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This Week at 148Apps: June 30-July 4, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 6th, 2014

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.


Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

Trying to explain Monster Hunter Freedom Unite to someone unfamiliar with the series is always a challenge. There’s an almost unrivaled amount of satisfaction to be had the first time you best a Rathalos or when you complete an armor set . You might’ve spent hours hunting dozens of Diablos, to the point that you can do it in your sleep, but now you’ve got what you need and can finish your set and oh it looks so amazing you can’t wait to show it off to your friends! I suppose that’s actually the best way to explain Monster Hunter: you earn it. You earn everything. And it’s difficult not to be extremely proud of that. --Rob Rich


World of Tanks Blitz

It was dark all around and there was frost in the ground when the Tigers broke free. And a good time was had by all. World of Tanks Blitz is a mobile take on World of Tanks, the PC-based online tank combat game from Wargaming.net. World of Tanks has been consistently popular since its North American and European release in 2011, so it’s surprising the game has taken this much time to get an official mobile release. Many imitators have sprung to life in the meantime – some of which are quite good – but unsurprisingly, the real deal is one of the best tank games available for mobile. --Nadia Oxford


Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

I wouldn’t be pleased if monsters actually ate my birthday cake. How dare they snarf up the sugary confection I was poised to chow down on myself?! It’s a sentiment no doubt shared with the developers at Sleeping Ninja, who have crafted a satisfying twist on The Legend of Zelda-like puzzle-solving. Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a sweet treat for mobile gamers that serves up an excellent mix of puzzles, bright and colorful characters, and engaging content that rivals triple-A blockbusters in terms of unadulterated fun. When you get started you’ll find yourself swapping out characters in order to complete level-specific puzzles. Each level has characters with differently-assigned abilities, and each monster has its own loadout. In order to conquer the various obstacles scattered throughout each area, you’ll have to become acquainted with the monsters’ abilities while avoiding or eliminating enemies completely. --Brittany Vincent


X BEATS

Music theory is one of the trickier parts of learning to play a musical instrument. Learning how to read the musical notes and understand how they each sound different isn’t always that fun to figure out, either. This is where X BEATS hopes to buck that trend. It’s a puzzle game that relies upon musical notes to solve the challenges. Each level consists of a mostly empty grid. Players then have to fill up the grid based on the note values to reach a certain amount at the end. Predictably, early stages are pretty simple and easy enough to bluff through, although that’s not the point. They simply require matching up 4 beats and there are limited options to ensure you can’t go wrong. --Jennifer Allen


Lars and Friends

I would like to introduce readers to the new app, Lars and Friends: a charming storybook for young children that contains very special illustrations, making it really stand out among a sea of other apps within iTunes. Lars and Friends is the simple and sweet tale of a horse named Lars and his adventures with many different types of creatures, allowing children to become familiar with the unique names used to describe a group of specific animals such as a colony of ants, knot of frogs, or tower of giraffes. I have had a lot of fun with the different activities Lars engages in with different creatures large and small, creating whimsical images about some unlikely friendships that will stay with readers as well as teaching the sometimes odd name-groupings children of all ages and their adults will enjoy learning about. --Amy Solomon


yantouch Diamond+ "Music+Light" Bluetooth Speaker

When turned off in a well-lit room, the yantouch Diamond+ looks kind of like a slightly garish ball of nothing. When turned on in a dark room – especially when displaying colors based on the tempo of the being played through it – it’s more like staring into a technicolored Eye of Sauron. You know, if Sauron were actually a pretty cool guy and not bent on conquering/destroying the world. Setting up the Diamond+ is pretty easy, and there are a couple of options you can pick from. Initially I hooked it up to my computer via the included audio cable, then later via bluetooth. I’m not sure if it’s just my imagination but it actually sounded a little tinny when connected via the cable, but it sounds just fine via bluetooth. --Rob Rich


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

Wave Wave

Life is sweeter when it’s easy. When everything moves the way it should for as long as it should, one can’t complain. There isn’t any shame in appreciating that. With video games, we like reasonable levels of difficulty, but I think that deep down, we all really want an epic battle… something seemingly impossible to conquer. Basically, we love torture by pixel. Why else would games like Wave Wave be so addictive? We’ve known about this game for a while, and finally had a chance to take it for a spin. It is a twitch/reaction games, so it makes sense to go into it with a soothed state of mind. Simplistically explained, the playing area is an insane, jazzy splash of altering colors. A lined arrow travels through this playing area, and the base idea is to use the controls to avoid the quick-appearing obstacles that appear. --Tre Lawrence


Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville

I admit to being a bit surprised back when Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville was announced – a Powerpuff Girls Metroidvania, developed by Radiangames, known for their dual-stick shooters and puzzle games? And it released on Steam? I didn’t get around to playing it until now, when it surprisingly released on mobile recently, but it makes a lot more sense that it’s a Radiangames title – and it’s a unique, if imperfect, take on the open-world adventure genre of Metroidvanias. The game starts out with Mojo Jojo, famed villain of the Powerpuff Girls, having erased all of the girls’ memories, imprisoning Bubbles and Blossom, with only a flightless Buttercup around. Flight is the first power earned back by collecting in the world, and here’s where the game shows its original qualities. Many games in the Metroidvania vein restrict progress by restraining movement, but this game relies solely on the lack of certain powers necessary to progress. I feel like it’s almost fairer, because it’s kind of nice to not have things that are just out of short jumping reach. It’s more artificial, but it feels more natural in a weird way. --Tre Lawrence


First Strike

First Strike is all about nukes. The crux of many an action movie nukes can be fun to throw around. First Strike contains all the fun of launching arrays of nuclear death without all that pesky fallout afterwards. First Strike throws diplomacy out the window. By the time of the game the world is already going to be bathed in nuclear fire. The only question is who will do most of the bathing? First Strike divides each nation up into sections and each section has a number of silos, the number of which is controlled by tech level. Each silo can have a particular kind of missile. There are cruise missiles which are used to intercept incoming nukes and ICBMs, which are used for nuking other nations. --Allan Curtis

And finally, 2014 is halfway through, so Pocket Gamer revealed its top-rated iOS, Android, Vita, and 3DS games of the year so far, and found 100 upcoming mobile games to look forward to. The guys also started documenting their adventures in bizarre art installment art MTN, took a look at Civilization Revolution 2, and produced a whopping great guide to Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake.

The First Calendar Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 1st, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FOCUSED PLANNING
Keep track of your daily appointments and call reminders with this handy iPhone-only app.
Read The Full Review »

Dropbox Adds Some Time-Saving New Features

Posted by Jennifer Allen on June 25th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PRODUCTIVITY TO THE MAX :: Read Review »

There's a new update out for everyone's favorite cloud storage app, Dropbox, and it's a useful one.

The app now allows you to reorder your Favorites list with a simple touch and hold motion. It's a small but significant step in making things that bit quicker for you. As well as that, you can now set up Dropbox with your camera, simplifying the set up process when linking a computer to the service. Plus, Dropbox now remembers your recent locations when importing files, which is bound to save some time!

Dropbox is available now on the App Store and it's a free download.

Personal Assistant App 24me Adds "Smart Alerts"

Posted by Jessica Fisher on June 18th, 2014
+ Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SMART AND SLEEK :: Read Review »

24me has announced the addition of smart alerts to its personal assistant app. It has combined a calendar, task manager, and real world information to provide you with up-to-date alerts to make your day that much easier.

Now when you schedule a meeting, 24me will send you an alert about the best time to leave based on traffic and local weather reports. Always forgetting your friend's birthday? 24me has you covered with its special events feature. It sends you an alert a week ahead so you have plenty of time to buy a card.

The latest version of 24me is available on the App Store now, for free.


- Next Day and Today’s Agenda - 24me gives you heads up about your schedule including your meetings and tasks planned for tomorrow.
- Smart Weather Alerts – 24me alerts on unusual weather conditions for the next day, so you will never get caught without your umbrella.
- Someday Tasks - A group of tasks that holds all the tasks which don’t have a due date.This group can be dragged from one day to the other.
- Email The Meeting Participants – New “Email All” button, allows sending all participants an email with one tap.
- Text and Emails - Tasks which are text or email can now hold the text/email content on the “Notes”. Once tapping on the action button of that task, the notes are automatically populated into the body of the text/email.
- Enhanced Invite Mechanism – it’s now easier than ever to invite your friends and colleagues to meetings, 24me lists the most recent contacts you email under “Recent” in the Invite tab.

