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This Week at 148Apps: October 6-10, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on October 13th, 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.

Banner Saga

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


Skylanders Trap Team

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


Acorns

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


Just Dance Now

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

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:

AndroidRundown

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team

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


Escape Bird

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


Sony Music Unlimited

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.

This Week at 148Apps: July 28th-August 1st, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 3rd, 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.

80 Days

The Sorcery! series has been great so far, which means anyone with an interest in interactive fiction should have been pretty excited by the upcoming release of 80 Days. Guess what? You were right to be psyched! 80 Days is a fantastic game for the interactive fiction aficionado, providing plenty of interesting choices and some much-requested replayability. Based upon the classic novel by Jules Verne, you take the role of Passepartout, Phileas Fogg’s loyal servant, as the pair attempt to travel the world in 80 days. Changing things around from the book, there’s a steampunk twist to everything here and it works well at offering a fresh take on an otherwise familiar story. --Jennifer Allen


Star Admiral

I hate to keep returning to Hearthstone as a point of reference throughout this review, as Hardscore Games’ Star Admiral most definitely stands as a solid offering in its own right, but it quite clearly treads strongly on the path that Blizzard’s wildly successful digital collectable card game has already paved. Take the core CCG formula, strip away excess complexity, and distill what remains into a refined essence wrapped in a visually appealing skin. Only Star Admiral takes it a touch further still. While Hearthstone replaced the visuals of cards in play on a virtual tabletop with stylish little cameo portraits that shake and thump and slide their way around the virtual tabletop, Hardscore rips the tabletop conceit out completely and tosses the whole mess into deep space. Cards? What do you mean, cards? We’re battling with spaceships, baby! --Rob Thomas


Traps n' Gemstones

Traps n’ Gemstones is an action adventure game in which players explore an ancient tomb to discover its mysteries and undo the misdeeds of a mysterious looter. The game bears quite a bit of a resemblance to classics like Castlevania and Metroid in terms of overall structure, gameplay, and quality. Much like the games it is modeled after, Traps n’ Gemstones revolves around players exploring a complex, interconnected environment where puzzle-solving, traversal, and combat must be used together to reach new areas, gather items, and progress through the game. In this game in particular, players are bent on capturing a temple looter who is hiding behind a mysterious forcefield that can only be broken by recovering lost relics and placing them in their proper locations. Although because the setting is an ancient underground temple, finding these relics involves fighting mummies, outrunning boulders, riding minecarts, and many other Indiana Jones-type situations. --Campbell Bird


The Phantom PI Mission Apparition

Busting ghosts makes you feel good. This is a scientific fact. And it’s as true in video games as it is in the real world. Solving puzzles, nabbing spooks, and exploring haunted mansions in The Phantom PI Mission Apparition will definitely make you feel good. Players put on the monocle of Cecil Sparks, the titular Phantom PI. Instead of helping the living with their ghost problems, as one might expect, Sparks helps ghosts deal with other ghosts upsetting their peaceful afterlife. In this particular mission, he’s helping deceased rock star Marshall Staxx recover his stolen gear from a bullying, gluttonous, Slimer-esque specter named Baublebelly. Along the way, players will learn more about Staxx’s time on Earth through newspaper scraps, demo tapes, and other effective forms of emergent storytelling. --Jordan Minor


ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers

From a very young age, many of us have aspired to create comic books. That spark of imagination is something that never really leaves, but unfortunately the spare time fades instead. Fortunately, there are apps to ensure you can still live your fantasies as a comic book writer, which is where we come to ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers. ComicBook! 2: Creative Superpowers is a pretty vast app. It’s as simple or as complex as you want it to be, allowing you to add multiple different comic book stickers, captions, and filters all in a bid to create an awesome looking strip out of your photos. --Jennifer Allen


Note

Is it possible to have an app that’s almost too simple? In the case of note taking app, Note, that seems quite likely. As the name suggests, it’s an app for entering notes and other information that you need to enter quickly. The issue is that there really isn’t much more to it than the stock app, which makes that $1.99 asking price a bit of a shock. The app starts out very cleanly, allowing you to get started straight away or dive into the options side of things. Options wise, it’s possible to change the font used, as well as set up the app to save to iCloud. Don’t expect more depth than this because that’s pretty much Note‘s limit, unless you count being able to open the app on a blank note each time. --Jennifer Allen


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

Globber's Escape

More than 30 years since its initial release, Pac-Man is still one of the greatest video games ever created. Although Pac-Man holds up surprisingly well today, the game’s formula could use some tweaking and updating for modern audiences. Well, at least that seems to be the thought behind Globber’s Escape, a new Android title that puts a modern spin on the Pac-Man formula. Globber is a gelatinous glob attempting to escape the science lab where he is being held. It is up to players to help Globber find its way through the rooms of the lab. Along the way, players must guide Globber away from evil scientists roaming levels and towards alien flunkies and objects. The premise is refreshingly simple, and gameplay is frantic and fast-paced. --Ryan Bloom


Rush Rally

Rush Rally harkens back to the warm, hazy past of video games where top down racers sat in smoky arcades waiting to eat quarters. Rush Rally is a cool topdown rally racer. It’s the player against the clock in their steel gray steed of speed. Using a very simple control scheme with just buttons for turning left and right and a brake and accelerator the player throws their little car around various courses. The player races both at night and during the day and on sand, snow gravel and good old tarmac so there is always something new. There are plenty of barricades and trees to run into, but if the player goes too far off track or seems to get stuck, the game will helpfully replace the car back on the track, ready to roar off. --Allan Curtis


Digits

When I looked at the screenshots of Digits, I immediately thought “great, another copy of 2048“. Not that I’ve seen lots of them, but it’s a pretty cheap move. If you want to rip something off, at least find something a bit more challenging. Anyway, my rage went unfounded, as Digits has nothing to do with 2048. What Digits is is a very satisfying puzzle that’s all about reducing numbers, not increasing them. The game consists of dozens of different levels. Each level is a square field of numbers. The numbers and the field’s size change between the levels. The player’s task is to remove all of the numbers from the field by clicking on them. When the player clicks on a number, it is reduced by one point, along with any numbers that are above, beneath, and to the sides of it. So, if there’s a line that looks like “2-3-2″, clicking on the three will make it “1-2-1″. Clicking on the three again will remove the ones, and leave the player with “1″ in the middle, which means that the player failed to remove all of them. The trick is to click on the squares in such pattern that no number gets left behind, as the player can’t click on a number that’s not connected to at least one other number. Thankfully, there’s no penalty for using an undo button and retracing the steps to any point of the level. And really, there’s not much need to do it, as when you get to know the ropes of Digits, it becomes almost impossible to fail. --Tony Kuzmin

This Week at 148Apps: July 14-18, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 19th, 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.

Overcast: Podcast Player

For a long time, I have been using Downcast to manage all of the podcasts I listen to. Its ability to create customized playlists and tweak settings for each individual show gave me a complete sense of control over the way I listened to my favorite shows. That being said, I was never 100% satisfied with Downcast for a variety of reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on for a long time. Now, I can safely say that my main issue with Downcast is that it isn’t Overcast: Podcast Player. Although this new podcast app isn’t perfect for every podcast listener’s needs, Overcast: Podcast Player has a very impressive suite of features that are smart, elegant, and super useful, provided you pay to unlock all of its features. --Campbell Bird


Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon

Much like its namesake team of ragtag misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon is kind of weird and quirky. You see, while the game’s release date is clearly set to build hype for the upcoming feature film (which hits theaters in just about about two weeks) it’s not solely tied to the movie’s feel or continuity. Instead, it’s a rather strange mash-up of elements, sporting both movie-based character designs and story beats, as well as numerous nods to the team’s greater history and place in the comic-based side of the Marvel Universe. But does playing to both sides dilute the overall experience? And is it even a worthwhile game to begin with? Read on, True Believers! Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon straddles a few different genres as well. It’s a little bit action-RPG, a touch of arena combat, and a dash of side-scrolling beat-’em-up (minus the scrolling). Players assemble a team of characters from their roster of unlocked Guardians, Guardians-adjacent affiliates, and even antagonists in some cases (though they can only be used in the wave-clearing Arena mode), and smash their way through screen after screen of bad guys. Characters are controlled by drawing lines from them to their destination (when moving) or target (when attacking enemies or aiding allies). --Rob Thomas


Cascade

Match-3 games are nothing new and to an extent, Cascade is very familiar indeed. It manages to offer a few twists and turns that ensure that fans should be quite appreciative of its efforts, even if it isn’t as revolutionary as it would like to be. The layout of Cascade is very familiar. You work your way through individual levels of gems that must be cleared in some way, in order to pass onto the next stage. Each stage has a slightly different objective, such as reaching a particular score, clearing a set number of boulders, or vanquishing lighter colored squares. Ultimately though, the principle remains the same – match those gems. Jennifer Allen


Magic 2015

Another year, another updated iteration of Magic: The Gathering’s digital form. Fans of Wizards of the Coast’s long-standing, collectible card game juggernaut know exactly what they’re getting into here. But does Magic 2015 serve as a good introduction for new players into what can be a rather daunting new world? Well, it’s kind of a yes and no at the same time. As someone who already has a fair bit of past history with the game, I still felt the need to trudge my way through the tutorial in order to see how well it presents the game to newbies and, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The tutorial is relatively in-depth, with a fully-voiced narrator guiding new players step-by-step through the basics of the game, though I do feel that it may have dragged on for a bit too long and that some of these lessons could have been combined or condensed. However, that could well have just been my urge to get through the stuff I already knew and into the meat of Magic 2015 proper. --Rob Thomas


