Amelia vs the Marathon is a fun game with a fun storyline that brings us back to the wisful times when kneecapping rivals was all the rage.
Amelia is an up-and-coming marathon runner with more than a bit of talent. So much so, that the current champion decides to, uh, slow her progress, Tonya Harding style. Using henchmen and objects, the champion decides to derail Amelia’s dreams. Physically.
The game was an action thriller, and it had the graphics to match. The excellent use of colors started with the stills in the cutscene. Bright primaries buttressed with changing backgrounds worked well to frame the gameplay. The animations were delightful cartoony.
Amelia vs the Marathon is an infinite running game at heart. My job was to guide Amelia by sliding and jumping over obstacles using screen swipes. The first few seconds served as a guide, with onscreen animations popping up to show me how to avoid a particular skill. It started out with the random object to jump over, along with traffic control paraphernalia to slide under. These training sets were perfect for prepping for the actual battles. The first battle had me face-off with a water-gun wielding, suit-and-tie-wearing hoodlum intent on doing damage. Now I got to find out why sliding and jumping were so important. Periodically, while ducking and avoiding water blasts and puddles, I got special powers (like a cap of doom) helped me take my enemy’s consciousness bar down to the point where he was vanquished. Of course, I had to protect my life bar from damage caused by the obstacles as well.
And the objects changed; pizzas and cake were lethal in this one. They got more challenging. All runs were timed, and localized leaderboards helped measure and compare progress and best times.
The developer tried to make a game without violence despite its concept, and they seemed to do that quite well. The game is fun, clean and challenging.
With DIE HARD, Fox shows us again that the newish strategy of releasing handheld games as companions to major motion movies is not a fleeting development.
We all have a little bit of John McClane in us, the hard-nosed defective that made dying a very difficult art. No one has more McClane in him or her than Jack, John McClane’s son and the protagonist in this running adventure set in Moscow.
The graphics in this game were gritty. The running area looked like the aftermath of a large scale conflagration, with damaged, seemingly shelled buildings and shared windows. The way the developer was able to bring out so much bleakness is a testament to the interesting use of color. The animations were sharp, and most of the motions, from the running, to the diving, to the reloading, all looked smooth and realistic in its 3D glory.
The gameplay was nice as well. I liked the slightly elevated control view, as it worked well to highlight the things that I needed to collect. I was given a few pointers by way of active tutorial. I had to guide my character through treacherous urban terrain, with gunmen popping up from the left, right and even vantage points up high. By tapping on the event shooters, I was able to fire at them with my weapon, which mostly remained in shooting position while I ran.
There was a running tally of ammunition at the bottom, and I had to swipe down to reload. I could also swipe up to jump, and swiping in front of an enemy allowed for physical melee type attack. Along the way, there were goodies I could collect that bestowed special powers, such as health, increased resistance to damage, and better weapons. Of course, I had to pick the shooters off before they got me, and that was easier said than done, in that environment with all the obstacles, round tight corners and the occasional flights of stairs. Also, there were silver rubles that lined the running area and could be redeemed in the in-game store.
It all blended together to create a chaotic, challenging game that I suspect will be quite enjoyable to a die range of people.
Real Racing 3 is a the rare kind of stand-out title that just isn’t frequently seen on mobile. It’s the third in a long-running series from a prominent developer, EA’s Firemonkeys, born from the merger of the creators of Real Racing, Flight Control, and Spy Mouse with the studio that made Dead Space and Mass Effect Infiltrator for mobile. It’s got production values that are rarely seen on mobile, and a hype cycle that’s out of this world by comparison. The constant release schedule on mobile platforms means that it’s always game in, game out. Done, done, on to the next one. For a mobile game to attract pre-release attention, it has to be something truly special. Real Racing 3 is just that kind of game. It’s visually-stunning, and its business model, depending on its success, could have a massive impact on how mobile gaming works in the future. But as a game? Well, it has its fun moments, but it falls short of greatness, of being truly compelling as a game.
