Nexus 4 In Stock, and Actually Remaining in Stock While OUYA Threatens a Long Wait for Those Who Don’t Pre-Order Now

Nexus 4 In Stock, and Actually Remaining in Stock While OUYA Threatens a Long Wait for Those Who Don’t Pre-Order Now

Jan 31, 2013

Well, ask and ye shall receive – Google has finally put the Nexus 4 back in stock on Google Play, and in what can be best described as a miracle, the phone has actually been in stock for several days in a row. Or at least, it’s been set to ship in one to two weeks for most of this week. Hey, it’s an improvement over not being available for months on end. Perhaps Google finally has figured out their supply chain problems, or at least has gotten to a point where people won’t be waiting too long to get their hands on the phone. The Samsung Chromebook remains a sold out enigma, likely only existing in dreams and Best Buy demo kiosks.

However, for another piece of hardware that’s in demand, the OUYA, there’s a bit of a wait time on it. While it’s still in its pre-order phase, those who want to receive their OUYA by April should order now, according to their Facebook page (via Phandroid).

If you want these hot pieces of Android hardware, carpe diem!

NFL Quarterback 13 Review

NFL Quarterback 13 Review

Jan 31, 2013

Full Fat’s timing of NFL Quarterback 13 may be odd: most football games come out before the season, or at least early on in it to catch on that football fever. See NFL Kicker 13. Howeveer, by releasing in the midst of the playoffs, it may just be a shrewd move. After all, it’s when football fever is at its highest pitch. So, here we are, with another arcade-style football game that’s fun, but runs into issues with in-app purchase mechanics.

The goal here is simple: use Full Fat’s patented flicking mechanic to pass to receivers, and flick while the ball is in mid-air to help redirect it to receivers. Thankfully, players have receivers with either the best hands or the worst ever: they do a great job at catching balls and winning battles against defenders and receivers that are in the area of a catch that the targeted receiver won’t get to will go all out to catch the ball. However, they all tend to constantly fumble when hit. Thankfully, that doesn’t matter! Players also have to deal with oncoming defenders, with the ability to swipe to dodge out of the way. There’s a mode where players need to just not run out of lives, another where the clock must not run down, and another that serves as a target practice mode. Coins and tokens can be spent on player upgrades and on upgrading one’s stadium.

The flick controls are still the best thing about the game. It’s just so intuitive to flick a pass to receivers. The game does have less inherent variety than NFL Kicker, where field goals and punts provided two inherently different forms of gameplay. However, the 3 modes, with different challenges, should serve as enough variety here.

Sadly, the secondary currency of tokens can be somewhat difficult to earn in the game itself if not impossible, and they’re the primary way to continue games and unlock some other upgrades. Other upgrades take a long time to earn through actually playing the game. The best games that use two currencies make the second currency something that’s actually a part of the game, not just a blatant attempt to make money. That the game also has launched as a paid app is especially insulting. While the game is perfectly playable without the upgrades, it will impede the quest for other high scores.

While NFL Quarterback 13 has some annoying elements, at its core it remains a Full Fat game: fun and simple to play.

One Game A Month is a Year-Long Game Jam, With Interesting Ideas Playable on Android

One Game A Month is a Year-Long Game Jam, With Interesting Ideas Playable on Android

Jan 31, 2013

A variety of indie game developers are making a concerted effort to do something cool this year: 12 games in 12 months. It’s called “One Game a Month” and it’s a long-term game jam project. Game jams are events where developers try to make a game – often just rough prototypes – in a short period of time, and One Game A Month is attempting to make this a concerted effort for developers. As the end of the month has rolled around, the first wave of titles is releasing, and thanks to Android allowing developers to release their apps freely without having to go through official storefronts, many of the 1GAM titles are available to be played on your phone, tablet, or oven.

