ZigZag Review

ZigZag Review

Mar 25, 2015

ZigZag epitomizes the mobile trend of taking classic gameplay and modernizing it with more pleasing aesthetics. On both fronts, ZigZag is to the extreme — the gameplay formula dates back to carnival challenges before video games existed, while the simplistic, square look is a modern artist’s delight. Combined, it makes for a frustratingly fun experience that is an artful time waster.

The game is as simplistic as possible — players will only need to tap the screen to change the direction of the ball. With no tutorial or instructions, it can be tough to jump right in. However, it is not difficult to tell what the objective is — move a ball along an appropriately zigzagging path.

Like Mario Kart‘s infamous Rainbow Road, players must proceed carefully, as one false move or failed action will lead the ball off the course nearly instantly, but there’s no coming back in ZigZag. Instead, players will have to start all over in hopes of getting further. It is much like a well-known carnival game in which players must use a steering wheel to direct a ball down a path in order to win a prize.

ZigZag Gameplay

The path is randomly generated and will be different with each attempt. To add flair, it changes colors, but this can also make navigating the ball more difficult. As the path zig and zags quicker, it can be tough to maintain perspective as the main path blends in with the base. Part of what makes ZigZag unique is how the brain perceives the winding path. At times, it can look like an eternally sloping stairway to nowhere, but if the brain sees it from a three-dimensional view, it is just a square sidewalk. Of course, this doesn’t change gameplay, but depending upon the player, the way it the path is perceived could make racking up a high score easier.

Simplicity and minimalism is a constant theme throughout ZigZag, and not just with the visuals. Unfortunately, that means there is little objective outside of beating your own high score. There is a shop in which players can purchase different colored balls for 100 currency each, but putting them to use does nothing to impact fundamental gameplay.

Connecting to a Play Games account will allow players to establish a leaderboard and unlock achievements. However, the mere five achievements are not nearly enough to catch the attention of even the most meticulous achievement hunters, especially considering the ease in which players can earn all five achievements. ZigZag is aware of its depth issues, but they ultimately don’t matter.

The game was not created to give players a complex experience, but rather embrace the simplicty of mobile gaming. And it achieves its goals gallantly. Anybody can pick up and play ZigZag within a matter of seconds, and that inspires old school social gaming as friends try to best each other. There is no doubt that a few added achievements and more varied unlockables would make ZigZag a better game, but even without the extra incentive to continue playing, ZigZag is visually appealing and addictive.

Bolla 7 Review

Bolla 7 Review

Mar 20, 2015

Bolla 7 is the type of game that should play perfectly on mobile devices. It’s easy for any type of gamer to play, fast-paced, and intense. However, the game fails in execution because it lacks one fundamental element of video games — the ability to win.

Immediately after booting up the game, Bolla 7 conjures up memories of classic PC games of yesteryear. Dots scattered across the game board will take older players back to the days of passing the time in Minesweeper, and the color-matching gameplay is about as classic a concept as gaming itself.

Players must touch on colored circles and move them around the game board’s tiles. The object is to match these dots by color in order to eliminate them and clear the board before time runs out. But this is easier said than done. Players are inevitably forced to move dots around when there are no matches, and that wasted move will unleash a scattering of more new dots on the board.

This can be incredibly frustrating as users attempt to strategize moves and set themselves up for success when more than a single move is needed. After moving a non-matching dot to set up a second move, a new dot will often appear on a tile between the two matching dots to spoil gamers’ plans. The clock winding down adds an additional layer of frustration as players scramble to find matches before time is up. Games can be played with a time limit of one or five minutes, or with no limit at all.

Bolla 7

However, regardless of whether you play with a time limit or not, the game is impossible to actually beat, and that is the downfall of Bolla 7. The simple, yet punishing gameplay system works for a mobile game, but the inability to actually win removes the sense of satisfaction that keeps players coming back.

The game is not divided into levels, and the difficulty will be at its maximum at the moment players install it. This means it’s difficult to master, but players will quickly be turned off by the fact they don’t feel they can master it at all. Clearing the board is impossible, as players will assuredly run into multiple instances of having no matches. Instead, users fight to best their high score, but there is little acknowledgement even when they do. With no levels, challenges or achievements, Bolla 7 quickly leaves its players in the cold.

