Posts Tagged tre lawrence

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.

KeroBlaster

 
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KeroBlaster is an iPhone game from Studio Pixel, which should excite gamers if only because it’s from the creator of Cave Story: a Japanese homebrew game that spread enough to get published by Nicalis for a variety of other platforms, and is absolutely amazing. KeroBlaster takes a more level-based approach as more of a standard action-platformer. But it’s a fantastic example of being designed for its platform, and one of the best examples of authentic Japanese gaming in a world where so many games are heavily inspired by the region’s developers and their design principles. Nothing beats the real thing. Where KeroBlaster winds up being extremely clever is in its control. There are two arrows for moving the froggu protagonist, who goes on missions for the Cat and Frog corporation. There’s a jump button, but a three-way selector for firing. This has the player fire in the direction of their choice, with the ability to stop or switch with ease. It takes a lot of the stress out of worrying about firing at enemies, and does a lot to both simplify the interface, and make combat fun to play around with in a way that doesn’t feel lacking because it’s been built for mobile. Also, the game manages to build its combat around the idea that players can’t fire downward, with that being something players have to adjust to, and use their multiple weapons intelligently with. Boss fights prove to be challenging, but not frustrating to play. –Carter Dotson

Thomas Was Alone

 
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Writing is often one of the things in video games that suffers. Especially given the era of independent developers, small teams require wunderkinds who, after knowing how to design, code, and quantify the game’s artistic elements, might not have the time or ability to ensure a game is written well. Thankfully Thomas Was Alone, created by Mike Bithell, is one of the few games that has a key focus on writing. It’s a platformer, and never not about the platforming, but the game does a great job of creating a world defined so little by what players see, but what they’re told, in a way that feels clever and involving. Players control a group of squares thrust into a labyrinth – starting with Thomas, who meets other rectangles like John, Laura, and Claire, all with their own sizes, and properties that can help each other. That’s where the challenge and cleverness of play comes in: the platforming is familiar, but having to switch between several characters, using their different properties to get to the goals, can be a mental workout. It requires knowing the characters, and knowing when to move them out of the way, or have one on top of another, or whatever is necessary to get them all to their own goals in each of the 100 levels. And the game keeps throwing in new wrinkles all throughout the process. It’s fantastic. –Carter Dotson

UNcanny X-Men: Days of Future Past

 
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In a slightly surprising twist, the mobile game of Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past actually reflects the comic book that inspired the new film. So, staying true to its 90s roots, it comes in the form of a side-scrolling beat-em-up (with just a hint of platforming). Controlling one of five (soon to be eight) interchangeable characters, players will travel between a futuristic, apocalyptic setting – home to Old Wolverine and what remains of the X-Men – to the time in which the X-Men were in their heyday (albeit still disliked by humans), to prevent the mutant oppression and decimation that will occur unless they change the past. –Lee Hamlet

Next

 
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Tapping into a similar kind of field to Huurd.it, Next is a music discovery app that’s hopeful of finding the next big thing. It’s pretty simple to use and the potential of finding new talent (and maybe even some friends) is certainly there. Offering sign-ups via email, Twitter, or Facebook, users can quickly dive into finding out more or sharing their own content. Through the app, users can record audio and video footage of their piece of music before uploading it to share with others. –Jennifer Allen

Sago Mini Space Explorer

 
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I am quite eager to let readers know about Sago Sago’s new app, Sago Mini Space Explorer – part of a series of lovingly illustrated and thoughtfully interactive apps that allow children to explore different landscapes with a friendly and familiar main character. Here, the adventure takes place in space as one spends time with Harvey the Dog, now a galactic explorer that one helps navigate with the drag of a finger. I enjoy the palette of colors used here that includes many dark shades of blue and grey that look rich and serene against the backlit screen, also including brighter hues that add visual interest with a nice pop of color. –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

Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker

 
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Wireless speakers offerings are somewhat plentiful, and come in at different price ranges. Having choices is almost never a bad thing, which is why gadget lovers should love stuff like Braven 710 Bluetooth Speaker. It has a presence. The speaker itself is gorgeous in its seemingly minimalist look. Closer up, one catches the intricate craftsmanship of the aluminum shell, which encases the right rectangular prism that is bracketed by ports on one side and the control bank on the other. Officially, it comes in at 6.25 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches and less than 14 ounces. In the box, one also gets a micro-USB cable and documentation. –Tre Lawrence

Zombie Road Trip Trials

 
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Zombie Road Trip Trials is a trials-based spin-off of Zombie Road Trip. The gameplay is rendered in 2D form, with glossy graphics and usable animations. The raceway is irregular and runs from left to right, with zombies generally coming somewhere from the right of the playing area. The artwork does help to define the game, with rolling, intimidating hills and severe drops that encourage the vehicles to go airborne. The controls are virtual in nature and placed at the bottom of the playing area: go buttons for forward and backwards movements, and flip (front and back) buttons to the left. –Tre Lawrence

Tales of the Adventure Company

 
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Tales of the Adventure Company, as previewed recently, is a dungeon crawler that uses tile-flipping and patterns like Disco Zoo to send players through a dungeon, trying to kill the boss at the end, collecting keys and managing one’s party along the way. It’s a game that uses randomness, but in a great way. Randomness in games can be a crutch or it can be a compelling element. It can be frustrating to know that one’s fate is not exactly in their own hands. But the way that Tales of the Adventure Company uses randomness is special. See, players might never know what exactly they’re getting when they uncover a tile, but they know what they might potentially get, be it enemies or heroes to uncover. And they’ll have an idea of where the next hero or enemy will be because the patterns are available. The game knows what it needs to keep hidden from players and what it needs them to know in order to have a fair shot a succeeding. –Carter Dotson

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.

Godzilla-Smash3

 
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Last week, I reviewed Godzilla: Strike Zone. It wasn’t very good. Still, there was some small comfort to be had from the fact that at least Warner Bros. wasn’t charging anything for this poorly executed piece of digital movie hype fluff. Now, one week later, Godzilla is lumbering his way into theaters as we speak and yet another free movie tie-in has come to herald his arrival: Godzilla – Smash3. But guess what? It’s actually kinda fun. Who’d have thought, right? –Rob Thomas

JoyJoy

 
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Radiangames is back with another dual-stick shooter. JoyJoy is a fast-paced, arena-based, dual-stick shooter that’s going to be satisfying for those who fancy the genre. The setup is familiar: there are waves of enemies, and players must control their ship that can fire in 360 degrees, to take out everything shooting at them. Enemy bullets can be destroyed with the player’s bullets, so it’s not just a game of frantic dodging but one where it’s possible to cancel out threats with the immense firepower that the player has. The upgrade system is much simpler than what it was in Ballistic SE, Inferno+, and other Radiangames titles, as players just pick up powerups in the main Waves mode that have permanent effects like more health or more powerful weapons. As well as the 24-level Waves mode, there’s a Challenges mode where players can try to last as long as possible against particular enemy setups. All of the modes have seven difficulties available. –Carter Dotson

Dark Lands

 
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When every interesting game idea is copied and cloned in a thousand different iterations across the App Store mere moments after gaining any modicum of mass popularity (2048 anyone? Some Flappy Bird maybe?), it’s very easy to get dismissive and jaded. We’ve seen and played the Jetpack Joyrides, the Robot Unicorn Attacks, the Temple Runs, and any of a hundred other flavors of the endless runner. Does Dark Lands manage to do anything different? While the core is pretty typical endless runner, Dark Lands has slapped on a layer of visual distinction that, if nothing else, certainly makes it pretty to watch. Co-opting both style and content cues from games like the critically acclaimed Limbo, Dark Lands comes with a bold, moody, silhouetted visual aesthetic. While there may not be ghostly children here, players sprinting and slashing their way through this pseudo-Grecian world will encounter monsters and deathtraps aplenty. –Rob Thomas

CIRCA6

 
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CIRCA6 is an incredibly simple game. Take a look at the screenshots below and that’s pretty obvious. Attractive in its own way it might be, but feature-packed it’s not. It’s a minimalistic shooter that focuses on providing an enjoyable experience rather than memorable visuals. It works as a fun distraction for five minutes, for the most part. Controls are conducted via a virtual joystick which allows one to propel forwards, with bullets flying out in the opposite end of the direction taken. Working on a kind of thrusting basis, it takes a brief bit of adaptation but it’s soon quite natural to use. Shooting is done automatically with endless waves of colored dots flying at the player. These dots are different colors, each representing a different skill level. While one color might be fairly dumb and easy to take out, another might be keen to dodge bullets and tricky to chase after. –Jennifer Allen

Toy Rush

 
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On paper, Toy Rush doesn’t look particularly remarkable. It’s a freemium game, a tower defense/offense title, and it has collectible cards to acquire. It’s essentially a mash up of many other elements we’ve seen before. While, as is the way with such freemium games, patience is necessary when dealing with some timers, Toy Rush still offers a few different elements that make it feel more worthwhile than other titles within the genre. Players start out with their own base to defend and build upon. It’s a familiar premise with players able to place new towers and units to keep things safe for while they’re offline. What’s different is how this is done. Tickets are gradually accumulated through victories and simply through waiting it out. These are then used to buy packets of cards. The more spent on these card packs, the better the quality of the items gleaned from them. Such randomness is sometimes a bit infuriating when one is desperate for a particular card, but it’s also fun to see what happens. –Jennifer Allen

WordGirl Superhero Training

 
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WordGirl Superhero Training is a PBS educational app based on the PBS show WordGirl that, like the name describes, revolves around a superhero girl with a focus on introducing new vocabulary to viewers through a conversational means. I really enjoy WordGirl – bright and colorful, with nuances reminiscent of The Powerpuff Girls with an educational spin easily palatable for children of all ages. The heart of WordGirl Superhero Training includes four mini-games that are geared towards strengthening skills such as memory, logic, and reflexes in an arcade-styled game that also includes a vocabulary element as well a maze-centric section involving synonyms. I really enjoy the creative ideas included within these sections. Instead of the classic “concentration”-styled game of flipping over cards to match pairs, one must focus on two related objects before they are “WHAMED” apart by the villain, The WHAMER, and are in need of being put back together by the player in this puzzle-themed section that helps children learn detailed words to describe these commonplace objects. –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

Lost Bubble

 
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Bubble breaking games are timeless reminders of the charm found in classic arcade titles. Striking the perfect balance, bubble popping games are the perfect mix of simple to play and difficult to master. Bringing these types of games to the modern gaming audience can also be a matter of finding the right balance. Lost Bubble, developed by Peak Games, fails to recognize the charm of classic bubble breakers by reaching too far for a modern overhaul. Like any bubble breaking game, the premise of Lost Bubble is simple. Players enter a level with colored bubbles populating the screen. It is the player’s job to shoot matching colored bubbles in order to make them fall. Early levels are quite simple, but the game challenges players with more bubbles to break and new obstacles as they advance through stages. –Ryan Bloom

Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies

 
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Retro Shooter Gem Gem Munchies is a fun, retro-feeling mouthful. The game premise is as simple as it gets; it takes a leaf out of the the book of arcade games of years past, and pits a shooter against shooting opponents. It’s a 2D playing area in this one, with the protagonist object at the bottom (forescreen) and the enemy craft mostly in the air above at the top of the screen. The protagonist object can move left and right, and can shoot, and these actions are accomplished via the virtual controls at the very bottom of the game. –Tre Lawrence

Go Kane!

 
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Go Kane! is a game about love, drugs and a fight against the clock. Will Kane get enough money to save one of his girlfriends? That’s up to the player. In Go Kane! players take control over ladies’ man Kane. Kane got himself in a nasty situation: his girlfriend – or at least, one of his girlfriends – is held hostage somewhere and Kane needs to get a certain amount of money to set her free once again. But how will he get more than a hundred thousand dollars? Well, by selling drugs, of course. Everything in this game should be taken with a grain of salt, because instead of drugs, Kane could be selling anything to get the money. But this game isn’t meant to be serious and has a lot of humor, so yeah. Why not drugs. –Wesley Akkerman

And finally, this week the chaps at Pocket Gamer reviewed KeroBlaster, JoyJoy, and Thomas Was Alone, gazed and guessed at Apple’s future with some iPhone 6 rumours and an iOS 8 wishlist, put together its first all-animated-GIF walkthrough to Blek, found some indie games in Poland, picked the best games to play with your kids, and told you how to become the next iOS game-streaming Twitch superstar. See it all right here.

Spring Into Our 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.

Unpossible

 
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Unpossible is another fantastic minimalist arcade survival game in the vein of Super Hexagon and Pivvot, this one adding in the wrinkle of being in first-person. Essentially, the game is the same as any other arcade survival game: don’t hit the obstacles. Simple as that. The obstacles and the way they’re laid out is anything but simple, though. There’s three difficulty modes: Simplicity, Futile, and Ultra. Simplicity starts out very easy, and it can be a bit disheartening at first for the player looking for a challenging experience because it’s fairly easy. However, things really jump up at Futile, where getting the requisite 60 seconds to unlock the next game mode is very difficult. And Ultra difficulty is, in fact, ultra-hard. –Carter Dotson

Hitman GO

 
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Hitman GO is one of the odder big-name games that I can remember in recent memory. It takes the core tenets of Hitman, and turns it into a strategic board game. It’s a unique choice with a unique presentation to match, and while it’s certainly odd at first, it comes together beautifully. This is an intelligently-designed, wonderful experience. This is a turn-based affair, where players control Agent 47 along circuit-like boards where he can move one node at a time. He must make it to the exit without being spotted by the enemies on the board, who all move after he does, so they have an advantage, though each enemy has predictable behaviors. Thus, it’s about using their patterns and the limited tools available, like noise makers and disguises, to avoid and even take out the various enemies. –Carter Dotson

Livescribe 3 Smartpen

 
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The Livescribe 3 is a Bluetooth enabled pen with a little infrared camera in the front that tracks what is written and stores that as a sort of digital ink. That ink can then be dictated to an iPad/iPhone with the free Livescribe+ app and a Bluetooth enabled iOS device. What results is nothing short of amazing. Once the writing/drawing/doodle/whatever that has been written on the special notebook and has been transferred to the iOS device, then the real magic starts. Whole pages or just sections can be emailed, transferred to Evernote, turned into calendar events or reminders, etc. And if the handwriting is legible (i.e. better then mine), any written words will also be converted to text for easy searching and emailing. –Jeff Scott

Trials Frontier

 
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At last, the Trials series hits mobile with Trials Frontier, now available worldwide after its Canadian soft launch! Unfortunately, it’s free-to-play. I don’t say this in the way that some people automatically despair about games going free-to-play. No, after playing Trials Frontier, I think the way that its business model affects the game diminishes what is otherwise a great experience at its core. Developed by RedLynx, creators of the Trials series and of the similar MotoHeroz, this is a level-based stunt biking game. Players ride their motorbike through a level, trying to avoid hazards and navigate the tricky terrain in order to make it to the end in one piece while performing flips along the way because they’re cool. It’s a game that requires patience, as many levels will require restarting from checkpoints (which are thankfully frequent) to make it through – but greater rewards come to those who complete levels faster and in fewer restarts. –Carter Dotson

Runtastic PRO

 
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It’s probably safe to say that Runtastic PRO is the Swiss Army Knife of running apps. It goes one better too, by being more than just for running – covering all manners of different movements from cycling to skiing. As a general one stop shop kind of app, Runtastic PRO has it covered. Runtastic PRO is immediately pretty quick to set up. A clearly laid out screen is there, ready for the beginning of a run or cycle. It’s easily adjusted too, with holding a finger to a number opening up a choice of values. Duration, pace, speed, distance, average pace and speed, as well as elevation and maximum speed can all be given focus here. Heart rate can also be tracked with the relevant equipment to hook up to the app. A map or music player can complete the selection. –Jennifer Allen

Dinosaur Train A to Z

 
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As parents of Dino-loving children know, there is a nice selection of books and apps that are dedicated to the combining of dinosaurs and the alphabet – typically including 26 dinosaurs and allowing one to correlate with each letter. Dinosaur Train A to Z is an app of this style, introducing children to many interesting facts about these prehistoric creatures. As the name may imply, this app is based on the hit PBS TV show, Dinosaur Train. Fans of the show will find the highlighted text and included narration familiar and inviting – something I appreciate as I honestly don’t enjoy trying to pronounce the long names that many dinosaurs possess. –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

Trial of Bones

 
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Man, skeletons are stupid. The undead kind, not the good kind that is just calmly resting inside of our bodies. I mean, animating a skeleton should be about the most difficult thing in magical world, because there’s absolutely no way they could move on their own – and yet, walking skeletons are the most basic enemy a hero can ever meet. Trial of Bones takes it to the next level by making skeletons the sole enemies. Sturdy and dangerous enemies, at that. I don’t want my life to be ended by a pile of calcium – give me real monsters! Bearing that in mind, Trial of Bones is actually quite good, although it severely lacks content. There’s a short prologue that I frankly can’t remember by now, but the problem at hand is that the main hero is trying to get through a dungeon that is filled with skeletons with the help of his awesome sword, as well as the objects he finds on the way. –Tony Kuzmin

Fly Catbug Fly!

