App of the Week: Curiosity

Developer:
22Cans

Compatible with:
iPhone 3GS or up (optimized for iPhone 5)

iPod touch 3rd gen or up

iPad

Android Devices

Requires:
iOS 4.3

Android 2.3.3

Price:

Free

Available here (for iOS) and here (for android)

Peter Molineaux has made his career off of hyping his titles to impossible degrees. From promising you the ability to play God with all that entails, to his infamous claim in “Fable” that you could plant a seed, and live to watch it grow into a tree, he’s defined by promising lemonade and delivering lemons.

Well, maybe that is a bit harsh as his titles are always interesting, even if they are never quite what you though they would be. He’s without a doubt one of gaming’s most unique minds, and he’s just released an app that might just be his most ambitious title yet. It’s called “Curiosity” and if you haven’t heard of it in your everyday life yet, you can expect that to change soon, as it is slowly taking the mobile gaming market by storm.

“Curiosity” is a game that starts with nothing more than a black cube. Zoom into the cube and you will see that it is comprised of millions of smaller cubes which can be removed with the touch of a finger. The goal couldn’t be more simple, as you are tasked with removing every single one of those cubes on one layer by taping them, in order to do the same on the next layer, earning coins for in game purchases that will let you dig faster.

That’s it. That’s the entire point to the game. Why would anyone want to do this? Well there are two reasons really, as it’s not just you chipping away at the seemingly infinite sized cube but rather thousands all working on a cube on each server, making this a pretty significant multiplayer title. The other is the vague promise that at the center of the cube is a life changing, mind blowing secret, which will only ever be revealed to one person, and that’s whoever removes the last cube first.

The whole “world changing” secret bit reeks of classic Molineaux, and will no doubt be a resounding dud. However, “Curiosity” is slightly different than the typical Molineaux hype job, as instead of promising the journey of a life time, he’s only promising the destination of a lifetime, and leaving the journey to those who wish to discover it.

It’s a key difference that is already paying dividends in the entertainment factor of the app, as the thousands that have played so far have already started creating sayings and photos of all kinds en route to the center of the cube. The sheer size of the structure makes it easy for a large number of hidden images and messages to be found, as every angle usually yields some new surprise, even if it is just a dirty word or two. Of course, they already go along with the hidden visuals the developers have put into each layer.

Much more than the contents of the cube then, it is the community aspect that drives what is better described as a global social experiment than a game. Since the only real gameplay consists of removing a seemingly infinite amount of blocks one at a time (even if there are coin and combo incentives), the real joy comes in gaining a new layer, and exploring what players have done with the layer you are on. Every would-be-monotonous step is now instead one step closer and filled with wonder, and of course pure curiosity.

“Curiousity” is also very controversial, as many are saying it is a joke to call it a game, and consider it to be more of an elaborate prank than a form of entertainment. There’s also the issue of how many people are trying to join at once causing massive server issues, and preventing many from joining at will.

Faults aside though, “Curiosity” may represent a small step toward the future of mobile gaming, as it brings the whole world together for one common goal and lets the define how they get there. Whether you are in it for the hunt for the center, or just want to see what creative works others before you have done, I recommend trying “Curiosity” out while it’s busy setting the world on fire as it is, if nothing else, a memorable experience that may turn into something much more.

We don’t know when “Curiosity” will end, what will come of it, are what stories will be crafted along the way. For whatever the answers to those questions eventually be, it’s important to get onboard with “Curiosity” sooner than later if you want to find out, which is all the more reason for it  to be my app of the week.

  

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App of the Week: Devil’s Attorney

Developer:
Senri AB

Compatible with:
Android Devices

Requires:
Android 2.3 or up

Price:
$3.00

Available here

“If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.” – Charles Dickens

You may find this quote close to fictional lawyer Max McMann’s heart, if not on a plaque somewhere in his seedy office or written for keepsake to tuck away in his cheap suit. He’s the start of the new app “Devil’s Attorney”, and he is not necessarily a bad man, just a damn good lawyer.

