Lineage 2: Revolution marks 100 days with update and special events

Lineage 2: Revolution marks 100 days with update and special events

Feb 28, 2018

It’s been 100 days since Netmarble Games launched MMORPG Lineage 2: Revolution, and, according to the developer, it has been a heady first 100 days indeed.

Since the game’s launch on November 15th, 2017, it (and players) can boast the following stats:

  • 10,000,000 characters created
  • 160,185 clans created
  • 630,000 Bear Mounts rewarded
  • 179,585,426 hours played

To mark the the momentous occasion, a new rare mount, the Maned Lion has been added via update. Also, for a limited time, the game will have two in-game events. The one is called the Dice Event, and allows players to acquire goodies with a roll of the dice — available twice daily.

Then there is the Equipment Substat Change Event, which promises a stash of red diamonds for players who simply change their equipment substat during the event.

Both events are on now, and close on March 14th.

Seungwon Lee, Netmarble’s Chief Global Officer, mentions gratitude to the game’s players. “We are so proud to have reached this monumental point with our loyal and beloved Lineage 2: Revolution community, and we want to thank our players for an amazing 100 days,” he says. “To many more milestones to come!”

Here is a video infographic detailing the milestone:

A look back… at Sonic CD

A look back… at Sonic CD

Feb 28, 2018

A while back — more than six years ago to be exact — we took a look at Sonic CD, which brought our blue speedster to Android devices in a retro way. In light of “Sonic CD Classic” making the rounds on the Google Play “best new” lists, we figured it’s the perfect time to rekindle Carter Dotson’s review:

Sonic CD is back for the new generation, albeit only being distributed via digital media this time around. I am not exaggerating when I say that Sonic CD is quite possibly the best port job of a game to mobile ever. While Sega’s Genesis emulation engine has worked a lot better on the more-powerful hardware than it did back in the days of the iPhone 3G, this native engine is a blessing. Designed by Sonic super-fan Christian Whitehead, who designed an engine for running classic Sonic games with their specific physics on any hardware the engine was ported to. Sonic nerds are unstoppable.

Sonic CD follows the basic format of every Sonic game so far: run to right, collect rings, perform the general act of “platforming”. What Sonic CD does differently is in its rarely-imitated time travel system. Players cross “Past” and “Future” lampposts, which will send the player to the past and future after running at top speed for a certain amount of time. In the past, players can find a robot generator that, if destroyed, guarantees a “good future”, where everything is sunshine, rainbows, and happiness, and I mean that pretty much literally. Getting the good future in the first two acts makes the third act, which is a boss fight, a good future, and often makes it easier.

The engine looks and runs perfectly on Android, and very crisp on high-resolution screens. The game supports Android tablets perfectly as well. That the game is running on a new engine instead of a port means that new tweaks and features can be added, and added they have. The spin dash from Sonic 2 and later can be used in replacement of the Sonic CD spin dash, and Tails can be unlocked when beating the game. Tails makes it easier to explore the levels.

The game itself holds up really well; the time travel aspect is not something seen in many other games, and and it emphasizes both adventure, in trying to discover the locations of the generators, and speed, in trying to travel in time in the first place. The soundtracks are great as well; both the original Japanese soundtrack and the American soundtrack are available, so hardcore Sonic fans can finally listen to the game in the way they want to.

Pretty much the only issue with Sonic CD is the controls; the d-pad is kind of small, but that’s about it. The game holds up really well, and its relative scarcity in terms of re-releases makes it only that much more special now. Plus, the reworked engine makes the game feel just like it did back in the halcyon days of 1993, unlike other emulated titles that are exact replications of their original titles. Anyone who’s a fan of the 16-bit era, and especially those who haven’t played this gem yet. The love and work that went into this game is impressive.

Balls Race Review

Balls Race Review

Feb 27, 2018

Here we go with Balls Race.

I suspect you might be forgiven for not describing it as a running game, especially since, because of the incorporated racing component, that fact slips right past you. Basically, you get to control a rolling ball, and the ultimate idea is to get said ball to the end — in first position.

