Pictionary Review

Pictionary Review

Apr 30, 2017

We’ve seen a lot of variants, and now we get to see the “the” board game come to life — digitized — to Android.

We are talking about Pictionary, people.

There are two modes to get involved in: Quick Draw and Turn-Based. The game politely suggests starting with the latter as a learner, and then we’re off to playing.pict3

Now, if you’ve played “real” Pictionary, the gameplay will be familiar. Basically, you and another player pair up to guess words and phrases listed on cards. One player selects a clue card, and the idea is for that player to draw a clue that allows the partner to guess the clue word… in essence, artwork to unlock the word.

You draw, they guess, then they draw you guess. There are prizes to be won, and the game comes alive intuitively.

In the other game mode (Quick Draw), you get to team with a player to play against two others in real time. This is a race… best be fast. Whichever pair figures out the target word or phrase first wins.

The game is fantastic in theory. Who wouldn’t want the classic dinner party game in digital form? There are some aspects that make it hard, and no surprise really… we have seen the same on similar games. For example, there is an easy way to cheat the game; simply hand write the word to be guessed.

Then, there is always the possibility to pair up with some unknown propensity to draw unmentionable body parts; as such, a degree of care has to be taken.

In any case, it is an enjoyable game, if a bit predictable in places. The ability to create local group play would be a fantastic touch; any form of localized group play could be a game changer of sorts, as well as player feedback system.

Word Connect Review

Word Connect Review

Apr 30, 2017

Word-based games rock. Word Connect is a word-based game.

Proceed? Yes, indeed.

The premise for Word Connect is fairly easy to understand. At the bottom of the playing area is a jumble of letters, and right above these letters are text boxes. The idea is to glean words from the letter jumble till all the missing words are found.wc3

It starts out easily enough, with a smaller selection of letters and shorter words to be discovered. The number of boxes in each word intuitively hints at the number of letters in each word, and one can then guess accordingly.

When a word is gleaned, all one has to do is gesture trace through the letters to form the guessed word. If the word is correctly spelled (and one of the choices), it lights up green and fills out one of the letter sets. If it is misspelled, or is an unrecognized word, it shows as red. Correct words release points for the player, and if/when all the words are guessed correctly, the level is finished, and the next one is unlocked.

The progression of the puzzles is what really makes the game worth the gander. As noted, it does start of easily, but the developer does a good job of ratcheting up the difficulty quotient, with longer words and a bit more obscure words. Now, not every “real” word is solution word though; so, as it stands, one may have to cycle through several sets to get to the right word. Some non-solve words yield points too, and also help to fund the extra words meter, which, when it hits a particular threshold, adds points too. There is a hint button for especially tough situations, but it has a cost… you guessed it: the points we have been talking about. The game also has an “ask friends” tool and a shuffle button; the latter helps untwist the mind.

All in all, the simplicity makes it a tough game to put down, as it’s easy to keep on going. It could probably use time trials perhaps, but as is, it is a veritable bag of fun.

OffRoad US Army Transport Sim Review

OffRoad US Army Transport Sim Review

Apr 30, 2017

Like a challenge? You might wanna check out OffRoad US Army Transport Sim.

The core idea is to help our folks in the army to be all they can be by serving as a transport driver: here, using all manner of vehicles to lug all manner of gear from point A to point B.

The vehicles run the gamut, from relatively itsy bitsy 4 wheelers to massive trucks. The idea is to use the virtual controls to steer the vehicles along windy roads better suited for roller-coasters, and get the endpoint in one piece.

Easier said than done, no?

Our first task was a commodity laden flatbed big rig. This allowed us to check out the controls: gas and break/reverse plus left and right buttons. Controlling the vehicle with the selection is fairly intuitive, and the game mechanism accounts for momentum adequately. Then, it’s off to get out of the base and onto the roads.

The game visuals are somewhat bleak and desert-y, with high unpaveed roads that are quite narrow with matching cliffs. Navigating these is hard, but hey, watch out for the oncoming vehicles that seem to have a propensity for driving on the wrong side of the road. The turns are sharp, and remember that bad accidents cause the stage to be failed.

offroad3

Did we mention the time limits? Yes, you can’t just gallivant on the roads all day. Got to there quickly, people.

Successfully getting the job done opens up new stage — with a new challenge.

Now, what makes the game fun is the diversity of vehicles plus the efficacy of the controls. Against the backdrop of the scarily windy untarred roads, it makes for an interesting adventure that seemingly escalates with every completed stage. The graphical representation does act wonky in places, and the contact physics leaves something to be desired, but the controls work quite well… challenging, but consistent.

Altogether, it’s an engaging experience, simple enough to mostly make one ignore its quirks.

Nonstop Chuck Norris Review

Nonstop Chuck Norris Review

Apr 30, 2017

Seriously, it has that name in the title.

Need we say more? Nonstop Chuck Norris has familiar pedigree and only the most exceptional man in the world in its title. We had to check it out.

If it feels familiar — more than a little bit — give yourself a pat on the back; two claps if it invokes Nonstop Knight from the memory banks. Yes, this one runs like a newer iteration of the prior flaregames hit, except with the king of, well, all things action is the main character.ncn3

The gameplay is fairly easy, and again, identical to Nonstop Knight. Good ol’ Chuck runs through some sort of building, from top to bottom (floor to floor), taking on hordes of baddies intent on doing him harm. This is Chuck Norris though, and all one has to do is to keep him upgraded well enough to take on the insatiable enemies, as well as to unlock and execute special moves when necessary.

After the spectacle of a smilingly maniacal Chuck

A good part of the game is doing the aforementioned upgrades with the collected gold. As Chuck Norris does his dispatching, it makes sense to continually update the attributes (lethality, defense, etc) so as to better equipped to deal with the increasingly powerful enemies. As noted, the action just keeps on and on, and the player’s job is to essentially ensure Chuck’s lifebar stays as high as possible.

The ability to pick when you want to take on a boss is pretty interesting, as it allows the player to amass as much “power” as possible before taking the bad guy on. I also like the Chuck Norris facts that are spewed all over the place; they help the game maintain a comedic feel.

Altogether, it’s a fine game, and it’s free-to-play presentation makes it relatively risk-free.

Checking out the iDevices Socket

Checking out the iDevices Socket

Apr 29, 2017

When it comes to creating that perfect connected home, there are serious benefits to using Android as the connecting piece. Google’s ecosystem provides access to all manner of hardware, and the Play Store hosts all sorts of software to ease along the process.

Finally, we are beginning to see more hardware vendors open up to Android control as well… vendors like iDevices.

The iDevices Socket Connected Light Bulb Adapter is a simple accessory that turns a regular bulb to a smart bulb. Now, when used with a bulb along with the iDevices Connected application (that is hosted on Google Play), one can manipulate said bulb in numerous ways… wirelessly even.

The unit itself, at first glance, looks like a slick standalone bulb holder from a lamp; it’s mostly white on the outside, with a chrome-finish screw in end. It has a simple button on the outer circumference, and the interior has the logical receptacle for a bulb. Interestingly, it has an LED ring at the top. It feels well fused, with just enough heft.

And as for usage? Easy peasy. Just put it in a bulb socket, and even before attaching a bulb, when connected to the aforementioned app, the LED provides an interesting bit of mobile-controlled effects. In practice, it took me quite a bi to get the firmware upgraded, but when that was done, the app unveiled some great options.

socket3

First, the app can turn the installed “regular” bulb on and off. With a dimmable bulb, one can get even fancier, dimming lights on the fly. The LED acts like a cool night light, and the colors can be tweaked using presets or a color bar. Then, there’s the programmable options, perfect for travel lights.

Toss in iDevice cloud access and Amazon Alexa functionality, and you have a the beginning of a pretty impressive system.

Amazon is shuttering Underground

Amazon is shuttering Underground

Apr 29, 2017

Amazon Underground, an interesting concept that had Amazon offering apps for free — as in “completely free” (no purchase or IAP costs) — will be sunsetting support 2019.

The underlying idea was indeed innovative, especially with regards to app environments, when it launched in 2015, Amazon essentially provided the apps for free, and developers were compensated based on how much time users spent in the app.

After May 2017, no more apps will be accepted. We look forward to seeing if the Amazon Appstore will return to its pre-Underground form.

[via Amazon Developer Blog]

CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars Review

CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars Review

Apr 29, 2017

I’m fairly confident hitting up a ZeptoLab offering practically unseen; we have been keeping an eye out on CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, and now that’s it’s out, we had to go for a formal look-see.

SO, first, this one simulates 1v1 arena battler, pitting you, the player against a series of enemies in different modes. Toss in crafting and an a simple upgrade process, and we just might have a winner.

From a visual perspective, this one is a feast; we get a vibrant pallet of colors, with cute characterizations (including animals, yay) and whimsical animations. It has a playful feel that does lend to the gameplay.

The game leads us through the basics. As noted, it culminates in an arena, and you start out with a basic machine composes of different parts: a frame, front wheel, back wheel, weapon and the like. The core pieces added together create a numerical value which shows how powerful the bot is.

Being powerful is great, but engineering plays a role in bot efficacy; attaching the right, say, weapon at the right point might turn the tide, even against an otherwise stronger opponent. Heck something as initially seemingly benign as the shape of the vehicle can be a huge advantage in battles.

cats3

And then the fighting itself… now, there are different modes to get involved in, but the core idea remains take on an opponent and win for goodies. Now the goodies and parts won can then be used to upgrade one’s vehicle to be more effective.

Actual fighting requires no input from the players; build the best bot you can, and let it play out.

The crafting element is a good part of what makes this game tick; it encourages creativity with limited resources. Continually making one’s bot stronger is a very necessary, as the enemies get tougher, and some are very interestingly put together.

It’s a fun game, with a simple premise and a reasonable measure of complexity too. All round fun.

Our favorite gadgets of the past year

Our favorite gadgets of the past year

Apr 28, 2017

Frankly, mobility is all about the gadgets. In Android land, we love the plethora of slick pocketable machines and stash-able tablets, but we always love to see those jazzy accessories that use mobile devices to extend their own functionality.

We have seen quite a few of these, and we are going over — fondly — which ones we liked best. Just to be clear, we are giving high marks to affordability, ease of use and the ability ro cater to cross-platform households.

Here we go:

Jabra Elite *Truly* Wireless Earbuds

Jabra brings its considerable experience in the bluetooth telephony accessory field to this sleek piece. It works in tandem and as a single piece, can be used for streaming and phone calls, and ships with several mini-pieces that help with fit.

Stilo Stylus

I still rock a Palm every now and then… just to have a chance at using the stylus. Look, with more virtual keyboards recognizing handwriting entry, a good stylus is back in vogue.

Stilo makes a really, really good stylus, good enough to displace others from the go bag.

Linksys EA9500 Gigabit Router

Yep… so this one is surprising, but when you factor in the mobile controls and how well the app works, you’ll never go to something so backwards as a “regular” router again. You’re welcome.

Roidmi Bluetooth FM Modulator

FM Modulators are so last year, no? This is one is sleek, is app-supported, works to provide an extra slot, and… works quite well.

Nyrius Smart Outlet

This is your connected home starting piece. Think about it: a wireless outlet socket that essentially allows you to control whatever is plugged in by the tap of an app.

Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Wireless Padlock

Keys are my kryptonite. But hey, this lock is powered by a bluetooth connected app hosted on the Android phone. I never lose my phone. See?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 influences MARVEL Future Fight update

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 influences MARVEL Future Fight update

Apr 28, 2017

MARVEL Future Fight is marking two years in the game, and with the anniversary, we get some new Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired content.

WHAT’S NEW

Prepare for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! Get new uniforms for Gamora, Star-Lord, and Rocket Raccoon inspired by the film!
Suit up with a special new Sharon Rogers uniform!
Recruit new agents: Mantis, Agent Venom, and Whiplash.
Discover GotG Vol. 2 themed stages and collect tokens or Tier-2 Advancement Tickets!
Compete against other alliances in Alliance Conquests.
Experience thrilling battles against stronger World Bosses in World Boss Ultimate!
Improved UI/UX convenience features

We certainly enjoyed the game when we tried it out.

The game remains available for free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

[Our MARVEL Future Fight Review]

Martian mVoice Smartwatch Review — Alexa on your wrist

When it comes to smartwatches, I have been somewhat slow with regards to updates. Nothing wrong with the concept, it’s just that I tend to use watches in a very traditional way, and there’s something about a watch being tied to sunset-able OS that gives me pause.

With smartwatches being more health-conscious, it’s easier to adopt them, and now with connected homes, they make more sense.

That’s the background for or formal look at the Martian mVoice Smartwatch.

Physically, it looks much like a “regular” casual dress watch. The watch face has a classic look, with a prominent “12”, chrome accents and protruding knobs and buttons on the right side. The watch face also has a digital panel, as well as speaker, charging port and microphone on the sides.

The strap completes the classic look, made of brown leather with white threaded accents; other options are available, including beyond the OEM offerings. Altogether, it looks and feels like a watch one could wear almost anywhere, and the ability to swap out the strap adds more options.

Now, if you are already invested in Alexa, this watch will certainly appeal to you. By interfacing with the Alexa app (which should be installed on the paired Android device), the watch becomes an extension of the service, allowing you to invoke orders via the watch. A bit geeky, yes, but it actually works well in practice; after a bit of prep (including bluetooth pairing), the Alexa portion worked well.

The app also allows the user to customize how Android system alerts are received on the watch. It can be used as a wireless leash and also as a shutter control for pictures. The voice command portion is great for, say, driving and one doesn’t need to take eyes off the road.

If health monitoring is a core focus, this one might not be for you. It is a great secondary notifier, and just might be the watch for folks who want relative affordability (under $60) with something that doesn’t look overly futuristic.

Google Calendar adds connectivity with Google Fit

Google Calendar adds connectivity with Google Fit

Apr 27, 2017

Google Calendar is getting an update that allows it to tie-in more natively with Google Fit.

WHAT’S NEW

Connect to Google Fit so Calendar can mark fitness goals done automatically and schedule future times better. Check your progress with the new visual tracker.

Both apps are free on the Play Store.

Clue gets another update

Clue gets another update

Apr 27, 2017

Clue, the digitized version of the exceptionally popular game it gets its name from, is getting an update.

WHAT’S NEW

– Increased the amount of hint cards you receive from the daily reward
– Bug Fixes

It remains free on Google Play.