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Another Week of Expert App Reviews
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.
I imagine that everyone who has ever owned an iOS device has played an endless runner or ten. They’re just ubiquitous. And sometimes, what happens during the best of them is that careful ballet – that feeling of everything coming together perfectly. Due to random and/or procedural generation, that happens only periodically. That feeling is what Bit.Trip Run is built around in its entirety. This auto-runner, based off of Runner 2 but revamped for mobile, is more akin to a careful dance than a frantic survival game like Canabalt or Temple Run because it is all about intricate design. --Carter Dotson
“Welcome to Vindiqo Research Laboratories,” is the first voice players hear when they wake up. What place is this? Questions will only be answered as players make their way through The Stormglass Protocol, where sixteen locked doors and portals remain between the player and their hope for freedom. Set from a first-person perspective, The Stormglass Protocol creates an immersive experience in the form of a unique puzzle adventure room escape. From the onset, it is without doubt that huge amounts of effort have gone into creating what essentially is one of the most gorgeous iOS games one could lay eyes on. From the quirky narrative jokes to the highly-explorable rooms, The Stormglass Protocol doesn’t miss a beat. --Lucy Ingram
Put on some headphones. Turn out the lights. It’s Halloween. What’s the perfect way to celebrate this cold, dark October evening? Why, by playing Papa Sangre 2 of course. The original awed thousands with its 3D real-time binaural audio engine and innovative use of sound to create an immersive and atmospheric experience, and Somethin’ Else have done it again. Except this time around it’s darker, it’s scarier, and it’s much more haunting. Starring the voice of ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Sean Bean, who has died more times than we can count, Papa Sangre 2 is a game that relies solely on the player using their ears to navigate their way around a dark and dangerous scenario. Trapped in the afterlife with only Sean Bean for company, players are guided through the Museum of Memories to engage in what becomes a rather macabre situation; running from monsters, avoiding traps, and seeking the scattered memories that are the only ticket out of this terrible nightmare. --Lucy Ingram
Fantastical 2 is yet another app that’s been re-made as a completely separate experience for iOS 7. Unlike some of its brethren however, Fantastical 2 provides some great upgrades when it comes to user customization, phone integration, and accessibility – all of which make it worth the upgrade. Just like the older version of Fantastical, users can easily manage their events and schedules using the app’s excellent natural language parser and easily view their daily schedules at a glance via the day ticker. But now with Fantastical 2, both of these experiences are made even better through improved parsing (and dictation parsing!) and the landscape week view. These additions make creating and viewing events – arguably the two primary functions of a calendar app – simpler than ever. Have a meeting at noon in Times Square on the second Tuesday of every month? Simply type or speak those words into the app and it will set the repeating time, date, and place completely automatically, then display that event next to other immediate events when the phone is turned sideways. --Campbell Bird
Tricky Stories: Halloween Fairy Tale – Adventurous Sticker Book for Kids, as the name describes, is a universal sticker book for children with a Halloween theme. A haunted house and a forest are areas that one can decorate with stickers that are included and photos can be taken of one’s work. The look of this app is nicely stylized; with a palette of purples, grays, golden yellow, and blue shades that look quite nice against the backlit screen of the iPad or iPhone. The sticker choices and other landscape details contain a layered effect with a subtle paper grain that I appreciate, giving these stickers a little more substance than I typically see in an app such as this. --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:
Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is one of those games that brings a lot to the table in many ways. Flight simulation games can sometimes be either overly involved or control-challenged; finding that comfortable middle ground can be tough. First of all, it is a pretty hefty download; we’re talking about just under 2GB unpacked according to Goog. Off the bat, at first glance, the graphics make it seem worth it… it looks good. From the aircraft themselves to the way the sun reflects off the endless the sea in the background, detail is definitely paid attention to. If you are able to look at the planes and not want to fly one in real life, check for a pulse. --Tre Lawrence
Tis the season for mysteries, and the more haunted the better. Welcome to Haunted House Mysteries.
The game starting use of light flashes sets the tone; 1994 famous archaeologist Edward Russel found murdered with wife and younger daughter in vacation home in New Jersey right after a great dig in Egypt. His oldest daughter, her boyfriend and the important historical pieces discovered by Russel are all missing. A dozen and half years later a student named Nancy gets to take what she thinks will be some time off and visit her Aunt Mary at the coast. The house is not actually her aunt’s but was lent to her by a friend who is a bit spooked out by weird happenings. --Tre Lawrence
Ghost Toasters takes a rather novel idea: Get Grumpyface, a talented mobile developer that has made several great Adult Swim and Cartoon Network games like Super Mole Escape and Mutant Fridge Gumball, to take the Regular Show cast of characters, including the baby ducks from one of the show’s most famous episodes, and put them into a Super Crate Box affair where jumping through portals switches to a character with a new weapon. Oh, and ] add in portals that can call up extra characters to give the player multiple hits before failing, because this is a game based off of a Cartoon Network show. Throw in a level-based structure and a coins system for upgrades to help differentiate things. On paper, it’s a pretty rad combination, and there are times when it all shines through. The animation is fantastic, and there’s a real sense that making this game faithful to the Regular Show style was important in its creation. But then, the flaws rear their ugly head. --Carter Dotson
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer detailed its most anticipated mobile games of November, played all the new games (from Papa Sangre II to Bit. Trip. Run! to Anomaly 2), put the GameStick through its paces, and celebrated Halloween with five scary games. Check out the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up right now!
