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Category Archives: App – Entertainment

THE OREGON TRAIL: AMERICAN SETTLER [IOS] – REVIEW (75%)

The Oregon Trail: American Settler is a freemium “Build A Town” game released by Gameloft.

“You’ve conquered the trail, now it’s time to tame the frontier! In this continuation of The Oregon Trail story, you and your family can finally settle down and build a new home.”

The idea of the game is to build a small western town and along the way gain resources to expand your town. 

There are four main resources to control in the game:

  • Coins – Used to buy buildings, plants, animals etc.
  • Lumber – Used for building houses.
  • Food – To sell in the stores etc.
  • Money – Special money that buys special items (can be purchased via in-app)
  • Energy – Used to achieve tasks, needs time to rebuild automatically, but in-app purchase to get more.

As you progress through the game you advance in levels and with that unlock more buildings and items for your town.

As your town expands more people will arrive (generally standing still) so you will need to move them in front of the houses.

On the Freemium side, the game slows to a crawl in a matter of minutes after the basic by the nose tutorial. All the resources are fairly easy to obtain and the buildings and animals give their resources in a short period of time (less than 5 minutes for most). The main issue is energy. This can only be regained over time, going up a level or the very occasional drop. Each task takes 1 energy point, some tasks take more than one, if you want to cut down a tree you are looking at 7 points, hunting a bear is 5 points. Once you have a big town when you have recovered all the resources your energy is half gone and you then can do very little else before it is gone.

The game is controlled by selecting items from the menu and placing them on the map. Things on the map can be clicked and a menu will appear to move etc.

The graphics are generally very good with the same style of the iOS version of Oregon Trail.

On the upside:

  • A solid resource management game.
  • Lots to do and unlock.

On the downside:

  • Poor Freemium design with the energy (runs out after around 20 tasks).
  • Accidental clicking on items, especially when hunting the animals.
  • Occassional crash.

Overall, this is a reasonable game, and generally plays very well. The lack of energy is the only issue this game really has as it stops you progressing at a reasonable rate. You just need to train yourself to do a few tasks and stop. It is a shame as I would have liked to have got a lot deeper into the game before the energy became an issue.

Rating: 75%

Size: 12.3 MB

Price (at time of review): Freemium (with in-app purchases)

Link: The Oregon Trail: American Settler – Gameloft

 
 

DOINK ANIMATION & DRAWING [IPAD] – REVIEW (88%)

DoInk Animation & Drawing is a full animation studio released by DK Pictures, Inc.

“Created by the team behind http://www.doInk.com, an animation site that has over 200,000 users worldwide, where over a million pieces of art have been created.”

The application allows you to create animations that you can then export out and publish.

The application allows you to create animations and drawings and then put them together into a project, meaning you can use your drawings again and again.

When you start the application you can select to do a drawing or a Composition. The drawings can be animations or still images, which are created using the in-app tools on offer.

To draw is simple, just select the colour you want from the colour palette, the colour wheel or use the dropper to select a colour you have already used then select from the pen or one of the shapes then start drawing.

Animation at the drawing stage is done by duplicating drawings and then moving, rotating and resizing objects you have drawn. This is simple and leaves behind a “onion skin” showing the last frames of animation.

Once you have created some moving drawings and a background you are ready to put them into a Composition, this is a well designed animation tool. It has a time line on which each of the images can be placed, move things that you want in the background down and foreground animation to the top. As well as using the animation you have already created, you can move the objects giving lengths of movement and even if you will to loop the animation.

The best extra in this application over others is that via the Composition screen you have access to the thousands of images, animations and backgrounds that have been created by other users and add them to your own animation. What a balloon or explosion, search for it, find one you like and add it to your animation.

The user interface is very good and easy to navigate, however, you will not to learn what icons do and where some options are. For this I recommend viewing the help section and watch the two youtube videos on the basics on drawing and animation.

On the upside:

  • Well designed user interface.
  • Excellent animation tool.
  • Simple to create basic animates.

On the downside:

  • A little lacking in tools (only a pen and the shapes) I would have liked stamps or things like spray can.
  • Could not see an easy way to import an external image other than through the prop library.

Overall, this is a great animation tool, I really enjoyed putting some simple animations together, and then saving them off into my photo library. My eight year old son is also loves this application, especially the animations that can be accessed from the web (meaning he did not need to draw everything himself). Within minutes we were both able to use the app. This is an impressive and simple application that does exactly what you would want it too. The best animation tool I have used to date.

Rating: 88%

Size: 3 MB

Price (at time of review): £2.99

Link: DoInk Animation & Drawing – DK Pictures, Inc.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in App - Entertainment, App - Life Style, iPad, Reviews

 

ALWAYS WIN [IPHONE] – REVIEW (79%)

Always Win is a decision tool with cards, with a trick up its sleeve released by Jmay Live.

“You will never lose an argument, or a decision again, High Card wins.. and you control who gets the high card!”

The application is a basic decision making app, like a virtual coin toss. Tap a card and the app draws to random card, the player with the highest card wins. Simple.

However, like several magic trick apps out there, there is an added twist on this one, if you tap in the middle of the card, then the game is indeed random, but if you tap on the top of the card, then the top player will get the highest card and visa versa for the bottom of the card.

