Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Plants vs. Zombies

written by: Nick Kosmides

Pop Cap Games has fulfilled their promise to bring Plants vs Zombies to Android devices care of the Amazon Appstore, finally.  In the famous words of someone I knew, "Its been a long time coming."  And it has.  Plants vs Zombies was released on PC May of 2009 and saw its first portable port to iOS devices in February of 2010.  A year later it was released on PSN, DS, DSi and even as plush toys!  Now we can add Android to that list.  But come on!  Plush toys came out first!  (Check out what other unique PvZ stuff has come out here...)

Now that we have it, what's the big deal?  Well, I was a non-believer and swore I could never get into this game.  I played it once and have completely reversed my thinking.  Its awesome!  Funny, witty, slow yet quick.  If you've never played it, do yourself a favor and don't start now unless you completely finished playing Uncharted 2, because this may replace that.  I can't think of an XBOX 360 equivalent to the awesomeness that is Uncharted 2 because there just isn't one.  We'll just use Call of Duty to save the argument.

We do have a problem with this new release.  It isn't all roses and carnations growing in this pot.  If you own a Droid X, Y, or Z you may not be able to play.  Other unplayable devices on the product page include Samsung Transform and Intercept, HTC Aria, HTC MyTouch 3G, Sony Ericsson X8, Sanyo Zio, Kyocera Echo, and the LG Ally.  There are no specifics as to why these devices have been singled out of the plant on zombie carnage, but as we all know by now, these apps must be optimized for each device.  And same goes for Apple's iPhone and iPod line.  There are now enough iOS devices and versions to exclude certain models in certain apps.  My 2nd Gen iPod isn't compatible with the latest iOS 4.x and therefor I can't download quite a bit.

If Plants vs Zombies is on your wish list at all, jump on this freebie today and today only, before the Amazon cash cow eats your brains!

Plants vs. Zombies - $2.99 FREE

Monday, May 30, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Gaia GPS

written by: Nick Kosmides

With all this connectivity and wireless-ness in today's devices people seem to have forgotten how the early settlers and trailblazers got around, instinct and maps; paper maps.  Gaia GPS aims at bringing mountain bikers and hikers alike the old topographical maps of yore for downloading and viewing on your Android device.

Don't confuse this with Google Maps or even compare it, because the maps part is where the similarities end.  Gaia accesses many different map services for users immediate needs when hitting the back country.  MyTopo, Cloudmade Topo, OpenStreetMap Road, Cloudmade Road, Cloudmade Shaded, and Midnight are the available map sources.  Don't ask me about them, cause you'll just have to toy with them yourself.  I did discover they deliver different types of maps.  Some topo backcountry and some provide streets or trails.

Save maps to your SD card so you can nav without a 3G/4G data or cell connection.  This is the defining difference against Google Maps.  Much like a true GPS unit.  Never get lost again.  Unless your battery dies, whoops.

Gaia GPS - $9.99 FREE

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Cardio Trainer Pro

written by: Nick Kosmides

Today's free app from Amazon happens to be the most expensive freebie every gifted to the masses.  At $9.99, Cardio Trainer Pro is not your typical exercise app.  With 40 different ways to get fit, using this means you want to put order in your exercise routine where there is chaos.  A chaotic routine isn't much of a routine at all.

After telling Cardio Trainer Pro what exercises you want to do and when, it will alert you when its time to get moving.  Beginning a workout will start the map and introduce you to all sorts of tools that don't exist on Google Maps normally.  The level of accuracy can be tailored to your GPS signal to get the best line drawn during your trek across whatever countryside you choose.

While setting up my biking routine for the week I noticed the ability to sync your treks to my Google Health account.  The pro version also includes audio and video feedback during your workout.  Set the feedback at different intervals and have it motivate you until you reach your time or distance goals.

While this is the priciest app available free to us, you must download the Cardio Trainer lite version before using the pro features.  So git to it and lets change the face of America one exercise at a time.

Cardio Trainer Pro - $9.99 FREE

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Yoo Ninja!

written by: Nick Kosmides

Conveniently created by a developer named Runner Games, though published by Wuzla for the Amazon Appstore for Android, Yoo Ninja! (ad-free) is today's free app of the day.