First? Yes, there are other rolling spheres to battle against, and you went to get to the finish line before them.br3

Now, there are other obstacles, and in many ways, it feels a bit like Mario-type racing games. There are arrangements of blocks, and you can avoid these with your perpetually forward-moving ball by swiping on the screen from side-to-side. The blocks get a bit trickier and more dangerous, creating jutting solid structures, and even moving singly and together, all in an effort to create run-ending collisions. The occasional oil slick can also throw of timing.

This is a race, and in keeping up with the arcade-y feel, you’ll encounter ramps and speed tramps. Now, you have to contend with jumps and speed boosts, along with the aforementioned obstacles, plus windy roads and the like. Thankfully, you don’t really have to contend with the competing spheres; contact with them really doesn’t cause anything.

…which is my big whiny gripe. I think additional contact physics would have been a nice touch. I can see where doing so would create a whole lot of havoc — there are dozens of spheres — but I think it would have been cool.

Subsequent levels are opened as you race along.

Ketchapp really does have an enviable blueprint, and Balls Race highlights it: fun from a visual standpoint, easy to get into and invariably addictive. It begs you to take it on, and then dares you to win individual races.

PayPal sunsets two in-store payment options

PayPal sunsets two in-store payment options

Feb 27, 2018

Alas… being able to use your PayPal app as an in-store point of sale option in specific stores is no more.

PayPal pulled the plug on phone number/PIN and payment codes options, meaning these cannot be used in stores like Home Depot and Dollar General.

These options go away on March 31st.

In an email to customers, PayPal stated:

Going forward, PayPal will continue to innovate and provide you with new payment choices at your favorite stores. And whether it’s in-store or online, you can still pay using PayPal in a variety of ways including our new business debit card that earns you 1% cash back on all qualifying purchases! Visit www.paypal.com/debitcard to get your card today or you can pay with your mobile device via tap and pay on eligible Android devices supporting Google Pay.

PayPal states that is is working on partnerships going forward.

My App Addiction: Evernote

My App Addiction: Evernote

Feb 26, 2018

Like this needs any clarification…

Long, long ago, when I first got into mobile computing — styli devices were the rage — I really made an effort to do without physical paper. Every major platform at the time (including Palm, WinMo, etc.) had some sort of proprietary note taking utility, which was great… until you needed/wanted to leave the platform for another for whatever reason.

Nothing hurts more than losing collated inspiration to a computer crash or a hotsync failure.

It got better, and with the advent of true smartphones and cloud-computing, great cross-platform apps became more prevalent. This is how I originally found Evernote.

Why did it work for me? Well, on its own, it was a really well-designed app, and continued to get better. More importantly, the Evernote mobile app became my go-to almost anywhere I needed it: on my smartphone, on the web, in the cloud. As long as I had access to a portal, I was golden.

Still am.

Typically, I’ll write a note, snap a photo or make a sketch within the app on the go. If it needs more work, as in the first part of a complex project, I can then pull up the rudimentary entry and add detail, or convert it to something else as needed.

I also am somewhat beholden to the cottage industry of compatible hardware, like Moleskine notebooks that work with Evernote. On any given day, I can revert to handwriting and still save up my notes that way. There are a few apps that have native compatibility, and on Android, the app is almost always one of the top choices in the share menu.

Yes, there are other alternatives, and I can see where the developer may very well limit more of the free features to drive users to get a premium subscription; such is the world of mobile app monetization these days. That’s the thing: it pays to be early, and it pays to be good early.

New Samsung flagships unveiled!

New Samsung flagships unveiled!

Feb 25, 2018

We’ve waited, speculated, and created mock-ups… finally, we see that they are here.

Say hello to the Samsung S9 and S9+, which officially stepped out from behind the curtain today at Unpacked on the eve of Mobile World Conference.

Major deets:

  • The baseline versions of the S9/S9+? $720/$840 (keyword: baseline)
  • The camera is new and (seemingly) truly improved
  • Android Oreo on deck
  • AKG/Dolby Atmos collaboration on the speakers
  • AR emoji? Take that, Apple!
  • Bixby gets beefier, with live language translation, camera interoperability and more
  • The fingerprint sensor moves again (to a better position we feel)
  • All good…

    According to the presser, preorders begin on March 2nd (with a March 16th available date). In the US, it will be available on the all the major networks.