“Devil’s Attorney” is an app similar in concept to the successful DS lawyer series, “Phoenix Wright”. The twist here is that you don’t play a crusader of justice, so much as a chaser of ambulances, as it’s pretty clear that McMann became a lawyer for the specific purpose of making a lot of money, as his clients are almost exclusively of the guilty persuasion (though he would strongly advise they do not make a similar plea in court).

The game is made up of over 50 cases where the player, as Max, has to out maneuver the prosecution and their witnesses. The court scenes are broken down into rounds, and you are given a certain amount of action points to spend on maneuvers like Cross Examination, Epic Speech, Mesmerize, and of course the always useful Tamper With Evidence. You’re trying to use your actions to “defeat” witnesses, and the evidence itself, by draining their hit points (call it “character assassination”) and taking them out of the game, making this very much like a traditional RPG. Once you run out of action points, your round is over and you have to weather the prosecutions attacks.

Appropriately, it’s not so much about the case as it is about the tactics.  You have to manage your action points well as you often either focus your efforts on one witness or evidence piece at a time, or spread the damage throughout. Win a case, and you’re rewarded with cold hard cash, which can be used to purchase new suits or furniture for your apartment, which in turn grants new abilities or enhancements to your current ones. So you could, for instance, swagger into your next case wearing a feathered pimp hat, zebra suit and monocle, while wielding a hammer for extra evidence tampering abilities.

The key to the entire game is its humor, which is strangely (yet successfully) rooted pretty firmly in 80′s pop culture. The actual court room mechanics works okay, but if it wasn’t for the insane amount of fun this game is having with everything from the bizarre cases, to the gut busting humorous dialogue, and the gaudy swag that doubles as upgrades, this might be a completely forgettable game. Instead it is that aspect that drives you to keep playing (and enjoying this game) until the final case is closed. It is a rare feature in a video game where you get to play the bad guy, and it is truly a welcome change of pace to be able to speak on behalf of some of the worst criminals imaginable all in the pursuit of the mighty dollar.

The constant amount of artistic style and comedy on display in “Devil’s Attorney” is a true joy. It’s a morally objectionable game that isn’t trying to be offensive, and instead milks a demented concept for all the black humor and enjoyment it is worth. I do wish the game were a bit longer, but what’s here is solid gold.

As your attorney I advise you to buy this game right away as well as check out the incredible 80’s style intro below. Afterwards, I don’t think I’ll hear any objections to this being the app of the week.

  

App of the Week: UHF Horror Movie Collection

Developer:
3DCGFX COMICS COMPANY

Compatible with:
Android Devices

Requires:
Android 1.6 or up

Price:
$0.99

Available here

So I’m jumping the gun with this one, but with October approaching rapidly, I can’t help but get excited for Halloween a little early.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the horror genre, no matter what the medium, even though I’m not entirely sure why. There’s something about a good (or even not that good) scary story that appeals to me more than just about any other kind. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a genre that has been graced with some diabolically creative minds over the years, whose visions of scares and atrocities that most would rather never hope to have cross their minds, manifest themselves into tales of terror that all celebrate, and contribute to,  the undeniable human quality that we just like to be scared.

If you have an Android device, you can help re-live some of film’s greatest horror stories with the UHF Horror Film app. A collection of public domain works, this app yields no less than a 130 movies of macabe that are available to watch in their full feature release versions. That does mean you can find a lot of these titles for free, but its very nice to find them all in one convenient location that’s always available. Also, while some of the titles available are understandably less than classic, even a lot of the bad ones are bad in the enjoyable way (which is a unique trait that horror movies, and maybe comedies, enjoy).

