Posts Tagged ‘ Angry Birds ’

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.

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!

Stupid Zombies – They’re Dead Stupid

Stupid Zombies

If you can’t beat Angry Birds then copy it… and stick some zombies in there while you’re at it.
That was my first impression of Stupid Zombies and it feels unfair to level such a comment at app creators GameResort but the fact is there’s a few strong similarities going on here. Whether it’s the similar 2-word name, the level select system, the sideways-on physics based puzzle action or even the sound effect that starts each level it’s hard to ignore the essence of Angry Birds inherent within Stupid Zombies. Thankfully the main gameplay mechanic is different (and enjoyable) enough to warrant your time.
The aim of Stupid Zombies is simple, place your finger on the touch screen to fire your shotgun at the zombies. Bullets are limited so you’ll need an keen eye for ricochets and explosive scenery that will aid your survival. As you progress into the further chapters of the game you’ll come across more weapons, switches that can alter the scenery and moving zombies.
The horror theme is implemented nicely with the menus and in-game graphics providing a pleasant cartoonish vibe. There’s also some great work regarding the music motifs and the sound effects which effectively add to the atmosphere.
The in-game physics work great, decapitated zombie heads and flailing zombie bodies smoothly fly around the screen in a satisying (and amusing) fashion. Sadly there’s a couple of annoyances that prevents Stupid Zombies being an instant classic.
Firstly the old issue of pop-up ads rears it’s severed zombie head. I don’t mind ads in free games, it’s a means to an end however when they get in the way of using an app they become an annoyance. With Stupid Zombies we had a few occasions where the bottom of the playing field would become slightly obscured which hindered enjoying the game.
Secondly, aiming accurately can be difficult due to the fact that your finger is directly over the area that you wish to shoot at. If anyone at Gameresort happens to be reading this, a zoom window (like the one used in Camscanner) would be a perfect remedy.
Thirdly, and this is the worst, when you press the screen to resume a paused game you instantly fire one of your limited bullets therefore rendering your current level progress redundant.  
Don’t let these issues prevent you from trying out Stupid Zombies (it’s a free game, what have you got to lose?), it truly is an addictive game with a great visual style. There’s a ton of levels to enjoy and they’re not the immediate cakewalk that they first appear to be so expect your time to be suitably consumed.

ABOUT THIS APP – CURRENT VERSION: 1.2.2
REQUIRES ANDROID: 2.0.1 and up , CATEGORY: Arcade & Action , SIZE: 10M , PRICE: Free

Links : Android Marketplace, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Enjoyable, addictive and it’s got Zombies. Despite its flaws it’s a great game.

Squibble Lite – The Trouble With Squibbles*

Squibble Lite

When it comes to gaming on Android handsets, ‘Angry Birds’ is the big behemoth that nothing can touch right now however over in the world of iOS the folks there are currently enjoying the new challenger ‘Cut The Rope’ and I’m eagerly awaiting the Android port. Currently there’s no information on a release date but if you need something similar while you wait then Squibble Lite could be what you’re looking for.
In ‘Squibble Lite’ you play the role of Squibble, a small octopus that’s been captured by a crazy/bored/perverted scientist and your goal is to help him escape from the castle in which he is kept. Squibble moves about by using his tentacles to latch onto the surroundings and flinging himself around the environment. There are collectible items that add to replay value and obstacles to avoid that will damage your health meter. The main gameplay hook is how you use Squibble’s method of travel, you have two sticky tentacles to play with and you simply tap a piece of the environment to make Squibble shoot out a tentacle and grab it. Tapping another area will make squibble grab it with his second tentacle, from here you can make him swing ‘Spiderman’ style around the map or pull back and catapult him through the air. Don’t worry if you can’t get your head around it on paper, there’s an excellent tutorial that walks you through it all.
This is a very polished game, the graphics are perfectly realised and the levels scroll smoothly as Squibble swings and flies about the place. The makers have also thought to include a useful profiles section which allows up to three different people to save their progress in the game.
The lite version is limited to 6 levels which is plenty to give you an idea of whether you want to pay up for the full game which includes 20 levels (with more being added regularly) and costs roughly £1.80 which to some people may seem a little on the pricey side. In a marketplace full of Fruit Ninja rip-offs and poorly made games it’s nice to see something with some quality and charm come along to keep us entertained.

* – That’s the worst headline pun yet, hands down.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : Squibble Lite is a great little free game that entertains as much as it challenges. Worth downloading.

