Sunday, December 29, 2013

Undiscovered App #53: DataMan Next - Track Cell Data Usage

DataMan NextIf you happen to be one of those lucky few who have unlimited data plans, you can skip this post. But for those who are trying to be mindful of their cell phone expenses, today's Undiscovered App could be a big money saver when it comes to making sure you don't go over your data limits.

DataMan Next does one thing: its tracks how much data you use so you can stay within your data caps. The cool thing about it is it tracks both your cellular and Wi-Fi usage, something that AT&T (which is what I use) doesn't do. Knowing your Wi-Fi usage in addition to cellular usage gives you a better overall picture of your data consumption, so you can be more careful and roughly approximate how much you could potentially eat up when you're browsing or viewing videos on your phone while away from home.

iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 1

I found it very easy to use. I set up the monthly data limit, plus gave it a start date, and that was it. From then on, it gives out a percentage figure for how close you are to your limit, and the display changes color if you get into dangerous territory.

DataMan Next has an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 1,000 reviews. This should be on everyone's Must-Have list if you are trying to save money by using a lower limit data plan. AT&T tells me they hit you with a $20 fee if you go over your limit. T-Mobile doesn't hit you with a fee, but they will throttle you down to maybe dial-up modem speeds until your next billing cycle. In either case, it's not a good situation to be in. DataMan Next is available to download for $1.99. It could possibly be one of the best apps you'll wish you had in 2014.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Undiscovered App #52: Worm Run - Swipe Like Crazy

Worm Run
If you're into the endless runner theme, today's Undiscovered App will be right up your alley, or in this case, tunnel. Worm Run, by Golden Ruby Games, starts you off in a mine digging for golden rubies and coins, when all of a sudden, this giant worm comes from the depths and starts going after you.

That's where the fun begins, as you you find yourself speeding through tunnels, up, down, left, and right, swiping madly to avoid obstacles and speed your way through to keep as much distance as you can from the giant worm. Along the way, there are little power ups that let you slow down the worm's progress or give you an extra spring in your jumps.

The ultimate objective is to see how far you can go, and there's Game Center to let you see how you stack up against the competition (the number 1 spot is literally almost 50 times farther than the number 10 spot. How do these guys do it?). It has a Jetpack Joyride look to it, though some may find the frustration factor building up as the terrain gets increasingly jagged so your swipes need to become either more precise or more manic in order to navigate quickly and escape.

Check out the trailer; it might trigger a bit of an adrenaline rush:

Worm Run is currently available to download for $0.99. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 102 ratings. We had a lot of fun with it, and if you're up for a quick game every now and then, this is worth a good look.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Undiscovered App #51: Mencal - Tips and Tricks for Mathletes

MencalI like Math, but I like it even better when I learn quick shortcuts for how to calculate big or complex numbers. Enter today's Undiscovered App, called Mencal, which does just that.

Mencal focuses on the type of mathematical situations that you'd see on a more regular basis, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and squaring, so it's very practical.

Check out the list of things you could do once you master its quick lessons:

• Two-digit number like ab+ba
• Three-digit number like abc+cba
• Two fractions like 1/a+1/b
• Two fractions like (a-1)/a + (b-1)/b
• Sum of first n odd numbers
• Sum of first n even numbers

• Two-digit number like ab-ba
• Three-digit number like abc-cba
• m-n if m+n=100,1000,10000...
• Two fractions like 1/a-1/b
• Two fractions like c/a-c/b
• Two fractions like (a-1)/a-(b-1)/b

• Same ten's digit, 1's sum is 10
• Same ten's digit, 1's sum isn`t 10
• Same 1's digit, ten's digits sum is 10
• Same 1's digit, ten's digits sum isn`t 10
• two-digit number ab×cc (a+b=10)
• ab×ccc.....c (a+b=10)
• Multiply by 11
• 2-digit number if 1's digit is 1
• 2-digit number if tens place digit is 1
• 2-digit number ×2-digit number(universal)

