Meek Mill Presents Bike Life Review

Meek Mill Presents Bike Life Review

Jul 7, 2015

Meek Mill… in a simply-themed Android game as himself? Sign us up to check out Meek Mill Presents Bike Life.

The game looks and plays like most three-lane runners: it is presented in portrait orientation, and the playing area has, well, three lanes. The basic, familiar idea is to avoid any obstacles that appear while traveling up-road using intuitive controls: swiping left or right to go in either of those directions, swiping up to jump, and double swiping up to jump higher. There are coins and other collectible powerups that line the travel ways, and one finds the expected opportunity costs of collecting such built in to the gameplay. Yes, it shouldn’t feel too hard to feel right at home meekmill2with this post-Temple Run. The scenery is cheery, with whimsical characterizations and relatively smooth animations, and the outer trappings are pretty easy to appreciate.

The specifics are what make this game somewhat unique. First, our protagonist, no less than Meek Mill himself decked out in jewels, rocks a four-wheeler as his means of travel — mostly. Even more unique is the type of obstacles; in this game, the setting is decidedly urban, and MM looks to be going in the wrong direction on the city streets. There are a lot of stationary obstacles to jump over and swerve around, but there are also cars and trucks bearing down on the player.

What this does is to create an interesting experience. Jumping over moving objects that are decreasing the space as the action is going introduces a whole new wrinkle that requires a more precise degree of timing. As one travels further, it gets harder to avoid jumping over potentially run-ending obstacles, and a deftness of finger and eye coordination becomes key.

Success is measured in distance traveled and coins/gems collected. Coins can be used to upgrade power-ups and such, as well as to open up new characters. Real cash can be used, but isn’t needed.

It feels familiar, but that attribute cuts both ways, as some folks might feel it touches on that that has already been seen, and seen a lot. Still, being a freemium title helps… what’s the harm in trying?

The player himself/herself ultimately decides.

Defend Our World Review

Defend Our World Review

Jul 7, 2015

One just might wanna give Defend Our World a try.

To conceptualize the game, think of a space-bound structure that looks to destroy dangerous asteroids before they impact the home planet. To do this, the player must use earned cash to assemble pieces that help in this goal.

The game is played in portrait orientation, with the player’s craft at the for ground; the asteroids that serve as the aggressors in this game appear from the “top” of the screen. The idea is to not allow the asteroids to get by, and to do this, one has to purchase pieces to make the craft, in essence, more lethal. To start off, one is led to purchase guns, solar panels and shields. These are key with regards to keeping safe and destroying the rocks. The solar panels power dow2the guns, and the shields provide an initial defensive cover, as the rocks can and do damage the craft by contact. destroyed rocks yield cash.

As the game progresses through this de facto tutorial, more units are unlocked, and it becomes possible to arm one’s craft with better weapons and helpful pieces. The opportunity cost element definitely comes into play here, as one has to look to spend money wisely. Weapons or shields? Energy sources or repair robot? The strategy inherent is welcome; after a while, even the shape of the burgeoning craft, as the aforementioned portrait orientation makes for a relatively thin playing area.

As for the space rocks, they do get a bit craftier as one progresses, getting more unpredictable. They are lethal in that they can damage the craft by contact, so guiding the craft with a finger to avoid them while managing to continually inflict damage is crucial. There are goodies that can be picked up as well, arcade-style.

Gems can be converted to cash, and the game provides a few ways to earn them, most notably by watching ads. Real cash can be avoided easily, but can be used.

It’s an engaging game based on a popular genre, and that is no small feat. There are two modes to enjoy, so get to enjoyin’.

WARSHIP BATTLE:3D World War II Review

WARSHIP BATTLE:3D World War II Review

Jul 6, 2015

WARSHIP BATTLE:3D World War II takes one way back. Toss in customizable warships, raging combat and leveled gameplay, and there is definitely some potential.

The gameplay is fairly straightforward, and when it boils down to it, is all about shooting and not getting shot. Usint the control mechanism (more on this system later), the idea is to move around, find objectives, dispatch the enemy and profit.

