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Google Now Adds Card Functionality for 30+ Third-Party Apps

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015

Google Now gets expanded third-party app compatibility.

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Games

Natsu Runner Review

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015

Natsu Runner: Fire gonna spread.

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Productivity

Root Explorer Review

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015

Root Explorer brings some needed flair to Android File management.

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App Rundown

Natsu Runner Review

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015

Natsu Runner: Fire gonna spread.

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Recent Posts

HUB-IT Sync & Charge Station Hardware Review

HUB-IT Sync & Charge Station Hardware Review

Jan 20, 2015

Okay. So the HUB-IT Sync & Charge Station looks to charge several mobile units at once. And?

Not so fast. Seriously.

The review unit sent to us packs the main unit, four cartridges (more on this later), power cable and a lot of paperwork. We also got a curious extra qi-enabled cartridge which was an enigma at first. It has an interestingly classic look: ebony, glossy black, and it looks like the base of a four-sided pyramid (with most of the top cleanly shorn off).

Out of each side, there is a charging cable which, in the stock state, barely extends past beyond the main unit. The review unit sent to us showcased a typical set up of the system: micro-USB piece, macro-USB, Apple-centric lightning cable and legacy charging cable too. The cables are retractable; one can pull at a cable to make use of the cable, and then pull it again to make it retract. Beneath three of the cables, there is one USB port each; the fourth has a port for power input, and one for micro-USB 3.0. It sports 7 LED lights as well. Size-wise it’s 6.69 x 6.69 x 1.34 inches and weighs just under 9 oz.

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On its own, based on this feature set, the Hub-it works well. It intuitively can be plugged into a wall socket and provide up to 4A of current to several mobile devices.

It’s the component system that really makes this unit stand apart.

The included documentation encourages one to pop the removable top of the unit. Doing so reveals the interior and the creative aspect of the dock. Each charging cable is an independent piece evaded in a plastic, spring-loaded “cartridge; each one can be be moved around, swapped out and replaced with another if need be. Thus, one only can install only required cartridges he/she wants. As such, the dock is quite customizable. The true utility is in these cartridges; one can even add cartridges for handheld gaming units. There are “power” slots too, which allow one to add qi-wireless functionality, or even a power pack to create a power bank.

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In practice, the components we used worked fabulously, and I came away pleasantly surprised.

This unit is one of those that sells itself to you very quickly. It isn’t the cheapest solution (at $72.89 on Amazon), but the whole thing is not too hard to justify, and the extra cartridges are fairly affordable at under $8.00. I do harbor preemptive concerns with regards to the long term efficacy of the cable retraction, and the top feels a bit delicate.

The true testament is that in a short time, the Hub-It has elbowed it way into my workflow. For me, that is truth enough.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Review

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Review

Jan 20, 2015

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic on Android is the same fantastic game KOTOR has always been. Taking control of a sightly mysterious rebellion soldier, the player works their way through a thrilling plot with a party of interesting, varied allies and plenty of tactical, turn based combat. Players can build their character in many different ways, whenever as a melee fighter, a blaster toting desperado or a charismatic manipulator that talks their way out of trouble. Later in the game when the player becomes a Jedi, a whole lot more skill options become available, some of which are dependent on how dark the player is Allies are also interesting and each is different and has an interesting backstory. KOTOR allows you to find out as much or as little about you allies as you like and indeed love can blossom as well, much like Bioware’s later games like Mass Effect.

Screenshot_2015-01-19-20-24-04KOTOR offers players a lot of choice as to how to handle quests and encounters. There is almost always non-violet ay to settle matters and at the same time you can be a jerk to anyone you choose, ignoring attempts to talk peacefully and manipulating and strong arming others for your own benefit. Of course being evil affects how far between the light and dark side your player leans and this has major ramifications later in the game. KOTOR is excellent stuff and a must play for any player who values a good story and deep gameplay
KOTOR is a very long game. Despite the original game being rushed and having content cut, KOTOR is a very full experience and it will take at least a few dozen hours to finish.

KOTOR has rather annoying controls. The player must swipe up to move forward and there ar e a lot of tiny icons. The game doesn’t scale well to smaller screens and moving forward can feel quite awkward. Frustratingly this is the only control method available. There is no virtual pad or tilt controls or anything. It is a mystery why the controls are so set in stone. The small font is a serious problem. On a Note 4 (with its nearly 6-inch screen) dialogue proved to be all but unreadable and skill icons are way too small to use easily. This is helped by the pausable combat. If the game was real time the poor interface would be much more notable.

