ShadowArc Review

ShadowArc Review

Aug 5, 2013

ShadowArc is an interesting game from Free The Robots Inc., and is probably one of the most unique speed gesture games around.

The playing area is a simple circle. Circumferential arcs (like pieces from a smaller circle) emanate from a small hole at the the center; these pieces get larger as they pulsate outwards towards the big circle, until they literally fit the big circle perfectly at the moment contact is made. At this point, it disappears. And oh yeah… it costs a life, because the whole object is to stop those arcs from making it to the bigger circumference.

A paddle of sorts serves as the main tool to prevent these arcs from doing damage. This paddle is anchored at the center hole, and pivots around the circumference. When placed in between the arc and the larger circle, it “absorbs” the arc before it can do life-sucking damage. The game is basically a race to get round the circle before the arcs take all shadow1the lives.

The kicker is that the arcs start to get really, really fast. Also, the arcs start sliding around the circle (as opposed to expanding directly outwards), making the blocking sweeps that much harder. Also complicating matters are the coins that appear on the circumference, and generally tempt you to be as quick as you can be to get them and get back to arc-blocking. Down the line, arcs of multiple colors appear, and I found dual paddles were necessary to make the grade. As the game progresses, there is clear increase in the level of difficulty, and I appreciated this.

To complete a level, the requisite amount of blocks must be made before all lives run out, and each level is also scored on a three-star system similar to that featured in Angry Birds.

The coin system is fairly straightforward. There are plenty of upgrades that can be purchased with the virtual cash, and real cash can be used as well.

It easy to understand, hard to put down and easy to share. What is not to love?

Blendoku Review

Blendoku Review

Jun 17, 2013

Blendoku is different… very different, and, I got to say that is a very good thing.

It’s a game that almost has to be seen (and played) to be thoroughly explained and enjoyed. The game engine spits out a 2D grid of blocks, with more squares of color suspended in an area above; the number depends on the number of empty boxes below. Every grid has at least one color square already placed, and it/they serve(s) as starter squares.

Now, to complete a level, the colors have to be set in roughly a blended fashion. Think bright colors to brighter colors, or vice-versa. The key is to bend the colors as naturally as possible to solve the puzzle. A keen eye and the ability to mentally process hues helps. For Instance, if going, say, from light grey to black, putting a darker shade of grey before a light one won’t solve the puzzle.blend3

Yeah, and action is timed.

As the gameplay levels get higher, the difficulty of the puzzles rise as well. Soon, the grids were not just flat strips; there were irregularly shaped grids, and some in the shape of diamonds, pyramids and so forth. The color mixing also gets more complex, with brighter colors making an appearance. For different types of players, there are four different levels of difficulty.

The controls were precise, with dragging and dropping being the main means of movement. For tough sequences, there is a redo button and an exhaustible reverse toggle.

The feature set is just about perfect for the casual gamer. There is a global time leaderboard that allows the player to compare times to; there is also a local one that allows the player to challenge his/her own best times. The games gives out recognition for perfection.

Looks-wise, it is a simple game, but the developer incorporates nice animations and uses the color to make a fun game with a minimalist environment. The gameplay sound is a cheery accompaniment that does a decent job. In-app purchasing does exist, but isn’t necessary to advance.

It’s a fun game, and comes close to being the perfect time-waster.

Theme Thursday: ColorWarp

Theme Thursday: ColorWarp

Oct 25, 2012

For those here who are looking for a way to add a little craziness to their phone, or even something to add that slight touch of wonkiness. For Willy Wonka fans there is a great theme that will certainly transform any Android running ADW Launcher into something that certainly will be more festive and colorful. This week on Theme Thursday, we are looking at a crazy and wonderfully simple theme in ColorWarp. Honestly, I did not have very high hopes coming into this week, but I was pleasantly surprised. The effect given by this crazy and off kilter theme really added a lovable touch to my phone, but beware, the effect may not be liked by all and is targeted at a very specific audience.

