Magellan eXplorist TRX7 Hardware Review

Magellan eXplorist TRX7 Hardware Review

Jun 30, 2016

It’s all about mobility in cars it seems, and with good reason, when one comes to realize how keyed in to our mobile devices society has become. Smartdevices are becoming more of a central processing unit that interfaces with every facet of life: at home, work and everything in-between.

As it goes, GPS solutions are obviously on the table, and the Magellan name is synonymous with this sector. Getting to formally checkout its eXplorist TRX Offroad Navigator, we didn’t pretend not to be too eager.

The review package Magellan sent us highlights the whole solution in its retail glory; one gets the navigation display, cabling/charging accessories, mounting pieces and documentation. The display piece is similar in looks to a mid-sized tablet, but with a relatively wide frame and telltale rugged construction, with a rubberized cornerings and sealed off ports. It’s fairly hefty in hand, larger in profile than a traditionally-sized standalone GPS unit, and looks somewhat refined in the all-black presentation. Yep, one gets a 7″ HD touchscreen which is protected by a rugged IP67 casing: made for tough business, as it were. The screen isn’t the most vivid, but it gets the job done.

If the aforementioned similarity to a tablet is intriguing, it’ll be cool to know that the tablet is actually an Android tablet with Android OS 4.2.2 under the hood. As such, navigation should be easy for anyone that has used a tablet, and especially intuitive for Android users.

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Setting up is fairly easy. To use effectively, one must acquire the companion Magellan TRX application via Google Play, create and sign in with a www.myTRXjournal.com account. Signing in with the same credentials on the hardware unit allows the unit and the app to sync.

So, this thing is built for the outdoors, so it got the treatment by way of the trusty 4×4 jeep (which admittedly has been begging for some 4×4 action). The big usability features are the ability to use crowdsourced maps, and to add/share tracks of one’s own. The crowdsourcing aspect is well done, allowing one to vet courses and what equipment one uses.

Frankly, at the end of the review, my biggest regret was not being able to go to more exotic locations; the unit does help enhance such travel that much. It is a bit of an investment, but for true off-roading enthusiasts, is is sure to be a hit.

Redungeon Review

Redungeon Review

Jun 30, 2016

Every now and then, everyone needs to sit back, relax and kick it. Redungeon, a game from tenured and prolific Android developer Nitrome, is the mobile game manifestation of that very concept.

If the developer is looking to use the graphics to create a dark, subdued feel, it is successful; this game is all about the spooky. Dungeon elements abound, deliberate color swatches are used in the background and the animations and characters definitely have a retro feel to them. red3

It’s a dungeon crawler of sorts, but quite easily can hang its hat on plaformer by way of description. The action rolls from the bottom of the screen on upwards, down an ominous dimly lighted path, and the player gets to man a simple avatar. The idea is simple: move along the path and travel as far as possible, while avoiding any and all dangers — and trust us, there are a few.

One can choose to control the players character in two ways: either via gesture swipes or a virtual joystick. The obstacles are varied too… lasers, monsters, spikes, even monsters. The interesting aspect is how the pieces come together, rolling spikes, moving monsters, collapsing platforms and he like. One bad movement, and one falls into the abyss — run over. Oh, and by the way, there are nasties coming from behind, so one cannot tarry too long.

There are unlockable characters, and the ads can be removed via IAP. There are coins to be collected too.

What potentially takes this game beyond “just another great game” and on into “awesome” territory is the breadth of simulated dangers. One practically feels the baddies nipping at one’s heels. There is the unending need to make one’s way forward quickly, but one must temper that innate need for speed with a degree of caution and a sense of timing. The whole balance can be quite exhilarating, and the elements work together quite well.

Big ups to the developer for allowing two control methods; each gives the game a different feel.

Redungeon is simplicity at its finest. It’s easy to understand, has eye candy, and rarely fails in its self-appointed quest to continually surprise. This one can easily be a fan favorite, but the proof is ultimately in the playing.