This makes it easy to trick your friends a few times, as you win several times, as you can also lose of when you select, or continue to win even if you let them select if they want the top of bottom card.

There are no options or preferences in the application, just an info button that explains the trick, I would have preferred if this was a bit more hidden away, but maybe that is just me.

The graphics and sound are basic, but functional. The cards and table are nicely drawn.

On the upside:

  • Simple game.
  • Fun little trick to play on your friends.
  • Still useful for making decision by using the not cheating option.

On the downside:

  • Needs rules to show that Aces are high (some people claim it is a low card).
  • Maybe hide the trick instructions within the rules sections?
  • Not universal, but upsizes fairly well to the iPad.

Overall, this is a simple little application that sets out to do as the developer planned. A tweak or two may improve things, but too much would over complicate its overall design. If you have a friend or two who like to decide things with cards and you want to win a bit more often, then this is a great little app and reasonably price at 69p.

Rating: 79%

Size: 5.4 MB

Price (at time of review): £0.69

Link: Always WIn – Jmay Live

 
 

VIDEO PODCATCHER DELUXE (TOUCHPAD) – REVIEW (82%)

Video PodCatcher Deluxe is an application for accessing podcasts / netcasts and is released by Kevin Hausmann.

There seems a little confusion over the name, as the application calls itself “VideoCatcher Deluxe”, and the HP App Catalog calls it “Video PodCatcher Deluxe”

When you first open the applications you immediately get a pop up window asking for the URL of your first podcast. These can be video or audio. So off you go to your favorite podcast website and grab the podcast feed (copy link) and then as your go back to Podcatcher the URL is already magically in the pop-up window. Press add, and you should be ready to listen/watch.

If you have Podcatcher Deluxe / Simple PodCatcher then all feeds will be imported automatically.

You can continue to add any podcast you want as long as you have the URL, if you usually use iTunes to control these then you will have to go to the inform within iTune to find the feed URL (or go to the website of the producer.)

One of the biggest drawbacks with this app is the manual adding of feeds, especially due to the issues with the built in browser on the Touchpad, then seems to want to play them or not open them correctly.

Podcatcher offers a three column view. The first column is the list of podcasts you have added (and an image of the selected podcast if there is one.) The middle column is a list of available content within that feed. The right column is used for the details of the podcast itself, so if they offer links etc, you will find them here.

As far as listening / watching options are concerned you can download the podcast to listen to later or can stream direct (without download). When you select to play via stream or download a new card will open and the podcast will begin. This new card uses the standard Music Player built into the Touchpad, so you have all the normal media controls.

Downloaded podcasts / video are held in a download section, and can be listened to and deleted within the application.

The user interface is nice, with a simple and clean layout.

On the upside:

  • Simple User Interface.
  • Easy to add individual podcasts.
  • Downloaded podcasts are nicely controlled within app.

On the downside:

  • I would have liked an in-app podcast / video finder.
  • Would have liked a quicker way of importing podcasts.
  • Screen shots on the HP App Catalog need updating (as video playback opens in a new card).
  • Due to using the built in media player you are not able to bookmark your place if you stop listening / watching

Overall, this application is a great way to get podcasts / netcasts onto the Touchpad. Whether you like to download and listen on the move or streaming via WiFi this app will work for you. If you watch video podcasts regularly then this is a must.

Version: 4.2.7

Rating: 82%

Size: 2.1 MB

Price (at time of review): £3.50

Link: Video Podcatcher Deluxe – Kevin Hausmann

 
 

COMICSHELF HD [TOUCHPAD] – REVIEW (84%)

ComicShelf HD is a comic book reader and is released by Canuck Coding.

I have been reading comic book since getting the iPad and I have been looking for a comic book reader since the release of the Touchpad.

Since downloading ComicShelf HD I am happy to report that the search is over (at least until an official Marvel or DC application is released)

The only limitation to this product and it is clear from the application description, then you have to supply your own comics in CBR or CBZ form. There are many sites that sell comics in both PDF and one of these formats. So it is possible to get these.

ComicShelf sets up a comic folder on the Touchpad and scans this for comics when it loads. Until a comic is in this folder, the application will be little.

You can either transfer files to this folder by USB from your computer, however, if you buy the comics direct on the Touchpad you will need some sort of file management tool if you do not have a file readily available. I purchased on CBR file online using the Touchpad, and had to use GoAruna to transfer it into the comic folder.

Once comics are loaded then the application is excellent. It handles large comics (I had some 90 pages long and around 50MB) and it handled these just as well as the smaller comics.

Navigation was easy and natural, and the comics displayed very well on the Touchpads large screen with the text being easy to read.

The user interface is very good. It allows you to swipe through the pages, or select the page number. You can email the image of the page or set it to be your wallpaper.

On the upside:

  • Very good user interface.
  • Handles large and small comic book files equally as well.
  • Easy to navigate.

On the downside:

  • Only scans the Comic directory on the start up of the application.
  • You will need file management software if you do not have direct access to a PC to move the files into the comic directory.
  • No book marking, so you need to remember the page you were on.

Overall, this is an excellent comic book reader application. If you have your own CBR / CBZ files then this application is a must have.

Rating: 84%

Size: 3.3 MB

Price (at time of review): £1.50

 Link: ComicShelf HD – Canuck Coding