Posts Tagged weekly round-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.

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.

Shiny Happy App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

 
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The great strategy of Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol returns with Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies. It’s set during World War II; where players have the choice to play as the US Navy, US Army, Imperial Japanese Navy, and Imperial Japanese Army. It certainly has a familiar presentation for those who played the original, but it’s also more polished and enhanced. The mission set-up is different as players are given one mission instead of a choice between three. I also find the visuals to be more polished and likable, but that’s probably because I love the old warbirds. –Andrew Stevens

Rayman Fiesta Run

 
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Rayman Fiesta Run is the sequel to Rayman Jungle Run, Ubisoft’s mobile version of their Rayman revival series, taking the form of a level-based auto-runner. Rayman Fiesta Run really only serves as an iteration on the previous one, but more of the familiar excellent gameplay and an improved level structure make this a better game. Players control the jumps and punches of Rayman, who can’t stop running for reasons both justified and unjustified depending on the level, trying to collect Lums and just get to the end of each level in however many pieces is optimal for Rayman because he has invisible limbs. Levels, which take on many forms from horizontal platforming to back-and-forth ascents – with the occasional wall-running and jumping, too – are challenging due to the timing needed to succeed and survive the various hazards. –Carter Dotson

Tiny Death Star

 
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Tiny Death Star is one of those ideas that’s absolutely brilliant: take Tiny Tower and put it in the Star Wars universe, having players build a Death Star instead of a non-descript tower. Oh, and the bitizens are all Star Wars characters. If that sounds appealing, then go download Tiny Death Star. It really isn’t too much different from the original Tiny Tower, the game where players earn money by stocking floors of a tower that sell different items, building new stores and residential floors for new people to move in to. Managing where bitizens work is important because they’re more efficient at certain floor types. This whole process continues until one’s tower is as high as players want it to be. It’s just all decked out with Star Wars characters and themes this time. –Carter Dotson

Hipster CEO

 
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Let’s get this reviewing cliche out of the way: Hipster CEO is an acquired taste. It sounds like an excuse to basically say “Some will like it, some will hate it,” but it’s remarkably true in the case of this game. Unlike so many other titles on the App Store, Hipster CEO doesn’t mollycoddle its players. There’s a gameplay guide rather than a comprehensive tutorial, but even that isn’t as useful as simply giving the game a shot and gradually figuring things out. It’ll be rewarding, but it will take patience for those who want to succeed. Occasional moments of being crash-prone can irritate, too. –Jennifer Allen

Sorcery! 2

 
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Bigger, better, stronger. That sums up Sorcery! 2, the sequel to the rather great Sorcery!. Feeling substantially weightier than its predecessor, much like the book it’s based on, Sorcery! 2 is a veritable bargain even despite its premium price tag. It’s been promised that there are over 300,000 words to it with more than 10,000 choices. I have no reason to doubt such a claim as there are plenty of hours of content here. Continuing from its predecessor, it’s not essential to have a save file at the ready but I’d recommend it, purely to carry on the storyline. Players explore Khare: the Cityport of Traps, and it’s a huge city indeed, as they attempt to move forward in their quest, potentially overthrow the city port’s council, and more. I’m grateful that Sorcery! 2 has such an extensive backtracking feature as there really is a lot that can be done here. –Jennifer Allen

ProCam 2

 
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ProCam 2 is the kind of photography app that should, theoretically, mean that no other photography app is really needed. While some might find themselves keen to stick to an app they’re more used to, or with a slightly different look, ProCam 2 covers all the bases meaning that there really isn’t a need to do so. I’m assuming the developers wrote up a list of requirements for a good quality photography app, then kept working until every single one had been included. I’m struggling to think of anything that could have been missed. –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

Dot.Stop.Run

 
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Dot.Stop.Run is a pretty eye-catching runner, but how does it play? Players control Dot, an enigmatic female as she runs along a landscape littered with hazards, such as pits, falling blocks and moving platforms. Using well timed jumps, the player must guide Dot through each level. Dot.Stop.Run has the bare vestiges of a story. Dot has escaped from the unseen system and now runs through an endless binary domain that changes constantly to recapture her. Only by making her way safely through the binary domain can the true power of Dot be unleashed. This story doesn’t really make an appearance in game, but at least it sets the tone for the trippy gameplay to follow. –Allan Curtis

Lost Chapters HD

 
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There has to be some science behind the way certain games force you to stop playing and instead ‘come back later’. I’ll happily admit I’m no expert in the economics of designing free-to-play games, but I always thought turning people away was a dangerous idea. They just might not come back. It’s with this in mind that we talk about Lost Chapters HD. It’s a game all about exploration of an island, completing tasks to unlock new buildings and discovering treasure along the way. –Matt Parker

Wake the Cat

 
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Cats. Lovable bundles of fur or feline freeloaders? How you feel about cats will determine how you want to look at this game. LIKE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you gently roll a ball of yarn towards a sleeping kitty so that you may wake them from their peaceful slumber and play with them. HATE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you launch a ball of yarn (maybe with a rock in the middle of it) so that you stir the cat from its unearned slumber. Maybe to then throw the cat out of the house. I don’t know. –Matt Parker

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best iOS and Android games of October, reviewed Rayman Fiesta Run, provided some top tips for Tiny Death Star, and followed the saga of an indie developer who got rejected from the App Store… twice. Check out the Pocket Gamer weekly wrap-up right now!

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

 
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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.

New iPhone? New apps? You Need Our Know-How!