    Video intro:

    Color lineup:

    samsung lineup

    [via Samsung News]

Pokémon GO Legendary Week is on now

Pokémon GO Legendary Week is on now

Feb 23, 2018

Pokémon GO fans: this one is for YOU!

Niantic, the company behind some of the cooler augmented reality games out now, along with The Pokémon Company have some major news: it is officially Pokémon GO Legendary Week!

This event is on now and runs through March 5th.

Major points? It brings back Groudon and Kyogre alongside Rayquaza to Raid Battles. It also includes a global challenge: if trainers are able to defeat Rayquaza more than both the other mentioned characters, they;ll get special rewards.

The rewards are listed HERE.

In addition, the second annual Pokémon GO day is slated for February 24th; it will be a worldwide event that lasts three hours, and will feature temporarily increased spawning rates for the rare Dratini. During this time, Pokémon GO players who evolve Dragonair to Dragonite will also pick up the powerful Draco Meteo move as a bonus.

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[Source: Pokémon GO Blog]

Round and about the Steel Media world (February 23)

Round and about the Steel Media world (February 23)

Feb 23, 2018

Another week and… yep, you guessed it: another batch of great mobile news coverage from the Steel Media family of sites.

We say that with all humility.

As we tend to do, we’re bringing you some of the best stuff from our other sites, because we know how hard it is to keep abreast old all this content; so much information, never enough time and all that.

Here are some heavy hitters from our sister sites:

Pocket Gamer

YAY! Shout to the skies… the latest installment of the topnotch Pocket Gamer podcast is LIVE! Episode 432 has the Pocket Gamer staff waxing astutely on Alto’s Odyssey (more on this game elsewhere) and Layers of Fear: Legacy. Bonus material? Why, yes… there’s an interview with the creators of the latter, plus the usual valuable chatter on relevant updates, upcoming releases and more.

And what might be better than playing Angry Birds? Well, checkout Pocket Gamer’s quick-hitter on Rovio’s new tournament version, which allows you to fling birds for money.

148apps

148apps is up to its usual iOS-centric goodies self, with Campbell Bird’s in-depth review of Alto’s Odyssey being one you definitely do not wanna miss (hint: it made a great impression). Then, you get player’s guide for Battle of Polytopia in the mix as well — get at this to become adept at running your virtual world.

We know you like relationship adventure Florence; it made this list last week. Well, the folks at 148apps went ahead and collated a few more games like it.

AppSpy

Look, James Gilmour’s voice is worth paying to hear. On AppSpy’s YouTube page, you get to hear his take on DAFT JUMP for free. On the “regular” site, you can take in Christian Valentin’s latest hidden gem Dark Echo.

And there you have it, for this week. Check back next week for our next installment of our inter-site rundown.

Kid Watch: Scooby-Doo Mystery Cases

Kid Watch: Scooby-Doo Mystery Cases

Feb 23, 2018

When it comes to iconic franchises (and detectives), few match the name recognition of the forever-hungry, anthropomorphic Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Heck, I grew up singing “Where are you?” on Saturday mornings.

Scary movies adaptations aside, it’s a great series to stay attached too, if not for nostalgia alone, then also for those of us mired in that wondrous thing called parenthood. We can always share simple pleasures like Scooby-Doo Mystery Cases.

This one is a Sunday-easy hidden object mystery thriller. Of course. What better way to re-introduce those meddling kids?

Those familiar with the recent incarnations of the cartoon will know and most likely appreciate the fun artwork; the whole gang makes an appearance in one form or another, in familiar gear, and help move the game along. It utilizes smooth animations and effects, and the sound matched nicely.

And then… it boils down to the aforementioned hidden object caper. It’s leveled, and the idea is to find object cleverly concealed in background still images. The idea is to find said objects — preferably as quickly as possible and without helpers — so as to get to the next part of the mystery.

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The art is well done here, and the objects are not that hard to find. There is a decent amount of repetition… you can repeat levels, and while they repeated levels are usually not completely identical, there there is a good deal of overlap: just enough to keep a young person engaged/challenged without being too frustrated. There are limited hints, but, as hinted at earlier finishing without using them (and under the premium time) leads to three stars.

It’s good enough to not be too childlike; I was able to get some enjoyment, and even able to challenge the my two (12 and younger) to timed battles of sorts.

