Oct 31, 2011

Halloween Sales

I know a lot of Halloween Sales have been going on over the weekend and it's awesome to see these sales finally spreading to Android. We're closing in on the end of them so hop to it if you've been missing out.

First off... Riptide GP has dropped from $6.99 to $2.99. It's an awesome Hydro Thunder type game for Tegra 2 devices such as the Transformer tablet. It looks and plays great and is now available at a great price, too.

Next... Polarbit is having a $.99 sale. A lot of their games are a steal at that price and I've reviewed several of this. Reckless Getaway is one of their recent hits and Raging Thunder 2 is a great, albeit older, racing title. Toki Tori is a fun little puzzle platformer. And their Family Pack - All In One looks like a great value at this steal of a price.

And then there's Electronic Arts... not quite as generous at Polarbit, but Madden 2012 is $2 off at $4.99 and FIFA 10 is just $.99. All of their titles have a price reduction of some sort including The Sims 3 which is also $4.99.

Finally note that Chillingo's titles are under the EA umbrella and games like Spider Jack and The Wars are just $.99.

Happy Halloween gaming!

Oct 24, 2011

Flick Golf!

I really was apprehensive about Flick Golf! and its claim of an 'accurate in-flight spin control', but tonight that changed. I've played a lot of Flick Kick Field Goal and have to admit that sometimes the question of accuracy enters my head. I don't think there's a problem with that game... I think it's probably a combination of my inaccuracy as a human and my phone's hardware (probably more so the former than the latter), but there are times when I'm convinced I've just knocked the ball dead center down the middle and for some reason it hooks. But we're not talking about football... we're talking about golf. Flick Golf!'s secret? You not only flick the ball off of the tee, but you can also control it while it's in flight. That sounded weak to me at first, but after playing it I am a believer. In a nutshell, their system lets you flick while the ball is in flight, but your flicks carry less weight in your overall shot as the ball approaches the hole. And that's actually pretty cool because it means if you hook it then you've got a short moment to work on correcting that so while it may not be realistically it sure is fun and that's what games are all about.

But first, let me say that Flick Golf!'s graphics are beautiful and include great attention to detail. Furthermore, the game looks great on my phone's small screen and my tablet's big one. This is one pretty game. On the audio front there's not much to talk about. Sound effects match the game and are not a distraction, though. And control consists entirely of short swipes (aka flicks) and that is handled well. The game also plays very smoothly.

qrcodeYour goal? To get as many points as possible. The game does feature unlockable courses and essentially each hole is like a target and the closer you get to sinking a shot the more points you earn. Let's also note that, unlike golf, you get one shot at a hole and those extra swipes after the initial shot do not count against you like extra strokes do in real golf. Instead, you're working against a timer. That adds some pressure to get that ball in the air as soon as possible instead of plotting and planning your next, great shot.

Flick Golf! does give you control over the camera although I've had no need for it. It's always been clear as to what I'm aiming for and the timer forces me to avoid playing with the camera. All in all, this is a game I've enjoyed far more than I thought I would. I enjoy flicking games and really though nothing would eclipse Flick Kick Field Goal. Does this eclipse that? No. But they're equals and that really speaks highly of this as I'm much more of a football guy than a golf guy. And at a tad over a buck this is a game to get if only to stare at the scenery. 5/5 stars.

Oct 22, 2011

Clowning Around

I was first introduced to Clowning Around on my iPad and was pleased to see it make the jump to Android. It looks like they did a pretty good job on the conversion, too. This is among the few games that my five year old loves and, given that I'm a bit surprised that she's not more into games considering my massive collection, I am always grateful to a publisher that can capture her attention such that she actually ASKS to play it again. Notable flops include Kinectimals and I'm still puzzled over that as it's a solid game, but I digress.

