Abyss Attack Review

Abyss Attack Review

Apr 28, 2014

Here comes Abyss Attack, a submarine shooter with arcade credentials.

The gameplay feels a lot like AirAttack HD, in that the main goal is to keep the ever-shooting craft going. This caper is in the depths of the ocean, and the lethal obstacles are fantastical sea creatures that are as creepily dangerous as they are easy on the eyes. Any contact with these creatures is lethal to a degree; they are quite varied, with some stretching from the sides, and others emanate from the “top” of the playing area, and each with an interesting way of moving that makes them hard to avoid. Our sea craft is guided via one finger continuously on the screen; the craft follows the finger as long as contact is made. As noted, the submarine is always shooting, so getting it in ab1position to destroy the weird sea fauna while simultaneously avoiding them is key. If one so chooses, tilt controls can be utilized in settings.

Dispatched enemies usually leave behind crystals, and crystals are important as a form of game currency; picking them up can be hazardous to the health, because the game UI ensures there is an opportunity cost associated with trying to retrieve them. There are also timed powerups to pick up, like crystal magnets or heightened weaponry. The garnered crystals can be used to upgrade powerups (which are especially useful for the bosses). and to procure better subs. There are also special relics than can be collected in-game.

The game also employs tasks, and there is a ranking system too. Real cash can be used optionally to expecite things, but the game can be enjoyed without.

For all the fun, this game is a bit of a one-trick pony with regards to gameplay; the upgrade process breaks this up a bit, but the game sticks to its job. The playing area feels a bit cramped too.

All in all, I can’t help but appreciate the game. It’s simple, it’s engaging and it can be played in small burst or long episodes across generations.

Lost Light Review

Lost Light Review

Apr 15, 2014

Lost Light is a game from Disney with a familiar feel that sill manages to surprise in a pleasant way

It’s a matching game with a twist. Instead of matching by color as a lot do, Lost Light puzzles the player by incorporating numbers into leveled gameplay, with success at the opener of further levels.

The tutorial lays it out with its helpful squirrel by going through some of the sequences and playing methodology. The playing area has a darkish background, with numbered squares rising to the top gradually from the bottom. Using gestures, one looks to swipe groups of numbered squares to dissolve them as long as needed; if the column makes it to the top, the level is failed, so even if the the wanted sequence isn’t available, blasting squares to prevent the column from getting to the top might be good strategy from time to time. lost1

With regards to the gestures, swiping adjacent sets of the numbers is the general idea. If the game spits out a “4” to collect, the player must then swipe through four lines of adjacent four squares to meet the goal. As the levels progress, the challenges (and associated time limit) get a bit tighter, with sequences that become a bit more varied. Of course, quick thinking and pinpoint connections are needed. There was the one where a point threshold has to be met in a set time. I loved the occasional ability to multi-swipe past the number needed to do more at once (this almost needs to be done to be understood).

There are powerups to help with the arcade feel.

All in all, it’s a simple game with plenty of puzzling and potential strategizing that makes it worth the sub-$2.00 price. Unfortunately, the game information states not all levels are free, which might cause some consternation, but it’s a good game nonetheless.



Jan 15, 2014

UDLR:SWIPE is one of the simplest (yet addictive) games around.

Gestures rule the roost in this one. It’s all about swiping the right color in the right direction. Quickly, that is. Think of a digital Simon Says on steroids.

More specifically, at the simplest level, there are four colors: green, yellow, red and blue. Yellow needs to be swiped up, green down, blue to the left and red to the right. As hinted at, speed is of essence, because taking too much time ends the run. After the intro mini-tutorial, the game gets going, spitting out singular colors, to which they have to bes wiped off in the right direction. One mistake, and it’s done. The game intelligence does an interesting job of making it difficult, and forcing the brain to meld with the fingers to be successful.udlr1

A little bit of success opens up advanced functionality; soon the gameplay doesn’t send in just one volor ber screen; it begins to send in the colors in quarters. Swiping away one segment can open up a completely different color “underneath” it, and a swipe might not move a quarter or half, either. At times, the screen broke up into long thirds. The geometric changes combine with the color changes to create some major gameplay challenges that are insane in their ability to be quite addictive.

Length of life is measured in success, and the game mechanism makes group play almost a given. My son and I spent hours going at the record — I mean “testing” the game — and this review itself was delightfully interrupted by squeals of joy from a broken record.

The game graphics are bright, and convey what is needed very adequately. The swipe mechanism is especially clean, and the bigger he screen, the better the game looks.

I’ve said it before: simplicity of play is the key with regards to Android gameplay in 2014, and this one displays the concept very handsomely.

Qvoid Review

Qvoid Review

Oct 9, 2013

Qvoid is a fun puzzler that packs in plenty of fun into a simple concept. Great looking 3D graphics, fluid animations and nice coloration are its unashamed hallmarks.