 

Each week brings with it a wealth of new apps, but, we’ll admit, some weeks are just more exciting than others. Such is the case with this week, with its iPhone 5s and 5c announcements coupled with the long-awaited release of iOS 7. Be sure to catch up on our continuous coverage by checking in at our iOS 7 hub. And if you want more app reviews than you can shake a stick at, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Diptic PDQ

 
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Conveniently fitting into the iOS 7 aesthetic that we’re all growing to quite like, Diptic PDQ lives up to its name by being a Pretty Dang Quick photo collage creation app. It’ll prove immensely useful to those who want to create a collage out of their photos and don’t have much time to do so. Distinctly speedy to use, Diptic PDQ dispenses with any bells and whistles that really aren’t needed; immediately requesting the photos that the user wants to import (as well as offering options to take images directly through the iOS device’s camera). Users are then able to drag and drop the photos into their respective places on the layout. There are 35 layouts in all, and each are the kind of template that one would actually use rather than the kind that are too wacky to be practical. –Jennifer Allen

Angry Birds Star Wars II

 
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There once was a man named George Lucas who decided he wasn’t prosperous enough. In search of never-ending wealth, he released three new films in his storied Star Wars franchise. After eventually completing his quest for riches and fortune, Lucas licensed out the rights for his films to Rovio, the brains behind the Angry Birds franchise. And thus a glorious gaming baby was born in the form of Angry Birds Star Wars II. Can this entry make just as big of a splash as the first installment, or have the days of Force-wielding fowl long since passed? Marketing professionals go an entire lifetime dreaming of working with a single brand that even remotely has the clout of a singular Star Wars or Angry Birds. Melding these two juggernauts together is a cross-promotional fantasy that has probably sold an iOS game or two… million. Taking a whack at the more recent trilogy is the aim of the sequel and this time around Rovio has ambitions of pulling out all of the stops. –Blake Grundman

Marvin

 
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Previously quite the hit for iPad-owning reading fans, Marvin has made its way to the iPhone ably demonstrating just what a great eBook reader the device can be. For those who enjoy reading on the move, Marvin should be a firm choice for a while to come. The app is immediately simple to use. Relying upon DRM-free EPUB books, it comes with a selection of great classics such as “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “Crime and Punishment,” and many more. Importing others is just as simple, done via iTunes, Dropbox, or a Calibre plugin. Tutorials for doing such things are located via Safari rather than built into the app, but fortunately it’s all quite straightforward. –Jennifer Allen

Double Dragon

 
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Double Dragon celebrated its 25th anniversary with an updated iPhone version, but has it managed to hold on to everything that has made it such a legendary franchise in the process? I was happy to see that the classic visuals, 80′s soundtrack, and damsel-in-distress story were all still present and cheesier than ever before. In terms of the game screen, the amount of buttons is deceptively simple. Although there may only be one directional button and four attack buttons there is an impressive array of moves available as laid out in the command list. Uppercuts, flying knees, head-butts, and special attacks all go towards keeping gameplay varied and particularly challenging to master (especially when it comes to initiating juggling). Let’s not forget the infamous weapons either. Barrels, whips, and steel pipes are all available to pick up and wield against the never-ending parade of thugs. –Lee Hamlet

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

Monster Match

 
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A lot of games find it hard to stick to one ‘type’ nowadays. It seems that every game is of type X though has Y components. It’s not enough to find one solid game mechanic, it seems the trick is to mix several together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m happy to say that Monster Match‘s attempt at mixing Pokemon and Connect 4 has worked a charm. The premise, as with most good games, is simple. You have a board which is full of coloured gems. You need to swipe at these gems connecting 2 or more of the same color. The more you connect, the better. Better how? Let me explain. –Matt Parker

Quad Drawer

 
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The past few renditions of the Android devices have had a lot more memory to store apps. The problem is, we can add more stuff to the phone because we have more space, so we do. When we have a hundred or more apps on our devices, it can take some time to find the right app to open. Quad Drawer is a great solution for most people to help find apps faster. After it’s downloaded, Quad Drawer will run a check to find all of the apps on the device. Once it does, finding an app is super easy. The apps are found by simply typing in the name of the application. While this may sound pretty simple, the majority of phones and other Android devices out there do not have a feature like this. –Trevor Dobrygoski

Infectonator Hot Chase

 
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Infectonator Hot Chase has a tough legacy to follow. The original Infectonator was an insane stew with zombies, tactics, humor and originality. This game only has zombies. Being worse than Infectonator still counts as a praise, although I’d much rather have original gameplay extended. But oh, well, maybe we’ll see that later. Infectonator Hot Chase is still fun, though. If you played Dead Ahead, then it’s easy to understand the concept of this game: it’s the same as Dead Ahead, but the heroes are zombies, not the survivals. The main zombie is running constantly to the right, just as the still-surviving humans do. He is also steering automatically to the bottom of the road, while pressing at the screen makes him strafe to the top. The player’s task is to “catch” the humans as the main zombie runs past them, and infect them. The freshly-infected start running alongside the main zombie, and help infect more people, or pick up gold and power-ups. The zombie slows and loses health over time, both of which can be replenished by eating people, or picking power-ups. When the main zombie dies, the gold he picked up is added to the bank, and can be spent to upgrade himself, or special mutations that temporarily imbue him with new powers. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviews Infinity Blade III and Angry Birds Star Wars II, charts the history of Grand Theft Auto on handhelds, goes hands-on with Pokemon X & Y, investigates FIFA 14‘s in-app purchases, and celebrates iOS 7’s best and hidden features. Check out the Pocket Gamer Weekly Wrap-Up for all of this and more.

