The Sandbox 1.700 Update Brings New Elements and Free Content to Android

The Sandbox 1.700 Update Brings New Elements and Free Content to Android

May 30, 2014

The Sandbox update version 1.700 is available now on Google Play. Players now have an Avatar, a controllable human to play through retro mini-games and custom created levels. A user-created campiagn is available for free, as is the Robocalypse campaign. As well, new Light Prism, Quartz Laser, and Aluminite Laser items are now available in the creation game. The game is available for free on Google Play.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Dimple.IO on IndieGoGo

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Dimple.IO on IndieGoGo

May 30, 2014

Technology is fickle in the way that certain features quickly fall out of style only to be missed just a few years later. Phones have gone from big to small and back to the phablet monstrosities we have today. Phones have been losing non-essential buttons for years and have left us with only an I/O button, volume controls, and a home button if we are lucky. With this push for buttonless phones there has been a small feeling that maybe a few dedicated buttons would not be a bad idea, especially because of the recent obsession in speed and workflow optimization.

Giving users the most unobtrusive means to add a few physical buttons is this week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight project Dimple.IO. Using NFC, which is quickly becoming a common feature in new smartphones, the Dimple.IO sticks to the back of any phone or case and instantly provides two or four physical buttons that can be assigned to nearly any desired function. Because of this the device can be placed anywhere without affecting performance making it incredibly convenient. As with most recent projects the accompanying app has an ultra-modern dual-chromatic style and an open SDK. What’s more the Dimple.IO extends functionality beyond just a simple click. For example, a button can be programmed to bring up a grid of different commands which allows for more than just a simple 1:1 relationship, and there is also integrated Tasker support for automation. Their IndieGoGo page states that the Dimple.IO v2 will come out at the end of this year with gaming compatibility.

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Obviously, because of the use of NFC this product will only be available for a limited section of the smartphone market that consists of mostly fairly recent phones and unfortunately does not include the HTC One M7 & M8. But as this technology becomes more invasive and widely used there is no doubt that there will be a plethora of devices that take advantage of NFC’s benefits. As with most crowdfunding projects there still is room to be cautious; we still don’t know much about how well it adheres to the device and at the moment it will not work until the phone is unlocked. That said, a stretch goal phone-specific case with imbedded buttons looks very tantalizing and may well end up being more popular than the actual individual product. Because the Dimple.IO has already been fully funded this is what I am most excited about and is much more exciting than the other stretch goals of additional colors. The cases will be for Galaxy devices as well as bringing support for the HTC One M7 & M8.

So please give Dimple.IO a look on their IndieGoGo page and consider helping these innovative entrepreneurs realize their more ambitious visions and not just their current project.

Soccer Rally 2 Getting World Championship Update on June 5th, in Time for World Cup

Soccer Rally 2 Getting World Championship Update on June 5th, in Time for World Cup

May 30, 2014

Soccer Rally 2, the free-to-play game of soccer in cars, is getting an upcoming “World Championship” update, which is probably not coincidental with the World Cup upcoming. IceFlame Games has added 50 countries to play as, with a tournament structure to play through for car and country. The update will be available on June 5th. Download the game now on Google Play.

FlapThulhu: Flappy Madness Review

FlapThulhu: Flappy Madness Review

May 30, 2014

When it comes to Flappy Bird clones, one could say that we have seen it all. But wait, there is more. Yes, how impossible it may be, there is one more flappy game that could be worth our time. And yes, it is even fun to play.

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It is the one thing I could never see coming after the Flappy Bird clones craze and rage. A flappy game starring a head-with-wings-form of the fictive monstrosity Cthulhu, or Tulu for friends, flapping away in the deep underworld and sunken city R’lyeh. Really – what kind of drugs did the conceptualizer do before mixing those two together? But hey, somehow it worked out for them. FlapThulhu: Flappy Madness is just what the title implies: flappy madness all over the place. At its core, it’s precisely the same mechanic we all know (and love?) thanks to Flappy Bird. But this flappy clone offers just a bit more than the usual clone.

