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Extended hands on with Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite Tablet

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017

Checking one of the latest from Huawei.

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Games

US Army Zombie Slayer 2 Review

Posted by on Nov 13, 2017

Get the zombies. Again.

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Productivity

Flyp Review

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016

Multiple numbers on one phone.

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4 Games to try out on the Honor 8 Pro

Posted by on Jun 2, 2017

Sponsored content.

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Extended hands on with Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite Tablet

Extended hands on with Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite Tablet

Nov 16, 2017

The Android tablet scene is far from sparse. There are several vendors, exponentially more options, and consumer is king.

As such, it’s tough for manufacturers to make a name for themselves. Huawei has come quite far from those heady days when it had to teach people how to pronounce its name; indeed, Huawei can arguably claim to be one of the more prominent Android OEMs.

Such recognition can be a double-edged sword, what with affordable options like the recently released Mediapad M3 Lite. We definitely looked to give it a major workout.

The review retail box contained the tablet, charging pieces, paperwork and eject pin. Then, it’s off to charge.

Now, if the screen should be considered the jump-off point, the M3L definitely makes a great impression. Right upon initial boot, the vivid 1920 x 1200 pixel 8-inch screen smiles in greeting. It does like smudges though.

Just beyond the screen, you do get a sharp white frame, with space up top for an 8MP fixed focus front-facing camera, while a deceptive home button resides at the bottom. Around the frame, there are the requisite ports: audio input, micro-HDMI charging, microphone and speakers. The volume rocker and power buttons reside on the right, while there is a prominent 8MP auto-focus snapper. If you blink, you might miss the microSD card expansion slot. All this packed into a 8.4 x 4.9 x 0.3 inch frame that comes in at under 11 ounces.

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Altogether, the white finish with silver accents worked well on our review unit (and we hear it can be had in grey and gold too).

We proceeded to setup… the M3L does its thing snappily; under the hood, it packs a familiar Qualcomm Snapdragon octa-core processor. A quick run through reveals the standard stuff: bluetooth and GPS, plus 3 GB RAM, 16 GB memory and a 4800 mAh battery.

But back to performance. Basic operations like browsing, listening to music and running social networking apps didn’t cause any noticeable slowdowns. I did wish it had more onboard memory, especially with all the stock (Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, etc) apps it has. The iteration of EMUI is a nice, relatively thin-feeling overlay, and the fingerprint reader is a great latent touch, in that you might get fooled by the placement on the “home” button.

And the camera… well, check it out:

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Whines? One’s man’s must-have is another’s man app bloat. I wish I could remove — completely — apps that I don’t want. Which brings me to another nitpick: 16GB isn’t a lot for wanna be app hoarders.

The M3L does well to make you feel like you are getting a good deal for relatively little. It doesn’t really compete well with its big brother, but I hazard that its biggest positive is that it really isn’t supposed to.

US Army Zombie Slayer 2 Review

US Army Zombie Slayer 2 Review

Nov 13, 2017

Say it with us: “Zombies never get old.”

It’s true. Another day, another zombie outbreak, another hero needed. ready to take the mantle? Check out US Army Zombie Slayer 2: The Zombie Hunter Returns. Yes, this mouthful is the sequel to US Army Zombie Slayer 3D 2017.

The graphics are gritty enough, perceived in landscape first person perspective. The visuals comprise of cityscapes to start, providing plenty of area to explore. There is plenty of movement, and effects to advance the gameplay.

Gameplay? Not rocket science, really: it has a few different modes, and take out the zombies before they have you for a snack. To avoid becoming nutrition, you should look to master the controls, which comprise of virtual buttons for movement, shooting and swinging your torso round. You get to pick out a weapon, and after a learner session to get used to it all, it’s off to the battling.

One of the best parts of the action is the virtual map, which shows where the undead are in relation to you; this way, you can go find them, and even make strategic decisions as to who to hunt first. The creepers make heir way slowly, and have lifebars that you want to deplete as quickly as possible — headshots are especially lethal.

