Madden NFL 12 Free on Verizon VCAST Apps October 1st-3rd

Madden NFL 12 Free on Verizon VCAST Apps October 1st-3rd

Sep 30, 2011

Weekend time is football time. That might be why Americans love the sport so much. Americans also like free stuff, and Americans who like free stuff and football are in luck, if they’re Verizon subscribers. This weekend, going through Monday, Madden NFL 12 from EA Sports is available for free from Verizon VCAST Apps.. This is a full-fledged 3D Madden NFL game, replete with season and playoff modes for long-term play, and advanced control options available such as Action Control Time and Total Defensive Control. The game will be free starting on Saturday, October 1st, so Verizon owners may want to check this out. The game is available either by downloading it from VCAST Apps on selected devices, or by calling **MADDEN from a Verizon phone to download. While the game does support tablets and devices on 2.1, the phones officially supported by the update are the Incredible 2.2, Vortex 2.2, Continuum , Thunderbolt 2.2, Droid Pro 2.2, Fascinate 2.2, Incredible 2 2.2, Command, DROID Charge, Revolution 2.2, Droid X2 2.2, and Droid X2.3, so owners of devices not on that list may not be part of this offer. If it works, then leave us a note in the comments!

Orbital Defender Full Review

Orbital Defender Full Review

Sep 30, 2011

The solar system has gone and gotten itself in all kinds of trouble, and it is up to players with deadly aim to save it. Orbital Defender takes a unique approach to flick-based combat, dumps the setting into the void of space, and brings it all together in an immensely playable shoot’em up game, but is it worth the entry fee for this addiction?

The goal of this game is raw and simple: protect the planet in the center of the screen from aliens, asteroids, missiles, and other sundries of space nemesis. Players take the role of a satellite in orbit. While circling a big ball of dust, the player will need to fire weapons, such as homing missiles and the ever popular peashooter, at the incoming enemies. The catch is that there is no shooting through the planet, or it loses life. This little wrench means players have to watch everything coming into the screen and plan exactly when they will have clear shots at their targets. The planet is not completely helpless as it has a few defenses like shields and space dust to aid in the battle. It is a simplistic premise, but one that becomes addictive in a quick fashion.

The game keeps it light when it comes to audio and visuals. The music score is a blend of space theme rock and techno, all set on a continuous loop. It is not terrible, but it will quickly fade into the recesses of the mind. There is a bit of satisfaction as the guns emit a classical “pew-pew” sound, and explosions are full of bass, thus requiring a decent set of headphones to enjoy. The eyes are treated to colors from all over the rainbow, with various gold and silvers becoming the main color of choice for enemies. Enemies are unique and varied, as well as being easily recognizable items, such as UFOs or comets, from the sci-fi genre. This won’t drop any jaws, but there was a decent amount of care put into the overall presentation.

While the gameplay and presentation are solid, there is a hitch that is unnerving, and that is an issue with the inconsistent frame rates. While a fair number of enemies may fill the screen with no issue, introducing bullets or missiles to the mix sees things starting to spit and sputter along. I found this problem most noticeable when using homing missiles. The game also crashed a few times after ten minutes, or so, of play. This stuttering screen may not seem so bad at first, but it can cause missed shots and unnecessary damage to the planet.

At the end of the day, this is an easy game for anyone to pick up and play, but the rough frame rates put a damper on the fun. There is a free version that should be checked out before dropping the money on the full version, but if the hiccups are fixed, this will be a great piece of entertainment well worth the low cost of entry. Shoot’em up fans should definitely give this game a gander.

Freaky Friday – Burn Phone Prank

Freaky Friday – Burn Phone Prank

Sep 30, 2011

We all love a good prank from time to time, like filling a co-worker’s cubicle up with packing peanuts, or the ever-popular electrical tape over the mouse sensor. Those are good pranks, but what Burn Phone Prank does is just…full-on weak sauce. See, what this app tries to do is fool people into thinking their screens are burned, and that is it.

Let’s digest this for just a second. First, someone has to steal their victim’s phone, which in this day is harder than it seems as we all are glued to these devices. Next, the app has to be downloaded, installed, and setup. Depending on the conditions, this step could take a few minutes and anything from a phone call to the weather app could go off, thus foiling those plans of pranking. Then, the act of “burning” the screen has to take place, and finally the owner has to believe their screen caught fire without magically melting the screen. Somehow, this entire process just doesn’t seem to be fully doable in a quick amount of time.

