Dec 28, 2010


I guess it's classics week here at Me And My Droid and today it's time to review Tetris. Back in May of this year the Tetris Company send a cease and desist letter to Google requesting demanding that all Tetris games be pulled from the Android Market. And so they were. Do a search on Tetris today and you'll see that it hasn't stuck. In fact, Google is a bit of a copyright enigma to me will all of the blatant and not so blatant infringement that goes on in the Android Market (and on other Google owned 'properties' like YouTube!). Google seems pretty good about taking action with cease and desist letters, but nobody wants to fight Google and their deep pockets in court and so would be infringers seem to like to hide in the shadow of Google. And so after my review of Androtris a year or so ago today we'll look at the officially licensed Tetris for Android which is published by EA and is a part of their nice $.99 holiday sale.

I won't spend any time talking about what Tetris is as I don't think there's a game alive (and not too many non-gamers) that aren't familiar with the basics. On these basics Tetris delivers well. It features two modes of play. First there's the traditional play until you drop 'marathon mode'. Next there an 'magic mode' that adds special abilities via tool icons on the left of the screen that you earn. You can use these tools to do things like turn the bricks at the bottom into bubble wrap allowing you to pop them to get rid of them. Magic mode is a nice addition to the game.

Tetris' graphics and sound are done well enough and the game doesn't make the same mistakes that so many other arcade ports do. For a start, there's no real issue with slow downs. Next, the controls are done very well. Swipes are used to drag the falling blocks left, right, or even down and taps are used to rotate the falling bricks. The controls are easy to get used to and fit a touch screen device perfectly. This is just as addictive as it was 20+ years ago on the original Gameboy. The game even includes a nice, quick tutorial than can easily be turned off and you can start on harder levels if you so desire.

qrcodeThere's really not much to say in the negatives for this release. The only two things I can think of are that this needs to be $.99 all the time... not just as part of a sale. I can't imagine paying $4.99 for it and $2.99 even seems steep, but at $.99 this is a staple that all Android owners should have. The other, bigger issue (no pun intended) in that it's 8 meg with no App2SD. That's a lot of storage space for such a simple game even though it's well executed.

If you've got the space then get this while it's $.99. And I have to admit being pleasantly surprised that goliath has done such a nice job with this game. I have really come to expect disappointment in these ports from companies that just rely on their past reputation to get by. EA's Tetris stands tall on its own and fill up the storage on your Android to prove it. 4/5 stars.

Dec 27, 2010


I think it's a bit of a joke that classic arcade games like Pac Man, Arkandoid, and Frogger are being offered on the Android Market at top tier prices. Some of my problem with that revolves around the fact that I've purchased these games many times before on other platforms. I was there buying Pac Man on the Atari 2600 (although, was that really Pac Man?) the day J.C. Penny got their first shipment. Next, I bought it on my Atari 400... then NES... Playstation (as part of Namco Museum)... etc. You get the idea. The other part of it is that these are games being milked while other, more current games that take far better advantage of what my Android device is capable of are $.99. Which one is the better value?

So, I was please to see that Frogger finally hit my price point. Well, $.99 may have been my price point, but at free it is even better and a welcome surprise from Konami. Frogger's popularity stems from the fact that it, along with games like Pac Man, we friendly to the fairer sex. They weren't about blowing up anything that moves... and then, once that's done, every that doesn't move. It is also really simple... a 4 way joystick and no extra buttons. In Frogger you guide a frog across five lanes of traffic, a river, and into little frog beds on the other side. Fill up the frog beds and the next level is faster and more difficult. Add some nice, peppy music to the mix and it's a nice, simple, and cute little game.