What really shocked me when reviewing the list of movies available on this app, though, is how many of these titles are worth full retail price. Movies like “Night of the Living Dead,” “Nosferatu,” “Carnival of Souls,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Haxan” and “Dementia 13” are included in the bundle, and are all essential horror viewing for one reason or another. But still, the real joy comes in taking a shot on random movies like “I Eat Your Skin,” “Driller Killer,” or “Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory” and seeing if you can’t accidentally unearth a new cult classic (Hint: In the cases of those movies mentioned, it’s not likely).

With additions like plot summaries, cast and crew information, reviews, and 65 episodes of the TV series “One Step Beyond” and “Tales of Tomorrow” thrown in for good measure, there’s an absurd amount of content available. You may never get around to seeing everything on this app, but since we’re talking about a cost per movie of $0.0076 , then there’s little reason to not give it a go, even if it is just to quell your Halloween jonesing on the go.

While Apple Maps may be the scariest app currently available, it doesn’t come close to having the sheer entertainment value of the UHF horror film collection, my app of the week.

  

App of the Week: Sing It, Say It

Developer:
Wobbyl LLC

Compatible with:
iPhone
iPad
iPod Touch (4th Generation)

Android Compatible Systems

Requires:
iOS 5.0 or later

Android 2.0.1 or up

Price:
$0.99

Available here for iOS and here for Android

Considering that the app “Draw Something” has been downloaded over 50 million times since its release, it was, of course, inevitable that other developers would try to take their own stab at the concept, and reap the considerable rewards of the apparently huge market that exists for that style of game.

Yet unlike the many “Angry Birds”knock offs out there, there really isn’t much creative freedom in trying to duplicate “Draw Something.” As indicated by the title, it’s a game where you draw something, people take a guess at what subject it is you are trying to draw, and the world rejoices at the fun had by all in the process. It’s not exactly a concept that is easy to capitalize off of without directly copying the original idea. While this would usually be a breath of fresh air, creatively speaking, it’s truthfully kind of sad that no one has found a way to take the basic idea present in that game (user created trivia with your friends) and find a fun new direction to take it in.

That’s why I like the new app “Sing It, Say It.” Instead of relying on a visual for the trivia question, “Sing It, Say It” instead uses audio clues. Specifically, you are asked to record a movie quote or song lyrics, provide the answer in a limited character space, and share it with up tofour other players (random, or grouped through you) to see who can match the sound to its source. The gameplay is enhanced by the ability to acquire tickets by winning and achieving other goals like winning streaks, or being the fastest guesser in your group. These tickets work as in game currency to unlock bonuses that range from more recording time, to voice modifiers (and also serve as a nice change of pace from a game requiring actual currency to unlock things).

If it sounds simple that’s because it is, and that’s thankfully why the whole things works. As so many of us are children of the multimedia age, our minds are backed up with movie quotes and song lyrics that were previously only useful for the occasional misguided karaoke adventure, or casual slip in to everyday conversation. “Sing It, Say It” provides a competitive forum for that knowledge, and does it with a simple system that never hinders your experience. While that is an experience that I find is best enjoyed with a group of personal friends as opposed to a random online gathering (much like a “Rock Band” session), if you have that group of equally pop culture obsessed buddies available, it’s incredibly fun to find yourself in a forever-ongoing back and forth of “spot that reference” with a well implemented reward system furthering your efforts.

While it would have been easy for “Sing it, Say it” to be a soulless “Draw Something” knock off, instead it feels like an idea that was spawned by a simple gathering of friends wanting to share a game of trivia we’ve all played before with others as well. It’s not quite as dynamic and addictive as the mega hit “Draw Something,” but that casual fun feeling that frames the entire experience is more than enough to have me singing this apps praises, and saying that it’s my app of the week.

  

App of the Week: Fantasy Football Edition

So I’d like to take this time to admit that I have a fantasy football problem.

