Archive for the ‘ Games ’ Category

Cut The Rope ‘Free’ – Finally! IT’S HERE EVERYONE!

 Cut The Rope ‘Free’

Despite the many positive aspects of the Android scene there’s no getting around the fact that when it comes to the best apps and games iOS usually gets first dibs. One permanent fixture of my ‘can’t convert to Android soon enough’ list has been Cut The Rope. We’ve had a few knock off variants in the last few months but at last the real deal is finally here and available for free via GetJar.
Like many of the best mobile games, the premise behind Cut The Rope is simple, intuitive to play and fiendishly addictive. The goal of each level is to feed the ever-so-cute Om Nom by swiping your finger to cut the ropes that are attached to a sweet. With a little luck you’ll be able to feed Om Nom and collect up to three stars in each level, the more stars you collect the more levels you can unlock (up to 175 in all).
It’s an excellent port. The presentation is just as slick as its iOS counterpart, the physics engine has been kept intact and the game itself runs perfectly fine (although it may skip a frame or two of animation on underpowered handsets).
Being a free app, Cut The Rope is ad-supported but these are tidily kept to the bottom of the screen and don’t interfere with gameplay. If you’re feeling cheeky you could always put your handset in ‘Airplane’ mode, that way you won’t see any ads at all.
For anyone who’s partial to the occasional mobile gaming distraction Cut The Rope has more than enough to keep you occupied.

Links : Download via GetJar, Official Website

Bottom Line : An essential free gaming download for anyone with an Android handset and a pulse.

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Topple Towers Lite – Timberrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

 Topple Towers Lite

Topple Towers creator Ian Stanbridge is a very patient man. For months he has been quietly waiting for a review of his app and now, finally, after all kinds of distractions I can sit down and review Topple Towers. Sorry for the wait Ian.
Largely reminiscent of the excellent Wii game ‘Boom Blox’ the aim of Topple Towers is to use your cannon to knock down all of the red towers within each level whilst leaving the green ones intact wherever possible. Knock down too many green blocks and you fail the level. Initial stages seem simple enough but eventually lead on to more intricate challenges involving cogs and chains. It’s certainly a unique puzzle offering in a marketplace full of ‘Angry Birds’ wannabes.
Topple Towers is a challenging game, there’s a tutorial to ease you in but once the main levels get going you’ll need to flex the old grey matter in order to be up to the tasks ahead. By far the most impressive aspect is the in-game physics engine. The rendering speed is up to scratch on my HTC Desire as blocks interact and tumble in an entirely convincing fashion. There are also options in the settings menu to help those with lower spec handsets run the game.
There are some sticking points however. The controls can prove tricky to master and you don’t get the full amount of aim that you may be used to with a first person game such as this. Many a time I found myself moving into place for a shot only to find that the limited ‘aiming circle’ couldn’t give me the firing angle I desired.
The other (more superficial) issue is with presentation. It’s not entirely fair to harshly judge a product on looks especially one as unique as this but there is no avoiding the fact that the overall appearance of Topple Towers somewhat resembles an early 90’s PC game. In a marketplace where apps are stylised to within an inch of their lives Topple Towers may lose potential players with it’s dated looks, blocky menus and freezing loading screen (complete with comic sans).
If you can look past the rougher visual aspects and get the hang of the controls then Topple Towers contains some enjoyable action for fans of 3D physics puzzle games. The Lite version contains 10 levels and a tutorial for you to enjoy whilst the full product boasts over 5 times as many puzzles.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 1
  • Requires Android : 2.0.1 and up
  • Category : Games – Brain & Puzzle
  • Size : 21M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : It may not look as polished as other Android apps but for those willing to persevere there’s plenty of physics based puzzle challenges to get stuck into.

Big Cup Cricket Free – Howzat? Not bad actually.

