Tagged: Google

Send your phone to heaven… if you dare

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I know now how my old phone will die: playing S.M.T.H. Send Me To Heaven is a terrifying Android game that was deemed too dangerous for release on iOS. The concept is simple; S.M.T.H. uses your phone’s various motion sensors to gauge how high you’ve just thrown it. With the goal of “sending it to Heaven” you can image that your frightened little toss of a few inches isn’t going to net you a very high spot on the leaderboards. Indeed, I didn’t dare toss my Galaxy S4 very high at all just now.

It’s one of those clever uses (abuses?) of technology that’s only possible on a mobile device and I love the terror that comes built in with the concept. It also gets a nod for its glaring black-on-yellow design that looks like a safety warning sign. Send Me To Heaven is free on the Play Store so it won’t cost you a thing to risk having to buy a new phone!

Now Playing: Triple Town (iOS, Android, Web)

I first played Triple Town about a month ago when I remembered that Google+ had games. I forget now if it even had a tutorial at the time but I jumped in and started matching three. Indeed, the playfield is set up much like a typical puzzle game with random pieces cluttering things up and you being handed pieces one at a time. The big deal here is that each time you match three you create something new rather than clearing off the screen.

As its woodsy styling dictates: three patches of grass make a bush, three bushes make a tree, three trees make a hut and so on until you’re dealing in floating citadels and magical treasure chests. You get the satisfaction of scoring big points, curating the screen and creating a unique world. It’s one part Bejeweled, one part Keflings, it’s highly addictive and it’s everywhere! Despite being labeled as a beta I was able to spend hours in the game on Google+, Facebook, my Android phone and our iPad. Triple Town started life on the Kindle so you can’t even escape it on your eReader. Your progress isn’t linked across platforms (hopefully it will be!) and there isn’t an overworld map on the mobile versions but that didn’t stop me from playing… and playing… and playing while I tried to write this.

For as earthy and inviting as Triple Town looks it does have a dark side. I’m not talking about the incentives to spend real world money for more turns and power-ups, I’m talking about… bears. Seemingly innocent and cute bears who rapidly fill the playfield and always wander into just the wrong spots. Play for long enough and they’ll start calling in Ninja Bears who jump from free space to free space and — I’m convinced — actively block any matches I’m about to make. Even they have their benefit, though, as boxing them in turns the bears into tombstones, three of which add up to a church and so on from there. Like all puzzle game obstacles they’re a necessary evil and things would be WAY too simple without them but, damn, have I come to curse a bear!

With ads for only their other games, developer Spry Fox has included the familiar in-game store on Facebook and Google+. Turns slowly regenerate as you play but you’ll eventually run out. A chunk of turns costs coins but simply playing the game generates those for you. You’ll start to feel the pinch when you’re desperate for just one more tree to make a hut or could REALLY use a crystal to make a quick church. These cost coins as well and relying on them will leave you waiting for turns to renew or punching in your credit card number. There are also items that can only be purchased with diamonds (diamonds that can only be bought with real money) but I haven’t found any need for them in the weeks I’ve been playing the game. Turns don’t refill so quickly on the mobile platforms so Spry Fox has added an Unlimited Turns unlock for $3.99, another monetary option I personally don’t need but appreciate having available.

I’m not the type to fall into browser-based puzzle games on social network sites but I can’t stop coming back to Triple Town. That’s probably the best testimonial I can give to the game and a point I should’ve just stuck at the top of this piece. Considering it’s technically a beta I’ll also leave that recommendation as my score. Give it a try for yourself, you practically can’t escape it!

This review was originally posted at PEGreviews.com which is currently on hiatus

And suddenly Silpheed was a 3D shooter on Android

Silpheed and I go way back, back to the Sega CD days when I was rooting for the bolt-on hardware to dazzle the world and silence the naysayers. While that dream scenario never happened I did get Silpheed, a dazzling shooter that I eventually realized was just playing out on top of pre-rendered videos. Then the series went silent for, oh, eight years and was brought back as a mediocre isometric shooter on PlayStation 2. Another six years and it was dredged up by Square Enix as a (sp)Ace Combat shooter on Xbox 360.

Given its history it seems only fitting that after four more years someone would pull Silpheed out of the box, dust it off and shove it onto another platform. The surprise this time is that SILPHEED Alternative is for the Android mobile OS. Sadly, any excitement the surprise reappearance caused in me was quickly blunted by its similarities to Project Sylpheed. It’s a 3D space shooter (in the Ace Combat vein) with on-screen buttons and a cluttered sci-fi HUD display. It’s also only available on the Japanese Android Market right now meaning I can’t even try the free Lite version. If someone ever ports it I’d love to give it a shot but even then this may be one of those rare apps that runs better on an Android tablet with a few extra inches of thumb space.

Play the World: Google Earth now in Google Maps

With Google Earth and all its 3D, navigable geometry now incorporated directly into Google Maps on the web, it’s only a matter of time before somebody turns it into a game. I’d love to see that dream game we talked about a while ago where you race around your hometown in 3D, but the realization will probably be Virtual Foursquare. For those people who can’t even go outside to pretend to check in at an art museum to get a meaningless image of a badge, now there’s virtual badges! Ya know, for sitting at your computer, pretending to go to actual places in order to get pretend versions of fake badge icons that mean N O T H I N G ! Sadly, I would still do this.

For now, it provides me an even easier way to get distracted, jumping all over the planet and looking for 3D representations of places I’ve been or would just like to see. Naturally, bigger cities and attractions have more detailed geometry (see above compared to the actual version here) but it looks like Google’s been pulling Street View pictures of buildings to flesh out some rough 3D models. Check it out yourself if you don’t feel like doing anything else today and brush up on your navigation skills before badges, high scores, and zombies inevitably fall into Google Maps.

Gmail Get!

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I seem to soak up every free theme I can get my digital hands on for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 but when it comes to sites like Gmail and Raptr I stick with simple and streamlined visuals. Poking around this morning to see if I could make Gmail’s main column any wider (so far no luck) I saw this “High Score” theme. It’s cute and clever but it’s not how I prefer to see my car insurance renewal reminder presented to me. I think I’d end up not taking the important e-mails seriously enough if they were surrounded by cute pixel hills and arcade cabinets day in and day out. But for those who like a little more whimsy in their spam folders there are plenty of new Gmail themes to check out.