Here’s a spoiler alert: Real Racing 3 is a racing game, meaning vroom vroom, cars go fast, try to cross finish line and all that jazz. The game’s progression is set up to be somewhat open-ended. Players start by buying either a Nissan Silvia (S15) or Ford Focus GT, and racing in a series of events, from traditional first-to-the-finish-line races to top speed competitions and even drag races that have a different gameplay style focusing on gear shift timing. Each event offers cash prizes for doing well, and getting trophies for top performances in events is key to advancing. Each set of events requires one of four listed cars, so buying multiple cars is necessary to experience the breadth of what the game has to offer. Most cars can take part in multiple event sets, and some cars may be low-end for a set, and high-end for another.
Races support up to 22 cars on the track at once, which is just an absurd amount for a mobile game. The controls by default are tilt steering with auto-acceleration, manual braking, and a series of assists for steering, traction, and braking enabled. I recommend slowly starting to disable as much of the automation as possible over time as things start to feel comfortable and the desire for increased performance hits. Going to manual gas helps with taking some corners, where just ceasing acceleration may work better for maintaining speed instead of actually applying the brakes. Brake assist can help prevent skidding and spin outs, but it also will have a pronounced effect on race times because the braking is very conservative. Learn to brake early, and lower or disable the assist entirely. Touch steering is also available.
The one control qualm I have is that it’s very difficult to look in the rear view mirror by tapping the top center of the screen in the middle of a race. I understand that quickly checking the mirror like in real life is something that probably would be difficult to implement well in a game, especially on such small screens, but there’s got to be a better way.
This is definitely more attuned to the simulation side of things, so yes, braking is very important, and learning how to take corners properly without skidding or sliding through turns will take time. But it is extremely rewarding when they are handled well. The tilt controls, when properly calibrated, handle the steering extremely well so I never felt like I was fighting the controls, I was fighting the game. The only problem with trying to master the physics is that a phone just does not have the kind of weight and steering resistance that a car has, so that ‘feel’ of going through turns is something that must be acquired. Subtle moves help.
The graphics look incredible, and the game runs perfectly on the Nexus 7. With simultaneous iOS/Android launches, I’m generally skeptical of how well they will perform, but Firemonkeys absolutely nailed it. The game runs smooth like butter, and on par with the iOS versions I’ve spent the majority of my game time with. Granted, it’s not as detailed playing on the Nexus 7 as playing on the iPhone 5, but it still looks really, really good. The visual look of the game can be rather monotonous with all the blue skies, but the tracks can provide a nice look. Scenic courses like Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps or Mt. Panorama provide views of wide expanses, while Southbank renders the city streets of Melbourne in great detail. Still, maybe a little bit of cloudy weather to mix things up visually would be nice.
Speaking of the courses, there’s a good variety of them here, all based on real tracks, or at least real-world locations. The aforementioned Southbank is actually not a real track, but is based on the actual city streets of Melbourne that Firemonkeys decided to turn into a real race track. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is here, and while its loop layout isn’t the most complex track, it allows for some fast speeds. The stars is probably Mt. Panorama, in large part because it has the rollercoaster quality of a long ascent up a winding mountain path, then there’s the impressive long downhill straightaway where top speeds can and will be reached. It’s a dramatic course that’s fun to play, provides a great challenge, and is absolutely beautiful. The best part is that the tracks are all faithful to their real-world analogues. After playing the game for a while, watch a video of a drive on one of the tracks in-game and see if it’s recognizable.
The most controversial aspect of Real Racing 3 is undoubtedly its free to play nature. Look, it’s apparent why EA decided to go this direction. The industry is making a sharp turn in this direction. The Android sales were not that great for EA standards (less than 100k copies if Google Play sales data is to be believed). It just makes sense to make this move. So how does it work in a racing game? Well, there’s R$ that is spent on new cars, upgrades, and repairs. As well, there are coins to earn that are spent mostly on speeding up repairs, and occasionally on new cars.
Yes, repairs are an important part of this game. Bumping into other cars or the wall leads to cars taking damage, which is impressively actually reflected on the vehicles. Considering that the vehicles are all licensed, it’s kind of surprising that it actually made it in. However, after every race, players get an assessment of the damage done to their vehicles, and they must pay to repair it. This used to be timed, but this was removed in the run-up to the initial release. However, tune-ups like oil replacement and engine repair require waiting, which can be eliminated by spending coins.
