Tag: Education »
Your Cure For Black Friday
What to do with all of that post-Thanksgiving holiday time? Search for the latest and greatest apps, of course! 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.
During each race, you guid a ball traveling at speed along a pipe. While the ideal scenario is to also beat your competitors to the finish line, early on you’ll just be pleased to maintain momentum and dodge most of the obstacles up ahead. Traveling forwards is mostly automatic, with a boost and brake button affecting how fast you go. The main requirement of you is to duck left and right to dodge what’s coming up. There are plenty of twists to negotiate and Proun+ is far from forgiving. Get stuck behind a post and you immediately lose a lot of speed. It’s fun though, if slightly frustrating at first. Tracks are designed with a sense of speed in mind, with various tunnel style effects arising at regular opportunities. If you want to dodge some frustration you can turn the difficulty level down by playing the ‘relaxed’ set of levels, but I found these a little unexciting. They’re too slow for anything more than coming to grips with the controls, and you’re better off persevering at harder tracks. --Jennifer Allen
I’m a huge fan of action RPGs like Diablo and its iOS clone, the Dungeon Hunter series. I’ve been playing them for years. Sadly, as my hand has stopped working, the games have integrated more and more complex controls and left me behind. VainGlory is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) that also feels like very modern take on the action RPG genre, and it returns to the perfect basic controls of yesteryear. Simply tap where you want to move, and tap to attack your target until it’s dead. You pick a fighter of your choice to work with and level-up, each with a unique way of fighting and different special moves. As they level-up, you can make these moves more powerful. You fight your way through battle maps, killing other team’s grunts, gun turrets, and eventually their power crystal, which acts like the king in chess. Once that’s gone, you win. --Jade Walker
As before, you build up a base – sucking up resources around you, waiting for things to upgrade slowly – while also taking out enemies at regular points. There’s a choice of PvP battles or a single-player campaign here, with a mixture of both being most effective when it comes to leveling-up. Call of Duty: Heroes eases you in gently, with a protective shield keeping you away from PvP early on if you so choose to keep it active. You spend much of your time training troops before unleashing them on your enemy, watching them all be used up, before repeating the process. Fortunately, Call of Duty: Heroes does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Namely, as the name hints at, you can use heroes from the Call of Duty games, such as Price and Soap. You can control them individually, plus they can level-up and gain their own Killstreaks. It’s a decent step in helping Call of Duty: Heroes stand out at least a little. --Jennifer Allen
Knituma is a game about gathering the right objects as they are tossed into the air while avoiding the wrong ones. But in practice it’s surprisingly different from the Fruit Ninja clone that description suggests. Players tap on flying balls of yarn and drag a thread from them into the basket at the bottom. However, if anything interrupts that thread, whether it’s a gliding pair of scissors or the player accidentally lifting their finger, the ball is lost. Combining such a deliberate motion with the pressure to act quickly gives the game a unique rhythm. Plus, the obstacles change nearly every round and introduce new rules. Sometimes cats show up to bat yarn balls away, sometimes moths fly into and ruin the basket if they aren’t crushed, and sometimes nails get driven onto the board to twist up strands. It’s always more than just a bomb. --Jordan Minor
With slightly more of a focus on fantasy than before, Kingdom Rush Origins HD offers up new towers, heroes, and upgrades, but is mostly just what you’d expect from the series – some tricky but well-balanced tower defense. You’ll be placing turrets in useful positions, attempting to devise choke points to thwart your enemy, and upgrading things as and when the coins come in. Once more you can control the heroes directly, each now offering their own special spell that can be triggered at an appropriate moment. You’ll find yourself depending on them more than before too, as they really can make the difference in battle. A variety of upgrade options mean you can adapt your turrets to your needs, with each offering a choice of different paths to take the further you progress. --Jennifer Allen