It’s an easy game, easy to like and pleasant to play — and even might span generations. Not bad at all, for kids and kids at heart.

Five of the coolest games on Android now (Feb 21)

Five of the coolest games on Android now (Feb 21)

Feb 21, 2018

Here we go…

Welcome to the first installment of our list of some games you’d do well to check out now.

Why? Well, we know there are so many games — good ones, even — and so little time for you to check them out. It is our civic duty to help you find the ones to check out right now.

The ground rules? Refreshingly few, we think:

  • Premium on free games: we know you like freemium, and so do we.
  • We reserve the right to update this list every week.
  • Rebuttals (and suggestions) are welcome. Mostly.

And we are off… in no particular order:

Mad Skills BMX 2 (freemium)
Here is us trying to pass on our addiction with you. We just got into this off-road biking gem, and feel obligated to share. It can be played in bits or for long periods, and doesn’t necessarily require cash to go far. You’re welcome.

Hero Hunters (freemium)
If you like cover systems, this will be right up your alley. If you’re one of those weird folks that does not like cover systems, then this game should bring you back to the land of the living. It has more than one trick up its sleeve, and you get to take down a power-hungry madman.

Nitro Racing GO (freemium)
Clicker. Racing. Yes. So, this is, uh, non-legal street racing for the faint at heart.

Hostage Negotiator ($3.99)
A board game for those looking to live the topsy-turvy life of a negotiator? Dice plus procedural for the win.

Sonic CD Classic (freemium)
Like this needs any preamble. C’mon…

That’s it for this week. Do you have a recent game that you figure can knock off one of these? Let us know.

Mad Skills BMX 2 Review

Mad Skills BMX 2 Review

Feb 21, 2018

Memories, memories… that’s what the new-ish Mad Skills BMX 2 does for me.

If looks are your thing — and, if we had to guess, everyone would say they are — then hey, you’ll probably dig Mad Skills BMX 2. I mean, the default side camera view is as naturalas it comes, and the better to see it all with. The color blending is great, and it really has a serious feel to it, what with the realistic animations and the detail oriented backgrounds. Visually, it is quite richly expressed, and the eye candy component helps set the tone for the gameplay itself.

And when it comes to the gameplay, Mad Skills BMX 2 really wants you to get it, and goes about that by incorporating a fairly exhaustive tutorial. Said tutorial allows you to grasp the controls; these are fairly easy, with an emphasis on leaning forward/back to jump or bare down, along with boosts buttons when available. Rest assured, the intro sessions are done in parts: for example, you learn to maximize downhill speeds and when to tap that down button — to make it worth it, you race against a mirror image of yourself doing the off-road bike thing. Winning yields game currency, and then it’s off to do the tutorials for jumping, landing and so on.

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When the teaching series is done, you’re ready to start the “true” racing pathway, and these are grouped by locale; you have to finish the one series to unlock the next. As you go on though, it makes sense to pick up better equipment, and that is where the earned game currency come in. There are also specials that can be unlocked, and there are plenty of opportunities to use real cash.

It’s fun, relatively self-contained number, easy to get into and enjoy. It allows for plenty of play of somewhat different types. It does bog down at times if you go the free route, so a little bit of patience would be required.

Worth a look, and even an afternoon.

Behind the Scenes: The Android Mobile Casino Experience

Behind the Scenes: The Android Mobile Casino Experience

Feb 19, 2018

The Prodigious Growth of the Mobile Market
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Global Mobile Users: Source – ComScore

It comes as no surprise that mobile Internet now outstrips desktop users by a long margin. This was boosted by low-cost Internet (Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G), cost reductions with Android smartphones and tablets, and a burgeoning middle class in China and India.
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Personal Use of Devices: 2017 – Source – OfCom

According to an OfCom communications report, users in the UK and the US spend 66 and 87 hours per month respectively browsing the web on their smartphones. The KPCB statistics for 2015 indicate that US mobile usage accounted for 51% of all time spent on digital media.
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Smartphone Market Share – Source: DAZEINFO

Smartphones dominate over tablets, laptops and desktops by a long margin. This was confirmed by OfCom research in 2017.