Most of the games are simple demos with interesting hooks: <em>Black Holes has players deflecting missiles by placing black holes, for example. Square Jam is a single-device multiplayer game that has players trying to rapidly tap squares on the screen. One of the more interesting games, Where Is Love? has players trying to track down the person they’re dating by following the sound of their heartbeat. Wear headphones. Some of the games are available on Google Play, though many are just available as APKs. Some of the games are rough, whether they be from novice programmers or just hastily-assembled apps, but that’s the point of a game jam: to put something together quickly and to explore ideas.

While there will be some full-fledged releases as part of the program, such as Orangepixel’s Gunslugs, expect to see many prototypes and game jam products released with the program. It’s a way for developers to test and promote interesting ideas they have, and who knows – maybe some great full-fledged ideas will be born from these prototypes or short-form projects. Velocispider was born from a concerted short effort from Retro Dreamer, and other developers on Twitter talk about how they can use this to explore game concepts they haven’t yet done. If you see a concept that’s particularly interesting, let the developer know! Feedback is great and may help spur on the development of future titles.

One Game A Month can be followed from its official website – search the page for Android to find some of the releases, and on Twitter by tracking the #1GAM and #onegameamonth hashtags that developers frequently share info and screens with.

JAZZ: Trump’s Journey Review

JAZZ: Trump’s Journey Review

Jan 31, 2013

It started that day, between Gravier Street and Perdido Street…

So the adventure known as JAZZ: Trump’s Journey (from Bulypix) formally began. JAZZ is the story of a boy with humble beginnings that dreams to be a Jazz star.

At its basic core, JAZZ is a platform scroller, where collection of items and completion of tasks entails success. The developer used unique graphics to transport me to New Orleans Roaring Twenties, and it was very well done in my estimation. The zaney characterizations were impressive, with the color of the backgrounds adding contrast and highlights when needed. The sum total of all the graphics and animation was a whimsical trip down music’s memory lane.

With the emphasis that the game puts on music, I’d be remiss if I didn’t not mention the game sounds. In a game I so thoroughly enjoyed, it is something for me to state that the music was one of the best parts for me; it simply was. The jazz score was highly appropriate and gave the game some serious pizzazz.

Back to the gameplay… it started off easily enough, and the developer left a sufficient breadcrumb trail of hints and in-game pointers to make the game fairly easy to pick-up. As the game went on, I got to learn how to use different features to pull or push, jump, bounce and even got special powers (spoiler: Trump’s trumpet is an awesome tool). Interspersed with that were the side stories of romance and band-building, and they all made the game environment that much sweeter. The game boasted boss levels further on.

I would have liked a clearer set of objectives each level; there were times I went around in circles. Also, the first two levels are free, but I’m sure most would love an opportunity for outright purchase.

JAZZ is a unique game, in that its biographical roots in the life of Louis Armstrong and its salute to social justice are masterpieces of handheld gameplay. This game is for two types of people: those who love jazz, and those that understand that everyone will be fans of jazz… eventually.

Evzdrop Checks-in on Android

Evzdrop Checks-in on Android

Jan 31, 2013

Check-in apps can be rather pedantic, but Evzdrop promises a better solution for the user who wants to share where they are and what they do without being boring and annoying their friends. That’s because Evzdrop is in and of itself a social network, encouraging its users to write Twitter-esque microblogs at the places that they check in at. Thus, a check-in becomes a story of what happens at that specific time and place, and users can also share photos of the places they’re at. Locations can also respond to their check-ins, and even offer special deals to those who check-in, or just provide feedback on bad experiences. Users can also follow locations to see what other people are doing at those locations – for example, following a sports stadium to see what people at the events are taking photos of. The app already has a community built around it from its iOS launch, and is now available on Android on Google Play.

Zombie Evil Review

Zombie Evil Review

Jan 30, 2013

What’s going to happen when the zombies come? Likely, the last few humans on earth will be fighting tooth and nail to stay alive. Zombie Evil is a game where that’s exactly what’s happening. The character is one of the last people in the United States who isn’t a zombie. He’s fending off the waves of flesh eaters to try and stay alive.

The controls are pretty easy to use. The character is aloft on a gun turret looking down on all of the approaching zombies. The goal, kill them all. To shoot a weapon, put a finger on the screen where the gun should fire. To move the gun side to side either drag a finger across the screen or lift up the finger and place of the new target.