Frogger on Android replicates most of this, but, in order to be a freebie, adds ads to the mix. Ads are placed at the top of the screen which is innoncent enough I suppose. The game is controlled via the touchscreen with swipes across the screen and that works just fine although it would be nice if I could use my familiar DPad. Unfortunately, the game plays in portrait mode so that wouldn't work too well. Ok, the swipes work well and are accurate enough such that it's not a problem. Musically the game is a step backwards from it's arcade parent. And would you believe this game consumes almost 10 meg of storage? What was the original... like 32k if that? But the biggest problem is speed. The game seems to suffer from the occasional stutter here and there and that means disaster for an arcade game that relies on twitch arcade reflexes. I guess my Android just isn't powerful enough to keep up with this complex game from 30 years ago? A deal breaker it is not... the game is playable on my Droid. I try to think of this as a feature that makes the game just that much more difficult.

qrcodeFrogger is worth trying now that it's $.00, but it could have been better. The upgraded graphics do little to improve the game and I really loved the original's music. At 10 meg (with no App2SD) this isn't going to earn a permanent place on my phone's storage. I suspect playing Frogger on my Nintendo emulator would be more satisfying as I would regain the comfort and familiarity of my trusty DPad controller and cut out the occasional slow down. Had I paid $2.99 or $4.99 I would have been upset, though and people that did pay that have reason to be disappointed. As for me I give this 3/5 stars and am grateful I'm not out any cash.

Android Market

My Android Market update arrived on Christmas Eve. Is this a Christmas gift from Google? After all, I know I and many others have been clamoring for many features that the Market should have already had. Let's take a look...

The first, and most obvious, feature is the new, prettier look. A nice, curvy green area descends from the top of the screen, but still contains the same old menu items... Apps, Games, and Verizon (guess which carrier I am on... at least for a little while longer?). I'm not really into cosmetics, but it's definitely nicer looking. It would be nice if they would tie this whole Market in with a desktop computer interface ala iTunes, but Google's web presence for Android continues to be feeble at best (with many app's screenshots not even being properly displayed).

They've also changed the screen for looking at an app and eliminated the tabs in favor of expandable areas. want more description? Click on 'More' and it grows. It looks nice, but I don't see this as much of a boon. In some ways I miss the old Market as tabs seemed more efficient.

Categories? No changes. The same old, basic categories persist to this day along with all of the junk that pollutes them. Filters? Not yet. They did increase the amount of screenshots that an app can have, though, and my understanding is new rules are coming that mandate at least one screenshot. Personally, if you're a developer that uploads software that you've spent longer than 15 minutes working on then you're an idiot. Can I be more blunt? You've spent all this time working on a program and can't even show me what it looks like. I know I don't even bother when I see (or, in this case, don't see?) such laziness.

Speaking of 15 minutes, you now have 15 minutes to try out a download before the time period in which you can request a refund expires. This is probably causing the biggest stir. On one hand, other app stores don't let you get a refund... period. One the other hand, for some of these apps that take 10 minutes in which to download their data packs a 15 minutes refund period is a joke. I'm mixed on this. On Android we've got a degree of fragmentation that can make a game work great on one device and fail on another, and indie developers can't possibly test them all. There needs to be a refund policy. One the other hand, I am sickened when I see someone post that they 'beat all the levels' in 6 hours and got a refund. Asking for a refund of a $.99 game that you've derived 6 hours of enjoyment from just because you can is sleazy. You can thank that guy for the new policy. As for me, personally, having a 15 minute policy reduces my ability to try and review games without racking up quite a bill so I'm not really happy about this, but I do understand it.

There is one biggie in here, though, and that's the new 'My Apps' section that shows the latest downloadable updates. This section now lists ALL of the apps you have ever purchased which is quite the boon to people like me that have been forced to shuffle apps around due to limited memory. Now I can easily see all of the games that I own without slogging through my email archives looking for receipts.

Lastly, I continue to be disappointed in the lack of any gift card support. I had heard rumblings that Google might accept PayPal as a payment method to assist in opening Android up in other countries, and that would help a bit. It would also be nice if they allowed for the download codes so a developer could easily provide demo copies of their games to would be reviewers.

All in all, any updates and improvements are welcome. I still long for more categories and filters that would let me banish the makers of 'Up Her Skirt CXVII' from my world, but there's always next Christmas.

