Five Nights At Freddy’s Review

Five Nights At Freddy’s Review

Oct 23, 2014

It is nice to see that some pc games are being ported to Android and that the idea behind the game stays intact. Same goes for Five Nights at Freddy’s.

If you have played Five Nights at Freddy’s on pc, than you know what you are up for in this Android version of the game. It is a port of the pc version and one that is very well made. Everything from the first version is the same, only now you use the touch screen as an input source, instead of the mouse. Input methods aside, these game is freaky. Very freaky. The first few times it gave me the creeps and my first reaction was to close the game. When that happens, I say: the objective of the developers must’ve been a success by then.


But if you are not familiar with the concept, let me introduce you to it. You play as a security guard at night, keeping in eye on not only the property, but also the mechanical beasts inside. By day, those mechanical beasts are there to entertain children; by night, someone will put them on free mode, so they can walk freely. But when they see someone after midnight and before six o’clock in the morning, they assume that that is also a mechanic beast, but out of his costume. So they will take you away when they see, that’s all you need for a motivation.

But you’re need completely harmless — no, you can open and close two doors, the two doors that are right beside you. You can keep an eye on the mechanimals through some camera’s, in a lay-out of a map so you will know where they are. You won’t see them move, but when you switch camera’s, it is possible they left their original position and are getting closer to you. When you think they’re right next to you, you can close the doors, but that will cost electricity. And without, you cannot close them and you will instantly lose.

So the game is a constant struggle between the idea of being caught and being save by and from those mechanical animals. You need to plan a strategy at the very moment they’re coming to close for your taste, but have to always keep in mind that when you run out of electricity, the game – and your life – is over. That will put some pressure on ya. Overall, the sense of being hunted is very well produced by the developers and it’s good to see more people can enjoy this creepy horror game. If you like creepy horror games, that is.

LEGO Star Wars Yoda II Review

LEGO Star Wars Yoda II Review

Oct 13, 2014

The new Star Wars movie release grows closer, so it’s about time new Star Wars games start popping up. Lego Star Wars was the very first and successful title in the modern wave of Lego games, so it’s not surprising to see Lego making another one. Unfortunately, Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles isn’t that exciting, but it’s a nice collection of mini-games to pass the time in, while waiting for the more interesting stuff.

Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles lets the player complete various missions, on all sides of the conflict, and throughout different points of Star Wars history. The two sides of the conflict have basically the same missions, and only differ in the characters and their surroundings. Which isn’t that bad, actually. Although gameplay gets repetitive after a while, the various landscapes definitely work for a while longer.

There are four kinds of missions: run-and-gun, where the player plays as a trooper or a jedi, moving forward on a path and shooting or striking the various infantry on his way, while evading the enemy fire; air strike (Hoth defence FTW!), where the player pilots an airship and his mission is to destroy small support airships, and huge battle tanks; space Yoda II 3battles, done surprisingly well for such a small-scale title, similar to air strikes, but in space, and solely against other aircrafts; and weird falling sequence, which has pretty uncomfortable controls, where the player falls into some sort of pit, while evading the obstacles and enemy fire. Although the games are endless by their design, the player only needs to keep up fighting until he collects enough blue pieces, after which the mission will be “complete”, furthering his progress and unlocking a more challenging version of the same level. Some games are not yet released as of this writing, so there might be more stuff later.

In general, Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles is a great way to kill some time. It’s varied, has that iconic Star Wars feeling about it, filled with characters and places from all over the Star Wars universe, and it’s entirely free! High-quality stuff. Even though the games get a bit repetitive after a while, it’s definitely a treat for all fans of Star Wars, or Lego.

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team Review

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team Review

Oct 10, 2014

This year, EA shakes things up by only presenting us the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 15 for Android. That’s a fact that you either hate or love, but I must say: I was surprised by that choice.

Normally I would start a soccer game review with the words that the game is bigger and better than the version released a year ago. But that is not the case with FIFA 15: Ultimate Team. Instead of making the game, sometimes unnecessary, bigger, Electronic Arts tried to built upon the core of the Ultimate Team mode. You know, the mode where you need to collect cards of players, technical staff, coaches and attributes and build your own team based on the cards you collect. You get those cards by fulfilling certain goals.