The controls are a bit preciser then its original. Flappy Bird is known for its unfair difficulty, thanks to banal coding, and players would die constanly without even touching that awfully out-of-the-Super-Mario-World-green looking pipe. But that was the charme of that game and what made it so populair – it was crowned the Dark Souls of the casual games. But when I see the overall theme of FlapThulhu and think of the better sense of control, I would like to relocate that title form Flappy Bird to FlapThulhu. It suits much better, because, just like in Dark Souls, when players die, it is their own fault. Also: there is the underworld full of undead things, so yeah.

Unlike Flappy Bird, FlapThulhu presents another unlockable mode where the flying Cthulhu head must take on waves of bird-like underworld creatures that closely resemble the original Flappy Bird. The controls are excatly the same, only now, players don’t have to fly between rocks, but they have to knock out those flying pests by dropping on top of them. It is very challenging and fun to do. The theme of the game is also very thought through and has some nice effects going on here and there. The animations idem ditto. There is one thing however that struck me as odd: now and then, the game doesn’t load up the music and sound effects files – why this happens, I don’t know.

FlapThulhu is one heck of a surprise. Its overall theme is nice and thanks to its controls, this flappy game is much better than the original. It also has a new mode and even an unlockable character that plays very differently from the Cthulhu head. It’s defintly something to try out if players are searching for something more fun, with the same amount of flaps.

Batman & The Flash: The Hero Run Review

Batman & The Flash: The Hero Run Review

May 30, 2014

Everything I’ll write here is pretty obvious from this game’s title. It’s Batman & The Flash: The Hero Run. There are two famous heroes from DC Comics, one of whom is more famous than the other, who participate in an infinite runner, chasing down different villains, one of whom is more pants-on-head retarded than the other. Batman is running down Gotham City, chasing down Joker, the dangerous psychotic murderer, while Flash is running in a gorilla city, after some giant gorilla, who is… trying to rule the world? I don’t know, I stopped caring after the part about the gorilla city.

The running part in Batman & The Flash: The Hero Run is actually pretty well done. It’s a 3D runner, not unlike Temple Run, but it’s combat-oriented. There are three lanes, and the hero can switch between them, jump and slide to avoid obstacles, but they can also shoot their weapons at the oncoming enemies, which are divided into three groups. Batman & The Flash Hero Run 2The weak ones don’t deal any damage to them whatsoever, and you don’t have to waste your ammo to defeat them, but you won’t get as much experience. The strong ones can incapacitate the hero, and require two shots to be kicked down. At last, there are bosses that can only be met once in a while, and require a special strategy to handle them. The ammo is expendable and requires purchasing from the shop with the coins that are scattered around the levels. The coins can also be spent on upgrading the power-ups, and unlocking special power cards, as well as hero cards. Power cards are just the power-ups that are expended after use. Also, I still don’t understand the reason to level the hero cards, but it sure gives the gameplay some additional depth.

There are actually more heroes than just Batman and The Flash, but it takes lots of time to unlock them. There are different levels as well. The Gotham City is the easiest one, Banana City or whatever, is more difficult, and afterward, more challenging locations are unlocked. The levels are quite varied, and almost don’t have repeated segments.

In general, I’d say that Batman & The Flash: The Hero Run is a great game. It’s not that unique, but for a free-to-play runner, based on popular comics characters, it’s well done and is quite pleasing. Graphics are good, variety is good, the mechanics are good and Batman is awesome. Definitely not a bad way to spend several hours.

Pixel Defenders Puzzle Review

Pixel Defenders Puzzle Review

May 30, 2014

I would have never thought that by combining basic role playing game elements with elements from a puzzle game like 2048, it would result in a compelling game like Pixel Defenders Puzzle. But it did and I’m quite surprised how well it worked out.

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Pixel Defenders Puzzle is a remarkable game. In it, players take control of their own group of warriors on a grid, while battleling all kinds of monsters on the top of the screen. Those monsters can be orcs, thiefs or even magicans and they can all attact from a distance, just like the player. The goal of the game is to protect a certain v.i.p. member on the battlefield, while keeping his health high and doing so in the least amount of turns. Players can put different kinds of soldiers on the grid, by placing three blocks of the same color in a row. Doing so, a type of warrior appears, making it ready to fight the bad guys on top of the screen.