There doesn’t seem to be a limitation on ammunition. This allows for the spray and pray technique. Just hold a finger on the screen and aim the gun at the zombies. By not lifting a finger, combos are achieved earning more coins.

As zombies are killed, coins or acquired. The claims are used to purchase upgrades used for defense, attacking and the different guards. Some zombies, like the balding blonde haired zombies or the fat ones, take a little bit more to kill. Either do this by upgrading the weapon being used or have them several times with less powerful weapon.

To switch weapons, use the left and right red arrows at the bottom of the screen. There are also different special weapons available. The bottom left corner of the screen will show difference special weapons that are either unlocked or purchased. To use these,press and hold on the icon from the bottom left and drag it to the part of the screen where it is to be used to let go.

KickStarter Spotlight: Intellacase

KickStarter Spotlight: Intellacase

Jan 30, 2013

It is amazing how many times I leave my phone in the car or forget to bring my keys out with me. Consolidating these two would be a dream and there are a few solutions available but their effectiveness is very questionable. One of the more complete and involved KickStarter projects that we have spotlit here, Intellacase is a smartphone case that incorportes within it a key fab for any modern car with keyless entry. While this does nothing for most car owners who still reside in the land of metallic gateways, a growing number of affordable cars are adopting the keyless ignition as a viable offering. Certainly for anyone who has a car that utilizes keyless technology this is an incredibly attractive opportunity. Image going out on the town, with the increasing prevalence of NFC payments, and being able to bring just a phone which has access to both wallet and car access.

Intellacase’s success hinges on automobile manufacturers adopting this and cooperating, and fortunately there are an incredible number of companies who have already hopped on board. These include major players such as Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura, Audi, and BMW. That kind of across-the-board commitment at such an early time in a product’s infancy is amazing and very impressive. One potential problem with attaching keys to a phone is that there are times where the owner is not the one who is driving, and for those who can afford restaurants with valet services, having keys tied to a smartphone is not exactly practical. Thankfully, the designers of Intellacase have made the intelligent choice to make the key component completely removable.

From just a few quick looks at the KickStarter page I unfortunately see a few problems that need to be addressed. Firstly, Intellacase is packing some serious junk in the trunk. It is huge. The large buttons on the back combined with the almost smartphone size of the detachable key fab make handling solely the keys seem very unwieldily. Unless the girth of the Intellacase is reduced I have a hard time seeing it becoming a must-have, especially considering that as of now a majority of the people it caters to can be very discerning about appearances. My other gripe is that it, as of now, is only offered on three phone designs: the iPhone 4 & 4S, iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III. This should be increased over time but it does highlight a problem with producing shelled cases which is that they can only sell to the people who own the phones that they support, and this will ultimately limit Intellacase’s appeal even more. All this being said I still feel that in the long run Intellacase will be incredibly popular and with their head start on the competition I can certainly see them being major players in the future.

See a Very Early Version of Orangepixel’s New Dungeon Crawler and Help Test Its Controls

See a Very Early Version of Orangepixel’s New Dungeon Crawler and Help Test Its Controls

Jan 29, 2013

Pascal Bestebroer’s prolific one-man studio Orangepixel has just released Gunslugs to the mobile world, and yet his work continues unabated. In fact, he wants feedback on his upcoming game straight from the general public. See, he’s working on a new dungeon crawler (possibly named MiniZoid, as a menu screen indicates), and he needs feedback on the virtual joystick controls. So he’s posted an APK of a very early version of the game to his tech blog, and he wants feedback on how the controls work. He requests feedback to be tweeted at him at the @orangepixel Twitter account. The game is very early, nothing more than an early glimpse at the art style – spoiler alert, it’s pixel art – a chance to see a random dungeon generator in action, and to test out a virtual joystick control scheme. Read about the genesis of the project, its inspirations, and download the DungeonPrototype APK from the Orangepixel Techblog.

