Following up on the surprise-success of their hit “Monsters Ate My Condo”, Adult Swim Games recently released “Major Mayhem” onto Android and iOS platforms. A free-to-play, on-rails shooter, Major mayhem combines power-ups with running and gunning for a fast-paced, action-packed mobile game. Does it get promoted up the ranks, or is the Major destined to be a Private for the rest of his life?
Major Mayhem is the latest action game released by Adult Swim Games. You play Major Mayhem, on a mission to save the world, and his girlfriend in 45 levels on non-stop action. Controls are extremely simple, with the player being able to do one of three things at any giving time: jump, shoot and throw grenades. At any given time, you’re also able to select various power-ups that assist the major in his adventures. The game is extremely simple to pick-up and play, and once you figure out that you’re rewarded for each additional amount of damage and mayhem, you risk become instantly addicted to the style. You’ll fight ninjas, secret agents and other assorted terrorists. You might even fight a surprise enemy or two.
Major Mayhem is gorgeous. The environments are colorful and bright, and after a recent update, graphics move fluidly and crisp and there’s no lull in action regardless of how many bullets and projectiles are on-screen. The design of the game is really tough to beat. Controls are simple to pick up and fun to master, and each level is just long enough to make you wanting more, ready to pick up the next level in a never-ending, constantly addicting cycle. This game is a lot of fun, both to play and to look at, and should keep you enthralled with simple, fun gameplay. You’ll note that I’ve mentioned very little about the free-to-play, fee-to-win design choice. You don’t actually have to spend a dime to make Major Mayhem a lot of fun, and have a great experience out of it.
The sound design of Major Mayhem will make you feel as though you’ve been dropped right in the middle of Rambo, Saving Private Ryan or Platoon. Each bullet sounds great, and the background music is fun and easy to leave on and have on during gameplay. While probably not a game that I’d play wearing headphones (the bullets would get annoying) it was still a lot of fun to have playing. I frequently turn the volume down on most games, especially short-burst games like this, so I’m able to hear ambient sounds, but Major Mayhem’s sound is fun enough to leave up.
Major Mayhem is a lot of fun, and a definite pick-up for your mobile device. The levels are short enough to keep you entertained, and wanting to come back for more. Pick this game up and have a lot of fun with it!
Gameplay: 10/10 (A lot of fun and a solid run-and-gunner)
Graphics/Design 10/10 (Clean, fluid graphics and excellent design choices)
Sound: 9/10 (Not a game I’d wear headphones while playing, but good sound design)
By now, even if you’ve only ever heard about this fancy thing called “The Internet”, there’s a good chance that you’ve also heard about the social network known as “Pinterest”. In short, Pinterest is a sort-of scrap-booking/pinboard/digital-locker-for-ideas type of website. In reality, it’s pretty tough to describe what, exactly, Pinterest is and what you do with it. Sure enough, though, ask anyone and they’ll tell you they’ve at least used the site. More recently, Pinterest seems to favor the fairer sex with regards to usage statistics, but there are certainly uses for all folks of all shapes and sizes. As a photographer, it’s a great place for a digital scrapbook for ideas! But this isn’t a review about Pinterest, the website, but rather the recent Android release of their native app (Play Store Link).
It’s obvious from the length of time that it’s taken Pinterest to get this app onto Android that they’ve been doing SOMETHING behind the scenes. Without a doubt, they’ve been taking the time to make this look and feel like one of the best experiences that a person can have digitally collecting…stuff and sharing it with friends and family. The app is smooth and fluid, pictures look great, and the way that posts are arranged gives it a really great presentation that’s easy on the eyes and extremely easy to lose a lot of time to while browsing for hours upon hours (just ask my wife). The app works in both landscape and portrait mode, and (presumably) would look absolutely fantastic on any number of Android’s tablet devices.
The Pinterest app makes the actual act of “pinning” things very easy. As with nearly every app on Android, the Pinterest app is baked into the “share” functionality of just about everything. Find a neat website that you want to share out with friends? The Pinterest app makes it really easy to do so. Along with sharing pins, the app makes viewing other folks’ pins fairly easy as well. My only “con” with this app would be the fact that viewing your friends list has no real way to find who you’re looking for in the app. Instead, users are forced to scroll through an arbitrarily-sorted list of all of the people they follow. Personally, I find the lack of that feature a disappointment. I frequently want to search for specific users, and can’t seem to find a way to do that. One feature that I do find really useful (especially as a content creator) is the protection offered to pins that aren’t properly shared. This seems to be the biggest complaint about Pinterest; that being that it often-times does not give credit back to the creator. The app seems to offer a bit of protection.
After an extremely long wait (at least in terms of apps) receiving the Pinterest app for Android has been well worth it. The app works well, makes it easy to browse and share content and does everything you’d want in an Android app. At a cost of free, there’s absolutely no reason any Pinterest user shouldn’t have this on their Android phone. Go ahead and pick this one up, and start pinning!
