Mad Skills BMX 2 Review

Mad Skills BMX 2 Review

Feb 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Worth a look, and even an afternoon.

Round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 16th)

Round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 16th)

Feb 16, 2018

Another week, and slate of great news stories, reviews and features from the Steel Media empire. Because, well, you can never have too much content, and we’re here to help you catch stuff you might have missed.

So, without too much ado, here is some cool stuff from around the Steel Media world:

Pocket Gamer

Pocket Gamer is chock-full of great stuff this week. Creature Quest feens will be happy with the staff generated tips and tricks guide, which should have you dominating in no time. Emily Sowden gets a hat tip for a quick list of the best iOS and Android updates for the week — including Death Road to Canada, The Battle of Polytopia and more. And, for those that have refined ear for interesting audio, the ubiquitous Pocket Gamer Podcast Episode 431 is up.

148apps

And yes, 148apps is still putting out the good stuff this week. There is Campbell Bird’s in-depth review of visual stunner Florence. Then, you can — you SHOULD — check out the updated list of the best games out for iPhone available now. And it’s never too late to get all booed up with the list of Valentine day apps. X’s and O’s…

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AppSpy

And still even more good stuff. Thanks to Christian Valentin, we know to look forward to upcoming iOS game sequel Alto’s Odyssey. Similarly, AppSpy has us impatiently waiting on cross-platform gravity defying caper Flo, due out on Android and iOS sometime in 2018.

And there you have it. Great stuff. On tap. Enjoy.

My App Addiction: Pocket Casts

My App Addiction: Pocket Casts

Feb 16, 2018

I’ll shout it from the rooftops, all day long: I love podcasts. I really, really do.

They are what FM radio was for me when I was a young buck, but better. There is just so much stuff to listen to out there. All you need is the patience to find interesting content, and the tools to listen to it.

For the latter, I’ve come to depend on Pocket Casts.

Pocket Casts is one of those OG Android apps… one that arguably allowed the OS to gain parity with the app haven that was iOS. As a dedicated podcast app, it did one thing, and did it well. Even now, it gets props for being as good a media manager as it is a player, with several features that make it almost indispensable.

First, it has a bright interface, which allows it to be easy on the eyes. It also has a great discovery system, breaking podcasts into intuitive settings like Trending, Top, and also by subject matter; you can also do a raw search by name. Personally, I’m able to find audio blogs I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

And then, when it comes to managing your discovered podcasts, it’s invaluable. You can manage the number of downloaded podcasts available — reducing bloat — and can auto-download and auto-queue broadcasts. The player itself is just as easy to use.

Now, I am always a big fan of convergence. For example, I love Google Play Music, which allows me to stream music, play audio files already on my device AND listen to podcasts. Usually, it’s all about getting the fewest apps to do the most things reasonably well. It’s just that Pocket Casts does the podcast thing so well, it’s worth having the extra app around.

[Our Pocket Casts Review]

Smashing Four Review — shuffleboard on steroids

Smashing Four Review — shuffleboard on steroids

Feb 15, 2018

Full disclosure: at the risk of being soundly mocked (as I probably should be), I just learned how to play Shuffleboard the other day. Loved it… so much so that I am negotiating with my better half to get one for the house. I can dream.

All that to say this… it was a good time for Smashing Four to come across my desk.

Look, to be fair, the shuffleboard comparison gives a comparative baseline, but really doesn’t completely describe the game. It is group battling and strategy in a rosy presentation.

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It starts with the glitzy visuals: bright use of color that highlight the main playing area, which comes into focus with an effective top-down view; the animations, on which the gameplay depends a great deal, are well done, with plenty of whimsical touches and appropriate sound accoutrements.

I know, I know… you wanna know about the gameplay proper. Well, shuffle shuffleboard out of your mind. The built-in primer helps you learn the game, which is all about gathering troops and knocking the sense out of opposing troops in a war of attrition. To further explain, you line up against a random opponent, each of you with four pieces and alternate turns. You project your pieces, one after the other, and reduce the lifebars of your opponents, before they do the same to you.

And “project” you do… by dragging and releasing your piece, Angry Birds catapult style. You can aim, and look to do maximize damage by direct hits and secondary rebound damage. You can also look to strategize, because the game also plays like billiards, you can also look to play defensively, making it harder for your opponent to hit you when it is his/her turn. Oh, you can’t tarry too long, as every turn has a time limit.

As the pieces lose life, they varnish, and the player that loses all pieces loses. Winners get game coin and orbs, which, when matured, yield new cards and more. The orbs add a time requirement of sorts, as they require maturing (which can be shorted by green gems or real cash).

The cards can reveal new players (with new attributes) or clones of cards already owned and/or deployed. Clones can then be used to upgrade existing pieces do that they can be more useful in battle.

It comes together well, and has been an enjoyable pastime for the past few days.

Better than shuffleboard?

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YouTube TV adds new networks

YouTube TV adds new networks

Feb 14, 2018

Surely Google hopes the world is split into two closely related camps: folks who subscribe to its cord cutters beloved service YouTube TV, and those that are on the cusp of signing up for it.

