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.
Without context, it would be easy to think that Intake was designed from the ground up for the iPad. It’s the portrait orientation, and the game being so multitouch-friendly, being about frantically eliminating pills that drop from the sky by tapping on them, with the ability to pop multiple at a time by using multiple fingers. It actually wasn’t made specifically for iPad, though; it started as a PC game that used the mouse. Now that Intake is on the iPad, it’s at home and is a must-have for iPad owners who love fast-paced intense experiences. The best way to play the game is by laying it down flat on a table, using one’s thumb on each hand to switch pill colors in an Ikaruga-esque fashion, and then using other fingers to pop pills up and down the screen as necessary. It’s worth popping the same color pill as what is selected in order to extend out combos – not only for more points, but to get the power-ups that can help keep the board under control. This is especially necessary during the challenging levels that appear every five stages: they will often be the end of a run, but completing them means it will be even more lucrative. Checkpoints that new games can be started from are available every 25 stages. –Carter Dotson
There is no question that Lethal Lance swims in a big pool of old-school platformers, but LL Team and their publisher BulkyPix knew exactly how to make their title stand out. The game successfully (and almost immediately) plunges players into a lighthearted world that only jokingly ever takes itself too seriously (i.e. 2 star ratings come with the title of “Mr. Serious”). The objective (as one would expect from an intentionally old-school title) is for users to find their way to the other end of the level without losing all of their lives. Every level is packed with coins for players to collect in order to get a better rating. The rating system itself is pretty straightforward; in order to get all 3 stars, players must accomplish all of the 3 different objectives: they must finish the level without losing any lives, collect all of the coins, and reach the exit before the time expires. If the time does expire, they will simply lose one of the stars – as opposed to starting over. –Cata Modorcea
It’s funny how important comfort can be when it comes to a set of headphones, which is exactly why I’ve been enjoying Sharebrands’ Stereo Headphones as much as I have. It’s also rather funny how this $65 pair of headphones is actually more comfortable than some close to $200 pairs I’ve tried. And heck, some of that $65 isn’t even profit – Sharebrands donates 25% of the sale price of each pair to help the environment (Green), men and children’s health (Blue), women and children’s health (Pink), education (Yellow), or to help fight poverty (Red). Comfort isn’t the only thing these headphones have going for them, though; they also sound pretty good. I’m sure there are better pieces of audio headgear out there, but what I’ve been hearing is certainly not bad. None of that horrible “tinny” business, good balance, and the extra padding around the ears helps to block out a lot of background noise that could otherwise intrude on whatever the user might be listening to. –Rob Rich
Puzzle games and cars don’t exactly seem like the most logical combination on the planet. However, anyone who has ever played the classic quasi-board game “Parking Lot,” knows that that not only can the blend work, but also that it can actually be quite amusing. This is why it should come as no surprise 30-06 Studios would want to take advantage of this mix with their new title, Racer 8. Will it have players revving their engines or leave them running on fumes? Equal parts asset management, time trial and puzzle game, Racer 8 plays on several different mechanics to keep players’ heads constantly spinning. The core goal consists of navigating the car, which is constantly in motion, through a series of checkpoints and ultimately across the finish line. This is actually completed by revolving the square tiles in the map grid in order to form a track for the vehicle to follow. Throughout the process there are other concerns such as gas scarcity and target times, which both play secondary roles in determining how well the player performed on any given stage. –Blake Grundman
Sago Mini Monsters is a playful and creative app for toddlers and early preschool children that allows them to explore with color and other fun details as they create unique monsters that they need to take care of by feeding, primping with accessories, and attending to their personal needs such as teeth brushing. Each monster is met by dragging him or her from the green swampy area seen at the bottom of the page bubbling about adding a charmingly icky sense of style – especially as one will need to drag the monsters and their food up from this bog-like area as a tap will also make this fluid bubble. Children will enjoy decorating their at first detail-less monster with the use of five included colors. Simply draw and, when completed, a charming creature face will sprout giving personality to the character the young player has just decorated. Also fun is the ability to swap out different features to further customize the look of these monsters, complete with fun gooey details as one pulls off areas of the face, allowing new parts to sprout. –Amy Solomon
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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:
In Greedy Dwarf you control a dwarf in a mine cart, collecting gold and surviving the inside of magma-filled cylindrical caverns. It’s a endless runner type of game, chopped into different levels. The controls of the cart are fairly easy to comprehend. By swiping left or right, the cart will go that direction respectively. The levels are mostly in the form of a cylinder, so the dwarf can ride not only on the ground, but also on the walls and the ceiling. By using two fingers or both thumbs, the mine cart jumps. The problem with these jumps that is difficult to see when to jump or where to land, because of the 3D environment. When dying often, this gets very frustrating. –Wesley Akkerman
Little known fact, but samurai warriors very rarely used their katana swords in battle. They mostly used pikes, like everyone else, because they had the farthest reach, meaning that you could deal a lot of nasty damage, while being on the safe distance yourself – and you didn’t have to worry about friendly “fire” as well! The reason that I speak about ancient Japanese military tactics is that I frankly don’t have much to say about Dancing Samurai – not because it’s bad, but because it’s so small – like a bonsai tree under mount Fuji. –Tony Kuzmin
The first thing that will most likely strike you about Brandnew Boy (apart from its odd title) is that it looks great. Brandnew Boy is built using the Unreal engine and even though I reviewed the game on a Nexus 4, it still managed to pack a graphical punch. The game itself revolves around you playing as a young man (or if you’d prefer, a young woman) who’s got a bad case of amnesia. What they (you) can remember though is how to kick and punch. This is handy as each level you complete is full of bizarre creatures, ranging from odd-looking ‘egg men’ to what can only be described as a demon with an umbrella. –Matt Parker
And finally, this week, the Pocket Gamer crew highlighted its most anticipated games for May, took an advanced look at the next game from Rock Band developer Harmonix, reviewed 3DS sport sim Mario Golf: World Tour and picked the three best iOS and Android games of the week. Have a read.
