Friday, October 26, 2012

Upgrading Bionic to Ice Cream Sandwich

English: Picture of the front of the DROID BIO...
English: Picture of the front of the DROID BIONIC by Motorola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For some people, all they need is to wait for the OTA (over the air) updates, and voila, it's done.

Not me.

I had rooted my Bionic, and I have Safestrap installed, but safe mode is not active. I've tried with recovery installed and not installed, nothing there.

I am still on .893 Gingerbread, and I can't update to .902, the official update (there is also .905 update, but that's more of a rare patch). I can "force" an update by going to Settings / About Phone / System Update, and it will download a 60MB .902 update file, but it won't install. It goes in, then it reboots when it's about 40 percent installed, and reverts back to .893, with "update has failed!" message.

So I am now going to FORCE an update... by doing it manually.

There are a ton of instructions, but they essentially say the same thing. I'll use the "House of Bionic" version as it seems to be the easiest to do.

You will need:

  • A Windows PC (I use Win7 Home Premium 64bit)
  • A USB to MicroUSB cable (the original Motorola one is preferred, but any USB to MicroUSB will do)
  • A charged Motorola Bionic (preferably, at least 75% charged, as you'll use a bit of juice in between, and if it runs out of power, the device may be bricked)
  • And Internet connection, so you an download some files.


Got all that? Let's go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

AAQR: X-Plane 9 (flight sim)

X-Plane 9, one of the most impressive flight sims, is now FREE on Android (it used to cost $20!)

X-Plane is one of the sims where it actually calculate the aerodynamic forces of the air against the wings and such, so it is extremely realistic. The free version requires a huge download for the terrain data, but after you're done, and if you have a decent phone, you'll get a spectacular game where the terrain is so realistic you'll swear it's on a PC.

AAQR: Indestructible (game)

Another "freemium" game from GLU mobile, this game is full of microtransactions that entices you to buy new vehicle skins, new weapons, and so on and so forth. However, this GLU game offers full Internet multiplayer with built-in matchmaking, so that's pretty cool for a freemium game.

At its heart, Indestructible is a twin-stick shooter, where you move in one direction and shoot in another direction. It's basically a Mad Max type scenario where you drive this vehicle and shoot at any enemies. It's an Isometric view 3D and the vehicles are TINY on a phone, but you need it to see the field. There are at least three different arenas (and you *can* fall off the edge) there are also team play (unlocked later). You can play single player (basically survival against waves of drones) or play ranked matches against other players.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

AAQR: Battleships Pro (game)

Ever wondered why haven't people made a game where you can play Battleship against AI player? They have! This one has a few tricks, like "bombers", scatter shots, as well as 3 different AI personalities, and operates off hex grid instead of rectangular grid.

It's pretty decent..  though the music is a bit grating. Not bad.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/battle-ships-pro/com.codeknitters.battleship

AAQR: Modern War (game)

Modern War is basically a clone of "Advanced War" on the handheld consoles, where you move units, capture points, build more units, and destroy all enemies, in turn-based hex-grid combat. Different units have different stats, like movement, attack, defense, special abilities, and such.

It's competent, but nothing that special.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/modern-war/jp.gree.modernwar

AAQR: Marble Maze (game)

Ever play those physical games where your objective is to move a marble from point A to point B without falling into the wrong holes, with a lot of stuff in between, by carefully tilting the thing this way and that?

Well, here's a virtual version. Unless you have severe nostalgia, this is a pretty lame game.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/marble-maze-reloaded/com.hyperkani.marblemaze
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Monday, October 1, 2012

AAQR: Simple Physics

Simple Physics is basically "bridge builder" albeit applied to more situations, where you can build "free-standing" structures instead of relying on anchor points, and different tests. There are plenty of levels, and you are rated for multiple levels of success (use the least amount of material).

Worth a try at least.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/simplephysics/com.andrewgarrison.simplephysics

AAQR: Boingo Wifi Finder

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11:  A free Wi-Fi hotspot ...
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11: A free Wi-Fi hotspot
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Google had partnered with Boingo for some free WiFi Hotspot access, but the effort haven't reached the Boingo app.

Boingo is a Hotspot finder that shows you where free and paid WiFi Hotspots are but this is really their webpage disguised as an app. As it's free, it may be of some use if you travel a lot.

You are of course, constantly reminded that you really need to pay them for access to "premium" hotspots.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/boingo-wi-finder/com.boingo.boingowifi
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AAQR: Mustang Customizer

Mustang Customizer is an marketing app from Ford where you can customize your Ford Mustang with various pain schemes, after market accessories, appearance packages, and more, to build your "ultimate beauty-shot". Most are actual parts from the Ford Performance Catalog, and you actually can custom built a Mustang just like that.

However, this is mainly man's version of "dress-up", as there's no driving or interior demo and such. It's strictly static, albeit nice overlays of various graphical elements, and there are a LOT of options so you can recreate almost ANY of the classic Mustang looks.

It's a big download though. Beware.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/mustang-customizer/com.ford.mustangcustomizer

Sunday, September 30, 2012

AAQR: App a Day


App a Day is basically a marketing program where the app will remind you (through notification bar) that you can download this cool app / game for free.

You merely click through to Google Play Store, and so far it's full of micro-transaction heavy games.

It's not bad, but it's not that spectacular either.

When I use an "app discovery" tool, I'd prefer it to check what apps I already own, and recommend me some that I didn't know about but similar, not just random "try this!"

http://www.appbrain.com/app/app-a-day-for-android/me.onemobile.appaday

Saturday, September 29, 2012

AAQR: Blood and Glory - Legend

Blood and Glory: Legend is a sequel to Glu's "Blood and Glory", where the player takes on role of a Rome-like gladiator who must defeat various enemies. While the main game is free, the game is HEAVY in micro-transactions, wanting you to buy various things to enhance your hero. The graphics are pretty spectacular, and quite responsive on the test machine (Droid Bionic), but the constant nag for "you need to upgrade!" is getting a bit... lame.

