Angry Birds Fight! Review

Angry Birds Fight! Review

Jun 19, 2015

Angry Birds were first released in 2009 – six years ago. It’s literally a thousand years in internet time. Although the franchise has long been erased from the collective memory, the games are still being released, and judging by Angry Birds Fight, they’re still going quite strong.

Angry Birds Fight is a simple match-three arcade with some fighting flavor thrown in for a good measure. The player picks one of the birds that have different abilities and stats, and fights against other players in a simple 1v1 matchmaking multiplayer. The task is to get more of attack and defense boosts than your opponent until the time runs out. After this, the birds fight each other and the winning bird gets experience, gold and possibly – some items as well. Defeating a certain amount of enemies allows the player to fight against AI pig boss that, when defeated, will open a new location and spawn some random accessories as well.

The match-three mechanics don’t really do anything different to any other similar, arcades, the only difference being that the players can mess each others’ boards by making different combos, erasing four or five blocks at once. The inventory system is really unoriginal, and while it provides some variety, I found it a bit cumbersome for simple gameplay of Angry Birds Fight. Really, the whole game has too many elements and would work a lot better as a simple multiplayer match-three arcade without the lengthy campaign and useless ship battles.

Angry Birds Fight is surprisingly balanced, if you don’t count the obnoxiousness that is its FTP restrictions. While Angry Birds Fight 2the gameplay itself is rather skill-based – at least for the time I’ve played it – there’s the whole package of the free-to-play elements, including the gems, the item upgrading, and the energy shtick, which is as repugnant as it always was. But, if you’re okay with playing up to fifteen minutes at a time, the game is rather enjoyable.

Overall, it’s another game, ruined by corporate greed and desire to have the same elements that the popular kids have. Angry Birds Fight could be a really great, simple game with good design, just like original Angry Birds were, but it’s sinking under the weight of the obligation to include every single FTP mechanic there is.

I’ll be BACK: The Terminator Takes Over Waze

I’ll be BACK: The Terminator Takes Over Waze

Jun 15, 2015

Waze users have a whole new reason to love the service; to mark the upcoming release of new movie TERMINATOR GENISYS, Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions are collaborating with Waze to bring the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the voice navigation service.

Yes… this means folks using Waze can get instructions from the Governator himself.

Some sample voice prompts are below:

  • “I’m looking for Sarah Conner, but we can go to your destination first!”
  • “I know where you’re going, and I will get you there… trust me”
  • “In need of a Terminator? No problemo… I will join the ride. Let’s move!”
  • “My mission is to protect you… accident ahead!”
  • “You have reached your destination… hasta la vista, baby!”
  • “Mission accomplished. It has to end here… I’ll be back!”

The new feature is available for free; it can be toggled in Waze settings.

Ahhnold, a Waze user himself, is clearly excited with the endeavor. “From the first time I used Waze, I have wanted to lend my voice to it. The Terminator is the perfect machine to guide Wazers to their destinations,” he says. “Every single day on social media fans ask me to record my movie lines, so now I get to bring this classic role and my charming Austrian accent into their cars.”

Waze continues to be the premier social cross-platform navigation utility, and is available for free on Google Play. As for TERMINATOR GENISYS, we can’t wait to see it on July 1st, but are biding our time with the engaging companion game. Check out our review of TERMINATOR GENISYS: REVOLUTION.

The video below is short, but deeply appropriate:

[Source: Paramount Pictures Press Release ][Our TERMINATOR GENISYS: REVOLUTION Review]

Humble Mobile Bundle Offers Premium Apps Pay-What-You-Want Style

Humble Mobile Bundle Offers Premium Apps Pay-What-You-Want Style

Apr 6, 2015

Humble Bundle is back with a nice little package for Android users — in the usual free pay system.

In Humble Bundle 11, Android users can pay whatever they want, and get:

  • Avernum: Escape From the Pit
  • Auro
  • Bounden
  • Of course, there’s more. If one pays more than the average donation ($4.20 at the time of this article), one also gets:

  • Riddick: The Merc Files
  • Kingdom Rush Origins
  • 80 Days
  • But wait… even MORE! More games are slated to be added to the “extras” tab mid-promotion.