• Divide any number by 5
• Divide any number by 25
• Divide any number by 125
• Divide any 3-figure number by 9

• Square numbers made up of 1's
• Square numbers made up of 3's
• Square numbers in the 90's
• Square numbers ten`s digit is 0
• Square a number ending in 25
• Square numbers made up of 6's
• Square numbers made up of 9's
• Square a number ending in 1
• Square a number ending in 5
• Square a number ending in 9
• Square numbers in the 10's
• Square numbers in the 40's
• Square numbers in the 50's

Once you learn the lesson, you're able to practice the concept with live examples until you've got it down cold. This is the kind of stuff that can make you look like a mathematical genius in class, so long as you don't spill the beans about how you did it.

Mencal has an average rating of 4 stars out of 24 reviews, and it costs $1.99 to download. Granted, you could probably Google all these methods if you want to go the free route, but there's definitely something nice about having everything you need all in one app, plus having the live questions to test your skills immediately afterward is a bonus that you won't easily be able to replicate.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Undiscovered App #50: Never Bored

Never BoredToday's Undiscovered App tries to address one of the core reasons we even have apps: we sometimes get bored and need something to distract us. Well, with Never Bored, you have a good chance of accomplishing that.

It's a neat concept that tries to hit you from different angles: if you like to read, there are 20+ short stories you can choose from, or if you like to watch videos, you can choose from a similarly random set of 20+ videos. And there are the very, very basic games like Tic Tac Toe you can also play with.

But the best part is probably the Languages section, where you can learn simple phrases and hear the pronunciations in many languages. It won't get you very far though if you ever wanted to have a real conversation; it's just enough to maybe get the attention of your foreign friend to let them know that you're making an effort to speak to them in their language.

Overall, it wasn't bad; I think there's a lot of potential for this if they had a better database of short stories that they could choose from, or at least something that continually evolved so once you read them all you could find more to choose from. The games could have benefited from having something like a Minesweeper clone, or Solitaire, or putting together a little bundle of additional games like a racing game, or even a coloring/sketch pad. The videos section, while containing some of the most popular videos (like Evolution of Dance) could similarly be improved by adding more random links, or at least one that sends you to a different song or music genre since almost every human being probably enjoys some kind of music.

Never Bored is available to download for $0.99. It truly is undiscovered, since as of this writing, it has no reviews yet on iTunes.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Undiscovered App #49: C64: Elite Collection Free - Get Ultima 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the iPhone and iPad for FREE

c64 Collection - Get Ultima 1, 2, 3, 4 for FREEToday's Undiscovered App is a HUGE find for old school gaming fans.

You see, I grew up playing the earliest games out there, like Wizardry, Sierra On-Line's King's Quest series, Might and Magic, and Ultima series, so when I casually browsed around to see if someone had finally ported over Ultima 3 (as I like to do every few times in a year), I was shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you -- to find an app called C64: Elite Collection Free that had a collection of games ported over from the Commodore 64, and among them was the Ultima series, including Ultima 1, Ultima 2, Ultima 3, and Ultima 4 -- all for FREE on the iPhone or iPad. It's ridiculous how big of a find this is.

These are the kinds of games back when what you did had no consequences to future gameplay. You could beat up everyone in a town, raid their treasures, leave and then come back, only to have everything respawn. For the more groundbreaking stuff like future consequences, Wasteland was invented (another port I would love to see in the future).

So, after finding this app, I immediately downloaded Ultima 3 as an IAP (it's free), and got started building my party of 1. Yeah, screw the party of 4 that they allow you to have; I was going to go badass with my Ranger and try to finish it with just one character... and three days later, with bloodshot eyes and a lack of sleep, I finished it, for like the 10th time in my life. I can officially tell you that the Ultima 3 port works marvelously, and you can probably assume that the ports for the other 3 games work as well.