Shiny Happy App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Plants vs. Zombies 2

 
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Game development is a fickle business. One day a studio is the talk of the industry and the next it’s scrambling to save face. Rarely is a team able to attain success and remain a darling of both the press and gamers alike. PopCap is one of the exceptions to the rule that somehow manage to impress, no matter what the obstacle. Their newest offering, Plants vs. Zombies 2, could put all of their hard-earned credibility on the chopping block by opting to implement a free-to-play monetization structure. Does the freemium model suit the franchise, or is this an unnecessary stir of the pot? –Blake Grundman

Notograph

 
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A new app has landed that is simple yet amazing. Notograph is essentially a way to take notes with photographs. It allows users to capture photos of things that they need to remember, and it stores them in a separate location so users don’t fill up their Camera Roll or Photo Stream with pictures that get in the way of their memories. Every time Notograph is opened, it takes users straight to the live camera. It’s designed for quick captures so there’s no messing around with features that aren’t needed. Just tap on the big yellow button to capture. Next to the capture button, users can turn the flash on or off, alternate between the front and back cameras, and view a list of captured pictures. –Angela LaFollette

TeeVee 2

 
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There are a lot of good TV shows out there nowadays to keep track of. Sure, there are a lot of terrible TV to keep track of too, and TeeVee 2 doesn’t discriminate. It just wants to serve as a quick way to track TV shows and see when they’re coming on next. Just search for a show in a widely-available database, and it will be added to the list left under three categories: “upcoming” for shows that have scheduled upcoming episodes, “announced” for shows that are still airing but don’t have future episodes scheduled yet, and the “dead” section serves as a painful reminder that America rejected the witty antics of Happy Endings. America, for shame. –Carter Dotson

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play HD

 
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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint and Play HD is a unique and fun coloring book app that helps children explore 2D and 3D animation. An iPhone version of this app is also available. This application consists of the classic Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse who star in three separate areas of this app, each including various objects which can be painted. When this app opens up for the first time, children will notice three rooms from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – starkly white and without color yet nicely decorated with many props and other objects that one would expect from fully furnished rooms as well as an outdoor scene. These areas – the living room, kitchen, and garden – each include many details that one would expect; be it easy chair or shelf, counter or cupboard, trees and flowers – all in need of some creative color. One can even add personal touches to Mickey and Minnie as well – a nice feature that I really enjoy. –Amy Solomon

ScribbleMix

 
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Taking plenty of inspiration from last year’s social gaming phenomenon, Draw Something, ScribbleMix is a fun re-imagining of the popular format with just enough to make it seem different. This time round, players must draw an entire phrase rather than one word. It makes a significant difference, too, both in terms of challenge and in terms of entertainment value. Rather than simply drawing a cheerleader, one might have to draw a cheerleader dancing in the sea for instance. As the Disney name is strongly attached here, there are Disney themed moments, too, such as my favorite: Iron Man bouncing in a desert. Plenty of categories are available so it’s convenient to be able to use some of the in-app currency to either re-spin for another shot, or choose a different category. –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

After the Gods-An Augmented Reality God Game

 
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Sometimes you’ll come across a game that deserves and needs to be looked at differently. To give After the Gods a score out of ten would be missing the point and would stop discussion before it even began. Why is this? Because, quite simply, After the Gods isn’t a particularly good game. It consists of a fairly basic premise that’s easy to achieve. You have to tap on different statues to activate them and then move your camera around to call upon the selected God’s power. Rain, wind and the power over light are all combined to complete a couple of different objectives. For to get flowers to grow, you need it to be raining and sunny. After a couple of these ‘objectives’, the game’s over. 6 out of ten. –Matt Parker

Gurk III-The 8-Bit RPG

 
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I wanted to start this review by saying how Gurk was an old-school RPG from the olden days, but quick Googling turned up the fact that there was no such thing, and my memory is playing tricks on me. Well, how about that. It’s actually quite a modern-day RPG that was simply made to look like it’s a clone of an old-school game. Still, it doesn’t mean that the game is in any way bad. Conversely, it’s one of the most absorbing role-playing games on the mobiles, and it manages to be like that with only a handful of pixels and colors to spare. In Gurk III, three heroes, a mage, a warrior, and an archer, have to travel across lands and dungeons, eradicating all enemies that are all too eager to munch on their squishy human faces. They are represented by a single icon on the global map, but when encountering an enemy, the map will zoom up on them, and they will fight the enemies in a turn-based battle mode. As in all the other RPGs, there are tons of items to find, and tons of gold to collect. –Tony Kuzmin

QbQbQb

 
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There’s a problem with QbQbQb, and so many other puzzle games, from a reviewer’s perspective: they are impossible to describe. They look fine and simple, when I play them, but when I have to put them on paper – it was easier to describe my feelings to a girl I liked in fifth grade, and get a lifetime of shame, than to explain this stuff. Although QbQbQb is difficult to understand from the screenshots, or my ramblings, it’s actually very simple to play. That said, it’s not easy – and it’s a great combination. Simple to learn, impossible to master. The challenge comes from the twisted way the game looks. It’s a Tetris-esque match-something arcade, but instead of giving a traditional flat surface to throw the incoming bricks on, QbQbQb opts for a circular one. To put it simply: there are various shapes, falling onto a planet from all angles, and the player needs to rotate the planet around its axis, to put them in the required places on top of it. The planet only rotates by 30-degree angles, so there are 12 possible positions the pieces are coming from, and can be placed on, which makes it a bit more manageable. But still difficult to wrap the head around, in the heat of the action. –Tony Kuzmin

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!

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

Your App Authority

 

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.

We also went deep in our coverage of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with a review, strategy guides, and a Commander’s diary. Be sure to check that all out.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

 
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The original X-Com: UFO Defense has been one of my all time favorite games for almost 20 years. There’s something about the combination of naming soldiers after friends and family members, carefully trying to manage finances and tech trees, and the tense search for hostile aliens in unfamiliar terrain that still excites me to this day. So when it was announced that Firaxis, the developers behind the latest entries in the Civilization series, were going to release a modern update of the 1994 classic I was both supremely excited and ridiculously nervous. Of course I was worried about XCOM: Enemy Unknown for nothing. It turned out to be a fantastic re-imagining of my favorite strategy game that trimmed away a lot of the unnecessary fat and added a few more contemporary elements to create an incredibly compelling experience. Then it was announced that Firaxis and 2K China were going to take that same experience and somehow cram it on to iOS devices. Again I found myself excited and worried at the same time. And again I was worried for nothing. –Rob Rich

