la crème. --Lucy Ingram


Lost Toys

Unique, challenging, haunting. I’m not sure how else to describe Lost Toys. This 3D puzzler opens new doors in the app world. Its breathtakingly simple, yet elegant graphics, accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful piano score, immediately seduce your senses. This game is all about being lost – lost in solitude, lost in concentration, lost in a world of restoring beauty and color to the darkness. The gray, blurry background only intensifies the experience of bringing the toys back to life. This “gothic masterpiece” is not just a game; it’s an emotional journey. The creators want each person to follow their own path to unearthing the mysteries of this puzzled world. --Stacy Barnes


Three Little Pigs. The Story

Three Little Pigs. The Story is a very nice re-telling of the classic story of the same name, illustrated with marvelous and witty stop-motion claymation that I greatly enjoy. I am very fond of this re-telling – a very nice adaptation of the original Joseph Jacobs version of this tale, involving the clever way the third little pig seeks revenge from the wolf for the loss of his two other siblings who lost both house and life to this creature. The deaths of these pigs are off-screen of course, mentioned but not dwelled on – a nice take on this classic story as I have seen many versions of this tale ranging from the sanitized choice of having the brother pigs run for protection to the brick house to a more threatening pig experience that may not be best for the youngest users. This app does however include the extended version of this traditional tale bringing the pig and wolf to the fair and beyond, moments often left out of many versions of this story. --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

Overlive

Overlive casts the player as one of the few survivors of an almost total zombie apocalypse. Hiding out in a ruined apartment Overlive is all about striking out randomly, finding better weapons and supplies and ultimately finding a way out of the ruined city, while maybe discovering what’s really happening on the way. The star of Overlive is its story, the game is text based and there are loads of great moments and surprises, such as the extremely graphic ways violence is described and the depictions of the sheer desolation of a zombie apocalypse. Whenever it’s eating icecream while a dead family is in the next room, to holding a sobbing woman as she slowly bleeds to death, the game is riddled with passages that won’t be forgotten for a long time. Overlive’s sense of humour and self-awareness makes it very fun to read. Indeed it is as much like gamebook as a true RPG. --Allan Curtis


Amoebattle

Amoebattle is, perhaps, the first original mobile real-time strategy that can be called that without any stretch. Most of the real-time strategies are either too simple or too flawed, and the ones that are working, are mirror copies of older titles. Amoebattle manages to be neither. And it manages to do so without ridiculous production values. --Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week the guys at Pocket Gamer picked out the best detective games and the best games without IAPs, reviewed new apps likes Shadow Blade, Baldur's Gate II, and Lost Yeti, and turned an Android device into a portable Dreamcast. See it all right here.

This Week at 148Apps: December 2-6 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 8th, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

This Week at 148Apps: November 18-22, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 24th, 2013

Apps Are Us


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


Clumsy Ninja

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


Touchgrind Skate 2

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


Lords of Waterdeep

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


Oceanhorn

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


A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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


BeBop Blox

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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


AndroidRundown

Random Heroes

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


Zombitsu

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


Kunundrum

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: November 11-15, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 16th, 2013

Apps Are Us


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


Tilt 2 Live 2: Redonkulus

Tilt to Live 2 wakes up in a world where the tilt-based game feels almost dead. Free-to-play Skinner boxes rule the landscape, and here’s a $2.99 game that dares to toss things back to 2010 by having us tilt to survive? Well, great gameplay is timeless, and One Man Left has made Tilt to Live 2 feel both fresh and familiar. The core concept of “tilting to live” is the same, but nothing else is. Visually, the game has been given a detailed and fluid overhaul. It looks and feels incredibly lively. But all the power-ups from the original have been replaced with new ones. Now, there’s a brimstone ball that can be bounced around the screen, a dual-bladed energy sword, a shield that can collect dots to destroy them, a dot disguise that makes the player briefly invulnerable, and more. This was a fantastic decision by One Man Left – what it does is that it makes the game feel new. The game is innately familiar, but the ways that the problems are approached and solved are completely different. It’s the perfect approach for a sequel; one that other developers need to consider. --Carter Dotson