Another disappointing aspect of Bolla 7 is its sound, or lack thereof. Players will hear the satisfying sound effect when they move matching dots together, but it feels like something is missing. Soothing background music that speeds up as players near their time limit would fit perfectly into the game, but instead there is no music at all.

The concept of Bolla 7 is not groundbreaking, but it should be the type of game that finds success on the Google Play Store. Instead, it feels like an unfinished products. With little incentive to continue playing, users will find themselves uninstalling Bolla 7 from their collection not long after installing it in the first place.

Feed the Cat Review

Feed the Cat Review

Feb 16, 2015

When cats aren’t busy playing the keyboard, flying on rainbows across the sky and generally being cute for the Internet, they have to eat. At least that’s what the game Feed the Cat suggests.

Feed the Cat turns the concept of feeding the cuddly creatures into a puzzling affair in its most literal sense — players must solve puzzles by swiping food across levels and into hungry cats’ mouths. The concept is simple and adorable, but the execution fails as the game’s levels are about as challenging as actually feeding a cat in real life.

In each level, players have two or three hungry kittens spread across the game board waiting to be fed. Available food items, which equal the amount of cats on the level, are put in precarious spots on the board. The objective couldn’t be more clear even if it wasn’t the game’s title — players must swipe the food through the level to the cats and feed them. Of course, feeding these cats isn’t as easy as its name implies.

Feed the Cat

Various complexities stand in the way between cats and their feed. The game board is also filled with endless pitfalls, and levels are designed in a maze-like pattern to cut off small portions of the board. Swiping up, down, left or right will not just move a single food item, but instead will move them all in the selected direction. This means players will have to carefully map out two or three moves before making one, otherwise they will end up falling victim to some of the game’s traps.

Unfortunately, puzzles offer little challenge, at least not until getting deep into the game. After failing levels once or twice using a trial and error method, it is rather simple to feed all the kittens. Players won’t feel a crucial need to think critically or develop a strategy until reaching level 70, or even beyond. A little outside the (litter) box thinking and a few more obvious moves will help players complete challenges with ease, which is actually disappointing for a puzzle game.

The presentation of Feed the Cat is befitting of its genre. The cartoon caricatures of kittens are adorable, and the food looks so cute players will feel bad feeding fishes to cats. Aside from that, however, the design is boring and uncreative. Pitfalls placed throughout levels lead to an endless space, which makes no sense given the subject matter. For a game of this type, players expect to see colorful, interesting levels, but instead, level design uses bland, repetitive earthy tones. In fact, levels are barely distinguishable from each other, and there are no zones or worlds that switch up the style.

Feed the Cat has a simple concept, but is full of untapped potential. The game’s puzzles inspire creativity, but that is about the only part of the game that shows any signs of imagination. Challenges are easy to overcome, and combined with the lack of zones to progress through, players feel no sense of satisfaction when solving puzzles. Overall, Feed the Cat is much more Grumpy Cat than Nyan Cat.

The Princess Bride Game Review

The Princess Bride Game Review

Feb 16, 2015

It’s been 28 years since the release of The Princess Bride, but it’s never too late for a video game adaptation for mobile devices. Ask any twenty- or thirty-something adult if they’ve seen the movie, and the response will almost assuredly be one of the film’s many famous lines. In fact, the cult classic might be more popular today than ever, but your name doesn’t have to be Inigo Montoya for you to enjoy The Princess Bride game.

The Princess Bride isn’t a game as much as it is a collection of mini-games. There are four different games to play, each based on one of the movie’s more tense scenes. However, only one level will be unlocked at the outset of the game. Players can unlock new mini-games by performing well and completing relatively simple tasks on each level.

Games take place at some of the movie’s most memorable scenes, so players will be visiting waters infested by shrieking eels and climbing the Cliffs of Insanity. Of course, there are also man-to-man battles with Inigo Montoya and a giant.

Each mini-game uses different tried-and-true mobile gameplay. It all starts by fighting off shrieking eels as they attempt to gobble up the princess. Waves of eel species must be stopped before they reach the princess by tapping on their heads. Then, players will visit the Cliffs of Insanity, avoiding superpowered seagulls and falling rock as they climb toward the top by using the phone’s motion sensors. In a Fruit Ninja-style affair, gamers will need to swipe away swords in an epic battle with Montoya. A final battle with the giant awaits players who make it this far, and they will need to swipe left, right and up to outsmart the brute.