 
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This is a game about a cat. Not just any cat – it’s a game about a flying insect cat that collects flying trash. Fly Catbug Fly is a bit close to Flappy Bird, but it’s closer to the old helicopter game that Flappy Bird was ripped off from. Catbug (of Bravest Warriors fame) flies through the never-ending corridor, bordered by solid matter on top and bottom, and has to evade it, as well as some small “islands” in the middle, while collecting trash. The trash consists of truly random items, ranging from old bottles to what to my twisted mind looked suspiciously like dirty toys, to leprechauns. There are portals scattered around the levels, which take the trash from Catbug, and give some cash in return. After picking enough trash, a hyper mode of sorts kicks in and you lose. At least that’s what happen to me all the time. –Tony Kuzmin

Sonic Racing Transformer

 
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When it comes to kart racing, Sonic is the man. And the hedgehog. Whatever… Sonic is the consummate console competitor, and he and his friends have done well on mobile devices too. Sonic Racing Transformed is yet another opportunity for us all to see how fast our blue bandit has come on Android OS. It is an intense game, and definitely not for the spec faint of heart. There are two modes off the bat, Single player and multi player, with the single optioning into the advertised new World Tour. There is also the Weekly Challenge, which allows players to compete for streaks and prizes. –Tre Lawrence

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iOS devotee 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.

Power Grounds

 
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Power Grounds is probably best described as a minimalistic take on a Roguelike, to the point that it’s more like a puzzle game than anything else. I’d stick to calling it just a puzzle game, but alas, Power Grounds was borne out of something called the Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) Challenge. The constraints on the creation of Power Grounds are very apparent (hence why I insist it’s more like a puzzle), but they result in a game that has such a laser-like focus on what it is supposed to be that it succeeds in being a very simple but very satisfying experience. Power Grounds takes some of the basic tenants of Roguelikes (randomization, permanent death, turn-based movement) and applies it onto a largely monochromatic grid. Players take control of a stick-wielding hero that is tasked with progressing through six rooms of enemies and obstacles – without dying – to beat the game. To do this successfully, players have to develop a strategy of movement as well as a strategy for unlocking the game’s power-ups. –Campbell Bird

Wind-Up Knight 2

 
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Wind-Up Knight 2, Robot Invader’s sequel to the game that put them on the map, is an auto-running platformer where players must jump, attack, roll, and use their shield to take out enemies and avoid hazards. This is not an endless runner, this is a platforming game where movement is automatic, and it’s freemium (with IAP to unlock the full game) versus an endless runner with consumable IAP so players should go in expecting something quite different from everything else that’s out there. The items that can be bought with the game’s coins (which can be bought with IAP as well) do provide help, but they’re not squarely necessary at all. –Carter Dotson

Breakfinity

 
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Offering that “just one more go” mentality, BREAKFINITY is a brick busting game in the vein of Arkanoid but with a difference. That difference being that it’s effectively endless. It’s a nice twist on the usual format. After all, how often does one ever complete an Arkanoid-style game, anyhow? Usually, it’s a classic example of enjoying the journey rather than seeking out the destination. Each level of BREAKFINITY is relatively quick to complete, mostly because the objective isn’t to clear all the bricks. Instead, it’s to create a gap and hit the top wall of the screen in order to progress to the next stage. Once that happens, the level changes around but the format stays the same. –Jennifer Allen

TapPainter

 
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Once upon a time, those who wanted to see whether a new color suited a particular room in the house were restricted to using paint samplers on their wall and being confined to having to redecorate at some point very soon to hide such things. That day has passed – kind of – with apps like TapPainter emerging to make the process much simpler. Admittedly, nothing is going to quite beat the tactile process of painting things on the actual wall, but TapPainter does a decent job of demonstrating what can be achieved. All the user needs to do is either import or take a photo directly of the room before getting to work. This is where, in the case of my rather lackluster iPad 2 camera, things get fuzzy. I found it a much smoother process to take a photo with my iPhone 5 before importing it that way, but mileage is going to vary here depending on what iPad users have. –Jennifer Allen

Space Pack from Mophie

 
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We’ve looked at other devices that allow for the expansion of available storage on iOS devices, but none have done so in such a elegant and portable way as the Mophie Space Pack. On the surface, the Space Pack looks like any other Mophie battery case. But on the inside are additional smarts and storage to keep up to 32GB of media. This is facilitated by a special app from Mophie called Space. –Jeff Scott

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

Golfy Bird

 
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Okay, I admit it. I really didn’t want to have a go at Golfy Bird. I mean, it is from Noodlecake, yes, which is almost always a positive. Still, it sounds suspiciously like The App That Was Pulled that we deign not mention by name. Frankly, the clones that popped up were somewhat depressing, and I even winced at real birds for a spell. I was wrong. Golfy Bird is its own person, and it’s somebody that might be very easy to like, and even fall in love with. –Tre Lawrence

Mikey Hooks

 
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Mark my words… There might be a zillion RPGs, and countless board games, and twice as many hidden objects games… no matter the time frame, or the medium of gaming, there will always be a place for arcade action gaming. Always. Mikey Hooks, which comes to us via platform heavyweight Noodlecake Studios and BeaverTap Games, is just one of those games, and I admit that I had pretty much decided to like it at first glance. –Tre Lawrence

SideSwype

 
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Nice to meet you, SideSwype. The playing area is a 5×5 grid, with space for 25 squares of different colors. if filled all the way. The sparse white background is a great counterpoint that highlights the coloring of the squares, and the smooth animations are just what we’d expect from a game that uses gestures as the main form of movement and problem-solving. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer cautiously checked out Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, took a stab at a Clash of Clans clan war, spent some ker-azy money in Crazy Taxi: City Rush, put together an epic guide to FTL, and checked out some games at Birmingham-based expo, Rezzed. It’s all right here.

Apps Are Us

 

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.

Game of Thrones Ascent

 
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Game of Thrones, both the TV series and the novels that serve as the source material, can be best described as dense. Game of Thrones: Ascent is similarly dense, but may be fun for people who welcome the density. Ascent takes place around the beginning of the series – players control a new noble trying to find their place among the figures that rule Westeros and ascend to the Iron Throne. Players can customize a variety of factors, including their stats – prefer to fight with the sword, or with a forked tongue? Want to rise under the Lannister barrier, or as a Targaryen? Many options, including one’s lineage, are available. –Carter Dotson

Star Wars: Assault Team

 
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I admit that Star Wars: Assault Team did not leave me very excited when I first heard of it, if only because I’m perhaps a bit jaded when it comes to collectible card games and free-to-play RPGs. Well, I went in with an open mind, and found that while the game is certainly simple, it’s not dumbed down. True to form, players collect cards of characters in the Star Wars series, featuring various tiers of cards that can be earned in story missions or bought in card packs purchased with soft or hard currency. Then characters can be upgraded by using item cards and spending more and more soft currency per upgrade to make them stronger for later story missions and when the PVP becomes available. There’s also limited-time promotion missions to help promote coming back on a regular basis. It’s a fairly-familiar formula to say the least. –Carter Dotson

Glint

 
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When it comes to gameplay vs. graphics, gameplay is totally where it’s at as far as puzzle games are concerned. Tetris on the original Game Boy has visuals straight out of a late 70s calculator, and yet it’s still a perfect video game. It’s strange then that Glint tries so hard to look so pretty while leaving its gameplay to suffer. The tradeoff succeeds, but is it worth it? In Glint, multicolored circles flood onto the screen and players must clear them before they fill the map completely. To clear circles, players simply swipe their fingers across circles of the same color in one continuous stroke. It doesn’t even matter if the stroke touches other circles along the way. Short swipes are good for fast matches, but longer swipes lead to more points. Players can also purchase power-ups that extend swipe range or clear multiple circles at once. –Jordan Minor

Ravensburger Puzzle

 
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I’m not convinced there’s any game out there that could capture the joy that comes from clicking in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s too tactile in its satisfaction for even the rather excellent Ravensburger Puzzle to achieve. However, Ravensburger Puzzle does also circumvent the issue of having to collect up all the pieces and put them back in the box, so that’s something. Either way, it’s a great app for the jigsaw fiend. Included for the asking price are a bunch of puzzles ready to be tackled, as well as some in-game coins that can be used to buy more. Expect to chip in for a few more images via some in-app purchases but it’s nothing too harsh. With each image, it’s possible to create a jigsaw of between 20 and 500 pieces, covering all skill levels. –Jennifer Allen

The Collectables

 
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A simple to learn strategy game, The Collectables starts out pretty fun. That is until one scratches under the surface and soon learns that it encapsulates much of what’s most infuriating about freemium games. The set up is decent. Players control a bunch of renegade soldiers as they complete a series of missions of similar proportions. These typically involve wandering through stages and shooting the foes in one’s way before collecting or destroying various targets. It’s simple stuff but it works well on the mobile format, given much can be achieved in a short space of time. –Jennifer Allen

Pixel Hunter

 
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I would like to soundly punch in the face the wisenheimer who thought that virtual d-pads were good enough to make precisely controlling platformers a viable option on iOS. Allow me to clarify. I don’t wish harm on the developers of Pixel Hunter over at Lemondo Entertainment; I’m sure they’re all great, hardworking folks. I’m really speaking in general terms of the main frustration that I have with this game and others like it. If old-school platforming is where timing and positioning are the difference between triumphant progression and a frustrating restart is going to be the crux of a game, then it either requires tactile feedback or needs to be extremely forgiving. Unfortunately, Pixel Hunter doesn’t hit the bullseye on either mark. –Rob Thomas

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

Glyph Quest

 
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Glyph Quest is another in the crowded field of combat puzzlers. Will it cast a spell on you? Glyph Quest boils down to a long series of fights that take place across a map. There are dozens of fights to get though and between fights earned coins can be used at the shop to buy new upgrades and items to help in battle. Glyph Quest has highly focused and enjoyable gameplay. The game takes the form of a battle, like a lot of puzzle games today. Matching elemental symbols results in an attack of that element, the more symbols the stronger the attack. Alternating between elements results in bonus damage if opposite elements are used, but linking opposing elements in the same attack results in a backfire, which damages your mage. A steady stream of abilities and spells are unlocked as the player levels up, enemies are nice and varied and there are plenty of status effects and other quirks to force players to mix up their strategies. For example, goblin mages can hide all the tiles under question marks and spiders can use web attacks that make certain tiles unavailable to use in a combo. –Allan Curtis

Ignis Castle Adventure

 
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In gaming, one incontrovertible fact is that one can’t — or rather shouldn’t be able to — go wrong with a platform runner. I mean, they are simple and straight to the point. Thus, a lot of times, games like Ignis Castle Adventure have the built-in advantage of familiarity. The playing area is crafted in 2D, with the overall look of an old-age dungeon. The animations are decent enough, with the purposefully monochrome look broken by bright splotches here and there. –Tre Lawrence

Doodle Tank Battle

 
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Doodle Tank Battle brings simple battle to the world of tank conflict. There are two main modes, Campaign and Endless. Using Campaign as the initial play mode, one can use the tutorial to gain familiarity. The playing area is designed to be used in top-down fashion, with the home tank being green, and the red tanks signifying enemy units. The tanks are simple, genial affairs; the terrain differs slightly from level to level, but mostly retain the same design elements. The control layout can be tweaked, but by default there is a liberal joystick on the left, and tapping on the right incites firing. The controls are responsive, and everything on this end is fairly intuitive. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week over at Pocket Gamer you’ll find previews of Isolani, Midnight Star, and Noir Syndrome, the top games from the GDC Big Indie Pitch, the most anticipated mobile games for April, tips for beginner Boom Beach players, first impressions of the HTC One M8, and loads more. Go go go.

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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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.

Apps Are Us

 

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.

Toca Lab

 
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Toca Lab is an interesting new interactive app by Toca Boca. As the name may express, Toca Lab takes place in a laboratory setting where one has a chance to perform experiments with many of the same tools I used in eighth grade physical chemistry; such as a Bunsen burner to heat or a centrifuge to spin solutions in order to separate solids and liquids. A cooling agent to freeze mixtures is offered, as are other tools found in this laboratory. As one may expect the look of this app is quirky and inviting, with pleasing colors and sound effects that Toca Boca is known for. –Amy Solomon

Card Wars-Adventure Time

 
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Card Wars – Adventure Time is a tale of two wildly different emotions coming from the same game. Its core game is excellent, top-notch stuff. But the free-to-play aspects that surround this $3.99 purchase do a lot of damage to an otherwise amazing title. Taking direct inspiration from the “Card Wars” episode of Adventure Time, this card battler (appropriately enough) has players building decks and taking on other characters in battles. Players play creatures and buildings with different stats and effects on one of the four lanes, each with its own environment type that affects what can be played there. Each turn, the player chooses what cards to play, what cards to floop (meaning which special abilities to activate), and then to battle to try and take out creatures and to attack blank squares to hit the other player’s HP directly. Last one standing is the Cool Guy. –Carter Dotson

Rookie

 
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Simple to use and offering some good results, Rookie is a photo editing app that’s ideal for the average iOS photo snapper. It lacks a slight amount of ‘wow’ factor, staying pretty solid if not revolutionary, but that doesn’t stop it from being worth checking out. Laid out in an easy to understand manner, Rookie takes users each step of the way. It’s possible to take a photo from within the app or import existing shots before getting down to the fun stuff. The camera side of things isn’t that basic either, offering anti-shake, a self-timer, zoom, as well as focus and exposure controls. –Jennifer Allen

Final Fantasy VI

 
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Arguably the finest Final Fantasy title out there (and believe me, there are plenty of arguments over which rules the roost) [Editor's Note: argument nothing, VI will always be the best!], Final Fantasy VI makes its way to iOS to remind players just how brilliant turn based RPGing really can be. Its conversion isn’t perfect but it’ll still satisfy the majority of players. Final Fantasy VI tells the story of Terra, a magic caster used by the evil Empire (is there any other kind?), who escapes with a group of rebels in order to overthrow the evil Kefka. It’s more complicated than that of course, easily proving to be one of the more gripping stories from the franchise. It’s also significantly large enough that the slightly imposing $16 asking price feels like a bargain by the end. –Jennifer Allen

Clear Vision 3

 
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Welcoming back the world’s baddest stickman sniper, Clear Vision 3 feels more ‘fleshed out’ than its predecessors with the addition of a shooting range and a variety of part-time jobs. This legal work ranges from plumbing, to dishwashing, to being a janitor. Though the jobs are an entertaining way to earn extra cash the animations won’t warrant a second watch for most, so it’s probably better to just shoot someone in the face for money instead. In that area, little has changed in Clear Vision 3, and it’s just as fun as ever. Players have to shoot their target by moving the scope into position and firing a single shot, while taking wind power and distance into account. As usual, some ‘hits’ require players to think outside of the box, depending on the client’s specific request. There is, however, the option to upgrade weapons this time around, using in-game currency to reduce the detrimental effects of the natural variables. The interface is as slick as expected, though I did occasionally notice a slight stutter of the crosshair after I removed my finger from the screen. –Lee Hamlet

Dungeon Highway

 
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Sometimes creativity is more than just coming up with new ideas. Dungeon Highway‘s gameplay, atmosphere, and even its artwork are (legally) taken from other sources. However, the resulting combination feels more interesting and original than expected. Dungeon Highway is basically a vertical shoot ‘em up like Xevious but played from the perspective of a behind the back endless runner like Sonic Dash. As a lone explorer forever runs forward into an infinite dungeon tunnel, the player’s job is to tilt him out of the way of obstacles and have him blast foes into bloody bits by tapping the screen. Adding to the retro shooter vibe is the steep challenge, especially on hardcore mode or in the daily challenge. It’s a game about testing twitch reflexes and gunning for the high score. There are also numerous power-ups to help make this task easier; like a growth potion that lets players sustain one more hit, a potion that slows down time for easier moving and shooting, and various weapons that change the size or shape of the player’s fire blast. –Jordan Minor

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

Tiki Monkeys

 
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In Tiki Monkeys, thieving monkeys have to be set straight, and it isn’t the easiest task. It is a colorful exhibition, and it is easy to enjoy the gameplay which is rendered in top-down perspective. The characterizations are simple, and the animations are quite avid when it counts. The jungle motif is well represented in the green foliage, and the developer seemingly ignores overly extraneous visual distractions, which seems to feel right in this iteration. –Tre Lawrence

Motoheroz

 
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Motoheroz has made its way to Android. The gameplay comes in two generalized versions: One Shot, which exists to perpetuate leaderboard bragging rights, and Career, that highlights prowess over extended levels. In the latter version, finishing a level with a star (more on this later) opens up future levels. There are eleven environments (with another “coming soon”) and each environment is broken down into said levels. Social network sign-up is necessary to take part in the One Shot series. –Tre Lawrence

Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster

 
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Everyone has a “driving” bucket list. Think about it: haven’t you ever wanted to captain a shrimp boat? What about a tank? The toddler choo-choo train at the mall? You know you do. Well, it’s time to add and strike rollercoaster conductor to/from the list. This is what Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster from Ubisoft can do for you. It’s an inviting game with a large heart, the latter point underscored in the engaging artwork. It’s a fun, cheerful romp, with smooth animations and subtle use of perspective. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week the guys at Pocket Gamer marked the passing of Flappy Bird by reviewing its clones, chatted to Peter Molyneux about the microtransactions in his upcoming Godus, talked to Shenandoah Studio’s David Denham, and picked the best iOS and Android games of the week (including R-Type II, Dungelot 2, and The Room 2). Read more right here.

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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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!

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!

