Checkpoint Champion gets major update!

Checkpoint Champion gets major update!

Feb 27, 2015

Checkpoint Champion, a addictive little driving game recently reviewed on AR by yours truly has received a major update. Included in the update is a new set of icy stages full of slidey fun, a new car, lots of new challenges and more. This makes a already great game even better.

The list of new features, direct from the app page:

What’s New
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– Features 24 brand new challenges!
– Ice and Snow terrain!
– With a surprise mix of checkpoints!
NEW CAR! – Britannia Micro
– Features a slower turning speed – great for beginners!
– 7 shiny new paint jobs to unlock!
– Added immersive mode.
– Added an Event of the Day star counter.
– Improved performance on slower devices!
– Various small bug fixes and improvements.

Grand Ride NXG Review

Grand Ride NXG Review

Feb 11, 2015

Grand Ride NXG plays a bit like the well-known classic Spyhunter. Taking control is a well-armed motorbike the player powers their way up the road blasting suspicious looking cars and grabbing powerups to blast more cars. The poorly translated plot mentions something about an invasion and racing to a border but the game is little more than shooting and driving.

Screenshot_2015-02-08-13-13-24Unfortunately this isn’t very interesting. Bullets don’t seem to damage your vehicular enemies so rather than blasting everything the game is more about dodging cars until you happen to find a bomb power-up then destroying everything around you with a smart bomb like explosion. Then the cycle repeats. There are no other power-up or weapons.

Grand Ride NXG looks very unpolished. It looks quite poor to the point where it is difficult to tell what things are. The player’s bike barely animates and the bullets it fires are barely even visible, making it difficult to aim.

Screenshot_2015-02-08-10-55-59Even more glaringly, the game is very buggy. Text routinely fails to line up with windows which make it impossible to read. The game often continues to play sounds even when the player switches away from it or exits it until the phone is rebooted. Most text is full of typos. As said above It also seems to be impossible to blow up enemies. Shooting at them seems to do nothing. Fortunately, enemy guns are just as useless; their shots seem to almost never hit the player no matter where they are. This renders the game completely pointless. The only way to blow up enemies is with the occasional bomb.

Grand Ride NXG is also festooned with ads. When the game is launched it begins with a full screen ad with a “click to play” button. As soon as the game loads another ad appears. After every game another ad appears that must be dismissed.

Grand Ride NXG is a poorly made game that is no fun to play. It just lacks any spark. Players expecting Spyhunter mobile will be very disappointed with Grand Ride NXG.

Checkpoint Champion Review

Checkpoint Champion Review

Feb 4, 2015

Checkpoint Champion is a cool new driving game that rewards careful, skilful driving. Taking control of cute SD versions of well-known cars the player weaves their way to greatness.

Checkpoint Champion is a great fit for mobile gaming. Using a simple control system, the player must weave their way through very short ten second challenges. These involve driving into checkpoints before time runs out. Each challenge features plenty of fiendish challenges like hairpin turns; handbrake turns, obstacles that need to be avoided and plain tough driving. Checkpoint Champion rewards precision and it is very satisfying to get a level right.

Screenshot_2015-01-31-19-36-58Each level is fun in its own way. For example Tornado has its checkpoints appear in a tight circle on a dirt surface. Since the player is driving in a small circle they kick up a lot of spiraling dust, hence the level’s name. Another involves slaloming though slippery mud and another has your car driving very fast around a tree without hitting it in a level aptly called Ring A Rosy. Every level is different and the game never gets dull.

Like most games of this type each level gives the player a rating from 1-3 stars. Unlocking new cars requires a certain amount of stars and getting three stars is of course where the real game lies. Checkpoint Champion can be very difficult but this difficulty never feels unfair. Completing each level isn’t too hard, it’s getting the best rank that really provides the challenge.

A game that demands precision like Checkpoint Champion needs great controls and thankfully the game delivers on that. Holding either the left or right side half of the screen steers in that direction while holding both uses your turbo. The control system feels very sharp and well made.

The game also uses your Google+ profile to display scores from friends which is always fun and motivates you to beat them.

Screenshot_2015-01-31-20-54-09Checkpoint Champion has no IAP to speak of. All cars and their paintjobs can be unlocked by simply playing the game and there is no nasty energy meters or other restrictions. The sole piece of IAP in the game is a $1.99 purchase to remove the ads and unlock a few Prostar paintjobs. This is a great change from the freemium choked cesspit that is the Google Play store. Bravo Prostar.

Checkpoint Champion looks very good. The cars on offer are cute versions of well-known cars. The Levin/Trueno in particular is cool looking. A lot of additional paint jobs can be unlocked by completing goals in games. The sound is really good as well. Some very, very catchy music pumps away in the background and the car’s motor sound and effects for collecting checkpoints are just fine.

Checkpoint Champion is a fun and addictive game with plenty of content for $0. With no nasty freemium and excellent gameplay on offer everyone should get a lot out of Checkpoint Champion.

Reckless Racing 3 Review

Reckless Racing 3 Review

Jan 7, 2015

Reckless Racing 3 is a racing simulator that features realistic physics (more or less), lots of different cars, and a whole bunch of levels and game modes. The world of mobile driving sims is over-saturated with half-assed clones and other cheap-looking free-to-play racing garbage, but this is the real thing.

Reckless Racing 3 is a great combination of arcade gameplay coupled with top-notch development, resulting in a very fun experience. It doesn’t really have a story, but boasts three different modes: career, arcade, and a single event. Career and single event are pretty self-explanatory, and arcade is just a number of challenges the player has to beat. Each of these modes further consists of three race types. There’s a usual race, where the player needs to overcome a bunch of other cars to get the first place; there’s drifting, in which the player needs to score the largest number of points in a limited time on a track by swerving his car into drifts; and finally, there’s gymkhana, in which the player needs to finish a particular route as fast as possible, evading the road cones and other obstacles that add to the lap time.Reckless Racing 3 4

Completing any race will give the player money that he can spend in the garage. There’s no actual customization in Reckless Racing 3, and the player can choose to spend his money either to buy a new car with better stats, or to improve the appearance of the one he already has.

I can’t stress enough how much Reckless Racing 3 looks like a fully-featured game, compared to most other mobile racing games. It’s got great graphics that can be changed if the game is too slow on your device. It’s got arcade but very much actual physics that send the cars flying off the edges and into each other – or even flip them over during a really hard turn. There’s also a bunch of different levels that are cropped into even more tracks. And finally, it’s got great hard rock soundtrack that adds to the excitement. I had the best time with it, and although it’s still just a simple top-down arcade at heart, it’s a damn good one.

Traffic Surf Review

Traffic Surf Review

Nov 26, 2014

There is something to be said for indie games. Often some of the most unique untried game ideas come from some enterprising unknown developer and a small team of passionate individuals. Traffic Surf however falls firmly in the amateur side rather than the indie side.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-13-40-25Playing Traffic Surf is a dull experience. Controlling a slow car, the player drives up a straight road and must overtake traffic without hitting anything. Points are earned for passing cars closely and driving quickly. When the player hits a car and the game is over this is converted to cash. There is also an ad banner permanently displayed in the corner.

The game just isn’t fun. Dodging the same cars over and over is not enjoyable and the imprecise controls, average graphics and aforementioned ad really make it the polar opposite of anything resembling entertainment. The game never changes and there is just nothing interesting about it compared to the bumper crop of great free games on Android.

Cash is used to buy new rides or upgrade the ones you have. The player starts off with a pile of cash but once that is gone it’s hard to earn much more, without buying it with real money.
Even when later cars are unlocked it doesn’t change the gameplay at all and simply makes the game harder if anything since faster cars are more difficult to dodge with.

Screenshot_2014-11-24-13-40-01Traffic Surf is one of the most crash prone games I have played. The game crashes for no apparent reason constantly. It crashes on the car select screen; it crashes during gameplay, it crashes after games. It crashes more often than the player does.

Traffic Surf doesn’t look good. Its graphics look amateurish and the boring environments and boxy cars don’t really do it any favours. The game also features an annoying banner ad on screen during gameplay, ruining the game’s looks.

Traffic Surf is an unenjoyable, repetitive game that crashes more often than pretty much any other game I have played on Android. It should not be played by anyone.

Automatic Smart Driving Assistant Hardware Review

Automatic Smart Driving Assistant Hardware Review

Oct 13, 2014

Yes, smartphone accessories are big business, and we enjoy using a variety of them. Still, the ways one can expand on “regular” smartphone functionality are ever expanding, and the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant is arguably one of the better ones.