Runner Games doesn't specialize in the Runner game genre, even though you would think so given the evidence.  As for Wuzla, they are responsible for several of their own apps on the Android Market and have generously brought nearly all the Runner Games games over to the Amazon Appstore.  And this seems to have generated some confusion in reviewers.  Though I'm not surprised, because if one were to search for Yoo Ninja you'll find a game of the exact same name on the app store for iOS made by O2sun.  Hmm.

The game is fun and not what I expected.  Having played nearly a dozen or so runner type games, Yoo Ninja is a noticeable and welcomed change in the genre.  Instead of running and jumping over gaps from one platform to another, Yoo Ninja has you running and jumping over gaps from the floor to the ceiling and back again.

This adds a puzzling aspect to the game that otherwise doesn't exist in other runners such as the great I Must Run!

Give it a try yourself for the low low price of nothing!

Yoo Ninja! - $1.99 FREE

Friday, May 27, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Abduction 2

written by: Nick Kosmides

Having owned this game for quite a while and nearly completed it, Abduction 2 can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.  Meaning, don't get caught playing it when you could be playing Super Dynamite Fishing instead.

Seriously, this game definitely appears to be a children's game.  Graphically it uses a lot of bright basic colors.  The backgrounds are nice to look at and the level of difficulty slowly gets more difficult through the Adventure Mode as you progress.

To play, simply lean your Android device either left or right to move the character in the corresponding direction.  If you move too far left you'll discover there is wrap around, meaning you can jump through the left side of the screen to get to the right.

For me, getting roped into an hour long session of jumping is easy to do.  Why don't you give it try, I think you ought to.

Abduction 2 - $1.99 FREE

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Hundred Pushups

written by: Nick Kosmides

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?  Ever wondered how you got so flabby?  Well don't waste precious time wondering about how you packed it on, when all you need to do is push it off.  With Hundred Pushups, free today in the Amazon Appstore for Android!

That was my best infomercial impression this late at night, which actually makes sense.  I'm actually really looking forward to using this app.  Previously having looked for workout related apps from Amazon and the Android Market, I've been stuck on GPS tracking programs like My Tracks by Google, for tracking various stats during my bike rides.

Hundred Pushups is based on a "popular" website program whereby you focus on one excercise, the pushup, to achieve common health goals.  Only 30 minutes a week for six weeks and you too can increase the definition in your chest, abs, triceps and shoulders.  Best of all, no gym membership or extra equipment to purchase!  Plus its free, not that a buck was that bad anyway.

Don't expect this app to be a very good coach.  All it asks of you is to not lie when inputting your results.  The rest is up to you.  Now if you end up making a routine of this and want to share your results, the app has Facebook and Twitter integration.

Click the mouse below before dropping down to give them 20.

Hundred Pushups - $0.99 FREE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Walkabout

written by: Nick Kosmides

Quick Summary of Yesterday's Free App:
You may have noticed I skipped yesterday's free app of the day.  It was for a reason not related to good journalism.  In case you missed it, or think you missed it, yesterday's free app was a texting client called textPlus GOLD Free Text + Group Text.  Yup, that whole thing is what Amazon says its called.  I'm pretty sure its just supposed to be textPLUS GOLD, though whats with the caps?  

TextPlus GOLD forces assigns you a new phone number to use for texting through the app exclusively.  Not only would you need to have another phone number used only for texting, but so would everyone you intend to text with.  You can use textPlus as your default texting app for carrier SMS and simultaneously use it for textPlus messaging.  The app requires use of the internet to send and receive their texts while your carrier does not.  A better alternative to this app is easily Google Voice.  It also gives you a new number, but allows you to text from a computer and stores all communications to the cloud.  No app needed, though there is a good one on both Android and iOS.


Walkabout is free today and is a welcomed awakening in the world of puzzle collect-a-thons.  Jerry Lee Lewis would love this thing.  

The Amazon video shows the gameplay best.  Move around the play field quickly one square at a time to collect all the stars.  You cannot move back to the square you were previously occupying. Just swipe your finger anywhere on the screen to move.  Your are scored in stars for collecting stars within a specified time.  This is where I call shenanigans.  Every level has you collecting no less than four stars, yet you are only given three stars or less back in your score!  Where are the rest of the stars going?  Taxes?  Little John come to collect?  Maybe to help rebuild the nation you are destroying by walking on squares of land and taking the stars that allow them to exist?   

