Critter Fitter Review

Critter Fitter Review

Nov 30, 2012

Critter Fitter is a drag, drop and rotate game that mates puzzles with Noah’s Ark. In the name of abducting aliens, animals had to be moved off Earth.

The curiously-shaped animals ran the gamut: there were elephants, ostriches, koalas, and giraffes; I even saw a rhinoceros or two, and a smelly skunk. My dastardly act was to abduct these animals, but the cargo space was quite limited.

My job was to arrange the animals in the cargo hold so that they all fit. I could rotate the animals by holding and tapping the screen with my other thumb. Logically, it made sense for me to start with the bigger animals, and work my way down to the smaller ones. The game was broken down by level, and the gameplay got harder the further along I went.

Oh yeah: the faster I finished, the better the score I received. The game employed a three-star rating system; getting everything solved in the prescribed time or below gave me three stars, and I received points based on that performance. There were tips that flashed prior to the attempts, and there was also Hint button that helped get through difficult placements (in exchange for the willingness to be “offered” other games).

The game had no-frills graphics; the animations were okay, as the rotations invoked by the second tap were pretty much seamless, and if there was a stutter during the transfer of pieces, I did not notice it on either of my two machines. The music sounded like standard fare arcade type music that I would expect for this type of game, with clear rises denoting success. The game connects to the major social networks to facilitate the sharing of scores.

I liked that the developer made use of a simple tutorial, as it helped move things along. The rotating mechanism was smooth (as already mentioned), but there was an uncomfortable feel to positioning; spinning the giraffe or bear, for example, could be awkward with a finger blocking most of the pertinent real estate.

I like simple, and this game has the potential to be a fun time-waster or a saga; the choice is in the hands of the player.

Happy Jump Review

Happy Jump Review

Nov 30, 2012

Retro Dreamer apparently figured out something kind of silly after all the turds they released on Android: if they cleaned up their act, they had some fun games with mass appeal. And so here we are with Happy Jump, published by NoodleCake Games (to help get the word to the masses). Players control a smiling jelly, who squishes and bounces his way higher and higher, avoiding dangerous flies, crumbling platforms, and coin layouts that threaten to leave the happy little jelly feeling distraught as he falls back to the ground.

The game falls somewhere between Doodle Jump and Mega Jump on the endless jumper scale, as there are both platforms to jump on and coins that propel the happy candy higher up in the air. There’s also Bejeweled Blitz-esque pre-game boosts, like getting head starts, shields, or special point bonuses.

The game is fairly simple, but it executes well, as the tilt controls work very well, and the gameplay doesn’t get overly-complicated. There’s a variety of character skins to unlock, such as ice cream, cupcakes, and hats. Every game improves with hats.

Of course, it is a fairly basic game, and one that has been seen before. My one quibble with the mechanics is that the flies tend to be just way too annoying. They’re extremely difficult to avoid, and any kind of meaningful run requires the shield powerup to be used just to survive hits from them, as the timing windows to avoid them is often very, very tight. As well, it can be difficult to discern between a fruit boost that can take out enemies and just a coin boost; I died often from thinking I had one when I really had the other.

While this isn’t Retro Dreamer’s most innovative or even their best game, its effective simplicity and cute characters do have plenty of appeal. Not sick of endless jumpers? Check it out.

Astro Frontier Review

Astro Frontier Review

Nov 30, 2012

Astro Frontier is a game that might appeal to folks feening for Oregon Trail, except that this adventure takes place a few feet higher in the air, and there is much less flux to contend with.

Thankfully.

It’s a turn-based game that makes space the playground. As the leader of the exploration team, I had to manage resources, deal with “events” and such, protect the convoy and (most importantly) keep morale high. If I let the morale get to zero, I lost. Thus, I had to do things like ensure they didn’t eat bad food, or let them have fun, or get depressed by not making enough progress.

The game started with instructions, which gave me a super-quick overview of the mission and objectives. Everyday, I generated a resource, and I had the opportunity to choose from one unit of fuel, rations, or metal. Of course, there was an opportunity cost associated with and and every choice, so decisions had to be weighed carefully. After daily travel, I could pick a “ship” option, like building morale or a whole new ship. Different ships had different period and cons as well.

