Presenting Timewinder – Interval Timer

Presenting Timewinder – Interval Timer

Feb 27, 2014

Timewinder - Interval Timer 3

Timewinder is essentially, a timer that allows the user to save the recorded intervals and organize them. While some people may wonder what good is a recording timer, I can think of several great uses for it – for example, trying to beat your own time for sports routine, or comparing different routes to different parts of town (what? Am I the only one who does this?) Timewinder is available now on Google Play.

Timer, Tweet Lanes, and the Importance of Holo

Timer, Tweet Lanes, and the Importance of Holo

Aug 27, 2012

I recently found out about an app called Timer, which is extremely simple: it’s a timer app, restoring some functionality that isn’t present in the stock Jelly Bean clock, and also featuring expanded notifiaction support for start/stop and restarting the timer. It’s a simple app, yet it feels like a great fit with Android 4.x devices.

However, we’re seeing a few more apps taking advantage of the Holo theme and Android 4.x design themes. Tweet Lanes is probably the most popular example, having seen a great number of downloads for 4.x phones and even for the Nexus 7. Flipster integrates some Holo theme and 4.x design elements in it as well.

Android needs apps like these, with consistent design themes. Apps that have a distinct look and feel to them that screams Android, that represent the platform and look good while running smoothly, they will strengthen the platform. When users can expect some apps to have familiar looks and feels, then the platform feels more legitimate.

The problem is that thanks to all the Android variants out there, there’s no consistent look to the platform. Phone manufacturers have generally tried to prevent this for their own benefit by applying their own look to the platform. Google is trying their best to keep the stock look, though. The Galaxy Nexus may be the most widely-spread Nexus phone yet thanks to it being on multiple carriers, and as one of the best values as an unlocked phone. The Nexus 7 is estimated to sell 8 million units this year. There’s plenty of value to Holo.

So, while there’s the challenge of getting developers to accept this style for their apps, especially when iOS and its design principles are still dominant, the rise of Android devices out there leads to the hope that developers for the platform will accept it and adopt it. The apps that are using Holo themes and Android design standards are impressively smooth. They are great examples of how Android apps should be working. More developers that take advantage of this, the more likely that Android can develop that consistent look and feel that it needs.

Edge Extended Review

Edge Extended Review

Feb 3, 2012

I love being surprised by games. It’s great when a game I was waiting for lives up to my expectations, but when I stumble on something great it feels like an early birthday present. Edge Extended is one of those gifts, something I might have missed if it wasn’t writing this review. Let me say, early and often, that it is great and everyone should play it.

It is a puzzle game, very similar to Puzzle 2, however it has a sort of space-age feel to it right off the bat. The user controls a cube and navigates it around on the gameboard with gestures. The cube can flip end over end to move from place to place, but can also topple off the edges if flipped too aggressively. The goal of every level is to flip the cube on to a home pad, while collecting particles of energy along the way. The cube starts off capable of moving at a fixed speed, but every energy particle collected increases its potential speed. Continuous motion can be achieved by holding your finger on the screen.

This game is gorgeous, just lovely. The cube is illuminated by a constantly-shifting flicker of colour, using the entire rainbow spectrum, contrasting with the grey gameboard. The tiny particles that the cube collects flicker with the same light, and so does the home pad that the cube needs to reach. There are stars out there in the beyond, and when the cube is finally rotated to land on the home pad, it explodes in a tower of light and everything recedes into the distance as though sucked into a black hole. Each level has a theme (hinted at by its name) and some special challenge. My favourite is Mini Cube, when the cube shrinks down and flips around the board making a hilarious duck sound.

This game has it all going for it: fantastic graphics and sound, and it’s challenging without being frustrating. The score after completion of a level is calculated based on how quickly it could have been completed. If a user wants to challenge themselves to do it faster they have the option of racing against their shadow from the previous attempt. I love the sense of competition it creates – with myself.

The only thing I could say against it is that the controls sometimes react too strongly to what I thought was a smaller gesture. But then again I’ve seen that lessen the longer I’ve played, so perhaps I’m calibrating myself to the game.

U Plus Review

U Plus Review

Jan 9, 2012

It pleases me that logic games are popular. There is nothing wrong with a game’s sole purpose being for you to run as fast as you can while shooting things, but I do appreciate the elegance of some mental concentration leading to a solution. It takes time, and the ah-hah moment, to me, is worth a thousand combo-kill point bonuses. Naturally, when Sudoku exploded I was instantly hooked. I began carrying the puzzles around with me everywhere, because they are the perfect moment-filler. But eventually they became too easy, and I suppose I was waiting for something to take their place.
Enter: U+.