There are a few very small differences in how the controls work, with the biggest being a big positive: you can now save and restore anywhere on the map, including inside towns and dungeons, instead of like the good old days when only exiting or entering towns and dungeons triggered the save activity (or Quit/Save). One other change is that once you create a party, you can't go back to the Register and break up the party and form a new one. You're stuck with the one you've built all the way to the end, unless you start over of course.

The app lets you play it in either portrait or landscape format, but going landscape stretches the screen out disproportionately, so you can only really play it in portrait format. Plus, with the entire keyboard being displayed on the bottom of your screen, it's really only practical to play this on your iPad since the keyboard buttons are quite small on the iPhone.

I hope Ultima fans get to take advantage of this great find. I have no idea if what they've done has been sanctioned by Origin Systems (or Electronic Arts), so get it while it's still available. C64: Elite Collection Free has a bunch of other old school games in there that are worth checking out, so have a look.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Undiscovered App #48: Boson X = Pleasure + Pain

Boson X
I've often heard how the endless runner concept is played out, but I'm happy to say that there are occasional variants to the theme that warrant a good look. Today's Undiscovered App, called Boson X, is an excellent extension of the idea, with a rotational mechanism that might remind you of Super Hexagon.

Here's a description of the app:

Quantum jump from Planck to Planck as you build up speed inside an enormous particle accelerator and generate high-energy collisions to discover strange new particles. Use precise timing and fast reflexes to navigate a hazardous subatomic world where floors and ceilings don't exist. Will you be fast enough to find the elusive Boson X?

I heard quite a bit of chatter about this and had to see for myself what all the praise was about. The controls were smooth and responsive, the graphics sleek, and the music just right, with that mysterious/science feel. There's definitely a catchy element to it, since after playing the first level, you think, "Yeah, I got this!" With the controls being just Left, Right, or Jump, how hard can it be? Take a look at the trailer:

After about an hour, I had my answer. I had gotten so close to finding that next particle, having reached 95%+ numerous times (out of the required 100% energy scale), that I kept trying and trying, and before I knew it, the counter read 50 for the number of attempts I had made to try to reach the end of just level 2. Being the persistent person I am, I finally made it and did a massive fist pump when I got the Acceleron particle. Yeah, the hook in this game is dangerously strong, and what makes it worse is that it makes you like it even though it can be frustrating due to its deceptive simplicity.

Boson X has over 180 ratings that give it an average of 4.5 stars, and is available to download for $1.99. This is a great game with a nice concept that you can easily play if you have just a minute or two. But I'm warning you: it's unlikely you'll be able to play it for just that long.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Undiscovered App #47: Battery Saver - Extend iOS 7 Battery Life

Battery SaverHave you ever had that nagging feeling that ever since you upgraded to iOS 7 that your battery has been draining at a much faster rate? You're not alone; I've noticed it too, along with other friends who've griped about it on Facebook or Twitter, along with other articles I've seen all over since it came out.

Thinking along the lines of, "what gets measured, gets improved," I set out to find a way to see what exactly was causing my phone to drain so quickly. Enter today's Undiscovered App: it's called Battery Saver, and it does that very well by seeing pretty much everything that your phone is doing that is using up your battery.

The most important and useful function was showing how intensely every app you're using drains the battery from a Level 1 - 5 scale, with Level 5 being the most Dracula-esque. Did you know Angry Birds is a battery killer at Level 5? Facebook at Level 4? Even when I switched away from the Facebook app to do other tasks, I found out through the Battery Saver app that it was still in the background, sucking my battery's life away. But I wouldn't have known that without this app, so I promptly force killed Facebook once I found out.

