Games

Astray Review

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014

Interesting augmented reality game that takes the game off-screen.

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Productivity

Intuit’s SnapTax for Android Review

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014

Intuit's mobile tax solution has some great promise.

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App Rundown

Astray Review

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014

Interesting augmented reality game that takes the game off-screen.

Read More

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Golfy Bird Review

Golfy Bird Review

Apr 11, 2014

Okay, I admit it. I really didn’t want to have a go at Golfy Bird. I mean, it is from Noodlecake, yes, which is almost always a positive. Still, it sounds suspiciously like The App That Was Pulled that we deign not mention by name. Frankly, the clones that popped up were somewhat depressing, and I even winced at real birds for a spell.

I was wrong.

Golfy Bird is its own person, and it’s somebody that might be very easy to like, and even fall in love with.

The graphics are appealing, in that they are fairly familiar, with a tint of retro that works. It is first and foremost a golf game, so the 2D graphics that highlight interestingly designed golf greens are expected. The animations are useful, and the whole visual representation is far from flashy, which I think is a good thing. If the courses look familiar, you’re not mistaken; they are based off of the courses in Noodlecake’s Super Stickman Golf 2 game.golfy1

As already noted, it’s a golf game — the idea is to pocket the bird in the holes with the least number of taps. To do this, the controls needed are a left movement button and a right movement button; tapping on them moves the button in the corresponding direction, while continuous, close-interval taps cause the bird-ball to go airborne in the corresponding direction, and it remains airborne and moving. The holes start out easy, and then get harder, with obstacles, bounces and combinations becoming integral. I thought the game could dearly use a zoom mechanism to cut out some guesswork, but the holes can be replayed, which is of some consolation.

The game employs a similar “scoring” system as to that made ubiquitous by Angry Birds, in that there are thresholds of success. If one makes it in the par number, one passes with bronze. A few shots less? Silver… and so on. The game play is leveled, and stars (which are accumulated by finishing holes) are the currency to get into the 30+ successive courses. To remove ads in this freemium game, a 99c in-app purchase is required.

I don’t always fall in love with games, but when I do, I fall in love with games like Golfy Bird. Give it a shot to find out why.

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Now On Android

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Now On Android

Apr 11, 2014

The Walking Dead Season One 2

Holy smokes, that’s some wonderful news. Telltale has released their multiple award-winning adventure on Android. It’s an emotional and morally challenging adventure, first season of which is arguably better and more engaging than all seasons of The Walking Dead TV series combined, and it’s currently available for Android users here: The Walking Dead on Google Play.

Mikey Hooks Review

Mikey Hooks Review

Apr 10, 2014

Mark my words…

There might be a zillion RPGs, and countless board games, and twice as many hidden objects games… no matter the time frame, or the medium of gaming, there will always be a place for arcade action gaming.

Always.

Mikey Hooks, which comes to us via platform heavyweight Noodlecake Studios and BeaverTap Games, is just one of those games, and I admit that I had pretty much decided to like it at first glance.

It is a 2D platform game, and the general concept is to move rightwards, avoid the obstacles, pick up the goodies and survive till the end of the level. Visually, it’s not as outwardly festive at the beginning as preceding title Mikey Shorts; the scenery here feels a bit darker versus the initial outdoorsy look of the predecessor, but the concept is the same: people need rescuin’, and rescuin’ (with aplomb) is what Mikey is all about.

The initial frame gives a decent idea of the gameplay and how to use the given controls; there iare two direction mik1buttons that guide our hero in either direction, and there is a red jump button and a blue slide button. When double tapped, he red button initiates a bigger jump, and when there is a large gulf and a hook present, double tapping then holding the red button allows Mikey to use a special rope to swing from one end to the other, Tarzan-style. There is gold and hearts lives to be collected by contact, but some are placed precariously.

The obstacles and dangers are plenty and varied; spiked animated objects and walls; some parts of the play area move, so timing is a huge part of success. Finishing a level is not enough; the faster the better, because these obstacle courses are timed, and stars are awarded based on speed.