Players can even put out stronger versions of those warriors. By combining three of the same types of those warriors, a new, stronger one appears. This can be done several times, making those characters stronger and stronger and giving them abilities to damage the enemies. This system, combining the same type of things close to each other, resembles games like 2048 and Threes at its very basic. Instead of swiping the corresponding types together, players have to put them right next to each other. Either by figuring a way out to do so while playing or by doing it manually, but with the cost of precious in-game points. Those points are also needed to attack and can be earned after succesfully combining the same types of things on the grid.

The stronger the characters on the grid, the more strategic the game gets. In the beginning, players can survive waves of opponents by just attacking them. But not long after that, they have to think ahead, keeping in mind the amount of moves before the enemy can attack its v.i.p. again and making sure that he doesn’t die. The small basic like rpg elements are big enough to plan ahead, with things like poisoning and freezing or just awesome lighting attacks, damaging more than one enemy at the time. And the game looks en sounds very cool to, with its 16 bits look and feel. There are even power-ups to make combining characters easier or gaining an extra in-game point to attack, and more.

Pixel Defenders Puzzle is nothing like I have ever seen before. It combines basic rpg elements with a easier to control version of 2048, and really knows how to emerge a player by offering small strategic choices. And, thanks to its massive tutorial, I think everybody can play it.

Super Mega Runners Review

Super Mega Runners Review

May 30, 2014

Something games forget to do these days is to bring a smile on my face when I’m gaming. Most of the games we’re playing are much too serious. Seriousness is cool at times, but there is room for something lighter. Something funnier. Something that brings a smile on my face. Super Mega Runners does just that.

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Super Mega Runners is a two dimensional endless runner as one would expect it to be. Players take on the roll of a random hero and run through different stages, collecting whatever is neccesary and survive waves of enemies and obstacles. Only in Super Mega Runners, the hero is not random. Well, maybe the characters aren’t, the choices are very much so Players get to choose between Abraham Lincoln, B.A. Baracus or something that looks like Duke Nukem. Each character has his own running and jumping mechanic, with Lincoln being the standard version, the Duke the slowest and B.A. the one who can jump much further than the other runners.

The game takes his inspiration from the eighties. The overall theme is Super Mario Bros., with his blue sky, collectible coins and breakable blocks. The enemies come from games like Dragon Quest and Super Mario Bros. 2 (the Western release, that is) and the music is one hell of a trip down the lane of nostalgia. It is a mix of all those classic Nintendo Entertainment System games and made me feel I was teleported twenty years back in time. Combined with the look of the game, all the recognizable enemies and power-ups, I can truly say that the developer has put a lot of effort into the overall design of this endless runner. With it, it has distinguished itself from the rest and that’s pretty hard to do these days.

So yeah, I can really recommend playing Super Mega Runners if the player is around 25 or older. It has put me in a mood of nostalgia since the first time I’ve played it and I’m loving it thus far. Even the difficulty curve is somewhat like the old Mario games. Easy to begin with, but it gets harder with every jump the player makes. But it is always fun to play – and, more importantly, brought a smile to my face, with every playthrough.

Eye-Fi Mobi 8GB Wireless SD Card Hardware Review

Eye-Fi Mobi 8GB Wireless SD Card Hardware Review

May 30, 2014

The Eye-Fi Mobi 8GB SDHC Class 10 Wireless Memory Card is a bit of a mouthful, but as I came to realize, the name just might might be fitting when its overall functionality is considered.

The review package that was sent to us was fairly frill-less, mostly made up of card cover and thick paper casing. The Mobi itself is the same dimensions as any standard SD Card, though its bright orange coloring helps it stand apart. The review unit is the 8GB flavor; it comes in other sizes as well.

Using it is as simple as finding a compatible device with an SD card slot; the obvious choice is a digital camera. Now, the way it works is that the hardware interfaces with the companion Eye-Fi Android app (which has to be linked to the hardware via activation code). The hardware creates a wi-fi network with the built-in chip, and sends images and such saved to it to the app on the mobile device.

Simple. Effective. It gives cameras and camcorders an extra backup layer.

On paper, the Mobi still provides exceptional value to the multitudes of people who have digital cameras with SD card slots; where this piece comes up big is its ability to be used in other case scenarios.