Clowning Around is clearly one-upsmanship on Cut the Rope. Instead of candy, you've got clowns. Instead of a monster waiting to eat the candy, you've got barrels that the clowns are trying to land in as a part of their act. Then you have various pieces of circus equipment such as platforms, trampolines, cannons, and, of course, chains that need to be cut in the proper sequence with the proper timing to allow everyone to reach their intended destination in a timely manner. I should also note that levels can include multiple clowns of different colors and each clown must land in a like colored barrel.

Is this better than Cut the Rope? No. I think it's equivalent. The tutorial is well done and progression is smooth. And, yes, my five year old loves Cut the Rope, too. At the time she'd play whichever was available (i.e. on the device I wasn't using) as I had Cut the Rope on my Android tablet and Clowning Around on the iPad. Now, it doesn't matter... they're on both. And they're both excellent games. Looking for something like Cut the Rope, but want some new challenges? You'll be in heaven. Love circus music? Well, you'll be treated to a nice musical score while the game gets started.

qrcodeThe graphics in this game are good. The clowns are more like 'clown balls' as the clowns are rolled up in the balls as they acrobatically drop and bounce into their water filled buckets. As each one arrives you'll be treated to a nice 'ta da' style bow. Another nice difference with this game is that there's a physics element as the clowns will bounce and roll to their destinations in addition to just dropping. Sound effects are solid and, just like Cut the Rope, touch screen swipes are all that you need to play although admittedly I've had a glitch here and there with that that I hadn't encountered with the iPad version more than once. However, when I would test it to try and prove a problem I could never do so therefore I have to conclude that perhaps the glitch is with me.

Clowning Around is some solid circus fun and that's coming from a guy that's scared of clowns (yes, me and Cosmo [wonder how many will get that reference]). It's available in both a paid, ad free format and a free ad supported format although the ads are unobtrusive. 4/5 stars.

Oct 20, 2011

Schoon's Top 10 Android Games - October 2011

There are so many good games on the Android platform now that it is becoming of difficult to keep up with them all.  With the Droid Incredible's problem of "Not enough space" rearing its ugly head quite often for me I usually try to keep no more than 30 or so Apps on the device.  This doesn't leave me with a lot of room for games but the ones that I do have I really enjoy playing.  I decided to summarize my top 10 favorites as of October 2011 and place them in a post with links to the marketplace in case some of the new Android users out there may have missed some of these gems.  With that, here is my current list of top 10 games on my phone.  This list is in descending order with the number one title being my current favorite.  Remember, we all have our favorites and this list is mine, you don't have to agree but please be nice if you decide to comment, thanks!

10.  Fruit Ninja - A lighthearted, easy and quick to play game that was born on iOS.  Basically you use your finger as a "sword" and try to slice fruit as fast as you can while avoiding the bombs.  Great graphics and a very nicely done interface.

9.  Angry Birds Rio - After having all the Angry Birds titles on my phone for quite some time I have settled at this one being the only one currently occupying space.  It's the best of the bunch in my opinion and the most challenging.

8.  Dynamo Kid Touch - A great side scroller similar in vein to the classic mario series but quite a bit more challenging in some respects.  Just try to get past world 4!

7.  Enjoy Sudoku - Simply put, the best Sudoku game I've found in the marketplace.  Easy and intuitive controls and virtually endless puzzles.

6.  Lane Splitter - For a nice arcade racing rush you simply can't beat this one.  Uses the accelerometer for turning and gets harder and harder.  The global high scores keep you coming back for more.

5.  Peggle - For the money, a great puzzle game that is hard to master.  Lots of levels and you can play a single level in about 5 minutes which makes it a great time killer.  Only complain here is the slow load times.

4.  Stellar Escape - Another side scroller but this seems to be one of my favorite genres on the phone.  Another quick pick up and play and finishing a level without mistakes can be quite challenging.

3.  Words with Friends - Even though this thing is still buggy as hell I keep coming back to it.  It's scrabble with your facebook friends.  Just get it.

2.  Cut the Rope - Another great puzzle game that originated on iOS but has decent Android support.  Too many levels to mention, a great value and lots of fun.