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Ah, but watch out for the quick ones. Giant rats, spiders and other animals are also infected. Doing well and clearing levels yields game cash, which can be used to unlock better weapons. Feeling impatient? Real cash can be used.

It’s definitely not a bad shooter; as noted it, it includes the basics, such as swarms of enemies, diversity of monsters, upgrade paths and more. With regards to the gameplay, it feels quite familiar, but doesn’t have some of the refinements some may expect in such first person shooters. For instance, the sight mechanism is very basic as is the method of swinging round. Now, one could argue that it just gives the game a bit more of a challenge, but when compared to other games, it might feel a tad rudimentary.

When it comes a quick-hitter, this just might do the trick. Why? Zombies never, ever get old.

Thimbleweed Park Review

Thimbleweed Park Review

Nov 11, 2017

So many games, so little time.

The Play Store is chock-full, and Android heads can almost be guaranteed that Android OS will be covered when it comes to new blockbusters. Now, all we need to is sit back, relax and enjoy the bounty.

And check out newbies like Thimbleweed Park. It’s about time this came to mobile.

The game, at first glance, is gloriously retro. Right from jump, you get drowned in fantastic old-school graphics, with stilted animations and deliberately muted coloring in tow. It is a playful iteration, one that helps bring the major action to the forefront.

With regards to gameplay, this one has two modes: Casual, which comes across as an easier version with tutorial included, and Hard, which is the full experience. Getting going (yep, of course we picked the Hard version) felt just right, as we were able to jump right into the story.

It utilizes text instructions along with touch to facilitate actions, and it isn’t too difficult to figure out how basic interactions can be effected. Its point-and-click roots are clear, and the way actions work (as in matching an action word to an object or person) help capture one’s attention. A typical series might have you acquire an object from another character, combine that item with another item in the active character’s inventory, and then finally getting to do the original activity. And, one can switch between characters when necessary.

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And yes, the mystery. The opening sequence actually managed to be spooky and surprising at the same time, and then we get a dead body, along with a set of characters that all seen to have hidden agendas. Right from the opening interaction, the overlying sense of dread is palpable, and before you know it, you get immersed in the whole experience.

Thimbleweed Park is an easy one to fall in love with for a host of reasons. It has an old-school look with murder mystery sensibilities, and still incorporates a passable Choose Your Own Adventure element to the party.

Most interesting is that with all that, the core storyline manages to tweak your mind. You are gonna want to solve this unfortunate passing. Thimbleweed Park grabs you by the tweed lapels, looks you in the eye and dares you to put it down.

We admit it… we failed to do just that. Good luck, skipper.

Badminton League Review

Badminton League Review

Nov 6, 2017

I don’t keep too many secrets, but growing up and going to school in the good old Commonwealth leaves me with a few. Like the fact that I got pretty good at volleyball. And cricket.

And badminton, even. Really good.

Review segue: here’s to all y’all shuttlecock mavens. Here’s to Badminton League.

It’s a simple affair graphically, with easy, whimsical stylings that make it pleasing to the eye. The animations are smooth and welcoming, and do a good job of framing the gameplay.

First, you get to create a simple character: skin tone, hair color, name and such. Next, it’s off to training. In this mode, you get to walk through the basic controls, which in this case allows for you to move forward and backwards, and also to hit different type of shots with a side view. Cheekily enough, it features a shuttlecock launcher, and with some practice, it might even be able move forward and backward to hit or smash shots across the net.

In the play mode, you do get a few options. In the “match” mode, you go man-to-man against an opponent, best of three wins. The opponents have different attributes, and when you get good enough to fashion fun rallies enroute to winning points.

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Success yields game cash and goodies, which can (and should) be used to improve you’re playing character, so as to be more competitive. As far as other modes go, there is local wi-fi and tourneys to delve in.

It comes together well, such that it hits you up with an engaging charm… almost sneakily so. It’s a sports simulation that is somehow not overly athletic, unless you consider the finger dexterity needed to play it. Big ups for the game modes, and the upgrade system isn’t actually annoying.

This is what boarding school prepared me for.