Hellraid: The Escape

In Hellraid: The Escape, you will find yourself awoken from a stone tomb and trapped in a violent prison, patrolled by disfigured, demonic guards and decorated with all of kinds of vicious traps. Sounds fun, right? You must then find your way out by solving puzzles, dispatching enemies and collecting items to help pass through each area unscathed. Along the way you’ll find notes with some background information, hints and harrowing tales on them, further fleshing out the gameworld one piece at a time. Controls are simple, with a floating joystick for movement, a swipe to survey the surroundings and a tap to pick up objects or interact with mechanisms. However, these interactions are often more intricate than a mere tap, usually involving multiple gestures, proving how much attention to detail was paid to the environment. Powered by the Unreal 3 engine, the game looks undeniably excellent. From flickering lighting effects to the incredible level of detail throughout, Hellraid: The Escape is one of the best-looking iOS titles to date, and succeeds in creating a real sense of foreboding. --Lee Hamlet


Hoopa City

As readers may know, my son and I are big Dr. Panda fans as many of their apps allow children to role-play their way through differently themed apps such as Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, Dr. Panda’s Veggie Farm, or Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon. Recently, a new app, Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars, changed things up a bit, allowing young children to drive cars around town, free of the mini-games popular within this series. I would also like to introduce readers to another new app from TribePlay, the developers of Dr. Panda, Hoopa City, a city building application for older children that my son simply adores. Hoopa City allows users to build their own urban landscape as they tap areas of the screen, adding roads, buildings or green spaces as they choose from eight different city building elements, combining them to create other details that my son really fancies such as pools or skate-boarding ramps. Hoopa City stars Hoopa the Hippo, famous from other Dr. Panda applications, as well as other familiar Dr. Panda characters who can be seen wandering around town – 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:

AndroidRundown

Glowgrid

Some puzzle games can be really relaxing, while other games of the same genre can be brutal as heck. The ambient puzzle game Glowgrid is a little bit of both, thanks to his two game modes. If one would see the title ‘Glowgrid’ and fires the game up, he would instantly see that the title of the game matches with the aesthetics of it. Like anyone could predict, in Glowgrid players get to fill up a glowing grid with some well know and lesser known shaped blocks, where they need to combine four or more blocks of the same color. The goal is to fill up the bar at the top of the screen, with a total worth of one hundred points. If players get to that point, the bar immediately empties itself. The next goal is to fill it up once again, only now while players need to figure out a way in their own mess, because the grid still contains like ninety pro cent of the blocks one previously placed there. --Wesley Akkerman


RBI Baseball 14

After two straight days of no baseball whatsoever, you may finally be ready to accept it back into your life. And between the many games, you may find yourself wanting to play a game. Well, RBI Baseball 14, the MLB-published revival of the classic series, is finally on Android. This is old-school baseball, for better or worse. Seriously, this game isn’t just RBI Baseball in name only, it replicates the original game to a T. Pitchers can throw fastballs, mid-speed breaking balls, and knuckleballs that move erratically and slowly. Hitters can move around the box to try and hit the myriad pitches coming their way with just swing and bunt commands. Each team has 4 pitchers, with the starter tiring midway through the game. David Price relieving Alex Cobb a day after he started? Dr. James Andrews shrieked in horror. This game eschews realism, and any real gameplay advances of the past couple decades or so, in the name of replicating this classic. --Carter Dotson


Hopeless: Football Cup

In Hopeless: Football Cup, players get to experience a different kind of football videogame. If I have to put a game next to it that closely resembles it, it should be Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football. In the good and the bad way. Hopeless: Football Cup is a game where players need to tap on the touch screen, in order to make the blob on-screen head the ball away. If they don’t, the ball will simply demolish the little bugger and than it is game over for the player. It is a hard concept, similiar to games like Flappy Bird; players just need to keep on tapping at the right moment to succeed in the game. Hopeless: Football Cup perhaps stands even more closely to Orange Pixel’s Tapkick Football, a game that featured the studio’s own vision on the simple tap mechanic of Flappy Bird. --Wesley Akkerman

And, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed games like Battle Fleet 2 and Ingress, provided handy tips for Minecraft and Hellraid: The Escape, found some hot new indie games in Brighton, and gabbed to Luca Redwood about his absurdly ambitious new game. All this and more right here.

This Week at 148Apps: June 16-20, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on June 22nd, 2014

Shiny Happy App 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.

Angry Birds Epic

Proving to be quite a departure from the usual Angry Birds motif, Angry Birds Epic feels more like an introduction to the RPG genre than anything more substantial. There’s potential there, but all too often it isn’t fully exploited, which seems a shame. While technically there’s a storyline in there somewhere, progress is solely dictated by a map screen in which one follows the game along from fight to fight, rather than anything more interesting or exciting. Occasionally there will be other paths to take but it’s still mostly linear. Combat is fortunately more interesting, offering a surprising amount of depth for such a simple idea. --Jennifer Allen


Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka is a game that curiously eschews many of the trappings of modern mobile gaming. It’s a game that could easily use things like a star system, like seemingly every other game, but it stands out because of the lack of such modern trappings. Players control a Kiwanuka shepherd who must lead a group of followers to an encased shepherd in the level who has become trapped within a prism. Forming chains of followers with the lightning staff to navigate around the levels is necessary: they can swing in a circular motion, and create bridges and ramps when attached to another point. The game becomes about figuring out when and where to create the chains to properly navigate to where the trapped Kiwanuka follower is. However, there’s no limit to how many chains of followers can be used, or timers, or anything: beat the level and it’s beaten, and the next one is unlocked. --Carter Dotson


VVVVVV

VVVVVV doesn’t look particularly inspiring, does it? For those who grew up during the home computer era of the Spectrum and Commodore 64, it’s the kind of look that can be forgiven more easily than for the younger gamer, but it’s still hardly a looker. Get past that shallow thinking though, and one will find that VVVVVV is exceptionally good – albeit ridiculously frustrating in equal measures. Previously a PC release, some players including myself will have enjoyed the suffering that VVVVVV has provided in the past. It’s tough and sometimes deeply infuriating, but thanks to some clever placement of checkpoints it’s also the kind of game that will keep players coming back until they’ve beaten it. --Jennifer Allen


Soccer Stars

Despite the name, Soccer Stars owes a lot more to Billiards than it does to Soccer. Rather than conventional ball-kicking skills, the key to Soccer Stars is to be able to bounce the solid orbs that represent the players around the arena and hopefully towards the goal. It’s a different mechanic than most but it mostly works. Soccer Stars focuses very much on online competitive play, although an offline mode does exist. A mixture of one on one sessions and tournaments, the point of the game remains the same – score 2 goals before the other player. Each team is made up of five orbs that can be bounced around in numerous ways. One drags a finger behind the orb in order to push it towards the objective. They’re pretty sensitive so they can bounce off of other orbs, as well as the walls surrounding each pitch. Given the drag mechanics, when near the edge of the screen an extra finger is needed to cover for the missing space. That can make things awkward, but it mostly just about works. --Jennifer Allen


Broken Age

In this new age of game design, projects have found countless ways in which to spring to life. In the case of Broken Age, Double Fine’s first uber-successful Kickstarter venture, the masses spoke with their wallets loud and clear, showing an undying support for the long-languishing adventure game genre. So, does the first half of this quest live up to the title’s impressive budget and hype, or will the unfinished storyline leave players craving more? One fantastic aspect of adventure titles are their emphasis on building a cohesive and compelling narrative. Broken Age tells the seemingly disparate story lines of Shay and Vella. In a neat move, typical of Double Fine’s outside the box thinking, the plot can be consumed any number of ways, allowing the player to switch back and forth between characters at will. Though both Shay and Vella exist in two seemingly different worlds, as one might expect, their stories eventually converge. Ultimately this ends up fleshing out a much larger universe than would be achievable through a single through line. --Blake Grundman


Toca Town

Toca Town is Toca Boca’s new highly open-ended digital toy, bringing dollhouse play to iOS devices. Toca Town allows children of all ages to manipulate a very nice selection of Toca characters around six locations that include a park, restaurant, family home, apartment, grocery store, and police station. Characters can be moved around within each landscape as well as transported to new areas of this app easily, including any object they may be holding at the time, making transitions between areas simple and intuitive. Objects like foods, books, or other more specific items such as keys found at the police station can also be held as children drag figures around the screen while acting out their own stories, much like one would with a classic dollhouse in real life but without the little pieces that parents need to keep track of. --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

Cow Dash

Cow Dash is a charming entry from Retroid Interactive that is able to swaddle retro-looking graphics in the familiar, tried-and-true frame of an arcade adventure. The controls are deceptively simple, and almost conceal the challenge of the game. Almost. The travel-happy cow starts off in a outdoor naturescape environment set in deliberate platforms of differing heights. The cow moves on its own when a tap is administered to start the level; it continues moving in a set direction until it is impeded by an object, at which point it turns on its heel and goes in the opposite direction. --Tre Lawrence


Drive In The Line

One of the new fads on Google Play of this moment, are games where players need to guide a something between lines. In this game, it’s a car between both sides of the deserted road. If players fail… Well, then the car explodes. So, yeah. There is something about games that are very simple and really hard at the same time. Drive in the Line is one of those games. In Drive in the Line, players drive their way through an endless desert apocalypse. Somehow, the driver of the car is stranded somewhere on earth where there is nothing but an endless, ever changing road that leads to virtually nowhere – with only one goal in mind: just keep in driving and don’t look back. Now, a premise like this surely sounds interesting, and it is in its own way. Players take control of the driver’s car and need to help him navigate the endless road ahead of him. Since this is a high score based game, and games are generally short by nature, this game soon went from ‘this is nice’ to ‘I need to set a new high score’. Because, when one plays this game, it is something that will play in their minds. Mainly because players know they can do it. --Wesley Akkerman