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While doing a couple of hardware reviews, I had a couple of devices that called for SD cards. One was the Visioneer Mobility Cordless Scanner, a device that looks to allow busy folks scan important documents on the go. The folks at Visioneer are well aware of the Mobi’s functionality, and suggest its usage with the Mobility Scanner. I popped the Mobi into the scanner’s SD card slot, and it opened up a whole new world of usage; scanned images were transferred to my smartphone via the companion app, and were then auto-uploaded to Dropbox (which is a setting I have for incoming images). It makes for a pretty seamless solution, and increases the efficacy of the scanner.

On a whim, I decided to pair it with the SwannEye IP Camera, a wi-fi connected camera with an SD Slot to record motion. Again, the Mobi bridged the resulting clips to my smartphone, which then moved them on to Dropbox. In both these cases, the Mobi was instrumental in getting the images and video uploaded to the cloud. Via the app, it’s possible to share directly to some social networks and cloud banks.

The Mobi handled everything I threw at it with aplomb. When connected to a laptop, it can be read like a regular external storage source, and manipulated thus.

Now, I would have liked an auto-delete option, which would prevent having to connect it to a computer or sync with smartdevice to delete data.

In any case, the Eye-Fi might not be a new concept, but it feels like a solid investment. With other services (Eye-Fi Cloud, for instance) it can become close to indispensable.

The Eye-Fi 8GB Mobi card is available for $43.95 via Amazon

Sidekick Cycle Review

Sidekick Cycle Review

May 30, 2014

Sidekick Cycle is a fun simple game that adds idealism to the mix.

As far as the gameplay goes, it’s quite easy to pick up, and that is a testament to the game’s design ethic; the game is all about riding a bike, somewhat downhill, and making the time split. In addition to making time, there are gold coins that line the travel way that can be collected by contact. There are also obstacles (like boulders) that need to be avoided by jumping over them, and also some special gear pieces that also can be collected.

The controls are about as easy as it gets: tap to jump. Timing is of a premium, as jumping to early can cause collisions and even mess up the equilibrium of the bike, which, in turn, can cause a run-ending crash.

There are several worlds, which are different run environments, and each provides a unique feel. Success in one side5opens up the next, and the same applies to the individual runs that make up each environment; they are locked till a preceding one is successfully completed. As the game proceeds, other elements are added… things like bonus-laden sidekicks and such. There are plenty of upgrades that can be purchased with accumulated gold, and real cash can be used to supplement this.

The graphics do a good job of conveying the gameplay; the worlds are differentiated through layout, and there is a lot of attention paid to the little stuff like perspective and light play. The animations are a bit stilted, but they work, and even the tumbles have a good degree of realism to them, with the physics and such.; the 2D renderings are simple but effective. I think the characters kid be a bit more polished, though.

One thing that sets the game apart is the social initiatives of the developer, who is/are committed to providing bicycles to people in communities that otherwise cannot afford them when an in-app purchase is made. Such altruism is laudable and is worth mentioning.

All in all, it’s fun game with scaled difficulty that can be tough to put down. And it supports a cause; we can play and feel good doing so.

Upcoming Charmed from PopAppFactory is Suitable for Kids and Adults in Separate Releases

Upcoming Charmed from PopAppFactory is Suitable for Kids and Adults in Separate Releases

May 30, 2014

PopAppFactory has announced their new puzzle game, Charmed. This abstract puzzler has players trying to solve magical symbols by connecting dots together, without crossing over existing lines. The game will be available this June on a variety of platforms, but will be available in both a kids’ version that’s simpler, along with the normal one for us adults that can handle the challenge.

Flyhunter Origins Coming This Summer, Published by Ripstone

Flyhunter Origins Coming This Summer, Published by Ripstone

May 30, 2014

Publisher Ripstone and developer Steel Wool Games have announced that Flyhunter Origins is coming this year to pretty much every platform under the sun: including Android and Tegra-powered devices. With credits including film industry veterans, players will control Zak, a janitor aboard an alien spaceship, who will join the Flyhunter Crew to save Earth from deadly flies. Or, something like that. Point is, swat those stupid alien flies when the game releases this summer.

Total Conquest Update Brings Forth Mythical Beasts

Total Conquest Update Brings Forth Mythical Beasts

May 29, 2014

Gameloft has released the latest content update for Total Conquest, their empire-building game reminiscent of Clash of Clans. Now, players can summon divine mythical monsters in the War God’s Wrath update. As well, there’s new characters and potions to help get the upper hand on the world. Check out a trailer for the update below.