Your App Experts
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.
Sucker that I am for retro-inspired visuals, I was immediately interested in A Ride into the Mountains. It’s not just a visual throwback, however. The fluid animations, beautiful backgrounds, haunting melodies, and simple-yet-complex gameplay come together to make something more than just a retro themed time waster. It’s actually pretty special. Zu and his family have protected the land from evil forces for generations. One day the sacred relic keeping it all at bay is stolen, so he jumps onto his horse and sets out to get it back. A Ride into the Mountains is centered around one main gameplay mechanic: firing arrows. Players must tap and drag their finger across the screen to draw back Zu’s bow and release to fire, with the time spent drawing determining the shot strength. Little by little more mechanics are introduced – such as tilting the device to move the horse or tapping the screen while drawing back on the bow to focus and slow down time – until eventually it becomes an unexpectedly solid little arcade/action game. --Rob Rich
I admit to not having spent much time playing the Sky Gamblers series. I’ve never been a huge fan of airplane warfare games, and I don’t think that the real world is either – has there been an actual aerial dogfight in the past few decades? I hope not, because war is bad! But yet, aerial dogfighting winds up popping up commonly in games. So when duty called, I decided to give Sky Gamblers: Cold War a shot, and I can see the appeal. This is aerial warfare that’s got a light learning curve to it. Sky Gamblers: Cold War does the one thing that I think every other online multiplayer game needs to have at their main menu: a quick start button! This promotes quick, casual online play by making it super-simple to jump in. There’s still options for creating games (including private matches with Game Center friends), but this subtle little feature goes a long way toward ensuring that people will actually play a game with online multiplayer! I found matches even in the dead of night. --Carter Dotson
Keeping a well organized calendar is a crucial part of a good workflow for many, and on the iPhone there are already several great calendar apps available – but is Agenda Calendar 4 different enough to make a splash? I’ve been using Fantastical for all my calendaring needs over the past few months, but Agenda Calendar 4 has a seriously good chance of becoming my new default. --Ruari O'Gallchoir
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Tunnel Trouble is a creative and fun universal educational app that to children preschool age and above will seem like a simple and interesting game application, with adults all the while appreciating how terrific this app is for teaching problem-solving in a way that is engaging and full of whimsy. Tunnel Trouble allows players to help a chicken run through a series of maze-like tunnels of an underground passageway, in later levels avoiding a monster who needs to be trapped to let this chicken pass by unharmed. Each of the 25 levels includes a cross-section of the tunnel this chicken is trying to run through. This tunnel is actually made up of a series of pieces that each need to connect to allow chicken free access. --Amy Solomon
PLAY-DOH Create ABCs is a new universal app that allows children to enjoy this popular modeling compound, now 55 years old, on their devices as they also learn their letters. Needless to say, I was interested to see how Play-Doh, which is such a tactile toy, translates into an application. There are three sections to this app with its main area being Write and Craft where children, after choosing from a large variety of Play-Doh colors, can trace each letter with the drag of a finger. --Amy Solomon
It must be tough being a vampire. You’ve got a limited time of day in which you can be up and about. You can’t check yourself out in the mirror. There’s the whole ‘having to drink people’s blood’ thing. It sounds like a right hassle. On top of that, there are some vampires that have the added burden of parenthood, as in Le Vamp. In Le Vamp you take control of a troublesome vampire who’s barely out of nappies. Assuming vampires use nappies. This cheeky little terror of the night has decided to skip his bedtime and run amok in what I assume is a village outside of Paris. This hasn’t gone unnoticed though, as the petit vampire has managed to upset many French stereotypes meaning an angry mob of farmers, mimes and Napoleon lookalikes will be chasing down our blood-sucking friend. --Matt Parker
Mad Dragon is an interesting side-scrolling runner that features an almost lovable fantasy character. A hitherto sleeping dragon is our angry protagonist. In this side-scroller, action proceeds from left to right, and the enraged dragon possesses an exhaustible set of attributes that assist it in its desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. Wreaking havoc, in this game, mostly refers to destroying as many buildings as possible, while avoiding the bombs that are spread out around the place to stop the dragon. --Tre Lawrence
War. Often we’re asked what it’s good for and a common response is “nothing”. In fact, some have even gone as far to say “absolutely nothing”. That none-too-subtle Edwin Starr reference is a heads up that Jungle Heat is a game all about war. A war which takes place in a jungle that happens to be full of oil and gold. The game places you in control over an ever-expanding base that you launch attacks from. You can think of Jungle Heat as a Farmville style game where instead of harvesting crops your training soldiers to go and do battle. It’s the training and the battles that make up the two main parts of the game. --Matt Parker