Dec 23, 2010

Rocket Bunnies

Rocket Bunnies is a unique take on the physics puzzler that uses planets and their gravitational pull rather than the more traditional 'everything sinks to the bottom of the screen' approach. Actually, the misnomer of using a planet's pull is probably better explained by treating the planets as gears that can rotate back and forth, if that makes any sense. No? Ok, let's try this is more clear terms. You're a bunny with a jet pack strapped on your back. A jet pack so insanely powerful that it can easily break free of the pull of any planet. You start in orbit around a planet and have to zip on around several other planets in the system collecting the Mario equivalent of gold coins. To change planets you just click and off you head. When you arrive you orbit in a preset direction, but later in the game you find that you can tap on the planet again to change directions. What's the benefit? Well, this is a game all about time... completing the levels as fast as possible. You'll be graded on that with a rating from one to three stars (or failure). Sounds easy enough, right? But wait, there's more... some planets have obstacles like mines orbiting them. At first you can skip by these, but later you'll have to sync up with them to grab food off of those planets, too.

Rocket Bunnies sports solid graphics and good audio accompaniment. Once again, controls are 100% touch screen based and are very simple... just touch the planets and you're set. The game plays very smoothly. I find it interesting to see that this game arrives on Android before it does on the iPhone, but the developer, presumably in an attempt to be hilarious, says "By testing Rocket Bunnies with the common hordes of Android users, we’ll be able to smooth out every rough edge to ensure no imperfection mars your delicate sensibilities." So we're the common hordes? The guinea pigs of the development world existing solely to make for a solid iExperience. I know I'm hypersensitive, but why say that? Ah, humor.

Rocket Bunnies is very well done... clearly a professional title. The game itself is good... but not great. I can't complain as this is a free, ad supported game. Anyone can pull it on down and choose to take it or leave it without risk of any finances. My take on the game is more that of trying to figure out what this is. It's got a twitch element as, for example, leaving a planet at just the right time offers a critical speed boost both in terms of avoiding obstacles and meeting your timed goal for completing a level. At the same time, there is a puzzle element of trying to figure out the best path between the planets both for avoiding peril and, once again, your goal of a best time. When these two desirable elements meet, however, the end result just isn't as superb as I might expect it to be.

I'll also note that I found the game's interface for getting started to be a little confusing. The first screen is clear enough with a great, big 'Start' button, but then the next screen has a back button and, well didn't feel like I had started much of anything. There's another planet with no text on it and in taking a second look I think that's where the confusion is as there's another planet that's almost hidden because it's so transparent that is the other option. As is there's just one option and this screen could be eliminated until that's available. Click on the planet and you'll be at the Carrot Galaxy screen and ready to click on a sector which contains several levels. You can also easily go back and replay and level that you earned fewer than three stars on in an effort to improve your score. And as you get better you'll unlock other sectors.

In conclusion, I'm just left with a feeling that things just don't fit together as well as they should. A year ago this would have been a game that was 6/5 stars based on quality alone. Now that we've got a selection of games despite being the "common hordes" I can be picky and Rocket Bunnies isn't going to make my 'frequently played' list. It also consumes almost 10 meg of my phone's precious internal storage despite supporting App2SD (and I though Flick Kick Football was bad with it's 5 meg requirement). 4/5 stars.

Dec 20, 2010

Gish Reloaded

Gish Reloaded is a reprise of a game called Gish in which you are a giant, black ball of tar moving from level to level. It's a recent release from HandyGames, a favorite publisher of mine, as an ad supported game with a paid version available as well. The basic plot starts with Gimp tar-knapping Gish's tar kiddies. Rescue is the name of the game. Gish, as a ball of tar, also has several 'abilities' such as becoming more liquidic (making it easier to slide through smaller holes) and excessive stickiness (allowing him to more readily climb walls). So, you're goal is to work your way through the levels and rescue the family. And, as with all of these kinds of games, there's plenty of other stuff to accumulate along the way.