The Blacklist: Conspiracy Review

The Blacklist: Conspiracy Review

Jun 30, 2016

Mobile games and the screen — big and small — are practically made for each other. There’s something catchy about shows and movies with companion mobile titles that seemingly make each more compelling. It’s a potentially symbiotic relationship that can help in either direction.

So here we get The Blacklist: Conspiracy, which is borne of the hit NBC show The Blacklist. It’s a hidden mystery caper, with a bit more, and comes to us via mobile development house Gameloft. It is smart enough to build out on a good brand, but is careful not to be overly dependent on it.

James Spader’s likeness is front and center in the persona of master criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington, and the visual representation is fairly faithful, down to main character’s telltale all-knowing smirk. The graphics are well down, earthy and focused; the attention to detail is not surprising when one considers the core element

The game starts out with stills and dialogue boxes to get the whole thing going. The player takes on the first person persona of an FBI agent Red looks to help, and Red starts out as a narrator of sorts. From there, one gets to learn about the dastardly group The Invisible Hand, and the need to stop the evil group from carrying out its plan.

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It all leads to the aforementioned main element: hidden object puzzles. It’s fairly easy to understand: find the pieces required, and find them quickly. There are multipliers for really being swift, and scores are a function of speed and accuracy. Earning stars is a key task, and one can repeat levels to get by the energy requirement. One gets to “analyze” evidence with gems as well.

One nice aspect is that it isn’t just a hidden mystery game. There are mini games, and Choose Your Own path dilemmas to be tackled.

Despite this, the puzzles can feel a bit repetitive, but the other pieces make it a bit more palatable. As noted, it does well by using great source material, but not getting hamstrung by it.

Frantic Shooter Review

Frantic Shooter Review

Jun 29, 2016

BulkyPix probably has the most diverse set of games in its stable, and brings in newer ones frequently, so it’s usually a fun endeavor to see what the veteran developer has coming out. Frantic Shooter is relatively new, and, off the bat, looks just like the type of game its developer would have us love.

It’s a flashy one, but not in a gruesome way; the artwork is definitely zany, with a dash of the creatively eccentric. fs3The color is vividly applied, and the animations sufficiently smooth such that the whole scene remains active and eye-pleasing. Sounds work well with the gameplay too.

The whole experience is taken in from a top-down perspective, portrait style. The playing area looks just like an arena, and the changing backgrounds help expand the experience.

As for the game itself, it’s easy enough to understand and take in. The player takes control of a character that invariably starts off towards the middle, and looks to fight off enemy shooters that have varying levels of craftiness and lethality. The key is to use the gesture/tap control system to slide around, avoiding enemy fire and objects, while guiding the perpetually shooting protagonist around the action area. This one is proud to be an arcade thriller, and has the elements to prove it, including goodies that can are discarded by destroyed enemies, which can be collected.

Of course, getting too much damage is not optimal, and can cause level-failing death. The game does have a continue system in place.

The game has a leveling element, and other attributes can be upgraded as well. Game cash can also be used to unlock other characters.

It’s a well-contained game, with plenty of play available. The art, sound and system come together in an enviable way, and it’s easy to get into, and can be hard to put down.

Roidmi 2s Bluetooth FM Modulator Hardware Review

Roidmi 2s Bluetooth FM Modulator Hardware Review

Jun 27, 2016

As it stands, everyone is looking to get in on the latest mobile thing, and that seems to rest in automobiles. Indeed, the number of hardware pieces made to connect cars to mobile devices grows by the day, even with the gradual maturing of Android Auto.

The only thing that seems better than an individual mobile accessory, is one that packs in more than a single ability. It makes sense on almost every level: making one’s mobile devices more effective in numerous ways with less accessories to carry around. As always, having something that increases the efficacy of our mobile devices is an enviable — and necessary — endeavor.

As such, items like Roidmi 2s Car Charger Adapter/Bluetooth FM Modulator make a whole lot of sense… in theory.

We’re happy to check it out.

Some background: the unit has a precursor, and the current iteration beat its expectation on crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.