Things only get worse as this app has ads on it. How can anyone be fooled of a messed up screen with an ad for Depends scrolling across the bottom, all because the prankster forgot to disable the feature in the menu? Finally, just look at the screenshots and think if they really look convincing. It looks more like someone sneezed on the phone versus it being charred. It would be better to break some glass, place it over a circuit board, take a picture, and then set that as the wallpaper, and even that is sketchy on its effectiveness. Phone pranks that use anything on the screen just do not work.

Listen up would-be pranksters with coding skills. Put those talents to use and code an app that allows us to do wonderful things like control a computer screen from across the room, set off the alarm clock every ten minutes without it showing up, or just randomly dimming the screen on the phone would be more entertaining. And for the love of all things Revenge of the Nerds, do not put ads into an app that is supposed to fool someone, that just looks tacky and destroys the goal. Just don’t do it!

R-Type Review

R-Type Review

Sep 30, 2011

There is a funny thing about shoot’em up games, or shmups for short, and that is no matter how this genre grows and evolves, one game still sets the bar for difficulty and game play. That game is R-Type. DotEmu has brought all the frustration and man tears back for a new generation to enjoy, and it is a beautiful thing.

At its core, R-Type is all about learning enemy patterns while navigating through the stage and shooting down various aliens, and it must all be done with a detachable shield and a handful weapon power-ups. Make no mistake about it, this was a difficult game when it first came out, and it is still an extremely frustrating game to this day. Even though the game may only contain eight levels, those levels will be replayed over and over again.

As luck would have it, the controls for this game are rock solid. The primary scheme is a 1:1 touch recognition where the player can move the ship by dragging their finger around the screen, and this is complemented by two buttons on the right for launching the shield and charging up the death beam. A second method is a virtual d-pad, but this was less responsive. Rounding out the package is the next stage in progression unlocks as levels are completed, thus making it easier to continue the treacherous path of finishing this game.

DotEmu also kept this game true to its roots when it comes to how the game looks and sounds. Chiptunes will fill eardrums while bullets fly and enemies die, all in their screechy retro goodness. The game is packed with colorful sprites and levels ranging from open space to alien infested colonies. It may look and sound old, but that quickly subsides to the frustrations of yet another death, and there is no better place to die than in this game.

R-Type is still one of the most challenging games on the market, and this version is no different. Those that beat this on normal can try hard, but it maybe best to play that mode in a padded room, as chucking the phone in anger is sure to be a possibility. Those that love retro games, or just want to try their hand at IGN’s 7th most difficult game to beat, will find a marvelous port courtesy of DotEmu.

iBlast Moki Blasts on to Android; Headline Writers Cringe at “Blast” Pun

iBlast Moki Blasts on to Android; Headline Writers Cringe at “Blast” Pun

Sep 30, 2011

iBlast Moki, the physics puzzler from Godzilab has finally made its way to Android. The game’s goal is to use bombs to blast the adorable Mokis from their starting spots on the level into the goal portal, using and navigating the obstacles to help make this a possibility.

iBlast Moki is a game that’s based on timing; not so much reaction timing as much as it is on planning the timing of bombs in order to get the Mokis to the goal in time. Bombs can be set on a delay, and figuring out when they need to go off is instrumental in beating the game’s later levels. This also means that experimentation is frequently needed in order to succeed, in order to see how a hypothetical approach to a level compares to reality. This game is possibly the closest thing to the scientific method as a gameplay mechanic.

The game comes with 85 levels built-in, and features a level editor for designing and even sharing levels with other players. The game uses the same level editor and sharing tools as the iOS version, so the same levels that users have been uploading from there are available to Android users right away!

Godzilab has decided to release this as a premium app on Android, after releasing StarDunk as a free to play app. The game is available for $2.99 at launch. It is not quite optimized for tablets, but does run on the higher resolution screens fine. As an added bonus, the view in the game is massive on high resolution screens. Hopefully if this game does well, the excellent sequel iBlast Moki 2 will make its way to Android as well. It features many of the same powerful level editing features (in fact all levels in the sequel were made in the game’s level editor), along with new types of bombs to play with. Until then, this still fun and worthy game will make do for Android owners.

Alien Defense 101 Review

Alien Defense 101 Review

Sep 29, 2011

The Earth is under attack from hundreds of ships, giant saucers, meteor showers and… exploding jellyfish? Well, yeah, exploding jellyfish! Actually, if you can get past the idea that humanity’s last hope is a solo rookie on his first day of training, then I guess exploding jellyfish won’t be too much of a stretch for you, will it? Nevertheless, there are exploding jellyfish in Alien Defense 101, and they are just one of the many strange aliens you will encounter.

