Planet Descent Review

Planet Descent Review

Feb 28, 2014

Most people wish they were doing something extraordinary, such as running Google, being an Ice Cream taste tester, or piloting a space ship. Sadly, most of us will only be able to act out these dreams through some sort of simulation or game, which is where Planet Descent comes in. In this title, you pilot a space ship around a 2D playing area, dodging asteroids while collecting minerals for fun and profit.

This game inhabits a similar approach to the PC game Lunar Flight, except Planet Descent, as previously mentioned, is 2D rather than 3D. Planet Descent is also quite a bit easier, lacking a lot of the realism or complicated controls used on similar type games. That’s not to say that this mobile title isn’t challenging, but you certainly won’t need years of NASA training to get it either.

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Probably one of the best things going for this game is that the developer took what appears to be a simple game, and gave it some variety. While collecting the green minerals is almost always your primary goal, there are plenty of secondary goals involving keeping your hide safe and doing some intuitive flying. Things such as clobbering surface to air guns or avoiding an asteroid belt will also be spun into the mix, making what could have been a dull game, a slightly nerve racking but lively time in Planet Descent.

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The game also uses a noir-like art style, reminiscent of games such as Limbo, but with color. This actually helps the game stand out a little more while also making it easier to distinguish your ship from other objects.

Planet Descent is well worth the 99 cents, and will make you feel a lot better than you would after eating something off the dollar menu. It’s usage of physics, great controls, and neat art style combine to make a pretty delightful experience. Planet Descent isn’t going to rock anyone’s socks off, but it is a hidden gem in a sea of disastrous apps and games.

Look Out Below Review

Look Out Below Review

Oct 25, 2013

More and more mobile games are utilizing physics in unique ways. Ever since the rise of Angry Birds, developers are looking for new ways to bring the force that dictates all things in the real world into the games that appear on phones and tablets. Physics are implemented in a variety of different games, offering unique game play options and interesting ways of using the laws of science within the game. Look Out Below is one of those games that offers an uncommon usage of physics while offering a simple, but testing game play.

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The goal of Look Out Below seems simple enough; drop cargo in order to keep your broken and falling plane in the sky and in one piece. But there is more to this title than just that. In this game, the goal is also to make sure the various cargo one dumps gets a safe landing. The cargo isn’t just random boxes either; players will have to deal with anything from supply crates to livestock to paratroopers in your cargo hold, while assuring you drop them where the given cargo will land the safest. Points are scored for safe landings of the cargo and points are deducted for non safe landings. This, of course, occurring while the player still needs to keep the aircraft in the sky and not crashing to the earth, or any subsequent terrain that is in the way. As one can see, it’s very easy to have a negative score at the end of a level, if a player only concerns themselves with the safety of the plane.

Physics, however, plays a major role in a player’s success or failure in dropping their cargo. Anything thrown from the plane doesn’t simply fall to the ground in a beautiful straight line. Rather, players will have to be concerned with a more realistic freefall of the cargo, more based on weight than anything. Luckily, there isn’t anything extreme such as weather or wind, but timing and accuracy are still the keys for success in Look Out Below.

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Other ancillary things, such as the music and graphics, are also pretty stellar in this title. The graphics in Look Out Below won’t rival the beauty of a game like Sine Mora, but they certainly aren’t to be casted off as nothing either. The graphics may resonate with people who were fans of older console graphics from the original Xbox or PS2 era, which weren’t shabby. For a team comprised of 2 people (plus occasional extras, according to their site), both the graphics and sound are done in such a way that this game looks and feels as great as it is to play.

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Look Out Below may not be the kind of game you know you want to play, but after giving it a chance, you’ll wonder why you never found it before. This simple but challenging indie game sets out to bring the retro arcade experience to mobile devices, and does an all around impressive job at doing so. There’s absolutely nothing that should irk the player of this title, other than the difficulty of the game itself. Look Out Below won’t let you pull a “Miracle on the Hudson”, but it does soar high as a entertaining game for anyone to enjoy.

Zoo Keeper DX App Review

Zoo Keeper DX App Review

Jan 24, 2012

While I personally have never been a major fan of games like Bejeweled, I do find them fun for a while, but their repetitive nature wears on me. The whole connect-3 genre is hard-pressed for innovation, which is part of what makes Zoo Keeper DX a very intriguing game. To start off, if you’re not a fan of Bejeweled then I am not sure Zoo Keeper DX will do enough to make you change your opinion, but I found it to be a more enjoyable and intense experience than Bejeweled.