Stealth Inc

Stealth Inc., originally released for Mac and PC under the name Stealth Bastard and then later for the PlayStation 3 and Vita under its more family-friendly name, has been well-loved from the start. And rightly so as it mixes stealth and brutal platforming challenges so effectively. So how does everything hold up on iOS? Ridiculously well, actually. The basic premise of Stealth Inc. is to escape. Players control a very unfortunate clone (several, really, since there will be lots and lots of dying) whose only purpose is to sneak out of a facility that’s absolutely packed with death traps. Now that I think about it, all the place seems to do is make and kill clones. In order to guide their little fellas to figurative safety, players will need to solve a series of challenging environmental puzzles and make a bunch of intricate jumps while also trying to avoid detection at all costs. The game uses a simple left/right slider for movement along with jump and duck buttons to great effect, while a contextual button for interacting with computers and the like pops when needed. --Rob Rich


Hunter Island

Monster Hunter? Pokemon? No, this is Hunter Island from ZigZaGame Inc. A game that incorporates both catching monsters and fulfilling side quests in RPG style. Fans of the Pokemon games will feel right at home here, as Hunter Island manages to capture the tone and enjoyment of just what makes this style so engrossing. Anyone familiar with the rules of Pokemon will not find it difficult to work through. Players start off with the option of three different monsters – each with different elemental attributes. It is then the player’s job to decide whether they will be a male or female protagonist, but it doesn’t really make a difference because whichever one is chosen the other will still join them on their journey. --Lucy Ingram


Todo 7

Appigo’s Todo apps have been keeping many people organized for as long as the App Store has existed. After a major OS update in the form of iOS 7, it only seems right to come across Todo 7. The app fits into the aesthetics of iOS 7 extremely well, retaining its position as both powerful and visually appealing. Some people looking for a simpler solution might be disappointed to note that Todo 7 isn’t as minimalist as other To Do list apps, but once taken through the tooltips it offers, it proves to be quite effective. The main screen of Todo 7 offers the bulk of the information. A list of all tasks is offered along with a focus list which prioritizes overdue tasks and those needing to be done today, while a personalized list option offers more control over how content is arranged. Personalization options such as changing the color of each category, and even the list icon and background image, further adds to the control. --Jennifer Allen


Millie's Crazy Dinosaur Adventure-Millie Was Here, Book 3

Millie’s Crazy Dinosaur Adventure is an interactive title in a series of Millie Was Here – charming multimedia experiences children and their adults will really appreciate. Here Millie, a cute little dog, builds a space ship to hopefully transport her back in time to earlier that day – because after having arrived at her friend’s birthday party, she realized that she had forgotten her present. Things go awry though and Millie actually travels back into the time of the dinosaurs where she goes on an adventure, then safety arrives back in present time. --Amy Solomon


SnapinboxHD

Email is quickly becoming one of the most time-consuming daily tasks. Since most folks are mobile now, it’s necessary to have an email app that is speedy and efficient. SnapinboxHD does its best to make this chore as simple and seamless as possible. Combine all accounts into one inbox, and swipe left or right to organize it without even opening the message. Yes, this may save seconds, but seconds add up to minutes, which add up to hours. --Stacy Barnes


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

Move

Gotta love Move. Its main draw is its simplicity. The game developer does a good job of ensuring that it is accessible enough to almost not even need a tutorial. The basic objective is to move colored, 2D circles to matching squares in the least number of moves. Every level starts out with a suggested number of moves, and not surpassing that is what is the key to earning the most stars. --Tre Lawrence


