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In Celebration of All That is Cheap

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016

Android can be cheap. Cheap is good.

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Games

NinjAwesome Review

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016

Retro, platforming ninjas.

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Productivity

TacticalPad Pro Review

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016

A soccer coaching tool.

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App Rundown

NinjAwesome Review

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016

Retro, platforming ninjas.

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Recent Posts

Roidmi 2s Bluetooth FM Modulator Hardware Review

Roidmi 2s Bluetooth FM Modulator Hardware Review

Jun 27, 2016

As it stands, everyone is looking to get in on the latest mobile thing, and that seems to rest in automobiles. Indeed, the number of hardware pieces made to connect cars to mobile devices grows by the day, even with the gradual maturing of Android Auto.

The only thing that seems better than an individual mobile accessory, is one that packs in more than a single ability. It makes sense on almost every level: making one’s mobile devices more effective in numerous ways with less accessories to carry around. As always, having something that increases the efficacy of our mobile devices is an enviable — and necessary — endeavor.

As such, items like Roidmi 2s Car Charger Adapter/Bluetooth FM Modulator make a whole lot of sense… in theory.

We’re happy to check it out.

Some background: the unit has a precursor, and the current iteration beat its expectation on crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.

The review package Roidmi sent us across seas was timely. The solution comes in two pieces: The Bluetooth Modulator/Adapter piece, and an optional adapter extension piece. The charger/modulator looks much like any regular car lighter adapter, in that it is small, and has two USB ports for charging. It has an integrated LED light, is a bit hefty in hand, and black in color (white is another option). It feels well constructed overall.

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The second piece comes in a white finish, and works as an extension and adapter for the modulator (more on this later).

So… first, the charger. It comes with the “smart” moniker, and for a reason: it packs in quite a charging whop, and looks to do so intelligently and safely. The two USB ports (2.4A for a single output and 3.8A for a dual) are capable of taking care of the charging needs of a whole host of electronic devices across platforms.

The modulator works intuitively: one downloads the companion Roidmi app, pairs to the bluetooth source, tunes in the FM radio to the predetermined station, and (using one’s default music player) pipes the music through one’s car’s system.

Smooth, and for a relatively old school solution, fairly elegant. The small profile makes it seem oh so natural, and it feels durable, and is easily used in different vehicles once set up.

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Drawbacks? Well, for one, it isn’t natively compatible with all cars. Since a lot of cars don’t have “real” cigarette lighters — and this accessory is specifically made to work with such — one will need an extra accessory in some autos. Roidmi does have the aforementioned receptacle adapter, but this does make an otherwise clean, self-contained solution somewhat clunky from a physical perspective.

The app feels a bit rushed too; it is usable.

Also, as anyone who works with FM modulators knows, this setup is somewhat dependent on quality of the FM reception. The documentation for the whole setup is a bit sparse, too.

All in all, it is very capable, especially for folks who despise wires.

NinjAwesome Review

NinjAwesome Review

Jun 27, 2016

Everybody loves — and probably fears — ninjas, and old school is in, so in several ways, bringing the two concepts together is a surefire way to grab peoples attention.

Here comes NinjaAwesome (from GameResort), and the Android gaming world is off on an interesting trip down visual memory lane.

Crazily enough, the graphics are probably not the coolest aspect of the game… and the graphics are pretty cool. One gets a real trip to the glorious days of old, with chunky looks and stuttering animations that that are well constructed. The different backgrounds are highlight the color usage, and different pastels show up to create a a roving set of backgrounds that are further buttressed by background art for the successive stages.

The gameplay is straightforward: layered platformer with action going in the “normal” left to right direction; the player gets to control an expectantly black-clad character across a 2D land with plenty of obstacles. The control set is important here, and boils down to a series of taps and gestures that allow active ninja to stay upright and running. Using the controls, he can jump, double jump, slide, attack and more in addition to the perpetual forward movement. Action combos (like jumping and throwing barbs) can be initiated, and finger dexterity is useful to have.