    In any case, it’s an excellent way to stock up on great titles and support some deserving charities and/or developers on the way. The current Bundle concludes on April 20th.

    Motion Tennis Cast Review

    Motion Tennis Cast Review

    Apr 2, 2015

    What the original Wii did for console gaming is something that is oft discussed, and with good reason. The motion-sensing aspect was fantastic in that helped create gamers out of people who were not, well, prototypical gamers. It helped make console gaming more of a family event.

    I should know; still have one.

    What the Wii also did, for me at least, was it somewhat changed how I look to play some games. For example, with regards to shooting games, I expect to have a shooting peripheral. Golf games were best played with a “stick” that incorporated the Wii controller. Tennis? Never better than with a racquet accessory.

    Motion Tennis Cast brings some of that Wii-type experience direct to Android devices, simply by living up to the sum total of the components of its name: it brings together device motion and the Chromecast dongle to frame a tennis simulation.

    The game links to one’s Chromecast (or other casting options), and then allows the player to play a casted tennis game while using the phone as a simulated racquet.

    Interesting.

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    There is a quick tutorial, a couple different modes, surfaces and virtual opponents of differing abilities. The gameplay itself is simple to understand, with different shots and traditional tennis scoring. Swinging one’s device simulates hitting the ball. The engine is fairly forgiving, and with a little practice, one can replicate unique moves fairly easily. There is also multiplayer options online for limited swathes of time (wasn’t able to connect to this).

    A few things that do come up as potential issues is the phone as a controller. Great in theory, but if one ever wonders why Nintendo made such a big deal of wrist-straps, this game will probably help folks to understand. It’s easy to get into the game, and I did feel a bit uneasy using the control phone without a some sort of restraint. Along those lines, it feels a bit easier to play on smaller-sized smartphones versus, say, larger phablets, depending on hand size obviously.

    mtc2

    Then, the game itself looks like it could use some polish with regards to the visuals and responsiveness. The animations are more than recognizable, but are a bit rote-like in places, and the control mechanism can be a bit unpredictable now and then. And, goodness, if a game ever was made for more multiplayer options (beyond Time Attack Online), this is it; if there is a way for the developer to add these, I am not too proud to beg. I especially like the incorporation of multiple casting options.

    Still, if only on premise alone, Motion Tennis Cast is pretty nifty. It’s a cool game that is enjoyable to try and easy to get into. It’s one of the more interesting ones we have seen in some time.

    Google Announces New Initiative Google for Work

    Google Announces New Initiative Google for Work

    Feb 25, 2015

    In the “not so shocking news of the day” category, Google is showing an especially increased interest in the mobile space with its announcement of Google for work.

    According to a post on the aptly named Official Google for Work Blog, Google for Work looks to assist entities “bring more devices to work by securing, managing and innovating on the Android platform.”

    The new initiative has four key components:

    Work profiles – We’ve built on the default encryption, enhanced SELinux security enforcement and multi-user support in Android 5.0, Lollipop to create a dedicated work profile that isolates and protects work data. IT can deploy approved work apps right alongside their users’ personal apps knowing their sensitive data remains secured. People can use their personal apps knowing their employer only manages work data and won’t erase or view their personal content.
    Android for Work app – For devices running Ice Cream Sandwich through Kitkat, or that don’t run work profiles natively, we’ve created the Android for Work app. The app, which delivers secure mail, calendar, contacts, documents, browsing and access to approved work apps, can be completely managed by IT.
    Google Play for Work – Google Play for Work allows businesses to securely deploy and manage apps across all users running Android for Work, simplifying the process of distributing apps to employees and ensuring that IT approves every deployed app.
    Built-in productivity tools – For everyday business tasks, we’ve created a suite of business apps for email, contacts and calendar, which supports both Exchange and Notes and provides document editing capabilities for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

    Google has also secured some big names with regards to partners; the list reads like a Who’s Who in mobile device management: BlackBerry, Box, SAP, Citrix, MobileIron, Salesforce, Adobe, Cisco, and more.