RadResume Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on June 11th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: USEFUL DOCUMENT CREATION
Want to create a resume or cover letter fast? RadResume is just what you need.
Read The Full Review »

Boximize Review

+ Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
By Jennifer Allen on May 21st, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: POWERFUL ORGANIZING
Want to create a collection of notes? Or simply track your movie collection? Or your exercise routines? Boximize does all of that and more!
Read The Full Review »

FBX Review Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on May 20th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: 3D MODEL VIEWER
Want to review your 3D assets and animations while out and about? FBX Review has it covered.
Read The Full Review »

GoodReader 4 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on May 14th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: STILL GOOD
GoodReader is an excellent utility for any iOS device, it's just not necessarily a required update for current users of the app.
Read The Full Review »

Accompli Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 30th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: PRODUCTIVE EMAILING
Combining email, calendar, contacts, and attachment organization is a smart move for this email app.
Read The Full Review »

Pen & Ink Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 24th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CONVENIENT ARTISTRY
Pen & Ink is an ideal way to sketch down some visual ideas or simply spark your imagination.
Read The Full Review »

Gusto Email App Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 23rd, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: POWERFUL SEARCHING
Focusing on making it easy to browse files and photos attached to your email, Gusto is a powerful solution.
Read The Full Review »

Boxer Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on April 21st, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: KO YOUR INBOX
Turn your inbox into a task list or tune it to your own needs with this highly customizable, user friendly mailbox app.
Read The Full Review »

Snupps Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 16th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: USEFUL LISTING
Got a huge collection that you need to organize, or just want to share with others? Snupps has it covered.
Read The Full Review »

Taasky Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 8th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ELEGANT LISTS
Attractive to look at and simple to use, Taasky is a very convenient task management and to-do list app.
Read The Full Review »

This Week at 148Apps: March 31-April 4, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on April 6th, 2014

App-tastic!


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.


CLARC

It’s the classic love story. Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy tries to get Girl back. But did I mention the Boy is a downtrodden maintenance robot and the Girl is pastel pink nuclear missile? I guess maybe ‘classic’ would be stretching it a bit. Things are not going well in the deep recesses of this dilapidated Martian factory. F.A.T.H.E.R., the supercomputer in charge, has disappeared, leaving the worker robots confused and without direction. Lacking anything better to do in the interim, some enterprising bot discovers that consuming diesel fuel gets them quite tipsy. The result? NON-STOP ROBOT PARTY! --Rob Thomas


FTL: Faster Than Light

A year and a half after its critically-acclaimed PC/Mac release, FTL: Faster Than Light makes the jump to iPad. However, this isn’t an inferior late-to-the-party port. Subset Games has just released a free update for the original, dubbed FTL Advanced Edition, that gives players a slew of new options. Why does this matter? Well, the iPad port also has all of those new tweaks under the hood. And what a package it is. A bit of backstory. FTL is a strange hybrid of a thing: one part RTS, one part sim, two parts Roguelike, all white-knuckle frustration. Players control the crew of a Federation ship trying to deliver a vital data payload to their home sector. As they jump from sector to sector, a fleet of Rebel ships dogs their heels, sweeping across the galaxy like a swarm of locusts. Along the way, players will have to fight hostile ships, respond to random events, and generally scrounge for supplies to keep themselves operational long enough to get home. --Rob Thomas


Fairway Solitaire Blast

One of the iOS games I often find myself returning to is Fairway Solitaire, an addictive card game based around golf solitaire. It’s been a mainstay on my iPhone since launch so the prospect of a new title in the series, Fairway Solitaire Blast, got me pretty excited. This new installment is more freemium-focused, more reminiscent of King’s selection of titles, and currently lacks a certain amount of the ‘wow’ factor. Working on a level-by-level basis with a structure very similar to the mighty Candy Crush Saga et al, Fairway Solitaire Blast leads players down a path of increasingly tricky challenges. At first, players simply progress by clearing all the cards across three holes of each course (or level), but as they move through these stages other requirements emerge. Clearing 10 face cards in a row might be one such challenge, while others might require the player to clear 10 cards, each alternating in color, in order to progress. --Jennifer Allen