It’s small, rectangular-cuboid, infinitely portable and possessive of the pins in the connected side. Functionality-wise, the Smart Driving Assistant works as an On-Board Diagnostic port plugin; it accumulates data and presents it with the help of the companion. The ODB port is the same one that might be used by one’s mechanic, so the information collected can be valuable.

Setup is relatively easy, and involves plugging in the accessory to the car, running the app and pairing to the unit via smartphone bluetooth. The built-in tutorial helps simplify the process even further, and the app even has a scanner contained to capture the vehicle VIN. The app then creates a car profile.

After pairing is completed, the app can give an idea of how the app can be useful. The vehicle make and model is prominently displayed, and there are numerical points that are mapped to measure mileage, time, fuel costs and mileage-to-gallon rate. The app is easy to manipulate, and also easy on the eyes. There are not a whole lot of frills in the app, and the data is presented in an easy format overall.


Functionally, the unit does what it says it will do. It gives a periodic driving score which maxes out at 100 for the perfect driver; it rates metrics like highway driving, hard breaking and rapid acceleration, and creates a percentage score; it notes that the higher the score, the more one might save on cash over time. it also analyzes “check engine” codes, and monitors and acts upon crash alerts (where the unit and app react to serious impact). In the latter case scenario, the app can summon help in the event that the user is incapacitated or otherwise unable to get help him/herself. We were not able to actually test the check engine or crash detection uses (with good reason), but these advertised features — which do not require any extra subscription — feel good to have, even if they are heavily dependent on cellular coverage.

Using it in multiple vehicles is possible, but the singular profile makes it a bit harder to use one unit wih a household of drivers. It doesn’t interfere with other use of Bluetooth, though; some features might feel a bit redundant, which might make the $99 price tag a bit harder to swallow.

For an ultra-powerful, connected auto tool that can actually add to one’s life expectancy, this one is hard to sneeze at.

Colin McRae Rally Review

Colin McRae Rally Review

Mar 27, 2014

Colin McRae Rally is a heavily modified port of the original PSone classic known to any racing fan.

Colin McRae Rally brings all the dirty, sliding racing action you’d expect to Android. The excellent car physics model is in place and some solid controls make navigating the game’s tracks easy. Both single player championships and multiplayer are available.

Colin McRae Rally has four championships and all but the very first one will offer a stiff challenge. Only one car, the iconic Ford Focus is available at the beginning and new cars are only unlocked by winning championships. One car feels very limited at the outset.

Screenshot_2014-03-23-13-29-20Embarrassingly, this port of Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is missing content that the original game had. It has only four cars, which is not even a third of what the original game had. While this is bad enough the real kicker is the fact that anything relating to tinkering with cars is gone. The player cannot adjust gear ratios, suspension stiffness or indeed anything to do with their car at all.

A lot of tracks are missing too and the game only features three environments, a tiny bite of what was in the original game.

Another problem with Colin McCrae Rally is that it is rather outdated. With games like GT Racing 2 and even the 2010 Real Racing 2 on the platform it looks positively anemic by comparison. It’s tiny amount of cars and PS1-era graphics aren’t impressive at all nowadays. Playing Colin McCrae Rally is like going back in time and not in a good way.

Screenshot_2014-03-07-21-06-14As said above Colin McRae Rally’s graphics and sound are poor. While they are slightly dolled up from the original game they are not impressive at all for an Android game. The sound is limited to generic music, basic engines and the emotionless voice of the co-driver.

Another problem with the game is the low frame rate. Often the game will hiccup or lag, which is a great way to slam into a tree if it happens at the wrong time. A recent update has done nothing obvious to fix this problem. Hopefully later updates will rectify this issue.

Colin McRae Rally is not a great game and it’s a very stripped down port. The bumper crop of excellent Android racing games mean there is no reason to purchase Colin McRae Rally.

Earn to Die Review

Earn to Die Review

Feb 11, 2014

Earn Or Die is a unique take on a zombie game. Does such a thing actually exist?

Earn or Die features yet another survivor of a zombie apocalypse trying to just escape. Unlike other survivors though, this survivor has access to a car. Sure it’s a broken down piece of crap. Just attach a few propellers, enhanced tyres and saw blades and escaping the zombies becomes a lot easier.

Screenshot_2014-02-04-18-15-32Indeed upgrades are central to the gameplay in Earn or Die. At the very start of the game the broken down car the player has is completely useless and can barely roll a few feet before running out of fuel.