The review package Roidmi sent us across seas was timely. The solution comes in two pieces: The Bluetooth Modulator/Adapter piece, and an optional adapter extension piece. The charger/modulator looks much like any regular car lighter adapter, in that it is small, and has two USB ports for charging. It has an integrated LED light, is a bit hefty in hand, and black in color (white is another option). It feels well constructed overall.

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The second piece comes in a white finish, and works as an extension and adapter for the modulator (more on this later).

So… first, the charger. It comes with the “smart” moniker, and for a reason: it packs in quite a charging whop, and looks to do so intelligently and safely. The two USB ports (2.4A for a single output and 3.8A for a dual) are capable of taking care of the charging needs of a whole host of electronic devices across platforms.

The modulator works intuitively: one downloads the companion Roidmi app, pairs to the bluetooth source, tunes in the FM radio to the predetermined station, and (using one’s default music player) pipes the music through one’s car’s system.

Smooth, and for a relatively old school solution, fairly elegant. The small profile makes it seem oh so natural, and it feels durable, and is easily used in different vehicles once set up.

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Drawbacks? Well, for one, it isn’t natively compatible with all cars. Since a lot of cars don’t have “real” cigarette lighters — and this accessory is specifically made to work with such — one will need an extra accessory in some autos. Roidmi does have the aforementioned receptacle adapter, but this does make an otherwise clean, self-contained solution somewhat clunky from a physical perspective.

The app feels a bit rushed too; it is usable.

Also, as anyone who works with FM modulators knows, this setup is somewhat dependent on quality of the FM reception. The documentation for the whole setup is a bit sparse, too.

All in all, it is very capable, especially for folks who despise wires.

NinjAwesome Review

NinjAwesome Review

Jun 27, 2016

Everybody loves — and probably fears — ninjas, and old school is in, so in several ways, bringing the two concepts together is a surefire way to grab peoples attention.

Here comes NinjaAwesome (from GameResort), and the Android gaming world is off on an interesting trip down visual memory lane.

Crazily enough, the graphics are probably not the coolest aspect of the game… and the graphics are pretty cool. One gets a real trip to the glorious days of old, with chunky looks and stuttering animations that that are well constructed. The different backgrounds are highlight the color usage, and different pastels show up to create a a roving set of backgrounds that are further buttressed by background art for the successive stages.

The gameplay is straightforward: layered platformer with action going in the “normal” left to right direction; the player gets to control an expectantly black-clad character across a 2D land with plenty of obstacles. The control set is important here, and boils down to a series of taps and gestures that allow active ninja to stay upright and running. Using the controls, he can jump, double jump, slide, attack and more in addition to the perpetual forward movement. Action combos (like jumping and throwing barbs) can be initiated, and finger dexterity is useful to have.

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The action is fairly familiar, as the intuitive idea is to avoid bad things, and to make it to the end of the level as unscathed as possible. The game incorporates several tasks, and success in such yields game currency payouts. There is a leveling aspect, so XPs are a valuable resource, and it also makes sense to take advantage of the ability to upgrade the ninjas attributes.

All in all, it isn’t too complex of an experience, and that isn’t a bad thing. The controls can be a bit vexing at first, but the overall output is charming and the micro-transactions are not too invasive.

Definitely worth a look.

In Celebration of All That is Cheap

In Celebration of All That is Cheap

Jun 27, 2016

You get what you pay for.

It’s a maxim that more or less rings true. Better made products created from better sourced raw materials tend to command higher prices than competing merchandise made with less care, exacting standards or less exotic materials.

Other things come into play of course. Some brands command more of an asking price than others, be it based on reputation, or location, or an immeasurable metric held in esteem by the purchasing public — doesn’t really matter; positive mindshare is like gold. Nordstrom acolytes are used to hearing the fable of the returned automobile tire, and it’s the basis of Nordy’s legendary customer service. Just as well, because the stuff on its racks ain’t exactly cheap.

But it arguably has earned that privilege.