The thing about the coins is that they actually are a part of the game itself: several coins are awarded upon leveling up, and since their main function is to just be impatient, they’re not entirely necessary, though some upgrades cost money. Still, smart players can at least, for a little while, be earning coins faster than they are spent. Waiting can also be intelligently handled once multiple cars are bought. Once a player gets three cars or so, it’s easy to race a car for a while, schedule some lengthy tune-ups, then race with another car (in another class, preferably), and rarely ever need to spend coins to get on the track again. This is an issue early on though, so it’s kind of an odd ‘paywall’, almost an inversion of the concept.
The game does at least encourage free play. Yes, over time, spending money for R$, coins, or one of the game’s car packs does seem necessary, in part because buying some of the cars just with in-game earnings seems like it might be impossible with the amounts given out by the game alone. But getting to that point will take so long that it’s probably justifiable to spend money at some point. I put in several hours with the game before it was available in the US and I couldn’t even spend money on the game even if I wanted to, and I felt like the game was perfectly playable without spending money. At least for a little while. Certainly, some of the cooler cars will require cash, like anything from Koenigsegg. But overall, it’s a fairer game than many other free-to-play titles out there. Still, there is a car that requires a $99.99 purchase of coins in order to unlock.
The Time Shifted Multiplayer is an incredibly innovative feature. By getting to race the actual performances of other racers (tweaked for their spots on race grids and to react to other racers), it gives the game a sense of humanity that could otherwise be lost if players were just racing against AI opponents. This is especially the case when racing against friends – getting to beat actual times by physically defeating the friend’s performance is just far more satisfying, because it’s possible to see that overtake on the final straightaway, and feel the satisfaction of it actually happening.
Sadly, the Android version suffers a bit thanks to the lack of a Game Center equivalent. The iOS version supports getting friends via either Facebook or Game Center, and that means that even pre-official-release, I had plenty of people to take on. With just Facebook friends on Android, that meant that I could actually race the same people that I raced on iOS, but only if they were friends on Facebook. This needs to be the wakeup call to Google: it’s time to make Android’s Game Center.
The other disappointing thing is that Time Shifted Multiplayer serves solely as a replacement for AI players. There’s no interesting challenge system or other way to do asynchronous challenges than otherwise through the standard gameplay and event competition. It’d be fun to break up the monotony by having actual challenges to get friends to do.
The thing about Real Racing 3 for me is that it’s a solid package overall. A lot of work went into this, and it shows. It’s an incredibly deep and lengthy game, one whose full depths won’t be revealed for quite some time for the players who do dive in. Taking on friends in Time Shifted Multiplayer is fun, and the game doesn’t stop looking great. I can sit down and play this game for a while, presuming I don’t get all my cars in the shop. I am a renowned ram-raider. I have become a vehicular menace, mowing down all in my path. But at the end of the day, I think I was more fascinated by the game itself and its stature than I was having fun with it. I never felt like I hit that magic moment where I completely loved it despite being prone to sink time into it. It’s addictive, but is it truly compelling? I don’t know. I will say that unlike Real Racing 2, which failed to hook me thanks to a terrible beginning, I was not disappointed by this.
In fact, Real Racing 3 is just overall an incredibly strong game. Few other games can match what this game has as the total package, and especially at a free price that provides more free gameplay than it probably ought to. So, for anyone remotely curious about the game, or anyone who likes racing games, free up 1.7 GB on your device and download this. Just getting to see it in motion is worth the download alone, and this is the kind of major title that any mobile gamer worth their salt ought to at least try, especially when it’s free to play.
Android gamers, get ready. EA and Firemint’s hotly-anticipated new racing game Real Racing 3 is finally making its debut.
The game has been out for a couple weeks on iOS in Australia and New Zealand, which has allowed for testing and tweaking of the game’s mechanics, not to mention that it allows the Time Shifted Multiplayer feature to be populated with actual racers. This means that players should have a well-balanced field of real opponents’ performances to take on once they get the game. The iOS version is rolling out worldwide, and international Android users can already download the game from this link. North American users will need to wait for EA to publish the game, as they have a second developer listing that sells games for North America. The game appears to require a large post-installation download of 1.7 GB (on par with the iOS version), so make sure there’s plenty of free space on that device!