And there are a host of other useful features too:

1) You can run a diagnostic exam on your mobile speed, and once it finishes it'll let you reallocate memory usage to improve your speed.
2) Additional optimization tips are provided that tell you what will extend your battery life. For example, disabling the Wifi will extend life by 1 hour and 25 minutes. And it senses whether it's on or off, so it's not just a blanket set of tips; it's an actual live set of things you can do now based on what you're running.
3) There's a battery charger mode that lets you do a full cycle with trickle charge to optimize your charge and battery life.
4) A list of activities you can do and how long you can do it for given how much batter time you've got remaining.

Battery Saver is probably the most comprehensive battery app I've come across. I've already seen improvements in battery performance. Thousands of ratings give this an average of 4.5 stars, and it is available to download for $2.99. If you want to extend your battery life and take back what iOS 7 has taken away, this is a very useful tool to help in that task.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Undiscovered App #46: Ready, Steady, Bang - Reaction Time As If Your Life Depended On It

Ready, Steady, BangImagine yourself back in the Wild West, facing your arch nemesis, each of you itching to draw the gun the fastest in a bid to be the last one standing. In such a fast draw, would you survive?

That's what today's Undiscovered App will help you to find out. Ready, Steady, Bang by Hover Studio is a fun little app that's perfect for those times when you literally have only a few minutes to kill.

The setup is simple: you start off facing your opponent, then an announcer tells you to get ready, and after a random amount of time passes (to prevent you from gaming the timing), you hear and see the word "Bang!" and then it's up to your reflexes to see who survives by tapping on your shooter as fast as you can.

Just in case you had some bad luck, you get multiple chances to win, with the first person to get five kills being declared the winner. With each successful challenge you get to unlock a slightly faster opponent, until you get to the 10th and last Mystery challenger whose reflexes I have yet to beat.

And if playing against the computer isn't your thing, there's a two player mode where you can finally settle that score with your trash talking buddy. Using the same device, you stand opposite your friend, and the first to shoot gets the kill.

As you can see, my best time ever is 0.201 seconds. Think you can beat that? There's only one way to find out...

Ready, Steady, Bang has struck that elusive balance of simplicity, fun, humor, and challenging gameplay. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from thousands of reviews. This is probably one of my favorite games I've come across in a long time, and I highly recommend this one for a download, currently available for $0.99.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Undiscovered App #45: Freshbox - Stop Wasting Food

FreshboxI just did a bunch of grocery shopping the other day, and when it came time to put all the new goodies in the fridge, I found myself digging into the very back to find things that had turned, um, a little unpalatable. This is a weekly ritual, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to keep wasting so much food. But that's what happens sometimes when it's out of sight, out of mind.

That's why today's Undiscovered App is so helpful. Freshbox puts an end to wasted food by helping keep track of what goes in your fridge or pantry and putting an expiration date on it, and giving you a heads up of what's coming due first. The interface is a little unintuitive in places, but it's simple enough to get a quick grasp of how to enter new food items and set up expiration dates and delete them altogether.

It has a pre-existing database that makes keying in data more efficient: there's nice shiny pictures, some additional background on how to best store the food, and a typical shelf life in case you already didn't know it. You can also override the suggested expiration dates if you have a better time frame in mind.

Basically, Freshbox has the potential to become a very useful app if you apply some diligence to your food shopping process. A dollar not wasted is equal to a dollar being earned, and in the long run, Freshbox may be one of the few apps out there that effectively can make you money by eliminating typical waste patterns that make us spend more money than we have to.

Freshbox has an average rating of 4 stars from 442 reviews. It is currently available to download for $0.99.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Undiscovered App #44: Hangman2020 - Not Your Father's Hangman

Hangman2020 HD
Every once in a while I come across a game that I think might elicit a "Meh" just by looking at the app icon or screen shots, but then end up being totally surprised at its entertainment value. Today's Undiscovered App just happens to be one of those, and to make it fly under the radar even more, it's about a classic game everybody has played: Hangman.

I mean, just take a look at that app icon. It's about as generic as it gets, and you'd never be able to tell what the game is about just by looking at it.