Thankfully, this boring start is short lived and after earning a little money and buying some more fuel and such it becomes a lot better. Even though the game has a fuel mechanic this isn’t as bad as it sounds, as once the fuel is bought the fuel tank is always that full. There are no nasty in app purchases for fuel here.

The upgrades are really fun to use and range from mounted guns that automatically blow away zombies, to mounted propellers or jet engines to boost the car along. Saw blades to rip up zombies and big tires to grind them into dust top off the package. While each new car purchased needs to be upgraded separately money is handed out fast enough that this is never annoying.

Screenshot_2014-02-04-16-41-35After enough upgrades the player should be able to make their way to the end of the level before running out of fuel. Some additional controls to control the tilting of the car help eke just a bit more distance out of the fuel as its easy enough to roll down hills by rotating the car in mid-air to make progress without accelerating and using fuel. Not to mention it’s very fun watching a spinning sports car careening down hill, crushing living corpses and smashing though boxes as it goes.

After reaching the end of the level bonus money is awarded and the player unlocks the next level. The levels I’ve seen are very similar to each other, but the real star of the game is the cars anyway.

Earn Or Die features no microtransactions whatsoever. The game costs next to nothing and with no in app purchases.

Earn or Die looks great. A sharp cartoon style defines the game and car upgrades are fun to see. Zombies disassemble and squish realistically and watching them bounce around as they are blasted by a shotgun or shredded by a circular saw blade is great fun. The sound is decent enough with some nice boomy sounds for weapons and some nice heavy music which suits the game perfectly. Zombie moans are repetitive however.

Earn Or Die is a fun game available for a bargain price and doesn’t try to nickel and dime the player. Its unique, interesting gameplay makes it a game worth playing.

Toca Cars Review

Toca Cars Review

Jan 16, 2014

Toca Cars is the latest in the long line of Toca games by Toca Boca aimed at children. Known for their simple gameplay and unique, hand drawn graphics these games are great for keeping kids amused.

Screenshot_2014-01-11-12-37-51Toca Cars is about as simple as driving games get. The player just picks a whenevr to play a pre-defined world or to create their own. Then they can just cruise around, enjoying the drive. Everything in the world of Toca Cars is made of cardboard so running into it will send it flying. It’s fun to smash into houses and watch them go tumbling away. When the player causes too much destruction they can tap a reset button to return the world to its starting state.

Besides just running into stuff there are also paint puddles which kids can use to leave paint trails behind them, colouring the map. Unfortunately the paint trails disappear quickly, which prevents them from doing anything fun with the paint, like drawing a picture or writing their name.

That’s Toca Cars’ gameplay in a nutshell. It’s an exceedingly simple game, but well suited for kids to tool around in and play with.

Screenshot_2014-01-11-12-38-15What will give Toca Cars some longevity is the world editor. The world editor lets players simply drag and drop ramps, trees, houses and even creatures onto the map and create their own playground. This feature is dead simple to use and just about any kid should get the idea quick.

Some fun creatures inhabit Toca’s world. There is a cute doggy that follows the car around and a robot that pushes the car away. A bird also chirps happily as he hops around. This may seem minor, but it makes Toca Cars feel more alive.

The main problem with Toca Cars is that there’s no real goal in it. Players just drive around, knocking stuff over and reset the world when they feel like it. There no actual racing or such, it’s more about simply interacting with the world and the car. Kids may get tired of it rather fast.

Toca Cars has a neat cardboard like visual style. Smaller objects like trees are on pedestals just like toy trees and larger ones like houses are cardboard boxes with draw on details. This gives the game a really nice “playland” type feel and it feels a lot like smashing down a town built by children on a table to play in and perfectly suits the age bracket Toca Cars is aimed at. The graphics certainly got my imagination working on just what I could do with cardboard.

The sound is fairly basic, some catchy music accompanies the action and some basic bangs and taps are heard when running into objects.

Toca Cars is not a game for adults as it is far too simple, but for kids it can be a fun, if short-lived experience. Worth 99 cents, but not much more.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Review

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Review

Jan 9, 2014

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a direct Android port of the famous 2004 game of the same name. Now players can drive over pedestrians, blast Ballas and rampage in a tank anywhere. Does it do the original game justice?