The quick, hands-on tutorial is a great precursor, and from there, the action is dialed up. The game is leveled, and the missions are fairly logical: recon here, sinking an enemy battleship there. The enemy units are not passive, and are happy to shoot back, which is where the ability to be evasive comes in handy. The protagonist vessel has a bunch of different weapons; some are more exhaustible than others, so a bit of asset management is a useful skill. Ramming boats is an option, but is a double-edged sword, because battling is a war of attrition. Thankfully, the game employs some arcade elements, like health packs and the like, so it is possible to repair damage.

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The game is heavily dependent on the control set. It uses a combination of device tilting and touch controls. At first, it may feel a bit tricky to get one’s bearings, but with a little practice, it is possible to control the ship and even gets the sights working relatively well. When the gameplay gets busy, it is really important to have the controls down, as an errant view can create havoc. There are options with regards to touch controls as well, so it can be tweaked a little bit.

Success yields rewards which can be used to buy and upgrade weapons, real cash can be used, but it is possible to go without, albeit in a slower fashion. Without spoiling the game, as the game progresses, it gets quite busy, on water and in the air.

It’s a straightforward affair, with a decent look and appropriate sounds, and is easy to enjoy even before one considers the offline playability.

DRIFT SPIRITS Review

DRIFT SPIRITS Review

Jul 3, 2015

DRIFT SPIRITS seems to be the type of game that could allow one to live life on the edge. Digitally.

At its core, it’s a 1v1 drag racing game with an emphasis on drifting. Competitors go toe-to-toe on curved race track that are all but built to encourage oversteering, and the idea is to level up and get rewards to improve one’s car and progress as far as possible.

The game opens up easily enough, with an AI-driven tutorial that is primarily hands-on. One gets to pick a a car, and get lessons in how to control the car. The controls are virtual, and a bit surprising, in that there is no steering to be had (despite the virtual steering wheel to the bottom right); the control set has more to do with timing… at least at first. To explain, revving the car up takes a degree of precision to get the best jump off, and the drifting procedure involves looking for the right target point to tap the steering wheel to activate the skill. The same sense of timing is required to “release” the car. Doing it too early and just a bit too late throws off a progress, and as these are relatively short races, mistakes can be costly.

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Performance yields game cash payouts as well as performance points; the former can be used to improve vehicles and accumulate valuables, while the latter helps with the aforementioned leveling. Additionally, winning races allows for one to gain pieces dropped by the opponent, which can help with improvements and/or boosts. One example is nitro; using this tool at the right time can be the difference between a win and a loss.

It’s a fairly logical game that gets straight to the point and manages to hold the interest past the initial stage. It gets harder, obviously, with boss meetings and budding rivalries. The dialogue loses something in translation, and it does feel formulaic in parts, but it works as a time-waster, especially in story mode.

SmartNews Review

SmartNews Review

Jul 2, 2015

In a perpetually fast-paced world, there is always a place for easy-to-use news apps. Enter SmartNews, an app from Japanese developers that already has quite the positive reputation on Google Play.

Upon first inspection, the app looks clean. It opens up into the main page, and one gets to see the white background and splashes of color upon that in the tabs at the top. It is set in blog form, with text summaries bordered by a relevant pictures. It a serious look, but easy on the eyes, and easy to appreciate from a visual perspective.

The tabs (channels) underscore a major part of the functionality by providing easy access to color-coded news categories: Entertainment, Lifestyle, Sports and such, with a “Top” Channel — representing overall top news — occupying the leftmost section. One can scroll down to browse new articles, or swipe from side to side to access new channels. Tapping on any one story leads to the corresponding full article from the hosting website; there is also a “Smart View” option that can be selected, which provides a cleaner, less-frilled version of a website. Together, the navigation elements are fairly intuitive and especially smooth.

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Now, as noted, what SmartNews looks to do, obviously, is provide news effectively. By default, on the surface, it seems to accomplish just that. News stories are relevant, and properly filed, allowing for one to get a good dose of leading headlines. The sources run the gamut: CBS, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, RE/COOL, The Guardian, Business Insider and much, much more. The channels one has can be tweaked in setting, and it is also possible to add sources.

One cool tool is a pop-up service that provides reports for the user at times during the day: morning, afternoon and evening. The app can be paired to external services like Facebook, Evernote and Twitter. Another thing which is pretty interesting for Android users is the Google Now functionality; this allows stories to appear in one’s Now feed. (this feature is dependent on Google’s card functionality roll-out).

It’s tough to be a news utility of repute in Google’s world, and SmartNews has managed that. It’s a great app that is easy to use, and in today’s world, that is gold.