The Princess Bride

The game’s most impressive features are its graphics and sound. All of the movie’s main characters are recreated with a beautiful cartoon art style, and authentic sound clips are used appropriately. Completing objectives rewards gamers with more images and soundbites from the film, a shining example of old meets new. The lack of innovativeness is a hindrance when it comes to gameplay, but the obvious nods to the movie are exactly what the game needs.

Currently, The Princess Bride game is an Amazon App Store exclusive, meaning you will have to bypass the Play Store and download the Amazon App Store in order to access the game. This will obviously make it less excessible to the average Android user, but those who really want to play The Princess Bride game won’t have a problem finding it. However, there is no getting around the $3.99 price tag.

The sum is a hefty price to pay for a game with little replay value, even with the promise of free content updates to come. The price leaves little doubt that players are paying for the movie license, which makes sense considering the only people who should be willing to pay that price for the game are diehard fans of the film. While fans of The Princess Bride will certainly enjoy revisiting the movie in a new way, those who have not seen the film can find similar titles available without spending a dime.

Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Workaholic

Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Workaholic

Dec 5, 2014

Mobile devices have quickly evolved into major business, especially for those who actually use them to conduct business. Better technology and more productivity apps have found a home on Android devices, but getting real work done can still be a chore without the right tools. These Android accessories will satisfy the person on your list who just can’t stop working.

ZAGG Universal Bluetooth Keyboard

Android’s built-in keyboard has received steady improvement since the OS first released, but it is still not nearly as efficient as a classic keyboard. The sleek-designed ZAGG Universal Bluetooth keyboard makes typing on tablets and smartphones enjoyable. The ergonomic design makes the keyboard comfortable and natural for all users. While the keyboard is portable, it is not too small where it ruins the typing experience.

The ZAGG keyboard is priced at $69.99 and can be purchased through the company’s official website. It comes packed with a protective case for carrying and storing the keyboard, which also doubles as a stand for any tablet or smartphone.

GoSmart 200 Stylus

A nice pen has always been a classic gift for a bussinessperson. With touchscreen technology abound, a pen can be replaced by a stylus. In addition to avoiding leaving fingerprint smudges and touching a germ-filled device’s screen, using a stylus offers more precision, especially for hardcore users. The GoSmart 200 stylus can easily be mistaken for an executive pen, but it is effective on touchscreen devices.

At only $19.95, the GoSmart 200 stylus represents a serious value. Use it as stocking stuffer and watch as the Android user on your list never uses fingers again. Read our review of the stylus here.

LG G Watch R

The one thing workaholics want more of is time — and who has enough time to actually pull out their phone when a new call or message is coming through? The LG G Watch R smartwatch allows users to save time and keep their focus on the business at hand. The watch connects to an Android phone and displays alerts such as messages, calls, emails and weather directly on the watch’s face. But the G Watch R’s best feature is its design. Unlike other smartwatches, the device looks like a high quality watch when alerts are not being displayed.

Priced at $299, the LG G Watch R is the perfect gift for the Android user who has been extra nice this year. It can be purchased via the Google Play Store and many retail outlets.

SanDisk 128GB MicroSD Card

Between downloading PDFs, creating reports, and updating documents, stock Android devices simply are not equipped with enough memory. Power users will quickly blow through space with music, photos, and apps alone. The SanDisk 128GB MicroSD card is the ultimate solution. The extra memory slides into the Android device’s microSD slot — a luxury that iPhone users do not have — and adds backup to the phone’s own internal memory.

The memory card offers all the storage space an Android user could possibly need at only $119.99. If that is too pricey, choose a smaller amount of memory for a cheaper price.

Holiday Gift Guide: The Music Lover

Holiday Gift Guide: The Music Lover

Dec 2, 2014

Perhaps the most frustrating person to find gifts for is the music lover. Ideas like headphones and speakers are obvious, but it can be difficult to sift through the numerous options to find the perfect gift. If the Android users on your holiday gift list can’t stop the music, these gift ideas will turn them into DJs in no time.

Photive BTH3 Bluetooth Headphones

There’s nothing more annoying than wires. The Photive BTH3 Bluetooth headphones ditch the wire and connects to your device via Bluetooth. Buttons at each earcup means users will be able adjust volume and change tracks without taking out their Android device, and the 12-hour battery life means the headphones will last through hundreds of jams.