Where’s My Mickey XL

 
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Disney’s Where’s My Water series has been both a success both financially as well as creatively, with its original incarnation bringing unique physics gameplay and an original character to the table. Now, Disney has expanded the series in part by integrating their known characters into the gameplay. The problem has been that they just haven’t fit all that well: Perry from Phineas & Ferb in Where’s My Perry felt like Disney just slapping a character into the formula, and to me at least, it fell flat. So now, we have Where’s My Mickey, which ramps up the character integration from “secondary character on a Disney Channel animated series” to“ the very face of Disney.” Thankfully, the Disney folks decided that with their superstar, they had to bring their A-game to Where’s My Mickey and by gosh golly, they nailed it. –Carter Dotson

Videon

 
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It’s quite difficult to fault Videon. It’s a video recording app that offers mostly everything anyone could want from such a tool. Something that’s bound to be welcomed amongst those planning on recording plenty of videos this summer. Aligning towards many different needs, users can go straight into recording something or choose to change some settings around first. The former is ideal for when the opportunity arises, such as when a child or pet is doing something cute. The latter is great, when planning ahead. –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

 

Mini U: Zoo Abracadabra

 
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Mini-U: Zoo Abracadabra for iPad is a charmingly different puzzle app that kids and their parents will both enjoy. This app includes a circus theme where animals create towers holding each other up, creating wondrous shadow-animal shapes. Children are then asked to choose what animal is making up this grand tower from the animal tiles one can select, seen at the bottom of the screen. There are three different levels of difficulty within this app that include an increase in the number both of the animal tiles to choose from as well as the number of the animals balancing together, creating most interesting shapes. –Amy Solomon

Dr. Panda Handyman

 
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My family and I are always excited when a new role-playing app becomes available as these types of apps allow children to imagine themselves performing various occupations as well as to engage in pretend play, making these apps favorites in our house. This new app, Dr. Panda Handyman, is such an app, as children work alongside Dr. Panda helping to fix damaged objects of animal friends and neighbors seen within five separate scenes. I enjoy how the different animal connected to each scene may vary as do some of the details found in these scenes. It makes me smile to see some old faces from other apps such as the polar bears or elephants or monkeys, as well as new characters to meet along the way. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Little Nick: The Great Escape

 
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Little Nick is a running game game that is based on the popular Nicolas TV and books character. It’s a running game, and the abbreviated top-down view is quite reminiscent of endless runners like Temple Run. In this adventure, we ditch jungle temples and crazed monkey-ish beasts for somewhat suburban streets and Mr Goodman in pursuit. And, we get a bike! For background, Nick is framed for the dastardly destruction of a window, and takes off out the property gates on his two-wheeler to escape the vengeful Goodman after him. But these city streets are littered with obstacles, making escape especially hard. The graphics were more than decent, with good animations. –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

Neon Snap

 
neon

Neon Snap is one of those games that soothes the mine just by looking it. With the tetrominoes and gridded space, it is practically impossible to not think of Tetris, if just a little. It’s advisable to avoid getting too caught up in the similarities, as Neon Snap sorta turns the gameplay over on its head. The developer uses simple graphics to frame the game. With a mostly dark backgrounds, the play pieces are brightly colored, and the color of the pieces depends on their respective shapes. The animations are decent; rotations are handled in a utilitarian manner, and everything comes together with a minimalist feel. –Tre Lawrence

This Week at 148Apps: April 15-19

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Having trouble making sense out of the overwhelming number of apps released each week? Have no fear! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift 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.

Trial of the Clone

trialoftheclone3

I won’t dawdle with getting this out there: I love Trial of the Clone. It made me laugh numerous times and it made me want to replay it many, many times just so I could see how things could work out differently. Like all of Tin Man Games’s other releases, it won’t be for those who want fast paced gaming, but for those who want to read an entertaining story while interacting with certain elements, it’s fantastic. The story, based upon the book of the same name by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s Zach Weinersmith, follows the tale of a clone in a distant future, as they find themselves having to undertake a special destiny. It all sounds incredibly pious and worthy but it’s merely the backdrop to some great self-referential humor and some playful digs at popular Science Fiction. Consistently tongue in cheek, not only will players find themselves having to decide what to do about the galaxy’s fate, but they’ll also find themselves having to fight angry mothers, outwitting little old ladies and getting drunk with fellow soldiers. –Jennifer Allen

Vendetta Online

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Online games are lucky to maintain a fan base for weeks, let alone for months, or even years. In the case of the interstellar MMO Vendetta Online, the game has managed to feed a thriving fan base since 1998. For those of you keeping track at home, that is a whopping fifteen years! Now that the game has managed to conquer most major platforms including the likes of PC, Mac and Android, the company has now set its sights on iPad. Can this massive experience make the jump to iOS, or will the gigantic scope overwhelm the more mobile-minded gamer? Everyone who has ever complained about the lack of a significant PC-centric MMO experience on iOS now has permission to sit down. Vendetta Online has somehow managed to port its entire online platform to iPad in a way that would seem impossibly succinct given the depth of the experience, yet just as fully featured as its big brother counterparts on Mac and PC. If it sounds too good to be true, rest assured, it isn’t. Just know that depth comes at the cost of a steep learning curve. –Blake Grundman

Fish Out of Water!

FishOutOfWater-03

Fish Out of Water is Halfbrick’s long-awaited next game; it’s hard to believe that their last mega-release, Jetpack Joyride is over a year and a half old at this point. It’s very playable, but may not be something with a lot of longevity. The goal is to launch three different fish across water, trying to maximize the distance they go along with the number of times they skip across the water, to try and impress the five different crab judges who score on various criteria. Most fish should be launched at a low enough angle that they go far, but won’t just fall in to the water. Some fish are wildly different – for example, Finlay the dolphin (yes, the game knows dolphins aren’t actually fish) can jump and dive out of the water, with each dive counting as a skip. However, he shouldn’t touch the bottom of the water, because that will slow him down immensely. The brothers split into multiple fish, so if used properly, they can rack up massive numbers of skips. –Carter Dotson