Satechi R1 Foldable Stand: a simple accessory for a complex world

Satechi R1 Foldable Stand: a simple accessory for a complex world

Nov 1, 2017

The older I get, the more I am willing to look to do more with less, especially with regards to productivity. Especially with regards to smartphones. My go bag is still my version of the Tardis, but now, I really work hard to ensure that the most important stuff resides in it.

It’s not rocket science. I want to carry less things, and still be productive.

If I have decent sized phone (I do), a good data plan with hotspot (check) and a wireless keyboard (yessir), I should be able to do my thing wherever there’s a workable cellular signal.

The Satechi R1 Aluminum Foldable Mobile Stand just helps round out the party.s3

In use, what you see is what you get: a relatively sleek, balanced accessory that holds up a phone or tablet such that it can be used upright. Hey, I admit it. The chrome-y aluminum finish is quite becoming. out the box, it comes flat and unassuming. It unfolds intuitively to reveal two hinges that create a tri-fold of sorts that has a curved holder at the end. The hinges are fairly tight, and require a bit of pressure to adjust.

The item can be tweaked via aforementioned hinges, which allow for the held device to be suspended at the right height and angle. The natural heft and flat base design make it hard to be toppled over.

I tried it out with everything I had: smartphone, 10-inch tablet and even swivel touchscreen Chromebook. It acquitted itself quite well.

The ability to adjust the height is a great feature. Being able to add a few inches to bring a screen closer to one’s eye level is invaluable. I also like the latent ability to prop a laptop dock-style. Since my Chromebook is my go to machine while on the run, I can count on this to work with it.

When it comes right down to it, this piece’s biggest attribute is probably its portability. The ability to securely hold up a mobile device for usage or consumption does not impress me as much as it should, but being portable does. I like the fact that this can be easily tossed in a go bag, or even a pocket if need be. The flexibility is another plus, as it can be used with a phone and even laptop/Chromebook.

Still, with how my workstation is set up, I just might make this a semi-permanent piece. Hey, this is a pretty cool problem to have, no?

Whine? Nitpicking somewhat, but because of the overall tightness, it is difficult to adjust with one hand. Of course, if I had to give up that first world problem for more device surety, I am quite okay.

Almost. Just about.

And how much is this item? Well, at the time of this writing, it is about $39.99 via the Satechi website, though you can pick it up for a bit cheaper on Amazon. Depending on your needs, it can easily be considered a reasonable investment; in these days of commodity electronics, I can understand someone going cheaper too.

Into the Dead 2 Review — the sequel

Into the Dead 2 Review — the sequel

Oct 31, 2017

Into the Dead 2, from Pik Pok, looks to give us another reason to revel in zombie-mania.

Graphically? It’s a slick affair, with shadowy looks and amenable first-person stylings. The animations are just as smooth as we’d expect them to be, and the sound effects are quite apocalyptic.

The game incorporates short clips to advance the storyline and frame the gameplay; essentially, basic zombie trope is used, and you have to guide the player character to make it through infested space to rescue other survivors… as well as living to see another level.

As already noted, the main action is taken first person, you are armed with weapons, and you run forward by default, continuously, as soon as the level is started.. As you run through, zombies rise and/or walk towards you, and you can shoot or avoid them somewhat — as you should, as they will kill you if they get a hold of you. If you’re able to make it to a specific distance, you complete the level, and open up a new one.

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The game goes on as such… make the distance (hopefully), get the rewards, build up and improve your arsenal, rinse and repeat. To be fair, it doesn’t plod along; there is something to be said for the need to approach each run with a willingness to strategize. As noted, the ammunition is limited, and it probably isn’t prudent to depend on running through munition crates that may or may not have a troop of undead around it; as thus, you might wanna look to pick and choose engagements versus looking to dart and pick the better part of valor.

With regards to the upgrades, they do essentially become very necessary as you progress, because the flesh eaters get craftier, and the run thresholds get higher. Real cash can be used to expedite your ability to get ahead faster, but with some patience, real money need be used, especially since completed levels can be replayed for extra goodies.

