Freaky Friday – Virtual Tazer

Freaky Friday – Virtual Tazer

Oct 7, 2011

Oh tasers, you are the butt of so many jokes and the force by which police make YouTube stardom. In reality, these devices are loud, scary and can bring down even the largest body builder in a split second. These are iconic devices that deserve respect and careful handling. Sadly, the Virtual Tazer app walks all over that respect and puts this weapon in the hands of thousands, so to speak.

This app is simple in that it does one thing: displays a picture of a taser gun and emits some sort of ear bleeding noise while shaking the phone when activated. Essentially this app reduces this iconic device to a picture and terrible sound quality due to subpar speakers. Sadness.

Let’s face it, anyone that has heard a one hundred thousand volt stun gun knows the fear the crackling electricity emits and how unnerving the flow of power is on the visual senses. These are things that can clear a room faster than police at an underaged drinking party. So how does anyone think some cell phone is going to capture these two features, let alone freak anyone out? It may be possible during college keg parties, in the wee hours of the morning, like when everyone is on the verge of passing out. That is just too much to set up in order for this app to truly be useful.

Those that really want to scare off their bro in order to obtain the last Natty Ice should seek out the services of a costume shop and fake police badge. Besides, pulling a good prank is more enjoyable, and nobody ends up in the hospital. Nobody will fear that “deadly” HTC EVO 4G with the tinny external speaker and some terrible noise radiating from the device, just ain’t happening dude.

Freaky Friday – Burn Phone Prank

Freaky Friday – Burn Phone Prank

Sep 30, 2011

We all love a good prank from time to time, like filling a co-worker’s cubicle up with packing peanuts, or the ever-popular electrical tape over the mouse sensor. Those are good pranks, but what Burn Phone Prank does is just…full-on weak sauce. See, what this app tries to do is fool people into thinking their screens are burned, and that is it.

Let’s digest this for just a second. First, someone has to steal their victim’s phone, which in this day is harder than it seems as we all are glued to these devices. Next, the app has to be downloaded, installed, and setup. Depending on the conditions, this step could take a few minutes and anything from a phone call to the weather app could go off, thus foiling those plans of pranking. Then, the act of “burning” the screen has to take place, and finally the owner has to believe their screen caught fire without magically melting the screen. Somehow, this entire process just doesn’t seem to be fully doable in a quick amount of time.

Things only get worse as this app has ads on it. How can anyone be fooled of a messed up screen with an ad for Depends scrolling across the bottom, all because the prankster forgot to disable the feature in the menu? Finally, just look at the screenshots and think if they really look convincing. It looks more like someone sneezed on the phone versus it being charred. It would be better to break some glass, place it over a circuit board, take a picture, and then set that as the wallpaper, and even that is sketchy on its effectiveness. Phone pranks that use anything on the screen just do not work.

Listen up would-be pranksters with coding skills. Put those talents to use and code an app that allows us to do wonderful things like control a computer screen from across the room, set off the alarm clock every ten minutes without it showing up, or just randomly dimming the screen on the phone would be more entertaining. And for the love of all things Revenge of the Nerds, do not put ads into an app that is supposed to fool someone, that just looks tacky and destroys the goal. Just don’t do it!

Destinia Review

Destinia Review

Sep 29, 2011

Gamevil continues to rock the role-playing genre. Their Zenonia series has garnered high praise for combining copious amounts of hours of game play with an old school charm. Now they hope to apply this same formula to Destinia.

Destinia puts players in the role of Duke, a hero who is rescued from his prison by some rebels looking to bring down an evil empire. The story is par for the course on these games, where Duke was part of the evil empire, gets the boot, and wants his retribution from the ruthless warrior who ultimately put him in jail. It is a slow story that is told through character art and text boxes. It provides enough glue to hold the game together, but it is not something players will be asking for in a novel for cold weather reading.

Where the game excels is in the gameplay department. Fighting enemies is fast, furious, and frantic. This is thanks to the oodles and oodles of quests. Each town contains various inhabitants that need a hero to go and slay enemies, pick up various items, and return for a reward. While fetch quests are easy, they get old after a bit of time. It is easy to get lost in the vast amount of quests available, but they do provide enough substance that it is easy to pick the game up and play for a bit of time and feel like something was accomplished.