Still, I love getting a lot for a little. Ethically, though. It’s so enjoyable to find legitimate discounts and special sales… heck, even previously owned gadgets and make the most of saved cash. I feel an unquenchable joy that, for instance, I am typing up this article on a cheapie RCA tab with keyboard case, and will be doing the heavy lifting editing on an Unbranded (no, this is the true brand name) Windows Tablet. Both cost less than $100 together (albeit with Swagbucks and Bing-derived Amazon credits).

But that’s where Android really made headway. The open nature allowed (and continues to allow) OEMs to look to pack in a lot at bargain prices. The result is an OS with a true range of hardware across a competitive range of prices.

It’s a mixed bag, of course. There are some devices that are not worth pennies, and others that are wildly over-priced. Still, for folks who are willing to look hard to gain a lot, Android almost has to be the platform of choice.

Got to run. Slickdeals is humming…

‘Super Stickman Golf 3’ Gets Firm Launch Date and Full Trailer

‘Super Stickman Golf 3’ Gets Firm Launch Date and Full Trailer

Jun 27, 2016

Yay!

Super Stickman Golf 3 is nigh, and has a firm launch date too: July 7th!

Some features, per the website:

SPIN IT TO WIN IT!
Apply spin to the ball mid-flight for unprecedented control.

CARDS!
Collect cards to unlock Golfers, Hat, Trails, Game Modes and upgradeable powerups.

DAILY RACES
Compete against other golfers in a Daily Race for a Daily Reward.

NEW GOLFERS, HATS, POWERUPS & MORE!
Customize and Dominate!

We hear that the game will be free, with an in-app option to unlock more content and remove ads. The previously announced level editor won’t be included at launch, but will be added when it is ready.

By the way… a trailer is below:

Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari Review

Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari Review

Jun 27, 2016

Cool graphics define Rodeo Stampede, but when one considers games by Yodo1, it is to be expected.

It’s a blocky experience, with naturally sated coloring and playful animations, and they come together to help sew up the major pieces of the gameplay.

The first element is a to, well, subdue the animals by riding. Yep rodeo riding on very active animals, looking to lasso them for the zoo. The aspect is fairly easy to get into, and makes up the action portion of the game; it takes place in an endless canyon of sorts, which feels very The Lion King-ish. The basic idea is that the player’s character is cannoned down into said canyon, and onto one of the various animals stampeding through it. rs3

Once on an animal — say, for instance, a buffalo — the game tutorial gives one the main controls: tapping and holding to ride, release to jump, and tapping again at the appropriate time to land on a new animal. All come in handy, because riding an animal is a bumpy ride. One can also steer by dragging the held down finger across the screen, which is good for avoiding roc formations.

So, one thing to do is to ride a new animal to “friend” it, at which point it is corralled for use in the zoo. Another idea is to ride the animal to one finds another animal to leap on; this is performed by releasing the screen. Then, using a highlight system one finds the right time to tap-drop on a new animal, and so on. Timing is everything, because the animals become pretty wild after being ridden for a while.

Different animals have different attributes; elephants are burly, and ostriches speedy, and as such, some might be harder to ride than others. Jumping from one animal to another does require some skill, as not lining up animals can cause a run-ending face-plant, as does running into other animals with the wrong steed. There are fantastical creatures, and runs generally generate game coins.

The second major element has to do with managing a zoo with the captured animals, and the aforementioned game money can be used to upgrade animals, and make more money at the zoo.

There are tasks to complete, worlds to unlock and records to be broken. All in all, the two facets work well together.

While the game is easy to get into, and the elements complementary, it is a lot of the same; things can be expedited with real cash, though it hardly seems necessary.

All in all, a fun diversion worth checking out.

Anaphylaxis Emergency App ‘Rescufy’ Launches

Anaphylaxis Emergency App ‘Rescufy’ Launches

Jun 27, 2016

For folks who with life-threatening allergic reactions, Rescufy is an app with some serious value. The cool news is that the emergency app is now available on Android.

Excerpts from the Play Store description.