But for all its graphical shortcomings, there's a few things about Hangman2020 that make it worth taking a look: the one that caught my eye the most was that even though it was called Hangman, there wasn't actually a man getting hung as you got the letters wrong. Instead, there were a number of animations of a cartoon character's impending doom, all dependent upon your ability to guess a word from the hint you've been given. With each wrong letter, you may find the cartoon edging closer to a giant circular saw, and if you're clueless or sadistic enough, you might just see him get ripped apart. Or in another setting, there's one where a fire gets bigger and bigger until, well, you get the picture.

Hangman2020 screen shot

One other interesting bit was that there was actually an educational aspect to it. The words you guess sometimes have educational clues, kind of like Jeopardy! - and it's up to you to guess what the clue is referring to. After you guess the word correctly or incorrectly, it sometimes links you over to a Wikipedia article so you can read more about it in depth.

There's also a little bonus timer that gives you extra points if you guess the word under a certain number of seconds, and if you don't get it in time, no big deal - the cartoon character doesn't edge closer to his death until you actually guess an incorrect letter.

Hangman2020 has an average rating of 5 stars from about 10 reviews. This is a surprisingly fun Hangman app that we recommend.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Undiscovered App #43: Number Link - A Fun Mind Bender

Number Link
Today's Undiscovered App from TappsGames is called Number Link, and it challenges your ability to picture things spatially, in a TrainYard kind of way.

The premise is simple: You're given a set of numbers (1 and 1, 2 and 2, etc), all are placed on a board, and your job is to draw a line connecting the matching pairs. Sounds simple, right? There's a little catch: you have to draw the lines in a way so that they don't cross and there are no empty spaces left on the board.

Take this simple setup:

Now, try to figure out how to connect all the matching numbers together in a way so they 1) don't cross and 2) fill up the entire board. As you can see by the timer, this one had me stumped. If you've already figured it out, good for you! You're a lot smarter than I am. After I while, I was able to finally get it using the lines below:

After this level, I was hooked. I'm not used to this way of thinking, and maybe it would be good for me stretch my mind out this way some more. Hopefully you'll like it too.

There are two versions of Number Link, one is Free which has fewer levels, and the other one, the Pro Version, opens them all up for a greater challenge. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 1,500 reviews. I think this should belong in everyone's Puzzle game stash.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Undiscovered App #42: Rico - Castlevania Meets Mario Brothers

Rico - A Tale of Two Brothers
This is the tale of two brothers. The older brother - black as the night - was called Rico. The younger brother - white as snow - was nameless. 

Since the beginning of time, they were fighting each other. They were worthy adversaries, and their clashes always ended in a tie. Both brothers drew their powers from golden crystals which were scattered all across the world. Little did they know, their constant battle was the sole reason the world remained in balance.

One day, for reasons unknown, Rico finally surpassed his younger brother. While he didn't kill him, he stripped him of his powers, abandoning him to his fate. For he should live to watch Rico rule the world henceforth. The world's faith tipped and fell out of balance, and would soon perish if nothing was done.

This is the story of the unnamed brother on his quest to get his powers back and restore the balance of the world.

And that's how the story begins for today's Undiscovered App, called Rico by Maximilian Csuk. In its simplest form, it can probably be best described as the result of putting together the gameplay and look of Super Mario Brothers and Castlevania. Explore, gather crystals, get power ups, avoid obstacles and traps while trying to reach the end of each mini-world stage, with each mini stage getting you closer to the big battle with your darker half, all set in a 2D platform and a retro pixelated wrapper.

Rico screen shots

It's the execution, finesse, and attention to detail that made Rico stand out so much. You can run, jump, swim (you have an oxygen timer), and even fly (don't land too hard because the physical impact could kill you). All while enjoying a cool music soundtrack. The controls were perfect and responsive, and adapted to the type of movement you were performing. For example, acceleration and deceleration physics came into play when you're flying.