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The action is fairly familiar, as the intuitive idea is to avoid bad things, and to make it to the end of the level as unscathed as possible. The game incorporates several tasks, and success in such yields game currency payouts. There is a leveling aspect, so XPs are a valuable resource, and it also makes sense to take advantage of the ability to upgrade the ninjas attributes.

All in all, it isn’t too complex of an experience, and that isn’t a bad thing. The controls can be a bit vexing at first, but the overall output is charming and the micro-transactions are not too invasive.

Definitely worth a look.

In Celebration of All That is Cheap

In Celebration of All That is Cheap

Jun 27, 2016

You get what you pay for.

It’s a maxim that more or less rings true. Better made products created from better sourced raw materials tend to command higher prices than competing merchandise made with less care, exacting standards or less exotic materials.

Other things come into play of course. Some brands command more of an asking price than others, be it based on reputation, or location, or an immeasurable metric held in esteem by the purchasing public — doesn’t really matter; positive mindshare is like gold. Nordstrom acolytes are used to hearing the fable of the returned automobile tire, and it’s the basis of Nordy’s legendary customer service. Just as well, because the stuff on its racks ain’t exactly cheap.

But it arguably has earned that privilege.

Still, I love getting a lot for a little. Ethically, though. It’s so enjoyable to find legitimate discounts and special sales… heck, even previously owned gadgets and make the most of saved cash. I feel an unquenchable joy that, for instance, I am typing up this article on a cheapie RCA tab with keyboard case, and will be doing the heavy lifting editing on an Unbranded (no, this is the true brand name) Windows Tablet. Both cost less than $100 together (albeit with Swagbucks and Bing-derived Amazon credits).

But that’s where Android really made headway. The open nature allowed (and continues to allow) OEMs to look to pack in a lot at bargain prices. The result is an OS with a true range of hardware across a competitive range of prices.

It’s a mixed bag, of course. There are some devices that are not worth pennies, and others that are wildly over-priced. Still, for folks who are willing to look hard to gain a lot, Android almost has to be the platform of choice.

Got to run. Slickdeals is humming…

‘Super Stickman Golf 3’ Gets Firm Launch Date and Full Trailer

‘Super Stickman Golf 3’ Gets Firm Launch Date and Full Trailer

Jun 27, 2016

Yay!

Super Stickman Golf 3 is nigh, and has a firm launch date too: July 7th!

Some features, per the website:

SPIN IT TO WIN IT!
Apply spin to the ball mid-flight for unprecedented control.

CARDS!
Collect cards to unlock Golfers, Hat, Trails, Game Modes and upgradeable powerups.

DAILY RACES
Compete against other golfers in a Daily Race for a Daily Reward.

NEW GOLFERS, HATS, POWERUPS & MORE!
Customize and Dominate!

We hear that the game will be free, with an in-app option to unlock more content and remove ads. The previously announced level editor won’t be included at launch, but will be added when it is ready.

By the way… a trailer is below:

Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari Review

Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari Review

Jun 27, 2016

Cool graphics define Rodeo Stampede, but when one considers games by Yodo1, it is to be expected.

It’s a blocky experience, with naturally sated coloring and playful animations, and they come together to help sew up the major pieces of the gameplay.

The first element is a to, well, subdue the animals by riding. Yep rodeo riding on very active animals, looking to lasso them for the zoo. The aspect is fairly easy to get into, and makes up the action portion of the game; it takes place in an endless canyon of sorts, which feels very The Lion King-ish. The basic idea is that the player’s character is cannoned down into said canyon, and onto one of the various animals stampeding through it. rs3

Once on an animal — say, for instance, a buffalo — the game tutorial gives one the main controls: tapping and holding to ride, release to jump, and tapping again at the appropriate time to land on a new animal. All come in handy, because riding an animal is a bumpy ride. One can also steer by dragging the held down finger across the screen, which is good for avoiding roc formations.