Although the Photive BTH3 headphones aren’t quite up to par with top-of-the-line headsets from Bose and Audio Technica, the sound quality is quite satisfying and the price is surprisingly affordable. The headphones, which also include a built-in mic for phone calls and a travel case for storage, is regularly priced at $120, but can easily be found for as low as $49.99 on Amazon.

Sonos Play Speakers

Sonos offers a series of wireless speakers perfect for any music lover’s home. No matter how much room you have in your home, there is a Sonos Play speaker that will find a great spot. The Sonos Play series offers a set of speakers, including the Play:1, Play:3, Play:5 and Playbar. Prices on the speakers range from $199 for the Play:1 to $699 for the Playbar, which is also a great complement to a TV.

The speakers offer top-notch sound that fills up the whole home, and design is sleek enough to leave the speakers on display on shelves or tables. An app allows users to control what plays through the speakers from any room in the house right on their tablet or smartphone. The Sonos speakers are available at Best Buy and Target locations.

Turtle Shell 2.0 Bluetooth Speaker

In-home speakers are great, but the true music lover wants to listen to tunes on the go. Unfortunately, finding a quality speaker rugged enough to survive the outdoors is no simple task. Most portable speakers are not built to withstand the elements and are quickly ruined by water or sand. Enter the Turtle Shell.

The Turtle Shell 2.0 Bluetooth speaker can be taken anywhere from the backyard patio to the beach. The shockproof speaker is designed for use in all conditions. The Turtle Shell delivers quality sound in all directions, even after several trips to the beach or desert. It is available in multiple colors for $129.99 through the Outdoor Technology website.

Google Play Music Subscription

What’s a fancy new speaker worth if you don’t have any music to play? A Google Play Music All Access subscription is the gift that keeps on giving for the Android music buff. At $9.99 per month, Google Play Music All Access gives Android users access to a library that is virtually unlimited. Users can search through a huge collection of music that includes almost every song imaginable and stream tracks through any Android device or online.

Purchasing this gift for the Android user on you list may prove difficult without access to the person’s Android device. Alternatively, you can purchase a Google Play gift card that can be used to purchase several months worth of the subscription.

Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Gamer

Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Gamer

Nov 27, 2014

Trying to find a gift for the Android gamer is no easy task. There is a myriad of options when it comes to accessories, and many of them can be considered useless. Our holiday gift guide will help you find the perfect gift for an Android gamer, whether you are looking for a more expensive gift or a stocking stuffer that won’t break the bank.

Nexus Player

Android gamers typically love the portability of mobile devices, but even the large screen of a tablet doesn’t compare to playing games on a TV. Of course, gamers can turn to full gaming consoles, but buying a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One requires a significant financial investment, especially when factoring in the cost of games. Google is attempting to fill the void this holiday season with the Nexus Player.

The sleek device plugs into a TV via HDMI and allows users to access Google Play apps on their TV. This is great for streaming video, but it also represents an affordable gaming option at only $99. Not all Google Play apps and games are currently available through the Player, but there is already a solid selection of games, and the collection will only continue to grow. Add the Bluetooth gamepad for $39.99. It will also work with any other devices. The Nexus Player and gamepad are currently available through the Google Play store.

MOGA Mobile Gaming System

The MOGA mobile gaming system has long been a favorite among Android gamers, and it is the perfect gift for users who love playing games on their smartphone. Holding the phone and using touchscreen controls is not comfortable, especially during longer play sessions. The MOGA controller solves this problem. The portable Bluetooth controller is equipped with a pop-out center that acts as a stand for smartphones. Devices up to 3.2 inches wide can snap into the port, making it a great option for on-the-go gaming.

Tablet users will also be able to use the controller without the stand via Bluetooth. While the controller has a list price of $29.99, it can often be purchased for much cheaper on Amazon. If the Android gamer on your list has been extra nice this year, spend a few more bucks for the MOGA Hero Power.

Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger

The Android gamer’s worst nightmare: not being able to play games because the device is dead or dying. The Antec LifeBar 10 portable charger is a solution that fits inside your pocket. The sleek handheld charger is equipped with two USB ports and one micro-USB slot, and is capable of charging any mobile device.

