You might remember Rovio as that tiny little company that made that small-time game, “Angry Birds“. Apparently they’ve gotten bored of angering birds, and decided to make a new game! Today, on both Android and iOS, Rovio has released “Amazing Alex“, a physics-based puzzle game. Does Rovio have another Angry Birds on their hands, or is this game set to be far less than amazing? I dig into the Android version to find out!
So what is Amazing Alex? Amazing Alex is a physics-based puzzle game that sees the titular character, Alex, attempted to thwart the evils of homework with a creative imagination and a few things laying around his room. In much the way you may have turned a refrigerator box into a spaceship, Alex uses everyday items to create zany puzzles that the player must then solve. One puzzle might find you launching a soccer ball into a clothes basket, while another might have you knocking down large cardboard robot monsters with a pool ball. Through visual cues only (seriously, there are no words or instructions in this game) players have to use their wits and imagination to figure out what exactly Alex is trying to achieve.
So…for those of you that are old enough to remember the early days of PC gaming, you might remember a little game called The “Incredible Machine“. I’m going to go ahead and say that Rovio might have borrowed a wee bit from that game as gameplay is very similar. Game makers borrow from each other all the time, though, so it’s not a huge issue, especially considering Rovio has really dumbed down the gameplay. Amazing Alex still has the escalating difficulty in much the same way as their previous games, though.
Amazing Alex is cute. There, I said it. The design is fun, the music is calming and relaxing, and this game has all the makings of a Rovio game. The animation is fantastic and the colors are vibrant and just pop right off of your device. From a graphic standpoint, I cannot gush enough about it. From a design standpoint, the game is really easy to pick up and play and, as previously mentioned, requires nothing more than visual cues to understand. I’m usually hesitant to play a game that doesn’t give me instructions, but Rovio seems to have really nailed the method of giving instructions without giving instructions.
My only complaint about the design might be that the puzzles can get a bit frustrating as you go on, especially after you’ve rotated a table for the 400th time. Gameplay can, in much the same way as any of this mini-puzzle games, get repetitive.
Amazing Alex is a lot of fun and definitely worth picking up and playing. It’s the type of game that allows you to pull out your phone and play a few puzzles while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, or knock out a bunch while you’re sitting on the couch. The best part about Amazing Alex is that Rovio has decided to go with their Free/Pay business model. If you don’t mind looking at ads occasionally, you can pick up the free version of Amazing Alex. For $.99, you get an ad-free, fun-to-play physics puzzler. Rovio might not be able to repeat the success of Angry Birds, but Alex really is amazing, and they’ve definitely got a hit on their hands.
Gameplay: 9/10 (Fun, but a bit repetitive at times)
Graphics/Design 10/10 (Amazing Alex really shines here)
Sound: 10/10 (Fantastically calming and fun to have playing in the background)
Just when you thought the Bath Salt smoking, face eating, slow creeping Zombie craze was coming to an end, MADFINGER Games has unveiled its latest game “Dead Trigger“, on Android and iOS. Does Dead Trigger slowly saunter into the night, or does it rage its way into a brain-eating frenzy?
Dead Trigger is your standard first-person shooter. Touch screen controls are, much like many other mobile-based FPS, pretty basic, with one virtual control stick set for movement, a few on-screen buttons for various functions and aiming performed by touching the right side of the screen anywhere a button doesn’t already exist. Players move down corridors and hallways taking out zombies in an attempt to save themselves, all while earning experience and money that can be applied to upgrading your character and becoming stronger, faster and better.
See that picture up there? Better get used to it. One of the bigger negatives of Dead Trigger is the fact that there’s a pretty lengthy loading screen between every level. Even worse? The level length isn’t exactly long, and you’ll end up seeing that screen every couple of minutes. This adds up to a lot of time spent waiting around for the next level to load. How bad was the loading times? Once or twice my Bionic actually timed out of the standard 30 second screen shutdown.
Once the loading has finished, however, the game is pretty fun to play. There’s a slight learning curve when it comes to moving and aiming at the same time, which seems to be a fault of touchscreen controls on a mobile device, rather than the fault of the actual game, but it’s fairly easy once you’ve got the gist of it!
The graphics of Dead Trigger really seem to be where this game shines. It looks like a late-gen PS1 game, which is mind blowing when you think that this game is running on a device we can carry around in our pockets. Dead Trigger is the type of game that, much like a game like Infinity Blade, really exhibits what can be done on a mobile platform. Colors are rich, character models are clean, and the Zombies actually look pretty darn good.
Unfortunately, what this game gains in graphics, it really loses on design. My biggest issue with Dead Trigger is the fact that MADFINGER Games is charging $.99 in the App Store. Why is this an issue, you might ask? Play the game for 20 minutes or so, and you’ll discover that not only has MADFINGER charged for a game, they’ve also built in a free-to-play style, paid content store. Want the best guns? That’s going to require you to fork over some real money to be able to purchase upgrades. Sure, you can buy the lower-tier items, but you’re probably going to get killed (a lot) in the process. Dead Trigger loses points in its inability to decide if it wants to charge for gameplay, or be a FTP model game.