Screenshot_2015-01-19-19-53-25KOTOR has the same graphics as the original game. KOTOR obviously looks dated by today’s standards but it doesn’t get in the way of gameplay at all. The sound is well done and very Star Wars. The voice acting isn’t as good as more recent Bioware games but it gets the job done. A problem with KOTOR’s sound is that it isn’t that well mixed. Unless the music is turned way down in the options it is tough to hear what characters are saying.

Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic is a great experience tempered by some slightly shonky controls and an interface that could be a lot better. It is still a must play for any modern gamer.

Magtzer Gold Service Launches, Looks to be the “Netflix” of Digital Magazines

Magtzer Gold Service Launches, Looks to be the “Netflix” of Digital Magazines

Jan 19, 2015

Digital newsstand Magtzer has just launched a new subscription service called Magtzer Gold. The new service offers subscribers unlimited access to what the company describes as the largest library of magazine content at 2000+ titles, including ESPN, Inc and more. it also has top magazines from different locales, with more planned to be procured.

Magtzer chief Girish Ramdas talks about the evolution of the consumption of digital magazine content. “It’s still early days for digital magazine reading,” he says. “Barriers to entry, like paying for and managing multiple magazine subscriptions, have stalled true adoption. With Magzter Gold, we’re delivering a better experience, giving readers instant access to the largest collection of digital magazines anywhere, on any device, and for one low monthly price.”

The unlimited tier costs $9.99 per month; there is also a smaller tier (Gold Lite) that allows for access to five magazine for $4.99 per month.

The companion app is free on the Play Store and Amazon Appstore

NBA 2K15 (FireTV) Review

NBA 2K15 (FireTV) Review

Jan 19, 2015

In many ways, Amazon Appstore-exclusive NBA 2K15 is the perfect measure of the Amazon Fire TV.

At first glance, the graphics look great; cycling through the opening menu and such reveals glossy slides and bright, reddish tabs. The menu is quite responsive to the Fire Controller, with little hint of lag.

The menu is surprisingly sparse; one can create a player, and after that, the choices are Options, Controller, Quick Game and MyCareer. I was admittedly a bit dismayed that there isn’t yet a practice or training section, but there are two sections listed as upcoming: Season and Blacktop.

I swallowed my disappointment and hit up Quick Game; this gives the player the opportunity to go right into a game consisting of any two NBA teams. All teams are ranked, with San Antonio Spurs occupying the top spot (and understandably so). After selecting teams, the game goes into a simple, real-feeling presentation loop, and then gives a glitzy rendering of the starting lineups for each squad. After a perfunctory pregame ritual (where is the LBJ chalk toss?), the default 24-minute game begins.

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It took a little while for me to get used the control set. I wasted time looking for what I felt would be standard: the ability to remap the controls, but that feature isn’t there. The default set isn’t too bad, but to refer to how they are mapped, one has to exit the game, which isn’t optimal. With a little practice, it is possible to make natural looking movements and actions.

In any case, I enjoyed playing the game on the controller. The developer did a good job with the game engine, and the design is great. The crowd is active, if sparse, and it mostly feels like a real NBA game. The different stadiums look authentic, and the game feel is realistic. Individually, I like the player characterizations. Kobe takes control at the end of games, Timmy D is Mr Fundamental, the Clippers have an affinity for the alley-oop, and Kevin Durant is, well, Kevin Durant. This piece is superb. Watching no look passes or players dive out to get a ball underscore the best part of the game.

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The little pieces are nice too: half time highlights, game summaries, replays and the overall achievement system are great.

Back to graphics… they are okay, as noted, but I can’t shake the feeling that they could be better. The animations feel stilted at times, and this isn’t always concealed behind the fantastic “camera” work and auto plays. The players are recognizable, and scale of relative size is maintained, but there glitches that occurred, like periodical loss of crowd noise and the game freezing during free throws.

The game does have room to grow, but feels like a decent catch now, and feels even fuller with the control. It can be enjoyed without, yes… but why would one want to? This is one game that is definitely enhanced by the Fire TV system, and is fine if one is able to avoid comparing it too closely with the console version.

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.

Amazon Fire TV gets 15 New Apps

Amazon Fire TV gets 15 New Apps

Jan 19, 2015

For folks looking to try new apps on Amazon Fire TV, we have some good news to disperse.

According to AFTV News, the preeminent Fire TV enthusiast informational site, 15 newly compatible apps are now available to be enjoyed on the “big” screen.

The new apps are listed here.

We had an opportunity to check out the Fire TV, and enjoyed the concept; getting new game is a major positive for it and the related Fire Stick.