Hazumino

Often videogames get criticized for retreading old ground. People will complain that ‘they’ve played it before’ but sometimes revisiting old ideas that you get new ones. Hazumino goes back in time to visit both Tetris and Canabalt and by doing so comes back with something new yet reassuringly familiar. The reason that Hazumino‘s goal will be instantly clear is because of the world famous shapes that occupy the right-hand side of the screen. These ‘tetrominos’ need to be rotated and shifted up and down before being launched to the right. The reason why you’re placing these shapes is because you need to form a bridge of sorts. --Matt Parker

This Week at 148Apps: May 5-9, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 10th, 2014

Shiny Happy App 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.

dEXTRIS

dEXTRIS is not related to Tetris, so the “tris” part of the name doesn’t make much sense. But it is a game of dexterity that will cause the spewing of a multitude of profanities – in a good way. Players use their two thumbs to navigate two blocks around hazards. Tapping and holding on the left or right moves both blocks that direction, holding both sides splits the two blocks apart, and doing nothing leaves them in the center. This neutral state is mentioned specifically because some of the hazards require being in that neutral state. Some of the challenge comes from the fact that the blocks move quickly, but not instantaneously, and the hazards are diagonal: One must act about a split-second ahead of what’s coming at all times. --Carter Dotson


1849

Spending most of my school-aged years in Northern California as I did, the subject of the mid-1800s California Gold Rush is indelibly etched into my brain. We went on gold panning school field trips to Placerville and hiked the same trails that the miners had a hundred and fifty years prior. When SomaSim’s 1849 went up for review, a glance at the screens filled my heart with hopes for a Gold Rush-themed Sim City. But as any seasoned Forty-Niner can attest, I probably shouldn’t get too excited about every sparkly nugget that catches the light. After all, there’s plenty of fool’s gold in these App Store hills, so it’s best to stay cautious. My assumptions were at least partially correct: 1849 IS a boomtown city simulation. But rather than the open sandbox format of a lot of city builders, 1849 takes a much more focused, scenario-guided path. Players jump from city to city across Central and Northern California during the height of gold fever, helping kickstart a series of small encampments and grow them into prosperous communities. Usually this takes the form of needing to import or export an amount of specific goods from surrounding towns, hitting population milestones, or the like. Upon arriving at the new settlement, players pick from one of three starting package options, which will determine the amount of money and/or free resources the settlers begin with. --Rob Thomas


Gunship X

At its most basic, Gunship X is a lot like Zombie Gunship. In fact, even at its most complicated, Gunship X is a lot like the zombie blasting hit. That’s no bad thing exactly, but enjoyment levels are heavily dependent on how much one enjoys mindless shooting. The idea is incredibly simple. Aliens are rushing at humanity and, most importantly, various landing areas. Humans are trying to flee to safe zones and it’s down to the player, controlling an AC-130 Gunship to protect them. Players don’t directly control the Gunship; instead they are reliant solely on its offensive capabilities. What this means is that the screen offers one large aiming reticule and a place to switch weapons. --Jennifer Allen


Sumotori Dreams

Previously a popular PC game, Sumotori Dreams is a pretty quirky title. It’s a form of sumo wrestling simulator, but one that’s far more focused on humor than realism. While in single player it’s a little forgettable, it’s a fun experience when participating with friends and certainly like little else out there. The key to success in Sumotori Dreams is to defeat the opponent. This is done through either pushing them over, forcing them out of the ring, or sometimes simply waiting for them to make a mistake and stumble over. The center of gravity for these characters is a bit wacky, meaning falling over is just as likely as being pushed. This is particularly noticeable when partaking in different arenas that actively encourage such problems, such as one level based on a giant seesaw and another at the top of a flight of stairs. --Jennifer Allen


Metal Slug Defense

Metal Slug Defense is a 2D, real time, side-scrolling strategy game based on the popular arcade shooter series. Although not the typical Metal Slug experience, Metal Slug Defense does a pretty great job of translating the charm and spirit of its predecessors into a mobile and more strategic form. In more typical Metal Slug titles, players take control of an individual soldier as they run, gun, and jump their way through 2D levels full of enemy soldiers and creatures. In Metal Slug Defense, players instead take control of a base that is capable of spitting out soldier after soldier, with the ultimate goal being to destroy the enemy base on the other side of the level. --Campbell Bird


Moo Said Morris

I would like to introduce readers to Moo Said Morris, a storybook app for iPad that children and their parents will enjoy. Meet Morris: a young mouse who is a bit of an outsider. While all the other mice at school and in his town make the traditional squeaky noises, Morris makes sounds that are certainly un-mouse-like such as mooing like a cow, quacking like a duck, and even sounding like a car or airplane – much to the dismay of his teacher and to the disappointment of the community who find his unusual noises disconcerting to say the least. That is until his ability to sound like something that he is not comes in handy at the end. I really enjoy this story of Morris, a character that children will be able to relate to. The illustrations are delightful, full of details, and with a hand-drawn quality that I am really drawn to. The moments when Morris speaks are simply delightful, with a speech bubble including the image of an animal such as a horse or donkey making noises and complete with the name of their sounds written out, aiding children who may be new to animal sounds as well. --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

Snatz

Jumping on a trampoline, opening windows and stealing TV’s. All while being a little rat – that is what Snatz is all about. But is it any fun? Yes and no. It seems a bit random: rats stealing TV’s for a living, while they’re jumping on a trampoline from house to house and entering them one window at a time. Yes, but that’s excatly what Snatz is all about. In this game, players have to open windows by getting to them via a trampoline. The building the rats visit are very high and will get even higher later on in the game. If the residents see your little rat face one time to often, they will call the police. And when they come, the rats flee the scene of the crimes. This results in a car chase – dropping the stolen tv’s on the police, will stop the chase. --Wesley Akkerman


Crazy Pixel Run

Running around like a hopped-up hyperactive hare – that’s the best description for this Russian indie game featuring a colorless bunny in a colorless world. In Crazy Pixel Run you control a rectangular, colorless bunny. The little fella is born in a world where everything is grey. He’s main goal in life: bring more color to it. It is platformer style indie game where you have to collect energy to stay alive in a randomly generated and infinite world. The bring color to the world, you need to run around like a crazy pixel-rabbit and collect special glowing things. Every part of the world you touch collecting these things, will brightening up your world. --Wesley Akkerman


Song of Hero

Song of Hero is a rhythm RPG, a combination between rhythm games like Guitar Hero, and a role-playing game. The player needs to organize a 4-man battle band that fights against various monsters. The battle consists of several phases, as heroes and the monster take turns attacking and using special abilities – but for player, the task is always the same – just hit all upcoming beats on time, as they reach the end of their lanes. Although the outcome greatly depends on the player’s accuracy, it’s still possible to fail the battle if the monster isn’t beaten by the end of the playing song. The songs are about a minute and a half long, and although I couldn’t name a single performer, each one of the songs was of a good quality. --Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer celebrated the best month in iOS gaming EVER, discussed the controversy surrounding Nintendo's Tomodachi Life, and took a look at Techland's Hellraid: The Escape. Plus - get a full walkthrough to Bridge Constructor Medieval and learn how to build the perfect deck in Hearthstone. It's all right here, right now.

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.

This Week at 148Apps: February 24-28, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 2nd, 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.

Disco Zoo

NimbleBit teams up with Milkbag Games – featuring Matt Rix of Trainyard fame, and Owen Goss – for Disco Zoo, a simulation game about building a zoo where disco parties can be triggered. It’s one of those “exactly what it says on the tin” games, and it should amuse fans of NimbleBit’s simulations even as it takes a slightly different approach. The crux of the game is to rescue animals from the wild to bring in to the zoo, which helps attract people, thus making money for the player, until they fall asleep and must be awoken. The player can use bux to start disco parties, which awaken all the animals and get them dancing and raising double money for the disco’s timeframe. --Carter Dotson


Beyond Space

Beyond Space is like a great summer blockbuster. It’s fast-paced, crowd-pleasing, and has production values so spectacularly high they practically ooze out of the screen. Experiences like these always have their share of problems if one thinks about them too hard, but it’s hard to deny just how entertaining they are. The game starts off with a bang as a lavish, pre-rendered cutscene introduces players to a universe of intergalactic spaceship armadas, pirates, and mysterious aliens. Players take control of Max Walker; a mercenary pilot who becomes increasingly embroiled in a “galaxy-spanning conflict.” Between its frequent cutscenes and full voice-acting, the game actually seems to care about its narrative. But the “Top Gun in space” tale is so cheesy and clichéd players will keep their thumb on the skip button during repeat playthroughs, which are highly encouraged since the game only lasts about two hours. --Jordan Minor


Kahuna

Kahuna has finally made a transition to the electronic realm courtesy of a new universal iOS app. There could not be a more apt game to make this translation, as Kahuna plays quickly while still providing a strategic challenge. The premise is equally simple. Each player (rival South Pacific magicians or some such thematic mumbo jumbo) is attempting to place bridges between a set of South Pacific islands. When a player controls the majority of the pathways to an island, that player controls the island and scores a point. Bridges are placed by playing a card with the island’s name on it; players then choose which path from the island they wish to occupy. Players can also remove opponents’ bridges by playing the two cards that represent two connected islands. It’s all the stuff of abstract strategy with a thin veneer of a theme, but the mechanics work so well it’s easy to forgive any quibbles with the theme. After three rounds, the player with the highest score wins the game. --Chris Kirby


FlapThulhu: Flappy Madness

There are oh so many Flappy Bird clones now that the game has been pulled from the App Store. Seriously, between those looking to make a quick buck and those paying homage through Flappy Jam and the like, there’s so many ways to flap, it’s insane. Well, not insane enough yet, now that Madgarden has combined flapping with the master of insanity, the Deep One, the eldritch abomination to end all eldritch abominations, Cthulhu. This is FlapThulhu, and it’s the last flappy game anyone will ever need. --Carter Dotson


