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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:


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.

Dream of Pixels for Free - Dawn of Play Launches New Free Version of its Popular Puzzle Title

Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 17th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Dawn of Play wants to give more players a chance to check out it's popular puzzle title, Dream of Pixels, by offering a new free version of the game, Dream of Pixels for Free. To help celebrate the launch of Dream of Pixels for Free, Dawn of Play has made two of its other titles available for free as well; Monkey Labour and Twinoo.

In our review, Rob Rich said, "It’s amazing how fresh a classic puzzle game can feel with a little change in perspective. Dream of Pixels successfully revitalizes one of the most popular styles of puzzle, turns it on its head, and changes the rules while still keeping everything familiar."

Dream of Pixels Review

Posted by Rob Rich on November 21st, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Developer: Dawn of Play
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.14
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar


I was one of those kids who played a lot of Tetris. I mean a lot. So much that I dreamt of falling blocks and line clearing for a while. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising to know that I’ve since gotten rather burned out on the whole thing. Then a game like Dream of Pixels comes out and starts the whole cycle all over again.

The way I’ve been describing Dream of Pixels to everyone I’ve been recommending it to - and it’s been quite a few people - is “similar to Tetris.” Or rather, “It’s Tetris, but upside-down and backwards.” Rather than slotting together blocks that fall from the top of the screen and clearing multiple lines in order to keep from wiping out, players have to remove pieces from a large mass that slowly creeps toward the bottom of the screen. At least, that’s how the main game works. There are several other variants that can be unlocked that are just as habit forming.

Dream of Pixels is one of those puzzle games that’s simply awesome. The core mode goes on and on until there are too many mistakes, and the longer a player can last the better the chances of them unlocking more modes. Granted I’ve yet to unlock the last three variations (Pro, Nightmare, and Shattered Dream) because the main game can get pretty crazy, but I have unlocked Puzzle. Puzzle Mode is practically another game in itself and quite possibly even better than Classic. In this variation there are no time limits but rather blocky images that need to be deconstructed. A specific set of pieces is available in a particular order and the goal is to strategically remove each one in order until the image is gone. It’s kind of like Picross, also backwards.

And yet, with all this awesome Dream of Pixels has two major drawbacks. First, the controls for lining up pieces (dragging) are a bit finicky and can occasionally lead to a few missed opportunities and flubbed withdrawals.
The second and far bigger problem is that any play session of any game type almost always results in a staggering amount of lost time. Seriously, this game is a menace to subway commuters with any intention of getting off at a particular stop.

It’s amazing how fresh a classic puzzle game can feel with a little change in perspective. Dream of Pixels successfully revitalizes one of the most popular styles of puzzle, turns it on its head, and changes the rules while still keeping everything familiar. The sheer addictiveness is more than enough to warrant a purchase but the wealth of bonus modes (especially Puzzle) make it a no-brainer.

The Portable Podcast, Episode 164

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 20th, 2012

Please purchase additional PodcastBux™ to continue listening.

On This Episode:

  • Carter and Brett discuss Shadowgun: Deadzone's gameplay and its implementation of the free to play model, along with the shift of Punch Quest from free to paid, and how free-to-play is so hard to do properly for both developers and players. As well, new games Micro Miners and Dream of Pixels are discussed.

  • Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Co-Host: Brett Nolan, AppAddict.net
  • Music:

    How to Listen:

    Apps Mentioned in this Episode: