Rider Review

Rider Review

Jun 30, 2017

Ketchapp has quite the reputation for games that are easy to digest. You know, games that need almost no intro or tutorial, but are simple with regards to getting into, and enjoyable to boot.

Its roster is full of games that fit this criteria, and Rider, one of its latest, looks to carry on the tradition it seems.

This one is a looker. It comes in 2D, with the neon presentation allowing one to really delve into a psychadelic adventure. If the idea is to forcibly (and delightfully) grab one’s attention, this one mostly does the deed, adding in smooth animations and explosive effects that underscore and enhance the overall gameplay concept. The bright lines with ever-changing colors against the midnight background is quite becoming, and the way the track unfolds as one plays is done very well.rider3

The gameplay isn’t overly complex, or, if one is honest, especially innovative — we’ve seen it before. The core idea is to guide a sleek vehicle along the creatively challenging track… but the control mechanism is what one might find somewhat familiar. Tapping and holding the screen allows for the vehicle to accelerate when it is on the track, and releasing the screen allows the vehicle to slow down “naturally.” The track spins round and all that, but when the vehicle is on the “ground” things are pretty good, even when one encounters the gaps that frequent the raceway.

When the vehicle is airborne — which happens quite often — things really, really get interesting. Now, the player has to figure out whether keeping the gas going is free, because, the run ends anytime the vehicle ends up upside down. When the gas is going, think of the car as a monster truck that tends to pop the front wheel(s) up, except that doing it without moderation cause the car to flip. When airborne, it causes somersaults.

Now, the airborne somersaulting can be productive. Say you rev up and lose control of the machine, and it is tending towards a run-ending crash. Well, if you have enough air, it might behoove you to go ahead and flip it, so as to right the landing. With a little bit of nerve, it is possible to make lemonade out of lemons, and to even look cute while doing it.

The raceway does its part to keep things interesting. As noted, it is fairy hard to predict, and one has to contend with barrels, holes, hills, and even track that dissolves as it is being traveled over. You will encounter air catapults and rotating blades too; beware and be ready!

The gameplay is leveled, and there are gift boxes that can be unlocked that provide better gear. There are achievements and related goodies as well, so players do have targets to aim for.

As already hinted at, the simplicity of this game is what makes it tick. It is easy on the mind, allowing it to require a bit of skill without demanding too much mental resources.

Just travel and get points.

Bounzy! Review

Bounzy! Review

Jun 30, 2017

Time for Bounzy!.

In this one, you are a mage, and you are helping to protect a town. From what? Well, a host of scary beasts that look to do the town harm. You, the player/mage, are all that stands between the incoming creatures.

At your disposal are magical weapons that manifest much like fire bombs. The idea is to fire these bombs to destroy the enemy before they make it to the city gates. Now, it helps to know that every beast has a lifebar, and it generally takes more than one hit to take them out. Thankfully, the aforementioned magical weapon is a stream of fireballs that each inflict a degree of damage on the enemy.

The real gimmick, the thing the game gets its name from, is the bouncing walls. You see, the magic has the ability to rebound continually within the playing area, doing damage to damage-able things, on and on till they destroy all the enemies or are bounced back towards the bounzy3town where they dissipate. The mage character at the bottom of the screen, and the beasts march forwards. You shoot, and they move forward unless/until they are destroyed by the fire spells. As an added twist, the position of the mage changes randomly every go.

Shooting is performed by tapping, holding and dragging to specify direction, just like operating the catapult in Angry Birds. It’s all about physics, angling and figuring out how to create the most long lasting cascade of bouncing fireballs every round.

So, a typical series is easy to understand: a line of monsters appears. You shoot at them… but hey, do you look for the direct hit, or do you try to angle the line of ammunition off the wall to, say get behind that initial line and bounce off the back wall for multiple hits? Uh, oh a new line with more beasts; these ones have a higher tolerance and require more hits. Go for those, and ignore the easier to damage (but closer) initial beasts?

Decisions, decisions. You gotta decide quickly, because the city walls only allow for so many incursions before the level is failed. Interestingly enough, the game incorporates consumable special weapons, and as the game goes on, you get to encounter additional foils, like sided impenetrable shields. If one gets into a tight spot, there is a video-watching system that allows you to replenish special weapons.

Completing levels without getting the wall breached allows for you to earn goodies, and these goodies allow for upgrades; stuff like both ends of the weapon stream can be improved, as can the wall.

It looks and feels a bit like a pinball game joined with Tetris, with a bit of physics puzzler sprinkled in. It is an interesting mix, quite addictive with easy-to-understand upgrade path.

For what comes down to a tower defense game, it does pretty well. The charm sorta sneaks up on you, presenting several different elements that blend together pretty well, allowing a simple game feel a bit more like a more expansive experience. The video-watching weapon replenishment system could probably be limited to increase the challenge, but all in all, it’s a fine game.

iClever 2-in-1 Bluetooth Adapter Hardware Review

iClever 2-in-1 Bluetooth Adapter Hardware Review

Jun 30, 2017

When it comes down to it, I truly love my wired headphones.

Don’t get me wrong; the relative freedom that one gets from a pair of wireless headphones is beyond par, but I do love t wired pairs, and I am far from a an audiophile. For me, a bluetooth adapter — a receiver — is priceless.

Still, there are times when a bluetooth transmitter is called for; probably not as often as the other type, but still useful to have. This is where iClever looks to be of use… with its Universal Bluetooth Adapter. What it looks to do, obviously, is to do both parts of the adapter work.

The review unit we received was wrapped in its retail accoutrements, and contained the triangular adapter, metal 3.55mm male to male metal piece, USB charging cable and documentation. The main piece is easily palmable. It’s black and grey (with with text), and has a micro-USB port, volume buttons and audio port nestled on the sides, plus a pairing button and a prominent power button on the front face. There are also led lights hidden near the power button, and a switch to go from transmission to reception.

Now, the real life usefulness will be apparent to anyone that uses bluetooth adapters for multiple peripherals. As noted already, not every piece does everything. To, say, transmit audio from a TV to a set of bluetooth earphones, you’d need a bluetooth transmitter to pipe the sounds to the headphones. On the other hand, if you wanted to take your favorite pair of traditional wired headphones and connect them wirelessly to a bluetooth enabled tablet, you’d need a bluetooth receiver puck.

Ah… you get it now. This does both.

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Pairing it was relatively easy, and I was able to do it without reading the documentation. First, we got it to work as a receiver tethered to wired headphones. The sound quality was better than decent, and there wasn’t any discernible delay.

Next, we put it through the paces as a transmitter, plugged into a TV and then paired via bluetooth to a pair of bluetooth headphones. Again, it worked well and kept a charge over time.

As a last test, I decided to do a puck-to-puck connection; I already had a bluetooth transmitter plugged into the TV for use with bluetooth headphones. Can this unit connect to that adapter and provide TV audio to a wired headset?

Yes. Now, it did take a bit of time to connect the two adapters, but when they finally synced, the setup worked flawlessly, with no noticeable lag.

As noted, the great aspect about these is having a piece that can be used as an all-purpose wireless accessory. It is very portable, and can be charged via micro-USB cable. It can be wirelessly tethered to multiple targets at the same time. In a lot of ways, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

And then, there is the price: $19.99. Nice to have, doesn’t break the bank, and is easily transported in the pocket.

EARIN M-1 Wireless Earbuds Hardware Review

EARIN M-1 Wireless Earbuds Hardware Review

Jun 30, 2017

The wireless — truly wireless — earbuds thing has all but shed the “fad” status, especially with more and more reputable manufacturers coming to market with their own unique takes on the concept.

Earin has its M-1 Wireless Earbuds, and we were happy to give them a go.

The review package we received reflects the product in its retail setting. There’s the two earbuds, a cylindrical charging pod, earphone tips and extras, and a micro-USB charging cable. 0.12 oz / 0.57” x 0.79”

Getting the unit ready to go is fairly intuitive; slide them into the charging unit, and plug that into a power source. When the whole setup is full the LED light changes from red to and it’s time to go.

The charging pod did require a degree of precision with regards to insertion of the buds. My first attempt to pair both buds was unsuccessful, but after recharging, I was able to pair the right piece to the left master, and it worked as advertised most of the time.

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Ah… there were a few hiccups with regards to connectivity. There were times the set lost connection with each other, and it was a bit hard getting them back up and running.

If I were to whine, it would be about the barrel charger. It’s a fantastic idea in theory, but I didn’t like the fitting process, as I always felt as though I was putting to much force with regards to snapping the earbuds in and even taking them in. The slide-in mechanism and the LED light help indicate proper placement, but a bit more give would probably be welcome.

If the true test of a product’s efficacy is a struggle to nitpick, this set is good to go. It is sleek, works almost better than advertised, and the portability and usability of the buds and their charging case is admirable.

HAWK: Freedom Squadron Review

HAWK: Freedom Squadron Review

Jun 30, 2017

On deck? HAWK – Force of an Arcade Shooter. Shoot ’em up!

Yep, it’s a mouthful. Goodness.

First glance… a brightly colored experience, pleasing to the eye and full of sharp animations. Folks shouldn’t fall asleep looking at this one.

The controls define this game. It works in portrait orientation, and the idea is to use a finger — fore seems to work best — to control hawk3the lead craft by “dragging it across the screen. This way, you can put it in position to train it’s auto-firing weapons on enemy craft and avoid incoming fire and other dangers. It’s a simple means of control we have seen before, and it works well here.

Like any game looking to describe itself as an arcade title, this one also has several boosts floating around… sometimes, they are not easy to get, and provide opportunity costs situations.

In the thick of the action, it becomes a bevy of strategic movement, darting forwards and back to collect goodies while avoiding all sorts of non-optimal objects. Doing well has its rewards, and these rewards are perfect for ship upgrades.

The challenge starts to build when the enemy waves start to get fancy. Then, it is harder to hit them, and the incoming shells become a bit less predictable. Heck, some diving ships mimic kamikaze planes in their ability to inflict damage by contact.

It’s poor form to mention other games in another game’s review, but it’s probably fair — and likely positive — to mention the parallels between this one and WWII battler AirAttack. The gesture controls are made for this, and while one might have to get used to the periodically blocked view, this control mechanism is about as natural as gets.

It’s a playful adventure, and seemingly works well because it doesn’t allow the one element to overshadow the others.

My App Addiction: YouTube

My App Addiction: YouTube

Jun 30, 2017

Up till that point, it was probably my happiest day.

Ever.

I was trying to recapture a part of my youth. See, kids today don’t understand how music videos transformed our lives. Back then, cable was not a luxury my dad was ever going to pay for, and our only way of seeing our favorite musician do their thing were the patched together VHS tapes that folks peddled in the open air markets.

We had informal trading clubs.

And then came MTV and them. And internet at home.

And then, I stumbled on YouTube.

I was searching for a music video from way back when… via MSN search, if memory serves me correctly. I could not believe that I could find and watch MC Hammer online. Score.

Since then, it has grown from a bookmark constant to an indispensable mobile app. Education, entertainment, work tool and content distribution all rolled up in one. I have a thing for Nollywood videos, and YouTube is my go-to utility for this type of free content, and more multicultural stuff. There are so many things one can find on YouTube that is hard to find elsewhere, and then there is the added benefit of having relatively clean content.

Relatively.

And the scary thing is that it continues to get better. As a free repository, it is virtually peerless, but even Google’s more recent commercial additions are not off-putting. YouTube Red isn’t a bad value, especially when matched with a Google Play Music subscription. The ability to purchase content is a bonus, and YouTube TV isn’t perfect, but definitely worth checking out, I think.

I am unabashed fan. The app is an everyday thing for me, so much so that I expect it to be on every device I use, from TV to Amazon Fire to tablet to smartphone.

And beyond.

Fatal Raid Review

Fatal Raid Review

Jun 30, 2017

Fatal Raid is a game to go to bed too. If you can sleep after.

The game packs in a few modes — Survival, PvP, Challenge and Story; Story Mode is the opening mode, and the others open up when players reach particular progress thresholds. To begin, one simply follows the tutorial… and in this game, the tutorial is a necessary feature. It gives one the gameplay basics: the zombie-shooting action for one. In the simplest form, you play with two thumbs, one for movement, and one to wield the firearm. When set to auto-shoot, all one has to do is move the character, and get the monsters in the crosshairs.

Simple does it, but as one goes on, one has to deal with craftier enemies… different tendencies, speedier in approach, and so on. Still, the idea (in (Story) is to take out the enemies, collect collectibles, and avoid having your lifebar depleted by monsters that get too close before you can shoot them.

Doing well procures you game currency, and this can be used to upgrade attributes and weapons; it’s necessary to do both so as to be able to keep up with ability-improved uglies.

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The game is quite arcade-y in the way it plays. Some action elements are deliberately over the top, and those parts do feel like they have a purpose. Visually, it is colorful, and makes uses of effects (such as an adjustment from first person perspective to slow motion third) is quite effective, and the changing backgrounds mostly show a degree of diversity, with devastated cityscapes taking front stage.

The games is presented in landscape, with the aforementioned first-person view being the primary means by which the player takes in the environment.

All in all, it is a very intricate game; there is a wealth of options, and gameplay to suit almost everybody. It does get complex in parts, which might gnaw at the nerves of folks who prefer to get going and keep going, but it should really appeal to folks that like to feel like they control the build-up.

Zombie Gunship Survival Review

Zombie Gunship Survival Review

Jun 30, 2017

Zombie Gunship Survival is here.

It starts spookily enough, with a deployment chopper bearing down on a cruise ship that is seemingly abandoned and steaming towards San Francisco Bay. Two spec ops operatives board the ship, and are quickly confronted by undead creatures looking to kill them.

Here, without knowing, the player gets a hands-on tutorial. To help the team search the ship, you take control of a gun from the aircraft to take out the increasing number of marauding zombies. It incorporates an appropriate top-down view which gives the gunner a good view of the surrounding area and incoming baddies. Tapping on the gun with enemies in sight mows them down.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go too well. Too little too late; even a missile can’t stop the runaway ship from crashing into the docks and unleashing the zombie virus on western US and beyond.

The gameplay is intuitive, and is mission-based. The general idea is to protect troops on the ground, giving them time to complete missions like collecting gear or supplies. Zombies aren’t the only thing to be concerned about, as there are human enemies too. As described above, the idea is to take out enemies and installations before they reduce your ground force to zero life bar.

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There is an element of opportunity costs that comes into play. You see, do you take out the incoming zombies, or take out the obstacle in your operative’s way? Take out the gun tower or protect the building? You have to raise your own defenses up, and look to procure better weapons by raising your player level. As it goes on, there are tougher missions, more troops to defend and trickier enemies.

Choices, choices.

If you do it all right, you’ll keep your trooper alive with air support long enough to complete the mission and be rescued by the evac crew.

When it comes down to it, it is a cleverly laid out tower defense game. Keep the undead at bay from the gunship, earn goodies and improve one’s equipment to take on the tougher missions that come down the pipe. Simplicity works well, and everyone wants to be a hero.

We all win.

Up&Up – Balloon Puzzler Review

Up&Up – Balloon Puzzler Review

Jun 29, 2017

It’s not something you might dwell on too much, but when you think about it, it has to be a tough life for Balloons. Full of hot air, and the cool buoyancy is tempered by the fact that almost every bit of matter, including the air that gives it life, can be that which ends it.

In Up&Up – Balloon Puzzler, we get to help liberate a balloon that has the temerity to want to escape evil poppers and make it’s way up.up3

It’s simply laid out, with genteel stylings that are highlighted in portrait mode, with soft backgrounds that don’t distract from the “real” action. The game is based on a lot of seamless movement, and mostly delivers in this regard, with smooth animations and matching sounds.

As hinted at already, the core idea is to help the balloon move on upwards to an exit point, so as to escape the pin-laden bullies looking to do it harm. Of course, getting from Point A to Point B isn’t nearly as easy as it could be, as their are blocks that prevent “natural” physics from occurring.

Thankfully, the blocks can generally be moved by finger gesture “up” or “down” or “sideways” so as to create space that will allow Balloony get to where it want to go. Performance is measured by the the amount of moves required to finish a level; less is obviously better, and completing a level opens up a new one. There is a hints button that helps with levels for sticky situations.

The games does get a bit tougher as one goes on further into the game. The puzzles ostensibly get more complex, and the helpers get a bit more interesting as well — right in step with the “dangerous” obstacles that are there to make egress more difficult.

It blends together well, and comes across as a capable time waster.

Rent a movie on Google Play for $0.99 — for a limited time!

Rent a movie on Google Play for $0.99 — for a limited time!

Jun 29, 2017

Google Play is celebrating summer with a special promotion: rent any one movie for only 99 cents.

There are no restrictions that we could find; in other words, the entire Google Play Movies catalog is fair game.

The offer must be redeemed by August 13th; we assume the standard Play Movies guidelines (30 days to consume, 48 hours to finish) apply.

Of course, these can be watched on mobile devices, computers or even cast to big screen.

Enjoy!

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow arrives on Google Play

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow arrives on Google Play

Jun 29, 2017

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow is now live on Google Play.

Yes, it is borne out of the hit animated show, and has series creator’s Matt Groening’s finger prints all over it.

Excerpts from the presser:

Created in partnership with FUTURAMA creator and Executive Producer Matt Groening and his Curiosity Company, along with Executive Producer David X. Cohen, original FUTURAMA writers, and Rough Draft Studios, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow blends simulation, combat, galactic exploration, and choose-your-own-adventure gameplay together to bring the escapades of the Planet Express crew to life. Players will experience new stories from the writers of FUTURAMA that are filled to the brim with the wit, charm, and sci-fi hijinks that fans have come to know and love.

Jam City’s chief and co-founder Chris DeWolfe talks about loving the source material. “We are Futurama fanatics,” he says. “As such, it is quite an honor for us to collaborate so closely with Matt Groening and David X. Cohen on Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow.”

The game is free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

By the way, we got three video clips for you. First is the launch trailer, and after that is the story trailer. Finally, check out the official Video News Release.

New game ‘Spot It’ arrives on Google Play

New game ‘Spot It’ arrives on Google Play

Jun 29, 2017

Asmodee has a new one out called Spot it – A card game to challenge your friends

In Spot It” Duel – A Dobble game, players match symbols as fast as they can, collecting rewards, Dobble characters and bragging rights along the way. Building up bigger combos will score extra points, but players must balance their strategy and speed to survive. The game’s vibrant presentation and simple play mechanics are perfectly accessible for all ages, but increasingly difficult challenges will keep even the fastest fans on their feet. In short, Spot It” Duel – A Dobble game is a family game night just waiting to happen.

The game is free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.