1.  HexDefense - I think I mentioned this in my full review of this game but to this day I fire this game up more than any other on my device.  Hands down the best tower defense game I have played on the small screen.  Get it.

Once I put this list together I went back and dropped a few and added a few.  Other notable titles are iRunner which I recently reviewed here and Greedy Spiders which is a bit new to be on an all time favorite list yet.  Other favorites are Hanging with Friends, Plants Versus Zombies and Random Mahjong Pro.  Finally, for a gem swapper you simply must try Tropical Fish Shop, it's a blast. I hope you enjoy my list, as it changes over the months I will strive to create a new Schoon's best-of post.  Thanks for reading!

Oct 17, 2011

Why Android is starting to suck... (or bye, bye SNES9x)

What a controversial statement! Where am I going with this?

Quite simply a core reason I chose Android over an iPhone is the heavy handed practices of Apple in choosing to disallow Flash support and heavily monitoring all apps available on their devices (which translates to no classic game console/computer emulators). Since then the Android Market seems to be gradually digging up and rooting out emulators. First it was the N64oid and Ataroid by yongz that got the boot. Next, I can't find Atari800 via searches (even though it still seems to be there via direct link). Now it's...


SNES9x that is the target. The best part, however, if it Google has a problem with you they just say "there's a problem..." and you're screwed. There's nothing more than a vague explanation. I've read similar stories from people with AdSense accounts. Do you run a business revolving around AdSense income? Google can take it away in a flash with no explanantion or dialog. Quite frankly, Google is becoming a scary company to deal with that is too big for its own britches.

Now, I'll give you that I can still install .apk files on my own and other 'third party' markets currently compensate for this. And, at the very least, Google lets me run what I want to on my phone even if they don't directly approve of it. But the heavy handed policies of Apple apparently exist on the other side of the aisle as well moreso than we might like to think.

Oct 15, 2011

Boulder Dash Contest

Edit: Boulder Dash is a game from my childhood and I'm glad to see it appear on Android (although I continue to loathe the in-app purchase system that's becoming so commonplace). I'm not sure $150 is enough to inspire brilliance, but I'm guessing the goal is moreso to inspire reprinting of their press release (even though they were too cheap to toss a review copy my way)...

Chappaqua, New York – October 11, 2011 – First Star Software, Inc. and development partner InstantCom, Ltd. today announce a contest soliciting the best suggestion for a new feature, creature or tool to be used in future Boulder Dash® sequels. The USD $150. prize for the best suggestion will be awarded October 29, 2011 as the contest ends 28th October 2011.

First Star Software, Inc and its development partners, InstantCom, Ltd. want to make sure that the next game in the series will appeal to today's gamers! A $150 prize will be awarded to the person who submits what First Star Software considers to be the best idea for a new game feature; or a new creature; or a new tool; or anything else players suggest that might be added to Boulder Dash games in the future.

Players can find the contest here: http://prizes.org/New-features-and-tools-for-boulder-dash-game. Void where prohibited by law, First Star Software, Inc. in it’s sole discretion will pick what it considers to be the best suggestion. Its judgement to be considered final and binding.

Boulder Dash is an action-puzzle computer game first released in 1984. There have been many sequels in the last 27 years. The latest release is Boulder Dash® -The Collection™ for Android OS SmartPhones. It features 5 games from the past including the much loved original from 1984 and can be found on the Android Market here: https://market.android.com/details?id=net.instantcom.bdtc.

In all Boulder Dash games, the hero Rockford™ needs to collect diamonds, avoid boulders and different types of enemies, use magic walls or amoebas to convert boulders into diamonds; and, sometimes, use tools to solve the cave puzzle. These and other interesting characters and features and the real-life physics of falling objects comprise the game mechanics players have come to expect and enjoy in all Boulder Dash games.


