The Abandoned Review

The Abandoned Review

Apr 30, 2016

Nothing beats the outdoor, especially when you don’t need to be outdoor… something like that. Safe capers come and go, and The Abandoned looks to be one Android users won’t forget soon.

It’s a survival adventure; to begin, the player is presented with a post-apocalyptic backstory. For an unknown reason, a part of the land becomes isolated, with weird happening and creatures in its dangerous, unexplored confines. The player takes on the persona of a helicopter passenger that is marooned in this area due to an accident.

The adventure begins.

The game is absorbed in first person (via landscape orientation), allowing one to consume the hi-def 3D graphics that define the gameplay; denizens of Minecraft might feel somewhat comfortable in the environment. It is an expressive representation, able to incorporate a natural feel with its deliberate use of colors. Animations are mostly smooth (despite the occasional stutter), and the use of highlights to help the gameplay along is relatively subtle. The sounds match the looks. Movement is facilitated by a liberal touch joystick.

ta3

There are three gameplay flavors (Story, Adventure and Survival); we couldn’t help but get into Story mode, which gives a great taste of the game. One starts wandering almost immediately… there are helpful dialogue boxes that provides hints and instructions, and it becomes apparent that, at the core, quickly completing tasks is a major element. With that, one learns how to collect materials, and then how to craft more complex tools, and even how to use them. Collected materials can be stored for future use.

Now, a lot of thought is put into the survival aspect; remember, this is the Exclusion Zone after all. One needs to find food, do rudimentary stuff like build fires and such, and create the tools to do so. In this sense, the elements are fairly interconnected, providing a logical sequence of actions. At the risk of being a spoiler one needs to watch one’s back, because there are a lot of unexplained creatures.

One can earn XP points, which can be used to improve one’s attributes.

It’s definitely an interesting going, with plenty of suspense and a heaping of implied creativity. It was temperamental in parts, but is overall a premium game, even with the optional extra in-app purchases.

Groove Planet Review

Groove Planet Review

Apr 30, 2016

I’ve been playing Android games long enough now that I’ve run into a fair few ‘clicker’ games in my time. It’s always difficult to stand out in an over-crowded genre, but Groove Planet has got a unique angle. It’s a ‘clicker’ enfused with a music twist where you have to click in time to the beat. Could we call it a ‘beater’? No – better not.

The idea is that you’re mayor of an extraterrestrial planet. You’re tasked with making and spending ‘beats’ – which is basically money. Using your beats you build musically themed building – recording studios, radio towers, for example. These buildings earn you money without needing to tap and from there it’s pretty much like every other ‘clicker’ – watch the number grow, buy buildings to make the numbers grow quicker.

What you can do is tap alone in time to a beat. Tapping in time to a beat will grant you a bonus that soon multiplies in size. The reward is substantial and well worth doing. The problem is that this is just one of many extremely generous ways that the game increases your income, soon making progress trivial.

For example – during your time with the game there are missions you can complete. These are often very easy, such as tapping 200 times or earning a certain amount of money. Completing these missions grants all of your buildings a permanent buff, often 250x production, sometimes even 500x production.

There’s also ‘chances’ that appear very often. ‘Chances’ see you presented with 3 albums. You don’t know what the album will do and there is a chance (hence the name) that the result will be negative. However, receiving a positive result gives you huge buffs, which watching an advert can make even bigger and any negative results can be ignored by spending the game’s premium currency or, again, watching an advert.

This means that you may be working towards one goal, say building a new giant microphone, and it’ll seem like a real challenge. However, if you hit a couple of missions, get a good ‘chance’ result and tap to the beat a few times and you’ll be seeing your bank balance where it needs to be in no time.groove 2

This goes against what a clicker should be, as they need to reward patience and time spent not ‘on’ the app but at least with it installed and you checking in regularly. Having the rewards dished out so easily means it fails as a clicker in that regard but the game also fails in another regard. There’s no incentive to leave it running and to keep returning to it.