    Our partners bring IT:

    Consistent management – Enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers integrate with standardized management APIs to create a simple way to manage all Android devices, new and old, from one dashboard. All Android for Work capabilities are delivered through EMM partners, with more providers available soon.
    Secure business apps – Software vendors and developers can create a single version of any Google Play app that can be securely deployed to any Android device without alterations or wrapping. And they can create standard management configurations that allow IT to apply policies per app.
    Innovative devices – Android smartphone and tablet makers are a key part of the Android for Work program, as they create devices and experiences that add additional value for customers.

    googleforwork1

    We are looking forward to seeing how Google brings it all together in the near future.

    [Source: Google for Work Blogpost]

    Cartoon Network Launches Android-Exclusive Humble Bundle

    Cartoon Network Launches Android-Exclusive Humble Bundle

    Feb 2, 2015

    Cartoon Network isn’t any stranger to the concept of going big, and the latest news from the entertainment network highlights this: today, it has launched its first (and Android OS-exclusive) Humble Bundle.

    To be specific, there are 11 games that can be purchased pay-what-you want style; Humble Bundle is a unique opportunity for consumers to purchase platforms for whatever price they want on specific platforms for a set period. Folks who pay more than the current average donation generally get more titles unlocked. In the case of this specific bundle, the average is (at the time of this article) $5.94 which gets eight (8) games. Folks who pay at least $8 get the first eight games plus three (3) more.

    This is a pretty good value for Regular Show-based games, as well as hits based on Adventure Time and Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake.

    The Humble Cartoon Network Mobile Bundle is scheduled to run for two weeks.

    Flockers Review

    Flockers Review

    Jan 22, 2015

    Flockers is a puzzle game from the creators of the Worms series – although it doesn’t have much to do with Worms. What it does have a lot in common with, is Lemmings – an old game from the nineties, still as immersive today, as it was 25 years ago.

    Flockers features a flock of sheep that wander through maddeningly dangerous levels, without a care in the world. They served as weapons of destruction in the Worms series, but now seem to try and find a fate different from exploding. The player’s task is to navigate them through the hellish landscapes and lead them to the exit pipe. The sheep don’t have a concept of self-preservation, and will happily get dismembered by the saws and splash to the bottom of any pit that they come across. The player can’t directly control them in any way, so he’s left with a number of “professions” that he can assign. These professions grant the sheep abilities that help them survive, or give some other abilities that help the rest of the flock – like an ability to jump really far, or to explode, destroying a nearby obstacle. The player needs to assign these professions correctly, and at the right time, guiding the flock around the levels. The levels get pretty tight, but thankfully, the time stops when the player is assigning the professions, so the player doesn’t have to tap frantically all over the screen.

    Flockers 3There’s quite a lot of levels in Flockers, divided into worlds, each world ending with a “boss” of some kind. There are three stars that can be collected upon level completion. One for passing it, one for saving a certain number of sheep, and one for completing the level in a certain time limit. The better the player performs, the more wool he gets as a reward. Wool can be spent to purchase different skins for the flock, but doesn’t really have any different use.

    Generally, Flockers is a great adaptation of a great game. Cool graphics, violent dismemberment (it’s disabled by default, so hop into the options to enable gore), and lots of varied levels mean the game has everything you would expect to see. I should note that it’s only for the fans of this kind of action puzzle genre. It can be too tedious for some, or too fast for others, but it’s damn good if you’re into this sort of thing.

    Spoiler Alert Review

    Spoiler Alert Review

    Jan 19, 2015

    Played in reverse, Sonic the Hedgehog is a game about a guy who goes around, encasing little animals in armor, fixing that one guy’s broken vehicles, and pooping gold rings everywhere. If Spoiler Alert was played in reverse, it would just be played like normal. This might get a little confusing.

    Basically, the game starts when the protagonist defeats the main boss and “rescues” the princess. Then the game suddenly reverses itself, and the player has to go through all of the previous levels backwards. In every sense. He goes from the last level to the first, and from the end of each level to the beginning, reviving the enemies by jumping on them, and leaving the gold coins in his wake. The challenge in Spoiler Alert is not in finding your way through the levels, but in moving exactly the way that the game expects Spoiler Alert 2you to. This means the player has to avoid hitting the “alive” enemies and hitting all the “dead” ones, and has to avoid the coins that weren’t picked in the “future”. Alright, this is too difficult to explain.