If you’re not familiar, Zoo Keeper DX is the mobile port of a fairly popular Japanese puzzle game that originated on the GameBoy Advance with subsequent releases on the PS2 and Nintendo’s DS. The biggest difference between Zoo Keeper and other games of its genre is that for the main mode you are instructed to collect certain amounts of animals, and when you have secured ‘x’ number of each animal that round is over and another one starts with a slightly higher objective. This twist adds a nice layer of depth and because you’re timed, makes for a much more intense game. Frantically scanning the board for that last chain of pandas is certainly an unique experience. This is aided by the changing facial expressions of the animals who do not like to be kept waiting. Other than the running counter above the playing field, the angry expressions of the animals you’ve neglected to capture remind you of your objective and also give the game more heart.

Unfortunately, I found myself playing this game on silent a lot because the the repetitive soundtrack gets very annoying very quickly, and the decent sound effects don’t do enough to make up for this. The graphics are your typical pixel art, which look great, and all the menu’s are local and well implemented. Overall, Zoo Keeper DX is a solid puzzle game for anyone looking, but if you’re not a fan of similar titles there just isn’t enough here to warrant a change.

Retro Football Review

Retro Football Review

Dec 21, 2011

The holidays are officially upon us. While most of the big gifts have been taken care of, small stocking stuffers might still be needed. Most people don’t think of buying paid apps for their loved ones as good gifts but I offer an argument on the contrary. Because smartphones are becoming more widely adopted by all generations, some older users may need a kick start to really begin using their phones for more than just making phone calls. For the most part a simple game might suffice, and if your recipient was a male in the 70’s then there are good odds that they will remember the old school handheld football games. While they’re as much of an accurate representation of the sport as those noisy vibrating boards, these games bear a silo full of nostalgia and will make any Baby Boomer look into figuring out how to open their app drawer.

This app brings a faithful recreation of the beloved handheld experience with smooth graphics and a simple, customizable layout. Unfamiliar to me is the pass feature, which I had never seen before in my experiences with the original game. Fortunately this option doesn’t change the core, “run only” experience because the gameplay is no different if you choose to ignore it. Even so, some fans of the “run only” style may find it to be a useful addition to the experience, but it would be nice to have the option to disable it. This is especially strange since difficulty, button layout, and quarter length are all customizable. On the other hand, something that’s really impressive is the detailed stat sheet thats accessible at any point during a game. This sheet is really nice to go through after a game, especially if you’re playing against a friend.

In terms of performance and display, Retro Football is sold on both fronts. The app never lags and the display, while seemingly lacking anti-aliased text, is very solid and colorful. If you’re looking for a great trip down memory lane for you or someone else I would totally recommend Retro Football. If you were a fan of the handheld football games of past, you will be a fan of this reincarnation.

Burn the City Review

Burn the City Review

Oct 25, 2011

If you look at ask earlier review for Early Bird I mentioned the flood of Angry Bird clones. Burn This City could be labeled as one of those clones, and in some instances they are, but overall this app deserves to stand on its own. Coming from a small developer, this app is creative and the core gameplay is very solid but sometimes becomes too repetitive. Like most other games if its kind Burn the City’s variation comes in the form of different weapons and levels, but unfortunately the game requires you to hit these buildings multiple times in the same spots which can get old. Keeping things interesting are the clever level designs and a battle mode where your monster has to hold off waves of human military force. Battle mode is a great addition, even though sometimes the game reads your swipes to shoot as a swipe to pan the camera, which gets real frustrating.

Burn this City is a fun game to play. Its cute, colorful monster instantly earns your heart and his animations are will formed. However, the problems begin with the supposed human civilization. Apparently, our cities are a collection of the same five buildings and power plants randomly dispersed on cliffs and valleys. Not that I expect this game to be realistic, but some extra effort to give these cities more life would have gone a long way. The physics system is really accurate and buildings generally fall where they’re supposed to.

One complaint I have with the gameplay is that the camera follows your shot but doesn’t automatically return to the monster making you pan back manually or hit a small button. There is an option to turn this off but then the camera doesn’t follow the action at all. Also, unlike most games, there is not set number of turns per level; here a multiplier is earned if the level is completed under a few set amounts of time.

Overall, Burn the City does a lot good coming from such a small developer, and hopefully with a few updates and changes this game will be something special. But as it stands right now Burn the City does a few things to stand out from other games but I fear it might not be enough.

Early Bird Review

Early Bird Review

Oct 17, 2011

The simple, multi-level bird flinging market had exploded after the meteoric success of Angry Birds. The reason Angry Birds is so successful is because of its incredibly simple gameplayand varied level design that offers nearly endless challenges with increasingly different methods of attack. While Early Bird cannot be considered just another Angry Birds clone, the similarities are there, which isn’t always a bad thing.