Here’s great news for the former, as well as maybe even more of a value-added invective for the latter.

YouTube TV is adding more channels. Now, in addition to the existing lineup, you also get access to live TV content from TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, HLN, truTV, and TCM. That’s eight (8) new channels for your viewing pleasure.

This adds to the existing lineup, which includes staples like ESPN, ESPN 2, FX, Disney Channel, SyFy, Bravo and a host more: a shade under 60 included channels, plus access to premium add-ons for extra.

The service costs $35 per month; there is still a free trial for those looking to give it a no-risk look. Check out why we found YouTube TV more compelling over time, even more the addition of channels HERE.

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Never-ending street racer Nitro Racing GO launches on Google Play

Never-ending street racer Nitro Racing GO launches on Google Play

Feb 14, 2018

Time to celebrate: Nitro Racing GO: Idle Driving Clicker is live on Google Play, courtesy of T-Bull

In this one, your street cred is built by passing other competitors during the race; when you pass another racer, you get goodies that can be used to improve your craft. The game boasts dozens of vehicle upgrade opportunities, card play leaderboards and plenty of interesting locales.

What better way to flex you underground racing muscle? This is 100% safe, too. Add in unlockable vehicles and a free-to-play methodology, and it might be tough to put this one down.

T-Bull Operations Chief and co-founder Grzegorz Zwolinski talks about the drive to create something that stands out. “Our goal was to do something different with the racing genre – something no one has tried before,” he says. “Nitro Racing GO combines genres to deliver a wholly original and innovative experience!”

Can’t wait to see if this true.

Nitro Racing GO is available for free (with optional in-app purchases). Check out the trailer below.

Level It! Tower Falling Over Review — green is it!

Level It! Tower Falling Over Review — green is it!

Feb 14, 2018

There is no such thing as too many time wasting games; life as we know not almost begs for them. Level It! Tower Falling Over is new-ish one that looks to make folks see red when they see green.

It uses decent graphics, with interesting 3D stylings that go well with the controls and are buttressed by non-distracting backgrounds rounded up into two groups: Forest and Mountain.li3

To understand the game, you have to visualize it… by playing, yep. The “main” game pieces are sorta like legos,and are green and red. These pieces are used to create basic, non-fused monochramatic towers (red or green). Non-fused in the sense that they can be toppled and scattered, much like a jenga tower.

The core idea is especially easy to grasp, especially with the first few levels. It starts with a singular green tower, and a cannon that can be manipulated the the virtual 3D plane as described earlier. So, you simply line up the cannon as needed, and tap “fire” to shoot. Each level has a fixed number of shots you can expend, and the idea is to aim and shoot to knock down the green tower, and unlock the next level.

Now, after the subsequent level (and just as we should suspect), the game gets craftier. Multiple green towers, and eventually, the aforementioned red towers. The red towers cannot be fired upon though, so depending on how the towers are set up, knocking down the green without hitting the red with the projectile can be quite the challenge. And they get even tougher, with mixed towers, weird ledges and more, all designed to really test your creativity. Hitting the red directly first means the level is failed.

Levels can be replayed, and extra balls purchased to extend levels. Easy peasy.

So, it’s a simple game with a specific focus. You get what you get, and from a time waster perspective, it mostly works.

In case you missed it — round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 9)

In case you missed it — round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 9)

Feb 9, 2018

it’s a big, big world, and there so much going on. So much news, and so little time to enjoy all of it. For your mobile news and features, the Steel Media crew have you covered, and just in case you were not able to make all the rounds, we got you.

Here are some of the interesting stories from our sister sites.

Pocket Gamer rocks the week with reviews for Aegis Defender Switch and roguelike Dig Dog for starters; Folks looking to get some tips and tricks for Dragon Quest Builders, and even a timely walkthrough for Hearthstone. And, by the way, you also get latest episode of the coolest podcast in the land — Episode 430, which talks about Final Fantasy XV and Dandara.

On 148Apps, we got our regular jewel, Harry Slater’s list of the best iOS games on sale now. There is also an enviable list of the best drag racing games on mobile, and a guide for Dice City Soccer.

On AppSpy, you can catch its pick for hidden gem of the week, Euclidea, as well as Christian Valentin’s write-ups on True Legacy and cross-platform Forgive Me My Henchmen.

There you have it… enjoy!

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It’s still about the ecosystems, and Amazon is holding serve

It’s still about the ecosystems, and Amazon is holding serve

Feb 9, 2018

Remember back when Amazon released the Fire Phone? That Android-flavored smartphone most pundits called a flop? Yes, don’t pretend. You dissed it too.

What about the Amazon Appstore? It was appreciated, but with developers less likely to put their apps on it versus the Play Store, it was always gonna be a tough sell. Hey, at least the Fire Tablets have been doing well, right? Either way, for all its financial acumen, we couldn’t help but wonder if Amazon would really become that other ecosystem consumers deserved. I mean, Apple, Google, Samsung et al. weren’t taking naps at the time, either.

Somehow, we practically missed her until she was right on top of us: Alexa.