In case the original isn’t familiar, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas tells the story of Carl Johnson brother to the leader of the Grove Street Families, a formerly large and powerful street gang that has fallen on hard times. Carl left the city to escape the gangsta life style, but after his mother is killed he returns to the city for the funeral. He decides to stay to help his crumbling gang rebuild their fortunes and kill a whole lot of people while doing it. A massive sandbox game, GTA features everything from gang wars to night club dancing, massive deserts to drive over to VTOL fighter jets to cause mayhem with. It is the ultimate toybox, a whole world to do as the player pleases

Screenshot_2014-01-08-21-03-35GTA: San Andreas for Android is the original San Andreas, fully realized and with a few extra widgets. The most noticeable right away is the improved graphics. There are a few options that allow the player to up the resolution of the game and add additional shadow and lighting effects that were not in the original game. Thanks to modern technology it’s possible to get GTA: SA looking way better on a phone that it ever did on a full console.

The sound is fantastic and has all the classic radio stations. The sound is loud, detailed and works very well with phone speakers. There are a few other options as well, such as controlling traffic density and such, but the graphics are the real star.

Screenshot_2014-01-08-11-28-55The games controls are well done considering how many buttons are needed for GTA. Tapping on a character targets them and there is a shoot button. There is a virtual stick, slider or tilt controls for driving. A minor annoyance is the lock on system sometimes selecting targets it shouldn’t. CJ will be shooting away at some Ballas and kill one and sometimes the lock on will jump to a nearby cop or one of your own gang members, shooting them if the player isn’t careful.

GTA: SA supports the MOGA mobile controller and for the most part it works very well, but some functions like targeting or changing weapons can only be done via on screen icon, which is a little slow. The auto lockon does a good job of finding targets however. The game drains battery very quickly, because of the horsepower required to run the game.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for Android is a fantastic port of one of the greatest games ever released. For $7 it’s an incredible game and a must buy. Even for players who played the original endlessly, the much improved graphics and portability make this one worth having.

Dead Ahead Review

Dead Ahead Review

Dec 5, 2013

Dead Ahead is an endless driver with some really interesting gameplay elements that definitely put it above the usual infinite platformers or actions. Well, it’s not like Dead Ahead doesn’t have all the usual routine like ads, special offers that ease up the gameplay, and a sprawling in-app purchase system, but in free-to-play games it’s always a matter of whether the gameplay is interesting enough to ignore these issues, and in Dead Ahead, it kind of is.

The main hero is a young man, who was unlucky enough to survive a zombie apocalypse with a still-beating heart, and now needs to escape a zombie horde that’s chasing him at a surprising pace. He’s smart enough to not go by foot, though, and is riding a kick-ass Vespa. Maybe not really kick-ass, but it does get the job done. The player needs to control the vehicle as it swerves through ghoul-infested highway. To do that, the player needs to keep a finger on one side of the screen and swipe it up and down to turn the bike. There are also two buttons on another part of the screen to accelerate the bike, and to shoot your weapon. Did I mention there’s also a weapon? The trick is that the weapon isn’t used to kill the zombies in front of the hero – the vehicle handles them more than fine – but in the back.

The hero can die from two things: either he smashes head-on into some debris on the road, or the zombies behind him Dead Ahead 3get to him. They can be killed with guns, but the guns aren’t perfect and require reloading, so it’s really handy – and fun! – that the zombies are , and don’t have a problem running into different obstacles themselves. With correct leadership, they can actually smash into the inert zombies that you’ve missed, and smash into a happy red pulp together.

I didn’t mention a lot of things, because there’s too many of them to mention. There are missions that give gold and unlock new gear, different levels that are more challenging, and offer more gold. By the way, gold in Dead Ahead is relatively simple to obtain. There are power-ups that give a temporary boost, and if you missed them, can be blown up, along with zombies in the back. Dead Ahead is ripe with interesting mechanics, and I liked it quite a lot. If you’re not too irritated by the free-to-play mechanics (and they are kind of irritating), this game is great.

Chillingo Releases Dead Ahead on Google Play

Chillingo Releases Dead Ahead on Google Play

Dec 4, 2013

Dead Ahead 2

Finally! Dead Ahead is an astounding action game, where the player rides a bike, smashing and shooting zombies to pieces, trying to get as far as possible. It’s got fine graphics, and quite an exciting gameplay for a free-to-play game. Let’s just say that I like this game a lot. It’s available for free from here: Dead Ahead on Google Play.