So, one thing to do is to ride a new animal to “friend” it, at which point it is corralled for use in the zoo. Another idea is to ride the animal to one finds another animal to leap on; this is performed by releasing the screen. Then, using a highlight system one finds the right time to tap-drop on a new animal, and so on. Timing is everything, because the animals become pretty wild after being ridden for a while.

Different animals have different attributes; elephants are burly, and ostriches speedy, and as such, some might be harder to ride than others. Jumping from one animal to another does require some skill, as not lining up animals can cause a run-ending face-plant, as does running into other animals with the wrong steed. There are fantastical creatures, and runs generally generate game coins.

The second major element has to do with managing a zoo with the captured animals, and the aforementioned game money can be used to upgrade animals, and make more money at the zoo.

There are tasks to complete, worlds to unlock and records to be broken. All in all, the two facets work well together.

While the game is easy to get into, and the elements complementary, it is a lot of the same; things can be expedited with real cash, though it hardly seems necessary.

All in all, a fun diversion worth checking out.

Anaphylaxis Emergency App ‘Rescufy’ Launches

Anaphylaxis Emergency App ‘Rescufy’ Launches

Jun 27, 2016

For folks who with life-threatening allergic reactions, Rescufy is an app with some serious value. The cool news is that the emergency app is now available on Android.

Excerpts from the Play Store description.

Subscribe to Rescufy and you will have the best app to streamline your anaphylaxis action plan and help you get help and manage medical information should you experience anaphylaxis. The Rescufy team has built this app specifically for caregivers and individuals who have to be prepared for anaphylaxis due to food allergies, insect sting allergies, drug allergies, other severe allergies, and asthma. If you are at risk for anaphylaxis, it is recommended that you always carry your epi and have an anaphylaxis action plan. Rescufy can help you be prepared with your best anaphylaxis action plan.

The app costs $4.99 on Google Play; it also has in-app purchases.

Star Knight Review

Star Knight Review

Jun 27, 2016

I love a good platformer, me. Super Meat Boy, Shovel Knight, you know the type. Sadly, it’s never been a genre that touchscreen devices have been able to get a handle on. Touchscreen controls being what they are, the precision required just doesn’t exist when you’re tapping on a screen.

Star Knight probably knows this (or at least the people making it do). Star Knight is an action platformer but it’s a slow action platformer. Not painfully slow, not boringly slow but more deliberately slow. It’s also somewhat ‘floaty’ in the way you jump. These may sound like criticisms, but they’re not. They’re deliberate design choices that make Star Knight play differently to other platformers and also embraces the limitations of the controls available to mobile players.

It also helps that the somewhat slow and floaty physics of the game are put to good use with varied and challenging level designs. Sometimes you’re asked to wall jump you’re way to the top of a level, other times you need to make accurate jumps from platform to platform. On top of the platforming there’s also enemies in your way.StarKnight3

Combat is pretty straight forward. You have an ‘attack’ button and a ‘special attack’ button. Your character will then swipe their sword in whatever direction you’re facing. Occasionally you’ll want to press the ‘special attack’ button, though this will mean a larger version of your sword swings and your attacks do more damage. This basic combat has a levelling-up system of sorts bolted onto it, as you can collect tokens in levels which improve your attack and health values.

The enemies themselves are pretty varied, some will fly, some will shoot things but all of them are a little boring to fight. This is a real problem when it comes to boss battles. These are battles that last much longer but lack any variety in attack patterns so it becomes a bit of a grind to defeat these foes.

Which is a shame, as the main platforming element of Star Knight is pretty great. It’s all wrapped up in a really smart art style that makes journeying through levels, identifying dangers and spotting hidden items easier and more intuitive. The game is primarily black and white and uses splashes of color to highlight things that can kill or cure you. It’s a smart visual design that makes it easy to see what’s going on.

Another plus is that there’s tons of levels and there’s also an arena mode where you can battle enemies. It’s safe to say that I didn’t spend too much time in this mode as the combat is, as mentioned, weak.