Hey, nothing has changed. It’s all about the ecosystems, and Amazon seems to be pace setter, especially from a mindshare perspective. In this race, mindshare is gold.

With the connected smarthome being the new frontier, being in front early is important. When it comes to consumer adoption, it’s not always about who has the best product on the market, but rather who has the most recognizable one. When your grandma makes fun of friends who use Alexa, Amazon smiles because it knows it has a future customer.

Don’t cry too hard for Apple. It has become great at sitting back and perfecting technology rather than necessarily introducing it.

One thing’s for sure: consumer wins.

Hopefully.

Jam Ultra Wireless Earbuds Review

Jam Ultra Wireless Earbuds Review

Feb 8, 2018

We’ve said it before: with the advent of Apple’s version (hey, we admit it), truly wireless headphones — you know, the ones that have each earbud wirelessly free of each other — are becoming more mainstream. They aren’t just hipster novelties anymore, in that they actually have real, measurable value for everyday users.

Jam Audio has thrown a firm hat into the consumer ring with its Ultra Wireless Earbuds, a (relatively) decently priced wireless offering.

The earbuds both fit in the palm easily, dark in appearance and each not too much bigger than an acorn. They each have replaceable tips, and allow the earbuds to sit in the ear, and form a seal on the outside. They fit well as stock.

As with most truly wireless earbuds, the overall experience and aesthetic have a good deal to do with the design and utility of the charging solution. As noted, these ones utilize a portable charging case. At first glance (and compared to the charging cases of competing sets), they may come across as somewhat bulky, but they aren’t ugly, and can be pocketed without too mush unseemliness.

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In practice, the Jam Ultras took a bit of while to reconnect to devices it had already been paired to the first time; after this, it was fairly spot on in this regard. When it was connected, the sound quality was sharp and uninterrupted when within ten feet of the audio source. Further out allowed for a bit of interference.

They were great for podcasts, and was a great outlet for the jazz, country, pop, hip hop and R&B tracks that were piped through them. They also performed well during running and didn’t chafe the ears during extended use.

ALl in all, a great set of earbuds for everyday use, and at $99 on the Jam Audio website, a good deal cheaper than other options out there.

Hero Hunters Review — not your ordinary cover system

Hero Hunters Review — not your ordinary cover system

Feb 7, 2018

Boom, we finally get to run around with the latest from veteran crew Hothead Games, Hero Hunters.

So what’s the story here? You got your core commando fare: we’re 50 or so years into the future — a decade after the so-called Zero Day. Biological weapon? Check. Collapse of civilization? Yep. Big bad guy? Of course. His name is Kurtz, and it’s your job to get a team of hardcore fighters to ferret him out of his enclave. Of course, he’s holed up with plenty of equally weathered mercs, so it’s not going to be easy.

Off the bat, you get a really nice looking game from a visual standpoint. The use of colors really pops, and the animations are smooth. The sound is effective, and it all looks great in the default landscape orientation.

In gameplay terms, Hero Hunters boils down to a cover system shooter. The goal is to beat each level, which has something to do with bringing Kurtz down. The initial sequences serve as a tutorial, showing you how to the basics with the virtual buttons: aim, shoot, duck and more. As with most games of this type, the idea is to shoot, duck, and even dive to a new protective perch if, say, a grenade is launched at your position. Here, you get to check out what you might consider to be the game’s standout feature: the ability to switch fighters on the fly.

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To better explain, you control a group of fighters… to start out, you get two, each with a different vantage points and different special traits. During the action, you might be having a slow go, or even not have a good angle to take out the baddies. Well, you can tap to switch team members, and have an all new vantage point. Then, the idea is to use everything in your arsenal to win and advance.

Success yields XP, gear and game coin, which can — and really must — be used to improve the stock of your characters, especially in the face of enemies that get more dangerous with every successive level. Even cooler, as you gain XP, you unlock new team members. It goes on and on, with interesting weapons, different play modes and a host of action set in interesting places. The game gives plenty of opportunities to use real cash, but can be played without.

It works very well, actually.

My personal gripe is an admittedly nitpicky one; seriously, I get the buxom soldier trope, yes, but if there was ever a reason to use Kevlar to project gender equality, this could have been it. Seriously.

Off my soapbox. It’s a seriously enjoyable game, and worth the time it takes to try it out.

Trust us.

Who? What? Why? When? Where? Wednesday!

You have questions. We don’t always have the answers.

— So who is not interested in finding out more about the upcoming Samsung flagships? Courtesy of Android Central, we’re hearing Oreo, Snapdragon and 12 MP cameras. Yum.

— Well, it’s about time MyScript Nebo was made available for Samsung Note8. What is it? Handwriting recognition for devices that utilize active pens. I’m thirsty.

Who won the unofficial Super Bowl Ad championship? Alexa, who was mostly missing. On a serious note, what would we do without Alexa?

Where can I find a non-disposable bluetooth tracker that down’t need to be charged twice a day? You know… something thin, portable and unobtrusive?

Why do I feel quite comfortable with the, uh, ancient S7e I use as daily driver. Could it be it’s easier to keep devices for longer now because there is less innovation?