Qwirkle

Board games are a pretty good usage of all of the strengths of mobile devices; a nice, portable, light weight device with a touch screen in which anyone can do almost anything. That anything, of course, includes gaming. Board games are especially great for mobile devices because they are something that one can play at their own pace, doesn’t require one’s immediate attention, and is overall a casual and fun experience. Mindware, a company who produces educational toys and games aimed at children, is probably best known for their board game Qwirkle, which is now available on iOS. Qwirkle is an amalgamation of Scrabble, Uno, and Dominoes. The point of this game is to match like shapes and/or colors onto a playing surface. The more of a like shape or color players have in a given row, the more points they score. A row of 6 is scored as a Qwirkle, and no more blocks can be placed in that row. It’s very easy to pick up, and while aimed at kids, it’s really fun for all ages. --Mike Deneen


UHR-Warlords

The iPad may not be suited for every type of game there is, but two genres that benefit immensely from its expansive touch display are board games and turn-based strategy games. It’s no surprise then that UHR-Warlords, a turn-based strategy board game, excels on the device. Of course the deep, robust, and challenging gameplay helps too. UHR-Warlords‘ tale of rival demonic armies in a dark and gritty fantasy world should make fans of pewter figurines feel right at home. It’s little more than an obligatory pretext for the epic clashes to come, but the 12 battles spread across two campaigns are so satisfying players will want even more excuses to fight. Each skirmish plays like a cross between a Fire Emblem-esque strategy game and chess. The goal is to drain the other player’s life force by killing their monsters, or destroying their valuable strongholds at the opposite side of the board. --Jordan Minor


Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer

Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer, in one word, is a delight. Developed by Sago Sago – the dream team combined with the talents from Tickle Tap Apps and Toca Boca – this app is as highly engaging as it is colorful; children can go on an adventure with Fins, their new fish friend, as they explore his aquatic home. This new Sago Sago app brings back memories of my son as a younger boy, as Tickle Tap Apps were the first downloads I made, getting me interested in the potential for children’s iPhone and now iPad applications and the worlds they can create, appreciating this as a much less passive experience than watching television or videos produced for babies. I am excited to see a new Sago Sago title that, to me, seems lovingly updated from original application Finding Fins with a few important changes I am really fond of. Now one swims together with Fins instead of seeking him out as he hid behind objects such as rocks or sea weed. I am also enjoying being able to use a drag of a finger to move Fins around the screen instead of tilting the iPhone to navigate as seen in this previous app – wonderful updates that make this app utterly intuitive for the youngest app users. --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

PasswordBox

Two interesting things occurred while working on this review. One was highlighted during a commercial. A couple were working on creating an online account, and were having some difficulty coming up with a strong enough password they could remember. Yep, it advertised a password utility. On network TV. The second thing was an interesting article I read while researching an unrelated article. The Adobe security breach reveals that the only password more widely used than “password” is “123456.”
What’s clear is this: password management needs to be taken very seriously. PasswordBox looks to be just the tool we need. --Tre Lawrence


Planet Descent

Most people wish they were doing something extraordinary, such as running Google, being an Ice Cream taste tester, or piloting a space ship. Sadly, most of us will only be able to act out these dreams through some sort of simulation or game, which is where Planet Descent comes in. In this title, you pilot a space ship around a 2D playing area, dodging asteroids while collecting minerals for fun and profit. This game inhabits a similar approach to the PC game Lunar Flight, except Planet Descent, as previously mentioned, is 2D rather than 3D. Planet Descent is also quite a bit easier, lacking a lot of the realism or complicated controls used on similar type games. That’s not to say that this mobile title isn’t challenging, but you certainly won’t need years of NASA training to get it either. --Mike Deneen


Roid Rage

If you peruse around the Google Play app store, you see there is a race to fill the void left by the departure of Flappy Bird. Most of these clones coming out are the exact same thing, just with slightly altered graphics, some of them actually try to change some things. But then, from minds only St. Louis, MO could produce, comes a game with a slightly similar idea, but way better, called Roid Rage. Roid Rage isn’t some game about Jose Canseco or Sammy Sosa. Rather, it’s a game about the extreme rage you the player will suffer while guiding your spaceship through a massive asteroid collection, while collecting puddles of “Juices” throughout space. Your ship appears to be a one man vessel without weapons, but can turn like no other and doesn’t have a break pedal. You could try to throw the word “endless” on this game, but the better description would be the Atari classic Asteroids on super serum. --Mike Deneen

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer was checking out new gadgets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and still found time to review new games like Out There, Card City Nights, Disco Zoo, and Calculords, played soft-launched games Fates Forever and Supernauts, and picked 8 perfect games that Nintendo could bring to mobile. See it all at Pocket Gamer.

This Week at 148Apps: January 27-31, 2014

Posted by Chris Kirby on February 2nd, 2014

Shiny Happy App 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.

Chunky Comic Reader

In the year 2014, Comic Books couldn’t be any more popular than they have been at any point in history. No longer is Batman being blamed for ADHD or Deadpool tantalizing children to crime. Heck, people don’t even point a finger at Rick Grimes for any violent public acts. At the same time, we’ve also been blessed with new ways to read our beloved illustrated stories; such as computers, phones, and tablets. 20 some years ago people would get teased for reading Amazing Spider-Man at school, but now that same person looks like a rockstar. Especially with the new tech. A popular way to read electronic comics has been using PDF, CBR, or CBZ files, which are offered through a variety of different publications for purchase and are DRM free. Obviously, readers will want to view their new comics on a device that feels natural to read them on, not on a laptop or desktop. So here to save the day, giving users the best reading experience for the iPad, is Chunky Comic Reader! --Mike Deneen


Dungeon Keeper

I’m sure the fact that I haven’t given this game a score Captain James Hook could count to on his bad hand will earn me a fair bit of scorn, but hear me out. While Dungeon Keeper isn’t the same game that’s been a permanent fixture on my Top 10 list for years, it is a decent freemium title that happens to incorporate the theme from one of my favorite games. And honestly, that ain’t half bad. This Dungeon Keeper follows a structure similar to the often-imitated Clash of Clans. Players assume the role of the Keeper and immediately begin ordering their imps to hollow out areas to use for various rooms. Every room, trap, and door takes up a specific amount of space that needs to be cleared out in advance, but once they’re built players are free to move them around as they please – so long as they can fit. They can also use their dungeon heart to summon more minions, with different rooms allowing for different creatures. --Rob Rich


Rocket Robo

Making a console quality game for mobile isn’t as easy as just porting over some PS2 game with snazzier graphics and bolted-on touch controls. It means making a game with the same level of care given to the gameplay and presentation as a big, AAA release that still makes sense being on mobile. Need an example of what that means? Just check out the fantastic Rocket ROBO. When his elderly creator needs more stars to power their galactic lighthouse, Rocket Robo journeys out into the storybook cosmos to find some. It’s the perfect set-up for Rocket ROBO‘s delightfully whimsical acoustic guitar sci-fi sensibilities. While later stages take place in more traditional interstellar environments, as well as an upcoming candy planet, players will start their 2.5D platforming adventure in a world made up entirely of arts and crafts. The aptly named Material World features woven patchwork walls, bouncy sponge platforms, and button pig enemies all made gloriously textured and tangible by the impressive 3D engine. While it’s maybe not quite on the same level as the similarly stylish Kirby’s Epic Yarn or LittleBigPlanet, creator Aaron McElligott’s background as a console gaming environmental artist shines through in the splendid visuals. --Jordan Minor


Road of Kings

The current American political climate suffers from a bad combination of money and politics. However, this isn’t entirely unique to the 21st century as money has almost always equaled and guaranteed power. In Dancing Sorcerer’s latest title, Road of Kings, the goal is to accumulate 500 gold pieces within a 100 days to prove who’s be the best candidate to be King of the people. Political commentary aside, Road to Kings is a neat experience. It plays like a 4-hex board game, where players move their dude (Sorry ladies, only comes as a guy) around the board with random events taking place; anything from encountering an enemy to finding out the main character got lost in the hills due to his poor navigation skills. Movement on the board, as well as events, are very much dictated by the terrain on any particular space, be it good or bad. But at the end of the day, Road of Kings feels a lot like a single player board game minus dice rolling or dropping $70 on a boxed version. --Mike Deneen


INKredible

Sometimes, whether it’s for aesthetic reasons or for the sake of practicality, it’s just plain better to write rather than type some kind of content. That’s where INKredible comes in. It makes it attractive and simple to write on the iPad, providing a great distraction-free experience. The app offers a blank canvas with a choice of paper-based background, thereby allowing users to get on with whatever they want to write or draw. It particularly lends itself to note taking and when one wants to join together text and hand-drawn diagrams or sketches. --Jennifer Allen


The Animal Alphabet Singers

The Animal Alphabet Singers, as the name may imply, is an app for babies and toddlers that helps them learn the alphabet as well as animals associated with these letters. This app includes sections that allow children to explore the alphabet in many ways. One section of this app, also named The Animal Alphabet Singers includes a group of 26 animals – each of which can each be tapped to hear the corresponding letter to be sung, with the letter also being highlighted below for a nice effect. Do tap on a letter as well because doing so will trigger singing from the related animal. --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

TowerMadness 2

TowerMadness 2 is perhaps not the most innovative tower defense game of all-time, but it’s a solid effort. Really, standard open-field tower defense rules apply: there’s towers with different ranges and effects, they can be upgraded to do more damage, or sold if not part of a good strategy any more. Success is based on whether players kept the aliens from getting in and taking too many sheep through a star system, with Invasion Mode, where waves come in faster, offering a fourth star. Players can also send in waves faster themselves to get faster times for the leaderboards. --Carter Dotson


Akasha

Akasha is a new mobile exclusive MMORG. Does it tip Order and Chaos from its pedestal? Akasha isn’t the most user friendly game. After a class choice between fighter, archer or mage and a very brief series of tutorial text boxes in a small font the game basically leaves the player to their own devices. Akasha uses a instance based system much like Guild Wars. To fight monsters or party up with other adventurers the player must begin an instance which can be thought of as a mini quest. --Allan Curtis


Dawn of the Plow

Some games hand out points like they’re going out of style. Dawn of the Plow is not one of those games. This arcade game will test players with challenging conditions and a difficult-to-control vehicle, all in the hopes that they can maybe last long enough to do well before being fired. Controlling a snow plow on a snowy day where car drivers need to get to nondescript places, players must try to keep their paths clear. Snow will accumulate that the cars can drive over, but eventually they become impassable piles which take time to plow. The longer a car is stopped, the unhappier it gets and the lower the approval meter gets. If that empties, it’s game over and the player is fired. Of course, that probably won’t happen much. What will happen is that players will hit cars, which is instant game over. Or the cars will get trapped and buried under snow, which is also game over. Not making things easier is that driving a large truck around, especially on snow, is not easy. Thankfully, players have a horn to help manage traffic, and can collect powerups like a salt blaster to clear up snow instantly. --Carter Dotson

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Dungeon Keeper, looked at how FPS developers have approached mobile, picked the best iOS and Android games of the week, and unveiled a slim line PS Vita. Read all it about it right here.