The in-app shop is full of extras to buy… heads ropes and more.

I thought the controls could be a bit more refined, and I would have liked more bi-directional action and time bonuses. All in all, its familiar, but still loads of fun, and can be as involving as one lets it.

SideSwype Review

SideSwype Review

Apr 10, 2014

Nice to meet you, SideSwype.

The playing area is a 5×5 grid, with space for 25 squares of different colors. if filled all the way. The sparse white background is a great counterpoint that highlights the coloring of the squares, and the smooth animations are just what we’d expect from a game that uses gestures as the main form of movement and problem-solving.

The game is fairly easy to understand: match 3 or more squares and strive to keep the board as empty as possible. In other words, the run ends when the grid is full of squares. To prevent this from happening, it is possible to slide the boxes present in either of the four cardinal directions (or, relative to the grid, to the right or left and up or down). The unique thing is that the squares all move in unison but obey physical logic. Squares that are plush against immovable squares or the walls of the grid will not move, but others will move until one of those side1conditions are met.

Any sets of three or more that are formed as a result of a gesture action will cause a mostly welcome reaction of dissolving the squares (according to rules of the gameplay), thereby opening up space and keeping the run alive. Countering the smashing of blocks is the replenishment system; like Tetris, there is an indicator telling the player which blocks are coming next, and after every swipe, the new ones are added; thus, constant removal is necessary for success. Points are awarded for smashes, and high scores are recorded.

There are special blocks with special powers that require just a bit more strategy. The game also allows for some customization with regards to sound and looks.

All in, it’s a fun, consuming game, priced to move ($1.99) and no extra purchases needed.

Enjoy.

15 Coins Review

15 Coins Review

Apr 10, 2014

When it comes to gaming, there is always something intrinsically sexy about a simple game. It amazing to see what developers can do with the right tools on the right mobile platform; still, a simply designed game can be a joy to behold.

Enter 15 Coins. It is unabashedly minimalist, simple in concept and execution, and gives little reason to be disliked.

To play, the basic idea to understand is that 15 coins need to be collected. The coins are small and circular, and appear seemingly randomly in the portrait playing area. The vehicle for collection is a small triangle ship that can be controlled by tilt or touch controls, in this case, to collect the coins… or to avoid the clones.

The clones are the enemy, and really are the life of the game. They are black versions of the ship, and are lethal when touched. The problem is that the clones don’t only mimic the shape of our protagonist ship, they copy the movements as well; they follow the path made by the collecting ship, even as their numbers increase rapidly. As 151such, there is a duality to the gameplay strategy: offensive collection coupled with defensive movements. One plus (that can be a negative if misused) is the nature of the play borders; they act sort of like the gates in Pac-Man; for instance, going through the right side pops out the white ship out the left, and bottom through the top and so on.

To round out the arcade-feel, there are power-ups, which, when collected, freeze the belligerents for a short period. When they are in the frozen state, they can be destroyed by contact.

There are three levels of difficulty — easy, medium and hard. I preferred the touch to tilt controls (the reverse is usually true) and I really liked the orange motif.

All in all, it is not an easy game to get through, but like the devilish Super Hexagon, that is part of the allure. Free means there is almost no risk to try.

Except addiction.

Gesundheit! Review

Gesundheit! Review

Apr 10, 2014

Gesundheit! is the perfect antidote to sneezing.

Brace yourself, because green snot from green piggies make up a big part of the game. The playing area is simulated 3D, with zoom-able top-down look. The artwork is soft and purposefully exaggerated; it works within the concept of the game while ensuring it does not take itself too seriously.

The creatures are interesting enough in and of itself, smaller pigs that are terrorized by bigger monsters that are seemingly only distracted from catching up with the little guys is, well, boogers. Green, slimy, projected boogers.

Eewww.

It’s broken down into levels; at the root, our green protagonist has to roam around, collect yellow stars and avoidg1 the big bullies to make it to successive levels. Soon, toggled gates make an appearance, either blocking general egress or walling off the stars. To lower the gates, there is generally a button switch of matching color, and a couple ways to activate it: by guiding the green guy to “step” on it, by shooting some snot at it, or by tricking the monster to stand on it. Movement is performed by tapping intended locations; gesture pulls control projection of snot.

