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Monthly Archives: August 2016

  • Pokémon Go Android Review

    If you pay any attention to any kind of news, you know that there’s a hot new app called Pokémon Go. And if you’ve read some of my app reviews, you know that I’m a huge fan of Pokémon. Do you see where I’m going with this? No? Well, I’m reviewing the new phenomena on Android devices today.

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    The Basics

    So you may not know the concept of Pokémon Go quite yet. Or you do and you just want to continue reading more of my wonderful words. Well, I appreciate that. I’ll get more into it later, but you basically use your map and camera to catch monsters called Pokémon. You still with me? Good. Let’s talk about the graphics for the game. It’s kind of a 3D game mixed with your maps app mixed with a 3D camera game. So it mixes the real and virtual worlds. Still with me? No? Regardless, I enjoyed the clean 3D graphics of not only the map overview, but the Pokémon themselves when you see them in your camera. Just look at them. They’re adorable.

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    The Gameplay

    Pokémon Go’s gameplay is a bit difficult to understand if you’ve never played the Pokémon games before. Well, what say I give it a shot? As I’ve said, the game combines your map’s GPS with a 3D overworld, making you feel more of a connection with the game. As you walk, you will see where nearby creatures are hiding, where to get more items, and where to battle other creatures. For anyone that didn’t grow up with Pokémon, that must sound very odd.

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    Is It Fun?

    I’m not just saying this as a fan of the franchise, but Pokémon Go is by far the most interesting game I’ve played on a mobile device. The app gives you an incredible sense of immersion, allowing you to feel like you’re really a part of this world of sometimes cute, sometimes cuddly, sometimes terrifying monsters. Just make sure you look up from your phone while you’re walking. Trust me.

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    The Bottom Line

    There’s definitely a reason that everyone’s talking about Pokémon Go so much. The game is truly revolutionary. It’s almost like experiencing virtual reality in the palm of your hand. However, perhaps the greatest achievement by this game is it got me out of the house. And outside of hearing an ice cream truck, there’s not many things that easily get me up and outside like that.

  • Crackle Windows Review

    Streaming television services have gained plenty of popularity over the past few years. Between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, there’s a lot available when it comes to easily watching some Arrested Development (which, I swear, is available on everything). But there’s one huge flaw with all of those services: they cost money. And, if you’re like me, you want to keep your hands on your hard-earned cash. However, there are options available for those tight on funds as well, such as YouTube and Crackle. However, since we all mainly use YouTube to watch cat videos, let’s take a look at the Crackle app for Windows phones. Then we can get back to watching cat videos.

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    What’s Crackle?

    Crackle is a 100% free streaming service, offering a multitude of television series and movies alike. After you create an account, there is quite a bit of content available to you, including well-established shows such as Seinfeld and Firefly. After that you simply sit back, watch a few commercials, and enjoy that extra cash in your wallet.

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    Is It Good?

    I must say, I’m pretty impressed with Crackle overall. The application isn’t quite on the level of Netflix or Hulu, but it’s pretty impressive how much you get for free. Sure, some of the offerings are a bit questionable (such as that one Hulk movie. And not the good Hulk movie), but it’s still pretty impressive the quality of content you get without having to pay at all.

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    The Bottom Line

    Crackle may not be quite up there with the Masters Of The Streaming Universe. But for the price of, well, nothing, I’d say it’s a pretty great deal. They’ve got classic shows, movies, and even their own original content. Plus they have the same name as that one delicious candy bar. I’m going to end this review and go eat one.

  • Panorama Mode Now On Windows10 Mobile

    Panorama Mode Now On Windows 10 Mobile

    One of the greatest things that smartphones every replaced is cameras. I still remember the dark days of people having to bring their digital cameras everywhere, upload the photos onto their computers, and tag everyone on the popular social media of the time. You’d have to wait weeks just to see low resolution pictures of yourself at a party. Truly those were difficult times. However, mobile phone cameras have not only replaced the old portable cameras, they’ve added so much more. Let’s talk about one great feature in particular that’s coming to cameras on certain Windows Phones.

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    What’s The Deal?

    Well, here’s the deal. All Windows 10 mobile phones will now have panorama mode included. For the uninitiated, a panorama is when you take a photo and extend the view in a wider shot. So it’s kind of like if you taped three different cameras together and took one wide photo. However, with the new panorama mode on Windows 10, you won’t need to tape all your cameras together any longer. What a relief!

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    Should You Use It?

    Personally, I have never used a panoramic camera. However, I have seen friends use them and, I must admit, they’re pretty cool. Being able to take a wide photo without trying to squeeze everyone in is a fun, innovative idea. And hey, it’s better than having to carry around a selfie stick.