Might & Magic: Duel of Champions

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Might & Magic: Duel Of Champions is a digital card battler, much like Wizards of the Coast’s Magic 2013 or Gameloft’s own Order and Chaos: Duels. There are some subtle differences in the mechanics of the basic ruleset, but the idea is the same: lay out artistically rendered cards on a grid, using warriors, spells, and events to outscore an opponent, dropping hit points of the enemy Hero card to zero. Duel of Champions works similarly. Players get a deck of cards and an initial hand of randomly dealt creatures, events, spells, and fortunes to lay out on the grid. The virtual game space is laid out left vs right, with the player taking the spot on the left. Turns proceed in phases that are less linear than, say, Magic 2013, in that players can increase resources, play cards from their hand, or utilize special cards in any order. Instead of resource cards, here, players increase either Might or Magic via the Hero card, which is chosen for them initially by the specific deck they pick during setup. –Rob LeFebvre

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

Mystery Math Town

mystery

Mystery Math Town is a wonderful new math app that will engage both children and adults. I am really impressed with this app, as players here guide a friendly ghost who has agreed to help release fireflies that have been caught in jars hidden among rooms and outdoor spaces of wonderfully stylized houses – per the plead of their firefly mom as seen in an introduction to this creative math application. To do so, one will need to gather numbers that are to be used in math problems that one will come across in order to enter or leave any of the rooms of outside spaces connected to the house, be it by simply crossing over a threshold of a door, climbing up or down stairs or a ladder or even levitating outside the house as well as other unique ways of coming and going. –Amy Solomon

Sid the Science Kid: Sid’s Slide to the Side

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Sid the Science Kid – Sid’s Slide to the Side is a fun and educational application which delivers an episode of the terrific PBS kids’ show of the same name, developing into an interactive, animated storybook appisode that reads much like a traditional storybook which includes optional narration as well as illustrations often animated, allowing readers to propel the story with the tap of a finger, bridging the gap between an illustrated storybook and an interactive application, also including two mini-games as well. Parents who do not know of Sid the Science Kid are missing out on a great educational science-based show, bright and colorful, about Sid and his friends from school who learn about science in ways children will find most engaging. –Amy Solomon

Gro Memo

panda

Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon is a charming new app in a series of delightful role-playing applications for children that let them explore different characters such as a doctor, chef in a restaurant, farmer and now a worker at a beauty salon for animals. Fans of these Dr. Panda apps as well as those new to this genre will delight in all that this salon has to offer their animal clients, many of whom have starred in previous applications, as well as a few new faces. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Blocks Party

blocks

Simple games will always find a home with me. Blocks Party, come on in. Blocks Party is a game with an easy premise. You guide a rolling ball on a track with plenty of bonuses and obstacles to the end as fast as possible. Now, it’s the type of obstacles — coupled with the breadth of control options — that really made the game such a compelling option for me. The colors were sharp, allowing for the visual separation that made playing a quick-reaction game of this type possible. It was a rich fantasy environment, with beautiful pastels outlining the sky, the ground and everything in between. The green foliage that showed up in most screens evoked memories of the Dorothy prancing down the Yellow Brick Road. –Tre Lawrence

Smart Bags

bags

I can speak from personal experience, and I am sure that many of our readers can as well, but there is nothing more nerve-wracking that bringing a smartphone along in a place that can get messy. Be it out in the garden, in the shop, on the lake, or in the kitchen; smartphones take a beating and, for the most part, bounce right back up. I am not talking about falls but more spills and general debris that can accumulate on phones in dirty environments. Picture someone working on a car who has grease and oil on their hands, but still needs to answer their smartphone to answer an important call. Usually they will have to completely clean their hands or bite the bullet and dirty their screen, but now with an incredibly simple and inexpensive KickStarter project that decision will become obsolete. Smart Bags are honestly nothing more than reinforced and fully biodegradable sandwich bags which are tailored to fit around conventional smartphones. People have been doing this for a while but never has their been bags that are disposable and offer the ability to conform to specific brands. Because the plastic is thicker and anti-static the risk of damage is incredibly minimal and any user should feel more than safe bringing their phone with them to the beach or out camping during a misty, muddy afternoon. The plastic still allows use of the phone without the threat of a scratched screen or water damage, and its thickness prevents the bunching and sticking that is common with regular sandwich bags. –Joseph Bertolini

Crazy Labyrinth 3D

labyrinth

I like simple games, and if there is one nice thing that accelerometer-equipped devices have spawned, it is the proliferation of cool labyrinth games like Crazy Labyrinth 3D, that continually seem to push the envelope. Pleasantly. Crazy Labyrinth 3D is really nice to look at. I loved the graphical three-dimensional representation of the playing area. I could practically smell the wooden surfaces, and liked the glow of the ball and shadows of the barriers. The animations were sharp and responsive; even the slight rebound of the ball looked remarkably real. It looked like the developer spent valuable time and effort on the interface, and I, for one, loved it. –Tre Lawrence

We Are Your App Authority

Having trouble making sense out of the overwhelming number of apps released each week? Have no fear! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift 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.

Pixel Kingdom

pixelkingdom08

Kingdoms will always be in peril and brave heroes will always be needed. However the format in which they do their “fighting evil” thing can vary wildly. In Pixel Kingdom they do so by meeting the approaching hordes head-on in a three lane defense. And they look so freaking adorable doing it, too. Pixel Kingdom is a fairly straightforward lane defense game for the most part. Players have a stock of various units they can produce and three lanes to produce them in. They’re all “paid for” by a mana pool that fills up over time, which can also be upgraded to fill faster by using more mana. Units are mostly of the melee/ranged attack varieties but there are a number of variations in-between to unlock and play around with. But what would the heroes be without their monsters? The various hordes of evil contain monsters both big and small. Some can knock heroes back, some weave in and out of lanes, and still others can slow a hero’s movement. Thankfully players have access to a cache of special equipment that can be purchased to make their heroes much more formidable. Assuming they have the coin to pay for it all, of course. –Rob Rich

