Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.
Welcome to the Friday App Wrap, where we share with you some of the standouts from the mobile phone apps that we find each week. You'll find a variety of apps below, plus you can scroll back via the page navigation at the bottom to see the applications highlighted in previous weeks.
Friday, 30 November 2012
iOS App of the Week: Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio Future was a game that I had a lot of fun with back in the day. Cel-shading was still cool, and the game's mechanic — which saw you zipping around on inline skates while applying graffiti tags to the city to fight back against the totalitarian government — was interesting and new.
So it was with nostalgic glee that I greeted the news that the original Dreamcast game was arriving for mobile — and with relief that I found it is just as fun as I remember. Also, just as an aside, isn't it amazing that games that required a massive console to run 10 years ago can now play on something that fits in the palm of your hand?
Speaking of back in the day, who remembers Wipeout? This game isn't Wipeout, but it's close enough; you race little hover ships around futuristic circuits, using weapons to take down your opponents. It has a whole bunch of great features, as well as looking absolutely stunning and featuring a really pumpin' soundtrack: upgradeable ships, three different control layouts, Apple TV and TV-out support so you can play on the big screen and one save file across all of your devices. There's no multiplayer, though it's coming soon.
You know, people reckon Street Fighter is pretty nerdy, but what if you're too nerdy even for Shoryuken? What if you like books? Well, Writer Rumble is the game for you, friend. Rather than taking a muscle-bound kung fu artist and hammering at buttons, hoping your feet or fists land a blow, you choose from one of six literary heroes: Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, the Brothers Grimm, Jane Austen, Homer or HP Lovecraft. Then you have to find words on a board of letters by connecting letters together, either in single player to beat back monsters or in multiplayer to defeat your friends, with power-ups to help you along.
This game is unlike anything we've ever seen on the App Store. It's multiplayer only — and each player's iDevice becomes a control panel, with buttons, dials, sliders and switches that you have to tweak in accordance with the instructions that appear on-screen. Here's the twist: the instructions on your screen are for other players, so you have to verbally shout out the instructions to them, and they have to do the same for yours, all within a time limit. It's glorious cooperative mayhem.
This is a bit more serious than we usually cover, but missing children are something that every parent is terrified about. This app, made by the Australian Federal Police in cooperation with the US' FBI, allows you to relay information quickly and easily to the police in the hopefully unlikely event that a child goes missing. You store in it all of your child's information: their name, nickname, age, address and photo. If your child does disappear, you can then send that profile directly to the police quickly and easily. It also has contact information for the police in various states, as well as instructions and a breakdown of what will happen after you have reported a child missing. It's a great thing to have, and may you never have to use it.
Mindjet Tasks has had a complete redesign and relaunch, which we're guessing will be welcome to users who previously found the app difficult to use. If you don't know about Mindjet, it's worth checking out: a collaborative software tool for keeping up to date with your team, with visualisations of brainstorming sessions, the ability to add and update tasks where everyone can see them and project-planning tools. This iOS app is an add-on that allows you to add, track and edit tasks for you and your team, with real-time updates so you can manage your workflow on the go.
Zynga has been struggling of late, and a lot of people have been steering away from its games. Then it goes and publishes Clay Jam, a sort of hybrid Katamari Damacy/The Red and the Blue. You roll a plasticine ball around in what looks like a stop-motion environment (we don't know how developer Fat Pebble animated it, but the description says it's all real clay ... either way, it looks incredible), squashing other creatures flat to absorb them and get bigger, so you can squash bigger creatures. The bigger you get, the farther you can shoot the Bully Beasts at the end, and then the more creatures you can make out of the clay you collect. It's something special, that's for sure.
Crazy Fairies — from American McGee's indie studio Spicy Horse Games — is properly arriving for iOS and Android sometime mid-December, but if you've been waiting with interest, the beta is now available for Android. It's kind of like what it would be if Super Smash Brothers Melee met Angry Birds in a series of multiplayer online tournaments set in fairyland, gone hilariously awry. It looks just gorgeous, but bear in mind that it is in beta, so some glitches and bugs are to be expected. It's also available to play in a browser or on Facebook.
We do like our little monochrome titles — they tend to lend a game a sort of gloomy gravitas, and Freeze is a solid little title tapping into that aesthetic, with art by illustrator Jonas Schenk and a spooky soundtrack by trance musician Karl Lukas. An eyeball is trapped in a cell. You rotate the cell to navigate mazes, avoiding spikes and moving traps — but you can also use a "freeze" button to freeze your little guy in place for some tricky manoeuvring. It's free for a short launch special only, so make sure you snap it up.
SwiftKey is our preferred smart keyboard here at CNET Australia, so we were all pretty chuffed when it launched an update with an Australian English version. The SwiftKey team analysed over 14 billion words used by Australians to better integrate the keyboard's predictive abilities with our local idiom. If you're downloading SwiftKey for the first time, select "English (AU)" from the language options menu; existing users can open SwiftKey and add Australian English from the "Languages & layouts" menu. Also, we should note that the app is on sale at half price to celebrate.
We have a lot of crazy weather in Australia, particularly at this time of year and in the months ahead, from bushfires to hailstorms. Emergency AU collates and delivers official warnings and incident information, and includes a handy in-app link to dial 000 or the State Emergency Services (SES) if required. It includes warnings for fires (bush, building and back burning), floods, storms, tsunamis, hazardous materials and fire bans. You can even access photo streams and share your own information, so that everyone involved can stay informed.