We’ll have a full in-depth review of the game tomorrow on the site. Until then, our sister site 148Apps has coverage of the hot content of Real Racing 3:
The lack of an official AirPlay variant on Android is certainly something that has been open for third parties to attempt to jump in on. We’ve seen Zapstreak making strides toward a version of this, and now doubleTwist wants to jump in on this market along with processor manufacutrer Qualcomm. Their new service MagicPlay wants to be an open AirPlay replacement.
This protocol will be open source, and will stream media to Qualcomm devices running the AllJoyn protocol. Their chips are in devices as diverse as TVs and cars. As well, it will be possible to actually stream media over wi-fi, which hopes to alleviate some of the hassles that come with streaming media.
The benefit that MagicPlay will have in starting out is that doubleTwist has a sizable install base on Android, of 10–50 million downloads on Google Play alone. While they’ve tried to use AirPlay in the AirSync app, this is still limiting to only AirPlay receivers. While Zapstreak’s DLNA support gives it the widest compatibility, it will still need a way to breakthrough into the mainstream. doubleTwist may just provide that opportunity for MagicPlay. TechCrunch reports that it should start hitting this spring with source code available in Q3 2013, and doubleTwist is demoing it at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Royal Revolt is an arcade battle game with just the right amount of cute characters and kid-friendly game play. If you’re a parent concerned with too much violence in fighting games, then this one can guarantee less of the gore and more of the action.
In a faraway kingdom, a young prince is in his quest to reclaim his father’s throne after his tragic death. The prince must battle his evil aunts and uncles and their horde of soldiers to conquer and take back the fallen kingdom.
The young prince is a cute little soldier, and he has his own army to fight with him. These soldiers are categorized into sword or arrow, and there’s a button for the kind you want to “spawn” and join you in battle. Spawning is done in time intervals, and you’ll need to wait a few seconds before you can spawn more troops.
Coins are lying idly along the war path, and are yours for the taking. If you manage to collect at least a thousand of these, then you can start upgrading spells, troops and the hero himself.
While you may think it’s fine if you don’t upgrade, think again. Royal Revolt is what they call a reverse tower defense game. This means your opponent is reinforcing his defense and upgrading his offense. So just when you’re confident you’re good to go, you might end up failing too early in the next round. So upgrading your gear, powers and army is a must.
Graphics are great, although it does have that cartoonish quality that appeals more to young children. That’s not to say you won’t like it, it just may not be too compelling of a game when you realize how “cute” these characters are when in fact they’re aiming arrows and hacking swords.
Game controls are pretty solid, and I had no problems bringing the hero to where I want him, or spawning troops when I needed them. A recent update also indicated improved responsiveness when moving the hero around the battlefield.
Royal Revolt offers a lot of action while maintaining a wholesome interface. It’s a joy to play if you’re looking for something that’s not too intense nor too easy. This game has the right combination of that, and it only proves battle games don’t have to be violent, bloody or grotesque to be enjoyable.
Aralon: Sword and Shadow, an open-world RPG from Crescent Moon Games, is actually one of those games that makes you dive right in. So I did exactly that.
The gameplay had three levels of difficulty: Casual, Normal and Hard. After picking that, I was presented with the option of picking my character’s race. I could be an elf, a troll or human; each had traits specific to its category. Then, I got to select gender.
After the initial study, I got to pick from one of the five classes, and the :/was able to customize the look of my avatar, and then I was able to give it a name.
The opening cutscenes have the backstory, as well as sets our hero on his quest to save Aralon. It also led directly into a tutorial which helped me understand the basics of gameplay. The action was to down, with a generalized movement button on the left, and a matching virtual interaction button on the right. The latter allowed me to interact with objects. Additionally, I was able to use swipes to look left and right.
The way the tasks were laid out made sense. Interacting with other characters could lead to a task that had XP as a reward. I had to learn how to fight and defend, as well as pick up tips to make potions and such. The tasks were wide-ranging and fairly engaging.
The graphics were rich and detailed. The environment looked authentic, down to the clothing and free ranging chickens. The developers created a fantastic looking three-dimensional fantasy world, with rustic structures and clothes. Again, the attention paid to the little details showed, and even when creative license was expended (like during the swimming scenes), it was mostly done in a tasteful manner. The camera was controlled by rotating with a finger or two, and this was implemented well. The sound of the game was not too distracting.