Destinia does feature a unique pet system that is rarely seen in this genre. During the adventure, players may stumble upon monster eggs. These eggs may be hatched, thus providing Duke a fighting companion. Just as the main character can be honed to a lean mean fighting machine, the pet may also go through a process of “evolution” to become a ferocious battle master.

What sets most Gamevil RPGs apart is their treatment of the game world, and this is no different. The visuals come in a 16-bit flair,g with sprites being well-animated, the world being extremely colorful and varied, and the special effects coming in as grand spectacles for the eyes. The audio carries the theme well with a decently rounded out sound package. A feature I found enjoyable was that when a critical hit was scored, a big damage number would pop up, the screen would flash, and the phone would vibrate. It may be a small touch, but it really aided in pulling me into the battle even more.

Veterans of action-RPGs will find this hack-‘n-slash game to be a great addition to their mobile game library. The yacking of NPCs can drag on a bit, but the decent character customization and hours of game play make this worth checking out. Once Destinia has its hooks in, it is hard to resist the call of just one more quest.

Lightbox Photos Review

Lightbox Photos Review

Sep 28, 2011

Android users have been begging for the extremely popular iOS app by the name of Instagram to migrate over to the platform, but it just isn’t happening. While Instagram chooses to stay on iOS, Android users may finally have their own social photo sharing app, and it is all thanks to Lightbox Photos.

Starting Lightbox Photos brings users right into the camera portions of the app. Here, users can adjust settings such as zoom, white balance, exposure, and focus (macro, auto, infinity). Yes, even the flash may be turned on and off with a simple tap of the icon. From there, the image is brought into the filter section where there is a wide variety of filter settings ranging from black and white conversions to artsy stuff like a 8-bit pixilated render of the photo. After the proper filter is applied, it is off to adding a description and sharing. The app automatically posts to Lightbox (account required), but can also post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Flickr. People can even import images from their Google Picasa accounts, as well as off the memory card. If this was all that was included, this would still be a decent camera app, but there is more to this.

Getting out of the camera portion, users are greeted with a powerful viewing app as well. By linking social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter, any photos shared on these services are brought into the app’s slideshow viewing area. Popular images, mainly off Flickr, as well as images from places like the New York Times are also viewable in their own dedicated areas. This is a great way to view hundreds of images, seamlessly in one app.

All is not perfect, however. The biggest gripe has to be with the UI, and its lack of intuitiveness. In order to get to the photo viewing area, the user has to first tap on their image on the bottom right of the camera section and then tap on the cube in the middle of the screen. The app also does not immediately go into the Lightbox account creation section, and it just haphazardly happens the first time someone tries to post an image online. Once the nuances of the app are learned, navigation is not a big problem, but it is something that should be considered for new users who may not give this more than a few minutes to impress them.

All-in-all, this is a fantastic app. The extra controls in the camera section are great for anyone looking to perfect their shots, and the sharing is quick and painless once it is all setup. The piece that takes the cake is the sideshow of images from more places than just Lightbox itself. With a few UI tweaks, this could become the killer photo sharing app Android users have been clamoring for. For free, what does one have to lose by giving this a shot?

Shadow Cave Review

Shadow Cave Review

Sep 20, 2011

Operation is an old game that tasked players with removing internal organs from the game board by using a pair of metal tweezers that could not touch the metal on playing surface. This game has spawned many copycat games, and is slowly finding a similar play mechanic integrated into the realm of video games. Shadow Cave is just one such game of precision maneuvering.

In Shadow Cave, players are tasked with navigating a glowing light through a dimly light cave, with the goal being to hit the light at the end of the tunnel. The game wastes little time in breaking players into just how precise they have to be, as by the second map the tunnels are tight, and rocks are falling from the ceiling. Any collision with the walls or an impact with the obstacles, like the falling rocks or dripping water, will yield in a death and having to start all over. The game further complicates this by adding in contraptions that are controlled by sitting in one spot to activate said contraption, and then racing to the next spot. This will test the patience, and pinpoint skills of even the best surgeons out there.

It is a good thing that this game provides such an enjoyable setting to die in, as dying happens a lot. The world is full of deep dark colors, with black being the primary color of choice. The backdrop is a subdued variation of blues that moves as the guiding light is directed around the screen. The audio complements this setting extremely well. Water drips and echoes, stone doors make sounds that even Dr. Jones would enjoy, and even the rocks falling from the ceiling provides a nice crunchy thud. There may not be a smattering of Crayola crayons here, but the audio and visual work well, especially with a nice screen and good headphones.

