Freaky Friday: GoodMoaning

Freaky Friday: GoodMoaning

Nov 7, 2011

Go on ahead and reread that title as it may have come across as Good Morning. Done? Good. Now if you go to the website for this app there is a long drawn out explanation of how this app developed from “serious clinical research” and how it will also make a great theft deterrent. I am here to tell you this is all hogwash. No seriously, there is clearly no clinical research involved here and if this makes a would be thief embarrassed to pick up the phone, well then the owner will also have to deal with the same embarrassment and thus negating the anti-theft properties.

So what does this app do that deems it worthy of $1.50? It moans. Not only does it moan, but there are oodles of tape recorded 1970s porn stars expressing their sexual climaxes to choose from, because you know one variation is just not enough. There are several ways to get activate this app, including using the accelerometer to detect movement which then makes the phone get all hornball like and start yelling in ecstasy. Heck, even the description claims this will help in letting the “smile spread on your face.” If that is all it takes to get someone off, well they may want to look at other cures for their..frustrations.

Really developers, is this really worth the time and effort? There are plenty of websites that have moaning, and they include high quality video. Are people so frustrated with their lives that they need to have their phones provide a fake orgasm for them? Just think, the tailgating clown doing 80 MPH down the freeway just might be listening to his phone with this app. I shudder at the thought.

The final blow, seriously,no pun intended there, is that this app costs money. Sure it maybe a mere $1.49, but those even interested in this app have better outlets for their money. It is time to stand up and demand better apps!

Freaky Friday – Fake Siri for Android

Freaky Friday – Fake Siri for Android

Oct 28, 2011

The Internet went ballistic when Apple announced Siri for iOS. Twitter blew up with all kinds of oddball questions that people wanted to ask this new computer overlord when it came out and now there is even a website dedicated to screenshots of the questions and replies people receive while playing with this new technology. It was only a matter of time before someone decided Android needed this same technology, but with way less functionality.

In case the title of the app doesn’t give it away, this is not the full-blown Siri technology. There is no asking the phone for directions to the local bar, this Siri will not look up recipes for apple pie, cannot tell anyone what the circumference of the sun is, or even translate English into Pig Latin. No, all this app will do is provide some weak, sometimes witty, answers to the questions that the user feeds it. What makes this worse is that it barely understands what it is asked and it pushes ads to the phone. The last I remember, Siri on iOS was not pushing ads for Tucks Medicated Pads on anyone.

Fake Siri is the blue ball app of the marketplace. Android users would enjoy a fully functional Siri of their own as the potential it has is unquestionable. However, only providing somewhat funny answers is just a waste of space when the power lies in having a phone serve as a personal Alfred. Adding insult to this is that the app cannot even adjust to different screen sizes and phones with smaller screens need to download a different version. That right there is just lazy programming.

Siri may be the humble beginnings of Skynet, but this version is the result of a programmer who lost interest when the job was half done, stole an app icon, and then hoped the bribe money they gave the boss was enough to allow this app to ship to the customer. Anyone looking for a good Android version of Siri should just avoid this app and hope someone else can bring the evil robotic overlords to our devices. Until then, the T-1000 revolution will wait another day.

Boulder Dash – The Collection Review

Boulder Dash – The Collection Review

Oct 21, 2011

Boulder Dash is one of those games steeped in history, starting with its birth on the Atari and later finding its way to computers and even the NES. The game was simple to pick up and provided enough brain teasing challenge to keep players coming back for more. Today, this iconic game graces Android devices with a collection of five Boulder Dash games, but this is not the trip down memory lane some may be looking for.

The concept of this game is simple. Players take the role of Rockford, who must dig through a series of caves to collect a specified number gems required to unlock the exit door, and this task must be accomplished before the timer hits zero. Bugs, falling boulders, amoeba, slime, and expanding walls provide plenty of obstacles to work with, while beating harder stages will take plenty of planning and forethought to complete. Make no mistakes about it, this is a challenging game to get through.

While the game does not keep the pure retro look of its past, First Star Software did keep the pixellated 8-bit aesthetics but revamped for the standards of today. Sprite animations consist of a few frames of movement, stages are a smattering of three to four basic colors, and big blocky pixels makeup everything in the world. It is a nice homage to the games from which this comes.

Sadly, once the nostalgia wears off things quickly start to deteriorate thanks to the obscenely finicky controls. There are three methods to control Rockford and they all have nuances that add an unnecessary difficulty to the game. The tilt controls are not precise enough for a game such as this, the split controls (placing up/down and left/right arrows on opposite sides of the screen) take a fair amount of time to adjust to, and the d-pad is too small which leads to an excessive amount of wrong key presses. This is a game which needs solid controls to conquer the harder levels, yet they fight players almost as much as the stages themselves.