 

With less than a week to go before Christmas, the rush is on to find the perfect gift. Why wade through endless streams of furious shoppers when the perfect app is right here? Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Remastered

 
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Sure, the Sonic the Hedgehog series is known as a classic now, but for me, the moment when the series jumped from being about “blast processing” and Not-Mario to being a classic in its own right was Sonic 2. It was a rather comprehensive game, laying the groundwork for much of the series’ conventions. So when Christian Whitehead got his chance to helm a remastering as he did with Sonic CD and the original Sonic, there wasn’t too much he could add. But what has been added preserves what made the original game great, modernizes just what needs to be done, and adds one very cool easter egg for die-hard fans. –Carter Dotson

Star Trek: Trexels

 
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For some unknown reason, no one seems to be able to make a decent Star Trek game. Some argue the last time a good Star Trek game came out, it was for the Sega Genesis. Some would even go farther back, saying it was on the NES. Regardless, every Star Trek related game from older PC games up to the most recent one based on the J. J. Abrams adaptation of the series have not received high praise from critics. So, does a simulation/management style mobile game fare any better? –Mike Deneen

Jam Fusion Wireless Stereo Headphones

 
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The Jam Fusion Wireless Headphones are on the budget end of the spectrum for wireless headphones, coming in at just $63 on Amazon currently ($99 list). The headphones offer a modest 6 hour playback time, so make sure they are charged before that long flight. The headphones do have a decent sound, though they’re lacking a bit in the low end. I must admit that I have a big head but I can only judge comfort by the head I have, and these are too tight to use for any length of time. There is not enough give in the arm to allow the on-ear pads to sit comfortably on my ears. –Jeff Scott

Cut the Rope 2

 
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Om Nom just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet candy. Seriously, I think he has a problem. The lengths he would go to were pretty intense before, but in Cut the Rope 2 things are even crazier. He’s got more worlds to snack in, more obstacles to overcome, new creatures to help him, and unfortunately a few unwelcome monetization methods. Spiders have stolen Om Nom’s candy stash using a hot air balloon (naturally), and the little addict is dragged along with them as they make their escape. Literally: his adorable little foot gets tangled in the anchor line and he goes for a ride. Once free, players must stuff him with sweets as they work their way through 120 all-new levels. Cut the Rope 2 is in many ways similar to the original – what with the rope cutting and all – but a number of new elements have also been introduced that change the formula up quite a bit. –Rob Rich

Ridge Racer Slipstream

 
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I’m confident I wasn’t alone in being mildly worried about Ridge Racer Slipstream when a teaser trailer was released for it. Looking like it was going to pursue a freemium route, it made me twitchy. Fortunately, there was little need to worry. Ridge Racer Slipstream is a premium title that’s backed up by the availability of in-app purchases rather than reliant upon them. They’ll speed things along a fair bit, but a lack of an energy bar system is quite reassuring. –Jennifer Allen

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

 
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If anyone were to take a generic straw poll of journalists who reviewed games during the PlayStation 2 era, asking what their “Game of the Generation” was, there is a very good possibility that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would top at least a few lists. Not only was it well received critically, it went on to smash top sales records all over the place. But the question remains: have the last nine years been kind to this storied classic? In the legendary words of Dr. Dre, “HELL YEAH.” –Blake Grundman

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

Sticky Password Manager & Safe

 
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Digital password safes are almost necessities for the productively mobile in this day. There are several options available to Android users, and this is a god thing, as this means only worthy candidates will step into the ring. Enter Sticky Password Manager and Safe from Lamantine Software. Sticky packs AES encryption, and boldly looks to be the consummate password solution; off the bat, I like having the choice if either using the app as a standalone option, or getting in on cloud sync on one or more devices for $20 a year. Signup is a breeze and can be done on mobile device or the web. –Tre Lawrence

Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure

 
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A disintegrating plane. Scattered luggage. Iced up animals. A snowboard. Such is the world of Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure from Android development vet Ezone.com. To understand the gameplay, one must understand the backstory. It revolves around a successful explorer (Professor Headwind), who, in his travels to exotic locations, has accumulated a veritable horde of exciting items. On the way home, an ill-fated shortcut has dire consequences; his plane breaks apart, strewing his property and plane parts on snow covered mountains. –Tre Lawrence

Castle Raid 2

 
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To say the truth, I’ve only played original Castle Raid for a little while, so my experiences with this sequel aren’t really comparable. I’ve seen enough to suggest that the games aren’t wholly different. Castle Raid 2 is just as fun, has a bit better graphics, more units, and a larger campaign – but the gameplay only differs in details. It’s still a hellish time-sinker, regardless of whether you play it with a friend, or against an AI. Story in Castle Raid 2 spins in a surprising direction from the original. While human armies are fighting against each other, the whole kingdom and nearby lands get overrun by orcs that drive the humans off their own land. This forces the old enemies to band together, and claim their lands back. This means that the blue units are now people, and the red – orcs, both having distinct armies with different looks – although they’re still completely identical in powers, abilities and costs. Honestly, my biggest – and probably, only – peeve with Castle Raid 2 is that I really wanted to see at least two sides with unique units and abilities. That would turn this fine strategy into an amazing one. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, Pocket Gamer reviewed Walking Dead: Season 2, Republique, Colossatron, Cut the Rope 2, and Ridge Racer Slipstream. The guys chatted to Republique creator Ryan Payton about moving from Kojima to Kickstarter, and picked out the best tablets you can buy. All that, and loads more, here. And, in AppSpy’s latest video wrap-up, you can watch reviews of games like The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. They also went hands-on with new releases like Cut the Rope 2, Ridge Racer Slipstream, and Colossatron: Massive World Threat. Click here to see all these games in action.

This Week at 148Apps: December 9-13, 2013

Apps For The Holidays

 

The holidays are upon us! 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.

Seagate Wireless Plus 1T Wireless Hard Drive

 
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We’ve previously looked at the Sandisk Connect Wireless Drives. Wireless storage is something that many companies are trying out. Seagate takes things to an extreme; giving us a one terabyte drive capable of holding 500 HD movies, then making it portable and wireless. The drive comes with wireless N, which allows much quicker transfer, and also includes a USB 3 connection for the fastest transfer of data when not in wireless mode. In testing, moving media to the drive in wireless mode was nice and speedy. Regular USB was rapid as well, although I could not test out the USB 3. With the terabyte of space, it stored everything I threw at it. –Jeff Scott

Band Stars

 
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Limber up those fingers and start humming vocal exercises, because developers Halfbrick and Six Foot Kid are ready to help indulge everyone’s inner rock and roll superstar. Their newest release, Band Stars, puts players in control of a budding ensemble on the verge of breaking it big. Can this new music management title strike a chord with its audience, or will it simply get lost in the roar of the crowd? Step aside Game Dev Story fans, because there is a new management game in town. This time around, instead of trying to produce fictional games the product is melody. Each band consists of a collection of characters who have different skills that help contribute to the song sculpting experience. Tunes are produced in three stages: writing, recording, and mixing. One musician with high lyrical and creative abilities is assigned to writing a base track while the entire group performs it and a single member polishes the final mix. There is even an option to highlight solos in each performance, just to give the future smash hit a little bit more juice. –Blake Grundman

The Room Two

 
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A year after the runaway success of the original The Room, we find ourselves with a new set of puzzles in the appropriately titled The Room Two. Can it stand up to the exceptional quality of the original, though? Well, yes. It does exactly that. It’s required that I write more than that of course, but fans of the original should stop here and immediately start downloading The Room Two. It’s everything one could hope for from a good sequel; building upon what worked so well for the original. –Jennifer Allen

Olloclip 3-in-1 Macro Lens for iPhone 5

 
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I’m a huge Olloclip fan. I have been so since their first model for the iPhone 4. As an amateur photographer for many years, I’ve gone from film to digital very early on, to a killer DSLR, and now to almost exclusively the iPhone 5. In that time I’ve lost a little bit of the options for creativity on the hardware side, but slowly they are coming back. This latest 3-in-1 Macro lens set really plays to my interests. I love taking creative macro photos, and this lens set will be a great addition to my camera bag. Like the other Olloclip lens sets, this one has three different lenses; all of them macro on this edition. A 7x, 14x, and 21x lens allow varying levels of magnification on the subject. The Olloclip macro set also includes light diffraction hoods for the lenses. This allows the camera to be placed right on the subject but still allow light in. –Jeff Scott

Angry Birds Go!

 
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The latest in the series of games from Finland-based studio Rovio Mobile that took the world by storm with its creation of the Angry Birds franchise, Angry Birds Go! arrives as a casual racer that still has that unmistakable Rovio touch. Starting out, players can choose to jump right into the race or visit “Toons.tv” – Rovio’s animation service that aims to bring the Angry Birds characters to life in a 52-episode marathon. Jumping in will see one go through a short tutorial consisting of a single solo race, and later having those pesky pigs join in for the ride. –Arron Hirst

The Wolf Among Us

 
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The Wolf Among Us is the latest title from Telltale Games, bringing a story of fairytale fables who live in secret within the real world. This is a five-episode series based on a mature graphic novel series known as Fables. Players take the role of Sheriff Bigby Wolf, previously known as the big bad wolf – a character that is feared and disliked by many. The mood is set early on as players venture into an altercation with another Fable. The decisions made affect the entire story and outcome, so each decision comes with consequences. The story is very intriguing and pulled me in at a hundred percent. It’s a story that turns players into a detective as they try to discover the mystery behind a murder. It definitely takes a dark turn into this world of fairytale characters, and that’s one of the factors that makes discovering what happens next so intriguing. –Andrew Stevens

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

Any.DO Cal

 
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Any.DO is the development house behind one of the most respected task utilities on Android, and its Android calendar app, Cal, is definitely one that needs to be looked at. Forgive the slobber; this app is gorgeous. It comes in with bright colors, pictures and live animations to complement the default white look of the calendar information. the app automatically pulled information from my selected calendars, and presents them in a slick day-in-week view that can be pulled down to expose a monthly date look. Swiping to the left gives the previous day, while the right predictably brings the next day up, and so and so forth; months can similarly be manipulated in the cal1month view. Events on the calendar are ever so gently color-coded. –Tre Lawrence

Tower Madness

 
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Tower Madness is a tower defence game that looks like a lot of things at the same time. Of course, it’s not exactly easy to stand out from as numerous crowd as tower defence, and it’s not like Tower Madness isn’t trying, but I still found myself drawing parallels to other similar games, and especially Fieldrunners, quite a bit. The story is laconic and ridiculous. Aliens need your sheep, all eight of them, and you need to stop them. The stopping power includes about a dozen different kinds of defences, all of which can be upgraded, and should probably be a lot more interesting to aliens in the first place. The aliens come in waves, being delivered by UFOs, and heading straight to the sheep’s pen, with their walking routes being marked by arrows. When the player places a tower in their way, the aliens find a new path, around it. Thus, playing with tower positions, the player eventually creates a corridor of death that can eradicate even the most resilient of otherworldly scum. –Tony Kuzmin

Aztec Antics

 
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Aztec Antics is an interesting platform-based thriller from Bouncing Ball Games that celebrates the golden days when arcade games ruled the roost. It had a decidedly retro look, with an eye-pleasing array of 2D pixelated graphics making up most the background. The characters are itty bitty things, full of vigor and hungry to move. Blocks form platforms and naturescapes set against a soft background denoting jungle and temples. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed The Room Two, GTA: San Andreas, and Angry Birds Go!, picked out the top smartphones you can buy right now, went hands-on with Trials Frontier, and started its complete walkthrough to The Room Two. All that, and loads more, at the Pocket Gamer Week in Review.

This Week at 148Apps: December 2-6 2013

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iOS devotee 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.

Skulls of the Shogun

 
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Death is a very common thread in gaming, though admittedly in most cases it is being used as a motivating factor that the player wants to avoid. In the freshly ported iOS version of Skulls of the Shogun, the focus is actually on what happens after the main character has left the land of the living. General Akamoto and his ragtag group of hoodlums are trying to fight their way to the proverbial pearly gates, one decapitation at a time. Naturally they face quite the uphill struggle, with plenty of amusing shenanigans along the way. –Blake Grundman

Assassin’s Creed Pirates

 
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Assassin’s Creed Pirates is a game that’s appropriately multi-faceted: it encompasses multiple types of gameplay in its quest for pirate action in the Caribbean seas around the time of Assassin’s Creed IV. It’s a game with plenty to do and offers fun looting and boat-sinking times, it’s just structurally sub-optimal. There are two main parts to the game: sailing and combat. Sailing takes place in two different environments: a top-down map view that allows for just drawing lines to get around, and an “immersive” view where players can actually steer the ship, raise or lower the sails to control their speed, find random items to pick up, and challenging neutral ships that they cross. This is more fun, just more time-consuming. Certain missions require a certain view: race missions require immersive view while assassination missions which require stealth to sail past ship patrols use the top-down view. –Carter Dotson

Maps Pro With Google Maps

 
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Offering fairly powerful mapping features tied into Google Maps, Maps Pro with Google Maps is the kind of app that regular travellers are going to want to keep on their iPads for future reference. So much simpler and more intuitive to use than the website, it’s a very handy tool. Even better, it hardly needs learning. That’s how easy it is to figure out. Immediately placing a pin on the user’s current location, everything about Maps Pro with Google Maps is easily laid out. The opening page offers up directions, sharing, street view, settings, and a search bar. –Jennifer Allen

PDF Expert 5

 
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PDF Expert 5 isn’t an update to the already popular app, but is instead a newly redesigned package that provides iPad users with more features. It handles everything about a PDF – like reading, annotating, and editing. The app was just released this week and its fresh and sleek design make it a perfect fit for iOS 7. Whether users are familiar with previous versions or are just trying it out for the first time, it’s clear that the new features help to make navigation easier. For starters, there is a new PDF viewer that allows users to open large files, search through text, extract text from PDFs, and even open password-protected documents. There’s plenty of room to view PDFs thanks to full screen annotations and the smart zoom option that help users make notes and draw with ease. –Angela LaFollette

Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure

 
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Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure is a terrific universal puzzle adventure app for all ages, adapting the richly detailed illustrations of Roxie Munro’s previous puzzle app, Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure, into a jigsaw puzzle that players of all abilities will enjoy. This app consists of a colorful, stylized, and magnificently drawn landscape that is then broken up into 16 different smaller puzzles. I appreciate how up to five players use this app and their game will be saved independently, and how players can choose to break these individual puzzles into a number of puzzle pieces ranging from six chunky pieces to 260 small pieces on the iPad and 130 pieces on the iPhone, giving young children as well as seasoned adults a chance to enjoy this app equally. –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

Banana Kong

 
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In Banana Kong, the players can learn an important lesson: eventually, your possessions and greed turn on you. And the more things you get, the harder they will fall on your head, and no matter how long you run, they will eventually bury you. Unless you have a hog you can ride on. This is where the analogy kind of falls apart for me. –Tony Kuzmin

Dream of Pixels

 
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There’s no point beating about the bush when talking about Dream of Pixels. It’s Tetris but with a twist. There’s no other way to explain it. Dream of Pixels is a puzzle game where you have to place familiar look shapes onto the screen. Unlike the game it clearly derives from, these shapes don’t drop down from the top of the screen, so there’s no need to shift your shapes from left to right before they hit the bottom. Instead, Dream of Pixels slowly (at first) scrolls the entire screen upwards. Your job is to ensure that no empty spaces make their way to the bottom of the screen. This means you need to use your shapes to ensure that each line is full of blocks. –Matt Parker

Thor: The Dark World

 
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Thor: The Dark World is an arcade pseudo beat-em up arcade game that also serves as an official Android companion game to the movie of the same name. The game is nice to look at. Thor’s hair has the golden yellow halo effect, and the virtual environment is a fine interpretation of of cinematic imagination. Bright colors, interesting beasts and nicely animated characters rolling to the booming voice of Thorish proclamations. There is a judicious use of color, and while some of the animations are a bit formulaic they are altogether hard not to enjoy. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Blek, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Space Hulk, and The Wolf Among Us, picked the best iOS and Android games of November, tore it up with Touchgrind Skate 2‘s video upload feature, went hands-on with The Room 2, and put together holiday gift guides for 3DS and Vita. For all that and loads more, Head to Pocket Gamer for their weekly wrap-up.

Apps Are Us

 

What to do with all of that post-Thanksgiving holiday time? Search for the latest and greatest apps, of course! 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.