Gemini Rue

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The future is a very bleak place in indie adventure game, Gemini Rue. Clearly taking inspiration from some sci-fi greats such as Blade Runner, as well as a plethora of film noir, the game tells the story from two different perspectives. One part of the adventure follows a time-travelling assassin, Azriel Odin, as he attempts to find his missing brother, while the other part tracks an amnesiac man called Delta-Six, as he finds himself trapped in a hospital with no clue as to what exactly happened to him. And, of course, their fates overlap in a twisting narrative that will stick in one’s mind for a while to come. At its most basic, Gemini Rue is an adventure game full of the need to tap on items and combine them in some way. Really, though, it’s interactive fiction. The puzzles are hardly taxing, although I did find them interesting. Using more than just a combination of items, players have a communicator that ensures they can contact characters, as well as check their notes and conduct a form of research. It’s a small yet attractive feature, that gives players a sense of control far beyond simply offering up a list of objectives. In typical adventure gaming style, players have a choice of icons to determine how to interact with others, including the ability to look, use, talk or kick. –Jennifer Allen

The Orchestra

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Touch Press has been publishing astonishing digital books for iPad for as long as the platform has existed. With their earlier apps, like The Elements, The Wasteland, The Barefoot World Atlas and The Sonnets, the company shows a knack for taking a subject many consider dry or academic and turning it a multimedia feast that engages not only students, but anyone with even a passing curiosity in the subject matter. With The Orchestra, the team has raised its own bar, creating much more than a than a digibook. The Orchestra takes users on an exclusive tour of the UK’s Philharmonia and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s interpretations of eight classical pieces from composers like Hayden, Mahler, Stravinsky, and Beethoven in unparalleled fashion. The app is a two-part affair. The home screen guides users to the performances first. Each orchestral work is presented with several videos focusing on key musicians/instruments and on Salonen’s baton. These videos can be rearranged with intuitive gestures to focus on whichever appeals at the moment. Below that, users watch the score scroll by in sync. One can view the entire orchestration, a curated score that focuses on key instruments in the piece, and for those who don’t read music, there is a graphical representation using color-coded bars. –Lisa Caplan

Black Operations

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In an App Store full of countless derivations of the same handful of genres, sometimes all it takes for a game to stand out is to just execute on one of those genres really well. That’s what Black Operations does and that’s why anyone interested in mobile real-time strategy should give it a look. Specifically, Black Operations is a 2D sidescrolling strategy game. The playfield is a linear plane with two bases on each end; to win, players must overcome what is essentially a tug-of-war battle to overthrow the enemy’s HQ. It’s a simplified take on real-time strategy that’s been proven successful on mobile phones, consoles, and pretty much anything without a mouse. However, Black Operations does throw in a few new elements to liven things up. In most games like this once a unit is spawned they march forward and attack until they die. Here, though, players use intuitive multi-touch gestures to tell soldiers to move out, retreat, or stay put. This opens up new tactical possibilities like having units rally around a newly-capture watch tower or drawing enemies out by sacrificing individual soldiers. –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

PICME Moviebook: You Are The Star

picme

In PICME, my son’s likeness is used to create a boy character who delivers a piano to a friendly lion named Juno, who claims to be able to play, yet in reality needs to practice a great deal to be able to make true music with this instrument. There is much that I really appreciate in this interactive storybook. First, two distinct versions of this tale are included – a movie as well as a storybook, and although the plot of this story remains the same, I especially appreciate how the video is not just a straight animated version of the book. It is also a different yet related experience which adds more characters and nuances that work perfectly in this movie. The book, however, is a little more simplistic, making a nice, tight narrative that I equally appreciate. –Amy Solomon

Ansel and Clair: Triasic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Dinosaurs

ansel

I would like to introduce readers to a trilogy of dinosaur apps from the Ansel and Clair series of educational applications. I am a huge fan of these apps, as Africa and Paul Revere’s Ride, and now the dinosaur time periods have each been visited by Ansel, a travel photographer from the planet Virtoos and Clair, a Virtoosian robot companion in order to gather photos to teach about these moments in history back on their home planet. There are three sections broken up into different times, specifically the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, that each goes back to explore the world, learning about the unique dinosaurs what differenceates each of these periods seen in the landscapes of each of these apps, such as the Triassic period which was less green and more barren than the other periods of time –Amy Solomon

More Trucks

trucks

My son and I loved this first app – a children’s interactive application allowing one to explore five different truck and car-themed activities, as seen here in the review of this app. More Trucks includes four new scenes that children will also have fun with. Nice children’s narration will explain how these sections work, and parents and children alike will enjoy the familiar nursery rhyme-themed classical music that Duck Duck Moose is known for. These sections are uniformly bright and colorful, including the same stylized looks that fans have come to expect from these applications. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Ninja Village

ninja

I’m a sucker for retro games. There is just something charming about going into the past with today’s hardware. I get especially teary-eyed when 8-bit graphics appear. Kairosoft’s Ninja Village is that type of tearjerker that I’m talking about. Set in ancient Japan, it it is a city simulation set during the period of feudalism. It’s craftily set as a unification adventure that involves ninja clans, so in one swoop, I was getting some awesome backstory angles to work with.
Yes, the game came with retro looks, down the pleasant (for me) shaky movements and blended color. I liked the detail the developer put into creating a fun-looking environment. The gameplay was a potent mix of civilization simulation and domination principles. Frankly, I really enjoyed the intricate nature of this title. Its game engine was pretty cool, and a lot of thought seemed to have been put into the basic logic. I was responsible for training and upkeep of my ninja warriors. A key component of this was the ability to manage my non-infinite resources. First, I had to do stimulate basic commerce to increase my funds; villagers needed food, and food also brought valuable cash when sold to merchants. I was able to build industry like farms and also able to build infrastructure for my growing clan. –Tre Lawrence