The second concern is the price. At $3.99, this is an expensive game. There are plenty of good retro puzzle games on the market that offer just as much fun but at a fraction of the cost. Having to then buy additional caves as an in-app purchase adds insult to injury. If this game included everything, as in no in-game purchases, at the $4 it would be a good deal. There are free updates to push extra content, but having to buy more levels feels too much like a money grab.

Tweak the controls while dropping the price slightly and this would easily be a recommendation for fans. As it stands now, however, battling the controls detracts from the overall fun that this game ultimately could be. The high price and lack of all content unlocked is also a bitter pill to swallow. Wait for this to go on sale before adding it to the game collection.

Freaky Friday – FaceStalker

Freaky Friday – FaceStalker

Oct 21, 2011

I think we can all agree that Facebook is one of the most popular social media hangout spots online. After all, people can reconnect with old high school mates they don’t even vaguely remember, complain about politics with thousands of “friends”, play kick butt farming games, and post mundane photos from the kegger last week. So what happens when someone wants to save those blurry, poorly composed, terrible shots from said party as a memento to all the drunken shenanigans? This is easily solved with the creeptastic app by the name of FaceStalker.

As if the title of FaceStalker is not enough to ward off law-abiding citizens, what the app does is truly unnerving. This app, when left running, will go through all the user’s Facebook friends pages and download every last image these people post. If a friend happens to delete some embarrassing shot of her hovering over the porcelain god while someone else holds her hair back, that image is not lost forever as it is now stored on the phone thanks to this app. Nothing could be more awesome than saving those embarrassing moments for blackmailing at a later time, right?!?

While it maybe cool for an app to download and save every photo a user posts to their wall, it is not so cool when that same app downloads every image from every friend. Heck, the description of this app even claims that it “Allowing you to stalk their photos any time you like.” This app will not make anyone the life of the party, and in fact it may scare away friends. Those people who wish to take on the life of a hermit and not have any friends at all, download this app now. Those that wish to not come across as the creepy dude who sits in the corner eyeballing passersby, skip this app.

SketchBook Mobile Review

SketchBook Mobile Review

Oct 18, 2011

The nice thing about phones is that they are with us almost everywhere we go. Out at a ballgame and have a sudden surge of creativity and want to get that idea drawn out before it fades into the black abyss, but don’t want to leave the game? Thankfully, Autodesk has a solution that will allow users to quickly sketch that idea right on their phone, and that solution is SketchBook Mobile.



This app starts by giving users a canvas size of 1024 by the resolution width of the device this is running on. Next is the clever shortcut panel that allows quick access to all the pens, brushes, eraser, and fill tools. Users may fine tune the size and opacity of each brush via holding a finger in the middle of the screen and then dragging up and down for opacity or left and right for size. It takes only a few moments of use, but once acclimated, swapping between drawing devices is quick and effortless.



A big item for any app of this nature are the use of layers, and thankfully they make an appearance here. All the layers are on transparent background and that includes the first layer. These are then movable, so something like placing an outline of a house on top of the color so it looks better is not only doable, but it is painless as well. Toggling specific layers on and off further adds to the total control.



Finally, saving work comes with a variety of choices. Options include saving as JPG, which will flatten everything out (merges all layers together) or exporting as a PNG, which will flatten the image while maintaining a transparent background. The most impressive of all the file formats is a PSD (Photoshop file) that preserves both the transparent background and all the layers, thus allowing for superior integration with Photoshop.



While this is a powerful tool, there is a few kinks that keep this from being the best doodling experience around. The text tool is intuitive to use, but once placed on the screen and the OK button tapped, those words are stuck in that position with no way to re-edit them. Also, finding old drawings on the device is a bit cumbersome at first. The most notable issue will be the delay between drawing with the finger and the actual results showing up on the screen. This delay was not terrible, but it is not a 1:1 response, and that leads to more work in the end. 



Will this replace tradition art tools like Photoshop, pen and paper, or a Wacom tablet? Most likely not. However, those that can live with the shortcomings will find this is a great addition to any workflow, especially for those that are on the move or just like to work away from the office. The price is low enough for anyone to pick up, but those that take time to master all the intricacies of this app will benefit from a great tool that never runs out of ink at the most inopportune time.