Pocket Harvest

Pocket Harvest’s premise will be familiar to anyone who’s played Harvest Moon. Players are given control of a small, struggling farm, with few staff and next to no resources. Before long though, the farm will be bustling with a huge variety of crops, animals, attractions and even tourists. Building the farm couldn’t be easier. Fields are placed one by one depending on what kind of crop they grow. Worker houses are placed nearby and if they are close enough the worker will tend the fields, sell the crops and earn cash. Of course there are many things that affect how much money they’ll make, such as the moisture of the field, the worker’s skill at harvesting, how well cultivated the crop is and so on. --Allan Curtis


Combat Monsters

Combat Monsters is a turn-based strategy game that involves the use of extras to win. It has one of the most thorough tutorials I’ve come across, and it does do a great job of ensuring that the 8-step learner gives the right pointers with regards to how the game works. What the tutorials do reveal are some nice media elements. The whimsical characterization work within this type of fantasy warfare, with simple animations that are fun without being too distracting. The playing area is a battle stage that is set in a circle with chess-like squares that afford movement of the pieces. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Oceanhorn, Epoch 2, and Stealth Inc, started its new First Look video series, and welcomed in the new generation of consoles with a round-up of second screen apps. Check it out in the Pocket Gamer Weekly Round-Up.

This Week at 148Apps: November 4-8, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 9th, 2013

Shiny Happy App Reviews


The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

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


Rayman Fiesta Run

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


Tiny Death Star

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


Hipster CEO

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


Sorcery! 2

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


ProCam 2

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

AndroidRundown

Dot.Stop.Run

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


Lost Chapters HD

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


Wake the Cat

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: October 7-11, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 12th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week at 148Apps: September 23-27, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 28th, 2013

Your App Experts


The furor over two new iPhones and the release of iOS 7 may have passed, but that doesn't stop the oncoming wave of new apps. If you want to know what's worth your time and what's not, just look to the expert app reviewers at 148Apps. And if you want more app reviews than you can shake a stick at, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Big Brain Master

Big Brain Master is a pure puzzle game that tells a story whilst engaging the player in some enjoyable and challenging puzzles. A new and artful take on “mind” games, it’s simple and entertaining approach manages to keep players guessing without being too complex. The art style is highly detailed, with a nice, clean, and simple graphical outlook, and the puzzles are presented in an interesting format which gives it an interesting and refreshing feel whilst playing. Navigating the user interface is nice and straightforward, and the design layout is linear enough to not overcomplicate by looking too clunky or crowded. Each of the 250+ levels are divided up into seven puzzle styles that are each distinctive from the last. Although this might seem refreshing enough to most players, I personally feel that perhaps having less levels per style and more of a variety of puzzle styles would have made it slightly less repetitive, as after a while gameplay seemed to become a little tiresome and I felt like I was just repeating actions that had already become less of a challenge. --Lucy Ingram


Pocket Trains

NimbleBit has a clear formula with their bitizen-featuring simulation games, one that repeats with the third such title, Pocket Trains. They’re games that are fueled not so much by challenge, but by keeping the player interested in propelling the machine forward and not punishing them for playing the game – like so many other free-to-play simulations are wont to do. It’s why I find myself falling into the same pit with Pocket Trains where I check it regularly for weeks on end, the same as I did with Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes. This feels almost like a remix of Pocket Planes that’s been simplified a lot. Where that game had some complexity due to the free-form nature of air travel,Pocket Trains is forced to be simpler because of the fixed nature of rail lines. Only one train can own a segment between two cities, though of course multiple train lines can travel through cities on intersecting lines. The paths are thus largely pre-defined and there’s now no monetary cost for traveling to a city, only a fuel gauge that refills when a train is idling or when the player pays a couple bux to refill it. --Carter Dotson


Trouserheart

Trouserheart is an ideal game for the mobile format. It’s the kind of thing that can be jumped into for five or ten minute sessions, while still actually achieving something in that short space of time. In the vein of games such as Diablo and Torchlight, Trouserheart is a hack-n-slasher that’s very simple to learn. Using a virtual d-pad and one sole button to attack with, it takes seconds to master. What takes a little longer is learning to dodge enemies by moving around them quickly. It’s still all pretty simple stuff, though. Vibrantly animated, Trouserheart also maintains a charming and humorous take on events, right down to the player’s quest to rescue one’s trousers. Yes, really. --Jennifer Allen