The game allowed you to set the difficulty level appropriate to your preferred challenge/patience level. Easy, Medium, Hard, and Insane allows you to basically tune the following factors: the number of lives, fall damage, hit points, and the frequency with which checkpoints appear.

I went Old School and chose Hard, then promptly forgot the setting I had used, and after a few runs at it, getting blown up by mines and getting impaled by stalactites, I thought to myself, "This is hard!" then remembered my good old Castlevania days and went back at it again. (For what it's worth, it might not be so hard for others, but specifically for me, these traps were in red and green hues, unfortunate for someone like me who has red/green colorblindness!)

The boss battles were fun and rewarding, especially since it took a fairly long time just to reach them, but after you beat your brother, you move on to the next world and encounter a different set of challenges to work your way up to yet another battle.

Rico is one of the true undiscovered gems that I've come across, and I'm not alone in this assessment. When I've had discussions about some great games people just haven't heard about, this came up enough times that I had to give it a look. It has an average rating of 5 stars from 57 reviews. If you liked Castlevania, Metroid, or Super Mario Brothers, give Rico a good hard look. It's available to download for $2.99. And yes, it's worth it.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Undiscovered App #41: YoWindow - Horrible Name, Great App

Today's Undiscovered App is a cool variant of your typical weather app. Yeah, weather's boring and it's hard to imagine anything new can be done with an app, but this one is worth checking out.

YoWindow by Pavel Repkin takes the concept of time lapse photography and integrates it into a weather app concept.

Imagine you want to know what the weather is going to be like today. Well, with YoWindow, the main page shows you a simulation of what the weather is at the moment, then, if you want to move forward in time, you can slide your finger across the screen and you'll see the time stamp move forward as if you're in a time machine. As you keep scrolling, the temperature shifts, the clouds move, the sun rises and falls, and then the moon rises and falls also. If there's some rain due, rain clouds come in, and the showers come down. Even the rain has different degrees of strength. It's nice since you can keep scrolling to see when the rain will roughly end, or when the sun will rise or set. Even the seasons change with the time of the year.

There are different Landscapes you can choose as well: Village, Seaside, Airport, Oriental, and Sky. And each has its own different soothing ambient background sounds. Check out the video below to see how it works:

The interface is intuitive, very pretty to look at, and is enjoyable to use. I've never looked forward to checking out the weather before until I came across this.

YoWindow is currently available to download for $1.99. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 131 ratings. We definitely recommend this Universal app for a download.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

iTunes Is Down

EDIT: All appears to be working well again as of this morning.

I bet I'm not the only one having problems with iTunes. In case you're wondering, something is up with Apple, and many people are getting an error message saying, "503 Service Unavailable HTTP/1.0".

Problems I've encountered include: not being able to log into my iTunes account, not being able to redeem promo codes, not being able to update apps, and not being able to see apps on iTunes when I'm being redirected from the app info page.

So don't worry, you're not the only one miserable. In the meantime, I found this site called that shows you the number of problems iTunes has had in the past 24 hours. It seems like there has been a recent spike of problems for the second time today (interestingly, both happened when I was most actively using the service).

This might be a good time to rent Iron Man 3so you can find something else to do until the problems get resolved.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Undiscovered App #40: Lift - Socially Supported Goal Setting

LiftHow many times have you ever tried to create a well-intentioned habit, only to have it fail after a couple days or weeks? If you've ever wanted to be more consistent with say, flossing your teeth, or exercise, or reading, we found an app that you might like.

Today's Undiscovered App is called Lift (check out the website), and the idea is to have you achieve your goals in the company of others who are trying to do the same, whether it's a friend or another person out in the internet. Studies show that when you're trying to achieve goals, there is nothing more effective than doing it with a friend.