The extras are done well too, with special levels, goodies crates and more spread throughout.

Simple, tried and true, yes, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Merge Town! Review

Merge Town! Review

Oct 23, 2017

In the timeless vein of looking for potentially fantastic time wasters, we stumbled upon Merge Town!, a relatively new game from Gram Games.

Yes, here we go…

Out the gate, it is very appealing from a visual point of view. The gameplay relies on slick animations and jovial depictions, and it does deliver. It isn’t overly complex in the looks department, but if the idea is to complement the action, it works quite well.mt3

And how does it play? Well, let’s take the first world as our template. You start out with a few plots of land, and the game auto-generates a crate which contains a basic housing unit; these drop on one of the land squares. After a set interval, another drops, and so on until the land is full. These simple units generate money, which can be used down the line. Bungalows become

Now, the main gimmick is to drag the unit unit into the another of the same value. When merged, they create a new, bigger, more valuable house that pops out more money per interval. Basically, you keep on merging and merging similar units, multiplying and managing to create more wealth, and to access more land.

So… the one attribute we laud whenever we find it — simplicity — just might be a double edged sword here. The delightfully mindless nature is great when it comes to picking this on up on the fly might make it just as easy to quit. It doesn’t have lot of depth, and the continuous tapping and merging can verge on the monotonous. There are different worlds to navigate, yes, but this really is a game that has very little complexity.

Ah, but it really isn’t meant to, which is why is might resonate with folks who accept it for what it is: an uber-capable time wasting clicker game.

Tower Defense Battle Zone Review

Tower Defense Battle Zone Review

Oct 19, 2017

Just because it’s been done — and done well — doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it again, no?

Tower Defense Battle Zone called, and we answered.

If anything, it does look good. The graphics are vibrant but far from cartoon-y, and the use of color is pretty good, too. The game incorporates a top-down view for the “true” action, which reflects well in the default landscape orientation. The sound is better than just perfunctory, and at first glance, it is an appealing production.

Gameplay-wise, this one goes on and gets right to it. Yes… which is how it should be. You start out with a few basic wrappings that auto-fire, and the enemy come from the left, looking to make it all the way to breach your home base which is rightward.

The enemy, at the start, consists of motorized vehicles; the defensive units have different costs. Basically, you have to place the cannons strategically, and accumulate cash by destroying the enemy vehicles.

The usual tower defense opportunity costs apply: do you wait to accumulate enough cash to get the best cannons and risk getting overrun due to inadequate firepower, or do you spend the incoming cash on several smaller, cheaper units? Do you create banks of units, or lines and rows?

Decisions, decisions.

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The waves keep on coming, and, as expected, the enemy gets better. The game is leveled, and success yields game cash, which can (and should) be used to upgrade weapons. Real cash can be used to expedite operations, but doesn’t not feel mandatory.

Truth be told, this is a tough genre to stand out in, as there are many — so, so many — different titles to choose from. Tower Defense Battle Zone manages to have a few superlatives attributes that just might make it worth the while though.

As noted, the visuals are great, and the play form is about as straightforward as a gamer on the go could hope for. It is a fairly self-serving experience, in that it doesn’t need an advanced molecular theory degree to decipher, but is still avoids the ever-present trap of being overly simplistic.

Boonk Gang Review

Boonk Gang Review

Oct 13, 2017

Whatever you feel about the social media prankster known as Boonk, it’s probably a whole easier and safer to indulge on the game that bares his moniker: Boonk Gang.

The game plays in both portrait and landscape modes, and you take control of the main character. Our hero — antihero? — has an eye for others cash, and looks to pick up any he can get. What out though, because there are folks who don’t approve of these activities, and the number of people who look to catch our boy increases vastly very quickly.boonq3

This game is all about movement. As hinted at, you guide the main character to pick up money, which usually pops up around the playing area. But as soon as the first one is procured, other characters appear. Now, watch out for the borders of the playing area, because walking “out” of the area ports you to the opposite side; walk out towards the right, and you pop back in on the left. Go out at the “bottom” and reappear at the top.