Star Knight is ultimately a quality title. Some varied platforming, solid controls and a great art style are slightly dampened by dull combat, but in the end, it’s a hit.


Rawr Messenger Set to Launch on Android Early Next Month

Rawr Messenger Set to Launch on Android Early Next Month

Jun 27, 2016

Avatar-powered messaging app Rawr Messenger has already found a place on iOS, and is now set for an Android release next month.

A bit more about the app (which has a bunch of august investors including Arielle Zuckerberg):

The free-to-use Rawr app, available on iOS (with an Android release scheduled for later in 2016), enables friends to design personalised avatars, through which they can chat to each other by text and, uniquely, interact through hundreds of entertaining animations, expressions, and dynamic emojis. The app’s ‘Globetrotter’ option (modeled as a modern-day equivalent to pen pals) allows random users from all over the world to be paired together and chat anonymously and safely.

Founder and product chief Oskari ‘Ozz’ Häkkinen talks about people looking to communicate. “The face of communication has changed dramatically over the past few years, with consumers increasingly looking for exciting and unconventional ways to talk to each other,” he says. “Rawr will be at the forefront of this shift; allowing people to build avatars which reflect their personalities (or how they aspire to be), and to perform hundreds of unique and entertaining interactions with their friends. As messaging overtakes social media in terms of ubiquity and popularity, we plan to be at the forefront of innovation in the space.”

As noted, the app should be up and going for Android users in early July.

Phrase Shift Review

Phrase Shift Review

Jun 27, 2016

Phrase Shift is a peaceful game that manages to tease the brain and calm it simultaneously. The gentle blue motif is inviting that way, and the simple implementation of extra colors can’t be faulted.

It comes in three difficulty levels, all aptly named: Easy, Medium and Difficult.

The concept is deceptively simple. Each level is a self-contained puzzle; the phrase is built on words made from individual letter boxes, and each word has its own line. The idea is to read and comprehend the puzzle phrase, figure out the single word solution, and then create said word vertically by sliding the consisting hind words till the word is created.

The trick, obviously, is in finding the right answer. One has to know what to look for, and the way the puzzles are set up generally precludes guessing except for the simplest phrase puzzles in the easiest mode. Knowing how to spell is definitely a plus as well, because completion of a level is the key to a subsequent one.

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When the right answer is selected, the word is highlighted in yellow, and one can move onto the next puzzle, and so on. For answers that are not immediately obvious, one can use a hint button to highlight one correct letter, and from there, one can hopefully glean the right answer.

The different difficulty levels are appropriately stocked, too.

The brilliance of the game lies in the quality of the puzzles and the way the words are laid out. The phrases themselves are easy to understand, and, depending on the level one is playing in, not easy to guess. Conversely, it takes a bit of doing to select the right bank of hint words, such that they contain letters that eventually can be borrowed from to build the right answer.

It is interesting fare, really; the puzzles are creative, and have a crossword feel to them. While the game is a lot of the same, the game seems especially suited to furtive batch play, and can serve as a brain soother.

Not bad for a self-contained, premium-priced game.

Soccer Manager 2016 Review

Soccer Manager 2016 Review

Jun 27, 2016

People always think they can do better than the manager of any team they support. That formation? That transfer? That substitution? All wrong. Let me show you how it’s done.

So that’s what I was hoping for with Soccer Manager 2016. It offers all you’d expect from a football (soccer) manager game. You can set training schedules, formations, transfers and so on. All of the big European leagues are represented and there’s all of the logos and player portraits you’d expect.

The main issue is that it’s all far too slow. The game is essentially a series of menus and it’s takes far too many clicks for you to actually get into a game. Also, the game is heavily designed to be played ‘on the cloud’. Essentially, this means that the game is constantly saving and uploading save files to the internet, so if you have a remotely questionable internet connection it’ll become a real grind.sm162

The menus are also pretty ugly and when played on a smaller screen a bit too fiddly, with some buttons and menus requiring precise taps of the screen. On top of the poor visual presentation I found an odd bug where you can’t mute the audio at all. This meant I had to mute the phone, so my ideal scenario of listening to a podcast whilst lifting the Champions League trophy was dashed.