I would like to let readers know about a new storybook app, The Journey of Alvin – based on the true story of Alvin Straight, who drove a riding mower a great distance to visit his ailing brother. Adults may wonder from this description if this tale is in some way connected to the David Lynch movie, The Straight Story, and they would be correct as The Journey of Alvin brings this tale of love and determination to children in a way they can appreciate. I am quite fond of The Journey of Alvin as it combines many elements such as including both Spanish and English editions, computer-generated animation, music, ambient sound effects, and narration for a truly magical effect. I admire how the perfect radio voice tells this simple story of Alvin driving his mower to visit his brother, explaining to children how the journey is long as the mower is slow, making this story a process piece about the journey as Alvin comes across various other vehicles on the road that he is passed by – such as a train, a bunch of bikes, and even a turtle. --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:
At any given time, I am blessed with an opportunity to review a lot of devices and accessories. I enjoy pitting products against each other, and I love the prospect of squeezing functionality out of our mobile devices by pitting accessories against each other. Survival of the fittest… There are very few downsides to this, but if I were to nitpick, I’d whine about the proliferation of cables. They are all over the place, seemingly sticking out of every outlet. With so many devices, and such a need for juice, it’s understandable, but even my workspace does descend into an infuriating pile of cables quite frequently. --Tre Lawrence
So, if you’ve been keeping tabs on our hardware reviews, you probably know that my latest rallying cry is organization. Yes, through all the fantastic accessories — and especially amid all the cables we use to power said accessories — we could all definitely use a helper or two when it comes to corralling the requisite wire. Enter Recoil Automatic Cord Winders. --Tre Lawrence
For some unknown reason, there’s literally no backstory in Dark Guardians – and unlike with many generic fantasy games or cartoonish runners, Dark Guardians actually makes me want to know it. As it is, the game presents the player with a badass ancient nordic warrior, who runs through mystical, snow-bound forests, mountaintops, and other picturesque landscapes, and fights against a horde of demonic spirits that are seemingly led by a flying horned demon thing, who looks somewhat like Krampus. The warrior possesses a mighty sword that can smite the undead with a single strike. --Tony Kuzmin
Expert App Reviewers
So little time and so very many apps. What's a poor iPhone/iPad 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.
I’ve been playing and enjoying collectable card games for 20 years, now – yeah, I’m old, shut up. While Magic: the Gathering has always been my main game, I’ve tried and enjoyed several others over the years. One of my favorites was always Pokémon, but at my age (I said shut up!) almost none of my peers play. The only way I could enjoy a game was to go to a tournament and play almost entirely against children. Since that’s as awkward as it sounds, I haven’t played in years. Now there’s a solution to that problem. And unlike Magic’s foray into iPad, Pokémon TCG allows a great deal of freedom. --Jade Walker
Almost a decade after its launch, the classic time management franchise Diner Dash has returned once again to cause stress headaches in a whole new generation of mobile gamers. It’s been about four years since the last entry in the series – Diner Dash 5: BOOM! – and PlayFirst has revamped the venerable workhorse into a mash-up of classic and all-new styles. And, for the first time ever, the series has embraced the free-to-play model. How well do Flo and the crew make the transition to freemium? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone these days who isn’t at least passingly familiar with the basic concept of Diner Dash. Players are in charge of Flo, a good-natured (but doubtlessly exhausted) waitress whose job is to seat, serve, and generally keep happy all of the customers of her restaurant – many of whom have specific quirks and needs. Unfortunately, as Flo is only one person with two hands, she can only do so much at a time. This leaves her sprinting about madly to take orders, make coffee, clean up dirty tables, and more, all before customers lose their patience and leave. You really have to wonder why this place doesn’t hire at least a busboy, right? --Rob Thomas
Sheep aren’t loaded with natural defenses. They’re great at standing around, chewing their cud, and waiting to be sheared. That’s about it. That’s why Air Supply – SOS calls on players to foil the Time Travel Company: a greedy organization that kidnaps sheep, robs their fluffy down, and makes clothing. Though these distressed sheep are quantum sheep, they’re still incapable of defending themselves. Do the right thing. Save Our Sheep (“SOS” – get it?). Air Supply is a shooter inspired by the classic ZX Spectrum game Jetpac. Players endure waves of aliens while catching the quantum sheep that fall from the sky. The sheep need to be returned to the rocket ship waiting at the bottom of the screen. Once the requisite number is loaded, the player gets to progress to the next level (often accompanied by a “sheepy hug” of thanksgiving). --Nadia Oxford