… and those controls. the game uses two virtual controls: tapping on the left makes the perpetually moving Boonk dart at angles.

What makes the game compelling is the way it incorporates the controls. It takes a bit to figure it out, because it isn’t natural, but that is part of the game’s charm. Getting the goodies is hard enough, but when you toss in the exits and entrances and the “Man” and other moving bodies, the game becomes a bit more interesting.

For folks who enjoy quick reaction games that double as veritable time wasters, this one just might hit the spot. It’s silly enough to take the edge of any supposed moral rejoinders, but still provides enough of a challenge to make it feel almost mature.

Big Cruise Ship Games Passenger Cargo Simulator Review

Big Cruise Ship Games Passenger Cargo Simulator Review

Oct 9, 2017

Driving is cool.

Not cars… not necessarily. Let’s talk about tanks. Big rigs. Trains, even.

Boats? No, cruise ships. Now we’re talking. Like in Big Cruise Ship Games Passenger Cargo Simulator.

It’s decently done from a visual point of view, with good graphics and relatively smooth animations. There isn’t too much

Playing this one is quite straightforward. You get to control a long cruise ship, as advertised, and the idea is to dock it some distance away. To accomplish this formidable task, you get a virtual ship wheel and throttle, the one for bearing left or right and the other for moving at speed.

Now, you need to get the ship moving from point A to resting point B, which is usually a red-marked “parking” area. Between that, you get other ships, interesting topography and a beastly structure to guide, which provides the challenge. As an added tweak, you also have an optimal path to follow, notated by stars. Collecting all stars is the secondary goal. Now, said stars can be a stubborn foil, especially in the later levels, when they appear perilously close to, say, boulders and icebergs. At first, it is a slow going, by the way.

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The initial boat is fairly lowly rated with regards to speed handling, etc. Success yields coins, and these coins can be used to purchase ships that have better attributes.

If you are looking for something radically different from the host of vehicle manipulation games that are already on the Play store, you might be a bit disappointed; this one should be — has to be, really — accepted for what it is: a time waster first. The change of scenery makes for an interesting change of pace when compared to similar games, as does the type of vehicle.

As noted earlier, the speed and preciseness required probably prevent it from being a true furtive time-filler, but they pause button helps a bit. A wider array of ships (or some type of upgradability of a core ship) could really help with keeping folks coming back, but even as-is, it does possess a certain charm.

The Catapult Review

The Catapult Review

Oct 5, 2017

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: give us life, give us liberty, and give us a good, down-to-earth time-waster. You know… a game suitable for furtive rounds during the boring meeting, or the doctor’s office, or maybe even between innings at the kid’s softball game.

So much spare time, and so little fun things to fill it.

And here is where a cool mobile game can make all the difference. Something like The Catapult, perhaps?

It comes across a very simple from a visual standpoint. You get the ubiquitous stickmen as main characters, and the background does not distract from the main action at all. The animations are clean, and the sound effects are equally decent.

This one plays in landscape. The action is straightforward, too. You, the player, are a stickman defending a castle, old-school style, with a boulder-launching catapult. Of course, there are opposing stickmen equipped similarly. Starting out, you play against the game engine, looking to hit the opponent on the right with a boulder.

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To fire the boulder, you pull and drag the primed catapult. If you’ve played any of the early Angry Birds games, this will come naturally. You can adjust the distance and path of the boulder by the “force” and angle of the pull.

And then, the basic idea is to get the enemy before he gets you. Boom, don’t celebrate too long, because there will be a new opponent appearing, usually at a different height than the last.

Then, just when you get good (hopefully), the game starts to throw in some wrinkles. Two opposing shooters simultaneously? Bring it. The game has two mode: the single player option, and a two player option that might feel a little cramped on smaller devices. Success yields coins, which can be for better shells.

Interestingly enough, even while bandying around the “time-waster” descriptor, I admit — almost reluctantly — that it somehow, some way feels like a bit more. The simple scoring method is easy tto keep up with, and the simple escalation process just makes sense.