You see, most clickers are all about setting up a better production line of money and leaving it to get on with it so you can come back to the game in a few hours or days and reap the rewards. Groove Planet doesn’t reward you for leaving the game alone.

Another problem is that Groove Planet has you construct a specific building which is responsible for collecting money in your absence. The issue here is that the sums of money this building can hold are so small, they’re insignificant and yet to level-up this building soon becomes too expensive and a waste of money.

This means that Groove Planet is a clicker where you very quickly unlock everything and are offered no incentive to ever leave the game alone let alone return to it. What should be enjoyable, opening up the app and seeing what you can spend your money on, is instead an anti-climax.

Groove Planet is a ‘clicker’ that actually wants you to play it – which is exactly what a clicker shouldn’t demand. Why shouldn’t they demand this? Because actually playing a clicker is just clicking! By demanding your full attention you soon come to realise what a pointless and boring thing it is, to click on a screen mindlessly.

A shame really as Groove Planet looks nice enough and it’s neat idea, being able to play your own tunes and tap along to their beat. The problem is this is a game that should be much more passive but wants far too much attention.

Metal Slug Attack Review

Metal Slug Attack Review

Apr 29, 2016

I don’t think I’ve seen better animated pixels than in the Metal Slug series. Wildly goofy gaites and exaggerated throwing motions were always the staple of the series, which was known as a brutal hard side-scrolling shooter back in the day.

Metal Slug Attack has retained the glorious and gorgeous sprite work of previous Metal slug titles but instead plays completely differently.

Boiled down, Metal Slug Attack is a card collecting game where each card represents a troop you can take into battle. Win battles and you earn more cards. More cards means you can level-up your existing army, etc, etc, you know the drill. There’s all sorts of convoluted hooks in the game to get you to spend money on cards. Free spins of digital roulette wheels every day, coins that turn to gems, gems that turn to coins and tokens that are granted every 2nd Thursday of months ending in ‘Y’. It’s incredibly convoluted.unnamed-6

Luckily, you can ignore most of that and get into battle straight away. Battles are all about protecting your drop-pod and attacking the enemies’ instead. The two pods are placed at each end of the screen and you have to tap at the cards you’ve taken into the fight to spawn little dudes or dudettes that will dutifully walk from the left to the right, shooting at and being shot by the enemy.

The strategy is that your different troops do different attacks. Grenadiers lob explosives whilst other troops are capable of sniping from a distance. Some characters like to get up close and personal, carrying a knife and running to the left with no regard as to their own safety. Your points slowly fill up as the game goes on and you can spend points on an upgrade that makes your points fill up quicker. You gotta spend points to make points, as they say.

So it all looks lovely. I can’t stress how much I love the Metal Slug series’ 2D style and animations. The gameplay itself is fine, with some wiggle room for you to create an army that plays just how you want. The problem is that it’s all wrapped up in such a confusing and obtuse array of systems, currencies, special daily bonuses and limited-time quests. It becomes overwhelming to know what you should focus on, whether you should upgrade your characters or save them for some other poorly explained trade-in system that buried twelve menus deep.

If you can spend the time and read the wikis to get your head around how all of the meta stuff works, Metal Slug Attack might turn out to be totally engrossing and well worth getting into. As it was for me, I found it really pretty, enjoyable to play but ultimately confused me to the point of no return. As in, I played it for a week and now don’t want to return to it. A shame.


slither.io Review

slither.io Review

Apr 28, 2016

I don’t like snakes.

I wouldn’t describe myself as deathly terrified (I guess it’s normal to be so), but I won’t go out of my way to hang with them. If there were a pet hierarchy, snakes wouldn’t make the list for me.

They’re just creepy, and then there’s that whole Garden of Eden incident.

But then, there goes slither.io. Simple game, easy-to-grasp concept… and slithery beings one might not even loathe that much. Maybe.

The playing area is a fusion of dark, tiled background, over which splashes of color are clearly defined. it utilizes relatively smooth animations, and the control mechanism is via touching the screen.