Although it is quite the unusual decision to make a big game small again, I found myself enjoying the game much more because of the lack of more features. Also, the concept of the Ultimate Team mode is excellent for smartphones and tablets, because of its strategic nature and the fact you will spend some time in a menu or two. It just works very well; I was never lost. It is also possible to compete in quick games with your own managed team, so it is not the case that you can only be a manager in this game.

But if you’re like me and you find more fun into managing a soccer team rather than play with one, like you would on the consoles, you can always choose to simulate games – just like Nintendo Pocket Football Club on the Nintendo 3DS, for instance. But now with real players and everything that screams EA, soccer or buy my shit. Luckily, you can play FIFA 15: Ultimate Team without spending a single dollar, but than you know you’re in for the long run. But true FIFA players won’t mind that. They just want to manage the game and kick a ball.

Note that you need a lot of free space in order to play the game: make sure you have 1.35GB free internal space or on the SD card. Also, it is not possible to connect this game to your console version, so you cannot manage your team on the road, go home and see the results on screen.

My App Addiction: HanDBase

My App Addiction: HanDBase

Sep 16, 2014

Oh boy…

I had just officially started as the new editor of Android Rundown. I had just received 72 emails, a directive or two from above, and was trying to figure out the management piece in the deep end. Scary stuff, trust me.

One element that I had to master — and master quickly — was the budgeting piece. This is key with regards to any publication: controlling costs and charting output allows one to manage the creative process in a reasonable manner. Getting a bead on what type of articles are being written is exceptionally important.

I needed a good tool… something that I could rely on tell help me sort and organize the data I had, and also do calculations using the inputted data. Now, I could use an Excel sheet, yes, but the solution that works even better for me is one I have used across platforms for a very long time: HanDBase. I have used this nifty program for quite a while, across several platforms, and it remains an important piece in my personal productivity puzzle.


HanDBase is a database app at its heart. If there is a specific data collection need, HanDBase can be used to create and manipulate the data. Movie collections, patient billing, repair logs… you name it. I use it to collate health stats, which I then email to my doctor directly from the app. I also use it as a clock-in utility, and, with the help of its developer, got a custom data spreadsheet for my writers, which gives my an idea of how we are doing as a writing unit. Basically, HanDBase is an app that allows me to create apps hosted within it; no need for other apps, because this app is so flexible.

Part of my personal solution is the optional desktop companion, which syncs to the app via local wi-fi. I can also share specific databases with other HanDBase users. One of my favorite features is the support; there is a whole gallery of categorized database templates crafted by members and the developer. Also, there are forums and email support is topnotch.

When it comes to evaluating cross-platform apps that allow folks to get things done on the move, it’s hard not appreciate HanDBase. Scarily enough, there’s still room to grow, and the folks at DDH seem quite willing to push the envelope. Simply put, I refuse to use a mobile platform that does not have this app available.

Android? Why?

Android? Why?

Sep 15, 2014

Talk about first world problems…

I was faced with a problem recently. I had an upgrade to burn, and I didn’t feel like burning it. Now, to give some context here, I love mobile technology. If I could afford it, I would buy EVERY mobile device on EVERY platform. Literally. Just to play with ‘em. I love my technology that much.

I’m a bit more circumspect when it comes to my daily driver. For a device to earn that honor, it has to do a lot, as I am a picky boss. I could go on and on about my specific mobile needs, but that is a post for another day. Suffice to say, my HTC EVO LTE 4G was getting a bit long in the tooth, I had been due for an upgrade for about 12 months and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to upgrade devices, much less what I wanted to upgrade to.

I faced the same issue when I was looking to replace my original HTC EVO 4G.  No horrible need to get new hardware… and eventually I did the easy thing and stayed with the new EVO. Like the original, this one was unlocked and rooted within minutes of getting home, and I went ahead and immersed myself in the glories of refreshed hardware and newer custom puzzle

When its all said and done, I like holding on to devices. I skipped the HTC One M7, not because it was not a fantastic device, but because it wasn’t enough of an increased value proposition for me at that time. Free and clear? It might have tempted me, but I didn’t see myself spending the cash for what wasn’t enough of an upgrade for my needs at that specific time.

