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Xperia Z2 Tablet from Sony has Price and Release Date Announced

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014

Sony has announced that Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet Wi-Fi is now available for pre-order, coming on May 4th at Sony Stores. The 10.1″ Android tablet, which Sony boasts uses BRAVIA...

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Games

Wind-up Knight 2 Review

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014

Even wind-up knights need a quest.

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Productivity

Intuit’s SnapTax for Android Review

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014

Intuit's mobile tax solution has some great promise.

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App Rundown

Wind-up Knight 2 Review

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014

Even wind-up knights need a quest.

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Recent Posts

Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff Review

Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff Review

Apr 22, 2014

Family Guy is a TV show that jumped the shark about three episodes in, but for some reason is still on air. The show is about 25% awkward and “random” character development, 75% meta-jokes, and 100% jokes Simpsons already did better fifteen years ago. Its transition into video games goes exactly as you might expect, with one game being worse than the other, but Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff definitely takes the cake. A mossy cake, full of spiders and pox. Frankly, maybe Family Guy itself isn’t that bad — maybe my memory of it is simply corrupted after playing this abomination.

Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff identifies itself as an adventure game, but it’s nowhere close to being a game. Someone butchered a free-to-play title, took out the most annoying parts while leaving the base game out, andFamily Guy 2 stitched them together like some sort of legless homunculus that falls flat and begins to smell after a couple of minutes.

The gameplay is, for the most part, absent. The player needs to help various Family Guy characters restore Quahog after an accident by completing their “missions”. The “missions” consist of clicking on different “dispensers” and characters at timed and steadily decreasing pace, while looking at primitive animations for two hours before getting a minuscule advancement in one of the never-ending chains of quests, the only award for completing which is a couple of offbeat jokes about as old as their target audience, and a short sound-bite from the show. Then a new location is unlocked with another character that has another set of quests and another couple of jokes, about as funny as Christmas in a burn ward. Indeed, they are actually worse than that one.

I guess the writing in Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff isn’t completely bad, at least in comparison to the show, but the game is absolutely horrendous. I could easily imagine this sorry excuse for a game being a parody of the free-to-play Farmville simulators, and knowing Family Guy, I’ve played for a while, expecting there to be a punchline – but in the end, the only thing that got punched was my face, because I thought that knocking myself out would be a better time investment. It’s the worst kind of cash-grabbing piece of micro-transactionairy snail-paced crap that tries to hide its complete lack of sense and shame behind the hipster “I’m smarter than myself” attitude and obsession with its own memes. So, not entirely different from watching Family Guy.

Wind-up Knight 2 Review

Wind-up Knight 2 Review

Apr 22, 2014

Some things never stop being cool. Afros. William Shatner doing karaoke. Swashbuckling knights.

Wind-up Knight shows that even wound-up armor can come correct. It also shows sequels can live up to the hype.

The graphical presentation is done quite well, with cute characterizations and excellent use of color. The animations are fluid, and work well with the scene-to-scene stills that make up a lot of the background. The artwork is vivid, and becoming.

As far as gameplay goes, we get side scrolling platform action; our wound-up hero is armed with a sword and a wind1shield, and can jump and duck too. Correspondingly, their are virtual buttons that control jumping, attack, defense and such towards the bottom of the screen.

The first level launches the gameplay in all its glory. The knight progresses from left to right, jumping across obstacles and working to acquire jewels. Soon, there are correct live creatures blocking the way, and jumping won’t work. Here, the sword becomes useful to slash through these beings that can do end the the run otherwise.

In this initial level, the appreciable quirks show up. At one point, the knight starts going in the opposite direction after a downwards jump, and then switches back to left-to-right again. I liked these little switch-ups a great deal, as they ensure players stay on their toes. Down the line, other dangers appear, like dropping seeds that require the shield. The environments become more varied as well.