The graphics are certainly worthy and the sound effects and controls are all on par with a Handy release. Controls take full advantage of Android's accelerometer and will have you flipping your phone all around to navigate the levels of this game. The touch screen is used to toggle modes and make Gish stickier or what not. The game also allows you to download additional levels although I don't see a level editor. I suspect the bulk of your play will be with the Campaign mode.

So, level editor? The level editor can be downloaded as a standalone program from What I can't easily tell is what platform it's for. My guess is Windows as it's a .zip file with an .exe file in, but there's also a .jar file in there so maybe it's done in Java and is consequently cross-platform. The rest will be left as an exercise for the budding level editor. What's nice is that there are also MANY levels already available for download on Whether they're any good is another question.

qrcodeAll isn't peaches and cream, though. From my experience with the first few levels from the included campaign my general feeling was more so that the game was playing me. Sure, I was moving my device around and changing modes to scale walls and such, but never did I get that "a-ha" moment that turns a decent game into a gem. This is no Super Mario Brothers 3. It felt much more like I was just following along selecting the correct, obvious mode to do what I needed to do while occasionally falling into a secret door. If I'm going to invest time in working my way through a series of levels then I was to feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. As is, despite the solid game engine I can't give this one more than 4/5 stars. I'm also left unsure as to whether better level design would fix things, or is the slow moving tar ball that grates on me making is less desirable to continue play.

Dec 14, 2010

Slice It!

I don't get invited to many parties. Maybe that's because I'm not fun. Maybe it's because I don't like to mingle and make idle small talk. Maybe it's because I generally don't enjoy parties. Maybe it's because I stand around checking my phone and playing games in the corner while everyone else is doing whatever it is they do at a party.

So I tried Slice It! the other day. Slice It!, in my book, is an attempt to create a game to piggyback on all of the fruit and vegetable slicing games in the Market, but by extending the genre into something different. Instead of being another "me too" arcade game, it's a game in which you slice objects with a preset number of lines into a predetermined number of (hopefully) equal parts. Slice It! comes to us from Com2Us and is a free, ad supported game (which seems to be the hot trend lately). I guess I can't blame them as Android owners are proving to be frugal (or maybe just plain cheap) when it comes to buying games, and Rovio is claiming a million a month in ad revenue from their red hot Angry Birds game.

Slice It! offers decent graphics with line art shapes drawn on a sheet of virtual graph paper. When a shape is displayed you'll be given a number of slice (aka lines) to use as well as the target number of pieces. You then drag from one side to the other to create a line that will slice the object into parts. The game starts off with a basic square being cut into two, but gradually evolves into more complex shapes that have to be more than just bisected. When you succeed you'll get to see the actual percentage sizes that you divided the supplied object into, but when you fair it's just lights out with a chance at a redo. And that's it... shape after shape and slice after slice of cutting objects into equal sized pieces.

qrcodeSlice It! gets rave reviews in the Android Market from most folk, but I just don't get it. This is another party that apparently I'm missing as I don't feel the fun when I play. It feels more like work and it gets old fast. The game itself is well executed on all fronts. No problems in the quality department. I just don't find the concept entertaining and isn't that why I game in the first place? 3/5 stars for a game that just don't feel like a game. In the meantime I need to get back to creating my new "Sock Sorter" game... that oughta be a total blast to play.

Dec 8, 2010

Press Release: Can Knockdown by Infinite Dreams Hits the Android Market

Infinite Dreams proved that 24 hour projects can successfully compete against other games on the market. iDreams previous quick app – Plasma Globe – has been downloaded over one million times in just seven days! Now “Can Knockdown” will try to copy this huge success on the Android Market.

Gliwice, Poland - Infinite Dreams, award-winning mobile games publisher informed today about the release of its new project for the Android Market (iPhone version coming soon). "Can Knockdown!" is an addictive and 100% FREE game which gives players the possibility to become cold blood snipers while aiming at and knocking down piles and pyramids of cans! Start playing and you just won't put down this marvelous title till you drain your battery empty!

