Aralon: Sword and Shadow by Crescent Moon Is Up For Sale

Aralon: Sword and Shadow by Crescent Moon Is Up For Sale

Aug 30, 2013

Aralon 1
Crescent Moon has announced that Aralon: Sword and Shadow, a very pretty-looking action for Androids, is up for sale, for only $0.99 in the Google Play store. Pick it up, while it’s hot, as they say. There are also talks that some other titles might just cut off their prices a bit, so stay tuned for the future announcements. Aralon: Sword and Shadow on Google Play

Amazon Mobile Associates API Will Allow Developers To Include Offers On Real Goods In Their Apps

Amazon Mobile Associates API Will Allow Developers To Include Offers On Real Goods In Their Apps

Aug 30, 2013

Amazon announced a release of special API add-on that will allow developers to sell some real stuff from Amazon via their apps and games. This feature could be an interesting proposition for developers trying to make money off of their apps, though how much it will appear in non-Amazon-Appstore apps is to be seen. For the curious developers and users, the information on soon-to-be released extension is here: Amazon Press Releases

JBL Charge Hardware Review

JBL Charge Hardware Review

Aug 30, 2013

Wireless audio is a must-have, almost. When companies with JBL’s rep spit out stuff like the Charge Bluetooth speakers, it generally pays to take heed.

First, the hardware itself: the review piece was the blue colored unit, which was a pleasant change from the sometimes drab black that most electronic pieces seem to come in nowadays. For those weird folks that are not enthralled with everything Carolina Blue, there is grey and green.

It’s a deliberate item, likened to a well-hewn cylinder with somewhat shaped edges. The speaker grills cover a good portion of the body, and the ones on the one end hint at the possibilities with regards to placement during use. There are charging spot and a 3.5mm aux-in ports at the back of the unit, and a covered USB slot at one end.charge1

What the Charge claims to do well is transmit music. The pairing prices was seamless for all the Android devices I paired it with; it’s a simple matter is discovery and selection. On my main device, it reconnected easily enough as long as I hadn’t paired anything else to it in the interim. It also connects well with my laptop.

I’ve said it before: I don’t rate orchestras in my spare time, but I think the sound quality from the unit is impressive. It handles  audio files with reasonable aplomb, from Brit pop (don’t judge me) to audio translations from YouVersion. It’s nice to be able to test equalizer and actually hear the difference in the rendering of music. There isn’t really an explosion of bass, but I am okay with that.

I really like the extras; the charging cable and pouch are nice. The Charge can be placed upright, can be used while charging and, with the included USB cable, can also trickle charge devices. Not bad. Especially nice is the ability to plug in devices via male-to-male 3.55 mm cables.

In my testing, I was able to play music and podcasts continuously for about 9 hours straight; I did notice some static and connectivity issues when tethered via bluetooth short of a several dozen feet away. Unlike it’s stablemate (the JBL Flip), this one doesn’t have a speakerphone toggle, and a dedicated app would have been an acceptable form of vanity.

It was a surprisingly nice item, and competes well with similarity priced speakers and docks.

The JBL Charge is available from the JBL site and/or Amazon for $149 at the time of this review.

FootLoL: Epic Fail League Coming Soon

FootLoL: Epic Fail League Coming Soon

Aug 30, 2013

FootLOL 5

Heavily inspired by the wacky weaponry of Worms, FootLoL: Epic Fail League is an indirectly-controlled football simulator – and I use this word as loosely as possible here – for the stationaries, and the mobiles as well. The player’s task is to unleash a number of insane weaponry and natural cataclysms to spoil the game for the hapless football (soccer, for some of you) players on the field. It all looks very crazy, so here’s hoping it’s fun as well. Release date is currently unknown, and the game is coming to multiple platforms, including possibly Steam if they succeed on Greenlight.

Samurai Shodown 2 Review

Samurai Shodown 2 Review

Aug 30, 2013

Samurai Shodown 2 comes with a wee bit of sticker shock: $8.99 for a port of a decades-old fighting game?

Well, it kind of makes sense: It’s a Neo-Geo fighting game, and hey, the Neo-Geo was known for its very expensive games. But considering that the platform also had games with some of the finest 2D animation around, it was at least moderately justified. So, let’s work on the operating theory that if it’s deserving, Samurai Shodown 2 is worth $8.99, disregarding that even premium content for mobile rarely gets above $6.99.

Well, I don’t think it is. The port job is just too poor to recommend it, especially at this price point.

The game itself uses some familiar language to the Street Fighter series, with lots of quarter-circle motions, so it should be familiar, at least roughly, for fighting game veterans who may not be aware of what the series entails. The dynamic zooming view is definitely different, but definitely works. The art looks great, still – the animation is top-notch. As well, there’s aspect ratio and scanline options to make the game look exactly to players’ specifications.