    Spoiler Alert is actually a lot simpler than I make it sound, but you have to see it to understand. It feels a lot closer to a rhythm game, than to a platformer. The levels are very short, but a single mistake or time paradox returns at their start – I mean, finish. The player replays each level until he finishes it perfectly, according to the way that it was “played”. By the way, it doesn’t take long to finish the game – I was done with the story and the bonus levels by about an hour’s mark. Add another hour to get all of the achievements, and maybe another one on top of that to perform the complete run through all levels in a single attempt, and it’s a wrap.

    Overall, Spoiler Alert is a fun arcade. It could be longer, but its length is actually a good thing, since it doesn’t get too repetitive and forced. It looks very basic, but contains enough elements to feel like a complete game, so if you’re in a mood for a short, unusual platformer, Spoiler Alert is a perfect candidate.

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Workaholic

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Workaholic

    Dec 5, 2014

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

    ZAGG Universal Bluetooth Keyboard

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

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

    GoSmart 200 Stylus

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

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

    LG G Watch R

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

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

    SanDisk 128GB MicroSD Card

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

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

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Music Lover

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Music Lover

    Dec 2, 2014

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

    Photive BTH3 Bluetooth Headphones

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

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

    Sonos Play Speakers

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

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

    Turtle Shell 2.0 Bluetooth Speaker

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

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

    Google Play Music Subscription

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

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

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Gamer

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Android Gamer

    Nov 27, 2014

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

    Nexus Player

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

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

    MOGA Mobile Gaming System

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

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

    Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger

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

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

    Nyko DualShock 4 Smart Clip

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

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

    Developer Perspective: A Conversation with PGi’s David Guthrie

    Developer Perspective: A Conversation with PGi’s David Guthrie

    Nov 12, 2014

    Developers are awesome.

    In this business, picking the brains of developers is such a privilege. Finding out how, why and when can be really fascinating.

    We had the opportunity to do a quick Q&A with David Guthrie, Chief Technology Officer for PGi, the development house behind calendar super-app Agenday Smart Calendar, which we had the pleasure of reviewing recently.

    AR: Why Agenday? What inspired its development?

    DG: PGi is focused on frictionless collaboration. We wanted a tool that could be a powerful stepping off point for busy professionals to take control of their day. Agenday was designed and developed by our Innovation Lab to help people collaborate on the go without the hassles of long dial-in numbers or passcodes, URLs or downloads and too many apps doing one thing – instead of one app that empowers users to do it all. On the enterprise business side, Agenday saves companies significant dollars by dialing the lowest cost route for any conference call—huge for companies with remote teams, regional offices and global customers.

    AR: Making a “regular” calendar app is hard enough; how did the development team settle on Agenday’s extra features?

    DG: The extra features, such as turn-by-turn directions and weather forecasts, were things that we at the PGi Innovation Lab team wanted in our own lives to add efficiencies to our hectic days. Everything you need to start your day, stay up-to-date on personal and work activities, and grow as a professional are all inside the app. Agenday’s product integrations are designed to ultimately help people in businesses of all sizes, industries and locations be more productive, work smarter and get more done with less hassle. For example, many of our collaboration software power users are executive leaders and salespeople, so the LinkedIn and Salesforce.com integrations were tailored to help them learn more about who they were meeting, as well as log those sales activities in a frictionless way.

    AR: How has Android development differed from iOS development? Pros? Cons?

    DG: The biggest difference with Agenday for Android is our ability to empower Android users with the productivity widget they need – something that wasn’t available on Android devices before. Android’s greater flexibility and openness allows developers to create powerful apps and serve users right at the moment. A big pro for Android development is the way the app gets permissions versus iOS. Those permissions are critical to getting the productivity gains from the app. Some iOS users are wearing of this, and so don’t get all they can from Agenday. Also, the lock screen widget and ongoing notifications in Android add great usability to our App.

    AR: How do you see the app developing down the line?

    DG: We have unlimited ideas for our roadmap for Agenday. Our customers will be very happy with the additional productivity items we are already building to remove frictions in their day.

    Agenday Smart Calendar is available on the Play Store.