To finish the level (and solve the puzzle), it is necessary to trick the evil monster into stepping into a trap. This can be accomplished because the monster, which ostensibly stays asleep, wakes and follows little creatures who come within range. With strategic movements can be used to guide the enemy just where one wants.

At sometimes, when no obstacles exist between our protagonists and a monster, and all out chase can occur; squirting snot is the only way to get the monster off one’s back. This strategy aspect is engaging, and sets the game apart.

Extra pops for a free game with no ads; the first few levels are free, and the entire game can be unlocked via in-app purchase.

Groundskeeper2 Review

Groundskeeper2 Review

Apr 9, 2014

Orangepixel continues to impress me with each subsequent release. Ever since Chrono and Cash and especially with Gunslugs and Heroes of Loot, the releases seem like they just keep getting better, or at least are of a very high quality. Groundskeeper2 is the latest example of this quality, as it’s a very fun 2D action game from the solo developer.

This is a fully-formed followup to Groundskeeper, an action-platformer made in 48 hours for a Ludum Dare game jam. Players try to stay alive while fending off enemy waves that come in from both sides, collecting bits and bobs in order to unlock the portal. Yes, bits and bobs. That’s actually what the items are called. After so many bits and bobs are collected, then the portal in the center of the arena becomes active. Powerups like weapon pickups and shields also eventually become available so that players can turn the tide against the unending enemies.

Groundskeeper2-6

The game starts to get to be clever with its portals and when players need to go into them. See, later levels start to get more difficult, so it’s worth sticking around in a level as long as possible because its difficulty stays static — a future level may bring players closer to their end. But entering a portal refills one’s health, so there’s benefits to entering them, just not every single one. But as well, given the various hazards unique to each level, there are reasons why one may not want to stick around for too long on a level. Giant stone death swords are something I would rather get away from as soon as possible.

The overall progression of the game is constructed quite well. As players learn what works and start to score more, new elements and stages are introduced. It’s paced to show new things based on how well players are doing in a smart way that doesn’t overwhelm them, but offers up new things as they are ready for them. Strategy is based a lot around survival, but little tactics become apparent like learning how to force enemy waves into corners while also managing to prevent being trapped in those corners.

Groundskeeper2-4

This might be the best-looking Orangepixel game yet. The pixel art is still in that simple style that the developer is known for, but the game looks more colorful and more detailed in that style. Gavin Harrison does a good job with the music as always. The voice acting isperhaps not professionally-done, but it’s kind of charming in its own way. And like pretty much every other Orangepixel game, there’s gamepad support.

Really, this is just another well-done 2D action game from Orangepixel, and well worth checking out.

Intuit’s SnapTax for Android Review

Intuit’s SnapTax for Android Review

Apr 9, 2014

Doing my own taxes is my personal badge of adult responsibility. I mean, I am confronting the most difficult code since the Rosetta Stone, applying numbers to it, and BAM! It feels awesome, and I feel awesome pointing out how awesome it feels.

But tax preparation software has come along way in its quest to make folks like me awesome. Doing one’s taxes has evolved from gathering W-2s and miscellaneous receipts and driving to a tax preparation office; now, programs can be purchased to do tax work at home, and online programs are commonplace. With apps like TurboTax SnapTax from Intuit, one can prepare one’s taxes on Android smart devices. Intuit was kind enough to provide us with a code to see how the mobile app interfaces with the tax prep software.

SnapTax combines the device’s camera with OCR functionality to effect accurate collection of information; in essence, it greatly speeds up the process of tax preparation by streamlining and automating the most difficult aspect: data entry.snap1

The app itself is fairly minimalist, with mostly white accents. Upon starting the app, it prompts the user to sign in or to create an account; after signing in, there is the picture-taking utility, a section for interview questions and a preview area.