How does a company enter a market that is 6 years old? Slices for Twitter (Currently ad-supported in the Play Store) hopes to answer that question as it takes the Android community by storm. With features not found in any other Twitter client, Slices puts a new twist on Twitter in the mobile market. Are the changes and additions enough to make this a daily driver for the average Twitter user? Is the app strong enough to hold up against the plethora of other apps currently on the market? Let’s find out!
So, in a market that seems to get a new Twitter client almost weekly, how can a company make their app stand out in the crowd? If you’re OneLouder, you attempt to completely change the way that people view their timeline. Normally, users get a chronological timeline of tweets, oftentimes losing track of where they’ve started and stopped. This list can get exponentially more difficult to follower if a user has a larger-than-average follower/following list. What Slices does is allow you to take your followers and group them based on common characteristics. Slices will also attempt to auto-populate a few Slices to give you an example of what can exist in the “Slices”. I found that the slices that it did create for me were pretty accurate, but not necessarily slices that I would normally keep and check. In all honesty, I’m still at a loss as to how Slices is any different than the often-forgotten Twitter lists feature. I totally get what they’re trying to do with their Slice mentality. By breaking your timeline into slices, you’re able to follow events live, bookmark favorite accounts and discover new people to follow, but I’m just not 100% sure it’s a feature worth building an app around.
What It Gets Right
One of the best features of Slices is the ability to follow along with Live Events. As per their app description, “Each stream displays a feed of tweets from the “right” people for today’s events, like sports, TV shows, and other happenings.” This is a great feature right now, making following things like the Olympics fairly easy.
Presentation-wise, Slices is a very nice looking app. The menu system is easy to understand and navigate through, and the style and design of the app make this one of the better looking Twitter apps out on the market. OneLounder has an excellent pedigree, especially in the field of Twitter, with their older app TweetCaster being an Editor’s Choice App, and one of the best reviewed on the market. It’s no surprise, then, that Slices follows in their footsteps in regards to design and presentation.
Slices also does some amazing things in the stat-tracking department. Slices gives you the ability to see daily stats about followers, tweets, trends and things happening worldwide. If you’re a power Twitter user, Slices definitely has some features you’ll find interesting and useful.
Where it Falls Short
There’s a disturbing trend happening in the Google Play store as-of-late, and it seems to be particularly affecting Twitter applications. It seems that each new Twitter client that comes out is only being released with partial features. This app, for example, doesn’t allow you to reply-to-all. Seriously? Reply-to-All is one of the most basic features necessary in any mobile app. Twitter is all about sharing conversations with people, and to not be able to do that is a glaring omission. To add insult to injury, there is no auto-population of usernames if you “@” somebody. These two lacking features make having conversations with more than one person incredibly difficult to maintain.
The app is also a bit buggy. I’d love to chalk it up to the fact that I was running CM10 on my Galaxy Nexus, but in an un-related move I installed a different ROM (Eclipse 2.0, if you’re wondering) and the app still had issues. My most-often found bug seemed to be related to the timeline. I could be in the middle of scrolling, and the app would be loading new tweets. When the tweets were loaded, the timeline snapped back to the location I had started my scroll. It got to be really frustrating if my timeline loading more than 20 or so new tweets. I constantly felt like I was backtracking.
The notifications also seemed to just randomly occur. I had mine set to every 10 minutes, but found myself opening the app after 15 or so and finding that I had missed a few replies at the 7-minute mark. Notifications seem to be one of the toughest things an Android developer has to deal with, and Slices just hasn’t nailed it cleanly on this app.
Slices definitely seems like it was developed for a very niche market. It’s unfortunate, then, that the market they’re targeting was not the market of which I’m currently a member. The features outside of the “Slice” feature are really nice, but not something I find myself using constantly. If I need analytical data about tweets, there’s a good chance I’m in front of a computer where I can see that information a lot better. There aren’t a whole lot of events I need to follow live, either. Twitter does enough of that on its own.
Slices is not going to be my daily driver for Tweeting. In fact, at the time of writing this review, I’ve actually uninstalled the app. Don’t get me wrong, Slices is probably a great app. It’s designed incredibly well, for the people who are going to use those features, and it really is easy on the eyes. But it’s busy and, as my brain slips further and further into old age an senility, I need less clutter when it comes to Twitter. If stat tracking, live streaming, and organization are what you’re looking for in a Twitter client, I cannot recommend Slices enough. Let me re-iterate that.
If you like organizing your Twitter world into oblivion, love live streaming/tweeting events and want to track every stat under the sun (Twitter related), then Slices is the app you need.
But for me? Slices is just one of those knives you keep in your drawer, and only pull out to show off every once in a while.
With the latest update to the Android version of Spotify, the company has finally brought the long-awaited Radio feature to mobile handsets. Having already been on iOS and the PC/Mac version for a few weeks now, many Android users were left wondering when they would get their update and what features it would bring to their version of Spotify. How does it stack up to the previous version? How does it stack up against other radio-like apps on Android?