Oct 12, 2011


This game has been installed on my phone since it was released.  If you understood how often I swap out games from my home screens you'd appreciate how much that means.  It's not just that my six year old boy loves this game.  It's also that it is just plain fun.  With over 72,000 reviews in the Android Marketplace and a 4.6 star rating you really can't go wrong with it.  Oh, let's not even mention that it is FREE!  So, why should you even bother with it?  Those of you who read my reviews here on the site know that I appreciate a good pick up and play game.  With all of the entertainment devices vying for our attention these days it isn't often when I have hours to spend playing games on my phone.  If I have that kind of time then I usually prefer to play console or PC games.  iRunner is an absolute blast to play and a very challenging time killer.  The developer has kept pace with the user requests and the latest version has quite a lot to offer for a free game.

Let's talk about polish.  I appreciate the developer who goes the extra mile.  Sure it's great to have good core game play but what about the rest of the package?  Menus, sound effects, use of hard buttons, tutorials, all the stuff that rounds a title out.  iRunner doesn't disappoint at all in these categories.  From the title screen to the integrated achievements to the unobtrusive advertising it is all well done.  Let's start with the menus.  Here you can tweak the options which include swapping the jump and slide buttons and turning off sound and music.  There's also a button here to check on your achievement progress.  No open feint support but maybe that will come later.  For now, the game does offer global high scores which is cool.  They've also added a share link so you can post about the game pretty easily to your facebook account if you like.

In the center of the main menu you'll see our friendly protagonist.  I'm not exactly sure what he is but he sure is cute.  He's somewhat a cross between an animated battery and a claymation gumby.  Well most of you probably don't get the gumby reference but if you did great, if not, go ahead and google it, it's worth it.  So it seems our little guy needs to RUN, JUMP and SLIDE to get the heck out of this world that he is in.  You'll do this through three different game types.  The adventure mode has you trying to get through progressively more levels trying to reach the end of the game.  The Quick Play mode lets you replay any level you've beaten in the Adventure Mode.  Finally the challenge mode is an infinite game where you simply try to stay alive as long as possible and score as many points as you can.  In this last mode is where you'll find the local and global high scores list.

What you have here is a side scrolling game.  As the game scrolls your character stays towards the left side of the screen.  The bottom left portion of the screen makes your character jump with a tap.  The bottom right portion of the screen makes your character slide with a tap.  When sliding, if you hold the button down you will continue to slide until you release it.  When jumping, pressing the jump again while in the air causes a double jump.  This comes in very handy to reach higher locations and also to jump the wider chasms.  Throughout the level are what appear to be batteries, as you eat them pac-man style your battery gauge goes up.  Fill it up and you get bonus points.  It's challenging to try and get all of the batteries as some of them are in very hard to reach places.  Along the way you'll also encounter four types of packages.  Get four distinct packages and your character will power up becoming invincible for a few moments and then speeding up.  He also changes costumes to look like a ninja when you power up. 

On my droid incredible the gameplay is pretty solid.  As you proceed through the levels in Adventure mode things get harder and harder.  So far I've made it through to level 4-5.  In this level the developer had the diabolical idea to make you do the opposite of what you have been doing for the previous levels.  In other words, you are supposed to avoid the prizes.  If you go for the prizes on this level the engine usually places an obstacle that will take one of your precious lives of which at the beginning you are given three.  You can gain additional lives by surviving but it is best to try and not lose them all all.  Another cool feature is that the levels are not fixed, each time you play they are randomly generated.  The backgrounds also change for each stage.  Overall the graphics are very nice and even the music doesn't get too annoying after dozens of plays.  I keep picking this one up to try and beat level 4-5 so hopefully soon I will defeat it.  I can't wait to see what world six brings.