Walkabout is a great little game with an upbeat score and cute graphics.  The game description says "8-bit" look but everything is far too smooth for an 8-bit look.  At least a 16-bit look.  I'm not sure if that's an upgrade or downgrade.  Ironic isn't it?

Hit up the link to take you directly to the Amazon store and get it today for free!

Walkabout - $0.99 FREE

Monday, May 23, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Aces® Bubble Popper

written by: Nick Kosmides

Aces® Bubble Popper is a fast paced addictive game of popping bubbles against the clock.  New to the Amazon Appstore for Android and free today, this game is surprisingly fun when compared to other bubble poppers of our time.

Three modes of play include Classic, Timed and Super Action.  All gameplay is played in landscape view with the game field taking up most of the screen which is really nice.  The colors could be a bit brighter, but the overlay effects and general UI are very nice looking.  Between rounds you'll play little mini games that are a nice break from the bubble genocide.

People may complain about games like this being a little too kid-friendly for adults to play, but its just like any mobile game, a time waster.  I am a strong believer in the belief that there is only a handful of games, and less mobile developers who have made a game, with the lasting appeal of a console or handheld game.

I would suggest this game to anyone who breathes air.  Its not a bad game at all and reminds me of what a bubble popping game would look like if PopCap Games made one.  You could do better things with your time than play games on your phone, but if you're going to play games on your phone then this isn't a bad one to play.

Aces® Bubble Popper - $2.99 FREE

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Retro Camera Plus

written by: Nick Kosmides

Good Sunday morning.  It kinda of feels like I should run outside and snap some photos with my new Retro Camera Plus app that Amazon is so kind to give away for free today.

Bringing with it six different old school cameras for different light leaking and vignetting effects.  The square images offer color or black and white exposures, depending on the camera, to give you even more options.  If you are a fan of sharp and accurate photos, this app is not for you.  If you want to add a unique flare and scratches to your pics, plus have them be square, then go download this thing now.

Retro Camera Plus - $2.99 FREE

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Baseball Superstars 2011

written by: Nick Kosmides

Baseball Superstars 2011, currently on sale in the Android Market, is free in the Amazon Appstore.  I get a chuckle when situations like this occur.  People are buying up this app in the Android Market because its cheap and on sale and they liked the free version enough to merit an upgrade to eliminate the ads.  And yet one day later its absolutely free on the competitor's app store.

Reading some of the reviews leads me to believe a lot of people don't understand how to play this game.  Some are complaining about the graphics, about the performance, about the permissions, and about nothing.  Man I hate it when people post a 1-star review that doesn't say why they gave it one star.  And what's worse is if the review was posted from the app on their phone it requires minimum 20 words so they just typed random crap.  I've decided to write a piece on why people abuse online rating systems yet don't vote in state and national elections.

In my experience playing the game, I have had a lot of fun.  I enjoy the graphics and presentation because it reminds me of my NGP-c.  No, not the Next Generation Portable from Sony, read PSP2.  The Neo Geo Pocket Color games all have this character look to them.  From SNKs baseball and tennis games to Capcom vs SNK and King of the Fighters.  This is definitely where Gamevil got the inspiration, or maybe the artists, for this series of games.

The first time I saw this game was on my buddy's iPhone about 3 years ago.  It has changed enough over the years, including new game modes outside of the standard Exhibition and Season Play.  In Baseball Stars 2011, you can play in My League mode as either a Batter or Pitcher.  If you've played MLB The Show 's Road to the Show mode then you can guess what My League mode is about.  Plus, after you create a character in My League mode you can use that character in the games home run derby, HR Race.  There you can earn G points that can be used in My League mode to enhanced your player's stats.

The secret to hitting home runs may sound really common knowledge, but you'd be surprised how bad about 90% of you are at video games.  Having been part of an elite group of professional video game testers for the better part of 7 years, I have an innate ability to tear apart a game's meaning without knowing a single line of code.  Much in the way a programmer forward thinks a programs functionality and design as the code is being written, and without testing every single command line for the desired effect.  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the secret to home runs in this game is to... wait for the ball to cross the plate.

Considering you have a decent phone with some memory reserves go and download this game.  Sports fans and SNK fans alike will enjoy the experience Gamevil has created.