A finish line denotes the end of the level, and success depends on the number of jewels collected, with gold coins being the payout. The entire game can be unlocked for a fixed price, but isn’t necessary to enjoy. Customization and power-ups are also available; for the truly competitive, there is a tournament mode (with leaderboards) and side quests to tackle, and I especially like the latter because it gives a reason to play levels again. The in-app store allows for upgrades to equipment and customization efforts for gold coins or real cash.

The game is pretty tight, easy to get hooked on priced right. Ready and waiting, Sir Gamer.

Judges For Havok’s Project Anarchy Mobile Game Dev Challenge Are Revealed

Judges For Havok’s Project Anarchy Mobile Game Dev Challenge Are Revealed

Apr 22, 2014

2dToolset

Project Anarchy Mobile Game Dev Challenge is a contest from Havok that will award the best project that utilizes the new mobile game engine, Project Anarchy. The contest will be judged by these people:

Chandana Ekanayake (Eka): Art Director at Uber Entertainment
Robin Hunicke: CEO of Funomena
Phil Tossell: Founder, Game Creator at Nyamyam, Ltd.
Anna Kipnis: Senior Gameplay Programmer at Double Fine; Creator of the “Molyjam” game development event
Louise O’Connor: Art Director at Rare, Ltd.
Zak McClendon: Design Director at Harmonix

The list of dates and deadlines for the event is as follows:
· Final Submission Deadline: May 31, 2014 @ 12:00pm PT
· Final Judging Period: June 2, 2014 @ 12:00pm PT through June 13, 2014 @ 12:00pm PT
· Finalists Announced: June 16, 2014 @ 12:00pm PT
· Winners Announced: On or around June 24, 2014 @12:00pm PT

More information can be found here: Project Anarchy Challenge Website.

PuzzleBits Review

PuzzleBits Review

Apr 22, 2014

PuzzleBits is as easy-going as they come.

It’s an easily digestible game, and fairly intuitive with regards to figuring out. The playing area is 2D in nature, with a shaped white grid (usually patterned after animals) taking up the top part; to work within the game concept, the shapes are generally made up of defined lines and angles. Just below this are colored pieces, all of which are polygons of one sort or another; few are generally identical. At this point, the basic idea becomes apparent: fit the smaller pieces to completely fill in the space in the big grid, much as one would do with jigsaw pieces, via dragging and dropping the given pieces to “holes” in the grid.pu1

The developer has done a good job of being just a bit tricky here; the pieces are very deliberately shaped, and the initial gambit is most likely to drag a piece that looks like it can fit into a specific area. Most of the time, this works, but it is clear that there are some false leads built in, because one misplaced piece means the puzzle will be incomplete at the end. At times like this, it is easy to just drag the pieces one thinks are placed incorrectly back down, or simply reset the puzzle back to the empty beginning.

Completing the puzzle causes a burst of color, and the next one is opened. Hints are available, and they allow for players to get free correct piece placements. Hints are exhaustible, but can be bought in bulk with real cash; I do like the fact that the developer includes free ways to get a hint or two during gameplay.

From a simplicity standpoint, the game is hard to beat: simple gameplay, truly optional in-app purchasing and low-frills playing environment.

Why Do Some Games Launch Simultaneously on iOS and Android and Others Don’t? The Answer May Be Money.

Why Do Some Games Launch Simultaneously on iOS and Android and Others Don’t? The Answer May Be Money.

Apr 21, 2014

Ever wonder why some games seem to come to Android later than others? Well, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple is offering some companies promotion in exchange for giving games exclusive launches on iOS, with games like Cut the Rope 2 and Plants vs. Zombies 2 all mentioned as part of such arrangements. This is only true in some cases: Android is often the second platform that is targeted by developers, especially smaller ones, due to the challenges in working with many devices. Google and Amazon have also arranged for exclusives in exchange for promotion as well. So, the next time a game does or doesn’t come to Android when it’s on another platform, the reason might just be because money has changed hands.

Polymer Review

Polymer Review

Apr 21, 2014

We see the graphics; we can enjoy the sounds, the action and the concepts across gaming genres. We love to see how different game engines perform across different pieces of hardware. At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done and the fingers are resting and devices are at rest charging, there is just one thing I think ALL gamers want.

