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This Week at 148Apps: October 20-24, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 27th, 2014

Apptastic Reviews!


The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. 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.

Puzzle to the Center of the Earth

Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a puzzle platformer in the most literal sense. The game has players manipulating platforms with a match-three mechanic, with the ultimate goal of journeying further down toward the center of the earth. With bright visuals, smart mechanics, and a satisfying brand of puzzle-solving, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is a very worthwhile download. As a spelunker, players can move about caverns by sliding their fingers across the bottom part of the screen. As they approach sets of colored blocks underground, they can then tap and slide to link blocks of the same color together and break them. Breaking blocks allows players to move deeper down in a level, which contains an exit on the bottom of the screen. --Campbell Bird


The Silent Age Episode 2

You play Joe Average as he leaps back and forth between the 70s and the modern day. As before, this is easily achieved thanks to your trusty time machine. It’s a mechanic that changes up what you see in each room or building, and is the kind of thing that means you can’t help but switch between timelines regularly just to see what’s changed. For the most part, this mechanic is used to get past a closed door or two, which means it’s a little underused in terms of its potential, but it’s relatively easy to forgive The Silent Age Episode 2 for its flaws. --Jennifer Allen


Angry Birds Transformers

Part auto-runner, part side-scrolling shoot-em-up, you control one of many Transformers as they stop the EggBots by taking out their platforms. Instead of flinging birds at your enemies you shoot at them, aiming for weak points in order to vanquish them. It’s simply done, with you tapping to create a reticule. Each level is much the same meaning that Angry Birds Transformers can get a little repetitive, but it’s often fun. At times you can transform in order to duck under obstacles coming your way, which ensures you keep your wits about you. Each level is also pretty brief so it’s an easy game to dip into for a few minutes here or there. --Jennifer Allen


Zero Age

Zero Age‘s visuals and gameplay are both so stunningly well-executed it’s hard to know where to start the praise. Let’s go with the graphics since they’re more immediately striking. The game takes place in a hauntingly atmospheric geometric world filled with vast, cubic vistas. It’s like a minimalist robot city that’s either unfinished or long since abandoned. Guiding the hooded hero through these multi-tiered landscapes while soulful piano music plays would still leave an impression even without the puzzles. Fortunately Zero Age offers some of the most creative and complex 3D puzzles around. Players must get their character to the end of each level. Sometimes that’s as simple as just tapping on the goal, but usually they will have to create a path by manipulating a handful of blocks. Different blocks have markings specifying their rules – some blocks can only move on a horizontal plane, while others are limited to the vertical. However, players can stack cubes on top of each other to move certain blocks in ways they couldn’t before or shield themselves from deadly lasers. Constructing even something as basic as some stairs requires intense levels of spatial thinking. --Jordan Minor


Sleep Attack TD

Each level offers up a series of paths for the waves of enemies to follow. The trick here is that these paths can be rotated around, thereby enabling you to redirect where the foes go. This means that you can send the waves down areas that you’ve fortified particularly well, giving you the edge. The catch is that you have to be constantly aware of what’s going on around you. Unlike other Tower Defense games, where you can usually set up a strong layout then watch it unfold, things change fast and you’re never entirely comfortable about your chances of success. This keeps Sleep Attack TD consistently interesting. It’d be business as usual otherwise, with a typical plethora of enemies to withstand and a bevy of towers that are useful in different scenarios. The rotation mechanic really makes a difference though, and ensures that Sleep Attack TD is more appealing. It looks pretty charming too, with a more fluid style than the usual lane defense mechanics we’re used to within the genre. --Jennifer Allen


Montessori Math City

As readers who follow my posts may know, my son’s favorite subject is math, and he is eager to practice these skills whenever he has a chance. One of his favorite ways is making a bee-line for any app that includes “math” in the title. A new favorite of his is Montessori Math City, which has strengthened his ability not only to count to one thousand, but to be able to build different sums with the use of smaller numbers in a way that is actually quite open-ended. There is also a city area he can build within, providing motivation to continue working with this app. I must admit that when I sat down to review it I was intimidated, because without a Montessori background I felt at a loss to explain the goings-on within this app in the technical terms that one may expect. Although I don’t find the gathering of correct words intuitive to properly explain what this app has to offer, I must remember that my son does find this app utterly intuitive to use. --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

Republique

We’ve been wanting this one for a while. And now that Republique is on Android, we can breathe a sigh of relief. We can stop giving Camouflaj and Darkwind Media the side eye. And we can taste of the goodness that this title unabashedly brings. The gameplay comes in two modes: Story, which allows players to experience the story and explore environments, and Normal, which is the standard experience. Going the normal route allows one to pick an episode, and we’re off. --Tre Lawrence