You play this anonymous gladiator who needs to fight his way through the territories, and end up in the capital, where you will seek your revenge. On the way, you'll duel various other gladiators, from lightning fast assassins to monstrous giants, to brawlers, dual-bladesmen, and much more.

The controls are pretty simple: you can dodge left or right (depending on which way is the attack), you can parry (swipe in the opposite direction of the attack when it comes), you can shield block (limited use), and you can attack (slash in different directions by drawing a line on screen). It relies a lot on timing. The idea is block the attacks, and attack yourself. If you parry successfully you can execute a "glorious strike", which is a "super-attack" that do a lot of damage. Whoever is left with a lifebar is the winner, of course.

The actual fight is surprisingly effective, as you'll get big sprays of blood when you hurt the enemy. This game is rated M for mature. Really.

The game then throws various stuff at you. There are two currencies in this game: gold, and coins.

Gold you start with a few, and you can get more by clicking on offers like "install this game and get 10 gold on us". If you finish certain challenges, like "fight 3 battles today" you can get a few more. However, you cannot earn these in battle. And some of the best equipment can only be bought with gold.

Coins, you earn from the battle, and typically, only a few hundred per battle, as least in the first few levels. When a typical piece of equipment is 3000, you can imagine this is not going to be easy.

There are a dozen things to spend your money on: helmets, weapon, shield, armor, potions (heal, attack, or defend), helmet, amulet, amulet slots (so you can use more than one amulet at a time to get stacked benefits),

You can wear amulets to enhance your XP gain (which controls how fast you level up), enhance your coin intake (extra 10%), and so on. You start with one amulet slot, and you'll gain some amulets later. You will need to buy additional amulet slots to wear more than one at a time.

You are also nagged at or before each battle about "pay $2.99 to double the gain, up to 32x!" not to mention buttons to "buy a special pack for larger discounts!"  including beginner's pack, veteran's pack, and so on, which are all in-game purchase bundles.

I played through chapter 3-1 and I'm already outmatched, as I don't have enough money to upgrade all the equipment. I am only doing about attack 10 weapon, so it takes me twice as long to kill someone than if I have a attack 20 weapon. And the game lets you know that... every match now it's "the enemy has better equipment than you: upgrade your helmet [or other pieces of stuff] now!"

It's pretty, and different enemies have different styles of attack, but you'll probably tire of the constant nag to buy this and buy that.


http://www.appbrain.com/app/blood-glory:-legend/com.glu.gladiator2
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Friday, September 28, 2012

AAQR: Drift Mania Championship

Drift racing at the Night Shift event in Chicago
Drift racing at the Night Shift event in Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Drift Mania Championship is a 3rd person drift driving simulator. You control this car, in the slightly behind 3rd person view. However, I am not convinced you can properly simulate drifting, which requires very precise control, on a phone.

The game has a "throttle bar" on the right side of the screen, and you turn left and right by tilt. And the graphics are pretty good.

I have problem with the control, as I can't seem to modulate the throttle to spin the wheels to induce drift while keep the car "sideways". I can drift in small increments, but I can't stay on the road, and you need to stay on the road. There aren't any 'driver aids' available, and tutorial consists of merely a couple slides explaining the gauges and controls.

Still, it's worth trying out. Maybe you'll be more adept in it than I was.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/drift-mania-championship/com.ratrodstudio.driftmania
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

AAQR: Robin, the Siri Challenger

Plenty of Android apps claim to be a Siri-fighter, and new ones appear every other day.

Robin, which just underwent an overhaul, is actually pretty impressive. The new version has a huge button combined with a map view and is really designed for car use, where you can operate most features hands-free (one or two may require a tap on the screen or two).

And Robin talks back, using any voice you have installed. Those of you who have IVONA installed (download all three English voices: US, UK, and Australia) should have much better voice than the built-in Pico TTS.

And Robin will give you a full conversation. You say "tell me a joke", and Robin will answer. It will do context sensitive search based on location. If you search for a location it recognizes, it'll display Yelp link and Nav link. It knows most commands, and if it doesn't, it'll do a Google search for you. It will link to any Nav package you got, either Google Maps or Waze, or even others like Tomtom.

It'll do social updates, voice dial, and the other stuff. It's pretty impressive, and it's free.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/robin-the-siri-challenger/com.magnifis.parking
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sorry about lack of updates

This blog ain't dead, it's on hibernation as I concentrated on other stuff.

Any way, expect to see a TON of updates in the next week or so, at least one review a day. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

4th of July Mahjong (puzzle)

Mahjong tile matching game is dime a dozen in the App Store, so this guy made a "4th of July" version with a bit more red white and blue tile theme.

But it's the same game.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/4th-of-july-mahjong/air.FourthOfJulyMahjong

OP-ED: Where's my Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean?

A couple months back, Google started yelling at all the companies that they need to get their act together, stop messing up the Android OS, and start concentrating on pushing out updates to Android 4 to the phones.

In the present, it appears that ONLY SAMSUNG has listened seriously. Apparently Jelly Bean, Android 4.1, is already rolling out to users of Galaxy S2 and Galaxy S3, as well as Galaxy Nexus.

Motorola, on the other hand, is just rolling out Ice Cream Sandwich (older version) to RAZR series and the previously promised update for Droid Bionic is "coming soon", August or September. Considering that ICS came out in 2011, this is just ridiculous, so ridiculous that next revision already got released!

This is seriously making me wonder WHY I bought Motorola, which is now OWNED BY GOOGLE THEMSELVES! Even Sony is beating Motorola in the update game!

Where's the commitment?
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Concentrate (game, puzzle)

Cocentrate is yet another version of Concentration, and I *think* this version is based on Adobe AIR.

This game has nothing special. There's no global leaderboard, no graphical flair, no twists, it's just a plain game.

And they want $1 for it.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/concentrate/com.rfo.concentrate

Strikefleet Omega (action, tactical strategy, free)

Strikefleet Omega is a pretty darn good game that is free, though the in-game purchases can get you.

The story is much like Battlestar Galactica: you're the only major combat ship left, all the rest are lost in a huge ambush, and you need to travel the stars, and save humanity, sorta.

The idea is you are a hybrid "carrier" that has a couple fighters, and it will make more as they're lost. You need to protect the carrier from the incoming fighters from the bad guys. You can also put in support ships, such as escort carriers (more fighter groups), mining ships (mine asteroids for fuel and such), and gunships (fires flak at enemy fighters and bombers). The ships can be upgraded as well. You can have up to 6 support ships in a single battle, but you need to spend "currency" (can be mined) for them.

Some of the really good ships you have to spend $$$ on, and I do mean real money. You buy the red credits with real money. Some of the best ships cost red credits. You can also use red credits to buy "perks" which improves your ship or fighters or miners for a single mission. You start with like 10 red credits (you can buy more), don't spend them on frivolous stuff!

Enemies come in waves, from all directions, and you need to move your fighters so they'll take out all the incoming attackers. You can think of it as a "juggling" puzzle as you try to balance various commitments. Protect the mothership, protect the miners, kill bombers, protect the support ships, etc.

Definitely give it a try!

http://www.appbrain.com/app/strikefleet-omega/com.sixwaves.strikefleetomega

Monday, July 23, 2012

Juminja (game) -- NOTIFICATION PUSH ADS!!!!!!

Do NOT install this game. It gives you notification push ads, even the paid version.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/juminja-premium/com.ximad.Zuminja

Twinz (puzzle game)

Twinz is a kindergarten version of "Concentration", where you flip two random cards over at a time and try to find matches by making minimal amount of moves. Nothing special here.

This version cost money. There's also a free ad-supported version.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/twinz-ad-free/com.fishguygames.Twinz

Flick Kick Rugby (game, free)

Flick Kick Rugby is a variation of Flick Kick Football that was released earlier.

The rules are very simple. You need to kick the ball between the upright goal posts from any distance, any angle, with wind. You get different score depending on the difficulty of the shot, and if you manage to do a streak you get bonus. You have three chances to miss.

You "kick" by flicking up with your finger, which also controls the the strength and angle. Compensating for wind can be tricky.

It does get boring after a while though. Save it for short breaks.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/flick-kick-rugby/com.pikpok.kik

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Highway Rider (game, free)

Highway rider is one of those simple arcade games. You control this motorcycle rider, in a 3D world, through tilt. You accelerate by getting as close to a car or stationary object (stopped car, sign, etc.) on the road. The vehicles, of course, will change lanes, to make it difficult for you.

The idea is make as many "close calls" as possible... without hitting anything. The more close-calls you did, the faster you go, and the tighter the traffic.

If you hit, you'll crash, and you'll do a ragdoll roll down the road. You'll get a tally on how many bones you broke, and your projected hospital bill.

There's also a "fugitive mode" where you make some runs with police cars, and there are some barricades and roadblocks.

You can slightly customize the bike and rider colors, but nothing major.

It's kinda fun, but repetitive. Still, free. Counts for a lot.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/highway-rider/com.batteryacid.highwayrider

Absolute RC Heli Sim (game, free)

Absolute RC Heli Sim is a free app that you can use to "test fly" several RC helis. Actually, in the free version you can only test one, the Blade, which is something very similar to the "toy" RC Heli you can buy in a mall for $25, but this one actually cost $125, and is MUCH BETTER (but similar sized).

This has multiple "fields" you can test fly on, and you can choose multiple view points. The NORMAL one is is the stationary one: you stand still and the chopper moves. It gets difficult as you lose track of the heli's orientation. You need a big screen.

On the other hand, the graphics are quite good, as they're based on 360 "skybox" of real places.

There are other fields and other choppers available, but those are extra cost.

The freebie is definitely worth a try.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/absolute-rc-heli-sim/com.rcflightsim.cvheli2

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Android web browser review updated, 2 more added

Maxthon and Ninesky review added to Android Web Browser Roundup. Neither are really special compared to the big guys.

Coming soon, updated Firebox, Chrome, and much more.

http://kschang.hubpages.com/hub/Review-of-Web-Browsers-for-Android-2x

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

7 Notification Mods: make your notification fancy!

Android OS notification area is so advanced, that iOS decided they need to make theirs better!

So here are something to keep your notification AHEAD of whatever iOS decides to throw in later!

And best of all, they are FREE!

http://kschang.hubpages.com/hub/7-New-Notification-Styles-and-Makeovers-for-your-Android-Phone-tablet-and-other-Devices
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Friday, June 22, 2012

AAQR: Rocket Weasel (game, puzzle)

Rocket Weasel is another action puzzle in the style of Angry Birds: a physics based puzzle.

The premise is the Rocket Weasel needs to rescue his students from the farmer by crashing each of the cages through whatever methods available, either by hitting the cage himself or by using one of the various "features" in the field, from other creatures to mechanisms, and so on.

You can "launch" him similar to a catapult, but the actual mechanism is NOT impact based like Angry Birds, but is more akin to "The Incredible Machine" type puzzles.

Worth a try at least!

http://www.appbrain.com/app/rocket-weasel-free/com.freezetag.rocketweaselfree

AAQR: Snuggle Truck (game)

Also known as Smuggle Truck, the idea of the game is simple: transport the animals to the destination.

There's a catch: the terrain is horrible, and the animals are NOT tied down. If you hit a hill too hard, some or all the animals will fly out. Yet if you don't use some speed, you won't get past some sections. So, do you got for speed and casualties, slow and max survivors, or something in between?

This has full impact physics, and proper sound effects, so you can do a lot of things, like bounce the passengers out then catch them back.

What's more, there's an editor, and there are supposedly 20000 community-created levels if you got tired of the existing ones.

If you like the genre, this one is worth a try.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/snuggle-truck/com.OwlchemyLabs.SnuggleTruckAndroid

AAQR: Temple Run (game)

Temple Run is a very simple game that relies on timing, but it is quite addictive.

The premise is simple: you're an Indiana Jones (tm) type character who just got out of a temple (after getting some goodies) and being chased by... well, doesn't matter! The idea is keep running!

So you basically have a couple commands: swipe up to jump, swipe down to duck, swipe left to turn / go left, and swipe right to turn / go right. Hit the commands at the right time and you'll keep running. Hit it wrong and you are caught!

It really is that simple.

There's bonus goodies, like special coins (which unlocks more characters), global leaderboards, and more.

Worth a try at least!

http://www.appbrain.com/app/temple-run/com.imangi.templerun

Friday, June 15, 2012

AAQR: iStunt 2 (free)

There are a variety of games where you control the "tilt" of the object as you ride through variety of terrain and sometimes get a bit of air, and have to land properly. The "Trials" series of games are the first, but there are plenty of others. iStunt 2 takes the snowboard theme to the genre and gives it a good polish, and the result is pretty interesting.

iStunt2 has you, the snowboarder, taking on different hills. You lean forward to speed up, pull back to slow down, and do stunts in the air, then land as close to flat on the ground as possible, as an angled impact may cause you to flip and crash. As the speed rises, terrain gets more treacherous, and other hazards start to appear, the game's difficulty gets ramped up.

As the game's free (with ads, of course), it's worth checking out

http://www.appbrain.com/app/istunt-2/com.miniclip.istunt2
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AAQR: The Floor is Lava (game) (free / 0.99)

The Floor is Lava is a "fast-paced" puzzle game where your objective is to clear the levels as fast as possible, as you are trying to get out of this nasty pit with lava rising up from beneath you. If you don't do it quickly you are literally toast!

The game mechanics is pretty simple: Trace a line from the "starting tile" to the "ending tile" while passing through ALL of the tiles without crossing your path (i..e. no backtracking).

The graphics are pretty decent, for a puzzle game. While there's timing, the timing itself doesn't affect the game THAT much.

Definitely download the free version to try it.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/the-floor-is-lava-free/com.driftwood.TheFloorIsLava.free
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Launcher comparison roundup updated! Now 65 different home replacement app reviewed!

After six months of hiatus, I'm back reviewing Android Home Launcher Apps!

First update added 5 different reviews and updated 1, and there are indeed a LOT of different contenders!

ssLauncher is very impressive in easy customization, by using text labels as launch buttons, in a completely free-form desktop without grids!

Mobo Launcher is a "two-panel" launcher that still has the 5-page desktop, but also app groups that can take over half of the screen, and still has the 15-spot docks in ADW/ LauncherPro!

Check out the updated review here:

http://kschang.hubpages.com/hub/Droid-Home-Replacement-App-Comparison
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Farm Mess (game)

Farm Mess is a puzzle game where you use "rotation" to try to "sort" all of the animals in order, using the minimum number of "moves".  While there are some cute animations, the game mechanics is quite boring, and there's no "story".

There are better puzzlers out there.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/farm-mess/com.ideashs.farm.mess

iRewardChart (app)

iRewardChart is an app for parents to track your children's good behavior for reward later.

And really, that's all there is to it. You can define points for certain activities, more, less, with objectives, bonuses, and so on.

In other words, you create a formal credit / debit system to reward kids for "good behavior", no more "mommy forgot" and "you promised!"

Not a bad idea... if you have kids ad they are not behaving.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/irewardchart-lite/com.gotclues.irewardchart.lite


Pot Smash (the game)

Pot Smash is essentially whack-a-mole, with a twist. You need to "hit" like 3-4 pots of the same type as quickly as possible (and don't get it wrong!) the more you do correctly, the better score you get.

And really, that's it.

There are variations, like smash the pots that form a word, or adds up to 11, and so on. Basically, is quick perception, mental gymnastics, combined with a bit of finger dexterity.

Not bad, but not that good either.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/pot-smash-free/au.com.minimega.potsmash


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X-Men (the game)

X-Men Movie Banner
X-Men Movie Banner (Photo credit: Ultimaknight)
X-Men the game for Android is your old-style beat-em-up similar to TMNT, Double Dragon, and so on. In fact, it is a faithful adaptation of the original 1992 Konami arcade game, except updated to modern smartphones with support for OpenFeint!

Magneto and Sentinels are destroying the city, and Professor X sends one of the X-men to defeat all the baddies! Each X-men has jump, attack, and super-attack (limited use), and X-number of types.

If you jump and attack you do special attack, and if you do attack repeatedly you get a combo attack, but the enemy have special attacks too, so beware.

It's a pretty simple game, controls are a bit laggy, IMHO.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/x-men/com.konami.xmen  ($0.99)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Canabault / Canabault HD (game)

Canabault and its cousin, Canabault HD, is basically adaptation of a Flash "parkour" game, where you only have ONE control: jump. You have to jump at the right time to keep going, and try not to run into too many things. The idea is to simply run as far as possible without dying.

And really, that's it. The HD version looks a little better. And it has good music, that's it.

Fragger (game)

When Angry Birds came out, there were a TON of clones that tries to emulate the mechanics and/or organization of the game. Some are outright clones (there's one featuring a beaver, or ninjas), but some are actually not too bad, and Fragger is one such.

Fragger is basically Angry Birds, except instead of firing birds with a slingshot, you throw grenades. The idea is to take out all the "terrorists" using the minimum amount of grenades possible.

Everything else is the same: 3 star system to measure how good you were, score, levels, and so on.

Not too bad, and a lot of levels, but not that original.

Cube Crash (game)

Cube Crash is basically a block removal game, with a few twists.

You start with a large field of a LOT of blocks, mixed up, a lot of different colors. You can remove the block in groups of 3 (or more) that are contiguous (touching). As you remove blocks, the shapes "collapse" toward the middle which would create more contiguous groups. The idea is to keep removing the groups until there are not too many left (how many is too many?)

As you advance in levels you get more colors, more randomization, making your choice more crucial.

The game is simple enough, but can get frustrating a bit later, and it's ultimately a bit too plain.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

TrustGo Ad Detector

Previously I've highlighted "Air Push", an intrusive technology that puts ads in your notification bar. And I've highlighted several apps that can scan for such intruders. 

Let me introduce a new one, TrustGo Ad Detector.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/trustgo-ad-detector/com.trustgo.addetector

It scans all the apps, then list the apps on potential ways it can cost you, such as make calls, send SMS, push ads to your phone, and so on.

Previously I was using Lookout Labs Ad Detector.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/lookout-ad-network-detector/com.lookout.addetector

However, this one crashes on my Moto Droid Bionic, whereas TrustGo's work fine. So that one's gone, and I'm using this one.
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Android Keyboard Shootout has been updated, and keyboard added!

Added new keyboards (TIO Keyboard, and many others) to the comparo. There are some interesting ones out there!

http://kschang.hubpages.com/hub/Android-Softkeyboard-Shootout-which-input-method-should-you-use

Cut the Rope (game)

Cut the Rope
Cut the Rope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cut the Rope is a cute puzzle where the objective is to "drop" a candy to feed the cute alien critter by cutting ropes at different times, while hitting different "stars". There is timing involved, and there are "hazards" that will break the candy along the way. Still, it is non-violent, cute, and does tax your brain.

Try the demo, and pay for the full version when you decide it is worth it.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/cut-the-rope/com.zeptolab.ctr.paid
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Bubble Birds (game)

Bubble Birds is basically a clone of Bubble Bubble, where you shoot bubbles up the screen while it slowly crowds down. Pretty boring.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/bubble-birds-(bubble-shooter)/com.divmob.doodlebubble

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lights Off (game / puzzle)

Lights Off is a puzzle game where you try to turn off ALL the lights in the grid, except if you toggle one light, you also toggle the other 4 lights around it. Simple, but nothing special either.

http://www.amazon.com/Lights-Off-The-Original-Game/dp/B005KMOP9K

Tiny Village (sim game)

Tiny Village is basically a "management" sim in the vein of SimCity, albeit much simplified. You manage this tiny village by adding houses, structures, and assign workers to particular structures to produce stones, food, and so on. It's basically a "spinning plate" type game where you keep jumping from one item to another.

Seems to be an Amazon exclusive

Sounds okay, albeit a little boring. Okay for kids, as it's cartoony. May be too whimsical for kids.

http://www.amazon.com/TinyCo-Tiny-Village/dp/B007NACZPI

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stitcher Radio now has Landscape... again

Stitcher Radio, when first launched, had Landscape support.

Then the function went away after a couple months. ARGH!

Fortunately, landscape mode is back! For those of you who want landscape mode update to the latest ASAP.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

AAQR: IVONA high quality text to speech

Image representing IVONA Text-To-Speech as dep...
Image via CrunchBase
Tired of the robotic Pico Text-to-Speech engine built into Android and don't want to pay for SVOX? Now there's a new choice... IVONA Text to Speech HQ voices.

Download this new TTS engine, enable it in settings, and set it as default. It sounds MUCH MUCH better than the built-in one. And being the default TTS it is universal.

Indeed, if you download some proper apps, it will even read aloud ebooks for you (I use a pretty obscure one called CoolReader, which *does* support TTS, unlike Kindle / Nook apps. And you can also download additional voices. The American one sounds pretty good, and you can download a couple variants, such as Australian English, Welsh English, as well as a couple other European languages.

The American voice is VERY natural. If I didn't pay much attention I could have sworn it was just read very "robotic" by a real person. It's the "timing" that's off, but not off by much. And occasionally it pronounced the wrong word. For example, "Dr." is pronounced as "drive" (huh?!) when I made it read Sherlock Holmes.

Remember, download the main app, then download the voice installer, then run the voice installer to actually download the voice. Then SET the IVONA as your default TTS engine, then start using it.

Try it, you will like it very much. Really.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/ivona-text-to-speech-hq/com.ivona.tts
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

AAQR: Dead Space (shooter)

Dead Space comes to Android and during Google Play (re)launcher it's 49 cents.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/dead-space%E2%84%A2/com.ea.deadspace_na

You are Vandal, one of the mechanics who's helping the "church" do a few... special jobs. Unfortunately, you got ****ed when the power outage you caused on the order of the church allowed the NecroMorphs to invade the mining station. And now you need to make amends... by helping the real authorities save the station from the Necromorphs. You will be using the plasma cutter, blade, and saw disc launcher (and others) in your fight.

This game is a 3rd person "shooter" with dual-stick control... left hand controls forward/back and strafe left/right, while right hand controls look up/down and turn left/right. There's also reload (click on the weapon itself). The idea is to shoot the bad guys who spawn from seemingly nowhere. It's a bit like Resident Evil in its creepiness. There's also a lot about illusions and hallucinations, and double-crossing and so on.

Controls are just... weird, part of it is due to the improvised weaponry you are wielding. You start with the plasma blade/cutter. Takes a couple swipes to put the enemy down (once they're down but not dead you can do a "stomp")  The second weapon you get is the hand "torch", which shoots a beam, but has both a horizontal and a vertical mode (do quick tilt of the phone to "swap"). Some enemies are more vulnerable to one mode vs. the other (huh?!) And there's the saw disc thing. You shoot one of these off, and it'll spin like while held by a tractor beam, so you can slice an enemy multiple times as you draw the disc back and forth (until the timer runs out, all too soon).

You start out by simple navigating through the corridors and hit a power box or two. You may also run into lockers where you can grab stuff to help you upgrade later, improve one of the three weapons or upgrade your own suit which improves health.

When enemy manages to grapple you, you have a second or two to do a special swipe to remove them else you die.

The story is new chapter in the Dead Space mythos, on a parallel track of the main story.

Not a bad game at all, esp. for $0.49.

AAQR: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (Racer)

NOTE: Currently on sale for $0.49, YMMV. Limited time offer.
http://www.appbrain.com/app/need-for-speed%E2%84%A2-hot-pursuit/com.eamobile.nfshp_na_wf

EA is making a concerted push into Android game scene, and has commissioned many ports of their hottest properties, one such is Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, where you can race as either the law or the outlaw.

On either side, there are a series of events (divided into 4 "stages") where you can "win" individual events by scoring up to 3 stars (for full success). Though just one star is needed to "pass" the event. You can always go back and replay the event with a better vehicle. As you gain stature (by scoring "bounty" on both sides) you advance in level and gain access to better vehicles and tougher challenges.

Events are both sides are varied, with a few events that's not even found on the PC and console side. For example, the "law" side in NFS:HP on PC and console was often derided as lacking in events. So a couple events were added... including a law enforcement race. It's like rapid deployment (single car against the clock), except you will be racing 3 other lawmen to the finishline, and you CAN use personal pursuit aids, such as EMP and spike strips. (They won't use it against you, don't worry). Also, rapid deployment is now more like a checkpoint race where you need to hit each stage to get time added to the clock instead of just race all the way to the very end.

Graphics are quite good, though where the road and shoulder is weren't always quite apparent. Add to that quite a few "sharp" turns where you need to almost negotiate blindly, and other vehicles on the road, and things CAN be challenging. The trick is turn just sharp enough to make it through the corner, but NOT to drift, as drifting actually slows you down.

There's a TON of achievements, like using 25 seconds of nitro, drive 100 miles, crash into 10 cars, hit 10 EMP blasts, and so on, most of which have at least 3 if not 5 levels (like 5, 10, 25, 100, 250 seconds of nitro, for example).

The regular tilt control where the car auto-accelerates and you just control brakes, nitro, and the specials, while you steer through tilt, is quite workable. If you want ultimate control you can manually do the throttle (which allows better cornering).

All in all, the game can be a bit frustrating for those starting as the race themselves CAN be quite hard until they get the nuances of turning without drifting and so on. On the other hand, it is a very competent port and very usable while NOT an identical game to the console or PC (I have the PC version).

At 49 cents it's a STEAL. Get it (In fact, I think I like this better than Asphalt 6)

AAQR: Shadowgun (shooter)

NOTE: On sale this week for $0.49, YMMV

Shadowgun is one of those "one-man army merc blows up all sorts of nasties" game. It's a third-person shooter with "dual stick" where you can turn, look up/down, as well as go forward/back and strafe left/right. There's also "roll / dodge" button and the reload.

The story is typical: you're a wise-cracking merc where all problems can be solved with a lot of firepower. You're told to go find a doctor who supposedly stole some research and this big corp want it taken care of quietly. So you were just landing when your lander got clipped by a few missiles and you landed safely but you are not getting off until you take care of the problem. So you go into the facility, and found it's inhabited by some oddball "soldiers". Yep, cliche plot, as always. Later you'll see more monstrosities, making the whole thing feel like it stole liberally from the plot of Far Cry, except it's set in space on some alien planet. :)

The game itself is a "cover shooter". The idea is you shoot enemies preferably from behind cover of some sort, be it crates, blocks, and whatnot. If you "duck" as you approach it, it's cover. Cover comes in indestructible vs. destructible. Enemies occasionally sends out nasties that will just kamikaze you though, even if you're behind cover. Then there's the boss battles. Each boss has a weakspot you need to hit to kill it quickly. It's up to you to find it (hint: it's probably glowing).

The game is basically run between cover, kill enemies, dodge a few kamikaze bombs, find keys and doors, go through doors, unlock more areas, back track, and repeat ad infinitum. :)  Still, for 49 cents (while it's on sale) it's fun.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/shadowgun/com.madfingergames.shadowgun

Update: met up with the 2nd boss, and it's **** frustrating as heck that I deleted the game.

You slowly progress through the tunnels, disable a couple barrier beams, and find yourself in the headlights of a giant mining crusher. What do you do? You run, of course. So how do you destroy this thing? You don't shoot it, and you can't bypass it. You have to run back, RE-enable the barrier beams one at a time, quickly enough so you don't get run over, and do this about FOUR times to fry this thing.

Except the game NEVER required rapid running before. I can always relatively leisurely go up to cover, shoot a couple bad guys, and slowly walk up to the next section. Thus, suddenly requiring you to run really fast, spin 180 to shoot a target, then spin 180 to keep running, is just RIDICULOUS! It's BAD GAME DESIGN!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

AAQR: Cubicle Golf

Cubicle Golf is a cute game where you try to "propel" the person in the chair into a cubicle without hitting things and in the minimum amount of "strokes". You can swap the person (woman, lightest, man, medium, and big man, heavy) to get shorter or longer distances in the stroke.

In the more advanced levels, the boss will be walking around and if you hit him it'd be a mulligan (i.e. stroke counts but you don't go anywhere).

Amusing little game.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/cubicle-golf/com.plowdigital.ace

AAQR: Two GPS utilities for your Android Phone/Device

Wondering if your device's GPS is working properly? Here are two utilities to confirm:


GPS Test
http://www.appbrain.com/app/gps-test/com.chartcross.gpstest

GPS Test is one of those utilities that shows you the details of your GPS, like which GPS satellites you are tracking, where in the sky are they, what sort of signal strength from each, as well as derived into like position, velocity, device orientation, and so on.

It has 5 different screens and while looks a little cartoonish, it's actually quite useful.


GPS Status
http://www.appbrain.com/app/gps-status-toolbox/com.eclipsim.gpsstatus2

GPS Status is a more "utilitiarian" looking app that shows almost the same thing as GPS Test, albeit in less friendly terms. It gives the Lat/Long coordinates instead of a map. otherwise, it shows same info as the GPS Test, and in a more condensed manner (one-screen only).

