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 Mobie 360 is all about functionality, and that is apparent by its outdated appearance.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.

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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.

MLB.com Home Run Derby Presented by Ford Review

MLB.com Home Run Derby Presented by Ford Review

Jul 11, 2014

There is nothing more exciting in baseball than the home run — the crack of the bat echoing through the stadium, the crowd roaring as the hitter rounds the bases, and the high fives and handshakes in the dugout. There is nothing like watching the best hitters in the world smash baseballs as far as they can. That is why MLB’s annual Home Run Derby exists. For those of us who will never get to experience what it’s like to hit a homer in a major league stadium, there is MLB.com Home Run Derby Presented by Ford for Android.

MLB Advanced Media recently released a massive update to MLB.com Home Run Derby that adds new game modes to the mobile home run contest and features 2014’s new home run derby rules. The update also includes the players selected to participate in the 2014 Home Run Derby and Target Field, where All-Star festivities will take place.

For those just jumping into the game with the update, it is exactly what you’d expect—players select an MLB star and try to hit as many bombs as possible. There are two control schemes; one in which players hold down on the screen to move their batter’s contact point and let go to swing, and one in which gamers tap the screen to swing. While the holding option seems to be easier, the tap-to-swing controls don’t currently work. Gamers will find themselves frantically tapping the screen while their hitter watches pitches go by. An update will likely fix this, but controls are broken for now.

The game is broken down into three game modes: arcade mode, single player and multiplayer. Arcade mode is the quickest game and easiest way to rack up in-game currency. Single player and multiplayer derby modes offer a more competitive experience, but each will cost players one ticket to enter.

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Tickets, MLB Bucks and coins are the game’s currency. They can be used to unlock new players and stadiums, and upgrade bats and power-ups. An in-game store also sells bundles of currency, which is severely overpriced but almost necessary to acquire some upgrades.

Graphics are surprisingly realistic. Player models are accurate recreations of MLB stars, right down to the batting stances. While players are console quality, crowd models are far from it. However, crowd reactions and in-stadium announcer voices are responsive and entertaining. From the moment the ball hits the bat, the sound adds to the ambiance, creating a great baseball experience.

The downside of Home Run Derby’s graphical prowess is the loading times players will have to wait before actually jumping into a game. Part of the mobile experience of video games is being able to pick up and play at any time. Long wait times hinder the game’s portability and make it less accessible for players with less time.

MLB.com Home Run Derby’s update brings the title from a cheap money grab by MLB to a full-fledged mobile title. With realistic graphics and new game modes, baseball fans will have little to complain about. However, microtransactions hurt the game’s replay value, and players probably won’t find themselves playing beyond this year’s All-Star break.

Cristiano Ronaldo Footy Review

Cristiano Ronaldo Footy Review

Jul 7, 2014

The FIFA World Cup leads to a heightened interest in soccer and Android developers are looking to cash in on the world’s newfound soccer fandom. A wealth of new soccer apps and games has popped up on the Google Play Store. Developer Digital Artists is taking it a step further by integrating one of the world’s most popular athletes into its game, Cristiano Ronaldo Footy.

Cristiano Ronaldo Footy is an arcade soccer game with RPG elements. Despite obviously drawing inspiration from popular arcade sports titles of the past, Cristiano Ronaldo Footy is clearly a game aimed at the youthful soccer fan. While children may find pieces of the game enjoyable, it is mostly an experience unworthy of Ronaldo’s name.

Players will immediately notice Ronaldo’s presence in the title is more gimmick than substance. CR7 will guide players through the menus initially, but there isn’t much beyond that to establish the Ronaldo branding.

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There are two modes of play in Cristiano Ronaldo Footy. The game’s campaign mode offers players a series of increasingly difficult “challenges” that merely consist of beating a team that is better than the last. However, it takes little skill to beat opposing teams at the start of the campaign and the difficulty only slightly increases as players advance. Defeating opponents quickly becomes a boring exercise offering little reward.

Users can also challenge their friends in multiplayer battles, which make for much more compelling matches.

Teams are made up of only four generic players, including one goalkeeper. Rather than providing a full RPG experience, the game takes a more simplistic approach. Individual athletes do not have skills and progression attached to them, but instead, the user earns experience points by beating opposing teams. Progression is divided up into experience points, coins, and rubies. New jerseys, shorts, and shoes will be available to purchase using rubies as players level up. Purchasing new kits will immediately improve the athletes on the squad.