SamuraiShodown2-3

The game is extremely challenging, so come in with patience. There’s decent virtual controls, but I recommend using a physical gamepad with this if possible. There’s also Bluetooth multiplayer, because fighting with friends is more fun than the computer. Support for multiple gamepads on one device would be welcome, though.

At its core, Samurai Shodown 2 seems worth it. It’s probably best for hardcore fighting fans, but that’s probably who the game, at its price point, is targeting. But what about that gamepad support? That could make or break this game. There’s a lot of support at its core, compatible with the Xperia Play (still ticking!), the built-in Android HID gamepad protocol, and MOGA controllers.

Unfortunately the functionality issues break this game. The HID support is flawed. Only sword attacks (the A & C Neo-Geo buttons) are mapped to the face buttons. I think one of the kicks is mapped to the right joystick. There’s no ability to reconfigure the button mappings. Frankly, this is inexcusable. This is an $8.99 port/emulation of a fighting game. Fighting game fans are some of the most demanding poeple when it comes to features, and to not properly support the controllers that they will want to use, especially when asking for a premium price for the game, is a mistake. This needs to be fixed.

This is especially so because the Moga controllers just aren’t up to snuff for this game. The Moga Pro remains my favorite gamepad, but this game shows the key flaw that the controller has. It’s a bit stiff and the arrows are somewhat thin. This is great for most precision platformers and for FPS-type games where commands are on the d-pad but for a fighting game with rotation motions, it’s flawed. I liked the joystick-only Moga Pocket better than the Pro to play the game!

So really, after examining every aspect of the port, I have to say: no, it’s not worth $8.99. I could see a universe in which a port could be worth it, but it would require higher standards than this.

The Awesome Game Company To Release Alphaman, An Educational Arcade Game

The Awesome Game Company To Release Alphaman, An Educational Arcade Game

Aug 30, 2013

Alphaman 1

With school being in very foreseeable future for some, and already an unchangeable actuality for others, here’s a game that will be a great teaching addition to all the children, as well as Twitter users. Alphaman is an arcade game that looks sort of like Pac-man, but is actually an educating tool that teaches spelling. Release details and spelling difficulty are yet unknown, but there is a teaser that is available below.

Cryptic Cosmos Review

Cryptic Cosmos Review

Aug 30, 2013

Cryptic Cosmos is a small, tight quest, set in an outlandish base, far in the dark reaches of space. Main Hero is a bounty hunter, whose target is hiding out somewhere in the base, with the game’s main goal being finding it out and disposing of it. Although the story isn’t as convoluted and original as it could be, it’s a nice setup for a space adventure, and serves well enough as the game’s background. Although one of my main concerns about the game was initially its relative shortness, I now think that it’s just long enough. It has enough content, without sinking into repeat or artificially stretching its gameplay. While it is short, it’s long enough to give a good deal of interesting puzzles. Shortness of the game is likely because of an in-game walkthrough, which is a brilliant move in itself, so there’s no need to sweep through all of the previously unlocked locations, searching for the bit that was previously skipped.

Cryptic Cosmos 2Cryptic Cosmos‘ puzzles are numerous and range from quite obvious to seemingly unsolvable. I’d dribble on about the difficult to understand logic of some of them – but again, I remember that if the player can’t solve a puzzle, there’s a hint waiting for him. In any case, the game has enough variety in its puzzles and tasks, so as not to become repetitive. The graphics aren’t all that amazing, and the soundtrack is a bit repetitive, but they’re both quite enough for a smooth, interesting experience. Besides, Cryptic Cosmos has a slick 60-s sci-fi look that is always a pleasure to look at. Perhaps, the only issue I have is an inability to freely go to any unlocked room, as strolling through the similar corridors between them starts getting irritating after a while. Another unusual problem I had was that my eyes started getting weary after playing it for a while. The reason for this, it seems, is that the game transitions between the locations by fading to black, and it’s forcing the eyes to strain. Although I might just getting old from all the sitting behind the screen, who knows.

Wrapping up, Cryptic Cosmos is another nice addition to the lovely range of short adventures and puzzles on the mobile platform. It has original, entertaining puzzles, plenty of challenges, and a classic adventure-puzzle gameplay to go with them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch Star Wars again.

Chuck’s Challenge 3D Review

Chuck’s Challenge 3D Review

Aug 30, 2013

Chuck’s Challenge 3D, from Niffler Ltd., makes it easy to like it.

In this puzzle caper, Woop, a curiously toothed purple alien serves as our cocky protagonist. Apparently, Woop likes a challenge, and in a bit of clever development, he gets to interact with gaming icon Chuck Sommerville and get all sorts of solvable riddles to test his powers of deductions.