 Big Cup Cricket Free

Me and Cricket don’t get on. We never have done thanks to it’s s-l-o-w pace and unfathomable score system. Ever since I was made to play it in school I knew it was something I wasn’t going to go back to by choice. That relationship has carried over into video games, I think the last time I played any kind of Cricket video game was on my ZX Spectrum back in 1988.
So when you think about it, Big Cup Cricket is breaking a firmly held habit of over 20 years and unbelievably I quite enjoyed it.
There’s a range of modes to get stuck into, whether it’s a one-off match, some training drills to hone your skills or The Big Cup Contest where you can pick an international team and guide them through to the world finals. The main game is played via simple touch and swipe gestures which the game reacts to very convincingly. It may all seem random at first but give it time and you’ll soon find yourself flexing your cat-like reflexes in order to catch out an opponent with a hearty ‘Howzat!’ (most satisfying).
Being a free app, adverts do make an appearance in Big Cup Cricket. They don’t get in the way of the game so much but some people may be put off by their constant presence. It’s also a shame that there’s no multiplayer options, I accept the difficulty involved in pulling such a feature off but it could have made this game a truly essential download.
As it stands I had fun with Big Cup Cricket which is a surprise given my lack of enthusiasm for the real thing. With it’s NES style graphics Big Cup Cricket makes a decent go of bringing Cricket (albeit an arcade experience of it) to your mobile device.

About This App :

  • Version Reviewed : 1.1.1
  • Requires Android : 2.1 and up
  • Category : Arcade & Action
  • Size : 9.3M
  • Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : For a quick fun diversion, Big Cup Cricket does the job. And that’s coming from a complete non-fan of cricket.

Angry Birds Rio – An Angry Bloke Review

Angry Birds Rio

Writing a review for the new Angry Birds game seems something of a redundant excercise. By the time you read this about a bajillion people will have already downloaded it. Even those who haven’t yet grabbed the latest installment from Rovio will know exactly what to expect.

So why review it?

As of three months ago 50 million people had downloaded Angry Birds. Today that total stands at a staggering 100 million and that figure will surely get a boost once the planned xbox 360, ps3 and Facebook versions are released. The range of Angry Birds plush toys have shifted 2 million units, Mattel have a board game due for release in May and there are even plans to move into animation & feature films. Angry Birds is truly a gaming phenomenon in motion, in time (if not already) it could very likely be listed alongside Mario, Sonic et al as a gaming icon of it’s generation.

So why review it?

The release of ‘Rio’ has heralded an interesting series of events within the Android scene. Rovio decided to give a timed exclusive to Amazon for the launch of their new Android App store. It all seemed very exciting, Android users would have a new outlet for Android apps. The consumer would have the option to ‘shop around’.
And then came the launch.
It soon dawned on everyone outside of America that they would not be able to enjoy Rovio’s latest release. In their infinite wisdom Amazon had limited their new marketplace to the U.S. Understandably, those unable to get the app felt hard done by. What didn’t help matters was the way those people (myself included) had to jump through hoops and make adjustments to their Amazon accounts before being told they weren’t invited to the party.
For a product with a hungry worldwide audience this was probably not the best approach. I’m genuinely surprised that given the openness of the Android platform there wasn’t an outbreak of virus/malware infested fake ‘Rio’ apk files just waiting to be installed by unsuspecting users.
I don’t blame Rovio for this, I blame Amazon. One of the main complaints against Android is fragmentation and here they are fragmenting it further based solely on location. Even now, having launched their cloud music service, there is still no known date for when the app store will be available to those outside the U.S.A. Considering how Android is perceived as a platform that is in fierce competition with iOS, this current move by Amazon appears to do more harm than good.

So why review it? So where is this bloody review?

Thankfully Rovio have released Angry Birds Rio on the Android Marketplace so now all those non-Yanks such as myself can enjoy the latest installment. I had dubious thoughts about it being a tie-in with the forthcoming movie ‘Rio’ but surprisingly the theme is a good fit for the franchise.

Seriously, worst stacking of cargo EVER.