Part of the problem is that since I review hardware, formally and informally, I’ve developed a “what’s next” syndrome. Can it be that I have unconsciously insulated myself from the lure of the never-ending new Android devices? Maybe. I’d be insolvent otherwise.  At this point in the game, when all the features are measured, it just feels like there is a serious degree of parity. And I believe that in the end, this is Android’s hidden strength: the OEMs are forced to shoot for the stars while simultaneously dragging each other on an upward trajectory. this is why, for me at least, picking a new device is delightfully difficult. Look at all the choices, and the competitive prices. We can choose to be very, very picky.

So, in the end, it boiled down to a very simplistic reason. Most current-ish devices can do what I want the way I want them; most are sleek, and several have a lot of third-party accessories.

So what ended up being the choice maker for me?  Wait for it… I liked the aluminum uni-body of the HTC One M8. So there.

Don’t judge me. Android allows folks to be frivolous.

[Image courtesy of Tsahi Levent-Levi via Flickr Creative Commons]

The 5 Most Important Things from the Google IO 2014 Keynote

The 5 Most Important Things from the Google IO 2014 Keynote

Jun 25, 2014

If you missed the Google IO keynote, here are 5 of the big things to take away from what Google talked about and revealed at what was probably the most momentous occasion in Android history with all the key announcements.

1. Google is serious about unifying their products

Pretty much everything that was announced by Google was designed not just with Android, or Chrome, or Chromebooks, or TVs in mind, but was about how it all interacted with each other, and they’re about unifying interfaces across devices, no matter what they may be.

Google Screens

2. Android Wear is a big deal.


Wearables are the next big frontier for tech companies, and Google just jumped Apple by announcing a comprehensive platform for smartwatches, and announcing hardware that will be available soon. An Apple iWatch will be a key product regardless of what Google does, but unless Apple has a killer feature (and with Google Fit, even health could be lacking) or competes on price, they might be playing from behind Google.

3. Android TV could solve a lot of problems with TV interfaces

Android TV

Yes, Google has tried with TVs before, but we live in an era of $99 hardware that can handle video and TV features, and having a standardized system for future boxes and microconsoles to use will go a long way toward getting Android on to TVs. And of course, it hooks into Google Play services.

4. Android One could solve the cheap phones issue

By launching a Nexus-esque initiative, and getting phones with Google Play, the necessary security updates, and the latest OS, Google is making sure that they can extend the reach of their services, even to developing markets. It’s a well-overdue move.

5. Android isn’t about the next version any more.

Yes, Android talked about the next “L” version, but they didn’t have a name – and that may have been on purpose. They talked about how things like security fixes are coming in through Google Play services. Android Wear wasn’t talked about as just for L devices.

Android’s still going to get major software versions, but Google’s been making moves toward divorcing key Android features from the Android version number – and there were more steps toward that today. Perhaps by de-emphasizing the Android version names nad numbers, this is another step in that direction.



Jun 12, 2014

At last, Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV, the game he was known for before the multi-platform hit Super Hexagon, has finally come to mobile. And though it may be an ultra-challenging platformer that would seem like an odd fit for touchscreens, it works incredibly well.

VVVVVV puts players in control of Captain Viridian, who can do two things: walk along the ground and reverse gravity, which becomes the way to move around. There’s no jumping – and there’s one moment in particular that will make players wish they had a jump button – so mastering how the gravity-flipping works is key. Learning how to move in mid-air, timing to move between obstacles, moving between different screens, this game will put players to the test. Thankfully, it’s an open-world game and non-linear. There are no powers of any sort to collect, as in a Metroidvania-type game, so any part of the game world can be explored (though there are certain sections that pop up as certain milestones are reached) at any time. The only thing holding the player back is skill.

VVVVVV Review 5

The big concern with VVVVVV on mobile had to be the touchscreen question. Namely, given that this is a game where precision is necessary, would it prove to just be extremely frustrating to play? I won’t lie, there are some times where I feel like the touch controls made me move too little or too far. But the game is also extremely forgiving: checkpoints are frequent, and death is such a natural part of the experience that really, any death for being slightly inaccurate is just going to feel like every other death for screwing up the timing. But the touchscreen controls work incredibly well, otherwise, to where the game feels quite playable with them. I don’t expect anyone to be doing any no-death runs or world-record speedruns on the mobile version, but I know that the things which make VVVVVV great will get across. Plus, hey, there’s gamepad support.