Like in the original, players control Rockford: a scrappy young spelunker exploring a series of caves. But these aren’t just ordinary caves; they’re full of gems, and to open up the exit Rockford must collect a certain number of gems before time runs off. From that description, one might think that gem-collecting would be, if not a difficult process, then at least one that took some thinking. But in Boulder Dash, most of the initial free levels can be beaten by tracing the most straightforward route through the dirt and collecting the obvious gems in plain sight. Players spend the majority of the game performing this deeply uninteresting act again and again. Sure there are a few enemies, but with Rockford’s ability to move basically anywhere and survive anything short of a falling rock, there’s far too little in the player’s way. It almost makes one wish the controls weren’t as smooth and forgiving as they are. Later worlds do ramp up the challenge, but the dull and lengthy introduction discourages players from grinding and earning the stars necessary to unlock the more interesting content for free. --Jordan Minor
Bug Mazing – Adventures in Learning' is a new title from Little Bit Studio, the developers known for their series of apps such as Bugs and Buttons, Bugs and Numbers, and a recent favorite, Bug Art. As the name may suggest, Bug Mazing is a maze app with a bug theme that includes activities such as working with numbers, letters, colors and tracing in ways that children will find engaging and adults will appreciate for their educational value. Nature is a big part of these apps and the landscape may either be beautiful and pristine with flowers and insects like bees and ladybugs or include worn details that are possibly less beautiful, but I find these details quite interesting. It also includes a fantasy adventure theme as well as bugs that are styled with different adventure elements, such as Indiana Jones’ hat and other details. A narrator gives encouragement while on each exploration and valuable coins and precious gems are collected as rewards. Each area of this app includes different levels of difficulty and unique bugs select. Do note the selection of languages that is also included within this app – always a nice touch. Multiple children can also keep their own games separate, which is good for at home or the classroom. --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:
Twitch games are an addiction of mine now, so checking out Entwined Challenge was destined to be. The visuals rely on simulated distance perspective; to start, the two flying beings are colored red and blue. In the distance is a circle with colored segments; the colors of the segments are generally red, blue and green. the flying beings can be controlled by thumb gestures on either side to move along the axis of the circle, so that each flying being is guided through a matching color segment. As progress is made, the game adjusts too; for example, where the color segments were stationary, they begin to move, forcing the player to make adjustments and quicker decisions on the fly. While the concept remains simple, the developer does a good job of delicately layering levels of difficulty upon the easy-to-understand premise, and it flows well, with no major deviations to distract from the chase of excellence. --Tre Lawrence
Yes, batteries in mobile devices have gotten better, but in the spirit of being prepared, it just makes sense to have a backup plan. Way back when, getting a couple extra OEM batteries was sufficient. Now, sealed batteries are more commonplace, and having multiple devices at any given time is not unheard of; in any case, all those extra batteries start to add up. Nah, it makes sense to have a portable battery, and when it comes to mobile power solutions, few are as capable of Antec; hence, checking out the new LifeBar 10 Portable Charger is far from a chore. --Tre Lawrence
Health tools with a mobile component are especially compelling, and as such, we jumped at an opportunity to check out the Withings Smart Body Connected Scale. The black (white is an option) review unit Withings sent us is pretty much ready to go. At first glance, the first thing that comes to mind is that somehow, the product pictures do not do it justice. It looks like a chiseled dark colored slab. frankly, it look dashing, managing to be modern without being Jetson-silly. The full dark look is accented, and the silver center piece highlights the whole package. The expected display is digital in nature, and still manages to effect art. The battery compartment is at the bottom of the unit, and there is a tab preventing the batteries from cycling; beneath that are two buttons for syncing and selecting units. It looks like a “traditional” scale, but clearly wants people to know it has an extra trick or two up its sleeve. Officially, it comes in at 12.8 x 12.8 x 0.90 inches and 4.62 lbs. --Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer covered Apple and Google's big announcements, wrote a massive guide for The Silent Age: Episode Two, tackled GamerGate, and picked 11 iOS games that you may never get to play. All that and loads more, right here.