A cool part of the daily travels were the space battles. Periodically, I was confronted by adversaries, and I had to choose an option, like attacking or countering. Again, I had to assess my resources to pick the most beneficial option, as it was a battle of attrition.

At the bottom of my control screen, I had a chart of essentials. I saw fuel, rations, metal and morale; I also saw the strength of my hull, my arms and how many Stingers I had.

The game had plenty of logical sequences. I liked how the attributes and resources tied into to each other. The graphics were simple, and even though they did the job, I felt that they were almost too simplistic.

That’s not enough of a gripe to kill my overall enjoyment of this game, though. Star Trek had their way, and now I had mine.

AirAttack HD Review

AirAttack HD Review

Nov 30, 2012

Art in Games makes a name for itself with the top-down shooter AirAttack HD. Plenty of games try hard to bring WWII-era air battles to consoles, but this one makes it pop on smartphones, which is no small feat.

The graphics were, in a word, excellent. The recreated terrain was almost good enough to distract from the opposing weaponry. I loved the bridges, exploding trains and even the impertinent flair of the upgraded flamethrower. It was a visual treat, with matching sounds that took me straight to the History Channel war specials.

As already noted, it put me in the thick of an air-centric mission. At the beginning, I got to pick one of three plane choices. Control-wise, the plane was at my fingertips… literally. I used my index finger to fly and maneuver around firing planes and artillery from the ground. My ever-shooting plane took care of the offense, as all I had to do was use the plane to direct my weapons, and tap or two on the right virtual icon dispensed special weapons like bombs or lightning. Instead of my finger, I could tilt or use a virtual joypad if I so chose. Prior to starting, I was notified of the mission goals, and at the end of each, I got my kill percentages and other mission-related stats

Gameplay consisted of destroying enemy planes and infrastructure and gathering the game cash and health packets left behind. There were two modes of play: Survival and Arcade (I had to unlock the former). The scenes were diverse; there was nighttime flying, daytime missions and one over water… I even found snow. There were “bosses” too, just when I thought I had finally figured a level out.

The accumulated cash allowed me to purchase upgrades at particular points during the action. The upgrades were varied… escorting wingmen, lightning, turrets, extra lives and other game staples.

This is one of the first games that I will whine about the lack of an online leaderboard, but a game of this caliber demands one for cross-platform bragging rights, so I am whining. Also, while the developer did well to make the game fairly exciting, there is the risk of monotony.

AirAttack works well on smartphones and tablets, and will draw you in.

9 Iron Ninja Review

9 Iron Ninja Review

Nov 30, 2012

9-Iron Ninja is an interesting title. The core concept is something that has the potential for real fun, but it feels like it wasn’t completely executed.

The best way to describe the game in relation to existing titles would be Super Stickman Golf Blitz. That is, this is a 2D golf game, like an Artillery game but with golf balls raining from the sky instead of death and destruction. But instead of playing on set courses of different holes, 9 Iron Ninja tkaes players through the game one hole at a time. Players get 6 strokes per level in which to sink the ball. If they don’t, it’s game over. Getting the ball in sooner nets more points, and high scores are definitely the goal here.

The game is free and ad-supported, with stars that can be earned for unlocking new disguises and trophies. The stars that are earned for doing well on a hole are built around a currency system that can be used to unlock new colors and costumes for the ninja, along with trophies. The developer claims that the game is built around being a zen-like experience, and to that end, it is very easy to sink loads of time in to the game, as the experience tends to seamlessly blend one hole into another, even after a game over, which still allows the player to finish their current hole.

But there lies the problem: 9 Iron Ninja seems to lack any kind of punch. The holes can wildly vary in difficulty and they still have the same 6-shot limit, which means that there’s no balancing, and it means that a long session may be a case of just getting the luck of the draw with easy holes. The experience just winds up being a random wandering, rather than anything that drives the player to keep going, keep coming back to the game. The game also desperately needs high-resolution graphics; it looks very blurry on the Nexus 7 and Galaxy S III.