Chainsaw Warrior

I’d admittedly never heard of the original Chainsaw Warrior tabletop game from the late 80s, but that’s probably due to a combination of me not being all that into board games back then and also being six years old. Regardless, the player-versus-game gore fest has made its way to iOS. And it is ridiculously awesome. Chainsaw Warrior is essentially every action movie in the 80s turned into a dice-rolling game. A dimensional rift has opened up, resulting in New York being overrun by horrible mutants and other monstrosities, with a shapeless dark being running the show. In about one hour’s time the rift will open further and swallow the entire city. So it’s up to the titular hero to wade through hordes of terrible monsters in a desperate attempt to reach the Darkness and put a stop to the otherworldly assault. They’ll have to fight through a deck of over 50 cards just to reach a second, which is the only place where the Darkness will appear. Dying happens a lot. --Rob Rich


Wombi Math

Wombi Math is a cute and fun app that will encourage grade school children to work on their math skills. Set in a charming urban landscape, a brick wall is used as the backdrop for different math equations and their answers to be displayed – be it with the possible use of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Tap on an equation as well as the matching answer to clear the board. I admire how simple it is for parents to adjust the math questions used for the abilities of a specific child as well as how the questions and answers are represented – be it in uniform block boxes or more colorful and sometimes geometric shapes. One can also scroll through a few related brick walls that include each function, whether mixed, addition, subtraction, or division – each with a nice, different use of color yet maintaining an intentionally sparse background, keeping the focus on the math. --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

Terraria

Outdoor survival, nicely-rendered 2D graphs with whimsical monsters and… wait for it… zombies? People: Terraria is here! The gameplay takes familiar survival staples and rolls them into a fairly complex system involving manipulation, combination and strategy. The tutorial underlines the basic stuff quite well; the first grand explains how to use the left-set control to move on either direction, as well as how to jump, scale downward… and instinctive movements, like directing jumps in either aerial direction are logical. The tutorial goes on to walk through collection of materials, protection, creations and dangers. --Tre Lawrence


Tanktastic-3D Tanks Online

Porches. Lamborghinis McLarens. All infinitely cool, but I dare anyone to show me a guy who hasn’t wanted to rock a tank at least once. Go ahead. I’ll wait. For folks who can’t or won’t do a 4-year bid just to do some infantry driving, Tanktastic is a relatively safe alternative that brings team combat, tactics and good old speed of accurate firing to bear. Jumping into a random group battle mostly describes the gameplay in all its muscled glory. The task is dropped into a terrain with different types of structured obstacles, and several other manned tanks. It’s a shameless free for all that measures speed, accuracy and cunning. The controls are straightforward, and encourage quick movement and shooting; I felt most comfortable with dual thumb controls. --Tre Lawrence


Pivvot

Pivvot is nothing if not eye-catching. Its stark graphics and simple gameplay demand attention. But how does it play? Pivvot's concept is as simple as it gets. You control a rotating circle that moves along a line. As you move along you’ll see obstacles you need to avoid, lest you crash into them and die. To do so you use very simple two finger controls that rotate your intrepid circle left or right. While this sounds like an incredibly simple concept, in practice it is extremely challenging. The game starts off simple with easily avoided obstacles such as spikes that only take up one side of the course, but quickly adds in much harder ones that require exact positioning, like lines of small walls that move constantly. --Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer demystified iOS 7 controllers, picked out the perfect games to show off your new iPhone 5S, reviewed hot new App Store games like Boson X and Trouserheart, and showed off this week's iOS games in video show What's New? See it all in PG's weekly wrap up.

This Week at 148Apps: August 26-30, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 31st, 2013

Your App Review Experts


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.