I thought the menu could have been a bit less compact, and that interactions in the game itself were a bit stilted, but overall, this is a game that almost has to be played to be understood.
In past columns, we have taken a look at a few different devices that were created to help silently or casually display notifications. The majority of these are lamps or LED strips that have built in WiFi or Bluetooth technology. One was a charm that attaches to a purse or bad and lit up for calls, messages, and other notifications. These are all great for lounging around the house or driving in the car but their day to day practicality remain a question mark.
Being a college student I spend a lot of time in places where I would like to receive notifications but cannot because of the distraction to those around me. Obviously, my phone cannot start blaring Alice in Chains during a Circuits lecture, but I will not say that I am one to strictly abstain from texting in class. Those who work in office settings may find themselves in similar situations with email and annoying SMS notifications. Hailing from Seattle, the engineering duo of Paul Hornikx and Rudi Beijnen have an incredibly simple, elegant, and practical solution to all of these problems. Their idea is called the Embrace+, and is an idea so ludicrously simple that I have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I did not think of it first.
Embrace+, as their clever name hints at, is a bracelet that glows different colors when their paired phone outputs a notification. Everything here, of course, is completely customizable within an impressive mobile app that keeps everything under the user’s control. The band is lit, not by LEDs, but a band of optical fibre that allows the device to remain incredibly slim and low-power. The goal with Embrace+ is to treat the user with a device that can be worn at any time, in any dress, without seeming like an obvious piece of tech. With successful funding the duo is focusing on putting the finishing slimming touches on as well as making the device 5atm waterproof which would allow for use in the shower as well as peace of mind in rainstorms and snow days. My only reservation is that the Embrace+ is a little bulky, coming in at 5mm at its slimmest and just 8mm at the battery, but I do not see that as being a main concern.
The Embrace+ truly looks like something from the future, and I have big hopes for it. I know for certain that I am putting this to the top of my birthday wish list, and cannot wait til similar devices begin to populate the marketplace. As of now, with only 20-plus days remaining the Embrace+ is still nearly $200,000 behind its goal, and pre-orders are going for just under $50 which is an amazing deal all things considered. So, give this deserving duo a shot and help usher in the next way of personal electronic accessories.
Hamster Chase (from Gameion, Inc) tells the story of four hamsters that are on a quest to avoid a vicious cat and make it home scot-free. Translated to gameplay, it was a fun-filled obstacle course that tested dexterity of hand, sharpness of eyesight and quickness of reflexes.
The storyline starts with a moving truck mishap that pitches the two parties — the hamsters and their feline foil — against themselves and the world at large. the intro cutscene was a nice treat, and help give the game a little bit of character off the bat.
The game used muted pastels as the basis for its background, which was good at not distracting from the main play area. Outdoor scenery was soft and inviting, and the animations, while not processor-straining, where vivid enough to get the point across. I liked the attention to the little details, like the random flower.
By tilting my device, I had to navigate through various obstacles to get to particular end points in the playing area. The obstacles were varied, as well as the destination points and the number of hamsters I had to move. The tilt sensitivity was not overly sharp, which was good. The developer did well to be creative with the type of obstacles, incorporating moving ones, sliding types and more to kill monotony. There were a hundred levels and social networking functionality (Facebook and Twitter) for those that like letting others know about their game exploits. Additionally, the addition of the quirky, whimsically interactive hamster cage (with the talking hamsters to boot) was just an extra cherry of fun.
There isn’t a whole lot to dislike about this game. I found the innate simplicity endearing, and appreciated the hearkening to physical labyrinth games of yester-years. Hamster Chase should appeal to players of varying ages, and that is its truth strength.
Beat the Beast is a tower defense game from Chundos Studio with a twist. Literally.
It takes place in a medieval-esque environment packed with magic, monsters and heavy-duty machinery set against a colorful backdrop with a mountain-bound castle serving as the eponymous fortress.
What sets Beat the Beast from the run-of-the-mill tower defense titles is its orientation. The playing area was an irregular hill, with the castle kingdom at the apex. From the base to the top, there was a winding path that different type of beasts attempted to travel; the assumption being that there would be a lot of plundering if they made it to the gates.