Dementia: The Book of the Dead

At the first sight, this game looks like another simple survival horror, which are quite popular on the mobiles. Surprisingly, Dementia: The Book of the Dead is neither simple, nor a survival horror, in a true sense. It has great and scary atmosphere, but once you understand that the unholy abomination before you can be dealt with by the means of stuffing it with holy bullets, or smashing its abominable face with not-quite-holy lantern, the atmosphere dwindles somewhat. Not to say that it’s in any way a bad game, but the main character’s death is more likely to summon a groan instead of shivers. It’s still a horror, so the enemies always overpower the main character and running away is often a better decision than fighting. In other words, great fun. --Tony Kuzmin


Five Nights at Freddy's

It is nice to see that some pc games are being ported to Android and that the idea behind the game stays intact. Same goes for Five Nights at Freddy’s. If you have played Five Nights at Freddy’s on pc, than you know what you are up for in this Android version of the game. It is a port of the pc version and one that is very well made. Everything from the first version is the same, only now you use the touch screen as an input source, instead of the mouse. Input methods aside, these game is freaky. Very freaky. The first few times it gave me the creeps and my first reaction was to close the game. When that happens, I say: the objective of the developers must’ve been a success by then. --Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer went hands-on with the latest Pokemon game, found out how to record iOS games with just a lightning cable and a Mac, picked the best gamebooks, and tried the latest SimCity game for mobile. And it's all right here for your perusal.

The Silent Age Episode 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ROUNDING THINGS OFF NICELY
Rounding off a great point and click adventure comes The Silent Age Episode 2.
Read The Full Review »

This Week at 148Apps: October 13-17, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 20th, 2014

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.

Pokemon TCG

I’ve been playing and enjoying collectable card games for 20 years, now – yeah, I’m old, shut up. While Magic: the Gathering has always been my main game, I’ve tried and enjoyed several others over the years. One of my favorites was always Pokémon, but at my age (I said shut up!) almost none of my peers play. The only way I could enjoy a game was to go to a tournament and play almost entirely against children. Since that’s as awkward as it sounds, I haven’t played in years. Now there’s a solution to that problem. And unlike Magic’s foray into iPad, Pokémon TCG allows a great deal of freedom. --Jade Walker


Diner Dash

Almost a decade after its launch, the classic time management franchise Diner Dash has returned once again to cause stress headaches in a whole new generation of mobile gamers. It’s been about four years since the last entry in the series – Diner Dash 5: BOOM! – and PlayFirst has revamped the venerable workhorse into a mash-up of classic and all-new styles. And, for the first time ever, the series has embraced the free-to-play model. How well do Flo and the crew make the transition to freemium? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone these days who isn’t at least passingly familiar with the basic concept of Diner Dash. Players are in charge of Flo, a good-natured (but doubtlessly exhausted) waitress whose job is to seat, serve, and generally keep happy all of the customers of her restaurant – many of whom have specific quirks and needs. Unfortunately, as Flo is only one person with two hands, she can only do so much at a time. This leaves her sprinting about madly to take orders, make coffee, clean up dirty tables, and more, all before customers lose their patience and leave. You really have to wonder why this place doesn’t hire at least a busboy, right? --Rob Thomas


Air Supply-SOS

Sheep aren’t loaded with natural defenses. They’re great at standing around, chewing their cud, and waiting to be sheared. That’s about it. That’s why Air Supply – SOS calls on players to foil the Time Travel Company: a greedy organization that kidnaps sheep, robs their fluffy down, and makes clothing. Though these distressed sheep are quantum sheep, they’re still incapable of defending themselves. Do the right thing. Save Our Sheep (“SOS” – get it?). Air Supply is a shooter inspired by the classic ZX Spectrum game Jetpac. Players endure waves of aliens while catching the quantum sheep that fall from the sky. The sheep need to be returned to the rocket ship waiting at the bottom of the screen. Once the requisite number is loaded, the player gets to progress to the next level (often accompanied by a “sheepy hug” of thanksgiving). --Nadia Oxford


Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary

Like in the original, players control Rockford: a scrappy young spelunker exploring a series of caves. But these aren’t just ordinary caves; they’re full of gems, and to open up the exit Rockford must collect a certain number of gems before time runs off. From that description, one might think that gem-collecting would be, if not a difficult process, then at least one that took some thinking. But in Boulder Dash, most of the initial free levels can be beaten by tracing the most straightforward route through the dirt and collecting the obvious gems in plain sight. Players spend the majority of the game performing this deeply uninteresting act again and again. Sure there are a few enemies, but with Rockford’s ability to move basically anywhere and survive anything short of a falling rock, there’s far too little in the player’s way. It almost makes one wish the controls weren’t as smooth and forgiving as they are. Later worlds do ramp up the challenge, but the dull and lengthy introduction discourages players from grinding and earning the stars necessary to unlock the more interesting content for free. --Jordan Minor


