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Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we've been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
Occasionally frantic, Gentlemen! is never short of gloriously great fun. Lone gamers won’t be so keen given that it’s exclusively for two players, but it’s the perfect reason to get a friend involved. The idea is simple enough: players must defeat each other in a duel to the death. Just like in the old days of honor and explosive birds, ok, maybe not so much. Presented in portrait mode, each player’s controls are set on opposite sides of the screen. In a nice move, menu buttons and other descriptions are similarly laid out, for either player to easily interact with. Controls are simple with left and right, alongside a gravity flip button and the use of a weapon. Weapons vary, mostly thanks to a switch in the middle of each game enabling players to change around. Knives, bombs, dynamite, electric shields and explosive birds all play a role, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s as zany as it sounds, while adding a surprising tactical edge to proceedings. --Jennifer Allen
I have a handful of photo apps on my iPhone 5 that I keep handy when I feel like making my pictures look fancy. Each app has its own perks like frames, filters and adjustments. I tend to rotate between them until I find the one that transforms my picture into a work of art. I’m always on the lookout for new photo apps because I’m really looking for that one that will replace all my other go to camera apps. I reviewed PhotoNova+ 2 a few months ago, which is a free version of their paid app. PhotoNova 2 offers users more advanced features like a variety of selection tools, an option to switch out the background of photos that have a green background and an impressive effects selection. --Angela LaFollette
Many photography apps tend to do quite similar things to imagery, mostly involving applying filters to photographs. Tangent doesn’t quite do that. It might involve applying new effects to an image, but through a vector art style overlay, improvements are being added to the image, rather than replacing anything. There’s a fairly simple process to follow throughout the app. Users can either import or take a photo directly from within, before opting for a specific style. Tangent offers both straight-forward and quick applications, as well as plenty of choice for those who want to adjust things individually. Shapes form the first set of choices, with circles, rectangles, triangles and plenty more, available to apply to an image. It sounds gimmicky, but it can really set off a photo nicely, giving focus to the important part of a photo. There are plenty of shapes available too, with in-app purchases provided for those who want even more choice. That’s a trend that continues throughout, with plenty of additional blends and colors available at a price. Fortunately, it’s always possible to preview them first. --Jennifer Allen
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Peapod Labs has developed a favorite series of educational ABC apps and has recently added two new titles – ABC Aquarium and ABC Bugs, each terrifically educational and including exceptional photography to allow children to view these different creatures in a way that highlights all of their unique attributes. Each of these apps, now eleven and counting, features a wide amount of content, including terrific, detailed photos of each subject as well as narrated fun facts, curated videos gathered from the Internet and simple, intuitive interactions which young children will enjoy a great deal. --Amy Solomon
Gro Recycling is a cute and fun interactive universal app that allows children to sort recycling into different receptacles, totaling six in all, including a unique choice of recycling batteries as well as a compost container. Game play is charming and intuitive as one simply drags a piece of recycling to be recycled to the correct container, as these bins happily and hungrily eat what they are being served, while a mistake will result in the spitting out of the wrong material. This app is lovingly styled with the delightful humanizing of these recycling bins as cartoony faces, which are included with fun, witty noises that each of these characters makes, hungry to eat recycled materials. --Amy Solomon
Mobile games that offer their players to smash the opponents using nothing but their very fingers were at the very start of the touch-screen revolution, but lately it seems that somewhat counter-intuitive habit of putting buttons on touch-screen has largely rendered the “clean” touch-screen games mostly obsolete. Someone should analyze this trend to some revealing, but ultimately unnecessary results. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Attack of the Spooklings. It’s a fine, but incredibly simple game. How simple? It takes longer to read this sentence than to see the whole game. It’s not surprising, considering that it consists of an astonishing single screen, and single enemy. While I’m all for the games with minimalistic design, they should also be complemented with really incredible gameplay. Attack of the Spooklings is quite exciting for some time, sure, but it simply lacks any sort of complexity to be interesting. --Tony Kuzmin
GP Retro is a racing game that isn’t scared to rock looks of old, and I suspect it is aware of my abject weakness for titles that bring back the wonderful things of days gone by. The game comes at us in glorious 2D, and in this one, retro is no misnomer. The chunky pixels underscore the jittery unsure animations that make these type of games fun to look at. The purposely un-sharp colors were done well, and even the intro pages for the drivers were nicely formatted to fit with the retro look. As for gameplay, it is basically top-down view simulated Grand Prix open-wheel (to start) racing over mostly asymmetrical raceways. Sharp turns characterize the racing; losing control and ending up on grass slows down the race car considerably. There are valuables and power-ups to be collected, as well as hazards to be avoided. --Tre Lawrence
Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out? The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way. I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details. --Tre Lawrence
Lucky Frame has been quite the success story since the developer was founded by Yann Seznec five years ago. In that time, it has garnered plenty of success with software on other formats, won a Scottish BAFTA for Best Game and, surely more importantly, gained a prestigious 148App's Editor's Choice award for Wave Trip. Not bad, eh?
