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.

See Your City From Hundreds of Other Perspectives with Trover

See Your City From Hundreds of Other Perspectives with Trover

Oct 20, 2011

Trover is a new service that allows users from all around the world to share photos of their favorite spots though a simple, elegant grid. Considering Trover launched just this April, the amount of members that it has compiled since then is certainly impressive. The service now boasts more then 100,000 “Trovers” in over 160 countries, which is even more impressive knowing that the service originally launched solely for the iPhone. But now it’s out on Android and the question is: how much of an impact will this service have? Like Zaarly, which I talk about more here, Trover is held back only through the cooperation of its users. They are what really makes this product work.

Trover is essentially a giant commonplace for people to post pictures about their favorite spots which are geotagged on a map. Think of it as a less organized Yelp. A short description about the spot is included and there is a Thank button and a comment field. The ‘Thank’ button is basically a ‘like’ button, or a +1 button for you Google+ people. However, Trover is not the Michelin Guide Book; every entry is recorded by some user that you probably don’t know and while your login is your Facebook account, this is still the internet, people. This open world works both for and against Trover. For example, looking up places near me around the Ohio State Campus I found a great photo of a secluded dock set back in a swamp at a nearby park which would be a great place to go hiking with my girlfriend.

Isn't this Romantic?

This is where Trover shines, showing you places off the beaten path that are great small places that you’d have a hard time finding in a typical guide book. Where Trover fails are the entries that are more or less useless. Setting my position in Times Square, I found a lot of random meaningless entries, like one of two bikes chained to a stand or another of some pigeons on the sidewalk. This creates an over-saturation of information. New York is such a huge city that there where hundreds of ‘Discoveries’ within a half mile radius of my location, every unnecessary post just increases the odds of missing something notable.

Overall though, Trover does bring something very exciting and unique which is important because it needs to be able to differentiate itself from other user recommendation apps such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. They do this by being very visual and by sorting attractions by distance away. Also, Trover applies to any kind of location from restaurants to parks to sidewalk vendors. Trover allows the user to be more spontaneous than Yelp, and the ability to simply pull out a phone and see places that other people recommend is very powerful. A nice setting in Trover is the ability to switch between locations that are within walking, biking, and driving distances, which is a great solution for those boring afternoon dilemmas where there doesn’t seem to be anything to do. Technically Trover has the potential to completely remove those kinds of days from our lives completely. I’m not saying that it will, but in looking at its capabilities Trover asks all the users in your area if they have a spot they recommend visiting. It is all about finding and sharing the little known gems in your area.

We’ll see if this service takes off, because there definitely are many opportunities to lose focus. It will be very tempting to open the service to advertising, for example, and the whole community vibe will be lost, spoiled by the corporate hand. But if we’ve learned anything in these past few years, it would be to never underestimate the power of social integration. If it can be shared, tweeted or posted, chances are it will. People will never stop wanting to discover new, undiscovered spots. If Trover manages to stay the course and keep this an intimate service that lets you see the same city from the viewpoint of hundreds of different perspectives the sky is the limit and Trover will become a household name in the future.

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.