If I had to generalize, Lift is kind of like a Facebook / Twitter for goals. You can see what other people are doing through a feed that's relevant to your specific goal, see their comments, post comments of your own, and you can even give them a "Prop" (their version of "Like"). And if there's someone who motivates you, you can follow them. There's a calendar that shows you what days you hit your goals, and once you start working on them more consistently, you start getting Streaks and Milestones to give you some added motivation.

Lift screen shots

It was fairly simple to use and understand, and best of all, Lift is free to download. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 474 reviews. Give it a try; your life might just improve in some little way.

(By the way, ever since I got this flosser,the number of times I've actually flossed has doubled. I hate that stringy stuff, and wrapping it around my fingers and jamming it in my mouth is always cumbersome since I have big hands. Try it, you'll thank me.)

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Undiscovered App #39: Penguin Pile-Up - An Indie Dev Debut

Penguin Pile Up
Every once in a while we get a request from indie devs to have a look at their apps and possibly consider it for a review. The other day we got one from Christian West, developer of Penguin Pile Up, and his email was one we felt deserved some recognition for how well he conveyed his sincerity and effort in building his first game as an independent developer.

Here is what he had to say:

I've just finished my first game as an independent developer, releasing it is without a doubt the most challenging thing I have ever done. I've worked on titles such as Geometry Wars Galaxies, Tumble, South Park and Burn Zombie Burn, but this game represents me and what I can achieve on my own. I am scared but incredibly excited.

I've taken what I learned making Tumble for PlayStation Move and applied that to making a great physics based stacking game, with some extra variety thrown in for fun. Surprisingly, this is a genre that hasn't been conquered (not to the level of other physics based games). Penguin Pile-Up can fill that gap, people enjoy the game with a sense of nostalgia. It reminds them of the games they started playing on their phones a few years back. However, I've worked really hard to add a great level of polish and visual feedback you'd only see on today's devices.

I hope the screenshots and trailer attached to this email appeal to you. Hopefully you feel it’s worth covering (and hopefully reviewing) on I’d love to hear what you think and with any luck you’ll enjoy it.

Penguin Pile Up screen shots

After having played it, we agree that it's a very polished piece of work. The interface was smooth, easy to use, and the game needed no explanation to figure out. Just pile on the penguins as high as you can until you reach the required threshold for the level, and then you move on. In the early stages, we'd have to say that the game was almost too easy, but future levels addressed that, as piling on became more difficult with the presence of more inclined surfaces and obstacles you need to build around. Kids would have a great time playing with this, so if you're in the market for a great family-friendly app, give Penguin Pile Up a try, especially since it's free to download.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Undiscovered App #38: Word Mess - The Thinker's Word Search

Word Mess
Remember when you used to turn to the page in the newspaper where the word search was and just gave it a go? Well, there may be fewer and fewer of you who do since newspapers are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. But for those of you who did, today's Undiscovered App takes that old time favorite concept and gives it a great and updated twist.

Word Mess, by Masala Games, is not like your everyday word search. This one takes your standard word, dumps it in a pile of other words, then leaves it up to you to find it. To make things more difficult, the words aren't aligned in a standard grid, but can fall in a way that can leave it upside down, or the words can be shrunk down to be harder to see. Sometimes the colors are different, sometimes they're the same. And if you take too long, there's an occasional bomb that shakes up the board and rearranges all the words, so you have to reorient yourself and find the words in different locations.

For those who crave some more brain power, there are other different modes to play, in addition to the standard Find mode. There's Categories, which lets you find words that fall under a certain categoery. For example, you can have a Computer Equipment category, and then you'll have to find words like Monitor, Speaker, or Cord.

There's also Rhyme mode, which makes you find words that rhyme with the key word. For example, if you're given the word Hot, you could select words like Cot, Plot, or a trickier one like Thought.