Gravitations

 
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It was actually hard for me to review JLOOP’s Gravitations directly from the standpoint of it being a “normal” game. That’s because the missions are in themselves created by those playing. There are no preset levels here. Instead, Gravitations allows players to create, manage, and edit their own missions for eventual playing by themselves and others. Launching Gravitations for the first time, one can just feel the level of polish that has gone onto it. Backed by a “War of the Worlds”-style soundtrack that sets the tone for mystery and discovery, from the game’s start screen players will be able to choose from a carousel of options; including visiting the ship hangar, entering explore mode, builders’ contests, taking a class at the flight school, seeing what shared missions are available, or even creating missions. –Arron Hirst

Demonstrate

 
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There’s an increasing number of apps out there aimed at smoothing out the process of creating one’s own apps. While some simplify the coding process such as Codea, others help with different parts of the app making process. Demonstrate is one such app, allowing users to add hotspots and transitions to their previously constructed screenshots. It’s a fairly specialized tool that requires backup from other sources, but it’s potentially quite handy. Best of all, it’s free to download. An in-app purchase opens it up further in terms of how many screens can be used but the free build should be sufficient for many small projects. One sample project is included to explain how to use the app but it’s a pretty straightforward process. Users pick out a screen from their Camera Roll or Dropbox account before dragging and dropping hotspots onto the relevant place. Then it’s a matter of linking another screen to the hotspot in order to demonstrate the order of the app. –Jennifer Allen

Tiger & Chicken

 
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There are not many 3D roleplaying hack n’ slay games out there in the iOS market, and admittedly this is the first action-packed adventure that I’ve come across in some time that hooked me in right from the opening scene. Tiger & Chicken tells the story of a chicken with a whole lot of courage, who after getting separated from his female friend, decides one day to finally leave the Shaolin temple that he grew up in as an orphan and take it upon himself to track her down and rescue her. –Lucy Ingram

Icycle: On Thin Ice

 
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Icycle: On Thin Ice is the latest platformer from Chillingo. While the game itself is beautifully displayed and has a unique sense of humor, it unfortunately feels too “floaty” and imprecise in the control department to really be a stand out title. The first impression that Icycle: On Thin Ice makes cannot be overstated. The game is simply beautiful with its stylized vector look, bright colors, and cool-looking design. On top of this, it tells a strange but charming story of a naked man named Dennis as he navigates a frozen landscape looking for love. Between both the visuals and the humorous storyline, there is a lot to like about the game conceptually. –Campbell Bird

MOGA Ace Power Gamepad

 
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The dawn of a new era in iOS gaming is on hand with the launch of the first MFi gamepads from MOGA and Logitech. However, things are far from ideal right now, as the MOGA Ace Power shows. I was most excited for MOGA to toss its hat into the iOS gamepad ring – the MOGA Pro is my favorite Android gamepad without a doubt, and a wonderful controller for playing games with. So, with MOGA having the first “extended” MFi gamepad boasting a full complement of buttons (four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, two analog triggers, a d-pad, a pause button, and two analog joysticks) I was excited. However, the limitations of the MOGA Ace Power and its high price tag make it only for early adopters. –Carter Dotson

Castle of Illusion

 
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Castle of Illusion, a modern remake of the Sega Genesis platforming hit, has made a surprise landing on iOS after launching on console and PC not long ago. It’s certainly a welcome addition to the platform. This is a 2.5D platformer in that it does contain mostly 3D characters along a 2D plane, but moments where 3D movement is possible do pop up and are parts of some of the game’s cooler moments – like a puzzle where players must discover if tiles they’re running on are fake or not by looking into a mirror. So no, it’s not just a straight-up paint job on the original game. It’s been modernized, but it still has enough of that classic flavor to it. This is not just in looks: many of the original enemies and bosses are still here in some form, but the game has the trappings of a kind of late 8-bit and early 16-bit platformer. There’s that feeling of rigidity to the way that levels are arranged and laid out that makes it have just enough of an old-school feel while feeling loose and new. –Carter Dotson

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

Siegecraft Defender

 
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Siegecraft Defender pays another visit to the well-worn tower defense genre. Does it stand out among the throngs of similar games on Android? Siegecraft Defender plays pretty much like other tower defense games. There is a portal that constantly spits out enemies in waves of varying amounts. Somewhere else on the battlefield is an area that must be defended. To stop the enemies the player builds fortifications featuring towers and walls to create mazes of fortifications designed to slow down enemies as much as possible so they can be picked apart by the defenses. Each tower has a different effect on enemies. –Allan Curtis

Bitter Sam

 
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Okay, I have no idea what to say about Bitter Sam, content-wise. It’s a game with very simple and understandable mechanics, but when you actually try to understand what the hell is going on in there, your thoughts start to hurt a bit. It’s about a strange furry creature that kinda looks like a man in a suit, and is not more than three inches tall. He is literally hanging by a thread, held by some crazy scientists, descending into some dangerous caverns with unclear intentions. I frankly can’t fathom what is going on in there, but Bitter Sam is living up to his name, being quite a miserable little bastard throughout. Seriously, the dude is so utterly soul-crushed that he actually smiles when he dies. He’s being on an emotionally-destructive level of the first several minutes of The Land Before Time, and the game is being quite schadenfreudian about this. Despite the main hero being sadder than a rock star’s 28th birthday, it’s really fun and casual. –Tony Kuzmin

New Star Soccer

 
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I’ll be honest: I’m somewhat cynical of soccer sims. It seems most long-term sports management games have been done. Still, it takes a game like New Star Soccer to change my mind, and change my mind it did. The game provides an abbreviated player development ladder based around The Beautiful Game. It connects gameplay, skill development/career and more into a pretty nice simulation package. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer went hands-on with Angry Birds Go and Assassin’s Creed Pirates, picked out its most anticipated games of December, welcomed Skulls of the Shogun to iOS, and reviewed Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and Icycle: On Thin Ice. All that, and loads more, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

Apps Are Us

 

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.

Clumsy Ninja

 
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Clumsy Ninja is a casual “Tamagotchi-style” game starring an inept ninja and a humorous physics engine. The game has players train their ninja with the hope that, one day, they will no longer be clumsy. Between the rather impressive physics, fun challenges, and relatively innocuous free-to-play design, Clumsy Ninja is actually a pretty fun game. To play Clumsy Ninja, players can touch the environment or their ninja to interact with it. There are also a couple of menus that allow players to take on challenges for experience points and add new items to their training grounds. Almost everything a player does yields experience points, but the fastest way to move up the ninja ranks is to complete challenges – which can vary anywhere from punching bag training sessions to flinging the ninja on top of a roof. –Campbell Bird

Touchgrind Skate 2

 
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The original Touchgrind was one of the first games on the App Store that truly used multitouch controls to their potentital. Since then, so many games have continued to just use virtual controls, not truly taking advantage of their platform. However, Illusion Labs is back to show these sucka MCs just what’s up with the wonderful Touchgrind Skate 2. The game has been reborn in 2013 as something more like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games in that players skate around a various skatepark-y environments chaining together tricks like spins, flips, and edge grinds. There’s a lengthy tutorial that has players seeing how to pull off the various maneuvers, with the ability to go back and re-watch and try individual sections in case more practice is necessary. Once in the actual game players can play a 100 second mode where they try to get the most points in that time limit, or a best line mode where a chain of tricks in a short time period can be attempted with the goal being to get the highest-scoring line. This mode is endless, with players able to keep playing until they get a score they’re satisfied with. –Carter Dotson

Lords of Waterdeep

 
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Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons-themed board game that has found its way onto iOS. Unlike other D&D adventures, players do not create characters and live out their fantasy lives in the land of Forgotten Realms. Instead, players take control of one of the masked lords of Waterdeep and manipulate warriors, rogues, and wizards to do their bidding for them. The result is an extremely well-designed, well-executed, and awesomely-themed worker placement game for 2 to 5 players. For the uninitiated, a worker placement board game is one in which the main action involves placing tokens – representing workers – on strategic locations on the game board. Placing a worker yields some sort of material gain, while (typically) also preventing opponents from accessing the same resources. In Lords of Waterdeep, the primary resources are money and adventurers (priest, warrior, rogue, and wizard); and these resources are gathered in order to complete quests. Upon completing quests players receive victory points, and the player with the most victory points at the end of eight rounds is declared the winner. –Campbell Bird

Oceanhorn

 
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Oceanhorn, the Zelda-style action-RPG from Cornfox & Bros., has been anticipated for a while; but I came upon a game that falls short of the hype and its inspirations. Now, a high-quality 3D Zelda-style game just hasn’t been attempted much on mobile. And getting Nobuo Uematsu, composer for many of the Final Fantasy games to do the music? Unheard of! This is a game with a heady pedigree, and the ambition is rather apparent: it’s a beautiful-looking game. Play this on a retina iPad if possible: it chugged a bit on the new Retina Mini at times, but it looks absolutely immaculate. Whether it be in a dark dungeon, in a sunny town, or sailing on the high seas, this is a visual feast. And the orchestral soundtrack sets an appropriately epic mood. On the surface,Oceanhorn lives up to the hype. –Carter Dotson

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

 
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Arriving at the perfect time in the Holiday Season, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is an utterly beguiling book app. It tells the classic tale of the same name, following Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they discover the meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s easily a great read to share with the rest of the family. The app is laid out in a very family friendly format. An easy to understand tutorial ensures that young and old will know how to navigate through the app, mostly through a matter of swiping to the side. Occasionally, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving reacts a little strangely, potentially down to the increasingly dated iPad 2′s loading times, but it’s mostly a smooth process. –Jennifer Allen

BeBop Blox

 
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BeBop Blox is a cute and charming puzzle app for toddlers that adults will enjoy as well. BeBop Blox is a brightly-colored and musical puzzle app with Tangram elements that young children – through the use of stacking blocks – can use to create playful shapes including a train, boat, camel, or whale as well as other fun animal shapes. Gameplay is simple as children are guided in their building with the use of block templates which one fills. I admire that, although there is a moment where the more complex design can be seen. Building begins from the bottom up, allowing children to slowly add pieces – exercises that later may help them construct their favorite designs with their own building blocks. –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

Random Heroes

 
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May 2D platformers never die. Long live Random Heroes. As far as platforms go, this one has the basics down: adjusted left to right running, with baddies and leveled platforms to get to. Our hero is outfitted with a gun, but the gun does not perpetually shoot; the a button nestled to the right only shoots when pressed. Just to the left of this button is the jump button, and the bottom left of the screen has two directional buttons. –Tre Lawrence

Zombitsu

 
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In Zombitsu, we get a running game, a ninja sword and zombies. Our ninja (Hiro) is outfitted with a sword to begin, and runs slicing up undead villagers and avoiding hazards that creep up along the way to stop progress. The view is an abbreviated top-down and behind angle, and this is affected by some game actions for brief moments. The zombies are all over, roaming on the sides of the running area and even directly in front. The base zombies are remarkably spry; there was a time or two I thought one was out of range only to have it knock me down behind some serious closing speed. –Tre Lawrence

Kunundrum

 
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Kunundrum is a fancy puzzle game with neon graphics. Its gameplay reminds of classic Sokoban, but the rules are different. To be fair, there’s no way to describe them, without sounding like an accountant on his weekly report, so bear with me. The players are tasked to deliver several differently-colored shiny dots to their respective slots. The dots can be swiped across the field vertically and horizontally, and only stop when they hit a wall. If a dot is launched over its slot, it will skip over it, unless there’s a wall, or some other object in the way. Thus, the player needs to arrange the dots in such a way, that they would stop exactly over their slot. The fields are greatly different and contain lots of unique tiles. Some of these tiles change the direction that the orb is going, others act as switches for collapsible walls, and others teleport the sphere to another part of the level. The levels are numerous, so there are plenty of easy, mediocre and completely insane difficulties available. Three stars are awarded if the player manages to complete the level with the least possible number of moves. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer went hands-on with the first official licensed iOS controller, reviewed Touchgrind Skate 2 and Shivah, highlighted the 17 best iOS and 10 best Android games of the week, picked out the hardest games on mobile, and helped you avoid scam apps on Google Play. All that and more, here.

Apps Are Us

 

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.

Tilt 2 Live 2: Redonkulus

 
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Tilt to Live 2 wakes up in a world where the tilt-based game feels almost dead. Free-to-play Skinner boxes rule the landscape, and here’s a $2.99 game that dares to toss things back to 2010 by having us tilt to survive? Well, great gameplay is timeless, and One Man Left has made Tilt to Live 2 feel both fresh and familiar. The core concept of “tilting to live” is the same, but nothing else is. Visually, the game has been given a detailed and fluid overhaul. It looks and feels incredibly lively. But all the power-ups from the original have been replaced with new ones. Now, there’s a brimstone ball that can be bounced around the screen, a dual-bladed energy sword, a shield that can collect dots to destroy them, a dot disguise that makes the player briefly invulnerable, and more. This was a fantastic decision by One Man Left – what it does is that it makes the game feel new. The game is innately familiar, but the ways that the problems are approached and solved are completely different. It’s the perfect approach for a sequel; one that other developers need to consider. –Carter Dotson

Stealth Inc

 
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Stealth Inc., originally released for Mac and PC under the name Stealth Bastard and then later for the PlayStation 3 and Vita under its more family-friendly name, has been well-loved from the start. And rightly so as it mixes stealth and brutal platforming challenges so effectively. So how does everything hold up on iOS? Ridiculously well, actually. The basic premise of Stealth Inc. is to escape. Players control a very unfortunate clone (several, really, since there will be lots and lots of dying) whose only purpose is to sneak out of a facility that’s absolutely packed with death traps. Now that I think about it, all the place seems to do is make and kill clones. In order to guide their little fellas to figurative safety, players will need to solve a series of challenging environmental puzzles and make a bunch of intricate jumps while also trying to avoid detection at all costs. The game uses a simple left/right slider for movement along with jump and duck buttons to great effect, while a contextual button for interacting with computers and the like pops when needed. –Rob Rich

Hunter Island

 
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Monster Hunter? Pokemon? No, this is Hunter Island from ZigZaGame Inc. A game that incorporates both catching monsters and fulfilling side quests in RPG style. Fans of the Pokemon games will feel right at home here, as Hunter Island manages to capture the tone and enjoyment of just what makes this style so engrossing. Anyone familiar with the rules of Pokemon will not find it difficult to work through. Players start off with the option of three different monsters – each with different elemental attributes. It is then the player’s job to decide whether they will be a male or female protagonist, but it doesn’t really make a difference because whichever one is chosen the other will still join them on their journey. –Lucy Ingram

Todo 7

 
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Appigo’s Todo apps have been keeping many people organized for as long as the App Store has existed. After a major OS update in the form of iOS 7, it only seems right to come across Todo 7. The app fits into the aesthetics of iOS 7 extremely well, retaining its position as both powerful and visually appealing. Some people looking for a simpler solution might be disappointed to note that Todo 7 isn’t as minimalist as other To Do list apps, but once taken through the tooltips it offers, it proves to be quite effective. The main screen of Todo 7 offers the bulk of the information. A list of all tasks is offered along with a focus list which prioritizes overdue tasks and those needing to be done today, while a personalized list option offers more control over how content is arranged. Personalization options such as changing the color of each category, and even the list icon and background image, further adds to the control. –Jennifer Allen

Millie’s Crazy Dinosaur Adventure-Millie Was Here, Book 3

 
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Millie’s Crazy Dinosaur Adventure is an interactive title in a series of Millie Was Here – charming multimedia experiences children and their adults will really appreciate. Here Millie, a cute little dog, builds a space ship to hopefully transport her back in time to earlier that day – because after having arrived at her friend’s birthday party, she realized that she had forgotten her present. Things go awry though and Millie actually travels back into the time of the dinosaurs where she goes on an adventure, then safety arrives back in present time. –Amy Solomon

SnapinboxHD

 
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Email is quickly becoming one of the most time-consuming daily tasks. Since most folks are mobile now, it’s necessary to have an email app that is speedy and efficient. SnapinboxHD does its best to make this chore as simple and seamless as possible. Combine all accounts into one inbox, and swipe left or right to organize it without even opening the message. Yes, this may save seconds, but seconds add up to minutes, which add up to hours. –Stacy Barnes

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

Move

 
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Gotta love Move. Its main draw is its simplicity. The game developer does a good job of ensuring that it is accessible enough to almost not even need a tutorial. The basic objective is to move colored, 2D circles to matching squares in the least number of moves. Every level starts out with a suggested number of moves, and not surpassing that is what is the key to earning the most stars. –Tre Lawrence

Pocket Harvest

 
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Pocket Harvest’s premise will be familiar to anyone who’s played Harvest Moon. Players are given control of a small, struggling farm, with few staff and next to no resources. Before long though, the farm will be bustling with a huge variety of crops, animals, attractions and even tourists. Building the farm couldn’t be easier. Fields are placed one by one depending on what kind of crop they grow. Worker houses are placed nearby and if they are close enough the worker will tend the fields, sell the crops and earn cash. Of course there are many things that affect how much money they’ll make, such as the moisture of the field, the worker’s skill at harvesting, how well cultivated the crop is and so on. –Allan Curtis

Combat Monsters

 
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Combat Monsters is a turn-based strategy game that involves the use of extras to win. It has one of the most thorough tutorials I’ve come across, and it does do a great job of ensuring that the 8-step learner gives the right pointers with regards to how the game works. What the tutorials do reveal are some nice media elements. The whimsical characterization work within this type of fantasy warfare, with simple animations that are fun without being too distracting. The playing area is a battle stage that is set in a circle with chess-like squares that afford movement of the pieces. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Oceanhorn, Epoch 2, and Stealth Inc, started its new First Look video series, and welcomed in the new generation of consoles with a round-up of second screen apps. Check it out in the Pocket Gamer Weekly Round-Up.

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.