Dragon, Fly! Review

Dragon, Fly! Review

Oct 17, 2011

Every once in a while a game comes to the market that proves that having a cutesy premise coupled with basic, yet solid, controls is the perfect storm for awesomeness. Four Pixels mastered this combination with their game Dragon, Fly! Thus we have yet another prime example of why not everything centers on massive graphics and a variety of guns to be terribly fun and time-consuming.

This is a simple game, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is an easy game. Tapping on the screen causes the baby dragon to dive, and this is essential to racing down hills to gain speed. Releasing the finger at the right time removes the downward force and allows the player to rocket up the next hill. Timing these two factors perfectly will cause a “swoosh” affect, and the baby dragon will gain massive height and speed, thus putting vital distance between baby and mother. Perfecting this control system is essential when it comes to the more difficult realms and out running the mother who is chasing behind. Completing the gameplay are diamonds and potions to gather, new dragons to acquire, and special abilities to aid in obtaining massive distances. It is madly addicting, and challenging when one must hurriedly decided if loosing some speed is worth it for a few extra gems.

The controls are not the only simple item as the presentation stays lighthearted. Each realm comes with its own set of muted colors ranging from delicate greens to muddy browns. The best part is the stages change everyday, so there is always something new to enjoy. The audio could serve as the intro for a child’s Saturday morning cartoon. It comes together nicely, but I found myself turning on the radio or plugging into my computer for better ear candy while playing.

The downfall of this game is not due to controls or a simplistic presentation, but rather a feeling of unoriginality. Anyone familiar with Tiny Wings will feel as though they are playing the exact same game, just re-skinned and the difficulty turned down. However, those that have never played Tiny Wings on iOS will now see what all they hype was about, but those that have played this iOS game will feel cheated.

As the saying goes: “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, and there is a fun game here. The controls stay simple, the difficulty ramps up nicely, and it is fun to come back between chores and play for a few minutes. Be warned, downloading this may cause a detrimental loss of productivity.

Musaic Box Review

Musaic Box Review

Oct 14, 2011



Hidden object games usually revolve around searching an area for answers to some mystery and repeating this process over and over. The people at HeroCraft decided this basic formula needed something else, and thus they added in some logic puzzles to help sweeten the pot. It is an interesting spin on the genre, and in this case it is one that works well.

Musaic Box starts with a mystery about where grandpa disappeared to. A note is all there is to get going on solving this mystery. From there it is up to the player to work through the house to find more clues on where gramps went, and why. The story serves more as a purpose to move throughout the house than something to talk about at the water cooler.

The story may be slim, but the gameplay is where this app shines. Players will need to search rooms for pieces of parchment that contain outlines. Some of these are easy to find, like looking on a chair, while others will require various steps to activate items like an old Victrola or projector to reveal hidden pieces. These fragments setup the puzzles that will challenge players for the better half of the game.

Once an outline is fully restored, it is off to the musical puzzle aspect of the game. For this part there is a small section on the bottom of the screen where players can listen to the song they need to build, and Tetris-esque pieces scattered about the board. These pieces will need to be assembled in the correct order to recreate the song. The outline helps define the puzzle while colored symbols complicate it further by not allowing duplicate colors in each row. A hint system is there to aid players, but using it will deduct from the final score.

All this item hunting and brain teasing happens in a beautifully detailed world. Every room is unique and varied with heaps of musical items and paraphernalia scattered about, like a workshop that has violin frames hanging from the rafters or a study with old Victorian wallpaper. This is also a game that sounds great, which is a good thing due to how much of it revolves around music. The puzzles place familiar tunes, like Mary Had A Little Lamb, into unique compositions. This is a game I wish I had a larger screen to enjoy.

The biggest hitch I ran into was with the controls. Sometimes I would want to tap on a piece of paper sticking out behind a book, or pick up an item off a stack of junk, but the game would register the tap wrong and select something else. This led to a lot of double and triple inputs to select the correct item. It can become a bit frustrating, but those playing on a tablet may not have the same issue as the larger viewing area will be more forgiving here.

Musaic Box is enjoyable and entertaining with just enough challenge to make things fun, but not so over the top to make one want to chuck their phone in frustration. There is a lite version for anyone wanting to test the waters, but gamers that enjoy this genre will find this solid purchase.



Freaky Friday – Marijuana Harvest Free

Freaky Friday – Marijuana Harvest Free

Oct 14, 2011

There are apps on the market that just make one ask why. These are those apps that mysteriously show up on the marketplace late at night, as if they are sneaking back into the house after breaking curfew. Yet just as they think they have succeeded in quietly slipping into their room, they step on a creaking board and we find them in all their shame. Marijuana Harvest is one such naughty app.