Android gamers on the go will appreciate the charger’s ability to hold a charge over several days, making it hassle-free power. It also has a built-in flashlight, allowing users to find their device even in the darkest times. Check out our review of the Antec LifeBar 10 here.

Nyko DualShock 4 Smart Clip

The Nyko DualShock 4 smart clip is the perfect stocking stuffer for hardcore gamers. If the gamer on your list already owns a PlayStation 4, this is a great complement. It clips onto the DualShock 4 controller and has a stand that will hold most smartphones.

While the smart clip is designed for use with the PlayStation app or PS4 Remote Play, more active Android users will find a way to make the controller work with Android games. The smart clip is available on the Nyko website for only $9.99.

Mobie360 Review

Mobie360 Review

Oct 7, 2014

The Mobie360 app can best be described as a home screen replacement. But the team behind the app demands more of a smartphone’s home. Rather than a clutter of apps, widgets and pictures, the Mobie 360 version of a home screen is a central hub of information for your smartphone, and it makes users’ lives easier and cellphones more functional.

Most Android users don’t find anything wrong with Samsung’s TouchWiz, stock Android or whatever is packed on their phones, but Mobie 360 reveals the true potential of the home screen. However, the first thing users will notice is its not-so-sleek look. Mobie 360 is all about functionality, and that is apparent by its outdated appearance.

mobie360_3Users can change the background, but it won’t affect the overly bold look of the notification bar-like buttons aligning the top of the screen. Widgets can be placed on the Mobie 360 home screen. However, they don’t retain all the customization as they do on Android’s home tiles, a major compenent of Android’s appeal. This is especially frustrating when trying to set up Google widgets such as Google Now and Google Calendar.

While Mobie 360 allows users to tinker with the appearance of their home screen, its real goal is to make it easier for Android users to find the apps that matter most to them. The custom home screen is made up of tiles, but instead of a mere hodgepodge of apps and widgets, tiles are divided into categories such as work and home. Mostly populating that area is an app wheel, which can be set to include apps you most use at each designated location. This experience can be customized, but Mobie 360 is smart enough to provide easy access to the phone’s most used apps.

A floating Mobie icon — which is a cute creature named Mobie — hovers over apps indicating it has a message to relay. Holding down on the app icon will pull up Mobie’s notification, which will give users tips on phone usage (i.e. Twitter is using too much of your data consumption).

Where the app is really useful is in its stat tracking. Mobie 360 makes it easier to save battery and keep track of how your phone is draining power. A single tile on the home screen is filled with information regarding the device, including how many more hours your phone will last without being charged, how much data you have used this month, and how secure your phone is.

This is an extremely useful tool for phone power users and Mobie 360 presents it in a way that is easy to understand. It also provides tips to resolve issues, such as deleting apps that are sucking up too much energy.

Mobie 360’s design will not appeal to everyone, but the app will still provide suggestions to users who refuse to change their home screen. Before you go to bed at night, the app will ask you if you want to enter bedtime mode to eliminate overnight distractions. After you arrive home from a long day out, Mobie 360 will suggest you turn on WiFi to conserve power. All of this is done through notifications that pop up on screen.

The Mobie 360 app can be used in many ways, and all Android users will find it useful. The app is a must have for power users who are constantly struggling with app usage and battery life.

Abs Trainer Review

Abs Trainer Review

Sep 10, 2014

Smartphone users look to get the most out of their phones because they are always on the go. Many of these people are so busy, it’s hard to find time to go to the gym. Abs Trainer, a new app in a workout series created by Backbenchers Lab, uses the portability of a phone to provide quick ab exercises that users can perform from the comfort of their own home.

Abs Trainer doesn’t require a hefty knowledge of working out–it provides simple workouts anyone can achieve without having to pay expensive gym membership fees. If you know how to do a sit-up, you should have no problem understanding the many exercises showcased in the app.

Abs-Trainer-4The user interface is straightforward and easy to use. To get started, users simply select which section of the abdominals to work out. The app directs users to three sections broken down into the upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Lower ab workouts are typically less strenuous and complicated, but users should integrate a mix of routines from all three categories, especially if they are working towards six-pack abs.

Choosing a category will lead users to another menu, this time displaying different ab exercises that focus on the selected abdominal section. The app is extremely helpful because most of the featured exercises can be done without any gym equipment. Exercises such as leg lifts, planks, and mountain climbers can provide an intense workout that is easy to achieve and requires nothing aside from your body.