Subscribe to Rescufy and you will have the best app to streamline your anaphylaxis action plan and help you get help and manage medical information should you experience anaphylaxis. The Rescufy team has built this app specifically for caregivers and individuals who have to be prepared for anaphylaxis due to food allergies, insect sting allergies, drug allergies, other severe allergies, and asthma. If you are at risk for anaphylaxis, it is recommended that you always carry your epi and have an anaphylaxis action plan. Rescufy can help you be prepared with your best anaphylaxis action plan.

The app costs $4.99 on Google Play; it also has in-app purchases.

Star Knight Review

Star Knight Review

Jun 27, 2016

I love a good platformer, me. Super Meat Boy, Shovel Knight, you know the type. Sadly, it’s never been a genre that touchscreen devices have been able to get a handle on. Touchscreen controls being what they are, the precision required just doesn’t exist when you’re tapping on a screen.

Star Knight probably knows this (or at least the people making it do). Star Knight is an action platformer but it’s a slow action platformer. Not painfully slow, not boringly slow but more deliberately slow. It’s also somewhat ‘floaty’ in the way you jump. These may sound like criticisms, but they’re not. They’re deliberate design choices that make Star Knight play differently to other platformers and also embraces the limitations of the controls available to mobile players.

It also helps that the somewhat slow and floaty physics of the game are put to good use with varied and challenging level designs. Sometimes you’re asked to wall jump you’re way to the top of a level, other times you need to make accurate jumps from platform to platform. On top of the platforming there’s also enemies in your way.StarKnight3

Combat is pretty straight forward. You have an ‘attack’ button and a ‘special attack’ button. Your character will then swipe their sword in whatever direction you’re facing. Occasionally you’ll want to press the ‘special attack’ button, though this will mean a larger version of your sword swings and your attacks do more damage. This basic combat has a levelling-up system of sorts bolted onto it, as you can collect tokens in levels which improve your attack and health values.

The enemies themselves are pretty varied, some will fly, some will shoot things but all of them are a little boring to fight. This is a real problem when it comes to boss battles. These are battles that last much longer but lack any variety in attack patterns so it becomes a bit of a grind to defeat these foes.

Which is a shame, as the main platforming element of Star Knight is pretty great. It’s all wrapped up in a really smart art style that makes journeying through levels, identifying dangers and spotting hidden items easier and more intuitive. The game is primarily black and white and uses splashes of color to highlight things that can kill or cure you. It’s a smart visual design that makes it easy to see what’s going on.

Another plus is that there’s tons of levels and there’s also an arena mode where you can battle enemies. It’s safe to say that I didn’t spend too much time in this mode as the combat is, as mentioned, weak.

Star Knight is ultimately a quality title. Some varied platforming, solid controls and a great art style are slightly dampened by dull combat, but in the end, it’s a hit.


Rawr Messenger Set to Launch on Android Early Next Month

Rawr Messenger Set to Launch on Android Early Next Month

Jun 27, 2016

Avatar-powered messaging app Rawr Messenger has already found a place on iOS, and is now set for an Android release next month.

A bit more about the app (which has a bunch of august investors including Arielle Zuckerberg):

The free-to-use Rawr app, available on iOS (with an Android release scheduled for later in 2016), enables friends to design personalised avatars, through which they can chat to each other by text and, uniquely, interact through hundreds of entertaining animations, expressions, and dynamic emojis. The app’s ‘Globetrotter’ option (modeled as a modern-day equivalent to pen pals) allows random users from all over the world to be paired together and chat anonymously and safely.

Founder and product chief Oskari ‘Ozz’ Häkkinen talks about people looking to communicate. “The face of communication has changed dramatically over the past few years, with consumers increasingly looking for exciting and unconventional ways to talk to each other,” he says. “Rawr will be at the forefront of this shift; allowing people to build avatars which reflect their personalities (or how they aspire to be), and to perform hundreds of unique and entertaining interactions with their friends. As messaging overtakes social media in terms of ubiquity and popularity, we plan to be at the forefront of innovation in the space.”

As noted, the app should be up and going for Android users in early July.