The main idea is fairly simple: survive and grow bigger. it is an online multiplayer game, and the boundless playing arena consist of multiple, user-controlled snakes. The player starts with a relatively tiny specimen, and an initial goal is to consume the colored pellets that are scattered around the area. Consuming them allows the user’s snake to grow incrementally bigger. Guiding the snake is important, and is done by the aforementioned screen taps.

slither3

Secondary to consuming pellets, one has to beware of opposing snakes; running into another snakes body with one’s head is deathly. Conversely, if another snake runs into the player’s animal, it is obliterated. Snake remains are quite valuable, with regards to getting bigger, so one should look to consume them.

With those parameters in place, the game feels a lot like a a game made for Patches O’Houlihan: dodge, duck, dip, dive and (uh) dodge. One has to guide one’s snake swiftly and decisively, avoiding head contact with bigger and faster snakes, while being offensively-minded as well. There’s a running tally of one’s length, and rank among other players.

The game gets more interesting the longer one plays (and grows); one has to balance evasive maneuvers with a willingness to be aggressive and look to make contact. The competing serpents can be fairly skilled, and so in the playing arena, every action has an opportunity costs of sorts.

As stated… simple.

The controls could use some refining, I think, and a few power-ups wouldn’t hurt, but the game does have a certain charm to it. It isn’t the most unique of ideas, but the online component is compelling.

All in all, it’s an interesting romp, and worth a look.

Pocket Shrek Gets Puss In Boots as New Playable Character

Pocket Shrek Gets Puss In Boots as New Playable Character

Apr 28, 2016

Indefatigable Puss In Boots has joined the cast of Pocket Shrek as a new playable character — just in time for the 15th anniversary of the major motion picture.

Per Google Play:

WHAT’S NEW

NEW FEATURES:
** PUSS IN BOOTS HAS ARRIVED!! **
– Play with Puss and unlock hilarious and engaging animations.
– Stroke him and hear him purr. Tap his feet and see him dance.
– Play along with Puss on his Guitar.
– Cover him with bubbles, wash him and give him a blow-dry.
– Feed him new food items like a glass of milk, or the Candy Mouse!
– Pamper him in his new ‘Puss Pad’ background.
– Unlock all new Quests for Puss to perform.
– Puss is waiting for you!

The Pocket Shrek 2.0 update is live now; the game remains free (with ads and in-app purchases) on Google Play.

ps2

[Pocket Shrek website]

Shadow Fight 3 Unveils Preview Trailer, Set for Fall Release

Shadow Fight 3 Unveils Preview Trailer, Set for Fall Release

Apr 27, 2016

Shadow Fight 3 is scheduled for a Fall release, and we have a trailer for the impatient lot — like us.

Set decades after its predecessor, this latest instalment centers around the three main factions of Legion, Dynasty and Heralds; each divided by their struggle to survive in a world that has been flooded with Shadow Energy following the final events of Shadow Fight 2. Shadow Fight 3 will provide a nail-biting mix of RPG and classic fighting action along with an incredibly robust character customization system and dynamically generated quests. Players can look forward to fully personalizing their fighting style by collecting equipment, perks, and special moves.

Shadow Fight 3 will include features such as:

  • Three Playable Factions: Choose from either the brutal Legion, stealthy Dynasty, or deadly Heralds, each with their own unique history and fighting style.
  • Hundreds of Collectables: Complete quests and purchase booster packs to collect legendary weapons, armor, and perks.
  • Limitless Quests: Embark on the epic main storyline or explore the world of Shadow Fight 3 through daily missions, online battles, and dynamically generated quests.
  • Complete Customization: Combine weapons, skills and shadow form techniques and master your own deadly fighting style.
  • Shadow Fighting Mode: Shadows haven’t totally disappeared from the game: a special “Shadow Fighting Mode” brings them back as guest characters.

The trailer is below.

Damn Daniel Review

Damn Daniel Review

Apr 27, 2016

Why would anyone spend time making a game only to burden it with being associated with a meme that’s going to be forgotten in a week? That’s the number one question that sat on my mind during my time with Damn Daniel.