Using time-appropriate (like boulder-tossing catapults, crossbows and hammers, I had to destroy the monsters. In true tower defense fashion, different weapons had different attributes, and were upgradeable. To upgrade, I had to collect coins, and to collect coins, I had to dispatch beasts, so, in a sense, the weapons paid for themselves. Upgrades for each unit increased till the respective units were maxed out, and units could be sold back, albeit at a significant loss.
As an added challenge, there were fixed spots that I could put my defensive structures; I couldn’t just station them where I wanted to. This meant that a degree of thought was required to create the best defensive sequences. Also, the beasts had different attributes, including speed, and resistance to damage
Using my finger, I was able to spin around the structure, allowing me to get a full view around the play area, which was a fantastic touch. I could follow hitherto hidden enemy units as they meandered round the hill, and could also see just how my defenders got rid of them.
The game with three levels of difficulty: Hard, Normal and Easy, as well as different modes and three different environments. All these features come together to make it a compelling entry.
While most of the news out there is pretty depressing, there is still a lot of different news sources out there offering more than the latest celebrity getting arrested and pages and pages of depressing news. The hard part with any news is corralling it into an easy to read place. For Google Reader users, I don’t need to mention how great it is to have all of the the newest news in the subscribed feed right there. While this is great, getting some new information from other sources helps to get varied opinions. Here’s some new apps to try that offer ways to get more articles to read.
Flipboard is one great looking news reader. The news from the reader’s Twitter, Facebook and other social feeds helps to bring in relevant news. The news is divided into different categories like Technology, News, Photography and more. Click on the category and see news from Facebook, Twitter and other sources like BBC and Huffington Post. Swipe through the different stories and see if there is anything interesting.
Pulse News is a cool way to get news. It connects to Google Reader so there is access to all the subscribed blog feeds. Along with the Google Reader integration, there are other news sources like magazines and news from newspapers. Since not everyone has a lage data plan or access all of the time, there is offline sync mode letting the articles be read while there is not internet connection.
When all of the news starts to sound the same, sometimes it’s good to stop looking at the big news sources and head back to the feeds in Google Reader. Feedly is a great app for making the articles in Google Reader a lot easier to read. The layout is made for either a 4″ phone and 7″ or 10″ tablets. This makes for a great user experience on any device. The clean ans simpleness of the design makes reading the feeds on Google Reader a joy.
Enjoy Twitter app Falcon Pro? Well, too bad: [the app has officially run out of user tokens]http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/02/23/falcon-pro-hits-100k-token-limit-another-twitter-client-bites-the-dust/(). This means that users trying to sign in to the app will discover that they cannot do so, thanks to Twitter’s new rules about third-party API clients. Basically, new apps can max out at 100,000 user tokens (older apps get two times what they had before when Twitter announced the API changes) and that’s it.
Now, here’s the problem: this does not mean that the creators of Falcon Pro have sold 100,000 copies of their app. Additional user tokens have been taken up by pirated users. Users who download the app, sign in, and then refund it within the 15-minute window are not relinquishing their user tokens unless they disable the app from Twitter’s application settings.
This does not mean that all hope is lost for Falcon Pro users. They may be able to renew all tokens, but with a confirmation system in place to confirm that a user has legitimately bought the app, and not just pirated it. Unfortunately, they can’t circumvent the token limit by re-releasing different versions of the same app with different sets of user tokens as it is against Twitter’s API terms of service. There is also a petition in place to try and convince Twitter to raise the token limit, but there are no reported instances of Twitter actually raising the limit on an app, either through internal requests or external demands. Both are being attempted with Falcon Pro. This is unsurprising because Twitter is actively trying to drive users to official apps and services.
Thus, there’s a very good chance that what’s going to happen in the future is that Twitter clients are going to get a lot more expensive. This is what Tweetbot on Mac did. Its $19.99 price was subject to some criticism, but in the face of a maximum of 100,000 sales, it wound up being a problem. A drop in quality could also occur, as it will get a lot harder for developers to make a living off of a Twitter app. Long-term, it could truly be the death of third-party Twitter apps, which is a shame because there are still quality gaps with the official apps, though this may be Twitter forcing users into their new way of user interaction.