The simulation of the football matches themselves also resulted in some questionable outcomes. For five straight games, my players received red cards. Then I had one game where I only got two players yellow cards, which was then followed by another three match streak of red cards.

Another issue with the matches themselves is the way in which you make substitutions and formation changes. In most games it’s a simple case of dragging and dropping players from position to position or from the bench to the pitch, but not in Soccer Manager 2016. Instead, everything is done through menus, meaning that if you want to alter that midfielder’s position into a more defensive role, you need to scroll through a huge list of formations.

On top of this, it’s hard to predict exactly what impact your decisions will have when it comes to tactics. For example, you can choose someone to be the ‘playmaker’ of the team. What does this mean? Do you need someone who’s good at passing here? What if you have a defender who’s good at passing, then what? What if your ‘playmaker’ is slow?

On top of this it’s impossible to know how your players are going to develop… unless you purchase some in-game coin. This is a free to play game, after all, so to do better you’ll need to pay. You’ll pay to view a player’s potential, you’ll pay to unlock stadium and training improvements quicker and so on.

Which is a shame as the entire game needs to be quickened up. It’s ultimately solid, despite some odd red cards and a lack of feedback to your actions, but slogging through menus slows everything down to a real crawl.

Mahjong FRVR Launches on Google Play

Mahjong FRVR Launches on Google Play

Jun 27, 2016

Mahjong FRVR is a new take on the classic game that just launched on Google Play.

Per Google Play:

Mahjong FRVR is the ultimate take on this timeless classic.
With unlimited free levels, vibrant high quality graphics, amazing music and sounds, large easy to distinguish tiles, classic solitaire play and much more Mahjong FRVR is a natural choice for both Mahjong masters and casual players. Even better, it’s free!

Seek, match and remove all pairs of Mahjong tiles to win the game.

As always there is no time limit! Making for a fun and relaxing deluxe Mahjong experience.

Mahjong FRVR features:
– Beautiful vibrant HD graphics.
– High DPI and Retina support.
– Smooth animations.
– Great sound effects and music.
– Unlimited undo.
– Easy matching game play.
– Large 3D Mahjong tiles designed to be easy to distinguish.
– Play unlimited free levels.
– Shanghai Solitaire game mode.
– Taipei Solitaire game mode.
– Level complexity from Easy to Tricky.

Mahjong FRVR is free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

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From the Editor’s Desk: Road Trippin’!

From the Editor’s Desk: Road Trippin’!

Jun 27, 2016

2016 has been a pretty good so far.

Great new products, plenty of great concepts, and on the device front, competition is very fierce. It’s a tech lover’s nirvana, and we are barely halfway through.

Stateside, it’s summer time… just about, mostly, kinda. The seasonal anthem is all Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff, with cookouts becoming the norm and suntan is in high demand.

Visibility is good, the sun comes up early and it’s the perfect time to travel, and the automobile is the tool of kings.

Now, when I was a kid, road trips were painful. Nothing to do but read, look outside sleep or bicker, and four kids in the back seat of a a micro sedan left a LOT to be desired.

Things have changed.

It makes sense that the malleable concept of technological mobility has to converge with a physical one. Android Auto, for instance, is an ever-growing initiative that looks to organically pair Android devices with one’s appropriately equipped vehicle. And then there is the wealth of car accessories that continue to be released, all with one objective in mind: improving users mobile experience.

Creating a hands-free experience? Device holders so the backseat drivers become backseat movie watchers? FM modulators that refine older school solutions? Off-road helpers? Wireless chargers? Navigation apps? Heck, even portable “smart” gadgets that shorten a trip? Bluetooth accessories?

Yep, yep and yep!