Let’s start with the basics here. No, this is not an app to teach anyone how to grow, sell, or germinate their own special brand of cannabis. Neither will it get anyone high nor teach anyone the proper joint rolling techniques. Sadly, it would appear that a code junkie was high when they decided to make an app that does nothing more than create a live wallpaper of a gentle swaying field of pot plants. It even claims that the wallpapers are in HD, but judging from the screenshot they are far from HD quality.

Maybe this is cool when everyone is sitting around the empty bong and daring each other to drink the leftover water, but there is little use for something like this. After all, being wasted with some good buddies while huddling around a tiny phone screen and tripping over a fake field of Mary Jane is a lost opportunity in contemplating why the carpet feels so soft and luxurious. 



Instead, put the dope down, develop something fun for everyone to enjoy and make millions off some quality hard work. Then after hitting the big time, buy a boat, cruise down to the Caribbean, and sip on exotic drinks with little fancy umbrellas tucked into overly expensive fruit. It is far from illegal and a hundred times more entertaining. Just a through for those kids debating what they should do with their lives.

Minecraft – Pocket Edition Review

Minecraft – Pocket Edition Review

Oct 10, 2011

It is time to rejoice all ye Minecraft Junkies, for this electronic dope is finally out on Android 2.2 devices. That’s right, Xperia Play owners are no longer the only people who get to build in this marvelous land. While the excitement for this game is through the roof, there are a few caveats that need to be kept in mind before hitting that purchase button.

Let’s start with the fundamentals of what Minecraft is, just incase someone has been living in the Arctic Circle with no internet for the past few years. This game generates random worlds and allows players to freely construct whatever their minds desire. Anything from the Starship Enterprise to mansions complete with outdoor water slides are constructible with cubes of various materials, and the only limiting factor is the imagination. This game is the definition of open world creativity.

The game runs rather well, and the touchscreen controls are relatively solid. There are times when looking around becomes hindered by the game trying to decide if it should break a block or look towards the sky. A virtual d-pad provides the movement, holding a finger on an object will start to break it, and materials are quickly accessed via quick keys at the bottom of the screen. The UI is intuitive, well-put together, and stays out of the way, thus allowing the player an unobtrusive view into their play land.

This also maintains the sounds and looks from the computer game, which means everything is constructed of square blocks that carry a pixellated look. Breakable cubes make up trees, mountains, oceans, and beaches. The only sounds are those of breaking various items or slapping down a cube. The whole package is simple yet effective, and it is nice to see that the mobile version stays faithful to its computer roots.

Now for the downside, and that is players looking for a full port of the computer version are in for a rude awakening. Survival mode is missing, there are no enemies to battle, not all the building materials are available, and playing online is limited to a local WiFi connection. This version brings only the building aspect to the table, and even that is roughly a year behind from the desktop version. Anyone hoping this is a cheaper version of the full Minecraft experience will be let down. Yet, there is still hours upon hours of fun in just crafting a world to one’s own design.

Minecraft – Pocket Edition is just that, a smaller version of the full game to play anywhere an Android-based phone or tablet goes. It is not the full experience, but crafting worlds that are limited only by blueprints created from the imagination will suck away hours of time, and I would know as I’ve lost 10+ hours to this dang game. This is a solid purchase for anyone addicted to this Mojang creation. Those that are still hesitant need to give the demo a look, but be careful as once the addiction sets in, it is incurable.

Camera ZOOM FX Review

Camera ZOOM FX Review

Oct 10, 2011

When it comes to camera apps on Android, well, things are still barely off the ground. Granted, the new apps that hit the market continue to expand capabilities, add in new effects, and push creativity, and Camera ZOOM FX is one of those apps. However, it is still far from a perfect all-in-one photography tool.

This camera app certainly tries to do all things for all people. As a straight up way to take better photos, this is extremely powerful. Options like time-lapse, burst mode, timer mode, steady shot, and even noise-activated shooting make this a wonderful tool. I found the sound activation a bit finicky, while steady shot took a few seconds to do its magic. Despite these quirks, I found the pictures came out great and the app responsive enough to handle spur of the moment shooting that required quick reaction time.

It is not all about camera control here, as there are special effects that can also be applied to the resulting photos. Options here range from adding on lomo effects to various distortions and warping. There are even a few collage settings for those that want to tell a story in images. Some of these effects are viewable in real-time, mainly borders and vignettes, while the rest are stackable during post processing (lomo, black and white conversion, and vignettes all applied to one shot). There is a little something here for everyone, and it rounds out the app nicely.