Imangi Studios and National Geographic Kids have partnered together to turn the Temple Run series into an informative and exciting book called Temple Run: Race Through Time to Unlock Secrets of Ancient Worlds. They have also created a new character for Temple Run 2, Maria Selva, based off the protagonist in the book.
“The goal of this partnership is to get students excited about reading and learning,” said Walter Devins, director of licensing at Imangi Studios. “Teaming up with National Geographic is an amazing way to let our fans discover some of the awe-inspiring locations throughout the world that have influenced Temple Run.”
You can purchase the book for $12.99 on the National Geographic site, and download Temple Run 2 for free on the App Store.
Learning is so much more rewarding when it's also fun. That's part of the reason why recent educational app, Grammar Pop HD, garnered such a positive review from us last week. The brainchild of Mignon Fogarty, otherwise known as Grammar Girl, we were lucky enough to have a chat with her to find out more on how the game, as well as the persona, came to be.
148Apps: What's the story behind Grammar Girl? What made you decide to embrace that title?
Mignon Fogarty (MF): When I was a science editor, I saw my clients making the same mistakes over and over again - little things, such as using "a" when they should use "an" or misusing commas. Podcasting was new at the time, and I decided to also do a quick, simpler writing show because I saw that there were so many people who needed writing help.
Much to my surprise, the Grammar Girl podcast took off right away and essentially took over my life. I worked like crazy for about six months trying to do both Grammar Girl and the science writing and editing, since that work paid my bills, and when I finally got my book deal with Macmillan and we formed the partnership to grow the Quick and Dirty Tips network, I was able to switch to Grammar Girl full time.
The name Grammar Girl just popped into my head and I knew it was perfect right away. I believe it works because of the alliteration and because "girl" is a nonthreatening word. People have a lot of anxiety about their writing, and a lot of the grammar advice out there is delivered in a high-brow or condescending way. Being Grammar Girl sends the message that I'm friendly and approachable.
148Apps: How did Grammar Pop come about? What was the inspiration for creating a game like this?
MF: After finishing my last book, I wanted to do something different. People were playing games on their tablets and phones - I was playing games on my tablet and phone - and it seemed obvious to me that there should be a game in which you match words with their parts of speech. In fact, I was incredulous when I looked for such a game and found that it didn’t exist.
So on a plane on my way to Macmillan for a different meeting, I sketched out the initial idea for how I thought the game might work. They wanted to do it, so we went about investigating ways to make it work. I ended up coding it myself with a tool called Game Salad and working with Margo Goody, an artist at Macmillan.
148Apps: How important do you think it is to make learning fun?
MF: Grammar Girl is all about making learning fun!
148Apps: What has the feedback from players been like?
MF: I get great feedback from parents and teachers who use Grammar Pop and say it has really helped their kids learn parts of speech. It's not a chore to get their kids to play it; the kids love it and learn parts of speech without even realizing they're learning.
148Apps: What's next for the Grammar Pop series of games? Are there any plans for new installments or updates?
MF: We came out with a special Winterfest edition for the holidays, and we're getting bids right now to expand the game with more levels.
Thanks to Mignon Fogarty for taking the time to answer our questions. To find out more about Grammar Girl, check out the Quick and Dirty Tips website.
Grammar Pop is available now for iPhone and iPad.
(Image of Mignon Fogarty courtesy of Quick and Dirty Tips.com)