You see, Damn Daniel is basically a simple infinite-runner that’s grabbed onto the coat-tails of a meme, where one student points at another student’s shoes and shout “Damn Daniel!”. He makes comments on said shoes and it’s funny. Not actually funny but, you know, ‘internet funny’. Look it up.unnamed-3

You play as a cartoon version of the titular Daniel and you can see the trainers (sneakers) in question. They’re white and they stand out. This 2D infinite runner takes place in some form of infinite space, with a blue background broken up by blocks that you run over.

This needs to be challenging otherwise it would be less of a game than it already is. So what happens is these blocks drop away and sometimes they shift left or right. Basically, your route shifts right before your eyes and it’s your job to keep on top of this by tapping on the screen to jump to avoid gaps.

This is all fairly innocuous. No doubt you’ve played something similar before – the issue is that the shifting of the platforms feels unbalanced. It feels like sometimes the blocks will shift in such a way that escaping death is impossible. As if unfair deaths weren’t annoying enough, your demise is met by a sound clip from the meme that gave birth to this whole game.

“Daaammmn, Daniel!”

It gets very annoying very quickly and there’s little to make you want to keep on. The only glimmer of reward is that you can collect gems whilst playing and these unlock alternate clothes for Daniel to wear.

That’s it.

A highscore table and the ability to watch some adverts to grab extra gems are available but why bother? Damn Daniel is a bad example of what mobile gaming is about. A cynical attempt at riding the wave of popularity a meme is having by spitting out a sub-standard infinite runner. We can do better.

Damn, Daniel…

Super Phantom Cat purrs onto Google Play

Super Phantom Cat purrs onto Google Play

Apr 27, 2016

Veewo Games just launched a new title on Google Play called Super Phantom Cat.

Super Phantom Cat is a retro-inspired 2D platformer that pays homage to 8- and 16-bit classics Super Mario Bros.,
Donkey Kong Country, and Sonic The Hedgehog. In Super Phantom Cat, players take on the role of Chemist White and embark on an action-packed journey through the Phantom World.

When Chemist White was a small child, he was saved by Super Phantom Cat — who then became his personal hero. Years later, Flash Cat takes Chemist White on a journey to the Phantom World; there, Chemist White discovers he can collect data shards and change into a number of characters — including the all-powerful Super Phantom Cat :)

The world of Super Phantom Cat is filled with challenges that will make any platforming fan jump for joy.
You’ll need quick reflexes as you pull off incredible feats such as bouncing on a monster’s head to land on a difficult-to-reach platform or rapidly jumping between small platforms to get across a massive chasm. You’ll need to be inch-perfect if you want to make it to the end.

The game is available for free (with in-app purchases) on the Play Sore.

Rolling Sky Review

Rolling Sky Review

Apr 27, 2016

Imagine an infinite runner that has an end combined with a maze that shows you the way out. That’s what Rolling Sky is.

You control a rolling ball, controlling its horizontal movements by simply swiping left and right on the screen, as it makes its way from the start of the level to the end of the level. It’s so simple it requires no explanation. So ignore this entire paragraph.

The challenge comes through in the form of numerous obstacles that litter each level. Some levels are full of lasers, some are full of weights dropping from the sky and others have trees that cause you to explode.unnamed-3

Each level is set in stone. Where the spike pit was last time you played is where it’ll be this time. This means you have to spend time ‘learning’ each level and this is no easy feat. Some of the levels are seriously tricky and will require multiple attempts, especially if you want to collect the diamonds that are scattered about.

This would be annoying and boring if it weren’t for the presentation and the audio. The level’s are synched to the music which helps give everything a real punch. As the bassline of the song kicks in, the weights drop from the sky and it goes without saying that the music is pretty darn great.

Each level’s audio takes on a slightly different genre of music and the songs go through ups and downs with the levels representing this as well. When the song’s having a quiet moment you’ll be guiding your ball through a relatively simple slalom but when the beat kicks in, you’ll soon notice more hammers, spikes and other pitfalls coming your way.