Choice.

The choice to relax. The choice to rock it. The choice to pause all willy nilly and come back, ot to hunker down and rack up points non-stop for 12 hours. The choice, to, well, choose.

Games like Polymer do choice quite well.

On he surface, it is a simple, 2D matching game, with a bunch — and I do mean a bunch — of differently colored pol1seemingly polymorphic shapes, each in their own row of squares. Each row and column can be pulled or slid as one unit, much like can be done on a rubik cube. Each shape/piece has at least matching end denoted by a black dot; when black dots from different pieces are aligned by maneuvering, both shapes take on the same color and become homogeneous. When all black dots are joined in a particular shape, the shape can be “popped” for points. Bigger poppable shapes lead to bigger points. Thus, a little bit of strategy can be used to match and score points.

The strength of the game, as noted, is the number of options available. The game can be played in different modes: endless, which is gentle and undemanding. There is the bomb mode, which rewards speedy point garnering. Two minute is a fast paced with a time limit, and one polymer looks to allow players make the biggest continuous piece possible. Some of the modes are restricted, and can be unlocked by accumulated points or real cash.

All in all, its a spiffy game that packs a lot beneath its flamboyant exterior.

Sony SmartWatch 2 Hardware Review

Sony SmartWatch 2 Hardware Review

Apr 21, 2014

The smartwatch space is one of those segments that one can’t afford to glance away from; when one looks back, it might be disconcerting to see the new models and proofs of concept that pop out seemingly every other second. Some companies, like Sony, are already building multiple iterations at this point. We just got the opportunity to formally look at the SmartWatch 2 a few months out of the gate, and it is an interesting ride, to be sure.

The stock hardware has improved… not that the original was lousy. The stock rubber straps didn’t exactly proclaim luxury, but the ability to get other set was a bit calming. The watch piece itself has Sony stylings all over it, with the sleek chromish angling, end-to-end screen use and covered micro-USB port on the left side.. The square face is punctuated by a the “SONY” brand name at the top and three virtual buttons (back, home and three-dot menu) at the bottom. Rounding out the look is a chrome push button on the right, that looks like a winder on a “regular” watch.

2014-04-19 12.25.21

The device is light enough to be used comfortably; I wear a business/sports watch socially, and this one feels even more natural on the wrist in comparison, so much so that it’s easy to forget. When on and in its rest state, the default watch face has dark undertones, and hitting the on button lights the face up further, and activated the home button. Anyone familiar with Android devices (or smartphones in general) should find the menu quite intuitive; tapping the home button opens up the menu, where installed apps and the settings menu reside.

Pairing the phone via bluetooth is easy, and involves (in my case) the installation of two apps from the Play Store. After this, the user has access to the specially crafted apps available… stuff like Gmail, music and Twitter can be installed via the companion Android app.

ssw5

In practice, the gadget works as one would expect. After receiving an email on my phone, a notification vibrates through the phone and a summary is posted on the screen. The notification isn’t too startling, but it isn’t shy either. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to figure out how to remove installed apps (via the device). I did like the ability to customize watch faces and bands.

The biggest barrier to adoption, is the same one facing most smartwatches in this still niche space: need. For all the cool (geek?) factor, the need for a smartphone within range might slightly curb the mobile benefits. I’d also like to see the consolidation of companion apps needed. Of course, there is no such thing like too many apps; while there are quite a few to choose from, like Agent Smith in the Matrix series, we can always do with “more.”

Still, I’d consider the SSW2 to be one of the best items in a sector that still needs some refining overall, and that Sony is positioning itself well to reap future benefits.

Fleksy Keyboard Free Update Supports Custom Layouts and More Languages

Fleksy Keyboard Free Update Supports Custom Layouts and More Languages

Apr 21, 2014

Fleksy Keyboard 2

Now the neat keyboard app, Fleksy, is supporting 16 languages, and if that’s not enough – you can customize it as well. The customizable layouts include AZERTY, QWERTZ, Dvorak and Colemak. The app is available for free from here: Fleksy Keyboard on Google Play.