Baseball Superstars 2011 - $4.99 FREE

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Tweetcaster Pro

written by: Nick Kosmides

Tweetcaster Pro for Android now available for free on the Amazon Appstore, also for Android.  Its funny that they felt the need to add that to the title.  Of course its for Android if its from anywhere but the App Store for iOS!

This is yet another app I will not need.  As the digital space is being bombarded by attacks on people's personal data across the many big businesses out there, I make an effort not to spread myself too thin.  In other words, I don't tweet.  Having used Facebook for so long I just don't see the need for Twitter.  So someone may need to explain how they use it in their daily lives to better themselves.

Though, if you are one of the millions on Twitter, then Tweetcaster Pro is definitely something you can use instead of the stock Twitter app.  Based on reviews alone, at half past midnight, Tweetcaster Pro has an overwhelming amount of 5-star reviews with only one 1-star review.

Here is the low down of what services TweetCaster Pro provides users:
"TweetCaster Pro for Android gives you ad-free access to all of the basic Twitter features you know and love, along with a number of new functions to help improve your experience. Post updates, send direct messages, and share photos, videos, and links with your friends and followers--all in 140 characters or less. A variety of themes and built-in services let you customize the app to suit your needs."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Debt Payoff Planner

written by: Nick Kosmides

The Android Market would be wise to copy the free app a day model that the App Store for iOS and Amazon Appstore for Android use.  Not only does it assist budding app developers increase their exposure it also allows the community to weigh in on exactly how good or bad an app is.  I say this out of kindness and respect for developers, having come from a game testing background myself.  Its hard to execute an idea let alone come up with one in the first place.

Debt Payoff Planner is free today in the Amazon Appstore.  At the moment it became free at nearly 12:05am, it had one review.  Now typically that is the developer attempting to pad their own reviews and help themselves get noticed solely on the one 5-star review.  Since that time, about ten and a half hours have passed and the review count is as follows:
5-star: 21
4-star: 3
3-star: 5
2-star: 2
1-star: 20
That's what I call a split decision.  So what kind of debt solver is this?  Well, I can't answer that because I'm not in debt.  Well, a house payment and a small car payment I guess counts as debt, but I'm confident that its handled.  This app is designed to assist you with organizing your debts, payments, due dates, interest rates and other related details all in one place.  Just as long as it doesn't store your account numbers and passwords, then ask for your PSN login.

Lastly, a comment about the reviews.  As I'm not going to download this one because I will not use it, I sought out the reviews of users who have tried it.  On one hand Amazon does not require that you actually download an app to submit a review.  This comes from the extent of Amazon's other wares for sale.  If you say you own it, then you can review it.  This, coupled with the fact that devs review their own stuff while pretending to be consumers is why reviewers now feel the need to use their own reviews to point this out to everyone else.

Debt Payoff Planner - $0.99 FREE

I must quote some of these reviews for this all to become clear.  In order as they were written:
"(4-stars) You ppl are ridiculous !
who cares if the dev. review the app??? just
try it out and see for yourself.. you can't be
so stupid to think you will get debt free just
by d/l this app. give it a rest..."

"(1-star) Step 1 for debt reduction
don't download this silly app. pay off lowest
debts first to snow ball debt payoff like Dave
Ramsey says. his plans are free and work

"(5-stars) Stop your crying
Have any of you actually even opened the
app. Lowest to highest debt is their if you
were to actually look. People, come on. Are
you actually this stupid? It works..."


"(1-star) Crap, pathetic attempt to grab money
I wouldent pay a turd for this app. Woefully
inadequate for a paid app, and the reviews
seem deceptive after reviewing the app itself..."

"(5-stars) Really silly little trolls.....really?
Holy crap people....are you actually reading
the dev. reviews?? Cancer...Arnold....do you
people even know what a joke is...even if its
a bad one...still a joke."

"(5-stars) Arnold schwarzeneger one of
my fav actors
I love reading reviews it's like a mini soap
show pple whine way too much oh no the
developer left reviews omg so did their
friends boohoo who cares?!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - The Impossible Game

written by: Nick Kosmides

The Impossible Game just may fulfill that Contra craving or Mario marathon you been wanting all in one package, and on your smartphone.

Free today and containing a little more than frustrating gameplay, The Impossible Game is not that impossible.  Its in a game genre I can "Jumper" filled with other games where all you do is jump over things.  And this game has plenty of things to jump over including triangles, deadly gaps and floating stairs.  That's just the first level which you'll most likely spend your first hour on.