Prison Break: Lockdown Review

Prison Break: Lockdown Review

Jul 2, 2015

Prison Break: Lockdown is an interesting game that manages to be a mystery, a hidden object game and probably more… simultaneously. It takes a fairly popular theme — escape — and build upon it to create a leveled game.

The game incorporates a lot of research elements; the player gets a scene, and has to investigate for objects to interact with. Interacting comes in different forms…some objects provide clues to solve other puzzles; several can be collected and even combined to solve riddles. To see if an area has a clickable item, one must click specific areas on the screen to see if one if those areas can be enlarged.

Using the generalized concepts, one gets to match wits with the developer in a sequence of connected brain teasers with the end goal being to get out if the cell. Surreptitiously, that is. The game is broken down into levels, in that a prison cell is basically a standalone section, and escaping opens up a subsequent room, and so on.

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The game obviously leans heavily on the graphics. There are a bunch of stills, and mostly reflect stereotypical prison scenes, from contraband to pinups to shiv materials. The close-ups are well defined, with an enviable use of virtual lighting and visual perspective. It comes together rather nicely for the most part, and doesn’t require one to suspend logic too much to enjoy.

If one had to nitpick, it would probably be about the puzzles, which sometimes feel formulaic. At times, it seems as though clicking randomly through is just as productive as logically constructing an escape sequence.

Still, it’s a have that manages to be interesting without being infuriating, and it must be noted that the ad-based free version helps one to feel great about supporting the premium build.

All in all, it’s easy to like, and should be lauded for reawakening the Macgyver in us all.

Traitor – Valkyrie Plan Review

Traitor – Valkyrie Plan Review

Jun 30, 2015

In recent times, a bit more attention has been to the plots against Hitler. There were quite a few, with varying degrees of failure as it were, but one of the ones that came especially close was also the last serious attempt; The July 20th plot is almost overshadowed by the coup attempt it prematurely spawned. Code-named Valkyrie, the plot called for the implementation of an emergency protocol that would, in essence, use reserve troops meant to resist a putsch to actually carry it out.

Valkyrie — the game — gently borrows from the true story, and creates a first person experience that pulls in other elements seemingly fill it out.

Visually, the game does not disappoint; the developer conveys a lot through the way pretend light is used. The changing scenery works well, and attention is paid to the little things, like shadows and sight perspective. The animations are relatively smppth, and while some secondary characters feel a bit stilted, the overall presentation is easy on the eyes.

As hinted at earlier, the game is in first player, and the player takes on the persona Colonel Claus (we have to assume this is based on the actual leader of the July 20 Plot, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg); like the real life model, our virtual hero is hurt in Africa, and upon returning to Germany, becomes certain that Hitler must be toppled.

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In this game, he decides to become a hitman.

The game teaches one how to play the game actively, and incorporates virtual buttons to tap and general area to use gesture entry. The opening tutorial shows one the basics, including movement, weapon use, interaction and more. As one goes on, other game concepts become more apparent, a big one being stealth. There is also come other things to think about like wearing the right uniform for the occasion, and even avoiding the dreaded gestapo.

So, in many respects, it’s a stealth/action thriller. Strategy does pay a big part, as one does need to figure out what to do when. It picks up fast, and the individual missions tie in together. It’s a cool going.

The control mechanism does seem busy, and the different sequences can be a bother. The dialogue boxes can use some polish too. In the end though, it’s all about the positives, and in this one, they (like the free demo) definitely outweigh the bad. Easily. In real life, Valkyrie failed. This game allows us to re-imagining it.

That’s reason enough to give it a try.

No Gravity (Fire TV) Review

No Gravity (Fire TV) Review

Jun 29, 2015

There is no such thing as too many games. There is definitely nothing like too many games for Fire TV.

No Gravity gives us the potential to get what we want.

It looks and sounds like an old-school arcade shooter, and that’s clearly on purpose; it transports one back to the game rooms of way back when, with half-burned out fluorescent bulbs and cheap carpets pockmarked with patches of spilled soda. It is presented in abbreviated rear-top view fashion, such that the player feels perched just off the tail end of the spaceship. The adventure takes place in space, of course, and the 3D renderings of the ship and other objects is pretty vivid. The coloration is fairly appropriate, with deliberate splotches of explosive color and smooth animations.