U+ (or UPlus Puzzle Game) is simple in concept and design, but don’t mistake simple in this case to mean easy. It is a math game, a problem-solving game. There are no bad guys, it’s just you versus yourself, as the clock reminds you as you play. The design of the game is meant to take you back in time to math class (which for me brings about some mild PTSD), when an equation was on the board and you were tasked to find the variables. Luckily (for me) there is no BEDMAS required; the puzzles are solved by addition only. Hence, according to the developers, the name U+ stands for “You plus”.

The equation is in place when you open a new puzzle. A puzzle is solved from left-to-right, but also top-to-bottom, with the final solution in the bottom right-hand corner. Below the puzzle is a collection of numbers as variables that must be placed in the puzzle. Like Sudoku, there is only one correct placement for each number. You will never have leftover numbers, and will never be able to solve a puzzle with even one variable out of place. When a variable is placed in the correct box you get a chime to indicate such, and a buzzer when it is wrong. If a placed variable completes a sub-equation, then the solution circle is lit up in green. An incorrectly placed variable will light that circle in red. Adding to the pressure of a speedy solution is the most frantic timer I have ever seen. The moment you place your first variable it begins to run up so quickly that it gives me heart palpitations. There is definitely nothing boring about this game.

An aspect of the game that I love is that the timer doesn’t begin until such time as you place your first number. This gives you some time to examine the puzzle and the variables before you officially begin, or togive yourself a chance to try to A Beautiful Mind some of the answers before you start the timer. It does add a small strategy element to a game that otherwise might be lacking one.

The improvements needed for future versions are few, but the game could use some. For instance, a selected variable does flash faintly when touched, but it could benefit from perhaps a brighter colour, so make it easier for the user to be sure which number they have tapped. As well, perhaps an Undo button would be useful, rather than having to tap each number multiple times to place and replace it. These are small tweaks, but the game would be hugely improved.

Scrubs Review

Scrubs Review

Jan 5, 2012

It’s only been off the air for a few years, but the absence of weekly Scrubs episodes is still a source of pain for me. I’ve been a huge fan of the show for quite a long time, which is why when this game arrived I was practically jumping with excitement. ♪I’m no Superman…♪

The game, like the show, takes place in Sacred Heart Hospital and you are an intern starting your very first day at the hospital. The characters from the show are all there, represented in caricature sort of bobble-headed versions of themselves (Dr. Cox is my favourite), but for the most part you complete each stage alone. The day that you start your first shift happens to be July 5th, and apparently after the previous day’s festivities the entire staff and all of the patients in the hospital have gone home to sleep off their benders. The hospital has been left in an absolute shambles and it is up to you, lowly intern, to clear it all up. The game is actually an item-collecting puzzle. Each scene is filled with tiny objects that must be collected. Sometimes there is a necessary order, as one item allows you to retrieve another. And hidden through out every stage there are countless tiny, nearly invisibly translucent pills. The pills are the currency of the game, and you can collect and trade them in for bonuses and power-ups. The bonuses come in the form of hints to help you get out of particularly difficult scenarios. There are also some mini-games too that you can unlock, such as wheel-chair racing down the halls of the hospital. It’s possible to interact with the rooms too, like opening closets, turning on lamps, and opening drawers. But watch out for your nemesis, The Janitor, who frequently pops up to distract you from your work.

The game is pretty creative in terms of the idea and the story. It’s also a little bit off the wall, just like Scrubs could be. Finding a diamond extracted from a woman? Needing to collect enough surgical equipment to impersonate a clown? I don’t know how they came up with it, but it’s pretty funny.

Unfortunately, despite all of that I have to admit to being incredibly disappointed in the game. Except for the names of the setting and characters, it actually has nothing to do with the show. I feel like this game was made by people who were told about Scrubs, but have never actually seen a single episode. They know the character names, and have seen their pictures, but anyone who has seen the show knows that the personalities of these characters is what made it such a classic. The wit and uniqueness is completely gone from this adaptation. I was expecting a game full of trivia and in jokes, and there was just none of it. The only things they got right is that the Janitor hates everybody. For a Scrubs game to have none of the heart of Scrubs…that’s incredibly disappointing.