Zombie Road Trip Review

Zombie Road Trip Review

Jan 29, 2013

Zombies are everywhere. Seriously, they’re not even real and they cannot be escaped. Zombie Road Trip from Spokko has plenty of zombies to run over, and run from. After all, when the zombies come, it’s best to have a quick finger on the trigger and foot down on the throttle.

The game plays similarly to other endless games and 2D racers like Extreme Road Trip and publisher Noodlecake Games’ Lunar Racer. Players control a car that drives forward unceasingly, and can do frontflips and backflips as tricks, which give the car a short turbo boost, and can build up a meter with a longer turbo boost that gets unleashed when it fills up. The game blends in a dollop of action with its racing, as players can tap on the screen to shoot their weapon, which is needed to take out the various earthbound and airborne zombies that populate the landscape. Crashing into them slows the player down, and allows the zombie horde that is chasing after the player to get closer. They’re like nightfall from Tiny Wings except deadlier.

The physics system does work extremely well: the cars have a good feeling while spinning in the air, like pulling off the spins is meant to work. Granted, sticking the landings properly is tricky, but the game does reward landing perfectly. In fact, I like that the zombie horde getting near is not inherently a sign that the game is over, like in Tiny Wings: the player still has ample opportunity to escape by doing tricks. Also, there’s plenty of style in the game: zombie decapitations during flips are possible, and there’s also just something cool about shooting out a bird with a lottery ticket in midair after you’ve just flown past it.

The weapon usage, while well-handled, can be frustrating to use because they’re generally burst-firing weapons; there’s no sweet satisfaction that comes from having a steady stream of fire to take down zombies. The reloading delay can slow down turbo boosts, as well, which just feels awkward. But it’s a minor complaint.

The game is free to play, though if it sold for $0.99 (such an uptick, I know) it would feel quite fair; the game hands out a good amount of coins by just playing, completing objectives, or through the lottery tickets that are earned, but naturally the best cars and upgrades will take a while to unlock without spending money. Still, this is definitely a free-to-have-fun game, not a free-to-pay one.

Fans of endless racers that feel like the genre has been lacking zombies (because they’re so underrepresented in modern culture) or just want an interesting new twist on the familiar concept should check this one out.

Epic Citadel Comes to Android, Showing Off Unreal Engine 3; Is It a Harbinger for Infinity Blade?

Epic Citadel Comes to Android, Showing Off Unreal Engine 3; Is It a Harbinger for Infinity Blade?

Jan 29, 2013

Epic Games has released something potentially interesting on Android, a tech demo called Epic Citadel, which is also available for Kindle Fire. This allows players to explore a fantasy city in the setting of Infinity Blade, Epic and Chair Entertainment’s hit action-RPG series (that has inspired Android titles such as Horn and Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering). Players can freely roam around using virtual joysticks to move and look, can take a guided tour, or enter a benchmarking mode that shows how the game’s framerate performs in various scenarios, with performance options available to be tweaked from the settings menu of the app.

Now, Epic Citadel certainly looks impressive, and people involved with the technology claim that it’s pushing new boundaries on Android. Tony Tamasi, SVP Content and Technology at Nvidia says “Epic Citadel features beautiful, high-performance graphics that are characteristic of mobile Unreal Engine games. Throughout the app’s development for Android, we worked closely with Epic Games to ensure that the visuals can be experienced on NVIDIA Tegra-based devices in all of their glory.”

The thing is this: Unreal Engine 3 has already been running on Android. Wild Blood, Dark Meadow: The Pact and Horn all use it. But much like how Epic Citadel presaged the release of Infinity Blade on iOS, could this be the first step to making the game come out on Android? It’s possible that exclusivity deals have ended, or the team has finally seen fit to push the game on Android, even though it’s been over a year since Infinity Blade II released.

However, the press release may indicate another reason for this release: support for Intel x86 processors that run Android – in layman’s terms, Android devices that use the same processor architecture that powers the overwhelming majority of Windows and Linux PCs, as well as modern Mac OS X systems. Mukesh Goel, Intel’s Director of Ecosystem Enabling, Mobile Communications Group, "Intel is very pleased to see Epic’s award-winning Unreal Engine 3 technology shipping on Android with full native support for x86. We’re especially excited by the tremendous performance being realized in ‘Epic Citadel’ on the Atom Z2460 platform.” In short, this tech demo release could just be a good omen for gamers across Android devices, that Epic wants to make Unreal Engine a real possibility for Android releases.