Crazy Bird – I Got 99 Problems But A Crazy Bird Ain’t One

Crazy Bird

Phew! After all that stressful Rooting & Flashing from last weekend I needed an app to help me unwind and Crazy Bird looked like just the thing I was looking for. Crazy Bird is one of the many apps currently riding on the coattails of the success that is Angry Birds. It’s description on AppBrain pulls no punches with regards to subtlety, “Can you help the angry birds find his destiny?” it asks, talk about standing on the shoulders of giants. You play the role of the ‘Crazy Bird’ (who let’s be honest isn’t really the slightest bit crazy) and your task is to jump from one disc to another making them disappear as you go whilst making your way to the final target disc. Each screen has to be totally cleared of discs before you can proceed to the next level so you’ll need to plan ahead in order to clear all the discs without stranding yourself. Later levels introduce platforms that don’t disappear or only let you move in one direction as well as bombs that explode within a number of steps.  Really this game could have been based around other, more logical themes; a frog jumping on lilypads or a mouse jumping on mousetraps but no it’s a bird jumping on discs that float in the sky, yeah that makes sense.
The game itself plays well enough, I’m sure I’ve seen this style of puzzle game somewhere before but Crazy Bird is still a simple, effective idea to casually dip into to get your brain working. There’s a charming simplicity to the presentation which firmly places the game in the realm of ‘pleasant quick distraction’ rather than ‘super-massive time vortex’. There’s still the odd rough edge, the in-game transistion from day to night is a straight switch from one to the other, a little animation would have added a little polish but really it’s just a cosmetic complaint. Blatant ‘Angry Birds’ promotional tactics aside, Crazy Bird is a fairly enjoyable free puzzle game which despite being far from a graphical tour-de-force is still enough to divert your attention for a few minutes.

Links : Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : A basic looking (which may put off some people) but a pleasant enough free puzzler that throws down a bit of challenge to keep you busy.

So I Finally Decided To Root My Android Phone

*There’s no app review today. Yesterday I decided to root my handset and write an account of how it played out. Hopefully this will help give an idea of how the process works. Normal service will resume in our next post*

I’ve been struggling for app space on my HTC Desire for a few weeks now and the idea of rooting my handset has become an increasingly attractive proposition; I have finally decided to make that leap of faith and dive into the murky world of software modding. To be honest I’m not entirely new to this, a few years ago when I owned an MDA Vario I managed to flash that with a custom rom that greatly improved its useability and performance. These are the reasons why I’m rooting and flashing my HTC Desire, plus the fact that I can’t help but fiddle with stuff I shouldn’t be fiddling with. I figured I’d take notes during the process so you can get idea of what’s involved.

Just to be absolutely clear this isn’t a guide on rooting / flashing and you should only undertake this task if you are absolutely sure about what you are doing. I take zero responsibility if you kill your phone as a result of reading this post (as I write this I havn’t actually rooted my phone yet and it’s possible that I may kill it before finishing this post). If you do decide to do this and you come across a problem I cannot help you, you’re on your own, much like I am right now.

Step 1 – Prep, Prep & More Prep : I decided to root my handset using this excellent guide over at XDA-Developers.com. I’ve read through the instructions a few times to familiarise myself with the process as well as downloaded any files ahead of time to a specific folder named ‘Android Root’ on my computer so that I’d have them handy should I need them. I find that for tasks like this you can’t do enough research so if you are thinking of doing this, read up on it first, then read up on it again.

Step 2 – Rooting : Here we go, the scary stuff. The two things I’ve done before starting is fully charge my phone and backup the sd card, with that done it’s time to get rooting. Start the clock….

00:00 – Running UnrEVOked, rooting process started.

00:01 – Stuff happening, I am chewing on my knuckles.

00:02 – A couple of handset reboots.

00:05 – ‘Done’ message appears, handset is rebooting again.

00:06 – Handset rebooted. Hey, that wasn’t so bad. My knuckles hurt though.

So now my handset is back to its main screen, everything looks the same and it all works as normal but now I have root access to the handset. Let’s get flashing.

Step 3 – Flashing a Rom : Ah right, here’s the scary stuff. I’ve installed Titanium Backup and performed the app backup procedure, I went out to get lunch while that worked its magic. As I type I’m now performing the Nandroid backup, this is saving the current state of my phone so I can always go back to square one if I need to. Now that’s done the next step is the really scary bit, totally wiping the phone, deep breath… and done.

Hmmm that was quick, it took all of a nanosecond to wipe my complete Android history, somehow that’s slightly depressing.