9 Iron Ninja feels a lot like the prototype to a “blitz”-style 2D golf game that I could see being realized at some point in the future. Perhaps someday soon, this will actually be realized, but until then, to get a glimpse of a possible future, download 9 Iron Ninja, but realize that it’s not fully-formed quite yet.

Turbo Client Makes FTP Easy and Stylish on Android

Turbo Client Makes FTP Easy and Stylish on Android

Nov 30, 2012

The beauty of mobile technology is simple: our files are available pretty much anywhere and everywhere thanks to powerful phones, versatile tablets, and high-speed internet connections available while on the bus. What a world! However, that doesn’t mean that the old file transmission protocols, in this case literally File Transmission Protocol, needs to be left behind. After all, sometimes files are on FTP servers, or they need to get there somehow. Yet, despite this ancient protocol, it still can have a modern touch with Turbo Client. This Android FTP client is based around the Holo theme, and built for tablets like the Nexus 7, though there’s phone support too. Files can be transferred via FTP, SFTP, FTPS, and FTPES, to encompass all FTP needs. Download and upload files from your device easily, and from anywhere there’s internet. The app is free and available on Google Play, and the developer promises more than FTP support in the near future, including support for SMB and CIFS file sharing.

Friday Free App Rundown November 30 – Rope Games

Friday Free App Rundown November 30 – Rope Games

Nov 30, 2012

A rope is a simple thing yet has so many uses. This week’s pack of games all involve ropes. Some of the games in the list are about using the rope to swing while others use the rope to solve a puzzle. All of them are just plain fun.

Rope’n'Fly – From Dusk (Free)

Rope’n'Fly is a high flying game where the character swings from building to building, Spiderman style. After customizing the character and rope it’s time to get to swingin’. The gameplay physics are pretty good. When the little swinger falls or is flying through the air, there’s a cool ragdoll effect. To break up the building to building swings, the little man can also swing from balloons and passing planes.

Download Rope’n'Fly – From Dusk (Free)

Cut the Rope: Experiments FREE

Cut the Rope: Experiments is a cute and fun physics-based game. In a similar way to its predecessor, cutting the ropes at the perfect time is the method to solve the puzzle. Help the cute little guy get from start to finish in the allotted time. Like most physics games, timing is essential.

Download Cut the Rope: Experiments FREE

Rope Rescue Free

Rope Rescue Free is a different kind of puzzle game than I’ve seen before. The little bird takes the rope and flies it around the gears then to the birdcage. The goal of the game is to free the little guys friend from the bird cages. Avoid the dangers by maneuvering the little bird around what looked to be razor blades floating in mid-air and other obstacles.

Download Rope Rescue Free

Rope Escape

The little guy in Rope Escape is swinging for his life. He stole an sacred artifact from some natives in the jungle and is trying to escape a swinging through the trees. Use ropes the rockets are just a from being caught. Latch onto a zeppelin and drag it down out of the sky for higher scores.

Download Rope Escape

Rope the Frog

The rope in Rope the Frog isn’t really a rope, it’s actually the frogs tongue. Use the tongue to swing around and eat all the mosquitoes. The more mosquitoes are eaten, the fatter the frog gets. The fatter the frog gets, the more mosquitoes can be eaten. Also, as the frog gets better at swinging around, his tongue changes to different colors. Kind of like karate belt, , his tongue changes from white to black with several other colors in between.

Download Rope the Frog

Retro Racing Review

Retro Racing Review

Nov 29, 2012

Retro Racing is top-down 2D racing at its finest. Created by Jamie Woodhouse, who worked on Psygnosis’ Nitro and ATR for the Amiga, this is a new game in the style of those. Players race against up to 7 other cars, and along the way improve their vehicle mid-race with power-up icons. They can improve top speed, tire grip, acceleration, and provide a nitro boost. These are key to success, as the other cars are fighting for these powerups too. As well, some alternate paths may slow down the player, but may provide valuable upgrades.