Volt Review

Volt Review

Apr 21, 2014

Volt is an interesting game that tacks together puzzle-solving with leveled platform play and dresses the end product with a dash of arcade.

The basic quest is to get our adventurous battery on his way; in the game, this translates to moving the battery from its opening position to the exit hatch, the opening position usually being suspended from the top by en electrical beam. To accomplish the movement, the player has to harness the electric beams to solve the movement puzzle thus created.

The problem is that there are a limited number of beams, and they can only be used within a particular radius. To move the battery, it is sometimes necessary to create a path of beams from the top and swing towards the target volt1like Spider-man. But, wait… only two beams can be connected to the battery simultaneously; a slashing gesture can be used to dispose of old beams. The rules of physics are generally followed; for instance, if the battery is connected to a surface by two beams, and one is slashed, the battery will swing with decreasing momentum just as one would expect in real life. Tapping an unsuspended battery causes it to jump, but too many taps cause it to explode and ends the run.

And the game has plenty of obstacles and situational setups that make getting the battery through the level difficult. There are white surfaced (usually bladed) that are lethal, and other dangers that need to be avoided. Not all surfaces can be beamed from, and some (yellow) allow the beam to exist for only a short time.

The game boasts 60 levels and the ability to repeat levels endlessly. There are bosses and goodies to unlock, and the visuals prove the game just wants to played.

At $1.99, the biggest thing at risk is potential fun.

UltimEyes: a Mobile App That Claims to Improve Vision?

UltimEyes: a Mobile App That Claims to Improve Vision?

Apr 21, 2014

ULTIMEYES 3

Claim that a mobile app can restore eyesight to a better state is a bold one to make, but it’s exactly what UltimEyes suggests. It provides a number of exercises that allegedly help people who have to wear glasses and who have trouble reading in the dim light. The app can be purchased here: UltimEyes on Google Play.

Breakfinity Review

Breakfinity Review

Apr 21, 2014

The problem with the Flappy Bird craze, at least for developers, is that so many of them decided to capitalize on the craze of the game and its eventual removal by making more games about flapping. What few realized is that they should be making games that capitalize on its key values: short, challenging games with high replay value that can be played with one hand. That’s what Phil Hassey, creator of Galcon and dynamite Jack, has done with Breakfinity.

Breakfinity-5

This is a brick-breaking game not dissimilar to Breakout and Arkanoid, with a twist: the game is endless. Patterns of blocks will constantly descend from the sky, and players must constantly bounce a ball off of the paddle at the bottom to break the blocks, with a new formation arriving once the block hits the top. Along the way, players can pick up powerups to do things like extend their paddle, fire lasers, and send the formation back to the top. As well, 3-hit blocks can be broken that give players a gem, which can be used to continue one’s game.

Breakfinity succeeds because it’s fast and challenging. This is a well-worn concept, but presented in a way that’s meant to test the player. The game picks up in speed quickly, and survival requires quick thinking and reflexes. Thankfully, the controls, which work great with one thumb and have sensitivity settings, make this a perfect game to play one-handed, great for when on public transit. Sessions are usually short enough that it’s easy to come back to again and again whenever there’s a free moment. With these short sessions and the well-known style of play, this has that sensation of “I know I can do better if I play again” that makes for an incredibly-replayable game.

The Android version is lacking a few features from its iOS counterpart. Google Play Games features are not integrated, so there’s no high score leaderboards for comparing scores with friends in an easy way. There’s also no in-app purchases for buying more gems instantly. There are still the ads for getting a free ball right away. Interestingly, this system is best used by spending gems to buy earlier continues, then using the free ball last. While the gem system does make the high scores impure in a sense, that it’s possible to just stockpile gems for them, the costs to continue get so untenable that it’s still a fair skill barometer.

Breakfinity is a must-have free download. The fast Breakout action feels great, and makes high scores rewarding, and the game is perfectly designed to be picked up and played whenever, wherever.