And VVVVVV is great because it’s such a skill game that also is player-friendly. There are few artificial barriers, and any challenge is innately conquerable through skilled play alone. It can be frustrating to not be good enough, but with practice, anything is possible. VVVVVV is a rare breed in this sense: so many games block off players through artificial barriers, needing an item of some sort to get past, and VVVVVV instead gives players all they need to survive right from the beginning.

VVVVVV Review 4

The first playthrough of VVVVVV may take about 3-4 hours depending on how good one is and how comfortable the controls are, but the challenge makes for an extremely rewarding experience. There’s 20 trinkets to collect throughout the world, which serve as real tests of skill to collect. As well, there’s various time trials, the Super Gravitron mini-game (also available as a separate app) and a variety of player worlds to explore, so VVVVVV can last a long time. It’s one of my favorite platforming games of the modern era, being so wonderfully-designed. For those who can handle touchscreen controls, this is a wonderful game to have on the go. If touchscreen controls are a dealbreaker, there’s gamepad support, an Ouya version, and of course the versions for PC platforms, 3DS, and upcoming the Vita. Play this game on some format!

Tales of the Adventure Company Review

Tales of the Adventure Company Review

May 29, 2014

Tales of the Adventure Company, as previewed recently, is a dungeon crawler that uses tile-flipping and patterns like Disco Zoo to send players through a dungeon, trying to kill the boss at the end, collecting keys and managing one’s party along the way. It’s a game that uses randomness, but in a great way.

Randomness in games can be a crutch or it can be a compelling element. It can be frustrating to know that one’s fate is not exactly in their own hands. But the way that Tales of the Adventure Company uses randomness is special. See, players might never know what exactly they’re getting when they uncover a tile, but they know what they might potentially get, be it enemies or heroes to uncover. And they’ll have an idea of where the next hero or enemy will be because the patterns are available. The game knows what it needs to keep hidden from players and what it needs them to know in order to have a fair shot a succeeding.


It helps a lot that the game rewards players for playing again and again: there’s benefits like added health and damage for that chapter, or getting characters in other levels, that helps justify coming back to difficult levels. Players replay for their own benefit, not so that they can hopefully get a favorable draw of the cards to succeed. There’s actual strategy to be applied here. The best analogy for the game is a collectible card game rather than poker: the former is about adapting strategy to randomness, and that’s what ToaAC is.

The pixel art is well-done, and vibrantly colorful. I like seeing a dungeon crawler that uses a wide range of the color spectrum. The controls are simple, just tapping on the screen, with a handy shortcut to switch who the leader is by tapping and holding on a character. It’s a natural mechanism, and a great one for experts to discover.

Tales of the Adventure Company is the kind of game I love to play. It takes a tile-flipping mechanic that other games have used and abused for free-to-play monetization, and makes it into, well, an actual game, one that is actually meant for players to have a shot and to enjoy it. This is a must-play, and I am endlessly pleased by this game.

How to Get Refunds for Apps on Google Play in 2014

How to Get Refunds for Apps on Google Play in 2014

May 29, 2014

In the good old days, Google was pretty liberal with regards issuing refunds to the then Android Market customers who purchased apps. The 24-hr window was lauded as feature, and, to be fair, it was. It gave users a reason to try out apps before fully committing fully, and mostly took care of the issue of having to have demo versions.

But then the belt tightened, and Google slashed the refund window to a much more pedestrian 15 minutes. From a developer standpoint, it mostly made sense, as some folks took advantage of the previous limit to use specialized apps for what amounted to a free session.

As it stands, there are a couple established ways to get a refund. The easiest is the aforementioned 15-minute window refund; a button appears next to the purchase, and if it is performed within 15 minutes, the app is removed from the users library and the refund is applied, no questions asked (there is an additional 48 hour gap that is described further in the Android Police article noted below). Secondarily, one can ask the app developer for a refund of an app; I am yet to see a reputable one that declines in the interest of customer service.