868-HACK

868-HACK is the latest game from indie developer Michael Brough, who primarily works in a glitch-inspired pixel art style, making intelligent games that are his unique interpretations of certain genres. 868-HACK is a sort of take on ‘hacking’ in a roguelike fashion that’s somewhat similar to Zaga 33, and is actually referenced in the story text. The idea is that players must navigate 6×6 levels that represent computer nodes, with viruses and bugs that spawn at various times. The entire game is turn-based; with the player making a move, then all the enemies. Swiping is used to move in the cardinal directions, and to also attack an enemy that is in that cardinal direction. Attacking keeps an enemy from moving, but uses up a turn that could cause other enemies to move in and take out the player, whose health is represented by a smiley face. Three hits and it’s the end of the hacking session. --Carter Dotson


Sumhold

The native iOS calculator is missing two things: simplicity and elegance. Sumhold brings both of these things to the table and much more with its stylish calculator that really puts the current Apple one to shame. There aren’t any directions when Sumhold is first opened, but that’s because it doesn’t need them. Users are presented with a sleek calculator that features rounded buttons and a white and red color scheme. When it’s time to calculate, just tap on the buttons and Sumhold gets to work. What’s great is that it keeps track of long calculations on one easy-to-read line. The running total shows so there’s no need for confusing buttons that ultimately lead to frustration. Math equations that are no longer needed can be deleted by tapping on the little “x” in the corner. --Angela LaFollette


Terraria

Terraria finally brings the preeminent 2D take on Minecraft to mobile. While other games have taken this perspective on mobile (Junk Jack, which released a sequel the same day as this release, and the excellent The Blockheads), Terraria brings to the table a feel closer to RPGs and to Metroidvania-style adventures. Yes there’s plenty of crafting and mining, and the basic language of the genre is well-represented here. There’s the need to mine materials and chop down trees to build better items and safe shelters among the vast, unknown world. But there’s also some more specific adventures to be had. There are deadly enemies, including some challenging bosses, to be taken on in Terraria. Finding them and being ready for them is the challenge. Plus, with randomly-generated worlds there’s no real way to know what’s next. --Carter Dotson


Sago Mini Doodlecast

Sago Mini Doodlecast is a universal app that I have wanted to review for a few weeks now but needed a time for my busy son and I to test it together. Unlike other applications my boy has enjoyed helping me with, where a positive reaction consists of my son taking the iPad and insisting on the chance to explore without distraction, Sago Mini Doodlecast is a creative, open-ended drawing app that family members and friends will be delighted to share. This is a new app by the developers at Sago Sago, the dream team made up of developers of Toca Boca and zinc Roe, who have joined forces to develop Sago Mini apps for toddlers and the preschool set. Sago Mini Doodlecast is based on an earlier app with a related name, Doodlecast for Kids, now updated with the familiar zinc Roe and Sago Sago characters seen throughout this series of applications. --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

Samurai Shodown 2

Samurai Shodown 2 comes with a wee bit of sticker shock: $8.99 for a port of a decades-old fighting game? Well, it kind of makes sense: It’s a Neo-Geo fighting game, and hey, the Neo-Geo was known for its very expensive games. But considering that the platform also had games with some of the finest 2D animation around, it was at least moderately justified. So, let’s work on the operating theory that if it’s deserving, Samurai Shodown 2 is worth $8.99, disregarding that even premium content for mobile rarely gets above $6.99. Well, I don’t think it is. The port job is just too poor to recommend it, especially at this price point. --Carter Dotson


Cryptic Cosmos

Cryptic Cosmos is a small, tight quest, set in an outlandish base, far in the dark reaches of space. Main Hero is a bounty hunter, whose target is hiding out somewhere in the base, with the game’s main goal being finding it out and disposing of it. Although the story isn’t as convoluted and original as it could be, it’s a nice setup for a space adventure, and serves well enough as the game’s background. Although one of my main concerns about the game was initially its relative shortness, I now think that it’s just long enough. It has enough content, without sinking into repeat or artificially stretching its gameplay. While it is short, it’s long enough to give a good deal of interesting puzzles. Shortness of the game is likely because of an in-game walkthrough, which is a brilliant move in itself, so there’s no need to sweep through all of the previously unlocked locations, searching for the bit that was previously skipped. --Tony Kuzmin