The gameplay is the same as before but there are enough tweaks and touches to warrant losing more nights of sleep whilst trying to three-star each level. Compared to ‘Angry Birds Seasons’, ‘Rio’ has a gentler learning curve making it a great jumping off point for any newcomers to the franchise.
The graphics have also been updated, nothing revolutionary but the scrolling foregrounds and beefed up menus are enough to keep the series looking fresh.
On the subject of keeping things fresh Rovio have already planned a series of updates which will become available over the course of 2011. As usual it’s a worthwhile free download.

That’s it? That’s the review? It was more a rant about Amazon than a review of Angry Birds.

Yeah sorry about that. I had to get that whole Amazon thing off my chest.

That’s ok. It was truly a dick move on their part.

Yes, yes it was.

Ok so now you’re just talking to yourself. I think you need a lie down.

So do you.

Haha, very funny.

About This App Version Reviewed : 1.0.0
Requires Android : 1.6 and up , Category : Arcade & Action , Size : 13M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Just when you think you’re out, Rovio pull you back in. Rio is an enjoyable new chapter in the Angry Birds franchise. Bring on those updates!

Crazy Squared – Crazy x Crazy = Frustration

Crazy Squared

“It won’t just drive you crazy, it’ll drive you crazy squared!” is the official pitch for Crazy Squared. Having played it for the last 30 minutes I’m not exactly feeling crazy, I’m more mildly annoyed. Crazy Squared is simply described on the Android Marketplace as ‘Snooker meets Pinball’. From what I can tell the aim is to tilt your handset so the blue squares collide with the yellow boxes, making them disappear. If you remove all the yellow boxes before the clock runs out the level is won.
You may have spotted the unsure tone there. That is because Crazy Squared is completely lacking anything in the way of a tutorial or some kind of obvious gameplay goal which seems very unusual for a puzzle game like this.
The main problem I have with Crazy Squared is that derives it’s ‘craziness’ from being utterly random. Parts of the scenery randomly appear and vanish at will and the blocks bounce around the screen with seemingly no relation to how fast they are actually travelling.

Hmmm, yeah. Random.

 

When I passed a level, it wasn’t down to skill it was more down to sheer luck. It’s was as if my input into the game was worthless.
On the plus side the game does run very smoothly which gives the main game a slick nu-school retro feel. Apart from the ‘bouncing’, the way the blocks react to your tilting handset is also well executed. Some of the menus are perhaps a touch basic but the music and sound effects help to beef up the overall presentation.
I found myself having a frustrating time with Crazy Squared, there is something of a good idea in there but it seems lost in flurry of random-ness.

ABOUT THIS APP  – CURRENT VERSION : 1.5
REQUIRES ANDROID : 1.6 and up , CATEGORY : Arcade & Action , SIZE : 3.4M , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A puzzle game with random gameplay and a vague goal. Sadly it’s more frustrating than fun.

Speedx 3D FREE – It’s a Free 3D Free-For-All Freefall

Speedx 3D Free

Yep! You read that right, the future is here! 3D gaming has arrived on Android handsets. Although when I say 3D I’m not talking ‘Avatar’ 3D, think more along the lines of ‘The Beano in 3D’ and you’re there. If you have some old school green/red 3d specs tucked away somewhere you can pop them on and Speedx 3D Free can be played in super ‘in-yo-face-o-vision’. I managed to find my emergency 3D glasses, the 3D effect does work (kinda) but it’s not for prolonged sessions.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any cheesy 3D gogles hidden away anywhere, Speedx 3D can be played via your normal eyes. Whichever way you choose to play you are in for a treat because Speedx 3D is a graphical powerhouse of awesomeness.
Speedx 3D is a game with a simple goal, go really fast and don’t crash into stuff. It’s a tunnel racing game where you control yourself by tilting your handset from side to side. There are power ups you can collect that can protect your vehicle from impacts but for the most part you’ll be relying on your reactions. You’re going to need them because Speedx 3D is a pretty relentless game and it’s the better for it.
Previously, one of the biggest flaws I’ve had with driving games on Android handsets is with the controls. Touchscreen or tilt driving can be tricky at the best of times but SpeedX has this issue nailed. Without a doubt the tilt-sensor steering is absolutely flawless, the game does a perfect job of giving you the control you need to steer your way through the game. 