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    The Bottom Line

    Overall, new features are always good news for Windows phones. With applications such as WhatsApp coming over to Windows and plenty of new features such as panorama being added, things look good for current Windows users and those looking to make the switch alike. And, considering the importance of photography on modern smartphones, it’s a good move on Windows part. Now about getting Pokemon Go on the Windows Store...

    Panorama mode now available on all Windows 10 Mobile devices

  • 8Bit Baseball iOS Review

    Playing baseball is one of the world's’ most popular pastimes. Tossing the ball, hitting the ball, passing the ball, running with the ball. Other baseball things. But there is one major thing I’ve never enjoyed about the game: exercising. I wish there was a way to capture the fun of hitting a home run without the dread of physical activity. Well, the answer is finally here. 8 Bit Baseball for iOS devices combines two great things: baseball and retro video games. Is it the perfect baseball experience? There’s no exercise involved, so yes.

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    The Basics

    A pitcher throws the ball and you hit it. That’s it. OK, it does go a bit deeper than that. The pitcher throws a barrage of fastballs and curveballs you must hit using your lightning fast reflexes. Sometimes he throws just one, other times it’s a bunch in a row. Additionally, there are balls you’re supposed to avoid, such as foul balls, skulls and bombs. I’m not an expert on the rules of sports, so I assume that’s how the pros do it.

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    The Charm

    What really makes this retro baseball game fun is the great amount of charm put in. The graphics are clean and appealing. The store is chock full of add-ons, such as new bats, shorts and even heads. And then there’s the pitcher. While rapidly barraging you with baseballs, he also hits you with insult after insult. Making fun of your talent, appearance and even smell, this man exists only to bully you. Not that that reminds me of my little league baseball experience at all…

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    The Addiction

    Once I really got going with 8 Bit Baseball, I found it tough to put down. This addiction goes beyond just the basic gameplay. The more you play, the more you earn coins. The more you earn coins, the more hats and bats and clothes you can buy. The more hats and bats and clothes you own, the closer you are to absolute world domination.

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    The Conclusion

    8Bit Baseball is a greatly addictive experience. While very simple, the game has an appeal that keeps me coming back for a few more swings. Additionally, the game does a great job of motivating you to keep playing. With all the awesome accessories available in the store you’ll want to keep on swinging and get more and more coins. Plus, you’ll just want an excuse to take down that cruel pitcher. Not that this is personal or anything.

  • Flying Penguin Android Review

    In my many trips to the Google Play store, I see many interesting-looking apps. Some are games where you simply push a button, others have scary looking talking cats as their logo. And, every once in awhile, an app comes up that makes some serious promises. Flying Penguin, also known as “Flying Penguin best free game” on the app store, looked particularly interesting. I’d never seen a game that advertised itself as the very best. Does it live up to the promise? No, not at all. But read on to find out why.

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    The Basics

    Upon downloading this game I was very surprised to see it had 5 million downloads. 5 million! That’s nothing to scoff at. That gave me the impression that, despite it looking rather generic, the game could be a surprising amount of fun. Basically, you’re a penguin that slides on its belly to avoid a polar bear and eat fish. You must hold down on your Android phone at the right times to slide downward and go faster, or the bear will catch you. Suspense? Zoology? What more could you ask for?

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    Some Issues

    At first, I had a little bit of fun sliding around on my stomach in the snow. However, I decided to run a few tests to see how much your input really matters. For my first experiment I didn’t touch my phone at all. Well, the penguin was eaten pretty quickly. However, for my second test, I touched my phone the entire time, which you’re only supposed to do when going down a hill. I finished each course from then on without even looking at the screen. This means that it really doesn’t matter how much you pay attention, there isn’t that much urgency.

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    Also..

    Is it just me or does everything see a bit lazy? The penguin and fish look pretty generic, and there isn’t much that sets the game apart. Additionally, I figured there was an actual polar bear chasing you during the game. Instead, if the meter catches up, you’re greeted with an image of the polar bear having just eaten the penguin. It all comes off as a bit uninspired. And gruesome.

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    Best Free Game?

    While Flying Penguin may be advertised as the best free game, I didn't exactly see it that way. While there is some fun to be had in sliding up and down snowy hills, there’s just no urgency. Unless you just stop playing, that invisible polar bear will not catch you. If you’re looking for the ultimate penguin-stomach-sliding-from-a-polar-bear app experience, continue looking. It has to be out there somewhere.