The Android release is freemium, with the first two tracks and three cars available for free, and IAP used to unlock the rest of the game and the last three cars, which all have better starting stats. However, these only make a slight difference in gameplay, considering that powerups make a huge difference; after all, when 5 or 6 speedups are being collected, having one or two at the beginning won’t help too much. However, these cars definitely are a great way to get a head start on the opposition. Those with multiple devices should note that the game will sync the unlock of IAP across devices, which is extremely handy. The game plays extremely well on the Nexus 7 especially.

My complaint with Retro Racing is the visual style is somewhat monotonous; the 12 tracks tend to blend together. As well, the game uses the same tracks from the original iOS release – I’d love to see some new courses to play on!

Really, Retro Racing is a jolly affair: it takes a basic premise of top-down racing, and executes it extremely well. Fans of retro gaming are definitely encouraged to check this one out: it’s got plenty to offer in terms of nostalgic fun, while remaining balanced for the 21st century.

Zapstreak SDK and Apps Supporting Its DLNA Media Streaming Technology Go Public

Zapstreak SDK and Apps Supporting Its DLNA Media Streaming Technology Go Public

Nov 29, 2012

Zapstreak, the SDK for developers to add DLNA media streaming to their apps, is now public, and users can now download apps using Zapstreak to try out for themselves. One such app, musiXmatch, allows users to stream music and discover song lyrics, is available on Google Play right now. Another, video2brain allows for educational videos to be easily sent to smart TVs. As Thomas Friedl, lead developer of video2brain, says, “We want to serve as many platforms as possible, giving our subscribers the choice to learn whenever and wherever they want. Using Zapstreak, we were able to bring our video based courses to the living room, turning smart TVs into a rich source of 21st century education.”

While this technology has potential uses as it expands, what about Miracast, which is available in the Nexus 4 for providing display mirroring? When I spoke to Stefan Bielau, co-founder of Zapstreak, he expressed to me that because Miracast is such a limited protocol at this point, versus the more open DLNA standard (which is supported by many smart TVs and the Xbox 360 and PS3), their service will have key advantages over Miracast. As well, with their plans to launch on iOS and Windows 8, they’re hoping to expand out their technology to be more than just an AirPlay alternative, to possibly be more flexible.

Paper Monsters Review

Paper Monsters is a 2D platformer made in a beautifully crafted 3D world. As paper-themed games are a dime a dozen, this one is an absolute stand out and one of the best there is in its category. Detailed graphics, simple game play and smooth controls all make for a pleasant and engaging game time.

In Paper Monsters, the hero is a little paper robot making his way through the paths of collectible buttons and paper clips while jumping on monsters and bombs. Buttons serve as the point system and are classified into silver or gold. Gold ones are obviously more valuable, thus scarce and difficult to reach. Paper clips offer bonus points when collected throughout the game. As one reaches a certain part of a level, an area is tagged with a pinwheel, indicating a jump-off point should the hero die and has to start over. This is pretty neat, since one doesn’t have to start at the very beginning, wasting precious time and energy. There are four worlds, presented as chapters, with four levels for each. Finishing all levels unlocks a mini-game section.

The game can be played by using two control types: virtual joystick and classic touch pad. Virtual joystick allows the players to swipe his thumb left or right to move the hero forward or backward, while classic touch pad provides arrow buttons to press for the same purpose. This is strictly a matter of preference, but as I used both controls, I find there is not much issue with its responsiveness. Jumping is done by tapping on the right side of the screen, and double-jumps are done by tapping twice. Using these two controls together work in sync and gets the desired results with no fuss.

The most impressive thing, I feel, about this game is its use of background areas for another part of game environment. The hero can go in tunnels and reappear further in the background, go through collectibles and return to the foreground by going through another tunnel. This makes all the difference, making the game even more engaging and avoiding the pitfalls of a dry and repetitive platformer.