The Tap Tap Revenge franchise is already a huge one and it just became even bigger. Developer Tapulous has just released Tap Tap Revenge 4, and the newest edition of the game bundles the franchise’s huge back-catalog of songs together into one massive app. As if that weren’t enough, the game comes pre-loaded with over 100 free songs to tap along to, featuring bands such as Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance. The crew behind the game has also been updating the store, adding tracks from artists such as Nelly, Katy Perry and more.
The app is also showcasing a slickly redesigned interface, optimized for the iPhone’s new Retina Display. The game is also integrating Game Center, as well as a like button which will show you which tracks are most popular amongst you and your friends, as well as constantly updating leaderboards to show who’s got the fastest fingers. This is easily the most comprehensive game in the series, and there’s really no reason for franchise fans to skip out.
The genius of Tap Tap Revenge is the freemium model it follows, tempting users with free songs and then hooking them into buying premium tracks. The fact that Tapulous releases a new free song every week means that players are constantly checking back into the app, and while they’re browsing they may just find a song or two they wouldn’t mind paying to add to their collection. Granted, the music in the game tends to skew towards the Top 40 charts, but its hard to blame the developers for that, they’re just giving the people what they want.
Though Rock Band and Guitar Hero may own the console scene, Tap Tap Revenge dominates iOS, and rightly so. The sheer volume of content available and free price tag is music to the ears of gamers, and this latest edition only serves to further cement Tap Tap’s place at the top of the heap. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to tap some Katy Perry, take that sentence in whatever way you want.
As the year winds down and we look ahead to the next decade it’s time for all those wonderful end-of-year lists we all get so excited about. Today we have some exciting news, as Apple has detailed all the top paid and free apps for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the top grossing apps on each platform. Here’s the full rundown, for your edification.
Rhythm gamers who hate leaving their plastic instruments behind when they leave the house will be pleased to hear that Rock Band Reloaded is now available on the App Store. The game features 29 new songs from the likes of Billy Idol, Nirvana and the Steve Miller band, as well as several new gameplay features and enhancements. It would seem the time has come to once again take the rock on the road.
Of the new features the one with the most potential (and the most potential embarrassment) is vocal recognition which will let you sing along with the songs. Much like its console brethren, Reloaded will score your performance based on how closely your pitch matches that of the song. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words, the game only cares that you’re hitting the right notes, not saying the right thing. Other new features include a landscape mode so you can play the game horizontally and a new Expert difficulty setting.
While we’re happy to see a new Rock Band on iOS we can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by the set list. Even though Reloaded packs more songs than last year’s edition and a bunch more than Guitar Hero, most of them are retreads and rehashes from the console versions. Yes, we still love Hungry Like the Wolf, but after playing it six dozen times in Rock Band 2 we’re not particularly thrilled to see it yet again. Also, while the inclusion of vocals is cool, how functional is it going to be on a mobile version of the game? The only place where you can really let lose and sing along is at home, and if you’re in your living room why not fire up one of the console versions of Rock Band instead? But hey, if rhythm games are your thing then don’t let us talk you out of it. Rock Band is still a ton of fun, so by all means stick it on your iOS device and enjoy.
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Last week’s release of Rock Band 3 pushed the platform’s total number of songs well above 2,000. And with the company pushing to get 5,000 songs into the setlist over the coming years, trying to keep that many tracks straight can be quite a challenge. Thankfully, much like everything else in the world, there’s an app for that with third-party developers Three Brothers creating a sortable list of Rock Band music.
This free app allows users to organize songs based on artist, song, version or even difficulty. So if you remember there’s that one bluegrass song that’s ridiculously hard in Rock Band but can’t think of its name then this little wonder will handily tell you that it’s “Green Grass and High Tides” which completely wrecked your fingers. Of course there’s a big fear that the app will quickly grow outdated due to the ever-expanding musical lineup, but the developers are promising monthly updates to keep the library totally up to date.