  • Fish Live Android App

    Have you ever wanted to relive the exhilarating experience of raising a small school of fish? The heart-stopping action of feeding them? The sheer thrill of cleaning the cage when it gets dirty? You haven’t? Well, too bad, because I'm reviewing the Fish Live Android game. Fish Live offers you the experience of raising something of your own without the fear that it will grow up and drift apart from you. Is it better than taking care of actual fish? Let’s take a look.

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    The Basics

    You start out with an aquarium tank and a bunch of coins (like most games!) You can either acquire this virtual money by patiently waiting for it to appear in the tank, or pay real money. You can start buying fish, plants, and themes right away with your virtual cash stash. You can also get various decorative items such as rocks, shells, and...the flags of various countries. (Of course!)

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    The Gameplay

    The gameplay of Fish Live is much like taking care of an actual fish. You feed it, clean up after it and wait for them to die. (I’m not just being morbid, they actually do have very short lifespans in the game.) You can also breed them together, which I don’t exactly remember from owning fish when I was younger. Maybe I wasn’t doing it right?

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    Here’s The Thing…

    Maybe I was expecting a different kind of experience in this game. I remember being an apple cheeked young lad and playing the Flash game (I’m glad that doesn’t sound dated) Insaniquarium quite a bit. It’s the same concept where you feed your fish and clean up your tank with some added action added in. This action came from aliens invading your tank and trying to eat your fish. You would have to defend your school of fish from the coming danger by shooting lasers at the aliens. It was the early 2000’s, it made a lot more sense back then.

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    While it sounds pretty strange, that’s what made Insaniquarium an addictive experience. You create a little army of fish and defend them, while doing mundane activities like feeding and cleaning in between. With Fish Live, I felt like I was just watching fish eat and make a mess. It takes a much more patient man than me to do that.

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    In Conclusion

    If you’re looking for a more “realistic” fish raising experience, go with Fish Live. I consider it more of a Tamagotchi than an active game. So if you’re more into checking in on your virtual sea creatures once every few hours, this is the app for you. I’m going to stick to not having responsibility over anything instead.

  • Pickcrafter iOS Review

    Let me get something straight right off the bat, I have still not played Minecraft. I’ve seen the videos pop up on the internet, I’ve seen the shirts, and I’ve even seen my younger relatives play it. But for some reason I never got around to playing it myself. I guess it’s that busy lifestyle I lead as somebody who spends most of their time sleeping. Well, now’s my chance to play - kinda. Pickcrafter for iOS devices is a game that claims to be inspired by Minecraft. So let’s just say this will suffice for now.

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    The Basics

    From what I can understand, Minecraft is a game about mining and...crafting. Well, Pickaxe is a game about picking and...crafting. You see, unlike what I’ve heard about Minecraft, Pickcrafter doesn’t seem to have any 3D adventuring. So, whatever you craft you can’t really see it.

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    The Gameplay

    Pickcrafter throws you right into the action, presenting you with a simple pick and some materials to get picking through. You can either mine through tapping or swinging your phone. Personally, I preferred tapping because swinging my phone requires effort. And, you can tell from my articles, I’m not much for inputting effort. So I tapped and tapped and tapped away and...not much happened. I knew I was collecting materials but nothing else was happening. Was I doing something wrong? As usual, probably.

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    Is It Fun?

    I really kept thinking I was doing something wrong with Pickcrafter. I was tapping and tapping away without roughly anything happening. The only incidents of note were my pick catching on fire and blazing through a bunch of materials and a small monster appearing once that I just had to tap away. That was it. The only other part, the crafting, just kind of confused me. I tapped and tapped away to get enough material for a sword, just to be stuck with no way to equip it. The game never really gave me any instruction, so I was stuck with a useless sword that took me hundreds of taps to get.

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    The Bottom Line

    This game claims to be inspired by Minecraft. Well, if this is exactly what Minecraft is, I don't see what the big deal is. I understand it’s a simple mobile game, but I was a bit confused at what exactly I was doing wrong. Perhaps one day I’ll exert the cash and energy to play Minecraft for myself. Perhaps.

  • Scribd iOS Review

    These days, everybody wants to have the “Netflix” of something. You know, something where you pay a monthly subscription and get access to a large collection of something. There’s a Netflix for audiobooks. There’s a Netflix for music. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Netflix for clothes. But wouldn’t that mean you have to return the clothes at the end? Anyways, let’s take a look at Scribd, which is the “Netflix of books”. And maybe even more. That was a teaser for something I‘m going to reveal in the next section.

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    What Is Scribd?