Additionally though, it seems that Google has quietly reupped the refund window to include purchases made longer than 15 minutes for “extenuating” circumstances. The changes were noted by Android Police, which expanded upon and clarified an earlier PSA by iTechTriad.

Now, if one visits the Play Store on the web on a Windows machine and navigates to My Orders (via the gear symbol), one is then presented with the list of purchased items. Hovering over any of the apps reveals a three-dot menu. Tapping on the three dots gives action items depending on the item; for instance, music purchases have a bunch of options, but apps much less. For apps, a “Report a Problem” pop-up appears, and clicking on that yields a bigger pop-up with a “Select a Problem” drop down; the only option that I observed was “I’d Like To Request a Refund.”

Now, tapping on this opens up a dialogue box in which one might explain the extenuating circumstances that deserve a refund.

gp refund screen

Interestingly enough, we had an opportunity to test it out. I fell victim to the “buy and disappear” glitch, in which Google Play processes a transaction, but the app still shows as having never been bought. Basically, my money was taken, but I did not have access to the app via the Play Store, as it looked like I hadn’t bought it. Google’s customer service had simply bounced around the problem for more than year. Using this process, the refund was issued after a few days, with a survey to match. It was surprisingly seamless. As far as we know, this can only be done via the web.

Android Police reports that it is possible to retain access to the app, which is an interesting ethical issue. In my case, this was inconsequential, as I was never able to download the app after purchasing.

So the process works, and as noted in the source article, it seems as though Google handles the refund itself, rather than making the developer return the cash. It all comes together very nicely, but of course, Google could pull the plug on this amnesty process if the ROI isn’t there.

[Sources: Android Police and iTechTriad]

JotterPad X Review

JotterPad X Review

May 23, 2014

As a full-time writer, I am in need of good writing apps. I reviewed JotterPad back in early 2012, and found it to be solid but not something that I would perhaps use regularly.

Now, the year is 2014. My life is quite different, and I now carry around an Xperia Z Ultra, which I am generously calling a phone because it’s really more of a “tablet that can make phone calls” and have a folding Bluetooth keyboard I usually carry in my bag with me. I’d love an app for writing on the Ultra, because the screen is big enough for it, but I was lacking a good app: I usually would use my Surface Pro or iPad Mini to write, and I have good options on those: Writemonkey and Byword, respectively. But now, I think JotterPad X, two and a half years later, is the writing app that I need for Android.


It starts with the look: it’s very clean, and has fantastic support for custom fonts: I use an evenly-spaced font as I like everything being lined up. There’s custom sizing options, and a night mode for writing in dark situations that inverts the colors. I would like custom background coloring: I read that using a mint green background can be more calming to write with, and it’s what I use with Writemonkey on PC. The app goes into a distraction-free mode with notifications where new ones won’t appear, so you’re not bothered while writing.

There’s Bluetooth keyboard support, which is granted, but there’s keyboard shortcuts which make it easy to do many things without having to touch the screen. There’s even a keyboard shortcut for referencing the list of keyboard shortcuts. For those who type on screen, there’s an extended keyboard which offers access to useful characters without having to change to the numbers and symbols section of software keyboards, which includes several characters for markdown formatting. And the app does support viewing markdown formatting natively for those who use that.


One of my big complaints about the original JotterPad was the lack of Dropbox support. JotterPad X has Dropbox support. It’s possible to load files from Dropbox, or just to work locally and then move files to Dropbox later, which is handy because syncing can be a bit slow.

One of the other handy features? Versions. JotterPad X saves multiple versions of each file, so if you need to go back to a previous one, you can. It’s handy, even if only as a backup mechanism if you accidentally make a change elsewhere that you need to revert.

Some of JotterPad X’s features, like night mode, markdown preview, and version restoring, are only available by purchasing the Creative mode in-app purchase; these features are well worth it, though: the app gives a lot away for free. While it’s not perfect: the Dropbox syncing could be faster, and I’d like to see more options for sorting, or at least bookmarks so I can quickly access the folders I write in, this is a writing app that I am quite comfortable doing my writing work in, and that comfort is a great thing.

Dragonwood Academy Review

Dragonwood Academy Review

May 22, 2014

Dragonwood Academy from XMG takes the basic formula from Hearthstone (sadly not on Android yet!) and makes it something that can be easily and casually played: but in this simplification, the game becomes less a clever-but-simple strategy game, but more of a limited-interaction grinding experience, for better or for worse.