Bit.Trip Run

 
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I imagine that everyone who has ever owned an iOS device has played an endless runner or ten. They’re just ubiquitous. And sometimes, what happens during the best of them is that careful ballet – that feeling of everything coming together perfectly. Due to random and/or procedural generation, that happens only periodically. That feeling is what Bit.Trip Run is built around in its entirety. This auto-runner, based off of Runner 2 but revamped for mobile, is more akin to a careful dance than a frantic survival game like Canabalt or Temple Run because it is all about intricate design. –Carter Dotson

The Stormglass Protocol

 
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“Welcome to Vindiqo Research Laboratories,” is the first voice players hear when they wake up. What place is this? Questions will only be answered as players make their way through The Stormglass Protocol, where sixteen locked doors and portals remain between the player and their hope for freedom. Set from a first-person perspective, The Stormglass Protocol creates an immersive experience in the form of a unique puzzle adventure room escape. From the onset, it is without doubt that huge amounts of effort have gone into creating what essentially is one of the most gorgeous iOS games one could lay eyes on. From the quirky narrative jokes to the highly-explorable rooms, The Stormglass Protocol doesn’t miss a beat. –Lucy Ingram

Papa Sangre 2

 
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Put on some headphones. Turn out the lights. It’s Halloween. What’s the perfect way to celebrate this cold, dark October evening? Why, by playing Papa Sangre 2 of course. The original awed thousands with its 3D real-time binaural audio engine and innovative use of sound to create an immersive and atmospheric experience, and Somethin’ Else have done it again. Except this time around it’s darker, it’s scarier, and it’s much more haunting. Starring the voice of ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Sean Bean, who has died more times than we can count, Papa Sangre 2 is a game that relies solely on the player using their ears to navigate their way around a dark and dangerous scenario. Trapped in the afterlife with only Sean Bean for company, players are guided through the Museum of Memories to engage in what becomes a rather macabre situation; running from monsters, avoiding traps, and seeking the scattered memories that are the only ticket out of this terrible nightmare. –Lucy Ingram

Fantastical 2

 
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Fantastical 2 is yet another app that’s been re-made as a completely separate experience for iOS 7. Unlike some of its brethren however, Fantastical 2 provides some great upgrades when it comes to user customization, phone integration, and accessibility – all of which make it worth the upgrade. Just like the older version of Fantastical, users can easily manage their events and schedules using the app’s excellent natural language parser and easily view their daily schedules at a glance via the day ticker. But now with Fantastical 2, both of these experiences are made even better through improved parsing (and dictation parsing!) and the landscape week view. These additions make creating and viewing events – arguably the two primary functions of a calendar app – simpler than ever. Have a meeting at noon in Times Square on the second Tuesday of every month? Simply type or speak those words into the app and it will set the repeating time, date, and place completely automatically, then display that event next to other immediate events when the phone is turned sideways. –Campbell Bird

Tricky Stories: Halloween Fairy Tale – Adventurous Sticker Book for Kids

 
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Tricky Stories: Halloween Fairy Tale – Adventurous Sticker Book for Kids, as the name describes, is a universal sticker book for children with a Halloween theme. A haunted house and a forest are areas that one can decorate with stickers that are included and photos can be taken of one’s work. The look of this app is nicely stylized; with a palette of purples, grays, golden yellow, and blue shades that look quite nice against the backlit screen of the iPad or iPhone. The sticker choices and other landscape details contain a layered effect with a subtle paper grain that I appreciate, giving these stickers a little more substance than I typically see in an app such as this. –Amy Solomon

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

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

 
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Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is one of those games that brings a lot to the table in many ways. Flight simulation games can sometimes be either overly involved or control-challenged; finding that comfortable middle ground can be tough. First of all, it is a pretty hefty download; we’re talking about just under 2GB unpacked according to Goog. Off the bat, at first glance, the graphics make it seem worth it… it looks good. From the aircraft themselves to the way the sun reflects off the endless the sea in the background, detail is definitely paid attention to. If you are able to look at the planes and not want to fly one in real life, check for a pulse. –Tre Lawrence

Haunted House Mysteries

 
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Tis the season for mysteries, and the more haunted the better. Welcome to Haunted House Mysteries.
The game starting use of light flashes sets the tone; 1994 famous archaeologist Edward Russel found murdered with wife and younger daughter in vacation home in New Jersey right after a great dig in Egypt. His oldest daughter, her boyfriend and the important historical pieces discovered by Russel are all missing. A dozen and half years later a student named Nancy gets to take what she thinks will be some time off and visit her Aunt Mary at the coast. The house is not actually her aunt’s but was lent to her by a friend who is a bit spooked out by weird happenings. –Tre Lawrence

Ghost Toasters-Regular Show

 
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Ghost Toasters takes a rather novel idea: Get Grumpyface, a talented mobile developer that has made several great Adult Swim and Cartoon Network games like Super Mole Escape and Mutant Fridge Gumball, to take the Regular Show cast of characters, including the baby ducks from one of the show’s most famous episodes, and put them into a Super Crate Box affair where jumping through portals switches to a character with a new weapon. Oh, and ] add in portals that can call up extra characters to give the player multiple hits before failing, because this is a game based off of a Cartoon Network show. Throw in a level-based structure and a coins system for upgrades to help differentiate things. On paper, it’s a pretty rad combination, and there are times when it all shines through. The animation is fantastic, and there’s a real sense that making this game faithful to the Regular Show style was important in its creation. But then, the flaws rear their ugly head. –Carter Dotson

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer detailed its most anticipated mobile games of November, played all the new games (from Papa Sangre II to Bit. Trip. Run! to Anomaly 2), put the GameStick through its paces, and celebrated Halloween with five scary games. Check out the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up right now!

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.

Tweetbot 3

 
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Tweetbot is the best Twitter app that’s out there, hands down. It’s feature-packed and easy to use. Tweetbot 3 continues this app’s legacy as the best, and is a must for anyone who uses Twitter. Now, Tweetbot 3 is a new app, not just an update to the now-previous version of Tweetbot. While the two apps are pretty much feature-identical, there’s been some usability tweaks and a revamped look and feel for iOS 7. It no longer sticks out like a sore thumb – it fits, and it’s a welcome redesign. It is a bit jarring jumping from the new look to a version using the old one, but the Mac version will be updated for Mavericks soon, and Tweetbot for iPad is in the works down the road. –Carter Dotson

Pocket Titans

 
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Pocket Titans mixes a puzzle game with the kind of row and column switching seen in Candy Crush Saga and 10000000. Yet this casual puzzle gameplay is all wrapped up in the veneer of a squad-based RPG. The way it works? Players have their squad of heroes from the various RPG archetypes: warriors, rogues, archers, et cetera. They and the enemies are on a small grid, with the ability to move an entire row or column in one’s turn. Players get to make two moves to put their characters in their ideal position to attack enemies or use their character’s ability. For example, warriors attack enemies nearby (and their attacks can hit all enemies in a nearby radius), archers can hit enemies either diagonally or straight away from them in their line of sight (no obstructions in the way), healers can, well, heal. As well, each class has secondary abilities that activate when they can’t use their primary one. Everything happens automatically, so to learn how to play just requires learning how the various classes work, which is simple enough. –Carter Dotson

Zombie Cupcake Attack

 
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Zombie games aren’t going away anytime soon, but a new zombie game that has landed in the App Store puts a spin on the craze. Starring Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman, Zombie Cupcake Attack features undead treats that need to be annihilated in order to save the world from the apocalypse. The graphics are quite impressive for an endless runner. At the start of the game, it’s evident that the developers put a lot of details in all five endless levels. While it has more of a kid-friendly appeal, adults will find themselves having a lot of fun as well. –Angela LaFollette

Hello World – Book 1: The Lonely Islands

 
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Imagine a magical and whimsical fantasy world full of interesting people, epic battles, mediocre coffee, and a talking cat. This is where the story of Hello World takes us; on a journey through a 3D universe populated by a whole variety of mythical creatures and bizarre people. Hippies, vampires, zombies, trolls, chupacabras; there is no shortage of strange beings. In this first-person adventure, Cap and Leet must quest through a universe unlike any other in order to save the magical and semi-sentient land of “Fred.” Set in the style of an RPG, players must explore forests, caves, and sail the sea, all while meeting the most unique of characters and poking squirrels with sticks. –Lucy Ingram

My PlayHome Stores

 
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My PlayHome Stores is the much-awaited sequel to the popular app My PlayHome; a digital dollhouse app that allows children to interact with a play family within their house, including a vast amount of interactive options. My PlayHome Stores now allows this family a day of shopping as children can explore a variety of stores including clothing and ice cream shops, a smoothie shop, and a restaurant. These apps are lovely, simple, and sweet, bringing the creative play of a traditional dollhouse and other creative play to the iPad and iPhone, and as such bring an intuitiveness children will enjoy a great deal. Fans of My PlayHouse as well as those new to this series will enjoy the many interactions as one places a character into these scenes. Do note that although the family from My PlayHome (a mom, dad and three kids) can be seen at the top right of the screen, one also has easy access to a large cast of characters that include men, women, and children of various races and backgrounds – a very 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

Look Out Below

 
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More and more mobile games are utilizing physics in unique ways. Ever since the rise of Angry Birds, developers are looking for new ways to bring the force that dictates all things in the real world into the games that appear on phones and tablets. Physics are implemented in a variety of different games, offering unique game play options and interesting ways of using the laws of science within the game. Look Out Below is one of those games that offers an uncommon usage of physics while offering a simple, but testing game play. –Mike Deneen

IceBurgers

 
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IceBurgers is an environmental tale. Two ships collide in the Antarctic, spewing burgers and letters, and a penguin has to clean it up. Alrighty. Interestingly enough, what makes this game unique is what probably is its best feature: the lack of frills. It rocks a simple motif and features even simpler gameplay, and, as such, can be a formidable time waster. The gameplay is an atypical mix of crossword puzzle and Scrabble. A square grid of 25 tiled letters makes up the playing area, and words are supposed to be created via swiping a finger across letters in fairly liberal fashion. When a word is formed, it lightens up and explodes, and the tiled letters are replaced randomly by falling tiles from above. –Tre Lawrence

BBM for Android

 
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Yes, BlackBerry (formerly RIM) has had better days. The iconic technology company made devices that signified corporate success and helped shape the smartphone market. It’s current troubles are well known, and the company and its devices have arguably lost some of their previous luster. One piece of the BlackBerry ecosystem that has always been respected is BlackBerry Messenger, its eponymous messaging system. It’s always-on nature, perceived reliability and PIN-based connection service is almost universally respected, even by non-BlackBerry device users. So, when BlackBerry announced that it would be opening up the hitherto proprietary messenger to iOS and Android users, ears perked up. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Dead Trigger 2, highlighted the stand-out hits from its Big Indie Pitch event, found 8 tablet-only games to play on the new iPad Air, reviewed Ace Attorney on 3DS, and went hands-on with Vita charmfest Tearaway. Head to Pocket Gamer now for their weekly wrap-up.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone 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.

Monster Adventures

 
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I enjoy Roguelikes. I have a thing for RPGs. I love action-adventure games. I even dabble in monster-collection fairly often. But in all honesty, would anyone expect all of those great tastes to taste great together? Turns out it doesn’t matter because Foursaken Media has mixed them all in the big proverbial jug that is iOS, and the result is so good it just has to be fattening. Monster Adventures begins (and pretty much stays in) the town of Yerpa. It’s a quaint place surrounded by forests, mountains, and snowy plains, all of which are crawling with monsters. Fortunately our hero/playable character stumbles upon a friendly critter in the town’s well, and the duo set out to be the very best. Possibly like no one ever was. –Rob Rich

Gunner Z

 
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There haven’t been a lot of serious attempts to replicate the formula of Zombie Gunship, which is unfortunate: that game made zombie killing fun in a special way. Gunner Z is one of the few that takes it on, but it struggles due in large part to its structure. The game puts players in the gunner seat of a truck that’s out to go blow up some zombies and the human sympathizers that seem to all have military ranks. Players can raise or lower their height to get the perfect angle against zombies, though it never feels like it’s of much practical use. Players get a standard gun of their choice with unlimited ammo, and a set of rockets that can be used to help take out more powerful enemies and large groups of zombies. If the zombies get close they’ll do heavy damage to the truck, and if the truck runs out of health it’s mission over. –Carter Dotson

The Cave

 
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Back before there was ever a Master Chief or even an Angry Bird, there was once an adventurer named Guybrush Threepwood. Ron Gilbert was one of the brains behind the success of LucasArts’ original run of Monkey Island PC titles, later departing from the studio to pursue other projects. Fast forward to 2011, Gilbert re-teamed with fellow LucasArts alum Tim Schafer to re-imagine the adventure game for the modern generation. Has The Cave recaptured the magic of old, or is this a nostalgic trip down frustration lane? Adventure games have had a long legacy of turning a player’s mind to mush. For this reason, it only seems fitting that The Cave harkens back to the classic Maniac Mansion, where the player is faced with selecting which three of the seven available characters to use for the entirety of the game, right out of the gate. Decisions, decisions. Depending upon the selected avatars the puzzles and story may be modified slightly, lending itself well to a least two additional replay sessions. –Blake Grundman

Perfect Shot

 
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Capturing that one perfect shot of a group of friends can be difficult. There’s almost always someone who is blinking, not looking at the camera, or forgetting to smile. Now there is an app available that solves all these problems and more. Perfect Shot couldn’t have a better name since it essentially describes exactly what the app does. Designed specifically with iOS7 in mind, Perfect Shot detects the number of individuals in a photograph and can detect their eyes and smiles. What’s amazing about this app is that it automatically captures a photo once everyone in the group is smiling and not blinking, so there’s no need to press the shutter button. Of course, eye and smile detection can be turned on or off by tapping on the gear icon in the lower right corner. –Angela LaFollette

Toca Cars

 
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I am pleased to have had a chance to review Toca Boca’s new app, Toca Cars. As many may know, Toca Boca is known for their wonderful digital toys based on the real world playthings children use every day, and Toca Cars continues in the footsteps of their other great apps. It is worth explaining that Toca Cars is not so much a first-person POV driving simulator. Instead, it allows one to drive a car around a track with the drag of a finger. More impressive is the chance to drive and crash into the landscape the track has incorporated within; including many various buildings, street signs, a few animals or other characters, colorful ice cream puddles, ramps, and many more details too numerous to name. –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

Autumn Dynasty

 
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Good pure RTS games aren’t exactly easy to find on Android. Sure, there are a few good ones, but few can match the strategic depth to be found in Autumn Dynasty. Autumn Dynasty tells the story of a Royal Scholar, an important, intelligent man sent on a routine journey by the ruling government. He runs into a spot of trouble and, after proving himself against his enemies, you’ll follow his story as he grows into a leader and unearths a sinister plot. AD tells a great story and the very well done character art and interesting dialogue really drive the game’s story onwards and gives a lot of incentive to complete the next mission. –Allan Curtis

Evomail

 
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Evomail is part of the new generation of email apps, ones that shoot for a greater degree of accessibility and inbox management. But for me, Evomail comes with one killer feature: the ability to remove emails from the inbox temporarily by ‘snoozing’ them. On my iOS devices, Mailbox’s ease of use and interface has made it my client of choice. This is a problem because I rely on its ability to easily delay emails to a later time to help keep my sanity. Yet despite Mailbox’s expensive acquisition by Dropbox, it’s still an iOS-only affair. It’s frustrating, because it’s something Google has yet to add in as a built-in feature despite making the Android Gmail app more like Mailbox and Evomail with things like swiping actions. So now Evomail is on Android, and with it, the ability to procrastinate on answering emails. But it’s not quite the great email experience that I wanted. –Carter Dotson

PinWar

 
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Pinball is one of those old-school games that are almost always perfect as-is. Why? It presents the perfect union of physics, chance and human skill. It’s beautiful… even the electronic versions seem best when they are presented “traditionally.” Maybe, just maybe PinWar is an exception. “The” exception? In this game, basic pinball gets souped up into a battle zone that pits fast reflexes against human opponents or artificial intelligence. There are a few different play modes. In Quick Battle, it’s a war of attrition; play continues until one side loses all available tokens, with friends being expended with every pinball conceded. This mode is s quick shootout. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer took a look at the new and noteworthy iOS games, including Costume Quest, KAMI, Duet, and Ring Run Circus. It also investigated Codea, an app that lets you make games on your iPad. And the site reviewed huge new 3DS adventure, Pokemon X and Y. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone 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 Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Shadowrun Returns

 
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What was old is new again. Thanks to popularization of crowd-funding services like Kickstarter, many forlorn, neglected, and abused franchises of yesteryear are receiving a new lease on life. One such series seeing a massive resurgence is the strategy RPG and table-top classic, Shadowrun, which finally found its way to iOS in the form of the newly released Shadowrun Returns. Can it somehow live up to the nostalgia laced, sky-high expectations of fans, or will it suffer the same fate as the attempted Xbox 360 reboot? Looking back through the annals of history, the last time that a proper Shadowrun RPG was released, Sega was trying to hock the Sega CD. Thankfully, time has been kind to the genre, and the developer, Harebrained Schemes, has went to great lengths to assure that the title’s mechanics meet up with the expectations of a modern audience. The action itself plays out from a third-person, isometric view, akin to what would be found in most modern tactical RPGs, and is coupled with an extremely organic screen tapping control scheme. –Blake Grundman

Incredipede

 
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Incredipede by Sarah and Colin Northway, is almost two different games built into one title. The first is the main adventure, one where players control Quozzle, a spunky little cyclops gal going through those awkward years where one doesn’t know how many limbs and muscles one has at any given time. There’s not just that, but there’s also the need to collect fruit to save the fellow members of one’s species who have been kidnapped. So the player, serving as the control agent for Quozzle’s muscles, tries to both get Quozzle to the end and to collect the fruit in the levels, which are used to unlock future levels. –Carter Dotson

Pixel This!

 
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I suppose a sign that a game is really good is when I lose all track of time; just constantly diving back in, ignoring all other responsibilities, just playing the game again and again until there’s no more game to play. That’s Pixel This! by Mark Brown , a game he created because “Most of the Picross apps on iOS kind of suck, so I made a better one.” Well, he succeeded. –Carter Dotson

Projector Up!