The playing area is usually a grid made up of a surface of cubes; on those cubes was a rally point of sorts, and the simplistic goal is to get our guy from the start point to the end point, which signifies the successful end of the attempt. Movement is effected by a virtual joystick that controls movement one square at a time.chuck1

Of course it’s never that easy for too long. Advanced levels introduce newer twists to the gameplay… stuff like boxes, motile organisms and things like switches. For example, one cool level has a gap, a square and what can be described as a proxy robot that can only be controlled by standing on av area with a special control spot on the board. It takes a bit of doing, but finally being able to use the proxy to create the ad hoc bridge is more gratifying than I thought it would be. The creativity of the puzzles, from the jetpack to the switches were really good. Completion times are recorded, so, in essence, it is a race against the clock.

I also liked the little touches. In every level, there was a square with red and white floral shirt on it; navigating to that square invokes Chuck, who gives some tongue-in-cheek pointers about the level in question. It was simple and whimsical, just like the game overall. It is also cool that it’s possible to create levels and play ohter user-submitted levels.

Rich graphics make up the visuals, and the 3D is not a misnomer; the extra dimension does bring valuable aspects of the game to life.

Great game, simple concept, and enough whimsical features to make it appealing to different age groups. Yep: easy to like. Toss in controller support and SHIELD compatibility, and we’re at potential love.

Capcom introduces Viewtiful Joe As A New Character In Combo Crew

Capcom introduces Viewtiful Joe As A New Character In Combo Crew

Aug 30, 2013

Combo Crew TItle 3

On PAX 2013, Capcom announced a fresh addition to the roster of characters in its popular cross-franchise fighting, Combo Crew. Viewtiful Joe can now rock the arena along with other colorful characters from many other Capcom and indie games. The sad truth is that he costs $1.99 to unlock – quite a price, considering the game costs half as much. Combo Crew can be purchased from here: Combo Crew on Google Play

Bad Traffic Review

Bad Traffic Review

Aug 30, 2013

Bad Traffic assigns its players a role of an omnipotent god of crossroads, who tries to resolve tight situations on the road, trying to avoid any traffic accidents. Or smashes cars against each other and bathes in the ensuing carnage. Traffic god is a conflicted being, indeed. In reality, it means that there are two starkly different gameplay styles, divided into two level packs, pretty much not connected to each other in any way.

The first mode requires the player to “save” cars that are appearing on different sides of the road, trying to cross the intersections of hell. The cars can be stopped for five seconds by tapping on them, or boosted out of the screen by swiping on them. There are two kinds of missions: getting a number of cars safely across the screen, and holding out for some time. If even a single crash occurs, the level is lost – although the gold, collected from it, is still saved and can be safely spent on different power-ups and upgrades, available at the store.

Bad Traffic 2The second mode is a bit more trigger-crazy, as it requires the player to do the opposite. The cars have to be crashed against each other, with the worst consequences possible. The goal is to reach a certain number of explosions by smashing the hapless cars together in a limited time. Exploding cyclists are present. Each mode has a couple of unique cars and various mechanics that can help or hinder the progress. The great thing about Bad Traffic is the presence of infinite survival modes that can prolong interest for quite a long time – that’s considering all the basic level packs are completed, and it’s not that simple to achieve.

It would be tempting to guess that the destruction-based levels are the most simple ones, as smashing cars against each other don’t require as much focus and attention, but it would be a wrong guess. It’s actually a lot easier to help the cars get to their destination safely, than reaching required explosion caps in the destruction levels. In any case, both of them are quite good, and fun in their own ways. I really think that Bad Traffic can actually be perceived as two different, interesting games, for the price of one. To be fair, I didn’t even have any issues with it, so yeah. Bad Traffic is a great game.

BADLAND Coming To an Android and Blackberry Device Near You!

BADLAND Coming To an Android and Blackberry Device Near You!

Aug 29, 2013

BADLAND, a flying adventure puzzle game, with gorgeous landscapes and strange creatures, awarded with about 10% of all awards in the universe, is scheduled for release on Android and Blackberry platforms in the nearest future. Meanwhile, here’s a trailer and several screenshots of the upcoming goodness:

Intel Creates Pocket Avatar, an Avatar and Gesture-Based Social Platform

Intel Creates Pocket Avatar, an Avatar and Gesture-Based Social Platform

Aug 29, 2013

Intel-CatFace-Thing

Intel decided to try and revolutionize social interactions on the web with a new messaging platform, called Intel Pocket Avatars. This app allows users to use its facial recognition software to control their avatars with just their facial expressions. Users can record an audio or text message, smile, and the avatar on the other end of the line will play the recorded message and smile as well. I don’t have a faintest clue as to the specifics, requirements and limitations of such a service, but anyone willing to participate in the beta can fill the form and apply here: Intel Pocket Avatars On Google Docs