"Can Knockdown!" includes many astonishing features which will amaze your friends and make you come back for more! Online leaderboards (coming with OpenFeint update), absolutely gorgeous high-res graphics, unique and realistic physics engine, multipliers, explosive action and so much more! Can Knockdown is like a miraculous carnival fun fair - only better!

Press Release: Casino Crime from HandyGames

Giebelstadt/Germany, 7th of December 2010. Build your own gambling empire! With the release of Casino Crime, HandyGames™, the leading German publisher of mobile games, is starting a new era of casino games on the Android platform and places the power of “La Familia” firmly in the hands if its fans.

"Games like Casino Crime are a rarity in the Android Market! Casino Crime offers many hours of gaming entertainment for all fans of complex tycoon-type sims and casino games.", comments Markus Kassulke, CEO of HandyGames™.

Start your criminal career in the glamorous world of gambling! Help luck along a little in your own casino and take your guests to the cleaners! Whether it's easy pick pocketing or elaborate card tricks: the only good guest is a fleeced guest! With your foot on the brake of the roulette wheel and an ace up your sleeve, you're ready for anything. Welcome to the family!

Casino Crime is now available for free in the Android Market for all Android devices.

Features of Casino Crime:
  • Exciting casino manager game with Mafia connections
  • Slot machines, Blackjack and Roulette
  • Use dirty tricks to cheat your punters
  • Pick pockets to earn some quick money
  • Unscrupulous croupiers with a talent for crime
  • Gambling addicts with their individual needs
Features may vary depending on the device


Dec 7, 2010

Spot the Difference

When I was a wee lad, I used to really dig those puzzles in Highlights magazine when there was a line drawing and you had to find all of the objects hidden in the picture. Since then it's become more common to see puzzles with two images where you have to find the differences. Nowadays they're showing up in the magazines my children read, but with Spot the Difference I have more such puzzles than I could possibly need.

Spot the Difference turns this experience digital on Android and shows you two colorful photos that are ever so slightly different and adds the pressure of a timer to the challenge. You will frantically search the images for the five differences. Not to be cliché, but this is another ideal mobile game... quick, simple, and fun (or maybe torture to the visually imperceptive). In the graphics and sound department there's really nothing to say. The color photos are nice and there isn't anything much in the way of sound that would even be necessary. Sure, they could have added annoying timer sounds or something, but fortunately they did not. When you find a difference you just touch the screen wherever said difference is noticed. If you're wrong then you suffer a penalty and are buzzed, but if you're right a friendly, green circle appears and one of the five notches in the upper right is filled in.

What this game feeds on, though, are the puzzles and the interface for adding and managing puzzle packs is quite nice. You can view available packs and download them from within the game. Furthermore, you can disable them if you're sick of solving fish puzzles and even delete them to free up space so that you don't have to have all of the artwork ever created for this game stored on your phone. The game also offers leader boards so that you can become the best of the best when it comes to being observant.

qrcodeAbout the only thing I didn't like was that some of the puzzles seem quite hard... I'd find three or four of the difference, but just not be able to find the last one. The timer would run out and it would quickly flash where the difference was, but not give me enough time to really see it before returning to the menu. It would have been nice had I been given control to decide when I'm done looking at the solution.

There are other puzzles of this kind and even one with the same name. I haven't tried them all, but I can say that this is a quality job and a game I'd recommend to those that like this kind of game. 4.5/5 stars.

Dec 6, 2010

Office Rush

Office Rush is a cute little game that isn't going to cower in the face of political correctness. In Office Rush it's your job to climb the corporate ladder and advance to the position of CEO. Only then will you be able to stick it to the little guy and make far more than one person should ever be paid. No, this game isn't really about economics. It's actually got more of a puzzle slant to it than anything else.