Sadly the game falls apart due to controls and ads. First, the ad business. Having ads on the bottom of the screen on a free app is one thing, but to stop the game between levels and force the player to close the ad is rather annoying. It breaks up the game flow and helps pull gamers out of the setting. The second part that falls short are the controls. Even with the highest sensitivity, players will run out of real-estate before they meet their objective. This would not be a big issue if one could reposition their finger without the yellow orb jumping to some other part of the screen, often leading to death and a do-over. I died so many times just because the game did not register me moving through the exit, reposition my finger, and my yellow orb “teleporting” into some wall at some random place in the level. The ads are one thing, but to deal with terrible controls is unacceptable, especially when this game requires such a high amount of precision.

If it were not for the bad controls, this would be a rather enjoyable game of skill and precision, but sadly the controls and ads cripple the fun. If a patch comes out to fix the control problems, this will be a decent game, but until that time comes, it is one to skip over and keep looking for something less infuriating. However, those that want an exercise in patience can check it out for free on the Android Market.

Freaky Friday – Pimple Popper

Freaky Friday – Pimple Popper

Sep 16, 2011

Friday is here once again and that means we get to take another look at programming skills that could have gone into making something totally awesome, but someone along the way decided it was cooler to make an app with little point. This week is a look at an app that glamorizes the bane of all teenagers: the bigass pimple. Yeah, let that soak in for a moment….someone took time to make an app about pimples, and the joys associated with destroying them.

Pimple Popper’s claim to fame is that if someone is bored, cannot sleep, or stressed, they will rush to their phones to burst some pimples. Those adults that did not get enough of this activity in their teen years, can once again relive the joys of squeezing, poking, and prodding disturbing white heads until they explode in a gooey mess. The advantage here is there is no pus to get in one’s eye due to the amount of pressure it takes to rid one’s face of these nuisances.

What is really bothersome is the fact that the developer took time to code in random pimple locations. This app continues to see updates as well, which is baffling as to how much is there to update when it comes to acne? Gotta add in ingrown hairs and boils? The description even encourages people to play this game in front of friends. While that may be cool, after the beer pong has run its course, it is most likely not going to be the hit of the party. Do note, this app will not help anyone pick up chicks at the party. Really, the worst part about popping virtual pimple is the lack of tactile relief. There is no sigh of happiness as the pressure that has been building up for days is finally alleviated, only to be replaced a few days later in another location. If this can find its way into a virtual setting, then there maybe something here, but until then it is just nastiness on an HD screen.

So if there is someone out there that just needs to see virtual pimple guts, the app can be found here. Meanwhile, the rest of us will continue to play something a bit more…classy!

Freaky Friday – Sex Positions Animated

Freaky Friday – Sex Positions Animated

Sep 9, 2011

The line between making an awesome app and just pushing junk to get your name as a developer out there is thin, but it does exist. The app for today is a clear illustration in spending time that could be used building the next great app, and throwing it out the window in hopes that sex will sell.

Today we look, and not very long either, at an app to help nerds in their parents’ basements learn the miracles of sex. Sex Positions Animated is a free app that claims it has over 100 different positions, all with instructions on how to perform said act. Heck, there is even a rating system so you can five star the best ones. Where things get a bit scary is that users can comment on positions and read what others have to say as well. Why would you want to read about other sexually frustrated users’ failures?

There are two things fundamentally wrong with this app, and there is more, but let us focus on the two glaring issues. Nothing is going to kill “the mood” like having to put things on hold while you dig out your phone, direct your partner into some new position that only a yoga master could finagle into, and then “get it on.” You’d most likely get slapped in the face, shoved out the door, and never welcomed back to give said position a true rating. Second, anyone who is really needing this kind of information has already Googled it.

The only saving grace this has, and it is minor, is that you can develop your game plan while on a train heading to pick up your date, or as study material while you pass the time while getting your oil changed.

Listen kids, do your homework before you take the field. Nothing screams “I don’t know what I’m doing!” quite like having to turn to your phone for advice. Just don’t do it. It is not cool! As far as pictures of the app go…do you really need (or want, for that matter) to see those?