The gameplay is straight-up space shooter fare. It is set into missions, and the basic idea, as set forth in the hands-on tutorial, it take care of business and move on. Taking care of business does entail learning the basics of flying, and one learns how to maneuver and fire weapons, skills needed to get far in the game. Eventually, “real” missions open up, and the real action begins; there’s stuff like protecting space stations from a meteor strike. Using the sighting mechanism and directional controls, the idea is to get to the destructive rocks quickly by obliterating them with the supplied weapons. The gameplay concepts expand on from there with tougher (and eventually more cunning) targets.

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The game is a bit plodding at the beginning, but does pick up greatly down the line, with tougher missions and even boss-like experiences. There is a greater emphasis on skill and strategy, and finishing successfully is not as easy as originally inferred.

When it’s all said and done, No Gravity is an interesting game, fun by most standards, and greatly enhanced by the Fire TV compatibility. It really pops on the big screen, and is almost ruined for a post-Fire TV “regular device trial. All in all, it does well it does well, and even manages to surprise a bit down the line.

Biolith Lite Review

Biolith Lite Review

Jun 29, 2015

Biolith is simple.

And when we say simple, we do mean just that; the game is easier to play than to explain. The playing area is a 3-D board made up of smaller sections or tiles that are laid out 8×8. Close to the center, there is a small, paper cicada; it can move along the tiles, one tile at a time, and this becomes of use in the game.

One the outer tiles, there are “enemies” which look a bit like chess pieces, except that they are uniformly shaped and are of different colors: red, blue, green, yellow, purple and black. They close in on the poor cicada, and are able to slide a tile each based on an hourglass that continually runs and restarts. These pieces collectively move (mostly), and look to destroy the cicada by touch. The game AI controls these, and they do seem to possess a degree of cunning that increases further into the game.

To avoid these, the cicada can use the aforementioned ability to move in an effort to elude the enemies. This is tempered by one issue: by default, the Cicada moves very slowly. When a tile is tapped to make it move to another tile, it has to turn and such to move; the end result is that if there is an opponent in an adjacent tile (the red zone, so to speak), there might not be enough time to get away.

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The most potent weapon for most might be the dual orbs which “hang” from up top. These orbs randomly change color, and can be used to blast an enemy of the same color. So, if the orbs flash black, a black piece can be tapped, and the orb fires a laser to destroy it. In this, the game boils down to mini-defense caper, with the action involving quick taps and even a bit of strategy; some pieces leave an extra life. Does one try to get to that tile to pick it up, or does one concentrate on the encroaching enemy. Does one give up a life (which destroys close-by pieces) or take a chance hoping for a fortuitous color change from the shooting orb?

If one is able to finish one wave, a faster, smarter one replaces it. Skill points are awarded, and these can be used to upgrade attributes and bonuses.

Simple does it, really. The artwork is sufficient, and the sound works. The game is somewhat addictive, and would be more so when the full version makes its way out.

MONOPOLY Dash for Chromecast Review

MONOPOLY Dash for Chromecast Review

Jun 28, 2015

We love Chromecast.

There really isn’t a reason to be bashful. Still, we’d be lying if we didn’t wish for more Chromecast-based games. there are a few, but Google Play can definitely use more.

Enter MONOPOLY Dash… the merge of the iconic game and Google’s streaming gadget.

Now, it deviates quite a bit from traditional Monopoly. The board retains the general form, with the same color-coded properties plus railroads and utilities along with luck cards and tax spots, jail, etc. all in their proper places. After that, we get a different playing mechanism. In this one, getting properties of the same color is still key, but there is less of an emphasis on property names, as there is almost no need. When playing as a single player against the game AI, the property cards are randomly dealt evenly to the 4 players, and the turns go in clockwise manner, and the general idea is to guess what the other players have so as to appropriate those cards, so that one get get all the cards in a color group.

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To explain further, after the cards are dealt, one might find that they possess two light blue properties (for the Monopoly aficionados, that could correspond to any two of Oriental, Vermont and Connecticut Avenues). The idea would be to get the missing light blue card as quickly as possible to complete the set. To do this, one selects another of the players and guesses which one has it. If the guess is wrong, the next player goes; if the guess is correct the player would, in this case, complete the set, and earn one-time cash payments for the hotels that are automatically built on the owned properties.