Homescapes Review

Homescapes Review

Sep 28, 2017

Simple puzzle games are almost always the right salve for a tough, busy day, and there’ll always be a place in my heart for matching games.

And now we get Homescapes.

Austin is our hero; a professional butler that looks exactly how we’d expect a butler to look. He gets inspired to go home and restore his childhood home, and this encompassing task frames our gameplay.

It’s a very colorful affair, from the pre-play scenes to the actual gameplay, and incorporates taps and gestures. It all looks and navigates intuitively.

But back to the action… Austin is back home, and his parents have unfortunately let the sizable home

And how do you power Austin to make these changes? Well, by matching gems, of course.

Now, if you’re a fan of developer Playrix, the games DNA should be readily apparent; for those of us who loved match-3 aquamarine caper Fishdom, the familiarity will be welcome. Basically, you get a playing area with different colored pieces, seemingly randomly placed. The idea is to match at least 3 pieces, meet the level threshold and earn points — points which can then be used to complete the renovation tasks that Austin has.

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It works this way: Austin finds something that needs to fixed, like an atrocious, mangy rug. Doing so requires resources, and to procure said resources, play the match 3. Here, the tasks start out simply enough… say, clear 40 green pieces in a set number of moves. Matching dissolves the matched pieces, and might even cause a chain reaction that causes other matches and dissolves.

As with games of this type, matching more than 3 usually creates a power-up, like a bomb, that can be used to create bigger reactions. As you play on, there are plenty of other tweaks and tricks that help prevent monotony.

There is an energy requirement, but it is possible to play without using money if one is patient; lives replenish over time.

It’s fun, and isn’t just a belated Fishdom twin. All in all, great to play.

Zombie Invasion:Dead City HD Review

Zombie Invasion:Dead City HD Review

Sep 26, 2017

Sniper games make me squeamish, but I figure I can get over it, if for a bit, for Zombie Invasion: Dead City.

The intro scene gives you just about everything you need to know about the game. It starts out with a distinct cityscape in the throes of destruction. The developer used shades and virtual light to highlight the action, and visual perspective is very important, just as one would expect.

You, the player takes on the persona of an armed sniper on a vehicle for a perch. The enemy? Yep, zombies, and they are coming for you. Several creepers look to get close enough to inflict damage by contact.

Remember though… you do have a sniper rifle. The basic, intuitive idea is to use said gun to keep the undead at bay. Head shots are especially effective, and as such, using the sniper scope is pretty much required.

The controls are set well, towards the right, and in this part of the game, you have to tap to shoot or use other weapons.

One thing that is interesting is that from the start, you have to take on waves of enemies approaching from multiple fronts. Not only must you pay attention to what is directly in front of you; you have to swing around to see what might be sneaking up on you from somewhere else. Basically, clear out the waves before they get you.

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There’s a grenade option, which is great for those times that you might be close to being overwhelmed. With regards to shooting, you also have to contend with reload times. Of course, there are different types of zombies, from easy-to-kill ones to speedy Bane-like one that is very resilient.

There are other pieces to this game, like the accelerometer-guided car. Shoot, and brush off any pesky undead trying to jump on. Yes, there is aerial action as well.

And so it goes, through numerous levels… a tri-fold adventure, if you will. It plays well, dials up the action, and allows us to kill zombies.

All checks.

Football Strike Review: “real” football on demand

Football Strike Review: “real” football on demand

Sep 21, 2017

Look, I love soccer. I coach it, still play it (somewhat, ha!) and watch it as much as I can. And with the major leagues back in full swing, I can do my commonwealth thing and enjoy referring to it as “real” football.

Yep, I was okay with formally checking out Football Strike – Multiplayer Soccer, a new one from Android all-star development house Miniclip.com. Very, very okay.

As one would expect from a Miniclip.com game, this one has high visual content. The soccer players, fs3containing environments and the like were all pretty well done, with matching sounds and effects that are equally of the standout variety. The animations work very well; ball flight and player movement look natural. The controls are intuitive, mostly consisting of free-screen taps and directional gestures.

The game plays in landscape, and this also works well.