This Week at 148Apps: January 20-24, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 27th, 2014

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.

In Fear I Trust

I’m always a little skeptical when it comes to horror games, especially those in the survival horror sub-genre. That said, In Fear I Trust was one of those games that certainly caught my eye – not just for its outstanding visuals, but because it looked and sounded highly intriguing. A man finds himself waking up in a creepy abandoned facility deep in the heart of Soviet Russia. He can’t remember who he is or how he got there, just that something rather unsettling has been going on. Designed with the Unreal Engine for iOS, the game delivers an imaginative story over a number of episodes. And fortunately, the first two are filled with enough content to indulge oneself in until the release of the later episodes. --Lucy Ingram


Redd

I have to admit, until recently I never really ventured into the world of Reddit. I’m not a huge fan of the site interface, and for some reason it never really occurred to me to seek out an app for my phone. This has possibly all changed with the introduction of Redd; a Reddit client made especially for those who want to avoid the clutter and chaos of the main website. And one that is perfect for those who, like me, just want to use the dip-in/dip-out approach. The remarkably clean and simple looking interface is the first thing one will notice as they load the app. A sea of whitespace highlighted with a touch of red – it’s easy on the eyes, and a breeze to navigate. The typeface is fairly easy to read despite its light and thin demeanor, and its ability to filter the posts from the tabs at the bottom make it practically effortless to handle. --Lucy Ingram


Baldur's Gate II

It is impossible to reflect back on the annals of RPG history without hitting on the classic Baldur’s Gate franchise. Fourteen years after the release of Baldur’s Gate II, Overhaul Games have stepped in and given the second iteration in the series a fresh coat of paint. Can an iOS port of such a beloved title ever live up to the expectations of the nostalgic PC gaming audience? The answer to that question is not as straightforward as one might assume. --Blake Grundman


Scribe

Scribe is a new utility for the iPhone that gives users the ability to copy data snippets from their Mac to their iOS device without the need for a Wi-Fi connection. It uses the Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) profile supported by most of Apple’s current-generation devices and Mac systems to send small snippets of text, URLs, and small photos over the air to one’s iOS clipboard. Using Scribe for the iPhone is as simple as making sure the Bluetooth setting is activated. This can be achieved by heading to Settings > Bluetooth > On. Users will then need the Scribe menu bar client. This is sold separately and available on the Mac App Store for $2.99. They will also need to ensure that they have a supported Mac. Scribe currently supports the Macbook Air (2011 or newer), Macbook Pro (2012 or newer), iMac (Late 2012 or newer), Mac Mini (2011 or newer), Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer), iPhone 4S or newer), iPad (3rd generation or newer), iPad Mini (all generations) and iPod Touch (5th generation or newer).


Snowball Shootout

Recently over winter break I discovered that one of our truly favorite developers, Busythings, had developed a new app for iPad named Snowball Shootout. Downloading this app was an absolute no-brainer as a free application, but I soon forgot that I had added this to our device. It was my son who discovered it, instantly understanding that this was a new game from one of his favorite developers as their style is utterly recognizable, even from the small thumbnail image seen on the iPad. Snowball Shootout has quickly become a new favorite game of my boy’s, as he has reached a new low in asking me to leave the iPad in his bed so he can play this new game immediately upon waking – a request I denied. There is a lot going on that my son really enjoys with this game, incorporating some elements seen in Angry Birds such as a sling shot that needs to be manned, here used to shoot snowballs at the blob-like Pink Men that are seen hiding in trees or popping out of igloos. Controls are simple as one controls both the strength and angle of each shots with the drag of a finger allowing snowballs to be lined up in an exact manner, which I prefer to “pullback and pray” gameplay of Angry Birds. --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

Little Galaxy

Little Galaxy is a story of hope. It’s about dreams, resourcefulness… and moon boots. It tells the tale of a scientist who believes that sky isn’t a limit in his quest to jump from celestial body to celestial body. And the game developers, smitten with the inspirational story but unable to help improve the moon boots, do the next best thing: they create this game. Thankfully. --Tre Lawrence


Galaxy Factions

Galaxy Factions takes the CoC clone genre to space. With lotsa lasers and guns does it have an edge over its sword sporting brethren? Galaxy Factions sets the player up with a command center, a transport ship and little else. As is common with this genre, Galaxy Factions is all about constructing a base, mining resources and taking the fight to pirates and rival mining bases in single player or to other players in multiplayer. --Allan Curtis


Monopoly Bingo

Ever since getting their hands on the Monopoly license, EA has punched out a good number of Monopoly licensed games on the mobile platform. Games like Monopoly Slots and Monopoly Hotels take the iconic board game and expand upon it or mash it up with other styles of games. As cool as that might sound, it isn’t all its cracked up to be sometimes. In the case of these titles, more often than not, they come off as cheap marketing gimmicks, using the popular Monopoly name to garner more players and possibly more money. Monopoly Bingo, of course, is yet another one of those games, feeling more like a desperate attempt to push an otherwise freemium Bingo game, than putting out a quality product. EA has been so hot and cold this year with their free to play lineups; FIFA 14 and Plants vs Zombies 2 knocking it out of the park, while other titles floundering. Monopoly Bingo attempts to spin the age old game of Bingo with one of Hasbro’s most popular board games, hoping to create something new and interesting. However, this attempt faltered short, instead creating a Bingo game with achievements, leveling and a backdrop that is supposedly based around Monopoly. --Mike Deneen

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Atomic Fusion and Hopeless, picked the best Roguelikes on the App Store, wrote a huge guide for Hoplite, reported on the Very Big Indie Pitch in London, and chose the best iOS and Android games of the week. It's all right here!

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

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 19th, 2014

Your App Review Source


Each and every week the review team at 148Apps sorts through the latest releases, finding the best of the best for you. Take a look at what we've reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Shadow Blade

The trial platformer, akin to Super Meat Boy on PC or League of Evil on mobile, is a genre that often requires patience and precision. Thanks in large part to its touchscreen-friendly controls, Shadow Blade rocks the house. Players control a ninja who must get past enemies and traps; pulling off acrobatic jumps and deadly attacks to fell those who would dare stop this shadowy warrior. The ninja can double-jump, dash in the air, execute stealth kills from behind enemies or in the air, and just slice the opposition until they’re no longer a threat. --Carter Dotson


Farm Heroes Saga

Regardless of whether it’s actually any good, the mobile release of Farm Heroes Saga was always going to be a big deal. Made by King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga and numerous other Saga games, it doesn’t really have to do a lot to be immediately very popular. Fortunately, King doesn’t appear to have rested on its laurels, with Farm Heroes Saga proving one of the better Match-3 games out there. It’s a very familiar format so those who weren’t keen on Candy Crush Saga aren’t going to be swayed here. It’s a format that works though, and works well. Akin to Zookeeper, players work their way through each level by matching together relevant quotas of crops. Early stages might simply involve matching 5 green smiling crops and 10 strawberries, but this is just the game easing one in gently. Soon enough, things turn much more challenging and also much more satisfying. --Jennifer Allen


Rail Racing

Slot car racing is a pastime that many of us will have enjoyed as children. Offering a more tactile experience than any game could have provided, fond memories are easy to come by when it comes to creating one’s own race track before trying to negotiate it safely and successfully. Rail Racing can’t quite capture that magical spirit, lacking the tactile edge, but it’s still a great form of racing game with a twist. Players must outrace the competition across 50 imaginatively themed stages, gaining up to three stars to gauge success. It’s a simple concept but one that’s fun and easy to lose time to. Each race only takes a couple of minutes to complete, making it ideal for a mobile format. Stages are designed according to various locations that such races would take place; such as a child’s bedroom, the backyard, and even a dusty attic. It’s a neat touch, although ultimately many of the tracks are a little samey. --Jennifer Allen


Eternity Warriors 3

Eternity Warriors 3 is an easy to like game. It’s pretty shallow, offering a Diablo-style experience with a wafer-thin storyline, but much like the allure of MMOs it’s oddly easy to lose time to this action RPG. The game mostly consists of going from A to B, completing simple quests, collecting experience, and returning to the central hub of the game to upgrade equipment and buy new skills. It’s a concept that’s been done many times before, but that’s because it’s an often beguiling mix. Players start out with the choice of taking control of a warrior or monk, with a mage unlocked much later on in the game. Each class offers different advantages and disadvantages, and it shows – providing a slightly different experience each time. --Jennifer Allen