From this, the entire game concept sprouts; there is some strategizing to be done: watching guesses to glean who has what cards, mentally chronicling the amount of cards left so as to maximize guessing probability, and so on. It isn’t monopoly, but has enough of it in its DNA to make it familiar. Jail and chance cards make an appearance. When all the sets have been matched, the player with the highest dollar value in total wins, which points to the underlying theme which is the same for “real” Monopoly: sometimes, going for the highest value properties makes the most sense.

As a Chromecast dependent game, the streaming aspect is probably the most favorable. Multiplayer via TV is a nice feature, and the bright coloration translates well. One the one hand, I think a non-Chromecast option would be nice, but it is hard to complain about about dongle-based options.

Orbit Jumper Review

Orbit Jumper Review

Jun 27, 2015

The older I get, the more I tend to value simple endeavors, especially with regards to handheld gaming. You know, get a game my son and I can enjoy, without a lengthy tutorial, and battle it out one after the other. Orbit Jumper is another one of those games that is almost easier to play to explain. It is played in portrait orientation, going “upwards” in endless fashion, and incorporates an endless number of circular, 2D orbits that are arranged much like interlocking gears. The orbits are represented as white circles.

A rock rotates along the bottom-most orbit, on the outside, by default. The basic idea is to move upwards by making the rock jump to the next orbit at the perfect time — when the orbits are touching. Doing so late causes an run-ending collision, while doing so early causes the rock to jump on the inside of the orbit (itself dangerous if not corrected oj2quickly). Every orbit jumped scores a point, and as noted previously, the higher one goes, the better.

To add to the pressure of orbit jumping, a dangerous cloud emanates as soon as the rock moves to a new orbit. If it expands all the way to the orbit circumference, it ends the run. As such, one cannot stand pat rotating in place; in essence, there is a time limit to get to the next orbit. So, patience can he helpful, but tarrying can end a glorious run. For such a simple game, seeing elements like twitch reactions, hand-to-eye coordination and dexterous fingers is quite becoming. The low-frills environment works very well.

The visuals really help the game along. It’s a high-gloss affair, with white primaries backed by interchangeable pastel backgrounds. Within such a simple came, customization options must be lauded. The animations are crisp, and the whole experience adds to the game’s allure.

The easy-going nature that defines Orbit Jumper is a double-edged sword; the game is infinitely easy to pick up and go, but at the same time, there might be just a hint of monotony. There is not too much deviation from the standard concept, and that might give some players pause.

Still, if “simple” is the goal, this one achieves. It’s a fantastic timewaster, and probably more. It is engaging without taxing the brain too hard, and because of that, is perfect in any number of scenarios.

Gotta run. My son just beat my high score.

Radical Rappelling Review

Radical Rappelling Review

Jun 26, 2015

Radical Rappelling is a little different, and it’s mostly okay.

The gameplay is based on rappelling… duh. There is a steep, vertical mountain wall that descends endlessly; the basic concept is to use a game character to shimmy down the rope as fast as possible. The action incorporates the same jump off mechanism seen in real rappelling, with tapping and holding effecting a drop swing, and releasing makes the character to jump off against the rock. The kicker is that the swinging motion will eventually cause the player to “land” on the rock naturally (much like a jumper always hits the ground eventually), so the key is preemptively control the jumps by tapping and releasing as described above.

And why is controlling the descent important? Well, there are plenty of goodies to collect, for one. Gold coins, boosts and other specials line the play area, and can generally be collected and/or activated by contact. Conversely, there are also dangers to look out for as well — most notably some spiky thingies that look like mines — as hitting them ends the run ordinarily. Letting go of the screen causes the game character to jump off in place; this can be costly, as one should know about the lava fall chasing the rappeller down.

Oh, my. So there you have it. Tarrying too long is not a strategy.

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As one progresses, the duality of the gameplay becomes quite engaging: measuring the opportunity cost of going after the good and avoiding the bad. The developer also adds in a continuous stream of challenges to be completed; things like reaching a particular cumulative distance or tagging a set number of rocks are included. Game coins can be used for in-game improvements, and can be supplemented by real cash.

Looks-wise, it is a colorful affair, and uses music to underscore the gameplay. There is a whimsical nature to the art that fits in with the game premise.

Altogether, it is a cheery game, with plenty of play and an ability to cause addiction. Again, being different ain’t that bad.