The premise is simple on paper. The aim is to use a movement cube to change the colors of all the other cubes to one single color in the least amount of movers. To explain further, the play area generally consists of a set of cubes that are adjacent to one another, making a raised platform of sorts. Most of these are all black; the face of one (more on further levels) box has another, brighter color on it. Whenever the top box is rolled by swiping, whatever color one of its faces touches is adopted and taken, leaving the color of the surface block black (which is what we want). The goal then is to swipe in such a way to get rid of the spare color by matching it to another surfaceq1 face. And as noted, the key to getting a three star score is to solve the puzzle in no more moves than is suggested by the game.

The game plays much easier than its description implies, and it is fairly intuitive. As the levels are completed and gameplay progresses, it gets trickier, with more spots, tougher positioning and unique tools and workarounds. Teleporters, rotators, bridges and multiple colors all join in to make the game quite challenging. The extras can help or hinder; the rotating squares, for instance, can mess up a move or be a strategic device. So even in a relatively simple game, the developer finds a way to use strategy to potentially keep players engaged.

Still, biggest issue might be eventual monotony. I would have liked some color variations, and maybe even the ability to play user-developed levels. That is admittedly a lofty desire, but hey, fantasy is what I do.

It should be fun to see what else Gavina Games can bring to Android.

StackNotes Review

StackNotes Review

Aug 27, 2013

A good, mobile note-taking app is essential these days, and that is what StackNotes is banking on. Its developers clearly want folks to depend on it, and the simple, clean design seems to attest to that.

In the free stack, there are a few customization options. Starting with themes, you can select from Jellybean, Classic, Safari or Princess, with a few more available to Pro users.

The truly refreshing thing about this application is the design. The filing structure stacks… virtually, that is. This “stacking” style was interestingly intuitive, and works quite well within the gestural precepts that govern the app. To create a basic note, you create a folder (or tap one that is already created) and go to town. From the main stack1interface, existing folders are presented, a swipe to the right reveals the menu, from which new folders can be created. The parent folders have a number count beside the text listing which indicates the number of notes stacked therein.

To create a note, simply tapping on the folder invokes a slide-to page from which a new note can be added. The new note can be titled, and there are buttons to toggle emoji and even simple alarms. From the in-note menu, it is possible to add in audio, handwritten (or stylus-written) text in five possible colors, or a picture from gallery. It’s nice that if one is feeling especially artistic, it is possible to invoke the device camera from within the app and work from there. Such seemingly little features add up to increase the overall functionality of the note taking app.

The elephants in the room occupied by any note-taking app residing in Android-land are probably Evernote and Google Keep; a big part of the effectiveness of those apps is arguably the cloud syncing they offer. StackNotes provides this as well; there is a web portal that provides access to notes synced to its servers. The application offers a Pro set of features, which allows for unlimited sync and an extra batch of themes, but does feel quite useful in the free iteration.

StackNotes is a fine option in a stacked field, and earns big ups from for minimalist effectiveness.

Paper Bees Review

Paper Bees Review

Aug 16, 2012

Remember games like Galaga and Space Invaders? If not the games themselves, then that style of game where things attack from above and they need to be taken out before they hit their target? Paper Bees is that.

Paper Bees starts off a little slow, but really speeds up after a couple of levels. The gameplay is pretty straightforward. Using a little swipe of a finger, the bees are flung toward the attacking insects. Most of the attacking bugs are destroyed in one hit. The big beetle looking bugs with the pinchers will take a couple of hits before they will be defeated.

Each of the player controlled bees has a flower to protect. In the middle of the game screen is a hive to protect as well. The bigger attacking bugs go right toward the hive while the others go for the flowers. Some levels have quite a few fast moving attackers on the screen at one time so aiming well is important. When the target is completely missed, the bees go totally off the screen and reenter across the bottom. This can take a few seconds so make sure to hit the mean bugs or they may get the flowers and hive.

A few levels into the game an upgrade is available. A big bee slowly flies across the screen. By tapping on this big bee, the player controlled bees are super sized like Mario when he eats the mushroom to make him grow. Each time the player controlled bee hits an attacking bee, the player’s bee shrinks a little. After a few attacks, the bee is normal sized again.

Even when the attacking insects get to the hive or flower, all is not lost. Both can take a couple of hits before the level is over. Part of the score is based on the number of petals and how much of the hive are left.

Wave Launcher Review

Wave Launcher Review

Mar 17, 2011

Developer: MobileMerit
Price: US$0.99
Version: 1.0.8
App Reviewed on: Motorola Droid X

One of the great benefits of Android is that, with the right apps, you can have a phone that works like any other. For example, if you’ve ever found yourself green with envy over a Palm Pre user’s “wave” launch bar, then you’re going to be happy to know that you can have it on your Android powered handset, no problem.

The Wave Launcher is a bar that pops out whenever you execute the proper gesture. For example, touch the bottom of the screen and slide upward. It pops up and follows your finger as you move it. The icons on the wave bulge slightly as you select them, similar to the way the Dock works on Macs running OS X. It’s a neat effect.