[Source: Amazon Appstore courtesy of AFTV News Blogpost]

Social Account Aggregator 1Board Gets Material Design Update

Social Account Aggregator 1Board Gets Material Design Update

Jan 17, 2015

All those social accounts… so little time…

Good social account aggregators are worth their weight in gold. Outside basic functionality, appearance is probably the biggest concern, and this is why 1board’s latest announcement is great news.

1board (from MobiGear) is an app that looks to bring together Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, VKontakte and Foursquare feeds into one tidy location. It allows for users to post to multiple networks at the same time (Instagram being the exception due to API restrictions) and also allows for the option of combined or separate feeds.

1board just received an update that brings Material Design to the fold; now, the app looks especially tailored for devices with Android 5.0, and even earlier.

The app looks fun and functional, and we look forward to checking it out. For those that cannot wait (and we fully understand), 1board is available for free on the Play Store.

G5 News: Free Premium Game and Full Game Release Coming Next Week

G5 News: Free Premium Game and Full Game Release Coming Next Week

Jan 16, 2015

G5 Entertainment is almost never without an enjoyable promotion going on and, next week will be no different.

First, G5 is releasing Dream Catchers: The Beginning in full on Google Play and Amazon Appstore. The game is an adventure that investigates a strange disease that afflicts a boarding school.

It will be released on January 21st, 2015.

Also, Tales of Dragon Mountain 2 will be free for a limited time; this game is a mystical tale that pits our hero, Mina, against Lord Strix… again.

The sale for this title will run from January 19th through January 25th; the game will be available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.

[Source: G5 Sale page.]

SimCity BuildIt Review

SimCity BuildIt Review

Jan 16, 2015

Electronic Arts didn’t do very well with its latest PC entry of SimCity. It messed up with a bunch of different stuff, so I had high hopes for this mobile version of the game. And, well… Guess what.

When you think of SimCity, you think of a time being a mayor. You provide houses for the people of your city and also appropriate buildings for services like the police and firemen, energy, water, and so on. And although things like that are still possible, it is not that same as you would imagine it to be. But is that a bad thing?

If you do like the traditional SimCity gameplay, than yes, it is a bad thing. But since this is a free-to-play game, you have to consider the waiting time you need to endure while playing this game. And SimCity was, at least for me, always fun, because you could do anything you want, when you wanted. Well, if you had enough money, but it didn’t took the game long to give you some. But even though I still needed to wait a bit longer on my money, I always felt connected. Engaged, if you will.

simcity buildit 3

In SimCity BuildIt, that is not the case at all. Being the free-to-play title that it is, it constantly presented me with those waiting times. Of course, it is inevitable and understandable, but I wonder if the development team stopped and questioned itself if this was the right way to go for the series. Because next to thinking logically about placing fire departments close to a residential area or putting a factory as far as possible from it, there isn’t most of the management or stragetic gameplay the series always offered.

The game has been heavy simplified if you ask me. You start with a factory, farm its resources and build a residential area from them. When they’re all done, you get some coins and with those you can buy more utilities to keep the city from going dark or without water. Th bigger the city gets, the more utilities it needs – so you’ll have to keep on repeating the above process to expand.

And quit frankly, this isn’t much fun. It feels like work. Ironically maybe the work of a real mayor. But when I play a game, I want to be entertained. I don’t mind learning a couple things along the way or do mandatory stuff to proceed, but SimCity BuildIt, how promising it looks (no really, graphically, this game looks fantastic), it all work and no play.

Bit Dungeon II Review

Bit Dungeon II Review

Jan 16, 2015

Bit Dungeon II is a sequel to a fun, if a bit repetitive role-playing game that has a lot of common with the original Legend of Zelda. It has a lot bigger world than the first part, and a lot more mechanics – but the question is if these mechanics serve to make the game better. The player character is a spiritual being, whose wife’s grave has been desecrated. Our task is to find the perpetrators and stop them. On the way there, we’re going to defeat a horde of demons and other evil spirits, and find a whole lot of loot.

The main problem of bit Dungeon II is a complete lack of tutorials or just help of any sort. I know that a part of fun in playing rogue-likes is to figure out their mechanics, but this is a bit too much for my tastes. You have to figure out literally everything, from moving and attacking, to casting magic and advancing the story – the GUI is literally just mana/health bars and the equipped items. Oh, and I still don’t know how to access the game menu while playing. There’s no button or anything. If anyone figures it out, feel free to write what a moron I am. So, this spoiled a lot of the experience for me. Another problem is the fighting. To attack an enemy, the hero must stay near the enemy bit Dungeon II 2and face it. The amount of times when the hero died just because the attacking enemy was hitting him in the back and I couldn’t turn him around was one too many. It generally feels like the game should still be in the beta stage.