While it is possible to play the game without spending money, funding through microtransactions grants players rubies and coins that can in turn unlock improved abilities and more stylish kits quicker.

On the pitch, Cristiano Ronaldo Footy delivers a quick mobile experience. Matches take only a few minutes each and there is no time to relax. In fact, the action is too fast paced. After scoring a goal, the ball randomly appears at midfield, up for grabs for any player standing near it.

Passing is game of chance as opposing players are likely to steal the ball away. Scoring goals is as easy as dribbling through opponents on the field and putting the ball in from a short distance. Beating the other team is more of a math formula than skill based. A.I. goalkeeper teammates will seemingly always stop the first few shots from the other team, so winning boils down to getting more shots on goal than the opposition. Powerups that can be bought in-game using coins add new ways to stop opponents or get the ball in the net.

Cristiano Ronaldo Footy is an obvious attempt at cashing in on World Cup fever, which is a shame considering it is attached to the one of the sport’s brightest stars. Ronaldo may be one of the best soccer players in the world, but that success does not translate to Cristiano Ronaldo Footy.

PES Manager Review

PES Manager Review

Jun 24, 2014

Soccer fever is spreading across the globe thanks to the World Cup. If you are a soccerfan looking to take your addiction on the go, look no further than PES Manager for Android.

Sports management sims generally require a large time devotion and tons of knowledge about the sport. However, PES Manager is not your typical sports management sim. The experience is catered to more casual players who only have a few minutes to play at a time. Rather than bogging players down with a plethora of options and deep menus, PES Manager opts for an RPG-style experience.

More than 1,500 real-life football stars from European leagues are represented in the game in the form of badges. Players collect badges by winning matches and will have to set up their team for the best chance of success. Users can change formations and substitute players into the starting lineup before fielding their team in friendlies or special matches.

New badges are earned through the game’s prize draw system, which is powered by friendship points and energy balls. Taking on other players in the game nets users friendship points, which can be used for a normal prize draw. Winning matches gives players energy balls that unlock more helpful premium prize draws. If all of this sounds foreign to football fans, that’s because it should. PES Manager aims to harness the mobile strategy, ditching realism for a more fantastical approach that is more accessible.

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During matches, players are shown the action on the pitch. You can watch in real time or use a fast forwarding mechanic to skip to the most important moments. However, it is all kind of pointless for a mobile sports sim. Every part of the game is designed for playing on the go, so a brief flash of the score and rundown of the game would serve the same purpose without costing players’ time.

It is easy to get lost in the menus while playing PES Manager, but success comes down to fielding the right players, improving player badges and earning points during matches to continue improving the squad. In order to achieve this, players must first overcome a confusing menu system.

Most of the game is spent setting up formations and managing badges in the menus, which suffer from a poor user interface. It sucks the fun out of the game by reducing its most important aspects to a mindless clicking chore. While users are never in control of the players on the field, they will sometimes feel they are not really in control of their team off it either.

PES Manager is only a soccer game in title. At its core, it is more Pokemon than sport. When leveling up player badges, users will almost expect to see Ronaldo evolve into a Charizard (which would probably make for a better game). Achieving success feels more like solving a game-beating formula, but it can only come from grinding match after match. In the end, having a dominant team offers little reward.

Mini Dodge Ninja Review

Mini Dodge Ninja Review

Jun 6, 2014

Unless you’ve been under a rock in a wireless dead zone for the past few months, you’ve probably heard of Flappy Bird. The simple screen-tapping game took the world by storm and caused its creator so much stress that he decided to take down the game. Since then, a plethora of similar apps have invaded the Google Play Store in attempts to recreate the worldwide frenzy that was Flappy Bird, including Mini Dodge Ninja.

Mini Dodge Ninja takes some elements and makes them its own, but it is an obvious duplication of the Flappy Bird formula, right down to the bird main character. While gameplay is similar to Flappy Bird, Mini Dodge Ninja offers a significantly greater challenge in a less vibrant setting.

In the game, players take a control of a ninja bird–apparently ninja birds wear straw hats so you can tell they are ninjas. The bird is dropped down a tunnel in his dojo and players must repeatedly tap on the screen to keep him afloat.

As players venture down the tunnel, a series of pipes appears to block the little bird’s path. But these pipes offer problems even a famous mustached plumber couldn’t fix. Pipes open and close, giving the mini ninja a chance to pass. Players must tap on the screen to help the bird fly and time their taps (and moments when to not tap) perfectly to guide the bird through the maze of endless pipes.