As usual, we at Android Rundown are quite happy to ride the wave. In the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at several products, from simple to fairly complex. You know… tools that make one’s life on the road more enjoyable.

We have gear from Magellan, Roidmi, TYLT and other innovative accessory makers on tap.

Fun times ahead… keep tuned to our hardware reviews. You’re sure to find something you like for the road.

Game of Dice advances with JoyCity’s new Hello Kitty & Friends update

Game of Dice advances with JoyCity’s new Hello Kitty & Friends update

Jun 27, 2016

The table-based board game sees itself brought into the kawaii genre with its latest update, due to the integration of Sanrio favourites Hello Kitty & Friends.

The popular title finds itself with a set of new characters, who bring with them an array of new skill cards and characters. Using Boost Items and tact, players must strive to outsmart their opponents before they lose their JOY.

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With an exclusive new Hello Kitty map, naturally adorned with quintessentially cutesy hearts and flowers, players can take advantage of unique new features such as ‘Mary’s Wheel’, where they can increase city tolls and the ‘Dimension Shift’ that warps gameplay once landing on the game’s ‘START’ block.

If that wasn’t enough, Sanrio introduces an entirely new character in the guise of Pom Pom Purin – a puppy adorably donning a blue fedora – who can be found within the game for free before June 23rd.

With said new character, comes two new special character moves in ‘Doodling’ and ‘Vaulting’. The former allows players to stop opponents moving until they roll a specific dice number, whilst the latter gives players the opportunity to use the Gold Ox within gameplay.

App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/game-of-dice/id946811576?mt=8

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.joycity.god&hl=en

Slickdeals Gets Update, Teases Upcoming Additions

Slickdeals Gets Update, Teases Upcoming Additions

Jun 26, 2016

Slickdeals got an update, and is letting folks know about upcoming changes:

WHAT’S NEW

V. 3.1.4 – Hot fix for small percentage of users experiencing issues while upgrading to Android 6.0. Thanks for reporting Slickdealers! New release coming in a few weeks with new search with ability to sort, filter & more.

Slickdeals remains free

RTS title Battleplans will soon be found on Google Play

RTS title Battleplans will soon be found on Google Play

Jun 24, 2016

If you’ve happened upon formerly iOS-only title, Battleplans, and found yourself lamenting the fact that it wasn’t available for Android systems, today’s your lucky day – or at least, June 30th will be.

mobile-game-battleplans

The game offers up two phases of play, with its most immersive found in ‘Skulls’. This element encourages players to work through a selection of heroes to master their special abilities and reclaim land, whilst incorporating those all-important real-time aspects into gameplay.

The unique twist with this title comes in the fact that it centres predominantly on modern features, such as a new mobile-friendly mechanism and a focus on tactical movement, over traditional base building and resource grinding. The key to success is all in the precision, with a focus on intricacy despite the real-time elements.

mobile-game-battleplans

If players find themselves struggling against opponents out on the field, they can relive battles through the game’s handy video replay feature, allowing them work out their downfalls and learn from mistakes – big or small.

With new upgrades and content available from June 30th, we suggest you keep an eye out for this title. Brand new character Taigar the Huntress awaits, bringing with her a whole host of special abilities.

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.c4m.battleplans&hl=en

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

Taichi Panda: Heroes Gets Crimson Ride Update

Taichi Panda: Heroes Gets Crimson Ride Update

Jun 24, 2016

Taichi Panda: Heroes is getting a host of new content via an update.

Enter Fast-Paced Action Adventure

The Crimson Ride Update includes a number of new game features, bug fixes and optimizations to game mechanics. These include:
– New balancing for King’s PvP and the weekly cross-server King’s League tournament
– New large-scale 25v25 battlefield: Blood War
– New Mount System with 6 visually stunning mounts to choose from
– Military Rank System – adding a progression system tied to Blood War
– Two new playable heroes: Pan Zel and Ryoko
– Player and individual hero level caps have been raised to 80
– Bug fixes and optimizations to current user interface

The game remains free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

Check out the trailer: