Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Gem Spinner II

written by: Nick Kosmides

Gem Spinner II is the shiny new free app of the day today.  Hailing from Tiny Bite Games who's first Gem Spinner game had also graced the FAAD position on the Amazon Appstore for Android's front page only a day over two months ago.

While the first game was a solid spin off of many other familiar match-3 gem type games, Gem Spinner II is a more difficult affair.  New gameplay elements were included to make it apparently harder for players to simply play through the puzzler.  Gem matching games should be fast paced and chaotic, but Gem Spinner II spinner loses a bit of steam when you get stuck because you didn't think several moves ahead.

Many modes exist allowing gameplay without a timer, and even modes to make it more of a challenge when a more challenge game is what you're looking for.  Reviewers are reporting more force closes and random hangs/crashes/freezes in this installment.  Though it is a more beautiful game than its predecesor, it may be too much to handle, too cold to hold.  See what I did there?  Because it freezes... never mind.

Hit the link below to nab this gem jamboree before the timer expires.

Gem Spinner II - $2.00 FREE

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Townsmen 6

written by: Nick Kosmides

Townsmen 6 is today's free app from Amazon's Appstore for Android. And might I add that it is a confusing ordeal to get familiar with this little gem.

Handy Games is no stranger to Android, having released some of the most loved (and hated) games on Android. Some of my favorites happen to be Super Dynamite Fishing, Aporkalypse and Guns'n'Glory wasn't too bad either. Yet from their loins is born a software gem that one reviewer describes as "as close to those old [turn-based RPG games on PC] as I've gotten on my phone." While these reviewers are elated to play games of this caliber on a mobile phone, I have higher gaming standards than most no matter the platform its played on. RPGs will always be foreign to me, so its important that they get off on the right foot to keep me playing.

Does this one cut the mustard, or was this deli meat sliced a bit too thinly?

My first impressions were on par with most of the non-5-star reviews on Amazon. The initial walk through of the UI and gameplay was a rough introduction to say the least. Its a period piece set in France. The landscape is rough and yours to manage. Build wells and employ townies. While characters like your pig Poopsy and your Woman (that's her name) will help guide you with cut and dry instructions, there is little to no room for exploration early on.  One easy mistake is not reading the tutorials entirely because it isn't clear the text box actually scrolls down.

While the gameplay curve is standard RPG fare, it shouldn't take very long for even the youngest gamer to figure out. Although, if you think you are a seasoned gamer and decide to skip the tutorials, then you will most likely find yourself posting a negative review on Amazon for this game saying something like "Absolutely terrible interface" or "What am I supposed to do?" You people need to get an iPhone.

Get your town building RPG gameplay fix on free before midnight (or so) tonight by following the link below to the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Townsmen 6 - $0.99 FREE

Friday, October 14, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Kids Paint

written by: Nick Kosmides

Kids Paint is today's free app of the day found within the Amazon Appstore.  With a whopping number of reviews (two) on Amazon, Kids Paint needs all the help it can get.  Amazon shows the app has been available since April 23, 2011 and that the app was originally released on December 31, 2009.  With all the time in between you'd think this app would have evolved a bit further than its current state.

Don't get me wrong, the painting and coloring tools herein are effective and the randomization of the colors and brushes is unique.  But multitouch functionality is ridiculously useless and shallow offering only the creation of line art.  I would have loved to see the ability to just draw and paint with the use of multitouch.  And the irony in the title is that there is nothing in this thing other than psychedelic color randomization that would be targeted towards kids.  No stamps or goofy tools, or controls of any kind.

One thing I was shocked to see and really did appreciate was the fact that there is no main menu.  Shortly after you choose to boot the app, you can draw.  That's really it.  The Menu button soft key has all the bells and whistles tucked away.  You'll find in-app camera access, Gallery import tool, an option to change the color of the background, a Share Picture option supporting all the major players, and Save to Album.  And if you're wondering why the Back button isn't working to exit the app, the dev has included an Exit button.  The Back button is used to clear your last drawing stroke, probably the only way to draw what you want if you don't mind trial and error.

What's bad about this app is nearly everything this app is downloaded to perform.  While the drawing is seamless and responsive, there is absolutely no option to manually control the color or brush being used. Its all random.  And the Set Color option within the menu only randomly changes the background color. The default black background is the best and easiest to work with.  What's worse is the fact that to cycle through all the background variants you must repeatedly press the Menu soft key and tap Set Color.  The background color change takes effect at the same time as the menu retracts.

The verdict: download the app today and save a buck, but don't expect to rely on this app whenever you are feeling creative.  I would classify this under the Utility Time Waster app category.  Click the link to git your random scribble on.

Kids Paint - $0.99 FREE

Sunday, October 2, 2011

iPhone 5: S is for Speculation

written by: Nick Kosmides

This will be easy as there is nearly no fact on the iPhone 5 at this moment.  But it is always fun talking about all the speculation flittering and smothering the interwebs.

Reports now available show a possible placeholder for the iPhone 5 in an online retailer.  Specs show some promising details of which come off my list of demands.  If ever I were to switch back to an iOS device my list of demands would first be met in completion, and no exception could be made.  In fact, an exception would be to concede to Android for creating a market for phone manufacturers to push the envelope by providing everything on this list and then some.

- 4" or larger screen.  As my Fascinate has a 4" screen I will never go back to a smaller screen.
- Cutting edge processing power.  This is here to make sure the brains of the operation are not compromised to allow the other items of my list to become a reality. Heaven forbid a next gen iPhone with a current gen processor (looking at you iPhone 4).
- Expandable memory.  Okay, this is where Apple will fail.  iOS will not allow expandable memory as it must contain all its eggs in one basket.  Android devices need this expandable memory to expand the memory.  Not all Android phones have 16GB, or even 8GB, of internal memory.  My phone barely has 512MB.  The 16GB MicroSD is a requirement and that is why it came with my phone.  This is not exactly the case with iPhone, 16GB and 32GB options are standard.  But to expand on this is my wish, nay, demand.
- 4G. If the next iPhone comes out without this, it will fail to impress anyone.  4G is the future of wireless data and may even pose to replace 3G in my opinion.
- Removable battery.  To deny its owner the ability to gain access to the battery simply says Apple wants you to know you don't have any power in the matter.  And power is the matter.  A business man on the road constantly must rely on his phone to communicate and sell.  If while commuting without the options to "plug in" and the battery is low, guess what...they pull out the Blackberry.  You will not gain the respect of the corporate IT department if upper execs complain that sales are lost due to iPhone usage for business needs instead of Blackberry's where batteries can be simply changed out.
- Slide Out QWERTY keyboard.  This would simply be awesome if added.  Much like the removable battery and expandable memory, I don't believe this will ever come to iPhone.  Please prove me wrong.

While we wait for October 4th to roll around for the official word from Apple's new CEO Tim Cook, this speculation will come to a boil.  Floating to the top will surface so much anticipation for a device that may or may not pose any real threat to the future of wireless device growth, but instead spark a whole new slew of lawsuits aimed at keeping Apple in the spotlight while they sort out their emotions for a more open Apple hardware and software environment.  Not Android Market open.  Why not somewhere in between.

So as of this writing we can use this speculation to scratch of 4" screen and 4G from the above list.  Outside of thinner device, fixed antennae issue, and ripped off Android features in iOS5, I don't think anymore items will get scratched off.