Cook, Serve, Delicious

Finally, iOS users are able to scratch that itch to get their hands dirty and serve up a smile in strategy restaurant sim Cook, Serve, Delicious. Right off the bat it’s easy to see that this is an outstanding port of a game originally released on PC – a game that has been creating some buzz for some time. Heating up the restaurant simulation genre to a sizzling degree, Cook, Serve, Delicious is one wonderfully addictive game that had me hooked the second I picked it up. For first-timers here, there’s a lot to learn, but it didn’t take long before I was juggling orders and taking out trash, trying to appease the masses of customers who expect the crème de la crème. --Lucy Ingram


Lost Toys

Unique, challenging, haunting. I’m not sure how else to describe Lost Toys. This 3D puzzler opens new doors in the app world. Its breathtakingly simple, yet elegant graphics, accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful piano score, immediately seduce your senses. This game is all about being lost – lost in solitude, lost in concentration, lost in a world of restoring beauty and color to the darkness. The gray, blurry background only intensifies the experience of bringing the toys back to life. This “gothic masterpiece” is not just a game; it’s an emotional journey. The creators want each person to follow their own path to unearthing the mysteries of this puzzled world. --Stacy Barnes


Three Little Pigs. The Story

Three Little Pigs. The Story is a very nice re-telling of the classic story of the same name, illustrated with marvelous and witty stop-motion claymation that I greatly enjoy. I am very fond of this re-telling – a very nice adaptation of the original Joseph Jacobs version of this tale, involving the clever way the third little pig seeks revenge from the wolf for the loss of his two other siblings who lost both house and life to this creature. The deaths of these pigs are off-screen of course, mentioned but not dwelled on – a nice take on this classic story as I have seen many versions of this tale ranging from the sanitized choice of having the brother pigs run for protection to the brick house to a more threatening pig experience that may not be best for the youngest users. This app does however include the extended version of this traditional tale bringing the pig and wolf to the fair and beyond, moments often left out of many versions of this story. --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

Overlive

Overlive casts the player as one of the few survivors of an almost total zombie apocalypse. Hiding out in a ruined apartment Overlive is all about striking out randomly, finding better weapons and supplies and ultimately finding a way out of the ruined city, while maybe discovering what’s really happening on the way. The star of Overlive is its story, the game is text based and there are loads of great moments and surprises, such as the extremely graphic ways violence is described and the depictions of the sheer desolation of a zombie apocalypse. Whenever it’s eating icecream while a dead family is in the next room, to holding a sobbing woman as she slowly bleeds to death, the game is riddled with passages that won’t be forgotten for a long time. Overlive’s sense of humour and self-awareness makes it very fun to read. Indeed it is as much like gamebook as a true RPG. --Allan Curtis


Amoebattle

Amoebattle is, perhaps, the first original mobile real-time strategy that can be called that without any stretch. Most of the real-time strategies are either too simple or too flawed, and the ones that are working, are mirror copies of older titles. Amoebattle manages to be neither. And it manages to do so without ridiculous production values. --Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week the guys at Pocket Gamer picked out the best detective games and the best games without IAPs, reviewed new apps likes Shadow Blade, Baldur's Gate II, and Lost Yeti, and turned an Android device into a portable Dreamcast. See it all right here.

This Week at 148Apps: December 23-27, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 28th, 2013

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!


Christmas has passed, and it's time to look forward to a new year. Take a look at what we've reviewed this week, as well as our end-of-year lists, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Fragment

Photography apps have allowed iOS users to create beautiful pictures without any editing knowledge, and the abundance of photography apps in the App Store is evidence that more and more users are looking for the next best photography app for their collection. There are plenty that come with filters, borders, and templates, but there are few apps that can take a picture and do something completely different. Fragment is a different photography app in the sense that it isn’t like all the others. Instead of doctoring up a photograph, this app turns it into a piece of prismatic art and takes iPhoneography to the next level. The range of creativity that it offers is what makes it so appealing. --Angela LaFollette

MovieCat 2 - The Movie Trivia Game Sequel

Any game that involves cats dressed up and reenacting various scenes from movies wins my vote. The incredibly entertaining MovieCat! was a huge success and created some exciting buzz back in 2010, and now it’s time for MovieCat 2 – The Movie Trivia Gaming Sequel. In 2012, the original game won the 148Apps Best App Ever Award in the Trivia Gaming category, so naturally it has a lot to live up to. Nonetheless, MovieCat! fans can breathe easy, for MovieCat 2 is every bit as highly amusing and enjoyable as its predecessor in every way. Featuring over 1000 all new text and visual puzzles about almost every movie one can possibly think of, this is a game for cat lovers and trivia fans alike. The game is largely similar to its purrfectly exciting older brother, but fans of the previous will be able to get their thinking caps on and flex those brain cells for brand new original puzzles Rhyme Time, Prop Art, Classics and Details, Details. --Lucy Ingram

148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up: Favorite Underappreciated Games

It’s easy to list off the best games of 2013, and often such lists contain a lot of crosstalk between different publications. So this year, instead of just giving off another similar list of the best games of the year, our staff has decided to talk about their favorite games of the year that might not have been the best sellers or the most popular. In no particular order, this is our list of some of our favorite under-appreciated games of 2013. --Carter Dotson

148Apps wrAPP-Up: Documenting Your Year With iOS Photography Apps

For the past two years I’ve been recording my life with photographs. Every day, I’ve taken a photograph with my iPhone before sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For the most part it’s fun to do, for a multitude of reasons. It enables me to share my life with friends and family that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. It sparks conversations about whatever happened that day. More importantly, it means that at the end of the year I can look back at what I did and savour those memories. It’s pretty much a photo diary in that case. Of course, some days it can be tricky. Not every day of the year can be fascinating, meaning that sometimes I have to get creative. And yes, sometimes I succumb to the ease in which I can snap a photo of my pets or my freshly cooked meal. It’s a cliche, but it’s surprising how many people enjoy looking at food even despite all the cynicism. --Jennifer Allen

148Apps 2013 wrAPP-up: Why Core Gaming Had a Great Year on Mobile

It’s easy to look at mobile and see it as a wasteland for content; particularly with all the casual, free-to-play games, and especially the ones that seem to de-emphasize actual gameplay in favor of stronger monetization. That’s only if you’re not paying attention. Serious, core games – some even free-to-play – had a great year on iOS. --Carter Dotson

148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up: The Year's Best Apps and Games

Whoever said perfection is overrated obviously never got a five-star review on 148Apps. It doesn’t happen often. Just take a quick look through our reviews and you’ll see lots of well-deserving Editor’s Choice winners, but most only reach four-and-a-half stars. In fact, in all of 2013 there have only been ten five-star reviews. Take a look at some of what we considered the best of the best this year. --Chris Kirby

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

Knightmare Tower

Knightmare Tower takes the endless runner genre and tips it on its head, literally. Good idea? Knightmare Tower has the barest vestiges of story. One day a knight hears about a famous tower full of monsters. Imagining the fame that could be heaped upon him, the intrepid knight sets off with his wooden sword and cheap armor to fight a horde of monsters. This story is told though a charming introductory cutscene. --Allan Curtis

Blocky Roads

Never thought I’d have a chance to see a trend in development, but here we are. Minecraft is such a popular game with such a distinct graphic design that it has already spawned a whole generation of games that look exactly like it. Blocky Roads has gameplay that is nothing like Minecraft, or parts of it, but it looks exactly like Minecraft. It may actually not be based on Minecraft itself, but on any of its successors in graphics. The whole world, including the car and the designated driver, is built of blocks, and if you’re still not sick of the whole block thing, is looking really fine, with crisp graphics and cartoony, sharp textures. --Tony Kuzmin

This Week at 148Apps: July 29-August 2, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on August 3rd, 2013

Your Source For The Latest App Reviews


Every single week, 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.


Dropchord

It’s hard to imagine Double Fine producing something that isn’t a quirky adventure or contains more than a fair bit of bizarre humor. And yet produce Double Fine has, and now we have Dropchord. It’s definitely a departure from the norm, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Dropchord is a simple-ish rhythm game at its core. Players use two fingers, placed around the outside of a large circle in the center of the screen, to twist and turn a line around the middle. The goal is to grab all the good stuff (glowing orbs and such) while avoiding the bad stuff (bright red bolts of electricity that scream DO NOT TOUCH) by winding and whirling around everything. Hit the red stuff and lose some health, grab enough not red stuff and gain health at the end of the level. Every so often players will also have to forego the spinning as they tap away at various circles that appear on screen in what can best be described as a kind of bonus round. --Rob Rich


Knightmare Tower

Burrito Bison creator Juicy Beast’s latest game, Knightmare Tower is based around offensive gameplay instead of pure survival like other similar vertical endless games. Players control a knight flying upward, and dash downward on top of enemies to hurt them and bounce back up in the air at a higher rate. Combos can accelerate the knight even faster, and powerups can help along the way. The enemies aren’t just there to take a beating: they’ll try to attack the knight and do enough damage to kill them. The other big hazard is lava, aka “Dear Knight, I suggest going faster if the plan is to not burn to death. Love, The Giant Rapidly-Rising Pool of Lava.” I suggest staying out of it. --Carter Dotson


rymdkapsel

Complexity can be a difficult thing to balance in a game, but so can simplicity. Distilling an idea or genre down to its more basic elements is no easy task, especially when trying to do it well, and for that reason alone I think rymdkapsel is worth celebrating. It’s a strategy/sim-lite without any of the typical blandness one would associate with so much fat trimming. Of course that’s not the only reason; it’s also a pretty great game all-around. rymdkapsel is about expanding a space station while simultaneously fighting off waves of hostile attackers. Players must construct various rooms – reactors, gardens, weapons, etc – in order to gather more resources so that they can expand their base, train additional workers, and construct even more rooms. However, the larger the base’s overall area the tougher it is to defend. It encourages planned expansion and interlocking the Tetris-like rooms together in order to keep the station from becoming too spread out. Of course there are also several obelisks scattered around the map that can be researched to enhance things like worker movement speed and weapon attack ranges. It’s a toss-up deciding between hastily crafting a path to a given obelisk, thus sacrificing defensibility, and rushing to acquire better tech early on. --Rob Rich


Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of kids' apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

Pango Playground

Pango Playground for kids is a charming universal app for babies and toddlers which adults will enjoy a great deal as well. This app opens up to a very nice assortment of children’s toys such as train tracks or building blocks. Do choose a scene and tap on a number flag 1 to 4 to be taken to a new area. All of these scenes are variations on the same basic assortment of toys, different colorful building blocks, train tracks and chunky wood blocks crafted to look like familiar characters from the Pango series of applications. --Amy Solomon

Art Class With Dr. Panda

Art Class with Dr. Panda is a charming new universal interactive app – part of a series of Dr. Panda role-playing apps for young children. As many readers may know, my family really enjoys these apps as they allow children to pretend to take part in many occupations and activities – be it a doctor’s duties or working in a restaurant, supermarket or farm. Here Dr. Panda is teaching an art class to animal children. I enjoy his costumes as he assists children who need help in six different crafts. --Amy Solomon


AndroidRundown

Color Zen

Color Zen is a cool cucumber. It seems to want to tease your brain while calming it. It’s a lofty idea, but thankfully, I love checking out lofty ideas. The game is definitely interesting. The best explanation is received from playing it and actually “feeling” the game. The object of the game is to solve the color-centric puzzles. In the game’s playing area, there is a frame color — a color that covers a thin area around the play grid, kind of like a picture frame. In the grid itself are any number of colored shapes. In general terms, touching any of the colors against another imbibes the second with the color of the first; in other words, the color is absorbed. For simplicity, one of the colors in the grid always matches the color of the outer rim. --Tre Lawrence


Drisk

Remember playing the board game Risk back in the day? If so, I bet one of those memories is how long it took to play the game. In fact, it took almost as long if not longer as a good game of Monopoly. Well, the makers of Drisk came up with a game really similar to Risk but won’t take 6 months to play a full game. Starting out with Drisk, there will be the choice to play a local game or an online game. When playing a local game, the number pf players can be selected as well as if they are actual people or computer players. When playing online, the sign in is done through a Scoreloop account. This is mandatory to play online. To get the hang of the game, it’s a good idea to watch the tutorial. It goes pretty quick but it gives you a basic idea of how the controls work. If any questions arise, take a look at the help button on the main menu screen to hopefully answer them. --Trevor Dobrygoski

Space Beats

Ever imagined something like Dance Dance Revolution for the fingers? Yes! We all have, and Space Beats is just the game for folks with sturdy digits, keen eyes and wrists that move to the rhythm. Nimble fingers win the day. Simply put, you tap rapidly forming three-dimensional objects with the beat to keep the music going. The pieces to the orbs all come in from different angles, playing havoc on the eyes. Tapping on the orb scores points, but actually tapping on it to the beat scores even more. An arcade-type game is not worth its salt without multipliers, and in this aspect, this game is worth its salt; there are multipliers to be had, and they can be invoked by tapping. Additionally, the freestyle level is yet another change of pace, allowing players to tap on beat for even more points. --Tre Lawrence

This Week at 148Apps: July 8-12, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 13th, 2013

Celebrating the App Store's 5th Anniversary


App Store Insiders


First up, check out the over 20 interviews that Jeff Scott (with a little help from Carter Dotson) did with the App Store's best and brightest, like this one from Tapulous co-founder, Mike Lee:

148Apps: If you have one single success within the App Store you'd like to highlight, what would it be?

Mike Lee: I'm really excited about the work the New Lemurs are doing. I've been trying to blend technology and altruism both on and off the App Store since before it was a thing, with everything from the Club Thievey fundraising drive that linked Mac developers with the Madagascar Fauna Group to the Obama '08 app to Appsterdam and on into Lemurs Chemistry.

What distinguishes my work now from what I was doing 5 years ago is this: while I'm still focused on providing great products and experiences to people, that has stopped being the end in and of itself. Now I am much more concerned with spreading good memes. My abilities as an App Maker, and my ability to be an example of what kind of apps we should make and what kind of App Makers we should be, have switched seats.

My current obsession is the idea that games would not be a waste of time if they were made based on science. By replacing the arbitrary game mechanics with rules from nature, you end up with games that happen to be educational as a side-effect, instead of trying to gamify education. Lemurs Chemistry is the embodiment of that idea, and it's the best game I've ever produced.

Be sure to read all of the interviews, chock full of insight and info, right here on 148Apps.

Looking Back

It was a special week across the 148Apps network of sites, as we celebrated the App Store's 5th anniversary with a wealth of original content from our team of reviewers. Take a look at some of their picks for the best apps from the past five years.

Fairway Solitaire

In all my time playing iOS games, I’ve never been quite so tempted to buy an in-app purchase as I was while playing Fairway Solitaire. This isn’t because there’s so little content bundled with the free version (there’s enough) but because it’s so addictive that I didn’t want to stop playing. For a game that’s essentially a twist on card game solitaire, this is praise indeed. As the name suggests, Fairway Solitaire is a version of Golf Solitaire, a classic variation on the card game that everyone knows and loves. The difference here is that rather than create suits such as in regular Solitaire, the player must score runs by clearing the card deck using the least amount of moves. Once the pile of cards run out, the par is determined and the player moves onto the next hole. At the end of the course, a star rating out of three is offered as a way of encouraging players to master the stage. --Jennifer Allen


Rage of Bahamut

Rage of Bahamut wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It definitely involves collecting cards and battling other players, but it’s more akin to a browser game than what most would consider a “proper” iOS title. Whether or not this is a bad thing depends a lot on personal preference, but anyone willing to look past the clunky interface just might find themselves having a great time. At its core, Rage of Bahamut is all about gathering cards in order to complete quests (or battle other players) in order to get better cards, etc. But that’s just the basics. Quests can be completed in order to acquire treasure, more cards, cash, and experience for whichever card has been designated the Leader. It’s all used as expected (i.e. buying car packs, building a stronger deck, etc), really. --Rob Rich


Disc Drivin'

Disc Drivin’ is a game whose immediate goal might not be apparent; the easiest way to explain the game is that it is like Mario Kart crossed with Words With Friends. You and your opponents take turns sliding your disc across the tracks, replete with tricky turns, turbo boosts, and powerup icons. The Words with Friends-esque element comes from the turn-based gameplay; when you take your turn, your opponent then takes theirs, and so on until someone completes 3 laps and wins the race. The game supports up to 8 players in either hotseat or local wifi multiplayer, and up to 4 people online, with push notifications notifying you when it is your turn. There’s a reason why I describe this as being similar to Words With Friends in particular, and it is because Disc Drivin’ is just as addictive and viral as that game was around its popularity peak. If you start up one game, you’ll quickly find yourself wanting to start up more and more, and anxiously waiting for your opponents to make their moves so you can play some more. The physics engine with the discs adds to the fun, as wacky things can happen when you hit ramps, bombs or other discs; there is plenty that can happen when discs go flying to cause you to shout for joy or shriek in error. You never know what you’ll see next. That, and just the whole addictive and surprisingly fast-paced nature of the asynchronous multiplayer, is what makes this one a gem. --Carter Dotson


Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of kids' apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. GiggleApps writer Amy Solomon served up her App Store favorites during this week's fifth anniversary festivities:

GiggleApps

Toca Tea Party

Toca Tea Party is a wonderfully creative app from one of my new favorite developers, Toca Boca. This app creates a lovely interactive tea party environment which has become a huge hit with our entire family. This is a wonderful iPad app which simulates a tea party for three, be it a child and two adults, a child and two dolls or stuffed animals, or three toys with the help of little hands. This app has been enjoyed in our house in every conceivable way and I can say that my husband, son, and I all love this application. --Amy Solomon

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is a very special interactive storybook for iPad that is perfectly realized in every way. Strong words, I know, but this app is simply wonderful, poetic and beautiful experience for all ages. Based on the short film of the same name, this ebook has interwoven interactions and other animated visuals that are simply striking for use of imagery that will stay with the reader for a very long time. It is hard really to write this review as I would encourage readers to experience this themselves, as I don’t think my words here will do this app justice. The story is said to be inspired by hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, and the Wizard of Oz equally, and is about a man who is currently writing a book about his life. One day, his world gets turned upside down but is fortunate to later find a library filled with books with flying abilities that need a caregiver. In reality, this app is really about so much more. My son, at 3.5 years, still takes things on face value, and for him, this story book is about the love of reading and the warm embrace books deserve as the protagonist takes care of these flying books as if they are living, breathing things. --Amy Solomon


AndroidRundown

Smash Spin Rage

Beautiful, drop dead gorgeous 3D graphics. Relatively easy controls. Frankly who cares about backstory?
Smash Spin Rage is a game that brings mythical elements to 21st century handheld gaming. It brings to bear murder, the supernatural and an unquenchable desire for revenge. I mostly like the graphics in this one. The colors avidly bring to life the spooky ambiance of the location, with natural light combining and contrasting with shadows at the same time. The animations are smooth, and the supernatural effects worked well. From the opening cutscene to the battles all the way to the creativity of the belligerents, the game looks good. --Tre Lawrence