Also nice to see is the way the game’s monetized. It’s not too abrasive, with 10 extra lives requiring that you watch an advert or wait for a period of time. You can also purchase your way out of this advertising which is a nice option for fans that hate adverts and want to throw some money the developer’s way.

On top of this there’s been updates throughout the game’s life, with new courses being added. Last I looked, the game was up to six. These courses only last about 3 or 4 minutes each, which may not sound like much of a game, but when you consider how hard they are to finish and how much harder it is to finish AND collect all the games, you’ve got something that should keep you busy for some time.

To finish, it’s safe to say that Rolling Sky isn’t revolutionary. It’s exceedingly simple but it’s all done exceedingly well. Well worth a download.


Parents-Schools Connection App ‘School Star’ to Expand Outside Australia

Parents-Schools Connection App ‘School Star’ to Expand Outside Australia

Apr 27, 2016

For people with school-aged kids, the task of keeping abreast of school communications and functions can be close to impossible. As such, apps like School Star can be invaluable resources when it comes to keeping tabs with what’s happening at and around school.

Now, we hear that he Australia-centric app will be expanding its reach to Canada and the US later in 2016.

Get the latest School News, Alerts, Newsletters, Cancellations, Events Reminders, Calendar Dates, Sports Fixtures, Absence Notifications, Teacher Messages, School Notices, Forms, Timetables, Documents and much, much, more using this simple and highly secure App.
Watch School News as it happens on your smartphone on School Star’s Live News Feed!

Save time – set filters to see only the News that’s important to your family.

Two-way secure messaging allows you to communicate to teachers and your school easily, confidently – and for Free!

School Star does what no other School App can:

• A highly secure App using 2-Factor account validation, School Star protects your child’s safety by restricting access only to registered school Parents, Students, Staff, Old Scholars/Alumni and other known school community members.

• Free in-App messaging with automatic switchover to SMS. Great for parents without the App, no mobile data or WiFi. School Star reaches every parent, every time.

• With automatic in-App messaging to SMS switchover, School Star works as a communication tool for your entire school community – not just for those parents with that have downloaded the App!

The app is free on Google Play; we look forward to is North American release.

Mobile app connecting parents and schools

[via The Lead]

Google Calendar Adds ‘Find a Time’ Feature

Google Calendar Adds ‘Find a Time’ Feature

Apr 27, 2016

Calendar for Android is adding a new feature which should be appreciated by users with tight schedules.

Starting today, if you use Google Apps for Work or Edu, you can schedule meetings from anywhere with “Find a time” in Google Calendar for Android.

With a single tap, “Find a time” helps you find meeting times that work for everyone—even if they’re in different time zones—based on their availability and the times they usually have meetings. If there are no times that work, Calendar will look at which conflicting meetings can most easily be rescheduled. Designed specifically for organizations where sharing your calendar with colleagues is the norm, here’s how it works:

“Find a time” makes suggestions, but you’re still in control. You can tap to see everyone’s schedule at a glance—perfect for making sure the timing works for all. And if you manage someone else’s calendar, you can use the feature to schedule meetings on their behalf as well.

Calendar for Android remains free on Google Play.

[via Official Gmail Blog]

Google Play Music Improves on Podcast Handling via Update

Google Play Music Improves on Podcast Handling via Update

Apr 27, 2016

We love the fact that Google Play Music can be our new home for podcasts; on the heels of that great tidbit, we see that Google Play Music for Android is improving the way it allows users access said podcasts via an update.

Now, when one subscribes to a podcast, one can choose to download the latest three episodes of said podcast — automatically.

Officially, per Google Play:

WHAT’S NEW

v6.7.2712Z
* When you subscribe to a new podcast, Google Play Music can automatically download the 3 latest episodes so you can enjoy your content even when you don’t have a connection. And no need to worry about missing your favorite episodes: you can choose to be notified when new ones come out!

Google Play Music remains free on Google Play; there are optional premium subscription tiers available.