The inevitable shortcoming in all themes is the limited amount of custom icons. Some themes have a ton, and some have a disappointing few, but with Color Warp, ever icon has a themed pair because all ColorWarp does is invert these icons to create a bizarro icon that really brings a great and unexpected splash of color. Spending a cool $1.50 delivers some great, and appropriate wallpapers that really add to the intended impression. Whether this is worth it is up for debate, there is a Lite version and with plenty of good trippy wallpapers on the web the only real reason to donate would simply be convenience and kindness to the developer.

In total, anyone who is looking to make their phone a little more interesting should make sure to check out either version of ColorWarp as it will bring a truly unified and unique look to the typically reserved Android home screen. It has been a while since I have seen a theme that is truly this unique and offers a way to completely overhaul an entire launcher this seamlessly. The change really is stunning and delivers a great sense of quirkiness and keep it slightly askew.

KickStarter Spotlight: Lifx

KickStarter Spotlight: Lifx

Sep 26, 2012

In a house with five other guys, my room is a complete sanctuary. Because it is the only thing I can control in the house, I treat it like my heaven, and I am constantly looking for ways to make it more comfortable and convenient. A while back I looked into color-changing LED lightbulbs that operated on remote control. I thought the idea was brilliant; come in at night and relax with a nice blue light or maybe spice it up depending on the mood. Either way I was wholly disappointed in the product I received as it was broken and much smaller than expected. Because of that failure I was excited when I ran across the Lifx on KickStarter.

Lifx is an LED light that connects to any home wireless network and is controlled by a smartphone. It would have been easy for the developers to just simply stop at changing the color, and I, frankly, would have been satisfied. But seeing as this is a KickStarter project, it is a safe bet that these developers did not become complacent. Some simple additions, such as dimming and batch operation are included, but the one that I am most impressed by is the ability for the light to deliver phone notifications. Imagine every time a text message comes in the room blinks green or blue for Facebook notifications. There is also an option to program lights onto specific actions and cycles, such as dimming over a period of time or turning on every day at 8 am.

There is another feature that sets all the connected lights to music and instantly gives a club atmosphere to any room. As with most other programmable devices on KickStarter, Lifx is completely open source and comes with an SDK. As I have stated here multiple times, opening a device like this to hackers and programmers worldwide is essential to a start-up project taking off. One glaring issue I saw was the price. The lowest donation reward was set at $70, which gives one Lifx bulb. That price point needs to come down in order for this to gain any kind of traction with general consumers. But assuming that happens, Lifx is an amazing product and a great example of what happens when developers continually improve a solid initial design.

Color’s Future Gets Brighter with Verizon Deal

Color’s Future Gets Brighter with Verizon Deal

May 8, 2012

Color, an app by a startup from Bill Nguyen, may have been well-known for their initial crash and burn on iOS. The app was initially designed to share photos to users within a short distance. Privacy issues helped to sink it, but it came back with a new incarnation: sharing of photos and short live video clips from a phone, all linked through Facebook. The relaunch appears to be picking up steam, as now Color has partnered up with Verizon to bring an enhanced version of the app to their phones.

The app will now come preinstalled on Verizon phones (remember, there’s always the ability to freeze preinstalled apps on Ice Cream Sandwich) and will boast higher quality video streaming from Verizon phones over LTE.

While Color has only had approximately one million users so far, Bill Nguyen’s startups can’t be counted out, as he has sold a one of his startups, the music streaming service Lala, to Apple, which may now be part of Apple’s iTunes Match service. This could be a big step in the rise of Color from the ashes it quickly found itself covered in.

Theme Thursday: Color Box EX

Theme Thursday: Color Box EX

Mar 22, 2012

After a few weeks of ADW Launcher, I have finally switched back to a theme from, in my opinion, the superior GO Launcher named Color Box EX. The last few themes have revolved around darker themes that didn’t involve much color but Color Box EX, as its name implies, breaks that mold. As stated in previous posts, consistency and continuity are one of the biggest factors of a great theme.