However, there are some workouts featured in the app in which fitness machines are required. Some of these exercises are a bit more complex, especially for users who are just beginning the journey of getting in shape.

After selecting a particular workout, users are shown a very brief video clip that explains how to perform the exercise. In fact, the clips are more like a gif than a video. The length of each clip works as both a benefit and a disadvantage for the app, varying by the complexity of the workout the clip is displaying.

Shorter, simple exercises are easy to replicate by watching the videos, and users will find themselves able to pull off a handful of routines in no time. However, that is not the case with all featured workouts. More complicated moves–such as exercises that require users to alternate sides–are not shown in their entirety. Users who lack any previous knowledge of the exercise will still be uninformed after exploring the app, which is the exact opposite of what Abs Trainer is trying to achieve.

The app somewhat offsets this by breaking down each exercise with step-by-step instructions. These processes might be confusing if taken alone, but pairing written instructions with how to videos helps clear up any doubt.

Overall, Abs Trainer is a solid app for Android users who are looking to start a workout routine without paying expensive gym fees. The app not only equips users with a database of exercises to workout their abdominals, but it also gives them the knowledge necessary to train the areas of their body they feel need the most work.

Notepad Reminder Review

Notepad Reminder Review

Aug 27, 2014

Smartphones are predicated on convenience. The best apps are simple to use and make people’s lives easier. But for some reason, app developers have not harnessed the convenient potential of widgets. At least, that is the concept behind Notepad Reminder, a note-taking widget that is easy to use and easier to access.

Rather than digging through menus and taking time to open an app, widgets offer a way to interact with an app right on an Android device’s home screen. This feature is typically used to relay emails or check sports scores at a moment’s notice, but Notepad Reminder takes it to another level, adding usability and productivity right to the home screen.

Notepad-Reminder-2Users can install the widget on one of the many slides that make up their home screen and access all of the app’s features directly from the widget. In fact, there is no app, making it the most simplistic way to take notes on an Android device.

Instead of a one-sized-fits-all widget, the Notepad Reminder widget can be customized to a users liking on the home screen. This approach allows each individual user to get what they desire from the app. While one person may need the widget to be as large as possible to read notes, another may prefer a smaller widget to take short, simple notes on the go.

After positioning the widget on your Android device, you can immediately get started leaving notes. A small bar along the top of the widget prompts users to add a note and select a priority. The widget is helpful for completing tasks such as creating a grocery list or a to-do file for the day. However, users in need of taking larger, more intensive notes will find the widget experience cumbersome. Longer notes will display on the widget, but there isn’t room for a lot of information and typing within the bar is unintuitive.

Despite its simplicity, the Notepad Reminder widget also has some features that are typically found in full-fledged apps. Users can set a reminder for each note directly within the widget. Once a task is completed, the note can also be deleted efficiently. There are no complicated menu screens or additional buttons to press; all of this can be achieved directly from the widget using understated yet obvious buttons near each note.

The straightforwardness of the widget is its greatest strength, but also is its biggest weakness. Users will find themselves creating lists on the app, but only one list at a time. There are no organizing features to create long-form notes or organize a list with a title. It would be nice if users had the additional option of using the widget to directly open specific notes within the app. Instead, there is no physical app, meaning some users will find little function for the widget.

Overall, the Notepad Reminder widget is a solid way to jot down quick notes or run down a grocery list without having to dig through menus. However, the app is almost too simple. The oversimplified user interface and lack of a full featured app will make users quickly forget about Notepad Reminder.

Globber’s Escape Review

Globber’s Escape Review

Jul 31, 2014

More than 30 years since its initial release, Pac-Man is still one of the greatest video games ever created. Although Pac-Man holds up surprisingly well today, the game’s formula could use some tweaking and updating for modern audiences. Well, at least that seems to be the thought behind Globber’s Escape, a new Android title that puts a modern spin on the Pac-Man formula.

Globber is a gelatinous glob attempting to escape the science lab where he is being held. It is up to players to help Globber find its way through the rooms of the lab. Along the way, players must guide Globber away from evil scientists roaming levels and towards alien flunkies and objects. The premise is refreshingly simple, and gameplay is frantic and fast-paced.