Both are quite good, actually. if you want to know how your GPS works, check both out.

AAQR: Age of Zombies proper review

Age of Zombies does run on my new Droid Bionic, so here's a proper review

AoZ is a dual-stick shooter, where you play this parody of a macho guy who chases down this evil doc sending Zombies through time to take over the various ages, and while kill a ton of zombies using a variety of weapons.

There are a ton of weapons... pistol is your default and infinite ammo albeit slow firing. You can run into powerups such as machine gun, SMG, rocket, turret, grenades, shotgun, and so on. You can move in one direction and shoot in a different direction, required for your survival. Zombies spawn all over the place and they chase after you. Don't get overwhelmed. You get to fight a boss about every 3 levels who has a couple special attacks.

There's some cute cutscenes with even cheesier dialog, but then, you don't take games like this seriously, right? Graphics are downright primitive, almost 8-bit like which is part of the charm.

Give it a try, it's a pretty good frantic shooter.

http://www.amazon.com/Age-Zombies-WiFi-Download-Only/dp/B0058P7KUA

AAQR: Bag-It! Physics based puzzler on a cute theme

Bag it! is a cute little puzzler that does something very simple: fit all the groceries into bags, without crushing them (you can guess which ones can be weighted down, and which ones can't)  As the game progress, new wrinkles are added, such as new items, new combos, more than one bag, time limit, required to fill bag up to a certain amount, and so on.

Definitely worth checking out, and there are a LOT of levels. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

AAQR: Square Wars

Square Wars is basically a variation of Connect 4  / Tic-Tac-Toe, but with a grid instead. The idea is to create as many 'squares' as possible

The grid has X squares and you need to place rods (and alternate with the AI player) on the grid trying to complete squares without giving them to the other guy.

AI can put up a good fight, as it knows the game better than you do.

Somewhat interesting, that's it.

AAQR: Kona's Crate

Kona's Crate is a simple to learn game that mixes a couple elements into a unique blend.

You control this "hover board" that is carrying a box. The idea is to land the box near the "chief". (upright is purely optional).

How do you control it? The board has two hover rockets: hit the left side to fire the left rocket, and the right for the right rocket. If you tilt the board a little you generate sideways velocity. Add to that some strange terrain, like "blocks" in mid-air that hits your board, levels that designed to have you go up and down and around.

There's also advanced mode where the box and the board can separate (not tied to each other) and thus some maneuvers can be done faster.

Still, it's a cute variation on puzzle themes

http://www.appbrain.com/app/konas-crate/com.darkwindmedia.konascrate

AAQR: Flick Kick Field Goal (game)

Flick Kick Field Goal is a pretty well done simple game, albeit a bit monotonous after a while.

The goal is simple: "kick" (by flicking the ball with your finger) an American football and get it to go through the upright goal posts to "score" 1 point.

What's the catch? You will be steadily moved further and further back, and there will be some wind present in later stages. You can make 25 yard field goals easy, but can you do it at 65 yards instead? With 6 knots of wind from the left?

Add to that different modes, "hot streak", scoring, openFEINT support, and you have a pretty simple but sweet game.

The graphics are quite good, and looks like the physics is right on (yes, your ball can bounce off the goal posts)

http://www.appbrain.com/app/flick-kick-field-goal/com.pikpok.kikfg

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

AAQR: Dream Journal

At first, I thought this is a journal program.

So I was sorta surprised when I ran it... it is a journal program, but it is designed to record your dreams.

I guess if you review them you may find some patterns or images for interpretation... but not for me.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/dream-journal-pro/org.radiantmonkeysoftware.dreamjournalpro

AAQR: Commando (or iCommando) shooting gallery

Commando is one of those games that tries, but ran into a few problems.

Commando, at its heart, is a shooting gallery. Shoot all the bad guys before they shoot you, by looking through a sniper scope. Can't fail, right? Simple app.

Unfortunately, this particular app has a problem: the cross-hair in the sniper-scope is not aligned with where the bullet actually hits. In order words, if you aim properly, you will ALWAYS miss the target. At least this is my experience on my Droid Bionic, and from reading the comments, I'm not the only one with this problem.

Graphics are not too bad, and the base game is free, but if you can't hit what you aim, then what good is teh game?

You may have better luck, of course. Maybe it's only a problem on the DB.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/commando/com.iquestint.mobile.icommandolite

AAQR: Blue (stock / commodity grapher/tracker)

Blue is a pretty darn impressive program that gives you tracking of stocks around the world as well as commodity prices. The app is free. If you want a live data feed (or slightly delayed) you pay for that.

The app is quite powerful, as it has all sorts of filters, time periods, graph types, reports, and so on. And it does a lot more than stocks.

If you dabble in the financial market, give this a try.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/blue%E2%84%A2/com.cfcwireless.blue

AAQR: TeslaLED flashlight

TeslaLED is a "flashlight" app that turns on the LED next to your camera to act as a flashlight (it's quite bright). It can also turn on your screen to do the same, do morse code, strobe, timer, and even police lights.

Unfortunately, it can't turn on the Camera "flash" LED on my Droid Bionic. So its use is limited, at least to me You may have better luck.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/teslaled-flashlight/com.teslacoilsw.flashlight

AAQR: Notification Toggle

For those of you who used the Cyanogen 7 ROM, one of the features is a series of toggles that you can slide down from the notification bar that has 7 different things you can toggle, much like the PowerToys widget, but accessible at ANY time. It's very useful. Unfortunately, it's unique to CM7 as it's a part of the notification dropdown.

Now, Notification Toggle promise to bring that to a regular phone.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work on my Droid Bionic, and the author wrote that very few phones can support direct toggle out of the box. Instead, a pop-up box is presented to do the toggle.