The best themes are those that smoothly blend unsupported app icons in with the custom themed icons. Color Box EX does this better then any theme that I have reviewed so far. The colorful icons are a treat and fit nicely in with the chosen background. Color Box EX places existing and unsupported icons into randomly colored tiles that blend in perfectly with the default embossed ones. This turns the app drawer into a veritable bag of Skittles as opposed to the usual mindless crawl of mismatched icons. Going along with the colorful layout is the simple yet brilliant multi colored bar along the bottom of the screen below the dock. This neat accent plays perfectly off of the dark, textured background that comes default with the theme, and the candy colored icons really pop when placed against this great wallpaper.

Contrasting again to the bright, boxy containers are the app drawer and home screen icons. These wire-framed, glowing blue logos stick out and note the difference and importance of the command they represent. The 2 dollar price tag does not bother me at all because it is obvious looking at Color Box EX that a lot of personal care was put into this theme and I was really impressed with it from the moment it started running. The great play between the dark, textile background and the bold colorful icons combined with the perfect continuity throughout make this a theme that is well worth checking out for those with GO Launcher.

HUE Camera FX Photo Editor Review

HUE Camera FX Photo Editor Review

Feb 13, 2012

Somewhere along the line I missed the “Learn Photoshop” train. Although it’s on my list of things to do and learn, I rely on easy to use, point and click, nothing fancy photo editing programs. Usually I only need to fix some color or remove redeye. HUE Camera FX fits the bill in mobile form. From start to finishing HUE Camera FX is technically all anyone will possibly need. Take photos, retouch blemishes, adjust colors and add layered effects all with a touch of the finger. When it’s done, easily share the finished product on Facebook, Google+ and more.

HUE Camera FX allows users to have control over the look of their photos from beginning to end. With HUE Camera FX users begin by choosing a preset lighting scheme. From there users can pick from an array of color options ranging from black and white, to negative, Polaroid, and even individual hue/saturation color effects. What puts HUE Camera FX above other on the go photo editing apps is its automatic layering effect. Want to enhance the reds and place them over a sepia-colored photo? No problem. Add a sepia layer then a layer of the red hue/saturation effect. A drag of the finger over the photo and voila, red appears on sepia anywhere the screen is touched.

Sadly, what makes HUE Camera FX so great is also the app’s biggest downfall. Rather, the inability to zoom in and do precision work is. It is practically impossible to enhance and touch up blemishes to small areas like eyes, hair or even small background objects using a finger. HUE Camera FX attempts to correct this issue by allowing users to adjust the erase and color tool’s size but my finger is still too large for many of the jobs I know this app could otherwise accomplish. I felt teased by all the potential I could see in this app; all I wanted was a zoom tool.

Overall HUE Camera FX has amazing potential. The color effects are simple and easy to use. The app intuitively creates layers for even more “advanced” editing. If only there were a way to complete precision work this app would be perfect.

Color Link Review

Color Link Review

Jul 22, 2011

Every once in a while, it’d be nice to see a puzzle game that isn’t grid-based, doesn’t have lots of brightly coloured blocks in it and doesn’t reward you for connecting blocks of the same colour. That’s the dream, but until then we’re going to have to keep playing games like Color Link.

Don’t get me wrong, Color Link is a good game, and it offers an interesting spin on a style of game that we’ve all been playing for a good long while. It’s just a shame that the game hasn’t tried to do anything different visually. The game mechanics would have worked equally as well in a monochrome swirl as they do in a multicoloured grid.

Those mechanics are simple. The on-screen blocks, as well as being different colors, also have different shapes emblazoned on their faces. You can swap any block with any other block that has a corresponding symbol, regardless of their colour. There are also blocks that explode, blocks without symbols and blocks without colours thrown into the mix.