    Like I said, Scribd is the “Netflix” of books. You pay a monthly fee and are granted access to a large amount of books. But wait, there’s more! Along with a pretty substantial book collection, you are also granted access to audio books, comic books, and even sheet music. So hypothetically, you could read a Superman comic while listening to an audiobook about the creation of Superman while playing the Goldfinger song “Superman” on piano. OK, I need to sit down for a second. I think that just overloaded my brain.

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    How Is It?

    Just by taking a look around, I was very impressed by the amount of selections available. In the books alone, there are options that are generally very expensive or always checked out at the library. (I hope you’re reading this, person that always checks out Amy Poehler’s book at the library before I do. Give the rest of us a chance to read it!) Outside of that, the other selections were very substantial. From Spider-Man to the Avengers and more, you can spend hours reading up on costumed superheroes pummeling each other. And if you’re more of a listener, there are plenty of audiobooks available, including audio versions of many of the books available on the app.

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    Should You Get It?

    Scribd is definitely worth trying out. Like many subscriptions, you can try it out for free for your first month, meaning there’s no excuse not to give it a shot. Plus, you can tell people you use the “Netflix of books”. That’ll make you feel smarter than your friends in a matter of seconds.

  • Ookujira-Giant Whale Rampage iOS Review

    Whales are pretty cool animals. They’re huge, they’re mammals just like us, and they can make that one really cool noise. Surprisingly, there haven’t been many games based on whales. In fact, the only movie about whales that comes to mind is Free Willy. Well imagine that if at the end of Free Willy, the whale escaped and thrashed through the city. Oh, and fought aliens. Well, that would have been an awesome ending in the first place. Anyways, here’s a look at Ookujira Giant Whale Rampage for iOS devices.

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    The Basics

    While whales are mammals, they spend their time mostly in the water. At least I think they do. I’m not a marine biologist or anything. Well, this game shows your whale rampaging through the city and fighting with aliens. Well, to be fair, you’re not exactly rampaging. You’re more jumping from rooftop to rooftop. But fighting aliens as a giant whale is fighting aliens with a giant whale in my book.

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    The Gameplay

    This game really reminded me of a more focused version of Flappy Bird. Unlike Flappy Bird, which was more of an arcade game with no real obstacles, Ookujira Giant Whale Rampage is all about jumping to the next rooftop and getting rid of the aliens. The controls are similar, as you can keep tapping to make your whale fly higher and higher in the air. Which, while cool, probably can’t happen in real life. Probably.

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    Is It Fun?

    I must say, this is a pretty fun game. Using the Flappy Bird style of gameplay while also throwing in some originality, Ookujira Giant Whale Rampage (which is a long title and very difficult to keep typing out) makes for a good arcade style game. However, I do have one complaint, which may sounds like the strangest statement ever: for being a game about a giant whale jumping from rooftop to rooftop and fighting aliens, there’s not much personality. While there’s some creative ideas, it never really jumps out at you. Maybe it just needs one extra creative idea. I’d think of something, but then the idea would be stealable. Plus, it would take effort.

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    The Bottom Line

    This game was a pretty addictive experience with an interesting (and odd) basic idea. Additionally, the art and style are pretty well done. However, it just needs a little extra creativity thrown in to make it a more memorable experience. Maybe give the whale a shotgun? (OK, that’s a freebie. You can steal that idea.)

  • How To Listen To Podcasts On Your Windows Phone

    How To Listen To Podcasts On Your Windows Phone

    I am a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to them whenever possible, be it during a long bus ride or while walking the dog. Or while writing articles about how to listen to podcasts on your Windows phone. (Whoa, that was meta.) If you own a Windows phone you may also want to get in on all of the fun of listening to people talking without having to carry around that giant AM radio boombox. This might be a little easier on your back. Let’s take a look at how to listen to podcasts on your Windows phone.

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    Is It Easy?

    Yes! Your Windows phone should come pre-installed with a Podcasts app. Once you open that up, you can begin searching for anything and everything under the sun. If you’re looking for a podcast about denim jeans, just type it in the search bar. I’m sure there’s one out there.

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    How Is The App?

    While it’s nice to be able to listen to podcasts directly from your Windows phone without having to download a separate app, the Podcasts app isn’t without its faults. You see, unlike Google Play podcasts or the iOS app, there’s no direction given to you. No categories or suggested apps, just a searchbar. I feel like it could use a little bit of work to make it a more user-friendly experience.

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    Should You Use It?

    Having a way to get podcasts pre-installed on your device is becoming much more common, with all three major operating systems giving you the option now. However, it’s clear that Windows could take some cues from its competitors when it comes to podcasts. Simply adding some suggestions or top charts would be a great way for someone new to podcasts to begin their journey. A journey to listen to people talk without actually having to talk to anybody.

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