Chuck's Challenge 3D

Chuck’s Challenge 3D, from Niffler Ltd., makes it easy to like it. In this puzzle caper, Woop, a curiously toothed purple alien serves as our cocky protagonist. Apparently, Woop likes a challenge, and in a bit of clever development, he gets to interact with gaming icon Chuck Sommerville and get all sorts of solvable riddles to test his powers of deductions. The playing area is usually a grid made up of a surface of cubes; on those cubes was a rally point of sorts, and the simplistic goal is to get our guy from the start point to the end point, which signifies the successful end of the attempt. Movement is effected by a virtual joystick that controls movement one square at a time. --Tre Lawrence

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 10th, 2013

Expert App Reviews


Yet another week has passed, and that means the 148Apps reviewers have combed through the vast numbers of new apps out there in hopes of reviewing the latest and greatest. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we've been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.


My.Shopping

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


Disney Animated

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


Mikey Hooks

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

GiggleApps

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


Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price

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


Symmetry School

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


AndroidRundown

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

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


Rail Rush

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


Autodesk Homestyler

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 29-August 2, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 3rd, 2013

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


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


Dropchord

It’s hard to imagine Double Fine producing something that isn’t a quirky adventure or contains more than a fair bit of bizarre humor. And yet produce Double Fine has, and now we have Dropchord. It’s definitely a departure from the norm, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Dropchord is a simple-ish rhythm game at its core. Players use two fingers, placed around the outside of a large circle in the center of the screen, to twist and turn a line around the middle. The goal is to grab all the good stuff (glowing orbs and such) while avoiding the bad stuff (bright red bolts of electricity that scream DO NOT TOUCH) by winding and whirling around everything. Hit the red stuff and lose some health, grab enough not red stuff and gain health at the end of the level. Every so often players will also have to forego the spinning as they tap away at various circles that appear on screen in what can best be described as a kind of bonus round. --Rob Rich


Knightmare Tower

Burrito Bison creator Juicy Beast’s latest game, Knightmare Tower is based around offensive gameplay instead of pure survival like other similar vertical endless games. Players control a knight flying upward, and dash downward on top of enemies to hurt them and bounce back up in the air at a higher rate. Combos can accelerate the knight even faster, and powerups can help along the way. The enemies aren’t just there to take a beating: they’ll try to attack the knight and do enough damage to kill them. The other big hazard is lava, aka “Dear Knight, I suggest going faster if the plan is to not burn to death. Love, The Giant Rapidly-Rising Pool of Lava.” I suggest staying out of it. --Carter Dotson


rymdkapsel

Complexity can be a difficult thing to balance in a game, but so can simplicity. Distilling an idea or genre down to its more basic elements is no easy task, especially when trying to do it well, and for that reason alone I think rymdkapsel is worth celebrating. It’s a strategy/sim-lite without any of the typical blandness one would associate with so much fat trimming. Of course that’s not the only reason; it’s also a pretty great game all-around. rymdkapsel is about expanding a space station while simultaneously fighting off waves of hostile attackers. Players must construct various rooms – reactors, gardens, weapons, etc – in order to gather more resources so that they can expand their base, train additional workers, and construct even more rooms. However, the larger the base’s overall area the tougher it is to defend. It encourages planned expansion and interlocking the Tetris-like rooms together in order to keep the station from becoming too spread out. Of course there are also several obelisks scattered around the map that can be researched to enhance things like worker movement speed and weapon attack ranges. It’s a toss-up deciding between hastily crafting a path to a given obelisk, thus sacrificing defensibility, and rushing to acquire better tech early on. --Rob Rich