Above all, the sheer imagery and intricate world designed for the game is outstanding. Graphics are crisp, bright and beautifully rendered. For something that costs a measly $0.99, it’s a rare steal and a must-have. There’s also no need for in-game purchases, as the only thing that can cost real money is for dressing up the hero, which really doesn’t add any abilities and is for aesthetic purposes only. This way, there is no need to pay for anything to be able to keep playing the game.

Paper Monsters is an excellent game that’s entertaining and visually rewarding. For its price, it brings you a lot of value where other games fall short. It has everything one would want from a platformer, even for novices who prefer a casual gaming environment and more advanced players who are looking for a more interesting take on the platformer genre.

Beach Buggy Blitz Review

Beach Buggy Blitz Review

Nov 29, 2012

Racing and driving fans will want to give Beach Buggy Blitz a spin.

If the graphics and gameplay carry a hint of familiarity, it’ll be because the hand of developer Vector Unit (of Riptide fame) is clearly evident. For me, that made this game worth checking out.

The graphics are nice, allowing for a whimsical take on beach craft with matching environment. The buildings, water and trees were rendered well, and the interactions (like running into structures and/or foliage) retained a degree of realism that made the game even more likable. I liked that the resolution of the graphics could be adjusted. The animations were sharp, and sounds popped.

The gameplay ostensibly involved me driving my buggy at high speed against the clock. If I got to a check point before running out of time, I earned more race time; the race ended if I couldn’t get to said checkpoint. Along the way, I accumulate points by traveling further and striking coins when they appeared, and avoiding huts, trees, cave walls, water and even birds.

I noticed that driving faster allowed me to catch up to hitherto unseen racers; battling them was a contact sport, and added another layer of fun and complexity to the game. Again, the physics of the action was fairly believable, and it was cool to maneuver for position while flying down the sand.

Back to coins: coins also gave me purchasing power in the in-app store. There were drivers, upgrades and vehicles to be had. Of course, real cash could expedite the process of getting goodies, but I was able to earn coins at a decent rate by just racing.

To echo myself in an earlier review, I felt whiny about the lack of multiplayer functionality. Again, this is a game that demands it. Still, I found that racing the clock amongs friends was a nice option, and I made use of it.

BBB is another lovable title from Vector Unit, and is the perfect beach getaway for Christmastime.

International Boxing Champions Review

International Boxing Champions Review

Nov 28, 2012

Fair disclosure: I was a Mike Tyson fan as a kid.

No, not the face-tattooed, air-drumming, tiger-owning Mike of The Hangover fame that this generation of kids know; nah… I’m talking about Iron Mike, the Baddest Man on the Planet, the cat that tattooed other people’s faces in 91 seconds. That Mike Tyson.

International Boxing Champions is an Android-exclusive from Coeus Creative took me on a dream journey headed to pugilistic glory that would make Mike proud. On the way, I could earn medals and more.

The game has three modes: Championship, where I fought to get a purse; Grudge Match, where you can pick computer opponent and Gym, which served as the training program. The training program was a great idea; I was able to go in and build transferable skills, like learning cash-earning combos. The punching bag scenes were well thought out, if a bit eerie in appearance. Using both thumbs on the right bank of controls helped me block, move forward and back and throw different type of punches. The controls looked somewhat complex at first, but with practice, they became second nature. I liked the detail here; the buttons turned red when i had thrown too many consecutive punches of the same type, indicating muscle fatigue.

Graphically, I thought the game struggled a tad. The boxing set-up, which had me as a greenish silhouette, was well-thought out in my opinion; I just think there was plenty of room for more, well, pop in the graphics without it becoming overly cartoony. The sounds were adequate, but I really wanted the overall imagery to match; the movements were a bit stilted. Still, the little details (like the definition of the boxers) were mostly well done.

Winning fights won me in-game money, and game money earned me the ability to partake in buying key in-game items. Of course, if if I wanted to expedite matters, I could use real money to purchase game cash. International Boxing Champions also has Tapjoy compatibility, and offered a good deal of game cash as an incentive to sign up.

Graphics aside, this is still a game I ended up liking more than I thought I would… in my own world, I was Mike Tyson.