Like Pac-Man, Globber’s Escape is easy to jump right into, which is perfect for mobile gamers. In fact, the game’s lack of menus is almost confusingly simple. Boot up the game and one simple tap will take players directly into gameplay. There are no simple tutorial levels to educate players or option menus to browse through; Globber’s Escape is all about the gameplay.

globbers-escape-4

While Pac-Man is based on gobbling up all objects located on the entire screen, the objective in Globber’s Escape is to get to one specific area of a level at a given time. While mad scientists roam the lab, aliens pop out of machines spread throughout levels, requiring players to react quickly to collect the aliens while avoiding scientists. Once players are able to corral all aliens in a particular area, a special power-up will appear nearby, allowing Globber to break apart into multiple forms to make getting around the lab easier.

In the spirit of Pac-Man and popular mobile titles, there is no way to actually complete Globber’s Escape, or even any of the levels in the game, a fact that can be frustrating for the objective orientated gamer. Instead, the object of the game is to advance through as many levels as possible without dying and accumulate the highest score possible.

Once players collect enough aliens in a particular area, a door opens up and players can make their way through it. As players advance, labs begin to offer more of a challenge. Scientists eventually give way to larger and quicker robots.

Dying doesn’t have to be the end all in Globber’s Escape. Gamers can use hammers acquired during gameplay to be brought back to life. However, hammers are difficult to obtain–the only clear way to get them is through an awkward post-death slot machine mini-game–so using them wisely is necessary.

Globber’s Escape is just the right mix between Pac-Man and something new. The game pays homage to one of the most popular games of all time and honors its legacy. However, it is not a Pac-Man clone. There are enough new gameplay elements to make Globber’s Escape an original title, and it feels right at home on mobile devices.

The frantic pace and ability to jump right into the game means players will be returning to help Globber escape over and over again.

Skyline Skaters Review

Skyline Skaters Review

Jul 15, 2014

Endless runners make for the perfect mobile games. A combination of accessibility and addictiveness make the genre ideal for gamers on the go. Skyline Skaters Rio is the latest game to take advantage of the portability of an endless runner, even integrating the World Cup into the game’s Brazil setting.

Rio is an update to Skyline Skaters that takes players to the favelas of Brazil. The Skyline Skaters version of the favelas ignores the dark side and presents a bright, vivid picture of the city. With the World Cup in town, the setting is full of color and full of life. Players will see nods to the soccer tournament as they skate on rooftops, noticing soccer balls bouncing, mascots jumping, and soccer-themed power-ups throughout levels. However, the soccer integration is merely a gimmick to capitalize on the popularity of the World Cup as it has no affect on gameplay.

The object of the game is guide your skateboarder through the rooftops, jumping across buildings and collecting coins along the way. The old saying “skateboarding is not a crime” is apparently invalid in Brazil, as a police helicopter gives chase to players. Hit a cone or other obstacle and you will allow the chopper to catch up.

Gamers also have to deal with several obstacles along the way, including flying missiles, floating obstructions and rails. To make dealing with these easier, players can obtain power-ups located throughout levels. Power-ups, which include a rainbow that bridges rooftops and a score multiplier, temporarily give players a boost that makes racking up high scores easier. The best power-up is the rocket, which allows players to sit back momentarily and watch their character fly through the sky and collect coins.

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There are also letters in levels players can collect to unlock a special bonus round. Spelling words such as “SPEED” or “SKATE” will take players to an area full of easy-to-collect coins.

Skyline Skaters is as simple as it gets when it comes to controls. A tap on the screen will cause your character to jump and a double tap results in a double jump. It is all very accessible and inviting.

With the Rio update comes a new soccer-themed Brazilian skater, but obtaining him can be a grind. Unless players are willing to shell out some real-world cash to purchase the character (or any other additional character in the game, for that matter), they will have to spend some serious time skating through Rio collecting coins.

Players who do not wish to deal with microtransactions will find it difficult to collect extras, upgrade their skateboards, or level up their characters past the early stages, which quickly reduces the game to a repetitive chore.

Skyline Skaters Rio is a colorful update to a solid endless runner. However, the fun of the game wears off unless users are willing to pay real world money to unlock new characters and upgrades. Without conducting microtransactions, the game becomes a repetitive quest to collect coins, and Android users will find themselves uninstalling the app.