Right now for Android developers, the only way to get Android support is to use the full Unreal Engine 3, which can be costly to license. The low-cost UDK is not yet available on Android, and this could be the first step. So for gamers, more games that use this engine could be on the way. But considering the fact that Infinity Blade was mentioned by name by Epic in their press release, it’s hard not to consider the possibility that Android gamers won’t soon get to take on the God King for themselves, particularly since all this work likely wouldn’t have gone into just making a tech demo.

Update: The Verge is reporting that Infinity Blade will stay an iOS exclusive.

BaconReader for Reddit Review

BaconReader for Reddit Review

Jan 29, 2013

It’s a fact: reddit is where it’s at. As the so-called “front page of the internet,” reddit is the bulletin board of the 21st Century, packing in news, entertainment and everything in between… and beyond.

It’s only natural that reddit has naturally become the go-to mobile resource for, well, everybody. In this light, mobile clients like BaconReader are very welcome on Android.

BaconReader for Reddit collates most of the reddit experience for Android devices, serving as a bridge for Android redditors worldwide. To understand BaconReader, it helps to understand how it brings reddit features to the table.

The app interface is quite clean, with minimalist touches to the menu and reader. With grayish blue and white being the default color, there was the option to pick two other themes, which are just as easy on the eyes. Additionally, the app has five different fonts, ranging from “extra small” to “extra large.” I can also toggle full-screen mode if I so choose.

Usability is a big factor, and I thought BaconReader did well in this aspect. It allowed me to customize search option and default subreddit. I could also hide read posts, dabble in notifications and pick a refresh interval. I thought the settings menu was fairly thorough and worked well to streamline reddit.com within Android guidelines. It worked will with pictures and even .gifs. The Search functionality also worked well, allowing me to find subreddits discussing even obscure stuff. The app’s Front Page precisely matched the info on the webpage opened up on my laptop, and I was able to share thread links using other apps on my device. I was also able to manage threads and reply to them using the app.

Chalk BaconReader up as another one of those forum clients that I actually almost prefer to using than the full-fledged web portal. Why not? It’s clean, functional, and quite faithful to the premise of reddit.

Free App Recap January 29 – Wallpaper Apps

Free App Recap January 29 – Wallpaper Apps

Jan 29, 2013

The wallpaper or background on your Android phone or tablet is something you see a lot of. For some people they see their phone background more than they see their computer background. Because of this, finding cool wallpapers for Android devices is kind of a must especially if you’re not one to take good pictures with your phone. This weeks list is all about wallpaper apps for Android phones and tablets.

MultiPicture Live Wallpaper

One of the problems with wallpapers is you can only have one of them. This makes no sense because an Android can have anyware from one to seven home screens. What MultiPicture Live Wallpaper lets you do is add one image per screen. So instead of having one picture spread out across seven screens, you’ll have seven individual images as you’re scrolling side to side. You can also have a totally separate lock screen image if you choose.

Download MultiPicture Live Wallpaper

ZEDGE

ZEDGE is probably the most powerful free wallpaper application in Android market. It not only has lots of wallpapers and live wallpapers, you can also get a notification sounds and ring tones. When you want to make your Android look and sound totally different, ZEDGE is a good place to start. If you’d like to see what they have, you can go to their site and see. You can also send the image to your phone via QR code or email.

Download ZEDGE

Image 2 Wallpaper

Because the Android device takes an image and stretches over all of the home screens, sometimes getting the image to look right as a wallpaper can be near impossible. Image 2 Wallpaper lets you easily make your image fit the background of your phone or tablet a lot better. The settings are a lot easier to use than some of the stock wallpaper adjustment screens. There is also a live wallpaper version.

Download Image 2 Wallpaper