Fortunately, the designers included a training mode for each level otherwise known as Practice Mode.  While in Practice Mode you can place checkpoint flags behind you.  For an added challenge there is a separate in-game medal and progress meter for completed the level without using any flags.

If you've played this on XBOX 360 or iPhone/iPod Touch before, then don't expect anything new.  Except for the fact that the Android community gets to play the game for free!

The Impossible Game - $0.99 FREE

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Amazon’s Free App of the Day - Chuzzle

written by: Nick Kosmides

Chuzzle by Popcap Games is available now exclusively on the Amazon Appstore for Android.

If you've never played a PopCap Games game, shame on you.  Bejeweled is one of the most popular puzzle games on the planet, somewhere between Tetris and Lumines.  Match-3 is the game type PopCap is known for and Chuzzle fits the mold.

Colorful fuzzy balls with eyes fill the screen waiting to be matched in sets of three of the same color.  They must be touching, not necessarily in a row like Bejeweled.  For example, an L-shape configuration of matching Chuzzles will do the trick.  Watch them explode and possibly create a chain reaction.  Also, some Chuzzles may become locked making it impossible to slide that row and column.  Special chain reactions will create a 2x2 Chuzzle, which can add up to more points for your chain.  If you see a Chuzzle glowing ever so slightly, he/she will cause an explosion that will take out a large mass of neighboring Chuzzles for a near genocide effect.

Chuzzle is a fun colorful puzzle game that will go great in your collection of free Amazon apps.  Plus, the more it gets downloaded, the more games PopCap will bring to Android devices this year.  Including Plants vs Zombies which should arrive to the Amazon Appstore next week.  I'm excited for that one, but will not hold my breathe for Bejeweled 2 Blitz.  Heck, maybe we'll get Bejeweled 3 before Bejeweled 4 comes out to every other platform in 2012.

Chuzzle - $2.99 FREE

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

written by: Nick Kosmides

I'm not an advocate of handing your $600 cell phone over to a preschool aged child, though Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (or MPL as I call it) is.  Free today, if you've got childrens in your life, hit up the store and grab this game just to say you own it.  Heck, there is nothing wrong with giving this a go yourself.

A couple nice things about this app are that its relatively original.  Its not trying to copy any other company's leaping frogs or mini mouses, if you know what I mean.  MPL also is brightly colored while maintaining focus on the puzzle being presented.  The pace is relatively quick for a children's learn game with nearly no menu.  One press of the 'PLAY' button is all thats needed.  Lastly since MPL is for children ages 2-5, it does not require them to be able to read.  There is written instructions at the top of the screen while the friendly voice over tells your child what to do.

This game is not perfect though.  It does not continue to run in the background.  Though this feature request may not be a popular one, if your child is in the middle of a game and accidentally quits, they will need to start over.  This is not a big problem though because of the type of game this is, sort of like an arcade game.  Which also indicates that there is no long term draw to the game.  The game does award players with stickers at the completion of a few puzzles, but there is not constructive a child can do with these stickers beyond actually picking one.

MPL falls short in diversity also.  I counted about a half dozen different games that appear randomly and randomize the letter, number, color, or fruit that are involved.  Also, once the game is played for about 2 minutes, the user may realize that the difficult just does not change.  Remember I said this game was targeted for ages 2-5?  Its more for ages 2-3.  Your 4-5 year old should be doing or playing something else, and hopefully shouldn't need MPL to learn about fruit.

My 4 year old likes this game, but is not challenged by it.  Even still, its worth $Free.99.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox - $0.99 FREE

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Guns'n'Glory

written by: Nick Kosmides

Guns'n'Glory is a western themed tower defense game free today from Amazon.

This game is quite different from the space themes or vector graphics usually used in tower defense games.  Instead of building a turret or laser, you hire cowboys, indians, or Mexican Desperados.  This game is very entertaining, and pleasantly original.

Also, instead of placing your defense you move around yourself and take out traveling settles moving through canyons.  Take out enough to earn some money to hire the sleeping Desperados nearby.  Once they are hired, you'll need to move them to a good spot.  Move them anytime, even just to follow the settlers until they are all eliminated.

There seem to be a lot of levels to play, lots of maps to explore, and many defense mechanisms to obtain or hire.  The graphics are charming, the music is a bit tinny and repetitive much like most mobile games.  Not everyone is a master composer.