It’s a shame that bit Dungeon II suffers from these problems, since in its heart, it’s a pretty cool zelda-like. It has lots of different weapons like bows, magic staffs, axes, etc. There’s also a great deal of different locations and dungeons to plow through, and a great deal of loot to collect. I feel like with some major updates, bit Dungeon II can become what it aims to be, but insofar it’s just a good effort, lost in horrid controls and messy interface.

Com2uS Releases New Summoners War: Party Crasher Teaser

Com2uS Releases New Summoners War: Party Crasher Teaser

Jan 15, 2015

Com2uS has just released a new teaser for Summoners War: Party Crasher.

Leading mobile game company Com2uS premieres a brand new Summoners War: Party Crasher teaser as the second component of the resurgence of their breakout title Summoners War. The 30-second teaser stars popular Vine personality Landon Moss whom Com2uS commissioned based on his strong following on the social media platform, and their focus on capturing a new, trendy and culturally-inclined consumer. In the teaser, popular Summoners War character “Golem” is summoned into reality, mirroring the key themes and objectives of the mobile game. The teaser precedes a second Summoners War: Fried Petunias teaser featuring acclaimed Vine personality Cody Johns set to be released next week. Both teasers are in anticipation of an upcoming Summoners War commercial spot which will showcase the larger than life elements of the game including special effects, captivating graphics and more.

Summoners War is available for free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

Infinity Dungeon Review

Infinity Dungeon Review

Jan 15, 2015

There’s such a staggering number of super simple games, it makes me wonder if they even like to play the games, or if they just meditate while tapping on the screen. Infinity Dungeon proves that rather obvious point again. It combines a very primitive endless runner with a very primitive RPG, resulting in a somewhat primitive game. Basically, it’s one step away from being able to play itself without any player interaction. If you’re wondering how I know that it’s Asian, here is hint that prove points haha.

The game is about a couple of adventurers that stumble across a dungeon full of treasures and precious metals. Handily, they have a bunch of dwarves that agree to dig the booty up, if they clear the dungeons first. Of course, the dungeons are full of all kinds of monsters, begging the question if it would be easier to just find a job instead. But we’re here to shove people’s faces in, not make reasonable assumptions, so we go through each of the levels of the dungeon, clearing it of everything that moves, so that a dwarf could Infinity Dungeon 2then dig it for gold. Action itself is very simple: the heroes walk through the straight dungeon level from the beginning to the end, and punch everything that runs up to them.

The player can’t control movement, but he can activate one of the four abilities that the heroes have: powerful short-range blow, less powerful long-range blow, fireball, and healing. The only thing required from the player is to activate the skills at the correct time, when there’s a lot of enemies nearby, or when the hero is at low health. The abilities spend mana that has a recharge time, so you have to watch it, too. But even if the heroes fails, they are simply sent back to the surface, keeping all the gold they earned. There is no experience – all the abilities and stats are increased by spending gold or diamonds on them. Really, whatever skill it requires, isn’t necessary since you can simply grind your way through any obstacle.

I can’t say that Infinite Dungeon isn’t fun in its zen-like, no-losers way. It’s incredibly repetitive, and lacks most of the basic features of a videogame, but it’s better than some other casual games I’ve seen. It’s not frustrating, not buggy, and has simple, but pretty cute visuals. So, it’s not bad, if you want a mindless activity to kill some time.

New Game Spoiler Alert Drops on Google Play

New Game Spoiler Alert Drops on Google Play

Jan 15, 2015

Veteran development house tinyBuild has brought a new game to Android: Spoiler Alert.

It’s an interesting “reverse” runner, per the Google Play page:

When you pick up this game, it has already been beaten. The big bad boss is defeated, the coins are collected and the princess has been rescued. Why, oh why?
Unraveling this mystery takes you through the entire game, from the last level to the first. You must uncollect the coins, revive the enemies and avoid nasty time paradoxes. In other words, you must uncomplete the game by playing it backwards.
Everything in this game is so familiar, yet so different and new. You have played it a thousand times before, and at the same time, you have never tried anything like it.
Features:
– Classic platformer gameplay in a unique new way never before seen
– Very simple one-button gameplay ensures that this game is easy to learn, while difficult to master
– Beautiful handdrawn graphics
– 4 unique and diverse worlds
– Original soundtrack by Roland La Goy
– Epic boss fights, upgrades and many different and unique enemies

The game is available on Google Play for $0.99

Adobe Light Room Mobile Now Available on Android

Adobe Light Room Mobile Now Available on Android

Jan 15, 2015

Adobe has brought its Phtotshop Lightroom companion app, Lightroom Mobile, to Android.