The combat works in that players have a set of three “stones” that have health and attack ratings, each stone attacking in order against an enemy with three stones that go in a set order. A stone attacks another one, occasionally triggering a special ability if it has one. This goes on until the enemy is defeated, and players go on to the next round. There’s unfortunately no multiplayer, just singleplayer, with the goal being to get the longest win streak possible by building powerful enough teams, as players get chests after each win that contain trinkets, and when ten trinkets are collected, they give the player a new stone of that trinket’s rarity. Gems can be bought and earned, spent on more chests, and on boosts, healing, and continues.


The problem within the combat is explicitly that there’s no control of it whatsoever: players sit back and watch everything just kind of happen. This wouldn’t be so bad if the combat was intelligent, but it appears to be that stones attack enemies in terms of random selection, not based on any sort of sense, like if two enemy stones are left, a powerful card won’t kill a card that would kill it sometime.s The good news is that the computer is regulated by randomness too because they make the exact same mistakes, which is at least fair.

Still, it is my greatest peeve with games that have randomized combat: they should at least give players intelligent options, instead of playing in the favor of the game by just being random. After all, it makes it more likely for players to lose or take damage when a suboptimal strategy is forced upon them: and gems can be spent on healing, revives, boosts, and continues, of course. Again, at least it’s quite apparent that the computer is bound by the same rules, but I’d like the agency. And considering that the game is really just a simplified version of Hearthstone, which is already an easy enough game to pick up on, it feels unnecessary.

Really, this makes Dragonwood Academy just a mindless grind where players turn the lever, and get the satisfaction of building out powerful lineups, without needing to develop strategies, necessarily. And frankly, I can accept that this sort of game can exist: it’s for a casual audience that wants to just enjoy the thrill of a game like Hearthstone but with much less effort. And the game does lack energy systems, wait timers, any malarkey like that: it’s just about diving in and playing, which isn’t an intense activity. So while perhaps I think it could be a lot better — make manual attacking an option along with automatic attacking — it’s far from awful. I just feel it could do a better job a simple game to play.

However, it is regardless worth the download if only because of the greatest geek-culture pun in recent history: Joffrey Winger.

V-MODA XS Headphones Hardware Review

V-MODA XS Headphones Hardware Review

May 12, 2014

In the sound/music accessory department, it is war.

Specific to headphones, there are almost too many options to count, with offerings from different types of vendors within different price ranges; OEMs understand that people are becoming completely dependent on mobile devices for sound output. The 3.55 mm jack rules, and after that, design, functionality and value are big considerations. With V-MODA’s XS Wired Headphones, we get to see whether quality can translate from looks to actual output.

First, the White and Silver review unit V-MODA sent us reflects the laudable design elements. The package itself contains an orange felt-lined hard case, documentation, the headphones and detachable coaxial cable. The entire structure is defined by the cans, which are attached to the greyish band via subtle, jointed metal pieces. The earpieces themselves are solidly constructed, with soft gray cushioning and a stylish plaque bookending the mostly white piece. The cable is kevlar-reinforced, and shares design concepts with the main section. Visually, it leans towards the stunning, and it feels quite well-constructed and sturdy. On the ear, they feel remarkably comfortable, and one quickly sees that V-MODA’s stated desire to make a band that aesthetically aligns closer to the head actually comes to fruition. It boasts military testing, and one walks away believing it. v1

Yes, it’s cute, but headphones are not meant to be housed in museums; they have to do what they are supposed to do well. In testing, it was a relief that the XS actually does it right sound-wise. The on-ear design creates a nice (if not complete noise-canceling) experience. With different types of music and podcasts, the sound is robust, reflecting distinct instrumentation; calls were a bit muffled, but usable.

The little things are what set it apart… the ports on each earpiece, the plastic pieces to seal them when not in use, the angling on the end of the cord, the caribiner on the hard case and such. The combination of style and functionality is underscored by the attention to detail. They are not the cheapest on the market, but they I suspect they’ll be somewhat easy to justify.

The XS Headphones are available on Amazon for $199.