Categorical is a social word game that challenges players to rack up a high score by using letters to come up with answers to a list of categories. “At its core, Categorical is meant to be a fun social experience. It’s cross-platform, so Android and iOS users can play games against each other. It’s engaging for all skill levels, too: a novice player might be happy to think of an answer with all of the required letters, while more experienced players will use the most valuable letters to rack up big points,” said Ezra Smith, CEO of Fridgecat Software, in a press release.
iFunFace has been available on the App Store for just over a year, recording more than 1.5 million downloads, and it has finally launched on Android. iFunFace lets you create entertaining animations of you, your friends, or pets, by using any photo. You can also create animation videos with the app by using a photo and an audio recording. Just imagine all the interesting creations that could come out of this app.
While the NBA season is winding down with the NBA Finals (Editor’s Note: That will hopefully end with the San Antonio Spurs crushing the Miami Heat), with basketball simulations, the season does not ever have to end. This is why NBA 2K13, the port of the ever-popular console basketball game for Android devices, is potentially such a breath of fresh air.
The actual graphics are, in a word, fantastic. The definition is superb, and there is a clear flair added. Movements are fairly realistic, with special care given to adequately replicate basketball movements. The background scenery was impressive, with exacting care seemingly paid to different NBA arenas. The animations are good as well; I especially like the little things, such as the ubiquitous daps given between free throws. The replay sequences are nice, and even the entertainment/timeout clips looked believable.
It was also nice to see the players look like their real life counterparts. Players were pared down to scale, so it was clear who say, Tony Parker is when compared to Tim Duncan.
The game comes in three play modes: Practice, Multiseason and Practice, all fairly self-explanatory. Outside of that, there are also some cool challenges in the name of Greatest Games, where you play as an NBA legend and try to match stats from an iconic game he played in, like Shaq’s 63-pointer against the Celtics, or Iverson’s first triple double against the Clippers. This section is adding more legendary players, which is great.
The gameplay itself is extremely fun, with a fun game engine and intuitive optional controls (either virtual d-pad or gestures). The d-pad came with buttons on the right to control offensive and defensive actions. Difficulty is based on level chosen; there are five levels to pick from, ranging from Rookie to Hall of Fame. I didn’t get an opportunity to try the bluetooth multiplayer, but it is a great feature on paper.
I thought that the practice mode could have been significantly better refined; it is a bit bare with regards to learning defensive sets. Also, cool as the graphics were, there were a circulated frame or two. I also hope to controller support down the line.
I think it is an incredibly exciting game that wonderfully brings console-level gameplay to mobile devices.
Gameloft has released a new Developer’s Diary for its upcoming game, Gangstar Vegas, which has exclusive interviews with the developers, along with never-before-seen gameplay footage. Girls, Guns, and Gambling, the open world of Las Vegas is set to release sometime in the near future, but for now, check out the video below!
After Earth HD is a game that follows in the trend of high-end movies that get companion games on mobile devices. As I’ve noted before, I like the concept… when it’s done right. Well, when Will Smith and son atee affiliated, it should be awesome, no?
It’s a running game, and it’s hard not to draw parallels with the de facto barometer of the genre, Temple Run.
The story is simply a runway to the action. I was s young cadet granted entrance to the exclusive Rangers Training Academy, in the hopes of becoming a guardian of Nova Prime.
Graphically, it’s well done, with good coloration and artistic scenery. Obstacles look foreboding, and the sun especially bright. The action perspectives changed smoothly, and the sounds of the game added to the overall ambience.
As noted, it’s a running game. Two major gaming paths exist: Career and Marathon; the one takes one through leveled gameplay; the latter is based on raw longevity. The abbreviated top-down/first person view will be familiar to anyone who has dabbled in these types of games. Obstacles jut out along the running path, and the requisite dangers to slide under and jump over in the personification of massive collapsed boulders. The tutorial that makes up a good portion of the first level shows how to use gestures to scoot to the left or right, and how to do the slides and jumps. In addition, sharp turns have to be performed so as not to crack a bone by slamming into a dead end.
In addition, there were sequences where I was airborne and had to avoid cliffs and such by tilting. I also got to use a weapon. The playing area was lined with coins that can be redeemed for upgrades. The further I traveled, the more points I garnered and the faster I got promoted. Of course, the in-app store takes real cash as well.