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While it may not seem like it, this poses a significant challenge. Pipes are placed closely together, so players have to find a balance between hovering over the next pipe and flying too high with a pipe above. In addition, pipes open and close at different times, meaning players will find it difficult to pass through more than one at a time.

Unfortunately, its difficulty is the only aspect of the game that captivates players’ attention, but it is an immediate turn off when starting out. Racking up higher scores takes practice, but players will find themselves uninstalling the game immediately before putting in an effort to master it. Rather than feeling they will be able to top their high score with the next attempt, players are left thinking they had some dumb luck on their side when performing so well.

Users had better want to compete on leaderboards because the game will consistently ask players to connect their Google Play Games account. Simply jumping in and playing is impossible without linking stats to a Google account. Players are also forced to link their Facebook account if they want to unlock new characters, which is the only real variety Mini Dodge Ninja offers.

If a game causes players to die often and die quickly, it should have a simple replay button that appears after deaths. That is not the case in Mini Dodge Ninja. Users are forced to go back to the main menu before starting up another attempt to tab their way to a high score.

From its gameplay to its imperfect menu system, Mini Dodge Ninja gives players brief moments of satisfaction that are drowned out by constant frustration. Its attempts at recreating the magic of Flappy Bird wear thin quickly and the challenges that it offers are too difficult for casual players.

Dragon Coins Review

Dragon Coins Review

Jun 3, 2014

Dragon Coins is a game that wants to be judged by its individual parts rather than the sum of those parts—parts that nobody could have requested should be blended together in a single game. It takes the charm of classic coin dozing and randomly adds RPG elements that simply don’t fit in. At times, players will be equal parts satisfied and confused.

As a game, Dragon Coins is fully functional. It is basic at its core; anyone who has dozed coins in a mobile game or at the arcade will be able to jump right in. However, there are layers of additional gameplay plastered over the coin dozing aesthetic that justify the use of word “dragon” in the game’s title.

Rather than requiring players to collect items or reach a high score, Dragon Coins forces players to defeat enemies by dozing coins to prompt attacks from a hand-picked team of monsters. Dropping coins into slots for each monster will cause them to attack enemies. Collecting more coins in each slot allows monsters to use special abilities such as speeding up the dozer and putting up sidewalls so coins can’t fall down.

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Each new level—which is actually considered a mission or quest—throws waves of enemies at players, all leading up to a final boss battle. Like an RPG, attacks drain enemy XP, but players also have a health meter that can be emptied. Using too many coins before taking out enemies leaves players vulnerable to attack. However, this rarely challenges players as enemy blows are not often powerful. Coin dozers will find themselves sacrificing a few hits for extra coins.

If the premise seems weird to you, that’s because it is. Gameplay is more of a hodge-podge of different genres rather than a cohesive unit, and Dragon Coins attempts at added depth only placate the retro appeal of dozing coins. But the RPG elements of Dragon Coins are interesting outside of traditional coin dozing.

Players earn new monsters as they collect gems and advance through levels. Of course, they will have to manage these new characters between missions. Users can only keep a certain amount of monsters, so they will have to sell off some for extra coins or fuse together monsters to create a more powerful team.

The Pokemon-like creatures also have elemental characteristics, forcing players to plan out their attack strategy carefully and select the most effective monsters before taking on enemies. While this is an important aspect of the game, it is all based on a small symbol found on each characters’ avatar that can be difficult to decipher.

Unfortunately, this is all still tied to a game that simply revolves around dozing coins. RPG elements clash with the simplistic gameplay formula, and the game’s poor excuse for a plot is confusing and pointless.

In trying to establish a unique identity, Dragon Coins instead has none. Classic arcade coin dozing, RPG elements and even friend requests are all meshed together in a nonsensical mess. While the game’s attempt at innovation is commendable, there are plenty of other more accessible coin dozing titles available.

Disco Bees Review

Disco Bees Review

May 29, 2014

Candy Crush would be better if you replace the candy with bees. And of course, those bees love to dance to disco music.”

If those thoughts have ever crossed your mind, Disco Bees is the perfect Candy Crush clone for you. Disco Bees has its own unique charm but in terms of gameplay, it is a mirror image of King’s popular candy-matching title.