That’s right, I’m that guy. The one with multiple teams, and a small fortune invested in their outcomes. The one who will watch every game to follow my players, and root against lifelong favorite teams if one of my guys needs to get be an extra point or so before the late games. Hell, I once introduced fantasy football into a conversation about a friend’s dad being hospitalized due to malpractice by saying, “Hey, speaking of dropping the ball, what do you think about Dez Bryant against the Eagles this week?”

Luckily I live in a football and fantasy crazed society that supports this sickness. More than support it, they allow it to successfully infiltrate other aspects of your life by providing awesome mobile apps so that you never have to sit through another social obligation or work day without having the ability to request trades, and change you roster for the 5th time in a week. Of those apps, here are the most essential ones that you will need come time for the new season.

For Your Overall Needs – ESPN Fantasy Football 2012

Available for iOS here, and for Android here

So, there’s a lot of sites you can play fantasy football on, but I say if you’re going to spend a disturbing amount of your life during football season watching the same SportsCenter over and over until the new one kicks in, you might as well stick with ESPN. Quite simply, this app allows you the full range of features you would get by logging into your ESPN league (trades, roster movements, league news, etc.) but of course here you have all of that power in the palm of your hands. Best of all is the notification alerts, so you’re never behind on an injury update, or smack talk opportunity ever again.

If you’re going with fantasy football through ESPN this year, then this is the most essential app you can download (and if you’re not, be sure to snag your host site’s alternative). Just try not to spend the whole day considering your WR loadout for the week, just because you have the ability to change it at will.

For Your Draft – Rotowire Fantasy Football Draft Kit 2012

Available for iOS here

If the draft isn’t the most important part of your fantasy football year, it sure is the most exciting. Watching your roster come together from the all star impossible selections of the first few rounds, to the vital sleeper picks of the late rounds, all while trying to beat your friends for the most bragging rights is the best part of any season. As my 2010 year proved, however, sometimes flipping a coin between tough decisions is not the best way to go. In that case, I have to recommend the unrivaled help provided by the Rotowire Draft Kit.

This is a smart draft app of sorts, as it allows you to set recommendations based on your preferences, and can actually adjust player rankings based off of your league settings and your needs according to the draft progress thus far. You’ll also find the usual range of stats, recommendations, and upset picks all tied together by a clean interface that allows you to smoothly navigate the various app features while keeping up with the draft thus far.

While this app won’t prevent you from picking the sure thing player gone bust, or keep your first two running back picks from blowing their ACL’s in week one, it is otherwise the closest you will come to a fool proof draft day.

For the Compulsive – Fantasy Football 12’ HD

Available for iOS here, and for Android here

From Bignoggins Productions, this is one of the most popular fantasy football apps available. It offers the same add/drop, roster changes, news updates, and trade abilities as the host site apps, but the difference here is you can manage your ESPN, Yahoo, and NFL.com teams all via this app without having to move back and forth. Plus, since you will be second guessing your every move throughout the year, this gives you another available outlet for recommendations and news.

If your fantasy obsession has taken you to the darken back alley that is owning and managing multiple teams over multiple leagues, then there is no more essential app available then this one.

For the Hell of It – Paper Football 3D

Available for the iOS here, and for Android here

Look, it’s quite possible that every one of your star players will go down and you’ll miss out on every great free agent pick up of the year leading to the dreaded winless season. It happens.

It’s at times like this that you need something to remind yourself that football is supposed to be fun. And since the official NFL Madden app will probably just remind you that Darren McFadden just will never stay healthy, and you should probably just stop drafting him already (sorry…still working through some stuff here), why not dial it back another notch and go back to the simplistic days of paper football. It takes the basics of the game (points, mostly) and gives you a reprieve from the brain crushing numbers of fantasy ball, while providing your methadone fix of the game that you most desperately need.

While I can’t guarantee that these apps will make you a lock to win your league this year, with Calvin Johnson most assuredly going down to the Madden curse, we could be looking at another topsy turvy anything can happen kind of season. Which is why you may soon find yourself needing my first four picks in this round of app of the week.

  

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