Still, it's free, so don't complain too much.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/notification-toggle/de.j4velin.notificationToggle
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

AAQR: WiFi File Explorer by Dooblou (utility)

WiFi File Explorer has but one purpose: lets you access the files on your Android device via any web browser on the same network. Generally, this means a PC through the same WiFi network.

This can be used for both upload and download files, and it's much faster than using other methods such as Dropbox. The only thing faster is probably USB cord but that's so inconvenient.

To use this app, just run the app, and when it's active, it gives you an URL, which you can go to the PC, type that into whatever web browser you use, and voila, you are in your phone's directory structure through the web browser. Upload, download, browse, view, do anything you like. It is that simple.

And right now, it's less than a dollar. Trust me, this app is great. Pay for it. Though there's a free version for you to try as well. It's limited though.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/wifi-file-explorer-pro/com.dooblou.WiFiFileExplorerPRO
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Friday, January 6, 2012

AAQR: Asphalt 6 HD ($0.99) racing

English: ameloft new
Image via Wikipedia
Asphalt series is a racer from Gameloft that is their "flagship" franchise, and it's one of those fast and furious type racers where you unlock more and more exotic cars (and motorcycles!) Now at version 6, this game is your pretty typical racer.

Basically, you start with something simple, like a Mini Cooper JCW, and you can buy faster vehicles by winnings (about 40K to 60K per race if you win). There's of course, nitro. You pick up nitro on the course, or you can "drift" and that'll get you some nitro too.

Nitro is essential in winning any sort of race. You can also shove other cars into the wall, which will also get you some bonus $$$. If you manage to fill your nitro gauge, you can engage "adrenaline mode", where your car goes hyperfast, as well as be virtually invincible. (And yes, you CAN crash in this game). Asphalt series lets you use up to 3 charges of nitro at the same time (different flames out of the exhaust pipes, and increased speed). There's also specials about getting extra amount of air, extra money and so on.

Each race is considered "won" if you place in the top three, where you're awarded 3 stars for 1st, 2 stars for 2nd, and 1 star for 3rd. Each race also has two bonus objectives, such as knock-down 4 cars, drift 1000 meters, don't crash more than twice, and so on. Each objective is worth another star, for a maximum of 5 stars.

Race types are varied. There's regular race, knock down (crash as many other cars as possible, without being crashed yourself), elimination (don't be last!), drift competition, and so on.

Items are unlocked according to how many stars you got. Every 5 to 10 stars unlocks additional vehicles, "tuning kits" for increased performance, and so on.

The game's graphics is quite good, almost like playing one of the Need for Speed games. Handling is primitive, but that's expected on a phone. Getting the vehicle to drift is difficult though, at least in certain configs. And you need drifting in some corners to achieve optimum speed.

The most "annoying" part about the game is the ability to BUY the upgrades... If you want to buy stars to unlock better vehicles... you can. If you want to BUY ability to unlock upgrades, you can. But that means the game is no longer just 99 cents.

And that's slightly deceptive.

Still, the game's not bad, good for short excursions. For $1, it's a good deal.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/asphalt-6:-adrenaline-hd/com.gameloft.android.ANMP.GloftA6HP
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AAQR: Fox U-42 (free, paid) game

Fox U-42 is a u-boat sim where you need to kill merchant ships and escort ships in WW2 without getting killed. It's bird's-eye-view 2D where you give path to your sub and can choose to shoot, and change speed to high or low.

The initial level is easy enough, but dodging escorts can be a problem (trickier than you think). Try the free version and see how you like it first.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/fox-u-42-free/se.oixx.subfox

AAQR: All My Enemeis (game)

All My Enemies is a pretty plain top-down vertical "shooter" where you destroy enemies coming down toward you. Pretty boring if you ask me. It lets you control the game through both tilt and touch, but that's about it.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/all-my-enemies/drowning.zebra.allmyenemies

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

AAQR: Dragon Fire (free / 2.99) puzzle

Dragon Fire is basically a puzzle where you need to route different "pulses" of fire to different receptors in the right sequence by moving the various "routers" along the way. This appears to have originated on the iPhone.

In play, it is similar to "traffic control" type games (not airport though). It could be interesting.

The demo has 6 levels, and the full game has 26 levels. Try the demo first.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/dragon-fire-demo/com.sgg.dfdemo
http://www.appbrain.com/app/dragon-fire/com.sgg.df

AAQR: Bird's the Word (game)

Bird's the Word is a word game where you are randomly given a bunch of letters in a grid and you need to use them to make words. Each level is passed if you score above a certain threshold, which means longer words and more words. As letters are removed after each word, it can get challenging for subsequent words!

If you got bored there are additional game modes.

Not bad if you like word games and needs some vocabulary challenges.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/birds-the-word/birdhd.sgn.com

AAQR: Beaver's Revenge (game)

Beaver's Revenge is a shameless ripoff of Angry Birds. You are a beaver throwing "fish" at lumberjacks who's out to cut down your forest.

Production value's not bad, but it's such a shameless clone it's... pathetic.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/beavers-revenge%E2%84%A2/com.TwistedGames.Beaverz

AAQR: Aporkalypse: Pigs of Doom (game)

Aporkcalypse is basically a platform/puzzle game where you need to manuever the 4 pigs of aporkalypse, each with their special ability, to get through some certain levels and prevent the aporkcalypse, by sending both angels and demons back to where they belong... in heaven and in hell respectively!

Story's the usual some ultimate evil has disrupted the way it should be and you need to help the four pigs save the world. :)  But obviously it's in a joking manner. Not bad... Try the free version first. Paid version removes the ads.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/aporkalypse-free/com.hg.aporkalypsefree  FREE
http://www.appbrain.com/app/aporkalypse-pigs-of-doom/com.hg.aporkalypse $1.41

Site Update: New Review Phone

I recently upgraded to a dual-core 4G LTE phone, so I'll be reviewing a few more of the games now that I'm more compatible!