There's just not much I can say that is negative about this one.  About the only real complaint I have is that sometimes the controls don't seem to respond quite right.  For a fast paced game such as this it can mean the difference between life and death.  Many times I know I hit the button but the character did not respond.  This could be my phone but I have also read a few reviews on marketplace that seem to have the same problem.  Hopefully the developer will fix this problem with an update.  Another complain is the lack of Open Feint support which I mentioned above, again, I hope they add this in a future update.  Overall this is a great pick up and play free game that you should go grab and check out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed at all.  By the way, my high score on Challenge Mode is currently around 62,000.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Early Bird

The early bird gets the worm and apparently has now inspired a video game. Early Bird is another game that pretty clearly tries to borrow something from Angry Birds while offering something different. The premise is simple. There's a worm in the ground and your little birdie wants it. However, along the way there are other tasty treats to eat and hazards to deal with. Like many games in the puzzle genre there are unlockable levels and you'll be shown an overview of the level before you begin your quest. Then you'll have to swipe to send your bird in motion trying to eat as many ladybugs as you can along the way all the while landing on the target where the worm resides. On each level you have a fixed number of swipes (denoted by the blue feathers in the screenshot) before you're done and it's time to try again. Also, note that swipes can be cumulative which is among the big differences in the game. You may, for instance, have to fly over a hill. One swipe isn't going to do it so in mid flight you'll need to swipe again to cross over its peak.

Graphically the game is on solid footing. It's also got the 'used and abused' cuteness factor going for it. Succeed and the results screen has Mr. Worm expressing his enthusiasm at being captured. Fail and the little birdie start to cry. The audio is also smooth and controls work very well. I always felt that my swipes were properly detected and executed.

qrcodeNaturally, as the game progresses the levels get more challenging by being longer and also adding things such as wind. And, of course, scoring is dependent on a variety of factors such as how many of the possible ladybugs you consumed, how fast you completed the level, and how close the the middle of the bullseye you landed when you caugh the worm.

Early Bird is just $0.99 in the Android Market and is a solid game, but it's not going to win any awards as there's really nothing in the 'breakthrough' realm here. It simply joins the ranks of the many other quality puzzle games already available. Bottom line... it's a nice little time killer that's worth 4/5 stars.

Oct 11, 2011

Icebreaker Hockey

Icebreaker Hockey is one of those games I've been looking forward to. Well, any sports game falls into that category and we could use another quality hockey game on Android. Warning: Icebreaker Hockey is NOT another quality hockey game.

First, I tried it on my tablet. After making the purchase, downloading the game, and launching it I was promptly greeted with a crash screen. For good measure I tried once more and was forced to go the route of the rapid refund as the new 15 minute rule doesn't give much time to play around and figure out any problems.

I then debated about getting it on the off chance it might work on my phone... as from what I read it works for some and doesn't for others. However, I decided to cheat before doing that and tried out the iPad version (which was a giveaway at some point).

Here's my big disappointment: I loved Backbreaker Football. It was properly advertised as a "return simulator". Icebreaker Hockey is the same game in a different dress. Instead of running... you're skating. Instead of spinning... well, you're still spinning. Your whole goal is to skate down the ice, avoid the defensemen with slick moves, and... ok... instead of running into the end zone you press a button to fire the puck into the net.

If you've got Backbreaker Football and aren't easily fooled then you'll recognize this as the same game. Furthermore, I don't feel that the marketing verbage makes it clear that this is NOT a hockey game. Disappointment to the nth degree.

Oct 3, 2011

Greedy Spiders

If you frequent any of the App stores I know you've seen Greedy Spiders.  It has received consistently high marks from each of the app stores.  On Amazon and Google it is currently running for .99.  If you're quick and you've read this within a few days of me writing it, you can even pick it up for free on the GetJar application store.  So, just what is Greedy Spiders?  Well, it's sort of a cross between Cut the Rope and Angry Birds.  It has the puzzle aspects of the first game and the cuteness of the second.

When you first enter the game you're treated with very colorful graphics and a few options.  The first time you click play you'll be treated to a short cartoon introduction.  Yes, this game even has a back story!  You see, those greedy spiders are looking for an easy way to catch bugs so they disguise themselves as bug musicians in a pub and then spring their trap on the unknowing bugs!  Yeah, I know, kind of thin but also cool that the developers even put in a little story to pique our interest.  It's the little touches that make this game so much fun and easily worth the asking price.