As far as space shooters go, Alien Defense 101 does it’s best to cover all the basics. Waves of aliens descending from the top of the screen in patterns, power-ups, battles with tough foes and plenty of chances to die in a flaming wreck. But then it tries to experiment with some new ideas in how to play a space shooter.

One experimental idea is to swap out the usual control interface layout for a slider control that feels more like a mousepad than a d-pad, giving you absolute movement across the entire range of the field. It actually makes sense to use a slider, seeing as how the game displays in landscape view and widens the field beyond the edges of the screen. With a quick swipe, you can go edge-to-edge and quickly position yourself to face incoming enemies.

Another idea is how the game displays, using a pseudo-3D view, almost curving the screen at the edges and doing some other tricks with the background to give you more of a feeling of depth. It’s hard to describe, but it does give Alien Defense 101 a unique way of displaying the action.

Being a space shooter, the gameplay is your usual fare. As I mentioned earlier, waves of aliens descend to attack you — including exploding jellyfish — and you must do your best to dispatch them with the single life you’re given. The game plays out in stages with a consistent health meter, meaning that you don’t recharge at the beginning of each stage. Annoyingly, however, your weapons revert back to stock, leaving you just a little more helpless each time. Your best hope is to catch a health power-up or you won’t last very long. Speaking of weapons, while the game is free, you can purchase a weapon upgrade pack in-game for US$1.99, giving you additional weapons to help you in your battle.

After a certain number of stages, you unlock the next level so that you don’t have to start completely from scratch. You also get a little more of the story, as told to you by Captain Cody who, aggravatingly, shows up via text and a small image right in the middle of the screen. The game doesn’t even stop so that you can read his ramblings, either, it just keeps going while you crash into multiple oncoming ships.

Alien Defense 101 is an odd space shooter, maintaining a good level of fun with some unusual ideas thrown in. However, it’s hindered by terrible music, simplistic graphics that could use a lot of polish and average gameplay.

Theme Thursday – Steampunk Rusted

Theme Thursday – Steampunk Rusted

Sep 29, 2011

This week’s theme is Steampunk Rusted, an attractive theme for all the steampunk enthusiasts out there.

To say the steampunk crowd are an eclectic bunch would be an understatement. Not content to exist solely in our modern era, they don’t quite dwell in the past, either. Instead, they invent a new era that melds the old with the new, creating an alternate timeline — a history that never was.

As such, the steampunk aesthetic represents a fashion, a taste for objects that eschew modern design while maintaining modern function. Featured heavily are modified clothing and gadgetry designed to look as though the Victorian period never ended and here we are today. Fond as steampunk enthusiasts are of customizing objects, it makes perfect sense that any easily modifiable entity will be made to resemble that imagery — an Android device running ADW Launcher, for example.

ADW Launcher, the customizable home replacement utility for Android, can easily undergo drastic changes in design and function simply by selecting a new theme and applying it. Taking the idea further, you can mix and match themes, designing a wholly new theme just by editing objects and settings to your desire. It’s no wonder there are several steampunk designs in existence on the the Android Market.

Featuring a grunged up interface, laced with corrosion and signs of wear, the metallic and glass elements mixed with mechanical accoutrements in the backgrounds (notice the gears on the wallpaper in one of the screenshots, below) lend themselves to the steampunk aesthetic in many attractive ways. The icons are similarly fitting, resembling small buttons with crystal caps and brass fittings.

If you like the look of Steampunk Rusted, you can take it even further with several additions, such as this Steampunk Clock widget and this Steampunk Gears live wallpaper. Steampunk Rusted also features compatibility with several other launchers, especially Panda Home.

Steampunk Rusted is available on the Android Market for US$1.29.

Destinia Review

Destinia Review

Sep 29, 2011

Gamevil continues to rock the role-playing genre. Their Zenonia series has garnered high praise for combining copious amounts of hours of game play with an old school charm. Now they hope to apply this same formula to Destinia.

Destinia puts players in the role of Duke, a hero who is rescued from his prison by some rebels looking to bring down an evil empire. The story is par for the course on these games, where Duke was part of the evil empire, gets the boot, and wants his retribution from the ruthless warrior who ultimately put him in jail. It is a slow story that is told through character art and text boxes. It provides enough glue to hold the game together, but it is not something players will be asking for in a novel for cold weather reading.