SmartWallit

wallit

I realize that I am not the only person who misplaces their wallet, but I find it hard to believe that there are people on this earth who lose theirs more consistently than I do. For years I have been casually looking into different ways to help me organize my life, and there are a few products on the market that allow the user to remotely find their missing, tagged items. Obviously, the problem here is that these products, for the most part, are separate items and are just as prone to being forgotten and misplaced as the wallet itself. So why not put the device on the smartphone? Everyone has one and if implemented well enough it can work as a symbiotic relationship. Fortunately for all of humanity there is a project floating around on KickStarter right now that might be the world’s solution to the endless struggle to keep tabs on arguably the two most important items in the average person’s life. Called SmartWallit, this ambitious startup has developed a product that will ingeniously alert its owner if either the wallet or phone gets left behind. –Joseph Bertolini

Jurassic Park Builder

jurassic

The Jurassic Park franchise was the quintessential morality tale. It’s what we needed in the 90s: a reminder of the dangers of mankind subverting nature. Dinosaurs are interesting, and having a zoo full of them would be exceptionally cool, but only bad things could happen in the end. Keeping prehistoric beasts as confined pests is rarely a good idea, especially the carnivorous ones. Jurassic Park Builder, a game from Ludia Inc, is just the type of title that can fix melancholy. It put me in charge of developing theme park populated such as the one on the novel and movie it derives it name from. It was a park simulation with a twist. I was tasked with building and expanding space, as well as making sure my livestock flourished. The originating story was close to the original; I found dinosaur DNA fortuitously trapped in amber, and was able to create viable eggs with the DNA. From then on, it became a matter of suave management of resources. I got to pick whether I wanted terrestrial animals or aquatic ones. I also had to feed the creature based on defined diets. –Tre Lawrence

This Week at 148Apps: October 22-26

This week at 148Apps.com, the crypts went creak and the tombstones shook as we got ready for Halloween. Site editor Rob LeFebvre helped kick the season into gear with his overview of Halloween-related apps: “While Halloween night is actually this coming Wednesday, many of us will be out and about this weekend engaging in some costumed fun, no doubt. What better way to gear up for a weekend full of apple bobbing, costume wearing, or several other activities of horror-themed debauchery than to grab a few Halloween-flavored games for your weekend fun?

To help, we’ve pulled together a list, with the help of the kind folks over at Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer, of spooky sales, awfully-free apps, and spooktacularly updated apps and games for your viewing and downloading pleasure. Don’t blame us, though, if you binge on too many apps and end up feeling nauseous. Consider yourself warned.”

Get the full list of games and apps at 148Apps.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-02-15 :: Category: Games

$3.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-02-27 :: Category: Healthcare & Fitness

The Halloween fun continued at GiggleApps.com, where Amy Solomon reviewed Henry’s Spooky Headlamp. She writes, “Henry’s Spooky Headlamp is a nice universal interactive game for toddlers where players drag their finger around a darkened screen, as this movement will move a spotlight around the page as if coming from main character Henry’s flashlight. Use this light to search the page for the items seen at the top right of the screen.
Suspenseful music also included, effective in creating a mood appropriate for Halloween, but it is nice that the items one is looking for, such as a candle, scarecrow or jack-o-lantern are not scary, keeping this app appropriate for the toddlers and early preschoolers who will enjoy this app.”

Read Amy’s full review at GiggleApps.

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-10-08 :: Category: Games

And not to be left out of this monster mash, Trevor Dobrygoski at AndroidRundown.com reviewed Stupid Zombies 2, saying, “With Halloween right around the corner, seems like more zombie games are coming out. Stupid Zombies 2 is a fun zombie game that’s not quite a physics-based game and it’s not quite a puzzle game. What I mean is, the zombies are just standing there (in the beginning). To shoot zombies use walls to ricochet off bullets to reach zombies.”

Read Trevor’s fullreview at AndroidRundown.

Scared yet? Just wait till Halloween rolls around! Until then, keep checking in on us through our Twitter posts and Facebook pages. We promise to always give you the latest news, reviews and contests. Until next week, try not to get too many rocks in your trick or treat buckets!

This Week at 148Apps: October 1-5

This week at 148Apps.com, we kicked off October by interviewing the developer of iOS horror game Organ Trail. Rob Rich writes, “I make no attempt to hide my adoration for Organ Trail: Director’s Cut. I love this game and I’m proud of it. So having the opportunity to ask The Men Who Wear Many Hats – specifically Ryan Wiemeyer, co-owner and designer – a few questions was quite exciting. From the Flash game with over half a million fans to their new Greenlight venture, it’s all fair game for these enterprising haberdashers. Okay so they don’t necessarily make the hats but you get the idea.”

Want to read the full interview? Head to 148Apps now.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-09 :: Category: Games

Nothing nearly as frightening was happening at GiggleApps.com this week. Amy Solomon reviewed Tizzy Seasons, saying, “Tizzy Seasons is a delightful application for young children which teaches about each of the four seasons. Not a word is spoken or seen as text within this application, making this app a very nice selection for children no matter their language background. Start by choosing a boy or girl character and then a season with a tap, each charmingly expressed within four beautifully crafted scenes and each coming together as four corners of a background image, yet showing each season’s differences with the use of color and other details.”

Read Amy’s full review at GiggleApps.com.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-08-22 :: Category: Education

And last, but certainly not least, founder Jeff Scott announced across all 148Apps sites, including 148Apps.biz, “We are very excited to announce that 148Apps and our network of sites have been acquired by our friends at Steel Media! 148Apps joins the amazing network of app related sites such as Pocket Gamer, Pocket Gamer.biz, AppSpy, Padvance, Quality Index, and more.

For more than four years 148Apps has covered the world of iOS apps and games. It started as a passion of mine and has now expanded to include the best writers this side of Mars. Now along with the Steel Media portfolio of sites, we have mobile apps and games covered from every angle.”

Read complete coverage at 148Apps.

From interviews, to reviews, to exciting, game-changing news – this week had it all. Keep track of the latest developments across the mobile app world by following us on Twitter or Liking us on Facebook. See you next week!

This Week at 148Apps: July 16-20

This week at 148Apps.com, we geared up for the London Olympics with a Favorite Five list of summer games apps. Site editor Rob LeFebvre writes, “With the 2012 Summer Olympics headed to London starting July 27th, it’s night time we took a look at some great apps to use to watch and keep track of the happenings in the UK this year. Today, we’ll take a gander at five useful apps that will help you do just that.”