When Office Rush first loads you'll be greeted by a title screen and some nice music. Then you'll get an error that tells you your license isn't valid and it'll close even though you just purchased it. Hopefully that's just me, but that's what did happen and I strive for accurate reporting. So I eventually reload, go through the tutorial which explains that your starting role with the firm is that of a security guard. And what's the biggest problem security guards in corporate America face today? Yes, indeed... ninjas! So you have to kill the ninja and get back to your office (and by 'kill the ninja' I mean 'touch the ninja'). So, on each screen there are some obstacles and you have to run and jump around to get over to the ninja and then back to your place, but wait there's more... each level is actually made up of several tiled screens that can be shifted around like a slide puzzle. You can only travel between these screens if you have them connected correctly (which seems to mean that connected edges look the same). This actually turns out to be a good recipe for a neat little puzzle game that will stop to make you think for a second or two, but, while I have not finished the game, hasn't really left me hanging for any length of time.

Eventually you graduate and make it to secretary. And what do secretaries do? Yes, indeed... they make coffee. So next you'll be getting water (and by 'getting water' I mean 'touching the water cooler') to make coffee and then delivering it to the boss on your knees begging for his approval. No, joke! And, naturally, the secretary is clearly female. Whether you're offended by that or think it's funny one thing is certain: it really wasn't necessary as the central concept of 'touch point A and go to point B' remains the same.

qrcodeThe graphics are basic, and while there a nice little bit of intro music, there really isn't much to the audio for this game. Controls work well and are responsive. Just press the on-screen left or right buttons to move and while moving press the other button to jump. Actually that's a pretty clever control scheme that keeps the on-screen buttons to a minimum. The only control issue I had was with the title screen and I just this moment figured it out. You have to slide to play and/or select a level and not just touch/press the arrows. That was driving me nuts!

Office Rush is a nice little game and is just $0.99 in the Android Market. If you like puzzle style games with a little bit of arcade action thrown in then this is a perfect fit. I'm wondering if later levels will have more than a 2 x 2 slide puzzle, because that would make for a series of much more challenging puzzles. As is, even if I don't see a solution I can easily play trial and error to find one. 4/5 stars for a game that really gets down to business.

Scooter Hero

Scooter Hero bills itself as "one of the most addicting games on the Android Market" and you all know that I'm a sucker for such claims. After all, if your Mom loves your game that much then it HAS to be good doesn't it? The premise is simple. You're controlling a scooter that apparently has the engine of a small delivery truck (based on how it sounds when you crank up the engine). Off you go then along a series of platforms while tapping the screen to jump. You can perform stunts or perhaps that should be singular as in 'a stunt' as the only thing I could find was landing with just my front wheel kind of drags me along under the platform.
The graphics are decent with a somewhat cartoony looking scooter and some background artwork although it probably would have been more impressive if the background scrolled instead of being a still image. Audio, likewise, is decent with the occasional 'great!' when I do something great. Controls are simple and responsive. Just touch the screen to jump or touch and hold to jump higher. You can also touch once while in midair to get a little extra boost.

When all is said and done this game really comes down to being a clone of those SFCave type games where you're moving through a cave and touch to rise and release to fall. It's got better graphics and a better theme than that game and even adds some extras like power ups such a bubble that turns this into an exact clone of the aforementioned game for a short while (i.e. you ride in the bubble and no longer need worry about falling off of the platforms). This game also features three modes of play: 1) You can collect medals, or 2) you can to collect fuel and must make sure you don't run out, or 3) you can deal with obstacles like orange traffic cones.

qrcodeThis is one of those simple games that needs to be in everyone's collection is some form or another. OrangePixel has a good one in their Mini Plane, and, if graphics aren't your thing, SFCave is another free alternative. Scooter Hero, likewise, does a good job of representing this style of game, but with the outrageous 'addiction' claim I had to poke fun at it in the beginning of this review. While I'm at it I also find it funny that the main picture on the developer's website is empty and instead of showing an actual screenshot of the game's play in the Android Market they show the title and instruction screens. That's not what people want to see, guys!? Fortunately there's a freebie demo available. 3.5/5 stars for an above average job.