I felt there were a few more elements of the movie that could have been incorporated into the game, but it’s hard not to like it nonetheless. Still, even with the subtle tweaks to the gameplay, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it was an old, familiar wine in a different skin.
Fun is fun though, and that is exactly what this game brings to the table.
HeroCraft has announced the launch of its casual strategy game, Tiny Token Empires, on Google Play. The game features cute characters, tough enemies, and compelling puzzles, in a world that’s primed and ready for you to conquer. While in charge of up to five ancient empires (Rome, Greece, Egypt, Persia, or Carthage), it’s your job to build cities and armies while slowly expanding your power.
- A world of goofy gods and cute monsters
- 5 game modes, 5 distinctive campaigns
- 5 nations, 5 heroes, 25 generals and 50 troop types
- 3 difficulty levels to test the biggest brain
- Over 15 hours of gaming!
G5 pounds out yet another hidden mystery game, this one cloaked as a shadowy thriller. Welcome to The Secret Society.
This first person adventure starts with a somewhat cryptic message from my Uncle Richard’s personal secretary, Christy, telling me he has disappeared, and asking me to come the mansion as soon as possible to retrieve a note left for me.
The tutorial reveals I have this special power, like my uncle, to move inside of magic pictures. While learning the ins and outs of discovery, I do learn from Uncle Richard’s mysterious letter that I have control of the mansion… and his seat on the shadowy Order of Seekers.
The gameplay itself is a mix of hidden objects, puzzles and the completion of tasks. In keeping to the backstory, I get to visit parts of the house to find objects, or to complete tasks gently given to me by uncle’s butler. The finding sessions are timed, and the different parts are scenes that had individual rankings; going through them several times increases the mastery rank and increases the action points and game money needed to unlock further levels. There is also a system of energy that has to be accounted for.
The time factor makes the game interesting. With this system, speed is ultra-important, and too many bad guesses hurt.To help counter the the dwindling time, I did have access to a limited number of guesses that helped ferret out hard-to-find items. It’s a great idea, as it (along with the occasional silhouette searches) distracts from the somewhat repetitive use of the objects.
Looks-wise, it is just about as fantastic of a game that one can expect from a G5 effort; the artwork is superb, and it has beautiful animations. The intricate nature of the scenery does help to enhance the gameplay a great deal.
Only G5 can continually reinvent a genre it practically created on Android, and in this game, it does it relatively well.
Battlestone, an action-arcade title, is now available on Google Play, offering controls and combat that is designed to feel intuitive and responsive. Battlestone has players building and growing a team of heroes to use in a head-to-head battle against evil known as The Void. Check out the launch trailer below to get a better idea of the action that’s available.
Turret defense games, when done right, have the potential to be extremely fun tower defense adventures. Defence Effect, from Sky Jet International, should do the genre proud.
In terms of backstory, the developer does away with staple zombie apocalypses. Instead, the developer concocts a fairly reasonable story sourced from believable events: financial mismanagement leads to a cascade that collapses the world economy; this results in societal upheaval. By 2020, one of the results of the numerous civil wars that eventually ravaged even the developed nuclear powers is the appearance of smaller countries like the Free State of Soledad, which I, as the player, defends.
There are campaign and survival modes; the general gameplay involves manning a turret, and guarding against advancing enemy vehicles and/or personnel headed towards the position I’m tasked with defending. The enemy units all had life bars, and destroying them with gunfire before they reach said danger point is the name of the game.
I absolutely love the somewhat intricate nature of the shooting mechanism. The dual sighting magic that works with one of the earlier weapons almost has to be played to be fully appreciated. The game engine is fairly logical. It takes a little bit of effort to get a target well acquired; missing a shot usually means it’s going to be even harder to re-acquire the target. This just made sense, and it does the game credit to not make it too easy. Weapons can be switched out and upgraded with earned game cash. I also like that different guns have different attributes, and even different sighting styles.
Obviously, with the shooting being such a major part of the game, the controls are important. The controls for this game are sensible and effective. In the button layout, there’s one to swing the barrel round, and most of the others have to do with doing the bullseye.
I think the developer could have cut corners and fine simplistic, but thankfully, did not. The game has a realistic feel, with lively looking scenery, with winding roads and natural obstacles. The great 3D graphics definitely make the game even more interesting.