Where the game excels is in the gameplay department. Fighting enemies is fast, furious, and frantic. This is thanks to the oodles and oodles of quests. Each town contains various inhabitants that need a hero to go and slay enemies, pick up various items, and return for a reward. While fetch quests are easy, they get old after a bit of time. It is easy to get lost in the vast amount of quests available, but they do provide enough substance that it is easy to pick the game up and play for a bit of time and feel like something was accomplished.

Destinia does feature a unique pet system that is rarely seen in this genre. During the adventure, players may stumble upon monster eggs. These eggs may be hatched, thus providing Duke a fighting companion. Just as the main character can be honed to a lean mean fighting machine, the pet may also go through a process of “evolution” to become a ferocious battle master.

What sets most Gamevil RPGs apart is their treatment of the game world, and this is no different. The visuals come in a 16-bit flair,g with sprites being well-animated, the world being extremely colorful and varied, and the special effects coming in as grand spectacles for the eyes. The audio carries the theme well with a decently rounded out sound package. A feature I found enjoyable was that when a critical hit was scored, a big damage number would pop up, the screen would flash, and the phone would vibrate. It may be a small touch, but it really aided in pulling me into the battle even more.

Veterans of action-RPGs will find this hack-‘n-slash game to be a great addition to their mobile game library. The yacking of NPCs can drag on a bit, but the decent character customization and hours of game play make this worth checking out. Once Destinia has its hooks in, it is hard to resist the call of just one more quest.

Amazon Enters the Android Tablet Fray With the Kindle Fire

Amazon Enters the Android Tablet Fray With the Kindle Fire

Sep 29, 2011

Amazon recently held an event to talk about e-eaders, and as rumored, the online giant is in fact releasing a new Android device called the Kindle Fire, as well as two new Kindle eReaders (Kindle Touch – $99 and Kindle – $79).

So what are the special features of the Kindle Fire? First, the device will bring all of Amazon’s services together for a streamlined and cohesive experience. That means getting music from the Amazon MP3 store, streaming movies from the video store, and of course buying books and magazines. To make this a richer experience, all this will come with Whispersync. Watching a movie on the Fire, and want to watch it on the television? No problem, as the sync will allow the movie to resume right where it was left off. The same setup is true for music and books. Kicking things up a bit more, all people who buy this device will receive a free month of Amazon Prime to receive the full capability of the device. Even better is that all Amazon digital purchases (music, movies, books, and so on) are backed up to their cloud servers.

The next aspect Amazon is tackling is internet browsing. They are using their cloud servers to cache web pages, especially frequently-visited ones, so content is quickly made available, and the user never has to fully hit the website and download all the information. Those that have used Opera Mini before will know just about how this will work.

As far as device specifications, the Kindle Fire has a 7-inch IPS panel (1024×600, 169ppi, 16 million colors), Gorilla Glass coating, a 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a chassis that weighs 14.6 ounces. There has been no confirmation that there is an external memory card slot, which would make sense if it were missing as Amazon tends to leave that out of its devices. While the cloud storage is nice, 8GB is rather weak and heavy users will most likely destroy that space within a very short amount of time.

The Kindle Fire

Finally, we get to the OS. It is confirmed that this will run Android, The Kindle Fire will not have access to the normal Google Android Market, and it is also missing many of the standard Google apps. Clearly, Amazon wants users to use their services and get their apps from the Amazon AppStore.

The biggest part of this announcement has to be the price, and that is $199. For those people that just want a small form factor device to watch movies, read book/magazines/comics, and listen to music, this will be extremely enticing. The Kindle Fire does not ship until November 15, so it is hard to make calls on how well it will do and how it will compete with the various Android tablets and the iPad.

Lightbox Photos Review

Lightbox Photos Review

Sep 28, 2011

Android users have been begging for the extremely popular iOS app by the name of Instagram to migrate over to the platform, but it just isn’t happening. While Instagram chooses to stay on iOS, Android users may finally have their own social photo sharing app, and it is all thanks to Lightbox Photos.

Starting Lightbox Photos brings users right into the camera portions of the app. Here, users can adjust settings such as zoom, white balance, exposure, and focus (macro, auto, infinity). Yes, even the flash may be turned on and off with a simple tap of the icon. From there, the image is brought into the filter section where there is a wide variety of filter settings ranging from black and white conversions to artsy stuff like a 8-bit pixilated render of the photo. After the proper filter is applied, it is off to adding a description and sharing. The app automatically posts to Lightbox (account required), but can also post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Flickr. People can even import images from their Google Picasa accounts, as well as off the memory card. If this was all that was included, this would still be a decent camera app, but there is more to this.