With the recent release of the studio's latest title, Gentlemen!, we took the time to have a chat with founder, Yann Seznec, and learn a little more about Scotland's hottest iOS focused property.
"I founded Lucky Frame 5 years ago, after I made a piece of music software for Wii remotes as a university project [The Wii Loop Machine]. The software got a lot of attention online and I managed to turn some of that attention into a little company! I even ended up on Dragons' Den in the UK," explained Yann, "...[it] was kind of hilarious (I didn't get the money...)."
That didn't deter Yann, though: "Jonathan [Lucky Frame's developer] and I spent a few years working on projects whenever we could, mostly music software and things like Mujik. Eventually we managed to go full time and hire [artist and designer] Sean, to turn us into the three-person studio we are today."
Provided with funding by numerous creative agencies, Yann acknowledged how helpful it has been to have such support: "We have been really lucky to get support from a number of agencies and companies, notably [Scotland's national arts development agency] Creative Scotland, The University of Edinburgh, [UK based TV broadcaster] Channel 4, The University of Abertay Dundee, [innovation focused UK charity] NESTA, and many others." Location is also important as Yann discussed, "Scotland is quite a good place to start a company, partially because of the support you can get if you really dedicate yourself to it. Without a doubt that support is what let us become a full time company, and allow us to focus on creating totally original work."
While previous Lucky Frame titles have been focused on the single player experience, Gentlemen! is, essentially, a head to head beat-em-up, with two players able to participate across the one iPad screen. What inspired the team to pursue such an alternative route? Passion, as Yann explains. "All three of us are really passionate about local multiplayer games," he said. "Some of our greatest gaming experiences come from sitting in a room with friends playing a game on a single screen. I think that on some level the rise of the tablet/phone as the primary gaming device could lead to that experience being lost."
It wasn't a new plan by the team, either. "We've wanted to try and approach that problem for a while," he said. "We even did some experiments like Pyoing which turned out pretty well! Trying to make a local multiplayer game for touch screen raises a whole pile of challenges, which were really fun for us, and the Victorian-era theming really drove the whole design process."
Gentlemen! is also set to be Lucky Frame's first Android release, with Yann explaining that he was initially attracted to iOS thanks to the "accessibility" and "standardisation" that the format brings with it.
With perhaps the best attitude to any walk of life, not just iOS development, Yann wisely acknowledged that the most important thing for the team, in terms of getting noticed, has been to "keep working on projects that we want to produce, and make sure that everything we release is something we can be proud of." Take note, aspiring iOS developers, that's a great way to feel good about future developments.
Thanks to Yann for taking the time to answer our questions. Gentlemen! is out now for the iPad, priced at $4.99. This is also the ideal time to get to know Lucky Frame's back catalogue, comprising of Bad Hotel, Pugs Luv Beats, Wave Trip and more.