Bug Mazing-Adventures in Learning

Bug Mazing – Adventures in Learning' is a new title from Little Bit Studio, the developers known for their series of apps such as Bugs and Buttons, Bugs and Numbers, and a recent favorite, Bug Art. As the name may suggest, Bug Mazing is a maze app with a bug theme that includes activities such as working with numbers, letters, colors and tracing in ways that children will find engaging and adults will appreciate for their educational value. Nature is a big part of these apps and the landscape may either be beautiful and pristine with flowers and insects like bees and ladybugs or include worn details that are possibly less beautiful, but I find these details quite interesting. It also includes a fantasy adventure theme as well as bugs that are styled with different adventure elements, such as Indiana Jones’ hat and other details. A narrator gives encouragement while on each exploration and valuable coins and precious gems are collected as rewards. Each area of this app includes different levels of difficulty and unique bugs select. Do note the selection of languages that is also included within this app – always a nice touch. Multiple children can also keep their own games separate, which is good for at home or the classroom. --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

Entwined Challenge

Twitch games are an addiction of mine now, so checking out Entwined Challenge was destined to be. The visuals rely on simulated distance perspective; to start, the two flying beings are colored red and blue. In the distance is a circle with colored segments; the colors of the segments are generally red, blue and green. the flying beings can be controlled by thumb gestures on either side to move along the axis of the circle, so that each flying being is guided through a matching color segment. As progress is made, the game adjusts too; for example, where the color segments were stationary, they begin to move, forcing the player to make adjustments and quicker decisions on the fly. While the concept remains simple, the developer does a good job of delicately layering levels of difficulty upon the easy-to-understand premise, and it flows well, with no major deviations to distract from the chase of excellence. --Tre Lawrence


Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger

Yes, batteries in mobile devices have gotten better, but in the spirit of being prepared, it just makes sense to have a backup plan. Way back when, getting a couple extra OEM batteries was sufficient. Now, sealed batteries are more commonplace, and having multiple devices at any given time is not unheard of; in any case, all those extra batteries start to add up. Nah, it makes sense to have a portable battery, and when it comes to mobile power solutions, few are as capable of Antec; hence, checking out the new LifeBar 10 Portable Charger is far from a chore. --Tre Lawrence


Withings Smart Body Analyzer

Health tools with a mobile component are especially compelling, and as such, we jumped at an opportunity to check out the Withings Smart Body Connected Scale. The black (white is an option) review unit Withings sent us is pretty much ready to go. At first glance, the first thing that comes to mind is that somehow, the product pictures do not do it justice. It looks like a chiseled dark colored slab. frankly, it look dashing, managing to be modern without being Jetson-silly. The full dark look is accented, and the silver center piece highlights the whole package. The expected display is digital in nature, and still manages to effect art. The battery compartment is at the bottom of the unit, and there is a tab preventing the batteries from cycling; beneath that are two buttons for syncing and selecting units. It looks like a “traditional” scale, but clearly wants people to know it has an extra trick or two up its sleeve. Officially, it comes in at 12.8 x 12.8 x 0.90 inches and 4.62 lbs. --Tre Lawrence


And finally, this week Pocket Gamer covered Apple and Google's big announcements, wrote a massive guide for The Silent Age: Episode Two, tackled GamerGate, and picked 11 iOS games that you may never get to play. All that and loads more, right here.

The Silent Age Episode Two will be Appearing on the App Store Next Week

Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 9th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ROUNDING THINGS OFF NICELY :: Read Review »

The long-awaited second episode of The Silent Age, by House on Fire, is finally on its way. Fans will be stoked to hear that the final chapter of Joe's story will be released on October 16.

Episode two will have over 60 new locations and several new characters to meet, as well as some nice improvements. House on Fire has added a new dynamic animation system while also upgrading the dialog, shadow, lighting, water, and reflection systems.

“We were overwhelmed by the massive response we received after launching The Silent Age Episode One, and we felt we had to rise to the challenge and create an even better Episode Two,” said Uni Dahl, CEO of House on Fire. “These last few months we’ve spent an enormous amount of time fine-tuning the experience in every detail, and we hope we can live up to what fans have come to expect from the game.”

The Silent Age Episode Two will be available October 16 for $4.99 on the App Store.

The Silent Age Episode 1 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on March 11th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ROUNDING THINGS OFF NICELY
Life for this Average Joe is about to get a whole lot less average.
Read The Full Review »