 
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As a freelance writer and small business owner, keeping tabs on all of my finances and projects can become quite daunting. Plugging numbers into excel, cross referencing projects and figuring out my profits are just a few tasks that can get overwhelming. Now that there’s an app for pretty much everything, I was intrigued by what Projector Up! had to offer myself and other freelancers. The app’s main purpose is management of accounting. It focuses only on small studios and freelancers and isn’t intended for big businesses. Aside from its simple and clean interface, Projector Up! boasts many features like goal tracking, financial planning and visual tracking. –Angela LaFollette

Gappy’s Mystery Letters

 
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Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a charming and effective interactive letters app starring Gappy, the cartoony character from Spinlight Studios’ earlier app Gappy’s First Words. Here, Gappy will be thinking of a letter and asking children to trace with a finger a moving star which engages children to draw a letter that they will then match up with a series of letters to choose from. I believe that the sense of mystery, complete with fun and suspenseful music, will keep children engaged longer than simply tracing over a template which can oftentimes be scribbled over instead of specifically worked with, as this app taps into a child’s sense of wonder as they form these letters. Another nice moment is revealing the gift Gappy receives that corresponds with the letter in question, such as wagon for “W” – nicely stylized as an image later to be used as a coloring page – a nice touch as this cute moment will not register the way it would if Gappy were being given a whole lot of “stuff” like more tangible toys. I would, however, like to be able to control the speed that one needs in order to follow the star as I could see a child new to tracing or printing having difficulty at first – a minor concern really as this is a great app for those new to learning their letters but who are looking for something a little different. Also included is a blank drawing page as well as 52 coloring pages based on the alphabet that can be unlocked by slowly solving the mystery games found within this app. –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

Blood Battalion

 
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Sometimes it is fun just to watch games. Anyone who’s played the Sims knows that watching the drama unfold can be as fun as creating the drama. These types of players will likely love Blood Battalion, a strategic RPG which is light on the gameplay and heavy on the spectacle. Players begin the game by selecting a hero. It’s possible to pick from such heroes as a healer girl who’s fairly useless in a fight, but has the vital ability to keep other troops alive, to a swordsman who has immense power but not much else. –Allan Curtis

LavaCat

 
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Fast Cats and lava. Welcome to LavaCat from PocketCake. The basic premise is what one expects in a side-scrolling adventure: moving from the left of the screen to the right, the main objective is to get as far as possible without getting fried by any of the heat-related dangers that lined the playing area. In the interest of fair disclosure, it should be noted that the playing area is molten lava travelway with falling spikes and steam geysers that can do lethal damage to a poor little puddy cat. The controls are minimalist. One bank has a direction button set that controls “forward” and “backward” movement. There is also a jump button. An hourglass button rounds out the core controls. The cat remains stationary on the bottom surface unless a button is being held; not a lot of momentum is retained when movement in either direction is not engaged. –Tre Lawrence

Total Conquest

 
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Ever wanted to build a charming Roman village from the ground up, build a thriving economy and then shatter the peace by recruiting a huge army to crush friends and rivals, then look no further than Total Conquest, a new game from Gameloft where aspiring generals can do just that. In Total Conquest the player starts off with a Town Hall and not much else. From there villas are constructed to generate gold and farms are planted to generate food. Each building can be upgraded multiple times. Temples can be raised to gain blessings from the gods, bestowing faster or stronger attacks and players can also build a bunker like Militia building which garrisons troops in case of attack. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week This week, Pocket Gamer reviewed The Cave and Transport Tycoon, crowned the best iOS and Android games of September, looked at the most exciting mobile games for this month, and went hands-on with The Room 2, Monument Valley, and Framed. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

Your App Experts

 

The furor over two new iPhones and the release of iOS 7 may have passed, but that doesn’t stop the oncoming wave of new apps. If you want to know what’s worth your time and what’s not, just look to the expert app reviewers at 148Apps. And if you want more app reviews than you can shake a stick at, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Big Brain Master

 
brain

Big Brain Master is a pure puzzle game that tells a story whilst engaging the player in some enjoyable and challenging puzzles. A new and artful take on “mind” games, it’s simple and entertaining approach manages to keep players guessing without being too complex. The art style is highly detailed, with a nice, clean, and simple graphical outlook, and the puzzles are presented in an interesting format which gives it an interesting and refreshing feel whilst playing. Navigating the user interface is nice and straightforward, and the design layout is linear enough to not overcomplicate by looking too clunky or crowded. Each of the 250+ levels are divided up into seven puzzle styles that are each distinctive from the last. Although this might seem refreshing enough to most players, I personally feel that perhaps having less levels per style and more of a variety of puzzle styles would have made it slightly less repetitive, as after a while gameplay seemed to become a little tiresome and I felt like I was just repeating actions that had already become less of a challenge. –Lucy Ingram

Pocket Trains

 
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NimbleBit has a clear formula with their bitizen-featuring simulation games, one that repeats with the third such title, Pocket Trains. They’re games that are fueled not so much by challenge, but by keeping the player interested in propelling the machine forward and not punishing them for playing the game – like so many other free-to-play simulations are wont to do. It’s why I find myself falling into the same pit with Pocket Trains where I check it regularly for weeks on end, the same as I did with Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes. This feels almost like a remix of Pocket Planes that’s been simplified a lot. Where that game had some complexity due to the free-form nature of air travel,Pocket Trains is forced to be simpler because of the fixed nature of rail lines. Only one train can own a segment between two cities, though of course multiple train lines can travel through cities on intersecting lines. The paths are thus largely pre-defined and there’s now no monetary cost for traveling to a city, only a fuel gauge that refills when a train is idling or when the player pays a couple bux to refill it. –Carter Dotson

Trouserheart

 
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Trouserheart is an ideal game for the mobile format. It’s the kind of thing that can be jumped into for five or ten minute sessions, while still actually achieving something in that short space of time. In the vein of games such as Diablo and Torchlight, Trouserheart is a hack-n-slasher that’s very simple to learn. Using a virtual d-pad and one sole button to attack with, it takes seconds to master. What takes a little longer is learning to dodge enemies by moving around them quickly. It’s still all pretty simple stuff, though. Vibrantly animated, Trouserheart also maintains a charming and humorous take on events, right down to the player’s quest to rescue one’s trousers. Yes, really. –Jennifer Allen

Chainsaw Warrior

 
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I’d admittedly never heard of the original Chainsaw Warrior tabletop game from the late 80s, but that’s probably due to a combination of me not being all that into board games back then and also being six years old. Regardless, the player-versus-game gore fest has made its way to iOS. And it is ridiculously awesome. Chainsaw Warrior is essentially every action movie in the 80s turned into a dice-rolling game. A dimensional rift has opened up, resulting in New York being overrun by horrible mutants and other monstrosities, with a shapeless dark being running the show. In about one hour’s time the rift will open further and swallow the entire city. So it’s up to the titular hero to wade through hordes of terrible monsters in a desperate attempt to reach the Darkness and put a stop to the otherworldly assault. They’ll have to fight through a deck of over 50 cards just to reach a second, which is the only place where the Darkness will appear. Dying happens a lot. –Rob Rich

Wombi Math

 
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Wombi Math is a cute and fun app that will encourage grade school children to work on their math skills. Set in a charming urban landscape, a brick wall is used as the backdrop for different math equations and their answers to be displayed – be it with the possible use of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Tap on an equation as well as the matching answer to clear the board. I admire how simple it is for parents to adjust the math questions used for the abilities of a specific child as well as how the questions and answers are represented – be it in uniform block boxes or more colorful and sometimes geometric shapes. One can also scroll through a few related brick walls that include each function, whether mixed, addition, subtraction, or division – each with a nice, different use of color yet maintaining an intentionally sparse background, keeping the focus on the math. –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

Terraria

 
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Outdoor survival, nicely-rendered 2D graphs with whimsical monsters and… wait for it… zombies? People: Terraria is here! The gameplay takes familiar survival staples and rolls them into a fairly complex system involving manipulation, combination and strategy. The tutorial underlines the basic stuff quite well; the first grand explains how to use the left-set control to move on either direction, as well as how to jump, scale downward… and instinctive movements, like directing jumps in either aerial direction are logical. The tutorial goes on to walk through collection of materials, protection, creations and dangers. –Tre Lawrence

Tanktastic-3D Tanks Online

 
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Porches. Lamborghinis McLarens. All infinitely cool, but I dare anyone to show me a guy who hasn’t wanted to rock a tank at least once. Go ahead. I’ll wait. For folks who can’t or won’t do a 4-year bid just to do some infantry driving, Tanktastic is a relatively safe alternative that brings team combat, tactics and good old speed of accurate firing to bear. Jumping into a random group battle mostly describes the gameplay in all its muscled glory. The task is dropped into a terrain with different types of structured obstacles, and several other manned tanks. It’s a shameless free for all that measures speed, accuracy and cunning. The controls are straightforward, and encourage quick movement and shooting; I felt most comfortable with dual thumb controls. –Tre Lawrence

Pivvot

 
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Pivvot is nothing if not eye-catching. Its stark graphics and simple gameplay demand attention. But how does it play? Pivvot’s concept is as simple as it gets. You control a rotating circle that moves along a line. As you move along you’ll see obstacles you need to avoid, lest you crash into them and die. To do so you use very simple two finger controls that rotate your intrepid circle left or right. While this sounds like an incredibly simple concept, in practice it is extremely challenging. The game starts off simple with easily avoided obstacles such as spikes that only take up one side of the course, but quickly adds in much harder ones that require exact positioning, like lines of small walls that move constantly. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer demystified iOS 7 controllers, picked out the perfect games to show off your new iPhone 5S, reviewed hot new App Store games like Boson X and Trouserheart, and showed off this week’s iOS games in video show What’s New? See it all in PG’s weekly wrap up.

This Week at 148Apps: September 9-13, 2013

We Know Our Apps

 

Sorting through the gigantic swarm of apps out there can be daunting. 148Apps is here to help. 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.

Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs

 
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The age-old battle between samurai and ninjas has been told throughout time across several forms of media, but Eutechnyx has taken it to a whole new level with Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs. Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs is a tower defense game in which the field of battle is divided up into five lanes. There are a variety of towers available to build that each have various functions and resources, but there are only five spaces in which to place them so it has to have some sort of strategy. Otherwise it’s just a case of trial and error. Units are created and deployed from these towers, which are generated as cards that all have different abilities. Once the decision to deploy a unit has been made it is then possible to choose where to place the character, with the aim of getting them across to the other side to destroy enemy towers. If a character, be it a ninja cat or a samurai dog, passes an enemy on their path (or adjacent to, depending on abilities) there will be a face-off to the death and the victor will advance forward. –Lucy Ingram

Heroes of Loot

 
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Distilling a genre down to its basic elements isn’t necessarily a difficult task, but doing it well absolutely is. Just cutting gameplay and other mechanical elements out at random won’t do; it really requires surgical precision. And yet, Orangepixel pulls it off so well with Heroes of Loot they make it look effortless. Heroes of Loot, at its most basic, is what happens when a game like Gauntlet is combined with Roguelike elements. The four adventurers (Elf, Warrior, Wizard, and Valkyrie) are in it for the money and not much else. Once players select their character, it’s on to adventure! Or in this case something akin to an arcade dungeon crawl. Randomized dungeons, quests, and special items make an appearance along with permadeath, but it’s all been streamlined to the point that dying is merely a (very) temporary setback. –Rob Rich

Junk Jack X

 
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The 2D mining and crafting genre is becoming a crowded one on iOS, with The Blockheads leading the way (in this writer’s humble opinion), Terraria making the jump to iOS, and now Junk Jack X – a follow-up to the 2011 2D crafting game that launched on iOS. And for those looking for a fun 2D crafting game can’t go wrong with Junk Jack X. Now, as someone intrigued by the genre but not an expert on them per se, I find the way that a game like Junk Jack X decides to just leave players in the middle of nowhere to start off with, left to fend for themselves, absolutely fascinating. In a world of handholding it’s kind of refreshing to be left to fend for myself. Of course then nightfall comes and I’m being assaulted by zombies, slime monsters, and spiders constantly, and I’d kind of appreciate some hand-holding! The ability to zoom way out to see where one has been and what the upcoming landscape may hold is great, especially handy for after a death, trying to make it back to the place one worked from. –Carter Dotson

Disney Princess Royal Salon

 
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Disney Princess Royal Salon is a very nice universal application that allows young children to dress up Disney princesses as well as style their hair with a tap or drag of a finger. Having only a son, we never got into the princess theme the way some children do, but I did spend a few years looking for a moderately-priced styling head that was not attached to Barbie as my boy showed interest in trying to style my hair and apply pretend makeup to my face, so I think he would have fun with this kind of pretend play toy. It is these kinds of styling head toys that came to mind as I tested the Disney Princess Royal Salon app as after choosing among Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel, and Ariel one gets to decide which of four invitations to select, and one has a chance to style a princess’s hair with the tap of a finger. –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

SimpleRockets

 
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Space. The final frontier. The strange, black mass around the Earth that’s calling out to us, daring to come at it with all the technologies we could think of. As the space exploration in real world is stalling behind the schedule, videogame spacemen are orbiting on the countless devices, including mobile phones. The most popular among the “realistic” space exploration simulators is, undeniably, Kerbal Space Program. It’s a whole another topic, worthy of a hundred of articles, but it’s quite obvious where SimpleRockets took the inspiration from. Although it’s a lot more simple, it’s fitting perfectly into the mobile screen. –Tony Kuzmin

Wordcraft

 
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Wordcraft is a combo word game from Littlebigplay. The game is an interesting mix of word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles. The playing area is a rectangular grid made up of squared letter tiles set up in 8×13 fashion. The letters are random, and contain all the letter of the alphabet with varying probabilities. As in Scrabble, each letter has a number value that seems to be based on the use of the letter in the English language. Thus, E, T and A have the lowest values, and K, X, Q, J and Z have high values. –Tre Lawrence

Daddy Was A Thief

 
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Isn’t it strange that a game is only perceived as mature when the developers consciously try to make it so? By all accounts, Daddy Was A Thief is a hardcore circus of violence and destruction, but since it has nice music and cute graphics, it feels like a completely peaceful game. And I’m definitely digging its style. I’ve already reviewed it a while ago on iOS, and since Daddy Was A Thief got an update, I figured it would be a great time to also review this great game on Android, as well. –Tony Kuzmin

Also this week, Pocket Gamer went preview crazy, with first impressions of Infinity Blade III, Trials: Frontier, Gunner Z, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, Pocket Trains, Valiant Hearts, Fist of Awesome, and Rayman Fiesta Run. Get more reviews, news, and videos in Pocket Gamer’s weekly wrap up.

And finally, in this week’s AppSpy News Wrap-Up, James talks you through the Infinity Blade III trailer, and shows you the first gameplay video from Trials Frontier, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates, and Rayman Fiesta Run. He also talks in a pirate voice for longer than is strictly necessary. Visit AppSpy.com for more video reviews, news, and previews.

This Week at 148Apps: September 2-6, 2013

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.

Bombcats Special Edition

 
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Bombcats Special Edition is a puzzle game from Chillingo with an odd premise. In the game’s world, cats explode, and they only don’t explode if they are kept in a cage. The funny thing is these cats want to explode, so the goal of the game is for players to use exploding cats to jump their way over to captive cats and free them so they can explode, too. This zany premise ends up working though, as Bombcats is an absolutely delightful puzzle game. –Campbell Bird

Star Wars: Force Collection

 
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I find myself stuck in the awkward no-man’s land between familiarity and rabid fandom. I’d call myself a Star Wars fan, certainly, but not I’m not a Fan. Even so, I was scowling with disgust and groaning out loud when Princess Leia was asking me to help her fend off storm troopers in a spectacularly cornball re-imagining of the first film’s opening moments. And yet, despite the patronizing fan service that makes even my low-level fanboy blood boil, Star Wars: Force Collection is actually quite good. –Rob Rich

Jumping Jupingo

 
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Even someone with arachnophobia will enjoy Jumping Jupingo; a slick platform game with just the right dose of strategic thinking and action thrown into the mix. A baby spider rescue mission with a difference. Does it offer enough entertainment for the price tag? Playing as furry spider Jupingo, one’s mission is to guide our fearless (and rather cute) friend through the wilderness to rescue baby arachnids from the clutches of a race of evil alien invaders called the Clopters. Armed with just a set of strong springy legs and elastic silk thread, players must guide the jumping spider across the wilderness and aid the little ones back to safety. –Lucy Ingram

Sago Mini Pet Cafe

 
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I have been charmed by Sago Sago’s new app, Sago Mini Pet Cafe – a universal interactive app for children. For those who do not know, Toca Boca has joined forces with zinc Roe to create delightful applications for toddlers. I have been a big fan of both Toca Boca and the Tickle Tap apps once developed by zinc Roe, many of which are re-developed for Sago Sago. Sago Mini Pet Cafe is a new title with elements that I remember from these earlier apps. It is nice to see these details within other titles. –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

The Last Express

 
express

Solvable mystery adventures are the cream of the mobile gaming crop as far as I’m concerned, and it’s not everyday we get a port like The Last Express on Android. It is borne from the popular PC game of the same name by the renown creator of the Prince of Persia line, Jordan Mechner. The game is played in the character of Robert Cath, a likable fellow fleeing his own troubles. He is on the move, and is looking to hook up with an old friend on the Orient Express. From there, the story explodes. Literally. –Tre Lawrence

Save the Snail

 
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Save the Snail is a fun little game that brings another perspective of positional physics to Android gaming. Familiar gameplay rules the roost these days, and it is nice that this one brings it while stepping out on a ledge. And no, this isn’t just Yet Another Angry Birds Clone. In this one, the goal is to keep the snails safe from aerial dangers that can cause injury. Basically, there is usually a snail (or two) that exist in the playing area. The overall goal is to prevent the mollusks from being crushed by falling rocks (don’t ask) or being zapped by especially vicious sun rays. –Tre Lawrence

Mine Maze

 
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I am positively sure that mining is the most popular current profession in all of gaming culture. Not even counting Minecraft, there are tons and tons of games that are based around mining, or have it as one of primary mechanics. It could be great to actually have a realistic game about mining, but it would probably be something completely dull, except for occasional cave ins, which result in an inescapable death traps – so, it wouldn’t be great at all, come to think of it. Mine Maze was released recently, and although it revolves around mining, it has about as much realistic mining gameplay as Angry Birds has ballistic models. –Tony Kuzmin

Also this week, Pocket Gamer has reviews for huge new shooters Call of Duty: Strike Team and Killzone Mercenary, and beginner’s guides for Junk Jack X and Terraria. The guys also list their favourite iOS and Android games in August, find more games like The Room, and tell you everything you need to know about microconsoles. All that and more, in the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up.