(Video courtesy of AndroidApps.com)

The graphics are truly excellent, simple in appearance yet it all moves so fast, I found myself gasping when the track opened up or folded in on itself for the first time with no hint of slowdown. This game could well look stunning on an Android tablet. Music and sound are also a perfect fit for the theme of the game, serving to enhance the futuristic setting.
There is so much that I love about this game. With each new try it keeps throwing new things at me to catch me out. Whether it’s how the tunnel changes in shape, how the obstacles move about, how the colour schemes alter in order to trip you up. To top things off there’s even OpenFeight support so you can check your high scores with your online friends.
Thumbs up also to HyperBees for keeping the ad-support strictly to the menus and allowing the game to run interruption free. The only downsides to Speedx 3D? It’s a bit of a battery drain but that’s understandable given how much processing is going on under the hood. Also, if you own a HTC Wildfire, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. According to HyperBees this game won’t run on your handset (although some Marketplace reviews do suggest otherwise).
We don’t actually give the app reviews on Android Apt any kind of score rating but if we did, SpeedX 3D Free would be a flat out 5/5.

About This App – Current Version : 1.12.6 / FREE
Requires Android : 1.5 and up , Category : Arcade & Action , Size : 4.0M , Price : Free

Links : Android Marketplace , Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : An amazingly slick game. Simple but addictive and always a fresh experience with every game. For a free game it’s an absolute must try.

GRave Defense Silver FREE – You Say Defense, I Say Defence, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off

GRave Defense Silver FREE

Tower Defence Games eh? They’re like Zombies. They’re everywhere! Now we have a game that combines both Tower Defence AND Zombies (well, mutated monsters but it’s all the same), how can I refuse such a double whammy?

Personally I’ve never really understood the point behind this particular game genre despite being unable to ignore it’s ever-growing popularity. A quick search for ‘Defence’ on AppBrain displays a whole gaggle of Tower Defence games based on all kinds of different themes.
Once I started up GRave Defense Silver for the first time I could see why there were so many Tower Defence Games. In no time at all I had become addicted to one them. Damn!

Things are pretty calm right now, it'll kick off before long.

The aim of ‘GRave Defense Silver’ is to prevent the horde of the undead making their way into your safe haven by installing and upgrading weapon emplacements. As you progress through each level more varieties of guns are available as well as more variations of zombies to use them on.
GDS makes an attempt to shovel in a story via a lengthy text based intro before each level. To be honest this approach comes off a little po-faced especially when compared to other zombie video game fare such as Left 4 Dead or Stupid Zombies (which we reviewed last week).
Once the intro is done the blasting can begin. The map layouts in each level are visually varied, they make great use of the space available on a mobile device and the scenery is very nicely detailed.
Gameplay runs smoothly with only minimal slowdown when the screen becomes packed with monsters making their way all over the map. There’s a pretty good difficulty curve with each level needing a few tries before survival is assured (which also adds to the ‘one more go’ factor). The only major compaint I have is regarding the collectable power-ups that occasionally appear. They sometimes don’t respond to your touch and they time out pretty quickly. Sometimes they’re gone before you even get a chance to notice them.
There’s two game modes, story and survival mode each with a range of difficulty levels to keep you busy. GDS also includes OpenFeight support so you can compare your unlocked achievements with your friends. There’s also a Facebook tab which to be honest I didn’t get involved with (I didn’t feel much like sharing my Facebook account).
I can’t deny that there’s something I find addictive about building and upgrading defences in order to take out wave upon wave of bloodthirsty zombies. More than once I found myself finishing a game GDS only to discover that I’d been playing for far longer than I had originally planned. For a free game, that can’t be bad.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION : 1.0.0

REQUIRES ANDROID : 1.5 and up , CATEGORY : Arcade & Action , SIZE : 3.1M , PRICE : Free

Links : Android Marketplace , Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Well made, plenty of content to enjoy and very addictive. Worth adding to your Android game collection.

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