The feature I enjoyed the most was how this app integrated with others that I had installed, especially when it comes to sharing. When I wanted to export/share a shot, the app brought up the standard programs like email/Twitter/Facebook, but then it also incorporated items like Bluetooth and Lightbox. Sure, I could save the finished product to the memory card and then launch these separately, but having access right from the app is a big time saver.

Things are not perfect here, however. I found the lack of control over the effects limiting, particularly when trying to apply a tilt-shift filter and I could not move the focal point to where I wanted it. This lack of control ultimately made certain filters useless unless some pre-planning was used for these specific conditions.

From a camera standpoint, this is possibly the best app I have ever used. The amount of control from how fast burst mode works to adding in custom buttons/gestures put a lot of power in the hands of the user. There is a nice collection of filters that cover a wide variety of tastes, though some are more usable than others. Regardless of a few finicky quirks, users that want to get the most out of their camera need to add this to their digital tool bag.

Freaky Friday – Virtual Tazer

Freaky Friday – Virtual Tazer

Oct 7, 2011

Oh tasers, you are the butt of so many jokes and the force by which police make YouTube stardom. In reality, these devices are loud, scary and can bring down even the largest body builder in a split second. These are iconic devices that deserve respect and careful handling. Sadly, the Virtual Tazer app walks all over that respect and puts this weapon in the hands of thousands, so to speak.

This app is simple in that it does one thing: displays a picture of a taser gun and emits some sort of ear bleeding noise while shaking the phone when activated. Essentially this app reduces this iconic device to a picture and terrible sound quality due to subpar speakers. Sadness.

Let’s face it, anyone that has heard a one hundred thousand volt stun gun knows the fear the crackling electricity emits and how unnerving the flow of power is on the visual senses. These are things that can clear a room faster than police at an underaged drinking party. So how does anyone think some cell phone is going to capture these two features, let alone freak anyone out? It may be possible during college keg parties, in the wee hours of the morning, like when everyone is on the verge of passing out. That is just too much to set up in order for this app to truly be useful.

Those that really want to scare off their bro in order to obtain the last Natty Ice should seek out the services of a costume shop and fake police badge. Besides, pulling a good prank is more enjoyable, and nobody ends up in the hospital. Nobody will fear that “deadly” HTC EVO 4G with the tinny external speaker and some terrible noise radiating from the device, just ain’t happening dude.

Orbital Defender Full Review

Orbital Defender Full Review

Sep 30, 2011

The solar system has gone and gotten itself in all kinds of trouble, and it is up to players with deadly aim to save it. Orbital Defender takes a unique approach to flick-based combat, dumps the setting into the void of space, and brings it all together in an immensely playable shoot’em up game, but is it worth the entry fee for this addiction?

The goal of this game is raw and simple: protect the planet in the center of the screen from aliens, asteroids, missiles, and other sundries of space nemesis. Players take the role of a satellite in orbit. While circling a big ball of dust, the player will need to fire weapons, such as homing missiles and the ever popular peashooter, at the incoming enemies. The catch is that there is no shooting through the planet, or it loses life. This little wrench means players have to watch everything coming into the screen and plan exactly when they will have clear shots at their targets. The planet is not completely helpless as it has a few defenses like shields and space dust to aid in the battle. It is a simplistic premise, but one that becomes addictive in a quick fashion.

The game keeps it light when it comes to audio and visuals. The music score is a blend of space theme rock and techno, all set on a continuous loop. It is not terrible, but it will quickly fade into the recesses of the mind. There is a bit of satisfaction as the guns emit a classical “pew-pew” sound, and explosions are full of bass, thus requiring a decent set of headphones to enjoy. The eyes are treated to colors from all over the rainbow, with various gold and silvers becoming the main color of choice for enemies. Enemies are unique and varied, as well as being easily recognizable items, such as UFOs or comets, from the sci-fi genre. This won’t drop any jaws, but there was a decent amount of care put into the overall presentation.

While the gameplay and presentation are solid, there is a hitch that is unnerving, and that is an issue with the inconsistent frame rates. While a fair number of enemies may fill the screen with no issue, introducing bullets or missiles to the mix sees things starting to spit and sputter along. I found this problem most noticeable when using homing missiles. The game also crashed a few times after ten minutes, or so, of play. This stuttering screen may not seem so bad at first, but it can cause missed shots and unnecessary damage to the planet.

At the end of the day, this is an easy game for anyone to pick up and play, but the rough frame rates put a damper on the fun. There is a free version that should be checked out before dropping the money on the full version, but if the hiccups are fixed, this will be a great piece of entertainment well worth the low cost of entry. Shoot’em up fans should definitely give this game a gander.