The latest update, as previously mentioned, brings a feature that is relatively new to Spotify as a whole, and definitely new to the mobile versions. With the new Radio feature, users are now able to build “stations” around artists, songs and genres that select similar music. As if thanking Android users for waiting patiently, Spotify has also included the radio feature for users of the non-premium version of Spotify. Spotify offsets the loss of subscription by playing ads throughout the radio play.
How does it work? In my brief time using it, I would have to say that the Spotify Radio feature works pretty darn well. There are two different methods for selecting and creating radio stations. Users first have the option of building a station through artist/genre/song search. By selecting a result, a station is then built up based on similarities. Users then have the ability to “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” songs that they like or dislike in an effort to better fit the station to their liking. I particularly like this feature for the random times the comparison algorithm picks a song that I don’t feel fits. Having a Lionel Richie song pop up in my station based on “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” might seem to fit on paper, but one listen and you’ll see they just aren’t a match.
The other option users have is creating a station based upon a pre-existing playlist. This feature is actually really neat, especially if you’ve got an eclectic playlist.
How does Spotify stack up against its competitors? It really seems that they’ve taken a little bit of everyone else and added it into their product. With the “Music Genome” aspect of Pandora, Spotify builds playlists based around musical similarities. Adding in playlist based stations, Spotify seems to be going after I Heart Radio and Slacker Radio. About the only thing missing from the Spotify Radio is the “mood selection” found in the more recent Android App, Songza. I’ve personally never been a huge fan of music being selected by mood, so I’m pretty much okay with that feature not being included in Spotify.
With On-demand music and a huge selection, Spotify has always been my personal go-to for streaming music. With the added feature of a “Radio”, Spotify doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere in my plethora of music apps. This latest update really brings a completeness to Spotify, and aligns it with it’s big brother on the PC and Mac. My family currently pays for two Spotify premium accounts so if this post doesn’t show you how much I like the service and apps, that fact alone should speak volumes. I really like what Spotify has done so far, and can’t wait to see where Spotify goes in the future.
JAZZ: Trump’s Journey, a recent iOS platformer released last week on Android OS, is a platformer set in the early 20th Century. You play Trump, a jazz musician on a quest to win the heart of his love, find success in music, and generally enjoy all that relates to early 20th century Jazz. (An interesting sidenote from the developers: Jazz closely parallels with the story of Louis Armstrong) In a world filled with Angry Birds and hundreds of other puzzle solving platformers, does Jazz have what it takes to make some noise in the crowd?
In JAZZ: Trump’s Journey, you play an aspiring young musician named Trump. You start your journey at your Ma’s house, eager to hit the road and become a famous musician. Jazz is, at it’s heart, a completely pure platformer. You’ll spend the game jumping from platform to platform, attempting to gather music notes and photos to complete murals above each set of levels. As you progress, you’ll find increasingly difficult puzzles, and enlist the help of bandmates, all in an attempt to make it big. Controls are your standard, on-screen directional buttons, with various action buttons appearing on the right side of the screen in a context-sensitive nature.
Jazz is a beautiful game, especially on the 4.6″ screen of the Galaxy Nexus. Graphics flow beautiful through the well-designed levels. Colors pop on the screen and really make the experience enjoyable. Jazz also has one of the first on-screen set of controls I’ve ever been able to really enjoy. The controls don’t get in the way of the graphics, and the fact that most of them are context-sensitive (up and down, for example, only show up near ladders) really helps to keep screen real estate clean and clear.
As for other design decisions, Jazz allows you to play the first two levels for free, and is currently providing the remaining levels at a discount of $.99 until August 6th. I can say, without a doubt, that this game is well worth the $.99 purchase.
One would only expect that a game with “Jazz” in the title would have an excellent soundtrack, right? If that was your assumption, you wouldn’t be far off from the truth. The soundtrack and effects are absolutely, hands-down, the best part about Jazz: Trump’s journey. Starting out with a subtle and smooth baseline really makes you feel like you’re in early 20th century New Orleans, and it only gets better from there. As you progress through the game, instruments are added and the pace of the music seems to pick up. This is one of those games that you’re going to want to play with headphones so that you don’t miss a single note.
With a solid platform presence and a great soundtrack, it’s tough for Jazz to not make its way onto your android device. If you don’t enjoy jazz music, you can stay for, at the very least, a fun platform puzzler. If that kind of music is your thing, it’s an added bonus. At $.99, it’s almost a no-brainer to pick this one up if you’re looking for something to break the monotony of Angry Birds and Words With Friends. A really strong Android game to add to your repertoire.
Gameplay: 10/10 (A lot of fun and a solid platformer)
Graphics/Design 10/10 (Clean, fluid graphics and excellent on-screen controls)
Sound: 10/10 (Fantastically calming and fun to have playing in the background)