Scoreloop integration adds in the social integration, and rounds out this fun title.
Google has released the official Android keyboard to Google Play as Google Keyboard. This allows users to install the keyboard available on Jelly Bean 4.2 with voice typing, predictions, and swipe-based typing, on any Android device running 4.0 or above. Given the number of custom ROMs that have often excluded the official Android keyboard in favor of a custom keyboard or an option like Swype, this means that the keyboard is available to all, similar to how Google Calendar is available to everyone because Google made it a separate app. This is part of a larger pattern of behavior by Google to separate key features of Android from OS updates, and to instead make them services that anyone can install, where possible. Google seemingly wants this to coexist with other options for keyboards as well.
This has the side effect of making potentially useless all the repackaged Android keyboard APKs on Google Play, which were handy for users on earlier versions or on those that didn’t bundle the official keyboard with the manufacturer’s customized ROM. But now, with Google offering up the keyboard on Google Play to everyone, this is no longer the case.
The PC and console shooter franchise Deus Ex, which has revolutionized the FPS genre over the past decade-plus in its three incarnations, is set to make its mobile debut later this year with Deus Ex: The Fall, published by Square Enix, and much to the chagrin of assumptive PC and console gamers. Initially announced for iOS, Pocket Gamer has confirmed that the title will be on its way to Android as well. (Full disclosure: Pocket Gamer and Android Rundown are both owned by Steel Media)
Set after the book Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect, players will control an augmented human named Ben Saxon who will fight to help his augmented brethren against powerful corporations. The game is a collaboration between multiple studios: Square Enix’s mobile team, the developers of Deus Ex: Human Revolution of Eidos Montreal, and N-Fusion, last known for the visually-stunning Air Mail on iOS. While the game is being adapted to fit touchscreen controls, just how much of the series’ famous RPG elements and open-ended gameplay will be available is yet to be seen. This won’t be a free-to-play title, either: the plan is to launch at $6.99, with the possibility of other episodes in the future. We’ll have more on this title as it’s revealed.
The roguelike genre has undergone a curious evolution in the modern era of gaming. Once an overly-complex genre only accessible to patient gamers, now developers have tweaked it into something that appeals to a wider audience. This is where Quadropus Rampage comes in: casual game sessions and accessibility meet challenging hack ‘n slash action and character development. And it’s a brilliant combination.
Players control a four-legged cephalopod, a quadropus that makes up for its lack of limbs with an abundance of fury, swinging various weapons around to take out the other dastardly creatures of the sea. The most dastardly of the dastardly sea creatures is Pete, god of the sea. He’s a jerk, and Grubby (first seen in Towelfight 2: The Monocle of Destiny, also from Butterscotch Shenanigans) wants him gone.
However, Pete lives deep in the sea, and so players must go deeper and deeper into the sea, one dpeth level at a time, picking up new weapons and leveling up to get strong enough to sink Pete once and for all. It’s like a hack ‘n slash Toe Jam and Earl.
Quadropus Rampage blends both a short-term roguelike with long-term benefits and growth. Players level up while playing, earning experience for killling enemies, improving their stats as they level up. New weapons can be picked up, all with different stats. Like the aforemention TJ&E, falling off the world is quite possible, but it comes at a penalty: players take damage and may find themselves taking on enemies before they’re too strong to face them.
Currency of orbs and the rarer dubloons can also be earned along the way, as this is a free-to-play title now, unlike Towelfight 2 which was paid with no IAP. Players must make choices with the orbs: they can be used on permanent stat upgrades that make the quest to take down Pete much easier in the long run, or on short-term ultra-powerful weapons that Grubby sells. The achievements are among the most useful in a game yet, as they too provide permanent upgrades, but with a choice of two different effects to have. The gameplay is pure hack ‘n slash, but there’s a lot of roguelike elements in there too: upon death, characters reset to the beginning, but the player has new experience for the next go-round, and there’s tangible long-term benefits as well as well.
The controls feature a lot of on-screen buttons: there’s attacking, a dodge move, shield and smash attack activation, and virtual buttons for swapping weapons and advancing dialogue that pops up. It’s a bit cluttered like Bastion on iOS was, and gamepad support would be quite welcome.