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

Pango Playground

Pango Playground for kids is a charming universal app for babies and toddlers which adults will enjoy a great deal as well. This app opens up to a very nice assortment of children’s toys such as train tracks or building blocks. Do choose a scene and tap on a number flag 1 to 4 to be taken to a new area. All of these scenes are variations on the same basic assortment of toys, different colorful building blocks, train tracks and chunky wood blocks crafted to look like familiar characters from the Pango series of applications. --Amy Solomon

Art Class With Dr. Panda

Art Class with Dr. Panda is a charming new universal interactive app – part of a series of Dr. Panda role-playing apps for young children. As many readers may know, my family really enjoys these apps as they allow children to pretend to take part in many occupations and activities – be it a doctor’s duties or working in a restaurant, supermarket or farm. Here Dr. Panda is teaching an art class to animal children. I enjoy his costumes as he assists children who need help in six different crafts. --Amy Solomon


AndroidRundown

Color Zen

Color Zen is a cool cucumber. It seems to want to tease your brain while calming it. It’s a lofty idea, but thankfully, I love checking out lofty ideas. The game is definitely interesting. The best explanation is received from playing it and actually “feeling” the game. The object of the game is to solve the color-centric puzzles. In the game’s playing area, there is a frame color — a color that covers a thin area around the play grid, kind of like a picture frame. In the grid itself are any number of colored shapes. In general terms, touching any of the colors against another imbibes the second with the color of the first; in other words, the color is absorbed. For simplicity, one of the colors in the grid always matches the color of the outer rim. --Tre Lawrence


Drisk

Remember playing the board game Risk back in the day? If so, I bet one of those memories is how long it took to play the game. In fact, it took almost as long if not longer as a good game of Monopoly. Well, the makers of Drisk came up with a game really similar to Risk but won’t take 6 months to play a full game. Starting out with Drisk, there will be the choice to play a local game or an online game. When playing a local game, the number pf players can be selected as well as if they are actual people or computer players. When playing online, the sign in is done through a Scoreloop account. This is mandatory to play online. To get the hang of the game, it’s a good idea to watch the tutorial. It goes pretty quick but it gives you a basic idea of how the controls work. If any questions arise, take a look at the help button on the main menu screen to hopefully answer them. --Trevor Dobrygoski

Space Beats

Ever imagined something like Dance Dance Revolution for the fingers? Yes! We all have, and Space Beats is just the game for folks with sturdy digits, keen eyes and wrists that move to the rhythm. Nimble fingers win the day. Simply put, you tap rapidly forming three-dimensional objects with the beat to keep the music going. The pieces to the orbs all come in from different angles, playing havoc on the eyes. Tapping on the orb scores points, but actually tapping on it to the beat scores even more. An arcade-type game is not worth its salt without multipliers, and in this aspect, this game is worth its salt; there are multipliers to be had, and they can be invoked by tapping. Additionally, the freestyle level is yet another change of pace, allowing players to tap on beat for even more points. --Tre Lawrence

This Week at 148Apps: July 22-26, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 27th, 2013

Your App Experts


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


A Ride Into The Mountains

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


Sky Gamblers: Cold War

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


Agenda Calendar 4

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

GiggleApps

Tunnel Trouble

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

Play-Doh Create ABCs

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


AndroidRundown

Le Vamp

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


Warmly

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

Jungle Heat

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 15-19, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 22nd, 2013

Your App Authority


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


Gentlemen!

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


PhotoNova 2

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


Tangent

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


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

GiggleApps

ABC Aquarium

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

Gro Recycling

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


AndroidRundown

Attack of the Spooklings

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

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

Cross Horizon

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

This Week at 148Apps: July 1-5, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 8th, 2013

Expert App Reviews


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.


SuperBetter

A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. --Jennifer Allen


Layton Brothers Mystery Room

Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. --Rob Rich


Limbo

Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. --Carter Dotson


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

GiggleApps

Coolson's Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet

As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. --Amy Solomon

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. --Amy Solomon


AndroidRundown

Space is Key

The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. --Tre Lawrence


Warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. --Tre Lawrence

LandGrabbers

Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. --Tre Lawrence