Back to the options menu.  In here you can tweak the graphics from low to medium to high.  On my Droid Incredible the High settings seem to work just fine with only the occasional hiccup.  The low option takes away the background completely and leaves you with a nice blue.  The medium adds back in the background.  The high gives you the background and some nice extra animation effects.  I like that the developer put this in so the game can be enjoyed on as many handsets as possible.  The other options allow you to reset the game (with a warning thank goodness) and also see the Copyright notice which compared to the rest of the game's polish, is a little bland.

From the main menu you can also review the opening animation, send a note about the game to a friend or go directly to the game's facebook page.  It's also nice that the developer has made it easy for you to tell your friends about this cool new game from within the app.  It saves you having to find the url, type it in a post or compose an email.  This way you can easily fire off notes to your friends about the game and get back to playing as soon as possible.  Another note of polish, heading to mail, facebook, etc, always allows you to hit the back button and go directly back into the game.  This means that you don't have to go find it in apps again to run it, very nicely done!  One final option here allows you to switch to Sound Effects only or Music and Sound Effects or Sound off.  It's a simple toggle button directly on the main page.  Hitting your back button from here also asks for confirmation on whether or not you'd like to exit.

So, now that the title screen is out of the way, how do you play Greedy Spiders?  Pretty simple actually.  You're presented with a screen full of spiderwebs.  Somewhere in that web will be one or more spiders and one or more bugs.  Your job is to free the bugs.  You do this by getting rid of the spider web one strand at a time (or more but we'll talk about that later).  Each time you remove a strand the spider moves, and so it goes, you move, he moves.  If you manage to clear all the strands  away from all of the bugs they are freed and you win the level.  That's the easy part.  The hard part is doing it in the fewest moves possible and in the shortest amount of time.  You're graded on the amount of time and number of moves it takes you to the free all the bugs.  Your score is one to three stars and some of these puzzles will have you scratching your head for sure.  If you get stuck, they've put in a hint system that works great!  After you've tried and failed a particular level a few times you'll see a HINT button pop up on the restart screen.  You can hit the hint button as soon as you see it but if you haven't played the level for at least 5 minutes you'll be told to keep trying.  I like this system as it really makes you think before getting help.  I'm sure that Youtube or elsewhere probably already has the answers up but what fun is that?

In terms of value this game really shines!  Not only can you cut the webs with the scissors but you'll notice there are spaces for other tools on the in-game menu.  The first tool I encountered was a flame.  The flame,while it can be used only once in the level I found it on, is very powerful.  You use it on a node and it burns to the end of each strand attached to the end!  This can be very helpful for clearing out many strands at once.  It is very easy to make a mistake in this game so you really have to think ahead on your moves.  As soon as the spider reaches a point where he stands between you and two bugs on a connecting node its game over man!  I found myself restarting time and again to try just one more strategy.  Granted I've only spent the time that it took me to write this review with the game but I can honestly say that this is well worth your hard earned buck!

So what don't I like about this game?  I can't really complain about the lack of an online component because how can  you compete online?  I can though whine a little bit about the lack of achievements.  Achievements are a staple in the mobile game market now and games without them just seem to be lacking a feature.  Even if you just throw a dozen or so in there such as finishing a pack with all the stars or pulling off a particularly good sequence of moves.  It keeps an added sense of surprise in there.  My other complain is due to the small screen size and the complication of some of the web layouts it is easy to fat finger the wrong strand and ruin the level.  I've had this happen to me on more than one occasion.  Perhaps it's time to break out the stylus for this one for more pinpoint accuracy.  I'd say it would probably be more fun on a tablet simply because of the additional real estate.  Sadly I did see a post where the game was marked as incompatible with Honeycomb tablets but perhaps the developer will add the support later.

All told this is an excellent game and well worth the money!  Try out the free version if you want but based on my play I'd recommend to go ahead and spend the dollar for the real thing.  You get a great game with 128 levels and 7 different types of bugs along with the promise of additional levels coming soon. You simply can't go wrong with this one.  4.5 out of 5 stars!