Perhaps the most devious inclusion of all is the ability to preview or purchase songs with a single click, allowing you to play a song in Rock Band and then immediately head over to your iPhone or iPod and add the track to your musical library. Just remember that just because you feel nostalgic and hip playing Smashmouth’s “Walkin’ on the Sun” right now doesn’t mean you’ll still want to hear it in a month. Just ask the late ’90s about that.
The app iss available right now and, as mentioned before, it’s totally free. If you’re a Rock Band fan who’s tired of scrolling through the menus trying to find a particular song then try out this handy little solution. And we already apologize for how your bank account will soon be emptied from buying all this music.
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Random musings of the App Store.
Apple now allows in-app purchases in free apps
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard that Apple is now allowing in-app purchases in free apps. Yes, this creates many possibilities including the extinction of lite versions and new app store charts, but I think that none of these possibilities will come to fruition, for one simple reason: DLC simply won’t be widely implemented. One reason, and the reason I think developers have been loathe to implement DLC so far, is the public perception of DLC. The average app consumer is wary – perhaps rightfully so – of DLC, and automatically assumes DLC is there to rip off the customer. I think developers will even be aware of this when making free apps with DLC, as the fear of being nickeled and dimed could lead poor public perception, starting with bad iTunes reviews, which will be open to anyone who clicks the “Get App” button. In addition, I think consumers simply purchase less through in-app purchasing. Once you already have an app, that app can become boring quickly in this ADD app store, so instead of purchasing more content for that app, you are likely to impulsively buy a completely different and new one.
Rock Band released
Last night, EA mobile’s Rock Band was released onto the App Store. Sure, it’s got that EA polish, but is it really worth 10 times more than Tap Tap Revenge 3, its $.99 competitor. Early indication may be no. While Rock Band features four different instruments, they are all similarly tap-based. The gameplay is fairly unchallenging but fun, and the background graphics are very repetitive and there are no special backgrounds for songs as in TTR3. In addition, the game comes with an anemic set list of only 20 songs, compared to over 100 free songs for TTR3. DLC packs for Rock Band are scarce so far and come packaged as two songs for $.99, the same as TTR3. I think the Rock Band game itself is better than TTR3, just not ten times better.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-19 :: Category: Games
Free ngmoco:) games!
Largely as a promotion for their Plus+ network, ngmoco:) has made three of their older games free. These are the full versions of the games, now including the excellend Plus+, and they’re all worth checking out:
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-01 :: Category: Games
This week’s upcoming app that looks freakin’ sweet:
There are a few good turn based strategy games on the iPhone, but the Battle for Wesnoth could just blow them all away. Here are a few features:
Over 200 unit types in six major factions, all with distinctive abilities, weapons and spells
Experienced units gain powerful new abilities as they advance.
Bring your battle-hardened troops with you as you fight through campaigns
Hundreds of campaign scenarios available, easily download user-made content
Day/night cycles, fog of war, racial traits
The Battle for Wesnoth has not been submitted, but you can download a free PC/Mac/Linux demo here.
This week’s sign of the apocalypse:
Ngmoco:) has recently been tweeting about, and advertising in their games, Epic Pet Wars, another dumb code-sharing text-based MMO. I thought you had high standards ngmoco:)…
App of the Week
Last week, I disappointedly reviewed Cocoto Kart Online, which simply wasn’t up to snuff. Happily, Gameloft’s Shrek Kart has provided a great karting experience. While the controls could still use some additional tuning, they aren’t nearly as awful as those found in Cocoto. Though there is no online multiplayer, the single player mode has enough content. The graphics are unbelievably crisp, the track design is good, and the Shrek license is actually used pretty well. At $4.99, it’s the best Mario Kart-esque game on the App Store.
Rock Band, the granddaddy of all band games (I’m assuming that Guitar Hero is the graddaddy of only the guitar games) is finally coming to your iDevice. After seeing Tap Tap Revolution and multiple other apps not only appear, but do well in the app store, it was only a matter of time before EA jumped into the fray. My only concern was whether or not EA’s game would add to the genre, or just use the name to push to the top of the pile. After seeing some of the early screenshots, it looks quite amazing.
There are three things that stand out to me about the new iPhone version of Rock Band. First off, my favorite addition to the game is the ability to play all of the instruments that are available on the console version. Guitar, bass, and drums will all turn out to use the same standard tapping that all the other tap games use, but Rock Band is also including the vocal portion. I’m not quite sure how I feel about singing into my iPhone, but I’m sure it’ll be a blast.
My second favorite addition to the game is the live bluetooth multiplayer. I can just imagine being back in high school, riding the bus, playing Rock Band over bluetooth. I was of the generation that was plenty happy to play Tetris against each other on our TI-83′s, so this, to me is quite exciting.
On top of some of the features, the overall polish and depth of the game seems to be a bit better than most of the others in the genre. The graphics look quite amazing, the song list is superb (and can be added to through the in-game music store), and the sound is sure to be killer. Word is that Rock Band has already been submitted to the app store, and if all goes well, should be out sometime real soon.