Now with my blank phone it’s all set for a new Rom, there are countless Rom flavours to choose from. There are Roms based on the vanilla Android OS, some with modded extras with the HTC Sense UI thrown in, the CyanogenMod Roms are very popular. I have decided to go for ‘RoDrIgUeZsTyLe™ (0.11.12) MIUIMOD [V1.8.1] BLAZING FAST & STABLE’. MIUI is a chinese variant of the Android OS, it has just the slightest whiff of iOS about it and it’s proving quite popular with those who choose to root / flash their handsets. It’s been translated and tweaked into all kinds of variants and with this one claiming to be both ‘Blazing Fast‘ and ‘Stable‘ it’s hard to say no. Here’s a video of it in action (although this clip looks strangely sped up), you might want to turn your speakers down first though.

So here we go… installing… installing… installing… and done. That wasn’t too painful.

The first reboot is taking a short while, this is due to the app cache being rebuilt. Things are already looking good, there’s a swish bootup animation which has already got my excitement perked. Now it’s booted up and woah, it’s different.

Oooh, shiny, new, different. Plus it's FAST.

More home screen real estate than you'll know what to do with.

Can't.. stop.. looking.. at.. my.. lock screen. It's lush.

Well, it’s quick and it looks great. It’s weird not having an app tray and having everything live on the home screens but with an endless amount of homescreens to fill it shouldn’t be a problem keeping things tidy.

I can use Titanium backup to recover my apps from their previous state, Handcent SMS has come back with its settings intact but is sadly lacking my previous conversations. Tweetdeck however has come back exactly how I left it so if you undertake this be prepared to start afresh with certain apps. Speaking of which, fingers crossed that I havn’t lost my Angry Birds progress! I want to get the Apps2SD aspect setup but that’s a whole new set of things to research so I’m going to stop the blog here.

In summary, my initial reaction is that I’m happy I took the plunge with this, there’s now a bit of work to do with getting things back to how they were (settings, apps, contacts etc) but it will be worth it (although I’ve had two crash/resets so far in 24 hours, hopefully this is just a case of settling in). All in all it’s worth a try if you’ve done the homework and are felling brave, all at your own risk obviously.

Finally I just want to add a huge thanks to all those who have laid the groundwork to help me do this. From writing the guides on XDA-Developers.com, making the tools that get under the bonnet of Android and those who create the Roms that improve our handsets. Thanks guys.

App Round Up – Doing It For The Kids

I love how versatile the Android platform can be. Thanks to the countless apps in the marketplace your Android handset can facilitate all kinds of situations. Something I could never do with my previous handsets was get my young children involved but now there’s all kinds of apps that your children can enjoy to help stimulate their co-ordination and spark their imaginations. For this App Round Up I have highlighted a few apps suitable for your kids to enjoy, even if you don’t have kids some of these are definately worth a try just to enjoy a change of pace from all that stressful Angry Birds action.

Ethereal Dialpad (Synthesizer) – Whilst not being strictly aimed at kids this excellent musical app is great for for messing about with whatever your age. Simply drag your finger across the screen to create flowing musical tones whilst the screen reacts to your movements. It really has to be seen to be fully appreciated and at a tiny 32kb install there’s no reason not to try it out. Recommended.
Kaleidoscope – Draw simple or complex multi-coloured Kaleidoscope images with this simple app. You can actually create some surprisingly cool results with this.

MagicMarker – A simple touch paint app that creates neon images on a black background, kinda retro but also cool. You can share your results online or save your creations as wallpaper for your android handset homescreen.

Talking Tom Cat – Over 250,000 downloads and counting. It’s a large install but it’s worth it for at least a few minutes of fun if you have room (since I installed this it would seem that install to SD is now possible). Your on-screen pet cat ‘Tom’ will respond to your voice and touch. You can pet him, grab his tale or poke him and when you speak to him he repeats what you say in a high pitched voice. You can also disable the slightly more violent animations (although my kids think they’re hilarious) as well as record videos of him in action to upload to Facebook or YouTube.

xPiano – An effective Piano app that boasts 4 octaves, 12 instruments, multitouch and a record/play function. The free version is no longer being updated but it’s still has plenty of features to make it worthwhile. There’s also a more featured stacked paid version.

Zebra Paint – Colouring in, Android style. Pick a template and start adding colour using the touch screen. Simple but great for younger children.

Hope you find some of those useful. Do you have any other suggestions? If you do, feel free to add them in the comments section.

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