1849, a 19th-Century City Manager, Confirmed to Release on Android on May 8th

1849, a 19th-Century City Manager, Confirmed to Release on Android on May 8th

Apr 21, 2014

1849 3

1849 is inspired by classic economic simulators like SimCity and features 20 different growing cities in California that the player needs to improve and manage, facing all the challenges of living in the time of gold rush. The game will be released on the 8th of May, but you can already play its early access version here if you are in a supported country: 1849 on Google Play. More details can be found here: 1849 Website.

Google Adds New Features to Stock Camera App, and Puts it on Google Play for all KitKat Devices

Google Adds New Features to Stock Camera App, and Puts it on Google Play for all KitKat Devices

Apr 21, 2014

Google has taken steps to separate out stock apps from the Android installation itself so that they can be updated without needing carriers to provide Android version updates. The latest app to get this treatment is the Camera app, available now on Google Play as Google Camera, but only for KitKat devices. Newfeatures have been added, including a lens blur effect, post-shoot focus, and 360-degree photo spheres. Google Camera is available now on Google Play.

MLB At Bat Finally Gets Chromecast Support for Streaming Live Games on TV from Android

MLB At Bat Finally Gets Chromecast Support for Streaming Live Games on TV from Android

Apr 18, 2014

When Opening Day came and MLB At Bat lacked Chromecast support, it seemed like a glaring omission for the service that streams live baseball games: mostly because they support practically every other device that plays video on TVs. Well, the good news is that like Yasiel Puig, it’s shown up late: now live and archived games can be streamed from the Android MLB At Bat app to a Chromecast device. Currently, Chromecast support is Android-only. The update is available now.

Trial of Bones Review

Trial of Bones Review

Apr 18, 2014

Man, skeletons are stupid. The undead kind, not the good kind that is just calmly resting inside of our bodies. I mean, animating a skeleton should be about the most difficult thing in magical world, because there’s absolutely no way they could move on their own – and yet, walking skeletons are the most basic enemy a hero can ever meet. Trial of Bones takes it to the next level by making skeletons the sole enemies. Sturdy and dangerous enemies, at that. I don’t want my life to be ended by a pile of calcium – give me real monsters!

Bearing that in mind, Trial of Bones is actually quite good, although it severely lacks content. There’s a short prologue that I frankly can’t remember by now, but the problem at hand is that the main hero is trying to get through a dungeon that is filled with skeletons with the help of his awesome sword, as well as the objects he finds on the way.

Trial of Bones 4Game screen is separated into four lanes, and player can switch the hero between them, trying to kill as many advancing skeletons as possible, before he is himself killed. The skeletons are endless and become more and more challenging to kill, with greater damage and more health. If the hero isn’t fighting a skeleton, his health begins to replenish – but if he evades fighting all the time, then he doesn’t get leveled up and will promptly die at the bony hands of the stronger skeletons. The upgrades that add to the hero’s survivability always come in fours, with an upgrade per lane, meaning the player can pick up only one of them. There are also potions that restore health or give a raise in damage and special expendable weapons that can deal a lot of damage when launched.

Alright, so maybe Trial of Bones doesn’t severely lack content, but I still feel like it’s too repetitive. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing to unlock or reach, so each run is exactly like the previous. Or maybe it’s because there’s no progress to mark, like unlocking new areas and enemies or whatnot. Whatever the case, I think the game feels a lot more repetitive than it should be, because I loved the actual gameplay quite a lot.

Bridge Constructor Medieval Releasing on May 1st for Android

Bridge Constructor Medieval Releasing on May 1st for Android

Apr 18, 2014

Headup Games has revealed the release date for their upcoming Bridge Constructor Medieval: May 1st. This latest entry in the hit Bridge Constructor series, developed by ClockStone Studio, will feature bridge-building in the medieval era, complete with new siege levels where bridges will come under attack from enemy catapults, as well as levels where bridges that collapse under the weight of enemy troops must be built. Check out the screenshots below.