Take Guns'n'Glory for a ride if you like, ad-free, for free today.

Guns'n'Glory - $0.99 FREE

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - FlexT9

written by: Nick Kosmides

FlexT9 allows you to speak, trace, write, or tap for free today.  This is a utility keyboard add on, not a stand alone app.

How to setup:
Download the app, then go to Settings > Language & Keyboard and select the FlexT9 Text Input radio box to enable it.  Next, find a text field and long press.  Select "Input method" and you will see all your available keyboards.  "FlexT9 Text Input" should appear at the bottom.

Now that its set up you can see now that it is a very clear keyboard.  The buttons are nicely rounded and easy to read.  Tap to type is the first thing you'll probably do, and this will bring up the word suggestions while typing.  This is most similar to the stock Android keyboard but has word prediction that is nearly on par with Swiftkey.

So long as you didn't disable it in settings, the swipe typing is also possible without any button presses.  One thing I noticed is that it does not require that I do anything special to get double letters, like when swiping the word "really".  The Swype keyboard forces you to make a circle on the L to double it.  FlexT9 does not.

Notice a key with fire on it.  This is voice typing.  Tap the key and talk your message out.  Tap the screen to process your speech into text.  I tested this feature myself and with my four year old with nearly no complications.  The last typing style this thing has in its arsenal is the write-it-yourself style.  Tap the key at the bottom right that has a pencil on it.  This is just like a piece of paper.  Each letter is writable in a timed fashion, clearing the previous letter as you begin writing the next so as to feel seemless.  This method is not as fast as swiping or typing, but brings back memories of the PDA era.

FlexT9 - $4.99 FREE

Friday, May 13, 2011

UPDATED: FREE for a LIMITED TIME - Contract Killer by Glu Mobile

written by: Nick Kosmides

This is NOT on the Amazon Appstore for Android for once.  Contract Killer can be downloaded from the Android Market for FREE today, and supposedly today ONLY.  Jump on this now to secure a pretty decent game.

Like many of Glu Mobile's games, and other big name game developers, this is a sizable download.  Don't be fooled, the shell is 2.5MB while the bootstrap files are 250MB.  Save to the phone or to your SD, but take their advice and download over WiFi, don't use the network.  It'll take forever and completely kill your battery.

The game is quite good looking.  Not great, but not bad in the least.  Kind of reminds me of Dreamcast quality, though the gameplay is very much designed for smartphones.  Starting with the gameplay.  Fixed 1st person sniping missions have you take out targets reminiscent of the classic Silent Scope series.  The game is a trap for cross-game advertising, asking you to download other apps and even purchase and play apps to earn in-game credits.

The story seems to be the driving factor rather than time in game.  After taking out just your first three targets in the game, you are already on the run from the company that initially hired you.  With the help of your training agent still employed by The Agency, you gain new contacts and contracts to stay in the loop and earn money for weapons and ammo.

I wonder though who has your back and who will shoot you in the back.

UPDATE: Originally this game was to be free for a limited time, though Glu Mobile has gone with in-app purchases.  This has caused quite a stir in the mobile gaming front, as most people are not all that happy with the direction this initiative has gone.  These games are good and some great, but they are hampered by ads and the most devilish in-app purchasing system that currently has no rules.  iOS has since address this issue, though with a light hand only administering a password reset for every in-app purchase instead of the timed method.  Android needs to be the first to inform downloaders or at boot up.  Also, there should be an obvious visual difference for screens containing purchasable content, like a Google controlled GUI for shopping within an app.  People are calling for a class action lawsuit here.  What do you think?

Contract Killer - $?.?? FREE

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Enjoy Sudoku

written by: Nick Kosmides

Sudoku is something I enjoy playing almost as much as Mahjong Solitaire.  Not as much as Mortal Kombat though.  Amazon's daily showing of kindness is to share with everyone a free copy of Enjoy Sudoku.

Advertised as being a "pure, full-featured Sudoku experience" and for players who "can do without flashy animations and filler".  I'm on the fence here, because I DO enjoy flashy animations and filler.  The DS is my home for Sudoku, but a flashy version on Android would be sweet.