The goal here is simple enough: get your flightless blue feathered friend from where he is to the morning worm through a series of leaps and glides. You swipe in the direction you want the bird to go and the length of your swipe determines the power. This works easily enough when navigating around large areas but the system breaks down when small precise jumps need to be executed around the target. Too often your bird shoots away with power from some unknown source when all you need is to nudge it over a few inches.

Just like in Angry Birds there are a few level packs that each have about 75 levels in them. This gives the game an incredible amount of replay value because even without future updates the amount of levels here are insane. And this is a good thing because the simplistic gameplaycan get old quickly without some new wrinkles.

Unfortunately, on my HTC EVO 4G I had problems with the app not loading and just giving me a black screen. This happened about a third of the time and is extremely frustrating. Also whenever your bird gets close to the target the screen zooms in and presents you with this slow motion view. During this time the graphics don’t hold up and appear slightly pixelated. All that aside Early Bird is deffiently worth checking out if you’re into simple, addictive games similar to Angry Birds.

Power Manager Full

Power Manager Full

Sep 20, 2010

Battery life. We all want it, yet we don’t want to sacrifice our thin, light, and always connected phones for it. So what’s the answer? Well you can slap on a big fat extended battery. But why go through all that trouble when you can just install an app for $0.99 and be done with it? Well that’s what Power Manager Full might lead you to believe. However, what looks too good to be true usually is.

Power Manager Full is a profile manager that lets you toggle different options for different circumstances. For example you can set your screen brightness and screen time out to different levels for when your phone is plugged in or at different battery levels. You can also turn on or off wifi, bluetooth, or gps. The app also claims to add a “new setting,” allowing you to set a screen time-out when you are on a call.

The real question here is: does this actually translate into increased battery life? Well, it depends. Yes, setting your screen at a lower brightness will prolong battery life. Also, turning off bluetooth and wifi will also increase battery life. But you might be asking: I keep my brightness on auto and my bluetooth and wifi off anyway, will this app help me? Probably not. Also, claiming that a in-call time-out is a new setting is a bit of a stretch. There is a proximity sensor for that very reason.

I also found that the default settings on this app were too aggressive. My screen kept dimming when I was reading in my RSS reader. Not only that, but editing the profiles is a bit confusing. When you tap on a profile there is a pop-up that says what profile you just tapped on – but nothing actually happens. You have to long press the profile to edit it.

Power Manager full does give you some added automation if you want different things to happen when you plug your phone in. However, there are apps that use your location as a trigger that I find much more useful. For example: turning your wifi on while at home. As far as battery savings, this app will do nothing for you if already do the most prudent things such as keeping your screen brightness down and you wifi and bluetooth off.

I’ve got an idea. Instead of paying $0.99 for an app like this we can put that money towards funding scientific research for new battery tech. Because it seems like this problem just isn’t going away on its own. And while I applaud developers attempting to assuage the problem, I think more honestly marketing ones product is a better approach.

SwitchPro Widget

SwitchPro Widget

Sep 9, 2010

One of the things that always keeps me jazzed is the liberal app aproval policy in the Android market. It lets developers improve on just about any feature in Android, without Google getting all hot and bothered. SwitchPro Widget is just such an example. It takes the simple “power control” widget available on any Andoid phone and really tricks it out. Its nearly unlimited combinations will keep anyone who wants customizable toggles happy.

SwitchPro Widget looks a lot like the power control widget that comes with Android—except you get complete control. Want a single widget that turns on your camera flash? Done. Want a widget with seven different buttons? You got it. You can also change the color of the indicator and make the widget
translucent.

Launch-X Pro Review

Launch-X Pro Review

Aug 26, 2010

Ah, the Android home screen. It’s the first argument in any Android vs. iPhone debate. Not only can you put all kinds of widgets and shortcuts there, but you can replace the stock home altogether. I mean, your iPhone toting friends only just got wallpapers. Anyway, the way I like to keep my home screen is neat and tidy. I keep most widgets on screens adjacent to my main page so I can appreciate a nice nature-scene wallpaper. Launch-X Pro is a handy and very customizable widget that has furthered my goal of home screen tidiness. And at .99, it might be your ticket to home screen bliss.

Launch-X Pro has two parts: the application and the widgets. In the app you can create widgets that appear as a row of shortcuts on your home screen. You can select up to 49 shortcuts split into 7 different pages within each widget. Besides apps and contacts, anything that appears in the “shortcuts” menu when you add items to your home screen can be added.