Getting out of the camera portion, users are greeted with a powerful viewing app as well. By linking social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter, any photos shared on these services are brought into the app’s slideshow viewing area. Popular images, mainly off Flickr, as well as images from places like the New York Times are also viewable in their own dedicated areas. This is a great way to view hundreds of images, seamlessly in one app.

All is not perfect, however. The biggest gripe has to be with the UI, and its lack of intuitiveness. In order to get to the photo viewing area, the user has to first tap on their image on the bottom right of the camera section and then tap on the cube in the middle of the screen. The app also does not immediately go into the Lightbox account creation section, and it just haphazardly happens the first time someone tries to post an image online. Once the nuances of the app are learned, navigation is not a big problem, but it is something that should be considered for new users who may not give this more than a few minutes to impress them.

All-in-all, this is a fantastic app. The extra controls in the camera section are great for anyone looking to perfect their shots, and the sharing is quick and painless once it is all setup. The piece that takes the cake is the sideshow of images from more places than just Lightbox itself. With a few UI tweaks, this could become the killer photo sharing app Android users have been clamoring for. For free, what does one have to lose by giving this a shot?

Poker Swap Pro Review

Poker Swap Pro Review

Sep 28, 2011

Think you’ve got a pretty good poker face? Well, save it, because it won’t help you here. Poker Swap Pro takes the idea of assembling different poker hands from the cards you have available to you and turns it into a decent game of solitaire. Chips, cigars and a few extra buddies with thick wallets are also not required.

As far as puzzle games go, Poker Swap Pro isn’t very deep. You have 5 rows and 5 columns of cards, and all you’re doing is swapping them, one at a time, to assemble high-scoring hands vertically and horizontally. Depending on the game mode, you’ll be given a time limit, or a set goal score to beat before you can move on to the next round. There’s also a Zen Mode, with no time limit or other pressures holding you down. It’s just you and the cards, mixing and matching to your heart’s desire.

The addition of special cards with unique attributes add a bit more strategy to the game. You have cards that increase the time limit, score multipliers, locked cards and a stone piece that can be moved, but prevents you from making a full hand in that row/column. You also have to watch out for repeating matches you’ve already made, as this will deduct points. In Survival Mode, you need to be especially careful. You might hit the goal, but find yourself going under it when you make too many mistakes.

The graphics in Poker Swap Pro are rather plain and dull. Cards, menus and other interactive elements barely animate or show off any sort of glitz; they all seem too utilitarian. On one hand, it’s a puzzle game; you don’t really need glitz. On the other hand, some polish is better than none. The same goes for the sound. With no background music, all you have are the sounds of chimes that announce when a special card is in play, an element has been touched or when the cards are shuffling. That’s about it.

My biggest complaint about the game is that it requires you to already have a working knowledge of what cards constitute different hands in poker. If you don’t know the difference between a “flush” and a “straight flush,” you may have trouble getting high scores. On top of that, the game doesn’t tell you what hand you’ve just made, nor does it tell you how to make each kind of hand. This can be a pretty rough experience for newcomers who are not only unfamiliar with this game but who know nothing of poker (or could at least use a quick refresher) as well.

If you know a thing or two about poker and really like solitaire games, Poker Swap Pro can be a lot of fun. Even if you don’t know anything about poker, it’s easy to learn the different hands while having a good time. Then you have OpenFeint achievements, scoreboards and more to make this simple game a great challenge for yourself, or between friends.

Sandisk Releases App for Managing Memory on Android and Sharing to Online Storage

Sandisk Releases App for Managing Memory on Android and Sharing to Online Storage

Sep 28, 2011

Sandisk has introduced a new app for users looking to manage their phone’s data and content. Sandisk Memory Zone allows for users to browse the music, pictures, videos, documents, and even the apps on their phone. From there they can open them, delete them, and even upload them to various online storage options.

Yes, the Sandisk Memory Zone app also supports online cloud-based storage management. Users can log in to their Dropbox, Google Docs, Picasa, and/or Box accounts to view and manage files on those services, or even backup their phone’s entire contents to those services. Individual files can be uploaded as well.

For users of external SD cards, this app supports copying files to there as well. This combined with the online storage support makes this app more than just the typical app from a company looking to promote their brand name, as there are some interesting possible uses that could come from this. Sandisk Memory Zone is available for free from the Android Market.