Ultimate Stick Fight

So many of us cut our gaming teeth on scrolling beat em ups. You know, those games like Fighting Force that gave us the opportunity to graphically beat up hordes of violent thugs. There was usually the simplest of backstory, plenty of swinging limbs and even a weapon or two to procure. Ultimate Stick Fight is in that same glorious vein. Jumps, kicks, punches and tons of people to practice them on. And stick figures. Part of what sets this game apart is the look; instead of regular-looking characters, we get souped up, colorful stick people. Interestingly enough, the developer does well with colorization, and is able to imbibe a good deal of character into the thin guys. The movements and animations were fairly life-like, but kept the whimsical nature that we expect in characters of this genre. When matched with the numerous, creatively diverse backgrounds, it makes a pretty compelling 2D visual feast. --Tre Lawrence


Leaping Legend

Leaping Legend is an arcade-style infinite climbing/running game. The virtual world is decidedly medieval, with the jittery characters and animations presented in 8-bit retro glory. As noted, all the elements come together to create a game with an arcade feel. The animations are fairly utilitarian, and do the job without being too flashy. If creating a remarkable ode to the past is the goal, I think the developer mostly succeeds admirably. In this one, the higher up one goes the better. Trying to free the fair-haired maiden at the “top” is the goal, and to accomplish this, our protagonist has two parallel walls to run up, as well as the ability to leap from one wall to the other on the quest to the top. This ability to leap is invaluable, as along the way, there are all sorts of run-ending obstacles, ranging from scary looking rotating blades to barrels and plenty of dropping debris. --Tre Lawrence

This Week At 148Apps: February 11 - 15, 2013

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on February 17th, 2013


We Do Reviews


Every week, the experts here at 148Apps take on the hundreds of apps released weekly and take the time to sort through them, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. Isn't that spectacular? A few lucky ones become Editor's Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Here are a few excerpted notable reviews from this past Valentine's Day week; for all of them, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Versu is an ambitious first step into what could be an immensely compelling new medium of literature. It is well worth the download if for no other reason than to get in on the ground floor of what could genuinely be something special down the road. --Blake Grundman

At its core, Rock Runners is simply about level completion, but there are many other goals built in to the game to add replay value and challenge. Each level in Rock Runners has three additional goals built into it, with most of them concerning completion time, gem collection proficiency, and the ability to avoid damaging obstacles. --Campbell Bird

Continuing the trend that its predecessor set, Cordy 2 is a rather glorious platformer. While many of its ideas will remind players of great platformers gone by, especially the Sonic the Hedgehog series, none of it really matters when there’s so much fun to be had. --Jennifer Allen

Every now and then a game comes along that offers a real breath of fresh air: something truly unique. JOOL is that game. It’s a 2D arcade platformer with basic controls, but puts forth a very unique style. Whether starting with the good bird or his evil alter ego, players will need to use both characters to survive the infinite level design in order to earn the highest possible score. --Michael Carattini

...Ease of use is what makes Qwiki stand out so significantly. It’s actually fun to use as well as view the creations, much like Instagram. Filtering and basic editing completes the package, making Qwiki a very tempting proposition for those who want to show off a form of photo slideshow to their friends and family. --Jennifer Allen

Roar Rampage is loud, full of things to smash, and has a giant dinosaur wearing boxing gloves. With controls that improve on the Flash original and the ability to smash the Eiffel Tower, what’s not to love about Roar Rampage? --Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites


Partner sites GiggleApps and Android Rundown publish some of the best reviews and news on the 'net about kids apps and Android apps, respectively. Be sure to head over to each site to read them fully. For now, though, check out some of the great content they served up this past week.

GiggleApps

Endless Alphabet is a charming and surprisingly sophisticated letters app for iPad that teaches words in a wonderfully unique way for a letters app. From the opening of this application, it is easy to tell that it is something special with the cast of colorful and creative monster characters parading across the screen, playing different instruments in ways that are quite captivating. --Amy Solomon

The Adventures of Captain Underpants is a cheeky story about two friends who love to pull pranks at school as well as writing comic books, especially The Adventures of Captain Underpants, about a super hero who actually flies around in his underwear. Things become complicated for the boys when they are caught pulling pranks at their school by their principal, who blackmails them until they are able to hypnotize their principal, yet things take a turn for the worse as the principal takes on the persona of Captain Underpants. --Amy Solomon

Snow Queen by the developers at Timecode is a very nice adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name – a lengthy tale traditionally told over seven stories. I am impressed by how this app also is broken into seven stories to create a thorough version of this classic story – nice to see as many times the Snow Queen is abridged, and oftentimes without the back story of how the magic mirror, which makes all things beautiful look ugly, is produced here by a goblin. It is this mirror, when broken, also negatively affects the people who get imbedded by these shards, making them see and feel as though everything around them is ugly as well. --Amy Solomon

Android Rundown

[img id="140x140xTransformers-Memory-Game-3-banner-140x140.jpg.pagespeed.ic.8Kb0yJHfs1.jpg"]Friday Free App Rundown - When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to wake up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. There was an awesome lineup back then. In this week’s Free App Rundown we are going to talk about games based on Saturday morning cartoons. While there are paid games out there like The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man, the games in this list are free. Let’s take a look. --Trevor Dobrygoski

[img id="140x140xPokemonTV-140x140.png.pagespeed.ic.WL20b7A_oB.png"]Pokemon TV App Now Available, Gotta Watch ‘Em All - The world’s favorite way to collect and fight exotic monsters, Pokemon, is still Nintendo-exclusive as far as the actual games go. But with The Pokemon Company International, the company rsponsible for licensing the franchise, being only affiliated with Nintendo, they are free to release some content to other platforms. In this case, this includes episodes of the long-running TV show, which can now be watched in the Pokemon TV App. Selected episodes from each “Region” that comprises each new generation of the game can be watched. The original Red & Blue games are Kanto region, for those wondering. Those are the ones with Misty and Brock. Go be nostalgic, children of the late 90’s and early 2000’s! --Carter Dotson

[img id="300x168xirt1-300x168.jpg.pagespeed.ic.TSeTZArS4V.jpg"]Ice Road Truckers is an infinite driving game that pitted ever-increasingly treacherous roads against mental reaction and physical dexterity. My job? Keep the big rig moving. Avoid obstacles. Collect coins. One button on the left or right pulled the truck in either direction, and tapping both buttons at the same time caused a boost of speed that revved the truck up, and was perfect for the ramps that appeared on either side of the world. There were also rock formations and huge trees that did their part to increase difficulty in the game. --Tre Lawrence

[img id="300x187xstop1-300x187.jpg.pagespeed.ic.dz_GI7Q5VM.jpg"]Looks like 2013 might be the year of the renegade robot. Zombies and menacing pizza will always be in our hearts, but robots are in. Stop The Robot is a cleverly-imagined tower defense game that pits roughneck kids against robots attempting to breach their backyard lawn fences. I started out at the bottom of the totem pole. There were three levels of difficulty, easy (Iron), medium (Steel) and hard (Titanium). Iron was opened by default, and I started off as Frank, The Slingshot King. Armed with my wooden weapom, I aimed and fired upon oncoming robots that were intent upon destroying the fence I was protecting. It started off easily enough, and, predictably got tougher, with more marching robots in spread-out clusters. --Tre Lawrence

[img id="ant-raid-5-300x187.png"]I wasnt really sure what to expect when I downloaded Ant Raid. I thought it might be another bug smasher game. There is a little of that in there, but there is also some other strategies needed to beat the levels. The overall plot of the game is to keep the ant’s home save from the other insects. The insects have been infected and are pretty much zombies. Okay, that right there grabbed my attention. --Trevor Dobrygoski

This Week at 148Apps: February 4-February 8

Posted by Chris Kirby on February 9th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad only

This week at 148Apps.com all eyes were still pointed at Firemint's upcoming Real Racing 3. Site founder Jeff Scott writes, "Sister site Pocket Gamer editor Richard Brown discovered that Real Racing 3 is showing up in Game Center. The good news is that means it’s been approved by Apple and it can’t be long before the release now. While it’s not out yet, this does bring up something interesting. Something I noticed in the Game Center achievements lends a little to the accuracy of rumors and theories I’ve been hearing that Real Racing 3 will be released as a free to play game.

Last week we took you through a three part series about the history of the App Store icon, Real Racing. Rob Rich covered the history and design of the first two games in the series. He also covered time-shifted multiplayer and other new features expected in Real Racing 3. An excellent series and well worth a read. One thing we didn’t cover is how the game will be monetized as it has yet to be announced. That monetization method is likely to have huge implications on how the game is received by the fans of the series."

Want more? Read more at 148Apps.

GiggleApps.com writer Amy Solomon contributed a review of Whack A Bone: "Whack A Bone is a wonderful app for iPad that is truly an educational delight, teaching about the anatomy of bones found in the human body.

Nicely sectioned into groups, users will learn about the bones that make up one’s core, such as cranium, sternum or vertebrae which is grouped here into three different categories – cervical, thoracic and lumbar, as well as the arm and leg bones, each consisting of its own section as well.

To play this pirate-themed anatomy game, place the bones from the different sections back to their rightful places inside a skeleton with the direction of a talking parrot whose attitude kids will find witty and fun."

Read all about Whack A Bone at GiggleApps.

And what week would be complete without a KickStarter Spotlight on AndroidRundown.com. This week, writer Joseph Bertolini focuses on Freedom Planet: "It has been a while since we have really taken an in depth look to one of the fields in which KickStarter has benefited the most; indie game developers. As most everyone knows, indie game sales have exploded over the last few years; bolstered by better distribution methods like Steam and a more willing Sony and Microsoft. It goes without saying that a strong indie market is one of the most important factors to a great gaming industry. Recognizing this, our choice for this week’s KickStarter Spotlight is Freedom Planet, a game that will harken strongly back to the days when Sonic and MegaMan were dominating the console market."

Follow up on this Kickstarter Spotlight on AndroidRundown.

Another week down, but another one right around the corner! Keep track of the latest happenings by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You'll be glad you did! See you next week.