Monument Valley

Monument Valley – ustwo’s puzzling adventure game where players must twist and turn an Escherian world to discover its secrets, able to tell protagonist Princess Ida where to go and with various levers and twisting points that they can manipulate – can be approached and analyzed in two ways. One is purely as an experience. The other is as a game. As a game, Monument Valley is really quite short: it’s 75 to 90 minutes long across 10 levels that pose few threats to players. There’s maybe one puzzle in the entire game that made me really confused. Those who can’t comprehend the Escher-esque levels and designs, (that perspective can mess with one’s head) will probably have a hard time with the game. Those who have an eye for it will likely breeze through it. There’s not much in the way of replay value as there’s no time being kept for a level, which is a shame as it would be a fantastic way to promote coming back. As well, if there are any secrets they’re really, really well-hidden, which is a shame because this kind of game would promote hiding things. Its clear Fez inspiration sure had plenty of secrets of its own, so why not this too? The story isn’t really engaging – it’s ethereal and always felt out of touch to me, except for one moment that focuses on emotion rather than narrative. It’s not a perfect game. --Carter Dotson


Boom Beach

The follow up to Clash of Clans, Boom Beach is guaranteed to be quite the success. While it maintains many similarities to its alliterative predecessor, it also improves upon the format. While Boom Beach still won’t sway its cynics (yes, it does like one to spend money), it’ll still entertain many. As before, players are given a home base to defend and build upon. Attacks from enemies will be on a daily basis, so it’s fortunate that there are plenty of defensive capabilities to install – such as sniper bases, mortars, and the trusty mine. The latter adds a strategic element to the game, allowing one to place them in whatever order they wish, hopefully taking out the enemy before they get too close to one’s base. Defense isn’t all that’s required of the player, with conquering (or liberating as this game like to sometimes call it) other bases just as important. --Jennifer Allen


Kapu Forest

Having reviewed many apps for children and families, I am on a special lookout for applications that I find truly beautiful to look at – making them desirable choices to share with young children who may be getting very limited screen time. Kapu Forest, with versions for both iPad as well as iPhone, is such an application that will delight the youngest app users as well as their families. At first glance, adults will be quite pleased with a rich palette of blues, greens, and browns, as well as a thoughtful use of sophisticated jazz music that real keeps in mind the needs of the adults who will most likely be spending time sharing apps alongside their young children. There is a non-specific vintage quality to the look of this app that I find utterly appealing, making it stand out among a sea of other 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

Expedition Platformer

Expedition Platformer surprised me. It’s a retro-looking 2D platform game with an arcade feel that tells the story of Bogee, a budding anthropology expert on an expedition to different environments. The game scenery clearly looks to be framed by this narrative, and does a good job of creating a somewhat pixelated jungle environment. There are platforms that make up the playing area at different heights, and green is the predominant coloration in the early level. The controls are fairly flexible, with a movable direction-cum-jump-cum-dodge button, and a “shoot” button to dispense bananas. --Tre Lawrence


Mesh

Mesh looks like a neon drenched coin muncher game of old, but is it worth playing? Mesh is all about tapping accurately. Formations of blocks rain down the board interspersed with bombs. The idea is to tap the blocks without hitting the bombs, which ends the game. Missing too many blocks also ends the game. As the player survives longer, the formations get much tougher with many blocks surrounding bombs and it becomes tough fast. A robust combo system rewards players for tapping blocks quickly and without missing taps .Since the game scrolls blocks down quite slowly it’s a good idea to let the screen fill with blocks before starting a combo so the player can’t just tap as quickly as possible. This adds a nice risk dimension to gamepay. --Allan Curtis


Beyond Space

Space cowboys take heed: Beyond Space is here. The gameplay is quite engaging. The tutorial is a mission in and of itself, replete with instruction and back and forth dialogue. It shows the basics of flying, dogfighting and more. Controlling the space fighter is a matter of using one of the options provided: tilt or virtual joystick. There is a frontal radar system, and spot buttons for shooting and afterburnrs to the right of the screen. There is also gesture-based controls for evasive and tactical maneuvering like rolling and U-turns, and vitality meters at the top left. The tutorial goes on to show how to bring all these parts together, and I found it to be a pretty fun affair. Finishing the tutorial by successfully completing the tasks given leads the main missions. --Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week our comrades at Pocket Gamer took a look at the best games of March, reviewed FTL and Monument Valley, went hands-on with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and tried to trick everybody into believing something implausible for reasons of tradition. And it's all right here.