Android vs iOS – The Growing Divide

The leading mobile operating systems are Android and iOS. In terms of their worldwide market share, Android has led iOS (iPhone) since 2012. The stats reveal the following:

  • Q2 2012 – Android 69.3%; iOS 16.6%
  • Q2 2013 – Android 79.8%; iOS 12.9%
  • Q2 2014 – Android 84.8%; iOS 11.6%
  • Q2 2015 – Android 82.8%; iOS 13.9%
  • Q2 2016 – Android 86.2%; iOS 12.9%
  • The remaining percentages are filled by Blackberry and Windows Phone OS. There are also strong geographic trends. iOS dominates in Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and France. Android is dominant in Mexico, South America, Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Indonesia.

    Android devices are significantly cheaper than iPhones. According to Forbes Magazine, the typical price of an iPhone is around $687, while that of an Android smartphone is $254.

    The Challenges of Mobile for Web Developers

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    AMP HTML, JS, and Cache – Source: AMP

    Web developers face unique challenges when setting up a site that is mobile friendly. Today, websites have adopted a mobile-first policy when it comes to the user experience. Everything begins with smartphone functionality. Website developers that begin with a PC-based platform (desktop) typically encounter problems when they try to optimize for mobile afterwards. Desktop features may be visible to the end user, while they are invisible to the mobile user. The biggest challenge on mobile though is load time. Mobile is significantly slower than desktop and this is problematic.

    Maintain Traffic Flow

    If a website only functions optimally for PC-based users, it stands to lose considerable traffic among mobile users. Web developers must juggle multiple issues such as navigation, functionality, speed, and quality. Menus, clickable links, and design need to be optimized.

    Most of the plug-ins that are currently available are iOS optimized, and create challenges for the UX on Android. Online gaming platforms are dependent on the audio-visual prowess of their offerings to create a wow factor with players. If the games cannot be seen, or optimized on mobile, the online gaming platform loses out. This concept is known as maximizing on-screen real estate.

    Challenges for Online Casino Webs Developers

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    Web developers must create mobile friendly platforms for all devices. This includes pixel intensity, responsive design (creates increased liquidity for screen adjustments), greater interactivity with buttons, slide and swipe functionality, tilting, flipping and shaking options.

    Leading online casinos are making it easier for players to enjoy a rich mobile casino experience through a single web page for iOS and Android. The mobile game offering can be accessed from a hub page. This is an effective way to promote the mobile casino’s offerings. This presentation and design eliminates many of the challenges that web developers face with mobile users. The Android and iOS apps each have a unique interface. When mobile players click to play, they will automatically be presented with a full range of gaming options optimised for their device.

    Google’s Mobile First Indexing
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    In 2016, Google announced that its search index will rank sites with a mobile-first approach. The algorithmic code of Google’s crawlers understands structured data and ranks pages and sites via the mobile-first index. According to Google, the majority of people are using their smartphones and tablets to access websites nowadays. The lag effect of PC-based ranking remains, however the Smartphone Googlebot is now crawling across websites and ranking them accordingly. Luckily, webpages that have already implemented responsive design and feature dynamic serving are good to go. The mobile first index is here and it’s reshaping the way web developers are creating pages, apps and enhancing their SEO efforts.

    What Are Google AMP Pages and How Can They Help?

    Mobile websites take much longer than PC/desktop to load, and this has been one of the greatest challenges to mobile functionality. A viable solution to the load time challenges with mobile comes in the form of Google AMP pages. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, and it is an open source project aimed at enhancing the speed, delivery and quality of mobile functionality. This ensures higher levels of engagement, increased ROI, greater flexibility and quicker load times. Accelerated mobile pages make it much more enticing and engaging for players to go the mobile route.

    Google AMP allows websites to rank better on mobile, and this is good news for search engine optimization (SEO). Since most users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, it’s important that sites are mobile friendly. Most mobile sites don’t load in 3 seconds; in fact, most take 10 seconds to load. And if you’re using 3G Internet, this can be as much as 19 seconds. Google AMP is 4 x faster than a standard HTML page and it’s designed for rapid loading. There are no known downsides. To get started, all that’s needed is an extension, plug-in or module on a content management system such as Joomla, WordPress, or Drupal. Then it’s off the virtual casino games – wherever you may find yourself.

    This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.