Enjoy Sudoku brings simplicity yet offers options that say otherwise.  16 levels of difficulty and randomly generated single-solution puzzles allow unlimited play.  Enter in sudoku puzzles from your favorite newspaper to finish them in-app.  Support for Kanji and Hanzi, game saves, 6 color schemes and 3 background.

My request feature is for camera integration, so I can just snap a photo of a sudoku puzzle and have the app setup the puzzle for me to solve.  Google already does this for a quick solve utility, but not for playing.

Enjoy Sudoku - $2.99 FREE

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Chalk Ball

written by: Nick Kosmides

Chalk Ball is the redeeming app that we needed to get for free today!  Go get this game now, then come back to read about what I thought of it.

One of my favorite "software accessories" is Open Feint for its achievements, online leaderboards, and friends lists.  It is also great because games that support it are generally better than games that don't.  If you play a game that is Feint-enabled you will also have access to the Open Feint app from within each game, allowing you to view everything I've mentioned above as well as a list of all the Feint-enabled games you own across iOS and Android.  Damn thats good.  Did you catch that its cross platform?

So, back to Chalk Ball.  This game is Feint-enabled, with achievements and only leaderboards.  No online multiplayer, though something like that would be really cool.  Maybe an Ikaruga type gameplay element could be used where one player is red and the other player is blue and sharing the same screen is the distracting element that makes it fun.  And there is nother "more better" than point stealing!

This game has only two a modes of play, Survival and Adventures.  In Survival you simply play until you die.  And by die I mean your chalk ball hits the bottom and doesn't bounce back.  Use this mode to get all the achievements and reach for that global high score.  Adventures Mode is where you get to play some choreographed puzzles and even play in non-chalk schemes; notepad and 8-bit.

I played it for about 30 minutes after downloading and unlocked about 60% of all the achievements.  Not at all hard.  If you've read this far into my review and still haven't downloaded it then you should trade you're Android in for a Nokia Windows Phone 7 POS.

Here's hoping they don't get sued for the "Jedi..." achievements.

Chalk Ball - $1.49 FREE

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Taskpad

written by: Nick Kosmides

Taskpad is free today, but I won't tell you to go download it.  This may be the first app where I even suggest to do your research and maybe skip this one.  This app is a task organizer that allows you to attach pictures, sound bytes and other tidbits to your to do list items.

Be forewarned, it is receiving a lot of 1 star reviews on Amazon's Appstore for Android.  I feel the best thing to do for an app like this is to just post some of them here:

1.0 out of 5 stars Stay away...May 11, 2011
If I could rate 1/2 star is would. Very Poor design and UI. Loses tasks, looking at when the 5 star reviews were done it's obvious the developer and his or her friends rated their own product. All the high ratings are within a week of eachother and the one stars are sporadically throughout the month... which shows they are real purchases and real reviews. This app is not worth being free. Sorry Amazon you wasted your time getting this one.

1.0 out of 5 stars No wonder it's free.May 11, 2011
I would have never paid for this app. The UI is horrendous compared to other, always free, task apps. i.e., Taskos or Astrid.

1.0 out of 5 stars

This was just awful, I wish amazon would take a closer look at some of these paid apps they choose to release

1.0 out of 5 stars Lol what
I see absolutely no purpose for this app. Don't buy it. It's not even worth the space it took up in my phone the day it was free on the appstore.

1.0 out of 5 stars after reading real reviews...
...i will not be downloading this app or any other by this developer. i filed a report against the app for the false reviews and the rest of u should too.

So that's where this app is at.  It is obvious that whomever is giving this thing a 5 star review that is four paragraphs long describing a bit more than the 100 other reviewers, this is a dev trying to pad their rating.  Though, in this case, it won't work when the free app flood gates are open so wide.  I guess the last thing you'd want when you make a crappy app is for it to be downloaded a lot.  Hmm.  Quite a conundrum.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Air Control

written by: Nick Kosmides

Air Control, by developer Grapevine Limited, is free today.  Known for, well, nothing, they have three other pretty shoddy looking games on the Amazon Appstore.  This game isn't bad though.

As you may have figured out, this is a clone of Namco's Flight Control.  Both games have you landing air craft on runways, landing strips and helipads using your finger to draw the path.  Avoid collision or its game over.  Neither game has enough levels for my tastes.  Though, between the two, nine is better than none.

Give it a spin for no cost today and today only.

Air Control - $1.99 FREE