Using the photo utility is easy, at which point the software analyzes the picture of the document and imports the data into the relevant boxes. This was the best part for me; I hate dealing with income forms manually. After W-2s and 1099s have been entered, the program takes one through the briefest of interviews. Assuming all this is correct, the federal taxes can be e-filed right there from the mobile device. It’s so fast that it’s scary.

The convenience comes at a cost, though. For instance, if the app comes across forms outside basic W-2s or 1099s, it routes the user to the full TurboTax program online, the same goes if it determines that one’s tax situation is more complicated than set parameters. TurboTax online didn’t pull all the information already entered into SnapTax, and I was perplexed as to why such superb image capture functionality is not blended directly into TurboTax for users with the same login credentials.

Even with the drawbacks, I loved the program, and mostly enjoyed using it; there is plenty of room for improvement. For those with EZ prep needs, it’s pretty good, with free federal e-file ($14.99 for each state). It (along with Intuit’s other financial apps for Android) is available for free on the Play Store.

QuizUp Introduce Google Maps Topic to the Popular Quiz Game

QuizUp Introduce Google Maps Topic to the Popular Quiz Game

Apr 9, 2014

Google Maps_android-04

QuizUp offers a wide arrange of topics to test your knowledge of the basic and not so basic stuff. The newest included topic is The Earth From Above where players need to guess where in the world is the place they are shown by Google Maps. The game is available for free here: QuizUp on Google Play.

Hello Kitty Kruises Review

Hello Kitty Kruises Review

Apr 9, 2014

Hello Kitty Kruisers is a cutesy racing game with console roots that takes the time to be easy to play and understand.

There are two modes to play, known as Adventure and Tournament. The first, initial iteration of the tournament mode looks and plays a whole lot like Mario Kart, in that there are a whole lot of boosts, windy raceways, conniving opponents and more than few hazards. There are other racers, obviously, that are controlled by the game engine. Soon as the start countdown is performed, the racers take off, jockeying for position; fighting for position will occur concurrently with having to navigate curves and such. The brake button definitely helps, and can be useful tool to show down or even effect stops, as the game makes the car accelerate by default.

On the raceway, there are boosts that occasionally show up, usually in a line. Getting these is a good thing, and hk1definitely worth fighting for, as these boosts can be crucial with regards to getting the lead and/or causing problems for cars ahead. The boosts, again, feel familiar… stuff like cupcake projectiles, shields and more. In this aspect, racing is all out war, and offense and defense are almost important as raw driving skill. The raceway has speeding ramps, which, when rolled over, speed up the racecar. The adventure mode have cool time challenges as the base.

The controls were not my favorite part of the game; it gives the option of tilt or joystick, which is great, but they felt a little loose. The graphics are great, but if one is using the aforementioned Mario Kart as the barometer, the environments feel sparse. Also, the game calls for paid upgrades after the initial game purchase.

As far as games based on cuddly, popular characters go, it’s a safe bet to try, but as noted, the 99 cents will take one only so far on its own.

Tilt to Live 2 ‘s Upcoming Brimstone Pinball Update Gets a Trailer

Tilt to Live 2 ‘s Upcoming Brimstone Pinball Update Gets a Trailer

Apr 9, 2014

Tilt to Live 2 2

The highly acclaimed Tilt to Live 2, in which the player needs to keep an eye on a small cursor, is receiving an update that introduces a new game field. There, the cursor can bump into a fireball that destroys the obstacles. It has its own separate achievements and a record table. The game can be purchased here: Tilt to Live 2 on Google Play.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Fat Cheeks: The Cannonball on Kickstarter

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Fat Cheeks: The Cannonball on Kickstarter

Apr 9, 2014

Spring time has officially arrived; at least that is what people keep telling me, and what better way to ring in the new season then by spotlighting a game that features an anthropomorphic squirrel collecting nuts while flying through the air. The title is more than fitting as the protagonist, Fat Cheeks, is literally launched from a cannon and soars through the landscape dodging foliage and mountains; all the while actively fighting off legions of furry enemies. At first glance Fat Cheeks: the Cannonball looks like a classic Flappy Bird copy, but that is a shallow assessment. Looking deeper and there are enough differences here to dissuade real complaints and the addition of the ability to attack enemies adds a much needed new gameplay element to what is ultimately a stale and overworn genera. Sure, the core fundamentals stay the same, tap to rise and avoid all obstacles, but Fat Cheeks seems to do this with aplomb and “falls with style” better than similar efforts.