Players must rescue bees trapped inside their honeycombed hives by matching a line of at least three same-colored bees. Just as in Candy Crush, there are additional challenges that arise in levels as players progress through the game, including clearing out honey and collecting pollen. All of this must be done within a set amount of moves.

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In order to conquer these more difficult obstacles, players can unlock superpowered bees by matching up four or more bees. Bees can be moved vertically or diagonally to make matches and clear the board. Supercharged bees will clear whole sections of bees in a single move. That is all there is to gameplay but the simplistic charm makes Disco Bees accessible and addictive.

Disco Bees is free to download but it is monetized through microtransactions. While it never truly requires players to shell out real money, frustrated users are encouraged to drop a few dollars in order to pass levels or unlock new hives. Disco Bees most obvious attempt to invade players’ wallets is by limiting their lives. Players are only allowed to fail a certain number of times before being forced to pay or put down the game. If users fail too often, they will have to wait before earning the ability to continue.

Each level contains a three-star scoring system that grades players’ performance. Points are racked up as players clear out bees and complete challenges. The game’s first 25 levels are divided into two hives but to advance any further beyond that point, users must earn three stars on each level or be willing to spend some cash. Although Disco Bees offers an alternative to paying, it is disappointing to get into a nice groove with the game only to have the flow disrupted by microtransactions.

Disco Bees’ appeal comes from its bright and vivid color palette and its characterization of cute bees. Setting off a chain of colorful events as bees buzz across the screen is only made more rewarding when animations tell you that move was “beeautiful.” The bright colors make the game seem like it is geared towards a younger audience, but all players can’t help but enjoy the happiness-evoking visuals.

Unfortunately, the allure provided by the adorable bees quickly wears off due to the overuse of bee puns. From the start screen to the menus and even during moments of gameplay, phrases such as “bee prepared” and “beegin” appear all too often.

While Disco Bees has its own unique charm, players will be left feeling like they’ve been here and done this before—because they have, only with less microtransactions. Instead of a Candy Crush clone, Disco Bees should buzz off and try to bee itself.

Lost Bubble Review

Lost Bubble Review

May 16, 2014

Bubble breaking games are timeless reminders of the charm found in classic arcade titles. Striking the perfect balance, bubble popping games are the perfect mix of simple to play and difficult to master. Bringing these types of games to the modern gaming audience can also be a matter of finding the right balance. Lost Bubble, developed by Peak Games, fails to recognize the charm of classic bubble breakers by reaching too far for a modern overhaul.

Like any bubble breaking game, the premise of Lost Bubble is simple. Players enter a level with colored bubbles populating the screen. It is the player’s job to shoot matching colored bubbles in order to make them fall. Early levels are quite simple, but the game challenges players with more bubbles to break and new obstacles as they advance through stages.

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Lost Bubble adds its own unique flair to the classic bubble popping formula. Users must clear Pandora’s Boxes on each level, which are usually placed in areas of the stage that are difficult to reach. However, hitting one of Pandora’s Boxes results in immediate death—a twist not normally used in bubble breakers. As players try to rack up high scores and clear all bubbles with as little moves as possible, avoiding Pandora’s Boxes can be a difficult task and running out of lives can force players to wait a certain amount of time or pay before moving on. The game also integrates stones that turn into bubbles once surrounding bubbles are popped.

Players who plan their attacks and strategize will be rewarded in Lost Bubble. When bubbles closer to the top of the screen are broken and release the bubbles below it, players net bonus points. Each level also contains a set number of bubbles to shoot. Using less than the allotted ammo to clear all bubbles in a level results in extra points. There are three score targets at each stage. Players are rewarded with one key for each of the score ranges reached.

Lost Bubble differentiates itself from other bubble breakers by adding in power-ups and special abilities. Players can switch between two bubbles to shoot or spend gems on paint used to change the bubble being shot to a certain color. Other abilities allow players to purchase extra ammo and earn score multipliers.

While these are welcome additions, useful power-ups must be purchased with coins or gems earned in-game. Of course, some of these abilities are expensive, so players are encouraged to use real-world money to make in-game purchases. It never feels necessary to spend some real life cash, but perfectionists looking to earn all three keys at each level will likely find it difficult not to buy some additional perks.

A main character of sorts welcomes players to each new level and stands mid-screen as if she is shooting off bubbles. A trip to the main menu reveals a large world, which helps players keep track of progress but also tries to tie the game’s levels together. Overall, the farce of a story takes away from the natural bubble breaking charm of Lost Bubble.