And finally, in this week’s episode of the AppSpy News Wrap-Up, we get flanked by an unexpected Call of Duty game. We also take a look at the Telepods in the upcoming Angry Birds Star Wars II, and check out 2K’s shamelessly self-referential new racer, 2K Drive.

Your App Review Experts

 

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.

868-HACK

 
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868-HACK is the latest game from indie developer Michael Brough, who primarily works in a glitch-inspired pixel art style, making intelligent games that are his unique interpretations of certain genres. 868-HACK is a sort of take on ‘hacking’ in a roguelike fashion that’s somewhat similar to Zaga 33, and is actually referenced in the story text. The idea is that players must navigate 6×6 levels that represent computer nodes, with viruses and bugs that spawn at various times. The entire game is turn-based; with the player making a move, then all the enemies. Swiping is used to move in the cardinal directions, and to also attack an enemy that is in that cardinal direction. Attacking keeps an enemy from moving, but uses up a turn that could cause other enemies to move in and take out the player, whose health is represented by a smiley face. Three hits and it’s the end of the hacking session. –Carter Dotson

Sumhold

 
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The native iOS calculator is missing two things: simplicity and elegance. Sumhold brings both of these things to the table and much more with its stylish calculator that really puts the current Apple one to shame. There aren’t any directions when Sumhold is first opened, but that’s because it doesn’t need them. Users are presented with a sleek calculator that features rounded buttons and a white and red color scheme. When it’s time to calculate, just tap on the buttons and Sumhold gets to work. What’s great is that it keeps track of long calculations on one easy-to-read line. The running total shows so there’s no need for confusing buttons that ultimately lead to frustration. Math equations that are no longer needed can be deleted by tapping on the little “x” in the corner. –Angela LaFollette

Terraria

 
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Terraria finally brings the preeminent 2D take on Minecraft to mobile. While other games have taken this perspective on mobile (Junk Jack, which released a sequel the same day as this release, and the excellent The Blockheads), Terraria brings to the table a feel closer to RPGs and to Metroidvania-style adventures. Yes there’s plenty of crafting and mining, and the basic language of the genre is well-represented here. There’s the need to mine materials and chop down trees to build better items and safe shelters among the vast, unknown world. But there’s also some more specific adventures to be had. There are deadly enemies, including some challenging bosses, to be taken on in Terraria. Finding them and being ready for them is the challenge. Plus, with randomly-generated worlds there’s no real way to know what’s next. –Carter Dotson

Sago Mini Doodlecast

 
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Sago Mini Doodlecast is a universal app that I have wanted to review for a few weeks now but needed a time for my busy son and I to test it together. Unlike other applications my boy has enjoyed helping me with, where a positive reaction consists of my son taking the iPad and insisting on the chance to explore without distraction, Sago Mini Doodlecast is a creative, open-ended drawing app that family members and friends will be delighted to share. This is a new app by the developers at Sago Sago, the dream team made up of developers of Toca Boca and zinc Roe, who have joined forces to develop Sago Mini apps for toddlers and the preschool set. Sago Mini Doodlecast is based on an earlier app with a related name, Doodlecast for Kids, now updated with the familiar zinc Roe and Sago Sago characters seen throughout this series of 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

Samurai Shodown 2

 
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Samurai Shodown 2 comes with a wee bit of sticker shock: $8.99 for a port of a decades-old fighting game? Well, it kind of makes sense: It’s a Neo-Geo fighting game, and hey, the Neo-Geo was known for its very expensive games. But considering that the platform also had games with some of the finest 2D animation around, it was at least moderately justified. So, let’s work on the operating theory that if it’s deserving, Samurai Shodown 2 is worth $8.99, disregarding that even premium content for mobile rarely gets above $6.99. Well, I don’t think it is. The port job is just too poor to recommend it, especially at this price point. –Carter Dotson

Cryptic Cosmos

 
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Cryptic Cosmos is a small, tight quest, set in an outlandish base, far in the dark reaches of space. Main Hero is a bounty hunter, whose target is hiding out somewhere in the base, with the game’s main goal being finding it out and disposing of it. Although the story isn’t as convoluted and original as it could be, it’s a nice setup for a space adventure, and serves well enough as the game’s background. Although one of my main concerns about the game was initially its relative shortness, I now think that it’s just long enough. It has enough content, without sinking into repeat or artificially stretching its gameplay. While it is short, it’s long enough to give a good deal of interesting puzzles. Shortness of the game is likely because of an in-game walkthrough, which is a brilliant move in itself, so there’s no need to sweep through all of the previously unlocked locations, searching for the bit that was previously skipped. –Tony Kuzmin

Chuck’s Challenge 3D

 
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Chuck’s Challenge 3D, from Niffler Ltd., makes it easy to like it. In this puzzle caper, Woop, a curiously toothed purple alien serves as our cocky protagonist. Apparently, Woop likes a challenge, and in a bit of clever development, he gets to interact with gaming icon Chuck Sommerville and get all sorts of solvable riddles to test his powers of deductions. The playing area is usually a grid made up of a surface of cubes; on those cubes was a rally point of sorts, and the simplistic goal is to get our guy from the start point to the end point, which signifies the successful end of the attempt. Movement is effected by a virtual joystick that controls movement one square at a time. –Tre Lawrence

Apps Are Us

 

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.

Zombies Ate My Friends

 
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Zombies and video games go great together. We tend to forget this, especially as zombies in general become increasingly played out, but it’s a fact regardless. While Zombies Ate My Friends is no The Walking Dead, or Zombies Ate My Neighbors for that matter, it still showcases why this combination is so strong in the first place. As a zombie apocalypse tears through the town of Festerville, players loot and scavenge just to survive. However, since this is an RPG, that is only the beginning of the lengthy, 8-episode story. Throughout their quests, players will reconstruct helicopters, recruit new survivors into their camp, and desperately search for cures for their infected teammates. Sharp writing keeps even the grind-heaviest missions from getting stale. Complimenting that is the excellent art style best described as “Scott Pilgrim” but without the video game aesthetic. Raiders, boss zombies, and other characters have big, expressive, chibi cartoon heads and fluid animations that energize the presentation. Meanwhile dark, moody colors and macabre background details like “Murphy’s Law Office” constantly reinforce the funny yet bleak tone. –Jordan Minor

Cloud Spin

 
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Cloud Spin is a quite gorgeous game to look at. Never skipping a beat visually, it uses the Unreal Engine well to provide a fast-paced and enjoyable racing game like few others already out there. Do be aware of slightly flaky controls, though. Keeping it relatively simple, Cloud Spin offers a delightfully uncluttered interface. Straightforward instructions early on provide everything one needs to know. Flying around the screen is just a matter of swiping a finger in the relevant direction. Holding a second finger to the screen gives the player a speed boost, and that’s pretty much all that needs to be taught. Then it’s just a matter of gliding around each arena, collecting stars, dodging obstacles, and hoping to gain a precious medal at the end. –Jennifer Allen

Donna, Manage Your Day

 
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Donna, Manage Your Day is an app that’s designed to get its users to their scheduled appointments and events on-time in an intelligent way, but it’s definitely not flawless. Donna links in to contacts and calendars; automatically adding events scheduled for the next 3 days and letting users specify where they are and how to get to them. By default only one calendar is added, but the settings offer ways to toggle other calendars on the device. Users can specify in the settings their home and work locations, as well as handy shortcuts for common starting and stopping points. Destinations can be searched for by address and venue name. When getting directions, users can specify which transportation method they’re going to use – perfect for those in big cities who might switch between walking, public transit, a bike, and/or car as necessary. It also shows the weather! Then, when it’s nearing time to leave, a notification pops up to head out. –Carter Dotson

Bramble Berry Tales: The Story of Kalkalih

 
Bramble Berry Tales-House

Bramble Berry Tales – The Story of Kalkalih is an important interactive storybook app as it incorporates the oral histories of Canadian indigenous people of many, many generations past. An app of undeniably high quality, I enjoy the palette of warm earth tones and stylized animation that include interactive hot spots that one can trigger with a swipe or a tap, as well as how the words to this story are highlighted when read by optional narration; always a nice touch. This tale is a story within a story. First, siblings Lily and Thomas get dropped off to spend time at their Kookum and Mooshum’s house, which is Squamish for grandmother and grandfather. Lily can be a handful, however, as she is too excited to stay in her bed at night, sneaking into the kitchen to help herself to next morning’s homemade jam, and even turning on the radio and waking up the others who are sleeping. –Amy Solomon

Asphalt 8: Airborne

 
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Gameloft’s Asphalt series returns to take arcade racing pleasantries to a new height. Asphalt 8: Airborne features everything players are familiar with, especially the vehicle handling during each race. There are numerous cars to purchase and upgrade, and multiple objectives to accomplish besides the typical potential three star earnings by placing in the top 3. However, what it really brings to the table – besides an overhaul of the user interface and graphics, which look nice – is a new way to launch vehicles in the air while performing stunts. Airborne. That’s the key word in the title and the main focus in the game, and it elevates the entertainment that it provides by letting players watch their vehicles go flying across the screen. Plus it’s pretty awesome when the boost is activated and players come crashing down on top of other vehicles for a takedown. I’ve always had great fun with arcade racers and enjoyed the previous Asphalt entries, but something as simple as adding ramps and a few stunts to the action has really taken this series in a new direction. Up! –Andrew Stevens

Mynd Calendar

 
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The App Store is flooded with productivity apps and calendars, but each of them is a little bit different from the rest. Mynd Calendar is trying to break away from the mold by presenting users with a smart calendar that doesn’t just record things but helps users do them. It’s easy to get started. With the user’s permission, Mynd asks to integrate with any calendars, add contacts, use location services, and send push notifications. With just a few quick taps and some edits in the Settings menu, users are ready to use Mynd to help them get through their daily tasks. –Angela LaFollette

Timeline WWI

 
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Much like Timeline Civil War, Timeline WW1 is a fantastic resource of information for those interested in certain periods of history. Capturing the essence of the battles involved, as well as how the Great War affected the people wrapped up in it, Timeline WW1 is both a fascinating and bleak reminder of what our ancestors struggled through. The interface is much like Timeline Civil War; proving immensely simple to browse through for young and old alike. Using a multitude of different types of media users can read through the interactive timeline to gain snippets of information on each event, while also choosing to delve further in and discover pertinent facts through video, audio, and photography. With 500 images and over 100 film clips and newsreels to explore, there are hours upon hours of content here. –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

Fleet Combat

 
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Tower defense in a new, sea-bound world is the name of the game in Fleet Combat. This adventure is set on the high seas, and I admit that I did not mind the intro backstory: no zombies in this apocalypse; just good old Mother Nature in the form of engulfing sea levels. The resulting disaster leads to a restructuring of power, and our game story revolves around resistance against invading enemy forces. The game developer was prudent enough to put in an interactive tutorial, which helps explain the game “pieces” and general strategy. The defending pieces will be familiar to US Navy aficionados, taking the form of different types of warships (the whole setup when looking at the ships is somewhat reminiscent of Battleship, but I digress). –Tre Lawrence

Fantashooting

 
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Some titles don’t really need explaining. Some games just simply throw you into the action and give you the experience you’re after right out of the gate. Fantashooting is one of those games and, following its example, I’m going to get right on with the review. Fantashooting is a ‘dual-joystick’ shooter where instead of joysticks you use the touchscreen. Most of you will know how this works, but for those that don’t be aware that there are two on-screen ‘joysticks’ that you move around by touching the screen. One joystick moves the character and the other shoots a weapon or throws a magic spell. Shooting at what and magic spells at who? Well, quite simply, you’re killing monsters. A lot of them. Fantashooting is simply a wave survival game where you aim to kill as many monsters as you can before being killed yourself. The more you kill, the more money and points you get. Some of you may have guessed this already – the money and points can be spent on upgrading your character. –Matt Parker

KungFu Quest: The Jade Tower

 
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I am an old timer. I used to go to the 7-eleven and pump all of my paper route money into the arcade games. Usually there was to of them so there was some choice. KungFu Quest : The Jade Tower reminds me of an old game I used to play there, so I was excited to do this review. The tutorial dojo is a good place to get and idea of how KungFu Quest : The Jade Tower is played. The side scrolling method of game play helps eliminate the need for an on-screen D-pad. I was glad about that because I am not a fan of those. Instead, on the bottom left side of the screen, there are left and a right arrows that work well. On the bottom right side of the screen are the attack buttons. The action button will punch and kick, the other is to jump. –Trevor Dobrygoski

This Week at 148Apps: August 5-9, 2013

Expert App Reviews

 

Yet another week has passed, and that means the 148Apps reviewers have combed through the vast numbers of new apps out there in hopes of reviewing the latest and greatest. 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.

My.Shopping

 
shopping

Offering a quite powerful way in which to organize one’s shopping, My.Shopping isn’t going to win prizes for simplicity or minimalism, but it might suit those looking for a more complex solution than the usual methods. A cluttered interface introduces proceedings but a clearly laid out plus sign does at least guide users the right way. It’s possible to add product names and sellers so they’re easier to include in the future, as well as actual shopping lists. Being able to configure sellers accurately to include local area details is a potential option, too. –Jennifer Allen

Disney Animated

 
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Disney animated films are kiiiiinda popular, and have been ever since Snow White was released in 1937. They’ve been going strong ever since. Countless books both official and not have been published documenting the company’s techniques, movies, and so on. However, I don’t think any of them, or even all of them put together, hold a candle to Disney Animated. Disney Animated isn’t a simple eBook. Oh no. It’s an interactive encyclopedia of all fifty-three of Disney’s feature length animated films. Ten different chapters explain the history of the animation giant, its methods (past and present), character development, music, and more. Each of these sections explains a core concept and offers up several detailed examples that can be viewed, and often directly interacted with, via a single tap. Curious about Disney’s animation techniques over the years? Check out the chapter on Animation and view dozens of samples from Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Tangled, and more. Or maybe take a stab at animation itself by doing some simple skeletal adjustments using a model of Vanellope from Wreck-it-Ralph. There’s a remarkable amount of information for Disney fans to appreciate here, and a significant portion of it is either animated, interactive, or both. –Rob Rich

Mikey Hooks

 
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Mikey Hooks takes the sublime speed-run platformer Mikey Shorts and adds grappling hooks to it. I love Mikey Shorts and I love grappling hook games. I’m no mathematician (I’m a writer instead) but that adds up to Mikey Hooks being an incredible game. Through 24 story levels and 12 race levels, players must run, jump, and swing their way through levels as quickly as possible. As this is the second game in the series, the training wheels have been taken off: now players have limited health and can die when touching spikes, and there’s a lot more freedom in path-taking as the trapped humans aren’t in the levels any more. The story levels still have challenges for collecting all the coins (which are used to unlock a wild variety of new disguises) and finding the hidden golden shorts in each level. –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. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 
We are happy to announce that all past and future Giggleapps content will now be featured throughout 148Apps. Here’s some of what Giggleapps writer Amy Solomon brought to the table this week:

Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price

 
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Recently, I have been given the chance to test a new iPad case, the Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price. This case is compatible with 1st 2nd and 3rd generation as well as the new iPad, but a camera is needed to access a section of the related application of the same name. I remember when we first got our iPad 3, my husband was intent on encasing our device in something that would be utterly protected from our sometimes irresponsible – if not occasionally downright reckless – five year old boy. Our old case has done the trick as our iPad has never seen any damage, but not without some cost, as my husband announced after some time struggling to get this piece of hardware onto the iPad that he was NEVER, EVER taking this case off, as it was too difficult to do so. Of course, as we had been given the chance by Fisher Price to review not only this iPad case, but two previously reviewed Apptivity play sets as well, it was understood that this case would have to come off, which it did, with a lot of cajoling. –Amy Solomon

Symmetry School

 
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Symmetry School: Learning Geometry is an app for iPad that helps children understand the principles of symmetry in this engrossing interactive app. Both reflective and rotational symmetry are touched upon here as children drag differently colored geometric shapes onto a grid that needs to be filled in accordingly. Three levels of difficulty are included for both the reflective and rotational sections of this app. Children will have the easiest time starting to explore this app with the reflective section as this is symmetry they may find familiar such as in a mirror image, looking at the details of butterfly wings, or creating Rorschach-like art by adding paint to a folded piece of paper and distributing color equally between both halves. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

