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.

SideSwype Review

SideSwype Review

Apr 10, 2014

Nice to meet you, SideSwype.

The playing area is a 5×5 grid, with space for 25 squares of different colors. if filled all the way. The sparse white background is a great counterpoint that highlights the coloring of the squares, and the smooth animations are just what we’d expect from a game that uses gestures as the main form of movement and problem-solving.

The game is fairly easy to understand: match 3 or more squares and strive to keep the board as empty as possible. In other words, the run ends when the grid is full of squares. To prevent this from happening, it is possible to slide the boxes present in either of the four cardinal directions (or, relative to the grid, to the right or left and up or down). The unique thing is that the squares all move in unison but obey physical logic. Squares that are plush against immovable squares or the walls of the grid will not move, but others will move until one of those side1conditions are met.

Any sets of three or more that are formed as a result of a gesture action will cause a mostly welcome reaction of dissolving the squares (according to rules of the gameplay), thereby opening up space and keeping the run alive. Countering the smashing of blocks is the replenishment system; like Tetris, there is an indicator telling the player which blocks are coming next, and after every swipe, the new ones are added; thus, constant removal is necessary for success. Points are awarded for smashes, and high scores are recorded.

There are special blocks with special powers that require just a bit more strategy. The game also allows for some customization with regards to sound and looks.

All in, it’s a fun, consuming game, priced to move ($1.99) and no extra purchases needed.




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.

TouchPal X Review

TouchPal X Review

Jan 13, 2014

Every mobile platform has (or should have) an anchor feature or two… or a dozen. I mean feature that makes it harder for people to switch over to other platforms. Android OS has a few for me, and one major one is the stock ability to install third-party keyboards. No matter what type of entry style, be it peck, swiping or finger writing, there is a keyboard available.

Swiping is my thing. Discovering it made the switch from physical keyboard device to one with a virtual keyboard possible. As it is, I’m always on the lookout for newer takes on swipe entry, and TouchPal X is an opportunity to do just that.

It’s advertised as a swipe keyboard, so, as expected, it is designed to input words that are constructed by continuous tp1dragging the finger across letters. As words are formed, the application’s predictive engine kicks in, and alternative suggestions are displayed at the top the keyboard to help correct words that might formed by errant swipe. In practice, this keyboard works well, with a high level of accuracy and prediction. It’s audio input option, activated by holding down the spacebar, is a pleasant surprise.

It comes with a dark look by default, with light lettering on grey keys and light graphics that highlight wave line. The emoji support is extensive, and the it also keeps speed stats.

Getting the keyboard set up is fairly easy. After installation, setup involves enabling the keyboard and picking it the default. It sports some nice customization options, and it is ready to get lost in these: keypress sounds, length if optional vibration, font of the keyboard, swipe animation and more can be tweaked to make it more aligned with its user. There are other themes as well, but it seems they have to be downloaded. At the risk of sounding like a spoiled fashionista, I do wish said themes become even more easily accessible down the line. Cloud functionality with regards to dictionaries and settings would also be a plus.

It’s a great keyboard to use, with enough options that should keep most Android users happy. Alternatives are always great, and it feels like TouchPal X is well on the way to earning a spot with the greats.

Swype Keyboard Review

Swype Keyboard Review

May 8, 2013

I’m a brave man. I believe a couple centuries ago, I would have been an explorer of sorts. I love a challenge, and few things scare me. Except spiders.

In any case, the prospect of switching from a device with a physical keyboard to one with a virtual one made me nervous. I was okay with switching from from one OS to another; I had done my research, liked the new ecosystem and liked the hardware available to me. The thing that really bothered me was the eventuality of having to peck on a touchscreen.

I’m here to tell folks: Swype made the switch possible.

Swype is an alternative keyboard from Nuance that changes the thumb/peck paradigm. Instead of (or, more accurately, in addition to) tapping with fingers, Swype allows for the user to input words by gliding a finger across letters without lifting a finger. The built-in predictive algorithm takes care of the rest.swype1

In practice, it is quite nifty. It does a pretty good job of guessing words accurately, and the suggestion tab right above the keyboard came in hand. For words it could not decipher, it allowed to to force them in by tapping; after this, I could add it to my dictionary. The keyboard sported an optional virtual trace line to aid the swiping motion. The keyboard itself was compact, and worked well in both portrait and landscape orientations. The English version was set up in the standard QWERTY layout, with the option to switch to a numbered keypad or two pages of special characters

I really liked the personalization options. It was possible to pick from several color themes, spacing and capitalization tweaks, and more. The user dictionary was editable and cloud-compatible. The built-in gestures that enabled stuff like hiding the keyboard or invoking the number pad was fantastic, as was the Dragon Dictation voice entry.

With regards to mobile data entry, swiping is not so new anymore; during Swype’s legendarily long beta process, several keyboards have incorporated the feature. Thus, I do believe Swype’s prediction engine could be sharper. Also, being able to adjust the size of the keyboard couldn’t hurt.

Still, Swype remains a very compelling productivity tool that can boast at least one world record.