The game tutor is front and center to begin. It starts out with a Shooting Race mode. Here, you learn the basics of shooting while racing against another character to smash through targets superimposed on the face of the goal for points. At the end of the allotted time, winner gets goodies. After working on that, you then get to try Free Kicks mode, which is fashioned after spot kicks. In this one, you go head to head with another player. You and your opponent alternate taking free kicks from different spots and controlling the keeper. Best of five, and again, winner get the jackpot.

After a particular player level is attained, Career mode is unlocked. This is a leveled adventure featuring different challenges, and you have to win to advance to the next one. The stuff here is inventive and familiar, featuring stuff already seen and a few new tricks.

The game also has a training section, and there are goodies that can be collected, and accumulated game cash can be used to procure better gear and such. Fun all the way round.

But alas, there is an energy requirement. This can be circumvented by real money.

Still, it is a worthy game, such that you don’t need need to be a soccer feen to enjoy it. You just might afterwards, though.

Mini Guns Review: the little guys wage war!

Mini Guns Review: the little guys wage war!

Sep 21, 2017

Off the bat, the biggest mistake you might make with new game Mini Guns is trying to fit it all into one tidy box.

It’s a fun looking game, with great use of color and great animations.

The hands on tutorial is just right with regards to getting acquainted with how everything works. Basically, you get two armies, and these armies are made up of miniature army pieces — whimsical yet deadly versions. Each piece has unique abilities… for example, an infantryman has a relatively low efficacy and defense, but can be deployed easy. A tank is relatively powerful, but requires a bit more to deploy.

So, when it gets going, you are pitted against an opponent, and the idea is destroy their home base before the opposing army can destroy yours. There are so many opportunity costs to consider. For instance, there are multiple buildings in addition to the base; do you go for those, or go straight down the gut trying to end a match by hitting the big stuff? Do you go at it with several small pieces, or wait for points to accumulate to attack with something bigger?

There are challenges, pieces can be upgraded, there are gift crates and one need not necessarily spend real money.

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This game excels in the way it brings together several different elements, and in how well it does so. The head to head battles are fun in and of themselves, but the minor piece of capture the flag adds to the enjoyment factor.

It also sneaks in some distinct tower defense aspects in the way one has to figure out a way to prevent one’s base from getting whacked. Of course, the fact that you simultaneously have to be on the offensive to win battles makes it that more engaging.

All in all, it plays well, and might even be more addicting than you might be prepared for.

Just as well.

Jump Ball Quest Review

Jump Ball Quest Review

Sep 20, 2017

If there is something we are always on the hunt for, it’s that perfect time filler. As such, we were happy to give Jump Ball Quest a go.

Visually, it isn’t overly aggressive, with a easy motif playful sound; it plays in landscape and uses the sparing animations adequately. The playing area looks much like a dungeon crawling environment, or an easy platformer, packing in dangerous spikes and the like.

The action is straightforward: guide the perpetually bouncing ball from point A to point B, the latter being the exit. Easier said than done, because to start with, the bouncing creates an interesting visual and virtual physics challenge in and of itself.

Guiding said playing piece boils down to mastering the controls; tapping on either side of the screen makes the ball bounce in that direction. By trial and error, it’s easy to find out that long-pressing (instead of just tapping) makes the ball jump a hair further and higher. The controls are fairly efficient for this type of game.

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A very simple twist is clear early on… can you pick up three stars by contact, even while getting to the exit? That makes it a bit more difficult. Risk reward, but then the levels get harder and harder. As you play on, you you have to somewhat creative. Thankfully, there are exhaustible boosts and helpers, such as one touch bridges that can be used to cross a chasm or get to a higher platform. As the caverns become more intricate, so does the challenge of finishing levels. Avoid the spikes, obviously, but don’t fret too much, as the run ends, but you can go again.

It’s simple, and for this one, that descriptor is far from a negative. It’s a game you can pick up and get into at a moment’s notice, while at doctor’s office waiting room, or while the oil is getting changed and the like. In that, it works very, very well as time waster, but somehow feels like it can be even more.