Ryan Gallini, the creator of this game, has done an incredible job hand painting the graphics and creating a game that visually stands heads and shoulders above its competition. The animals are appropriately adorable and the three different level designs are unique and compelling. These various levels host different enemies with their own various attacks and strategies. By varying up the gameplay, Ryan has created a game that could potentially harbor more replay value than just simply attempting to best a high score.

At time of writing the KickStarter campaign is still more than $5,000 short of being successfully funded, but with 25 days to go this seems easily achievable. All it takes is one dollar to earn a free copy of the game when it debuts on Android, iOS, and online at their website and the Chrome Store. To be honest I initially passed over this effort as just another clone, but after taking a look further I found that there are undeniable redeeming qualities that warrant a trip to the Fat Cheeks: The Cannonball KickStarter page for a small contribution.

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is on Sale After Getting Over a Million Downloads

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is on Sale After Getting Over a Million Downloads

Apr 8, 2014

Galaxy on Fire 2 3

Galaxy On Fire 2 HD celebrates its download record with a sale. Now it only costs $4.75 to purchase all of the add-ons, and the in-app purchases are reduced as well. The game is a hardcore free-to-play space sim. It can be downloaded for free from here: Galaxy on Fire 2 HD on Google Play.

Three Games From Gameloft are Available for Amazon Fire TV

Three Games From Gameloft are Available for Amazon Fire TV

Apr 8, 2014

FireTV

Fire TV is a new smart TV solution from Amazon that gives even more features to the plain old living room TV screen. One of these features is the ability to play selected Android games, and Gameloft has optimized its bestselling titles for exactly that purpose. These titles are Asphalt 8: Airborne, Despicable Me: Minion Rush and Modern Combat 4. Fire TV is already available in the US.

Writers Wanted for Android Rundown – Join the Fastest Growing Android Site

Are you passionate about Android? Are you obsessed with apps? Do you own more tablets than any person really needs Or perhaps do you know about the interesting apps and stories that haven’t been discovered yet? Then we want you here at Android Rundown. We’re looking for talented writers who want to join our team in covering the wide world of Android apps, hardware, and the market in general.

While past experience is definitely a plus, being able to write well is more important to us. If you can write, but just haven’t done so publicly, this may be your opportunity. We want reviewers, news reporters, and article writers, including the possibility for regular weekly features.

This is a paid job, so we need high-quality and consistent effort. You will be required to self-edit and have posts ready for publication when you submit them. We expect several submissions per week, so an independent drive to get work done and submitted regularly is necessary. This job can be a great way to further your writing career, or as a catalyst to get it started. I personally have been able to support myself as a full-time writer thanks in part to my work here at Android Rundown, and others with us have gone on to do the same.

If this all sounds interesting, then please apply. To do so, send us this information:

Your name
Where you live (city, state, country)
What Android device(s) you use
Why you want to write for us
3 writing samples*
Past writing experiences

Email all that to helpwanted+android {at} 148apps {dot} com and we will be in touch.

*:If you don’t have any prior published work, then please pick 2 Android games and 2 non-game apps that you have a passionate opinion about and provide a 300 word review of each of them along with your information.

Hope to see you soon on Android Rundown!

New Android Bundle From iKoid Features Spooky Games

New Android Bundle From iKoid Features Spooky Games

Apr 8, 2014

Assault

It’s not Halloween, but you won’t care if you get the latest game bundle from ikoid.com. It features five spooky games, for less than 30 percent of their original prices. The games are The Walking Dead: Assault, Forever Lost: Episode 1, Dungeon Nightmares, V for Vampire, and The Spookening. The bundle costs $2.99, and is available here: Endless Nightmare Bundle on ikoid.com.