Per the informational communication:

Lightroom mobile offers powerful capabilities to edit, organize and share images anywhere and anytime.

Built on a powerful cloud sync architecture, Lightroom mobile provides the most efficient way to manage and edit images across desktop, mobile devices and the Web. With Creative Cloud Photography Plan, photographers have access to professional-class photographic workflows on desktops and smartphones, allowing users to perfect images on any device.

Key Lightroom mobile capabilities include:
Sync edits, metadata and collection changes to the Lightroom catalog on a Mac or Windows computer
Automatically import images from the smartphone gallery and sync back to the Lightroom catalog on the desktop
Edit images using familiar Lightroom tools and presets, including non-destructive processing using Smart Previews
Quickly flag and reject photos

The app itself is free, but to take advantage of it, one must have at least Lightroom 5.4, which is available as part of a full membership to Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Cloud Photography plan. There is a 30-day free trial available.

[Source: Adobe Lightroom Journal]

Google Maps Gets Update

Google Maps Gets Update

Jan 15, 2015

Google Maps, the preeminent cross-platform mapping utility, just received an update.

Per the app page on Google Play, the new build includes:

• Filter search results for restaurants by cuisine type
• See your Google contacts when searching for addresses
• Business owners, claim your listing page to manage your presence on Maps
• Bug fixes

The update is rolling out now; Google Maps remains free on the Play Store.

OrangePixel’s Gunslugs 2 is a weird mix of elements, but it works

OrangePixel’s Gunslugs 2 is a weird mix of elements, but it works

Jan 15, 2015

Pascal Besteboer, the developer behind games like Gunslugs, Heroes of Loot and Meganoid, describes Gunslugs 2 as followed: “… the result of watching too many 80’s action-hero movies, cartoons, playing retro games, and tripple-A block-buster console games.” But what is it exactly?

Well, it is exactly what you think it might be, when combining the above mentioned terms into a video game: it’s frantic, full of action and explosions and heroes you might’ve heard of but not at the same time, and, of course, OrangePixel’s well-known pixelated graphical style. Oh, and it is one of the most hectic games of the year. Already.

gunslugs2-1I’ve played the first Gunslugs game and it was pretty good. So why did it need a sequel? Well, as it turns out, Pascal did find some thing to improve upon. “I was at the point where I thought I could improve on most of the stuff in the original Gunslugs”, Besteboer says. “I still enjoy playing Gunslugs, but I also see more and more things that could be done better. Like the level progression system.”

Instead of just presenting the next level after the other one, Besteboer came up with a real story to combine those action sequences. “It’s not the most impressive story”, Besteboer admits laughing. “But there is a clear direction the game takes compared to what the original Gunslugs did. Not even sure how that ended up in Hell, or in a steam-punk world… It just felt cool to add those worlds in the original one.”

So there will be a more cohesive story to the game and it’s worlds and why the characters are there. The downside, and problem Pascal did run into, is that the story also kept him from adding the weird but fun mini-stages found in the first one. “There was no room for a Donkey Kong world or a hand-drawn level. Perhaps a Gunslugs 2 – the Lost levels could be a thing in the future”, Besteboer says with a wink.

gunslugs2-2There are a couple of new things in Gunslugs 2. The biggest one is that the signal towers now have an actual building inside. “So when you enter a signal tower, you’ll have to fight your way up the tower in a procedurally generated level. It adds a lot of gameplay.” Besides that the game is rebuild from the ground. Very little code from the original made it into this one.

The special effects are improved, the graphics are much crisper, cleaner, and the game runs at a higher frame rate so everything is smoother. All those elements were initially inspired by the first game and its room for improvements. But 80s movies like Rambo, Commando, Aliens, or simply put the Expendables were an inspiration for the first title, and you can see that influence throughout the game.

But why do you need this game when you can play the first? Because it actually improves upon the first game in the series, in every possible way. Or, as Pascal says in his own words: “Gunslugs 2 is a procedurally generated action arcade game with it’s roots in 80’s action movies, 90s platform games, and current gen “over the top explosive action stories”. All in Orangepixel’s acclaimed pixel art. It’s a weird mix, but it works, why not give it a try!”

We couldn’t agree more.