We found Word Mess to be a ton of fun, and the expanded categories can really keep you mentally sharp. It's family friendly, and you can play for long stretches or if you only have a minute while waiting in line. Word Mess is currently free to download. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 400 reviews. Definitely get this one and give it a try.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Undiscovered App #37: Wordly - Letterpress Revisited

WordlyI love word games, so when I came across today's Undiscovered App, I was excited to try it out. Wordly, by Scopely, is a lot like Letterpress (which I hadn't played until I discovered Wordly), where the objective is to create words and use as many tiles as possible in a fixed 5 x 5 board. Each tile used earns you one point, and additional points can be earned by using letters that were already claimed by your opponent. Once all the unused white tiles are gone, the game ends.

The interface is easy to use and was quite intuitive. Like other word games, there were many achievements to unlock. No friends were required, since there was a great system in place to match you up with random opponents. There were also some useful aids like "wild" tiles that gave you extra letters that couldn't be found on the board, which allowed you to create even more words that weren't previously possible.

Wordly screen shots

The app was rather ad-heavy; after every turn, there was something popping up in your face, whether it was a prompt to invite more friends, or to like them Facebook, or a full page ad. If you can get past this, you'll find a lot to enjoy. The good part is, Wordly is free to download. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of thousands of reviews. It's not really undiscovered at this point, but I thought it was worth mentioning since I'm a sucker for word games.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Undiscovered App #36: Bezier - A Beautiful Physics Puzzler

BezierImagine you're given a ball, and your objective is to get it from Point A to Point B by drawing a line through which it will roll. Sounds easy enough, right? Now, what if you had to destroy certain objects along the way, some that don't follow a linear path, and others that require you to double back from your original starting point? How would you manipulate the lines then?

That's part of the mind bending process you have to engage in with today's Undiscovered App. Bézier and Bézier Lite will test your spatial capabilities, doing so in a way that is both beautiful to see and wonderful to hear.

Along the way, you will be given special objects to manipulate to help you meet your increasingly difficult objectives. Some will help you accelerate the ball's speed, others will let you teleport it, like in Quell. Have a look at some of the screen shots below:

Bezier screen shots

Bezier is a Universal app, so one download will get iPad and iPhone users the chance to play this remarkable game. Bezier has an average rating of 5 stars from 29 reviews, and is available to download for $2.99. Those who want to dip their toes in the water for free can download Bezier Lite. We highly recommend this one for a download.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Undiscovered App #35: Go Go Pixel - Retro Action

Go Go Pixel
Continuing with our recent retro theme, today's Undiscovered App is somewhat reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers and Ghosts 'n Goblins in terms of game play. Go Go Pixel by Oni Craft brings us back to the pixelated, sidescrolling, action platformer days, where you have to rescue the kidnapped princess from the clutches of the evil Bad Guy.

You start out with a brief cut scene where your gal gets kidnapped, and then you're pretty much left alone to figure out how things work. Thankfully, the interface is very intuitive: the first mini stage is basically a tutorial that shows you how to navigate your world, and there are on-screen buttons that make you move left, right, jump, or block, and through a combination of those buttons, you can do some extra actions to make your character more effective.

You have to travel through eight different worlds to rescue the princess, and along the way, you collect coins, hearts (for health), and an assortment of weapons, all while firing away at bad guys, jumping through a set of obstacles to reach the objective, and timing your moves so you don't get killed. Oh, and then there are boss fights too to make it even more challenging.

Go Go Pixel screen shots

We found the game very easy and enjoyable to play, but there were some subtle drawbacks from the controls: it can sometimes get a little "sticky" (which we noticed only in the fastest-paced parts of the game) where an action you're trying to perform doesn't get recognized, and you're still left doing the last action you were performing. You'll also probably want to turn off the background music, which can get a bit repetitive and maybe even annoying. Other than that, it was a great way to spend a half hour here and there to advance to the next world.

Check out the video of how the game looks and feels (note: the video has been overlaid with background music that is different from the game).

Go Go Pixel has an average rating of 4 stars from 8 reviews, and is currently available to download for $0.99.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!