Quadropus Rampage succeeds for much the same reason that Towelfight 2 did: it tweaks familiar genres just enough to be its own thing, and its quirky sense of humor comes through as well. I found myself playing this one for long stretches of time while I had other things to do, and that’s quite the sign for a good game. Now, excuse me: Pete needs a good whooping.
The Verge reports that Google has announced a new version of Google Calendar, featuring a redesigned interface full of new options. With the new interface, people can use a new time and date picker for appointments and also add custom colors to specific events. The update also added more recurring event options and a searchable timezone picker.
Vito Biliti, a music teacher and app developer, has created an app called Pocket Talkbox that is a rather interesting one: it’s a musical instrument and it can make sounds, sure, but it’s useless without the human touch. Literally.
See, this app emulates a talkbox, aka that thing that makes the funky talking sounds in Peter Frampton’s songs. Users choose from a major or minor scale, tap and hole on one of the eight color, and listen as strange buzzing sounds come out. Well, that’s just annoying. How does this work? Watch the demonstration video:
So, put your mouth up to your device’s speaker, and start moving your lips, and hear the sounds that are coming out. Start manipulating them, and with practice, you can make funky sounds with your mouth and this app. It’s all about the lips and mouth manipulating the sounds coming from the speaker. It’s a unique human touch for a digital instrument. Give it a shot; it takes practice but it’s a ton of fun. It’s available for free from Google Play.
But seriously, as of today, the popular Ticket to Ride board game from Days of Wonder is now available on Google Play for Android tablets for $6.99. A minimum resolution of 1024×600 is necessary, though 1280×800 resolution is recommended. The Nexus 7 and 10 come particularly recommended to play the game.
Online play is available, and it supports cross-platform play with the PC/Mac, iPad, and online versions of the game. Those preferring a more solitary experience can take on one of four AI personalities with their own play styles to go up against.
The Android version won’t come lacking for content: all the digital maps and variants, including Asia, Europe, Switzerland, and USA 1910, are available as in-app purchases as well. New to the game? Conductor’s Notes in-game can provide helpful rules references and tips to make sense of the game. [Ticket to Ride is available now[(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.daysofwonder.tt.android).
Houses and apartments with floor to ceiling windows have a major problem with covering those windows for both privacy and convenience on sunny days. If that first sentence seems wholly unlike anything that should be on this blog; do not fret, this week’s KickStarter Spotlight is slightly mind blowing. Named Sonte, it has been garnering the highest of praises from all over the internet after its debut at CES 2013. In a nutshell, Sonte is a thin layer of transparent film that adheres to any glass surface, but apply a current and the film becomes opaque and provides UV protection. Because this is a property of the film, it is able to be cut down to any size as easy as cutting a piece of paper. Installation is as simple as cutting the film, peeling off the backing, adhering, and connecting the power supply. Sonte can come with WiFi connectivity which will allow it to be controlled by any smartphone or tablet.
I realize that most Android Rundown readers are not also interior decorator experts, but the possibilities of this project are pretty exciting. Imagine, for a moment, having a glass partition between two rooms, and, with a tap on a phone, be able to obscure that boundary instantly; halving the room and adding privacy or intimacy. Sonte would be great for those who want large windows in their bathroom as it can be clear during the mornings allowing the rising sunlight to illuminate the space, but for more private moments the window can immediately become opaque restoring that traditional sense of privacy.
As I mentioned earlier, I am not the only one offering praise on this innovative and ambitious project, media outlets such as Entrepreneur, Engadget, and CEPro have all offered their adulation towards Sonte. The only aspect of this project that concerns me; besides the terrifying risk for bubbles in the film, is the price. Right now they are planning on pricing a 1m x 2m (3.28 ft x 6.56 ft) section with WiFi support at $480, but early supports can grab it for just $360. Over time, I am sure that price will go down, but $480 for a simple 1m x 2m section seems very steep, even though the film can be daisy chained with less expensive 1m x 1m sections so working with large windows will be less expensive per square meter.
So for anyone who is looking at doing a modern home redesign, or just for a quick way to renovate a boring room, I would highly suggest giving Sonte a look assuming the price is right. Personally, Sonte is going to the top of my wish list when it comes time to purchase my first home or apartment.