I realize that many of you probably don’t have an Android device, but this current offering is so great, that I don’t think anyone with an Android phone should miss it: thanks Dave for reminding me! Also, if any of the other mobile marketplaces or app stores do something similar, I’ll be sure to keep you guys in the know. I’m an equal opportunity mobile-technology consumer.
The Android Market is celebrating it’s ten billionth app download by hosting a 10-day 10-cent premium app sale. The sale is currently in its third day, so you’ve still got a whole week of buying apps at a steeply discounted rate. I’m starting this post now, but over the next week, I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted with the apps I buy and my brief impressions on each.
I’ve got to recommend picking up Beautiful Widgets today at the steep discount of 95% off. This was the first app I paid for on my original Motorola Droid two years ago, and it usually costs $1.99, or double the price of a normal app. I actually suggest you get this app on every non-HTC Android phone (as HTC devices have a free included clock widget that closely resembles this one, but without all of the customizing options), and it can’t hurt to include it on your HTC device either. From the screenshot above, you can see that this is app is basically just a bunch of widgets displaying time and weather information. The whole thing is very customizable: you can choose from a bunch of different widgets, with hundreds of different skin and font packs to make it all your own. You can even assign actions to specific zones of the widgets. Touch the date, and you’ll be redirected to your calendar. Select the current weather display to be launched into beautiful widgets’ wonderfully animated weather information pane. This app is a great value for $1.99 and an absolute steal for 10 cents. After installing one or more Beautiful Widgets on your home screens, you won’t be able to imagine, or likely even tolerate, a smartphone without them.
The first app I bought during this 10-cent sale was the wildly popular game Fruit Ninja. This game has sold over 3 million copies across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and even on your Xbox 360 with Kinect. The game has one of the simplest ideas since Whack-a-Mole: when you see fruit fly up into view, you swipe your finger across the screen to slice the fruit in half. Sound easy enough. Well turns out I’m terrible at it. After you’ve missed slicing three pieces of fruit, it’s game over for you wannabe samurai. There are several different game modes, but they’re all basically just a cover for your serial produce violence. Check out that video in the link above of someone scoring over 1000 points in arcade mode (the standard). My high score is 12 by the way…
Stay tuned for a review of Reckless Racing. The page describes this game as, “THE MOST VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE DIRT-ROAD RACER YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!” I didn’t know I was waiting for a dirt racer, but apparently we all have been for centuries. I’m going to have to give this one a better test drive before turning it loose on you guys.
Well it looks like this app can’t even run without downloading some additional files to your SD card. I’m in a 3g signal hell right now with no wi-fi available to my phone, so these downloads are going to take a very long time as long as I stay at my desk in the office. It’s been going for an hour so far and hasn’t even completed downloading packet 1/2, yikes!
Don’t fear though, because I will definitely update with my impressions as soon as the game finishes downloading its extras and I’ve had time to play it a few times.
So I’ve finally been able to play Reckless Racing for a bit, and let me tell you, itis the dirt racing game I’ve been waiting for. I assume that the only difference between a regular mobile racing game and a mobile dirt-racing game is that your cars spin out a whole lot more, and the vehicle are more off-road-centric. The gameplay controls are fairly easy, there are right and left turn arrows, a brake/revers button, and triangle with an exclamation point button that will reset your vehicle on the track, but you’ll have to start from stand-still. Really, the game isn’t too hard (at least on beginner mode and going through bronze cup races) but I’m sure it gets pretty hard pretty quick. Like all good mobile competitive games, there are online leaderboards. However, this game also features an online multiplayer, so you could race your friends if you wanted. I must not have friends, so I played the single player version. There are three game modes in single player: dirt rally, which is a standard race against opponents; hot lap, which is you trying to beat a ghost version of yourself around the track; and my favorite, deliver, wherein the player drives around to pick up items, and drops them off at future locations for a points, and more time on the clock. Really, with all of the different modes, this games is like mario kart meets crazi taxi with the graphics and top-down perspective of GTAII. If you’re in to racing –specifically off-road racing–or multi-player mobile games, then this is a no-brainer purchase. For me, on the other hand, I much prefer games like Angry Birds when I choose to play games on my mobile devices. With that said, this is probably the best racing game I’ve played for a mobile device: definitely worth 10-cents, but questionable at $1.
The 10-day app sale is still going on in the Android Market. If you head over to the the web page for the market, you’ll find ticker across the top advertising current featured apps, books, music, and movies. When you first navigate to the page, you’ll see the above image as the centerpiece of the top ticker. Clicking this picture on the site will take you to the page listing all of the current 10-cent app offerings. Of course, you could also access the list by going into the market from your Android Device, and that’s probably a better idea since that’s where you’re going to downloading the apps anyway.
Also worth noting: it appears that the 10-cent app offerings is setup on a 24-hour clock that changes at 12-noon eastern time. I’ve been downloading the apps in the morning, which is right before their price goes back up. If you check back in the afternoon each day, you’ll see the list of fresh offerings for the day.
So you know how when you were younger, you would try to justify that all of those video games were actually making you smarter, improving your reaction time, and increasing your coordination? Well maybe you didn’t play video games, or maybe you played too many and they rotted your brain and you couldn’t think up such a strong argument. Space Physics is actually one of those games where you could really make the case that you’re getting smarter, quicker, and more precise as you play it. The premise is as simple as it gets: guide the green ball to the multi-colored star. Thing is, every level you’re faced with a unique layout that, in one way or another, prevents you from getting to the goal. So what does a waiting-room genius do with his time? He draws shapes to facilitate overcoming the obstacles that stand in your ball’s path. You can draw circles, lines,closed shapes, open shapes, and a lot of different objects, to help your ball reach its goal. The tutorial for the games is actually very good, and the beginning levels do a good job of teaching you which shapes are best suited for specific scenarios. In the above example, you’ll see the player has made a stair-climbing car out of two circles and a line. I’ve learned the hard way tho that the better touchscreen artist you are, the better you will do. I’ve made some rather caveman-looking first-wheel attempts that definitely didn’t roll the way they should. The better your design and the quicker you can think of a solution, the more points you get, as the game keeps track of how long it takes you to complete each level, starting the moment your finger touches the glass.
The next game I purchased was Toki Tori. In the market, the pictures promised a good graphics presentation, and it definitely does not disappoint in that department. How ever, what really sold me were the comments and reviews pegging this platformer as an Angry Birds killer. Well I have never… The game is good, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve already played through a few levels and I don’t feel any special attachment to the game. After two levels of the first play through of Angry Birds, I was worried I’d never leave the waiting room again. Really though, Toki Tori is a great mobile game that’s definitely worth 10 cents and probably a dollar. In the video above you can see someone playing this game on their ipod touch. That’s right, this game is available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and even on your Steam cloud-computer-gaming portal. I really like the progression of difficulty in this game, and like in Space Physics, the developers do a great job of teaching you how to play and solve puzzles as you go. I can’t say that this will be the first game i reach for on my phone, but after I beat all of the others, this is sure to provide several hours of fun. I guess you should get it while it’s only 10 cents, I mean come on.
Stay tuned for an update Where I review Jelly Defense, a great tower-defense game, and Paper Camera, the first non-game app I thought was worthy of a purchase so far during this sale.