 
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How long should a game last? Are you the type of person that demands 30 hours of gameplay before you’d even consider purchasing a title? Well, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes has got you covered. This game is huge. Try and bear in mind I’m being quite relative with my usage of the word ‘huge’. It’s no Skyrim, but for your average Android download, Clash of Heroes contains a campaign that easily clocks in at over 30 hours. Is this a good thing, though? Do we want to grind through 30 hours of Clash of Heroes? It will all come down to how much you enjoy the game’s basic structure and combat. Clash of Heroes is a Strategy RPG title. Battles are turn based and at the end of each fight, you’ll level up, gain EXP and all sorts of other RPG tropes are thrown in. –Matt Parker

Rail Rush

 
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Yes, Rail Rush may induce a double take. In a good way, that is. A decrepit, seemingly endless mine shaft is the scene of this caper; the playing environment is mostly made up of the the running area that this type of running game is known for, but the running path appears as a three-lane rail track that is treacherous in its condition, and the runner is maneuvering a runaway mine cart along the railway. Plenty of obstacles are present, which most of the swipe controls help avoid. Swiping up and down invokes jumping and sucking respectively, while swiping left or right jumps the cart in either direction. This is useful for jumping off of a busted track to a (temporarily) safer one, or for avoiding objects on the tracks. Additionally, there are left and right tilt movements, which are not only effective for avoiding obstacles, but key in collecting gold nuggets, gems and other specials that line the sides of the rails. –Tre Lawrence

Autodesk Homestyler

 
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Some people used to look at me funny when I’d tell them the best bit about playing The Sims wasn’t drowning people by removing a simple ladder, but that it was the building and design phase that I spent most time on. There’s something about creating your perfect home. Something that The Sims made look so simple and didn’t involve a single piece of Ikea flat-packed furniture. Something so easy about it all. It’s that same feeling that Autodesk Homestyler also evokes. It’s a fairly simple design tool that allows you to place furniture within a preset blank canvas of a room or you can import pictures of your own home. –Matt Parker

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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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

 
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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

Your App Experts

 

Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

A Ride Into The Mountains

 
rideintomountains05

Sucker that I am for retro-inspired visuals, I was immediately interested in A Ride into the Mountains. It’s not just a visual throwback, however. The fluid animations, beautiful backgrounds, haunting melodies, and simple-yet-complex gameplay come together to make something more than just a retro themed time waster. It’s actually pretty special. Zu and his family have protected the land from evil forces for generations. One day the sacred relic keeping it all at bay is stolen, so he jumps onto his horse and sets out to get it back. A Ride into the Mountains is centered around one main gameplay mechanic: firing arrows. Players must tap and drag their finger across the screen to draw back Zu’s bow and release to fire, with the time spent drawing determining the shot strength. Little by little more mechanics are introduced – such as tilting the device to move the horse or tapping the screen while drawing back on the bow to focus and slow down time – until eventually it becomes an unexpectedly solid little arcade/action game. –Rob Rich

Sky Gamblers: Cold War

 
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I admit to not having spent much time playing the Sky Gamblers series. I’ve never been a huge fan of airplane warfare games, and I don’t think that the real world is either – has there been an actual aerial dogfight in the past few decades? I hope not, because war is bad! But yet, aerial dogfighting winds up popping up commonly in games. So when duty called, I decided to give Sky Gamblers: Cold War a shot, and I can see the appeal. This is aerial warfare that’s got a light learning curve to it. Sky Gamblers: Cold War does the one thing that I think every other online multiplayer game needs to have at their main menu: a quick start button! This promotes quick, casual online play by making it super-simple to jump in. There’s still options for creating games (including private matches with Game Center friends), but this subtle little feature goes a long way toward ensuring that people will actually play a game with online multiplayer! I found matches even in the dead of night. –Carter Dotson

Agenda Calendar 4

 
agenda

Keeping a well organized calendar is a crucial part of a good workflow for many, and on the iPhone there are already several great calendar apps available – but is Agenda Calendar 4 different enough to make a splash? I’ve been using Fantastical for all my calendaring needs over the past few months, but Agenda Calendar 4 has a seriously good chance of becoming my new default. –Ruari O’Gallchoir

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

 

Tunnel Trouble

 
tunnel

Tunnel Trouble is a creative and fun universal educational app that to children preschool age and above will seem like a simple and interesting game application, with adults all the while appreciating how terrific this app is for teaching problem-solving in a way that is engaging and full of whimsy. Tunnel Trouble allows players to help a chicken run through a series of maze-like tunnels of an underground passageway, in later levels avoiding a monster who needs to be trapped to let this chicken pass by unharmed. Each of the 25 levels includes a cross-section of the tunnel this chicken is trying to run through. This tunnel is actually made up of a series of pieces that each need to connect to allow chicken free access. –Amy Solomon

Play-Doh Create ABCs

 
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PLAY-DOH Create ABCs is a new universal app that allows children to enjoy this popular modeling compound, now 55 years old, on their devices as they also learn their letters. Needless to say, I was interested to see how Play-Doh, which is such a tactile toy, translates into an application. There are three sections to this app with its main area being Write and Craft where children, after choosing from a large variety of Play-Doh colors, can trace each letter with the drag of a finger. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Le Vamp

 
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It must be tough being a vampire. You’ve got a limited time of day in which you can be up and about. You can’t check yourself out in the mirror. There’s the whole ‘having to drink people’s blood’ thing. It sounds like a right hassle. On top of that, there are some vampires that have the added burden of parenthood, as in Le Vamp. In Le Vamp you take control of a troublesome vampire who’s barely out of nappies. Assuming vampires use nappies. This cheeky little terror of the night has decided to skip his bedtime and run amok in what I assume is a village outside of Paris. This hasn’t gone unnoticed though, as the petit vampire has managed to upset many French stereotypes meaning an angry mob of farmers, mimes and Napoleon lookalikes will be chasing down our blood-sucking friend. –Matt Parker

Warmly

 
dragon

Mad Dragon is an interesting side-scrolling runner that features an almost lovable fantasy character. A hitherto sleeping dragon is our angry protagonist. In this side-scroller, action proceeds from left to right, and the enraged dragon possesses an exhaustible set of attributes that assist it in its desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. Wreaking havoc, in this game, mostly refers to destroying as many buildings as possible, while avoiding the bombs that are spread out around the place to stop the dragon. –Tre Lawrence

Jungle Heat

 
jungle

War. Often we’re asked what it’s good for and a common response is “nothing”. In fact, some have even gone as far to say “absolutely nothing”. That none-too-subtle Edwin Starr reference is a heads up that Jungle Heat is a game all about war. A war which takes place in a jungle that happens to be full of oil and gold. The game places you in control over an ever-expanding base that you launch attacks from. You can think of Jungle Heat as a Farmville style game where instead of harvesting crops your training soldiers to go and do battle. It’s the training and the battles that make up the two main parts of the game. –Matt Parker

Your App Authority

 

Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Gentlemen!

 
gentlemen

Occasionally frantic, Gentlemen! is never short of gloriously great fun. Lone gamers won’t be so keen given that it’s exclusively for two players, but it’s the perfect reason to get a friend involved. The idea is simple enough: players must defeat each other in a duel to the death. Just like in the old days of honor and explosive birds, ok, maybe not so much. Presented in portrait mode, each player’s controls are set on opposite sides of the screen. In a nice move, menu buttons and other descriptions are similarly laid out, for either player to easily interact with. Controls are simple with left and right, alongside a gravity flip button and the use of a weapon. Weapons vary, mostly thanks to a switch in the middle of each game enabling players to change around. Knives, bombs, dynamite, electric shields and explosive birds all play a role, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s as zany as it sounds, while adding a surprising tactical edge to proceedings. –Jennifer Allen

PhotoNova 2

 
photonova

I have a handful of photo apps on my iPhone 5 that I keep handy when I feel like making my pictures look fancy. Each app has its own perks like frames, filters and adjustments. I tend to rotate between them until I find the one that transforms my picture into a work of art. I’m always on the lookout for new photo apps because I’m really looking for that one that will replace all my other go to camera apps. I reviewed PhotoNova+ 2 a few months ago, which is a free version of their paid app. PhotoNova 2 offers users more advanced features like a variety of selection tools, an option to switch out the background of photos that have a green background and an impressive effects selection. –Angela LaFollette

Tangent

 
tangent

Many photography apps tend to do quite similar things to imagery, mostly involving applying filters to photographs. Tangent doesn’t quite do that. It might involve applying new effects to an image, but through a vector art style overlay, improvements are being added to the image, rather than replacing anything. There’s a fairly simple process to follow throughout the app. Users can either import or take a photo directly from within, before opting for a specific style. Tangent offers both straight-forward and quick applications, as well as plenty of choice for those who want to adjust things individually. Shapes form the first set of choices, with circles, rectangles, triangles and plenty more, available to apply to an image. It sounds gimmicky, but it can really set off a photo nicely, giving focus to the important part of a photo. There are plenty of shapes available too, with in-app purchases provided for those who want even more choice. That’s a trend that continues throughout, with plenty of additional blends and colors available at a price. Fortunately, it’s always possible to preview them first. –Jennifer Allen

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

 

ABC Aquarium

 
aquarium

Peapod Labs has developed a favorite series of educational ABC apps and has recently added two new titles – ABC Aquarium and ABC Bugs, each terrifically educational and including exceptional photography to allow children to view these different creatures in a way that highlights all of their unique attributes. Each of these apps, now eleven and counting, features a wide amount of content, including terrific, detailed photos of each subject as well as narrated fun facts, curated videos gathered from the Internet and simple, intuitive interactions which young children will enjoy a great deal. –Amy Solomon

Gro Recycling

 
gro

Gro Recycling is a cute and fun interactive universal app that allows children to sort recycling into different receptacles, totaling six in all, including a unique choice of recycling batteries as well as a compost container. Game play is charming and intuitive as one simply drags a piece of recycling to be recycled to the correct container, as these bins happily and hungrily eat what they are being served, while a mistake will result in the spitting out of the wrong material. This app is lovingly styled with the delightful humanizing of these recycling bins as cartoony faces, which are included with fun, witty noises that each of these characters makes, hungry to eat recycled materials. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Attack of the Spooklings

 
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Mobile games that offer their players to smash the opponents using nothing but their very fingers were at the very start of the touch-screen revolution, but lately it seems that somewhat counter-intuitive habit of putting buttons on touch-screen has largely rendered the “clean” touch-screen games mostly obsolete. Someone should analyze this trend to some revealing, but ultimately unnecessary results. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Attack of the Spooklings. It’s a fine, but incredibly simple game. How simple? It takes longer to read this sentence than to see the whole game. It’s not surprising, considering that it consists of an astonishing single screen, and single enemy. While I’m all for the games with minimalistic design, they should also be complemented with really incredible gameplay. Attack of the Spooklings is quite exciting for some time, sure, but it simply lacks any sort of complexity to be interesting. –Tony Kuzmin

GP Retro

 
gpretro

GP Retro is a racing game that isn’t scared to rock looks of old, and I suspect it is aware of my abject weakness for titles that bring back the wonderful things of days gone by. The game comes at us in glorious 2D, and in this one, retro is no misnomer. The chunky pixels underscore the jittery unsure animations that make these type of games fun to look at. The purposely un-sharp colors were done well, and even the intro pages for the drivers were nicely formatted to fit with the retro look. As for gameplay, it is basically top-down view simulated Grand Prix open-wheel (to start) racing over mostly asymmetrical raceways. Sharp turns characterize the racing; losing control and ending up on grass slows down the race car considerably. There are valuables and power-ups to be collected, as well as hazards to be avoided. –Tre Lawrence

Cross Horizon

 
cross horizon

Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out? The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way. I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details. –Tre Lawrence

 

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:

Mike Lee148Apps: 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

 
fairwaysolitaire1

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

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

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

 
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

 
flyingbooks

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

 
smashspin

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

 
stickfight

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

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

Expert App Reviews

 

Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

SuperBetter

 
superbetter

A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. –Jennifer Allen

Layton Brothers Mystery Room

 
laytonbrothers10

Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. –Rob Rich

Limbo

 
Limbo-1

Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. –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. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet

 
coolsons

As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. –Amy Solomon

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

 
eyeville

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Space is Key

 
space

The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. –Tre Lawrence

Warmly

 
warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence

LandGrabbers

 
landgrabbers

Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. –Tre Lawrence

Expert App Reviews

 

Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of 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.

Magic 2014

 
IMG_0522

Fantasy based card games are very much an acquired taste. Some have been drawn to the genre since grade school, while others join later in life, but one thing remains the same: Magic the Gathering is by far the most popular example of the genre. On the heels of last year’s Magic 2013, it would only make sense for Wizards of the Coast to follow up their smash hit, for a new year. Can Magic 2014 manage to meet the same bar of excellence raised by the original installment, or is this essentially a glorified re-skin? Fans of last year’s Magic installment have a very similar experience awaiting them when opening Magic 2014. Most of the game’s core interface has remained fairly unchanged, but it really was never broken to begin with, so there was no need for a fix. Newcomers and veterans alike will find more than enough card based shenanigans to keep them busy for countless rounds. –Blake Grundman

JetScanner

 
jetscanner

The App Store is loaded with many apps that scan documents, but most of them seem to take an eternity to process files. Additionally, they aren’t always accurate. I’ve scanned business cards and manuals, only to go back and enter additional information in manually. There’s a new app that promises users that they will no longer have to wait and it boasts that it can produce PDF documents from any photo at a very high speed and at the highest image enhancement quality. It’s easy to get started with JetScanner as a quick start guide helps users learn the ropes. There are two ways to create documents. Users can either tap the camera icon or tap the album icon. Once a document is created, users can make adjustments by tapping on the wizard icon to adjust the smart crop or edit additional processing options like adjusting color, making the image black and white or quickly reverting back to the original. Additionally, users can tap the information button in the upper right corner to change the paper size of the PDF. –Angela LaFollette

Cling Thing

 
image 3

Cling Thing starts off with some great, but little, moments. They feel fleeting. However, then another great little moment appears and another and another. Eventually, these seemingly small yet neat tricks cling together to form a superb whole. In Cling Thing, players guide wacky Madballs-esque creatures to the end of each stage by using their slimy, stretchy, sticky tendrils to move around. The action resembles World of Goo but with just one ball to manage instead of dozens. Those two games also share a similar creative drive to get the most out of their deceptively simple yet deep mechanics. Early levels are pretty straightforward where all the creatures have to do is slime-swing to the end of the stage Spider-Man style. However, later stages introduce doors that need keys, blocks that need moving, wheels that need to be spun, and underwater areas with new physics that need new approaches. –Jordan Minor

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

 

Talking ABC

 
abc

Talking ABC… is a delightful alphabet app which includes charming and impressive claymation animals that will engage adults and children alike. I do love this kind of animation, so I was eager to see the claymation included within, and I can say that these bright and quirky animal creatures do not disappoint, as an estimated 770 pounds of clay was used to create the animals and letters – impressive to say the least. As one may expect, there is a main section of this app which includes 26 letters, each with its own corresponding animal seen to the left of the screen. –Amy Solomon

Pango Imaginary Car

 
pango

Pango Imaginary Car is an app that allows children to create cars and other vehicles by combining various parts together. I enjoy this app. It is a concept that is not exactly unique, yet this is an app that is of very high quality and utterly appealing. The first thing one will notice when opening this app is color. A bright, sophisticated lime-green color makes up the background of the center screen where one builds his creation, dragging vehicle elements from the tabs seen left of the page. Eight tabs are included, with details that will create the body of the car, such as the front ends of a few differently shaped cars, trucks and a train as well as basic shapes that can be used to create a larger vehicle as well. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Cubed Rally Redline

 
cubed

Most endless runners inspired by Temple Run take the standard behind-the-back perspective. Sure, Pitfall had a more dynamic camera angle, but that’s the exception. Cubed Rally Redline steps things up and does it from an isometric perspective, similar to developer Jared Bailey’s original version of Cubed Rally Racer that Android gamers sadly don’t have. However, where the game also differs from most 3D endless runners is in the number of lanes: there’s five to deal with here. Good luck. –Carter Dotson

Bombcats Special Edition
bombcats

Bombcats Special Edition is Radiangames’ entry into the casual physics-puzzler genre after an assortment of action-oriented titles and block-based puzzle games, and it stands out as a fun and addictive title. The gameplay can be best described as a hybrid between Angry Birds and iBlast Moki. The goal is to free all the bombkittens from their electric cages by launching the bombcats around the levels, eventually using their ability to “tele-splode” (so they don’t actually die) to free them from the cages. However, there’s a fuse on the bombcats, so getting them from point A to point B in a timely fashion is key! –Carter Dotson

Spelling Monster

 
spelling monster

Spelling Monster is a gift from heaven to parents with kids in the early school years. it incorporates several learning tools and exercises into the gameplay, which is wrapped in the pleasing veneer of an Android game. The main menu breaks the game into an adjustable word list and a bunch of mini games. The word list allows for the addition of just about any words, which is great for accounting for, say, vocabulary or multiple kids of different abilities using the app. The game list had five different games: Letter Pop, Missing Letter, Letter Catch, Word Traffic and Word Jumble. –Tre Lawrence

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