Like I said, Color Link isn’t a bad game, but it does occasionally get trapped beneath its own ambitions. Early on in the game you feel like you’re having too many new things thrown at you at once, and they’re never particularly well-explained either.

There are some great ideas on show here, and Silly Cube, the team behind the game, clearly have a lot of talent when it comes to puzzle design and coding. What’s needed though, is a lighter touch, a slightly subtler approach to revealing the different parts and processes of the game.

Color Link is certainly worth a look. It adds a new twist to a genre that’s getting stale fast, and whilst it may look like every other puzzle game out there, it certainly doesn’t play like them. If you can get over the problems, you’ll find a rewarding and entertaining experience. And if Silly Cube can pin down their formula, their next game should be pretty impressive.

Theme Thursday – PinkyBubbles

Theme Thursday – PinkyBubbles

Jun 16, 2011

Once again, it’s Theme Thursday, where I dig through the Android Market to find the latest ways to prettify your Android handset or tablet. For this week’s theme, I decided to do something a little more bold and daring than the social norm; I went pink.

Did you know that pink used to be considered a boys’ color? According to Wikipedia, in the early 20th Century, pink was considered appropriate for boys because, being related to the color red, it was a more masculine and authoritative color, whereas blue was more delicate and dainty. Then, for some unknown reason, attitudes shifted in the 1940s. Since then, blue has been for boys and pink for girls. So, depending on whether you want to prove how strong and authoritative you are, or dainty and delicate, it looks like pink might just be your color.

Coming from ADDesigns, PinkyBubbles is a theme for ADW Launcher, a highly customizable home screen replacement that allows you to radically alter the way your phone’s graphical user interface looks and behaves. Everything from icons, docks, wallpapers and layout can be easily changed. Once you’ve got ADW Launcher up and running on your phone, all you need do is install the theme and select it within ADW’s settings.

PinkyBubbles features more than 250 custom app icons plus 165 extra icons in an icon pack for use with ADW’s custom shortcuts.

This theme also comes with 4 matching wallpapers featuring pink swirls, floral starbursts and other interesting collaborations between pink, silver, gray and black.

Wherever your tastes may fall on the color pink, you have to admit, it’s a striking look. So, whether you believe real men really do wear pink, or you think you’re honestly fooling anyone by telling them it’s actually magenta, this theme is not for the shy types. Be bold!

PinkyBubbles costs US$1.49 in the Android Market.

ColorBlind Review

ColorBlind Review

May 6, 2011

Looks aren’t everything. Sure, they can get you so far in life, but in the end, it’s what you do that really matters and not what you look like whilst you’re doing it. Lots of people though, will tell you that first impressions are the most important, in which case you’d be forgiven for thinking that ColorBlind, the new title from Induction Games is an ugly, ugly mess.

In fact, ColorBlind is an ugly, ugly mess, by far the least aesthetically pleasing app that I’ve ever installed on my phone. Its fonts are a mess, its UI is a mess, even the color scheme, which is mainly grey, is an unmitigated mess. In spite of all this though, somehow, ColorBlind is still a lovely, simple little game.

You’re presented with a color, and told to memorise it. Once you have, you tap done and you’re taken to a screen with a coloured square and three sliding scales – red, green and blue. Your job is to slide the scales around until the color you memorised on the first screen is replicated in the square above – if you’re closer than 75%, you move on to the next color.

It sounds like a simple task, but you’d be surprised how difficult it can get. At times the 75% marker is a little too lenient, but other than that the game is a neatly realised visual puzzler, that doesn’t so much task the grey matter as it does the white orbs attached to the grey matter. It’s fun, quick and there are a decent amount of levels to keep you playing.

Don’t let the terrible visuals of ColorBlind put you off, it’s a nice little game that will keep your eyes trained and your brain entertained for a good while. At the moment, it’s an app you show to your friends for all the wrong reasons, but with a bit of polish and an updated UI, it could turn into one you’d show off with pride.