Dead Trigger has some excellent sound design. The zombies sound like zombies, the gun sounds fantastic every time you pull the trigger, and the atmosphere created by the audio cues are top-notch. I have very few complaints about the sound which, coming from the rest of this review, is probably for the better.
Dead Trigger certainly has its faults, but it’s a fun game to play and if you can stomach gameplay that’s hindered by in-app purchases, probably worth the $.99. I don’t see myself paying real money to buy fake money to buy weapons upgrades, but that’s never really been my thing. Dead Trigger won’t be for everyone, due in part to the IAP and the fact that shooters on mobile devices are an acquired taste, but if that’s your sort of thing, then it’s probably worth the $.99.
Gameplay: 8/10 (Fun, but it’s still a mobile-based FPS) Graphics/Design 6/10 (Horrible decision to include IAP in a game that you already have to pay to play) Sound: 9/10 Overall: 7.7/10
From its humble beginnings as a Blackberry Twitter client, SocialScope has always seemed to be in a perpetual state of beta. I was first granted access into the SocialScope for Blackberry beta as the owner of the original Blackberry Storm (it’s going to be better than the iPhone, guys!) and it became my mainstay twitter client. When I switched the the MOTOROLA DROID the exact day I was ready to upgrade, I bid a fond farewell to SocialScope and began a relationship with Plume. A few weeks ago, tweets began flying around about a near-release ready version of “Scope” coming out for Android. With a few quick Google searches, I was able to discover that Scope was the latest iteration of SocialScope and it was available for Android. What was once just a Twitter client had now blossomed into a full blown social media hub. How does it hold up against other Android clients? Let’s dig in and find out!
What is Scope?
Scope is the latest in a growing trend of all-encompassing social media hubs. For the fast moving person on the go, it can be a huge pain to check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, MySpace (really?) and any other number of social networks, one-at-a-time and all from a mobile device. Throw in factors such as Facebook’s official app being nigh-unusable, shrinking disc space and less free time, and the solution seems pretty logical: one social media tool to rule them all. On the web, tools like Hootsuite allow users to compile all of their networks into one convenient place to check updates. The mobile space is no stranger to tools like hootsuite.
Scope attempts to join the market by integrating Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and Tumblr, allowing the user to both filter by individual network and compile all networks together. In addition to reading, Scope has tapped into the social networks’ APIs to allowing posting and interaction with posts. A user can, for example, view an instagram photo and “heart” it, all from Scope.
But, how does Scope work?
By integrating a cross-page posting tool, Scope makes it incredibly easy to post to one, some, or all of your social networks at any given time. From nearly every page, users can click on the red “+” and choose to post an update, location, image or future photo. Depending on the particular update selected, users are then directed to the appropriate entry field where they can further direct their update. Want to upload a photo, but only want it to go to tumblr and twitter? You can do that. On the opposite side of the screen is a blue drop-down menu that allows you to access all updates, or updates broken down by type. In the upper-right hand corner of the screen, a filter can be applied to drill down by specific social network.
Conclusion and Review
Scope’s interface is really fluid and intuitive, and adding social networks and using them have made this app my go-to social networking app. Images and websites are all displayed locally, but can be opened up in their respective app if you feel it necessary. Thus far, I haven’t felt it necessary, keeping the Facebook app closed the majority of the time. The Scope app is nearly flawless, with the only downsides being the fact that you cannot post images to Instagram and, at times, notfications seem to be a bit on the buggy side. In addition to this, one of my biggest complaints about Scope is a complete lack of any widgets. Come on folks, this is Android. The operating system was practically built on widgets, and to not include even a “Post Update” widget is a major flaw.
On the flip-side, the app seems really stable (it’s yet to crash on me) and is visually amazing. It’s incredibly easy to use and presents social media in a way that isn’t entirely overwhelming. Menus don’t get in the way or intrude on reading updates, and floating around the app is really easy and fun.
Guru Review Score:
Ease of Use: 8/10 (Points deducted for buggy notifications)
Graphics/Design 8/10 (No widget? Seriously?)
The wishes of Android console gamers worldwide were answered on June 13th, 2012 when Microsoft Announced that they were releasing a version of their much acclaimed mobile app to Android (2.2+) devices. Hot on the heels of the Microsoft announcement regarding “Smart Glass”, Microsoft made both updates to their iOS app, and released a similar (albeit lacking in a few features) Android app. How does the Android version stack up against its competition? How is the app in general? The Gadget Gurus puts the app through the ringer to give you the answers!
Whether you are a new smartphone user or a Guru, people are always looking for great apps. So in this special edition of Guru Gotta Have It, I’m going to show you some apps that I install right away and find really enrich my experience. Some of these are Android specific, while others are cross platform, so there is a little bit for everyone. Let’s have a look.