Read the full list at 148Apps.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-05-14 :: Category: Sports

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-12 :: Category: Sports

Over at GiggleApps.com, Amy Solomon took a closer look at This Book Is About To Explode. She writes, “This Book Is About To Explode is an interesting interactive storybook with fun puzzle elements that children and their adults will enjoy. This fun sci-fi story centers around Tiki-Zin3, a robot whose job is to search for alien life – ironic because mischievous aliens, in the interest of making their existence known, explode bombs which send Tiki-Zin3 to different locations out into space. Although this character expresses displeasure about being blown to different locations, I am glad to see that the enjoyment children experience from pressing the button to explore the scenes from this book is not a set-up to be terribly sadistic as Tiki-Zin3 makes comments such as not having the time to take a vacation within the place he has just landed, keeping this story light and fun without making children feel too bad for causing these explosions.”

Read more of Amy’s review at GiggleApps.

FREE!
Released: 2012-05-19 :: Category: Books

Finally, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson reported on AppBot. Dotson says, “Filter Squad has launched a service to help developers keep track of user reviews, called AppBot. Based off of an internal project that has been expanded and released to the public, this can help developers keep track of the popular opinion on their apps.

AppBot sends a daily digest of the latest user reviews for a developer’s app, allowing them to get a feeling for what their users are saying on a regular basis. For example, if a new version of iOS launches, and 1-star reviews are saying that the app is crashing, then the developer has a point of entry to troubleshoot. Or, common complaints or request made in reviews can be more easily tracked in this daily digest format.”

Read more about this new service at 148Apps.biz.

And that just about wraps up this past week! Join us on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of the latest app news as it happens, plus get in on contests, giveaways, promos and more. See you next week!

This Week at 148Apps: June 2-6

This week at 148Apps.com was all about the red, white, and blue as we celebrated the 4th of July. Writer Lisa Caplan contributed to the festivities with her list of Favorite Four apps for Independence Day. She writes, “It’s July 4th, so we hope most Americans are out celebrating and reading this on an iPhone or iPad or between activities. But if you are still looking for apps to help make the day even better, we’ve rounded up four of our favorties that commemorate everything from US History to the traditional BBQ for you here.”

See Lisa’s complete list at 148Apps.com.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-13 :: Category:

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-22 :: Category: Education

GiggleApps stayed on a vacation theme with its review of Miny Moe Car. Reviewer Amy Solomon says, “Miny Moe Car is a charming and fun simulated driving app that toddlers and children in preschool will enjoy. I have always been a fan of this type of toy, both as an arcade game as well as a simple children’s plaything. I remember when my son was just a year old, I bought him the most realistic driver I could find – a toy he still enjoys today. A search on iTunes will find a few applications of this type that mostly show a POV from the driver’s seat of a car or other vehicle. This is also the case for this application which does a really nice job of recreating the driving experience for toddlers.”

Read Amy’s complete review on GiggleApps.com.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-05-10 :: Category: Education

And finally at 148Apps.biz, Carter Dotson reported on a new study revealing the iPad as the number one gaming platform. Dotson writes, “Tablets and phones are vastly different devices. This seems obvious, but in reality, they really aren’t: the difference between the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2 is basically different sized screens. However, the way that users, especially gamers, use the two devices is still dramatically different, according to PlayFirst, via Pocket Gamer. Tablet users are playing more games than phone users are, and they’re spending more on games.”

Read the full report at 148Apps.biz.

That’s the end of this week’s happenings, but there’s always more news, reviews and contests headed your way across the 148Apps network. Just follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to keep track of all the goings-on. Until next week, enjoy the fireworks!

This week at 148Apps.com, writer Carter Dotson explored all things Zombie with his Favorite Four list. He writes, “May is Zombie Awareness Month. While pop culture seems intent on making us aware of zombies on a regular basis, this is the special month for zombies. May is almost over, but that doesn’t mean there’s not just enough time left to celebrate with some zombie-themed apps.”

Read Carter’s full list at 148Apps.com.

$3.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-02-27 :: Category: Healthcare & Fitness

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-10-27 :: Category: Games

Meanwhile, everything over at GiggleApps got dotty, as Amy Solomon reviewed Dot Collector, saying, “Dot Collector is a very nice universal app for the youngest children with simple game play, wonderfully bright colors and soothing sounds that babies will enjoy. This app is utterly intuitive to use as players need to simply drag moving dots into a black dot, clearing the board. A new dot is added to each additional level, adding to the game play.”

Read Amy’s review at kid-centric GiggleApps.com.

Finally, Kevin Stout on 148Apps.biz reported on the increasing numbers of young children using smartphones. Stout writes, “There’s no such thing as to young when it comes to smartphones and tablets. When keeping in mind the younger audiences when developing apps, even the youngest of children have a high percentage of exposure to mobile devices. An infographic released by Schools.com has reported that 38% of 0-8 year-olds have used tablets or smartphones.”

Read the complete report at 148Apps.biz.

That’t it for this Memorial Day week. Summer’s here, so keep your eyes on 148Apps.com, our Twitter and Facebook feeds to make sure you get the latest app news, reviews and contests. See you next week, tovarish!

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148Apps - iPhone app reviews and news. The best gosh darn iPhone app site this side of Mars.
http://148apps.com :: @148Apps

Android Rundown - Android news and reviews. Where you get the rundown on Android apps and hardware.
http://AndroidRundown.com :: @AndroidRundown

Best App Ever - Yearly Mobile App Achievement Awards.
http://bestappever.com :: @BestAppEver

Pocket Gamer - Mobile game reviews, news, and features.
http://PocketGamer.co.uk :: @PocketGamer

Pocket Gamer.biz - Mobile games industry news, opinion, and analysis.
http://PocketGamer.biz :: @pgbiz

AppSpy - iOS game news and video reviews.
http://appspy.com :: @appspy