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.
Titles that feature the graphical polish of Stoic’s Banner Saga don’t come around every day. Seemingly pulling inspiration from the art style featured prominently in Disney’s animated films such as 1963’s “The Sword in the Stone,” the game tells two parallel storylines of parties venturing into the wilderness and relative unknown, with the simple goal of surviving to see another day. Amazingly, the animated aesthetic doesn’t dull the bite of the compelling storytelling and weighty decisions facing the player. People can die at virtually every juncture; so try not to get too attached to any one character. The action itself plays out through the standard fare of conversational decision trees and third person tactical turn-based combat. Depending upon the abilities of any one character, as well as their prior achievements on the field of battle, they can be upgraded to better meet the steadily increasing challenge brought forth by AI combatants. Any player who is familiar with the tropes of the tactics genre will find that Stoic has stuck very close to the formula, which also reflects well on Banner Saga’s approachability. –Blake Grundman
Before I delve into the particulars it’s worth noting that the download for Skylanders Trap Team is free, but you’ll need to own the Trap Team Starter Pack ($74.99) – and an iPad 3 or up – if you want to play the full game. The price is nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but bear in mind it comes with a wireless Skylanders Portal, one Trap Master and one slightly less fancy Skylander, two Trap Crystals (more on those in a bit), and a wireless controller. The gameplay should be familiar to Skylanders fans. You’ll be wandering around various levels with your characters, fighting against the forces of the evil wizard Kaos, solving some relatively simple puzzles, platforming on occasion, and swapping between Skylanders in order to access special element-specific gates. It’s a bit on the simple side, which is an understandable byproduct of being a game meant for a younger audience, but it’s absolutely overflowing with charm. –Rob Rich
Money management and investing in the markets can be daunting for even some of the more seasoned adults, let alone 20-somethings and those making their first long-term financial decisions. With all the heavy fees and blind trust in traders with sometimes dubious intentions it can seem like the risks far outweigh the potential rewards. Acorns is an ambitious app that aims to gain a following by removing all of the hassle of financial planning; even if that means over-simplifying the process. I will say that Acorns does a lot right. The app looks great and navigating throughout the windows is a joy, even if the initial task of finding where all the windows are can be a bit arduous. The simple graph on the front page gives users a simple summary of how their investment is doing, and a more detailed breakdown can be found by simply swiping to the left. Money can be invested either by direct transfer or by linking a bank account and letting Acorns round up purchases made via credit or debit card. This means on a $5.88 purchase, $0.12 would be siphoned into Acorns. –Joseph Bertolini
Normally, with console versions of Just Dance, you’d use your controller (or Kinect, or motion control, as it were) to dance along to the choreographed dancers on-screen, but with Just Dance Now all you need to do is download the app. Anyone who wants to join in can download it as well, then hop into your game by providing a code that can be found at the app’s official website. What follows is a surprisingly complete experience, with a catalogue of pop songs that’s quite impressive. While many are locked behind a paywall in the form of a VIP Pass, many of the free songs are refreshed each day so you can at least have some semblance of choice. You’ve got songs like “Gangnam Style” and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” and there’s a fun selection of free songs so you don’t have to worry about spending money. –Brittany Vincent
Toonia TwinMatch, as the name may imply, is an interesting new game for children – a matching game of sorts that players old and young will find far more interesting than the typical app based on “memory” or “concentration” where one needs to flip over tiles in order to create pairs. Instead, Toonia TwinMatch is based on traditional Mahjong Solitaire where 144 tiles are laid out as well as stacked in specific ways, with free tiles in need of being paired are those that can be moved without being blocked by other tiles on either the Left or Right and Top. Likewise, top tiles need to be removed to open up tiles on lower levels. Adults may be familiar with the vast options for Mahjong Solitaire as an online computer game or apps for adults. Likewise, instead of traditional Chinese Character tiles, Toonia TwinMatch includes bright, colorful, and stylized fruits and vegetable tiles to match, as well as a helpful light bulb that can be turned on with a tap that will identify free tiles by darkening the ones currently blocked. Pairs will faintly be highlighted as well if a player is slow to make matches, which is a nice touch. –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:
This year, EA shakes things up by only presenting us the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 15 for Android. That’s a fact that you either hate or love, but I must say: I was surprised by that choice. Normally I would start a soccer game review with the words that the game is bigger and better than the version released a year ago. But that is not the case with FIFA 15: Ultimate Team. Instead of making the game, sometimes unnecessary, bigger, Electronic Arts tried to built upon the core of the Ultimate Team mode. You know, the mode where you need to collect cards of players, technical staff, coaches and attributes and build your own team based on the cards you collect. You get those cards by fulfilling certain goals. –Wesley Akkerman
When I saw the screens for Escape Bird, I thought: this looks like the Dark Souls version of Flappy Bird. Was I right? We all know the type of game Flappy Bird was. It was an unfair and unpolished, but somehow hilarious game about a bird, trying to escape whatever through some odd looking pipes, that somehow reminded us all of a Italian plumber. By tapping we made sure the bird didn’t fall or touch anything and by doing good, we all scored higher points. Or not, depending on the (lack of a good) hitbox. –Wesley Akkerman
One of the biggest question a music service has to answer is the one that pertains to content. On this front, Sony Music Unlimited packs a major punch; not shocking, considering we’re talking about, well, Sony here. It boasts more than 30 million songs, which is far from shabby. In reality, it picked up almost every artist I threw at it across genres. I was happy to find entire albums from even obscure artists; it didn’t have ALL, but I think I could be satisfied with the selection. The audio is quite clear (320 kbps High Quality Audio), and no ads to contend with. The ability to access the premium service on the web, multiple mobile platforms, Playstation consoles/handhelds and compatible Sony electronics adds to its allure. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played the new VR game from the guys behind Monument Valley, reviewed Skylanders Trap Team, went hands-on with Chaos Rings III, reported on a pair of clever new business models, and shared some sad news for iOS emulation fans. It’s all here, and more, at Pocket Gamer.