Sunday, 29 December 2013

Shoot Many Robots [XBLA] Review



Also available on the Playstation Network and Steam with a spin-off game out for Android and soon said to be released on the App Store, Shoot Many Robots is a downloadable 4-player co-op, run-n’-gun action shooter currently free for December as part of Xbox Live's Games with Gold.

Published by Ubisoft this is the first original title from Demiurge Studios whom have until now worked behind the scenes on triple a games such as Borderlands, Rock Band, Mass Effect and BioShock.

Some of their previous work conveys, visually from the offset it immediately looks a bit like a flat-pack Borderlands though not without some feeling of depth. The sublime Rock/Blues soundtrack would not be out of place in a Rock Band playlist, nor the SCI-FI and machinery from the latter previously aforementioned.

Playing through the game, I could not help feel the nostalgia of classic counterparts within their genre, yet while being an ode to the likes of Metal Slug and Contra ( even so much as using a play on words to name a trail referencing the former ) Shoot Many Robots manages to remain fresh and unique throughout.

You take on the role of the star of the game P. Walter Tugnut, a loveable hillbilly who has been stock-piling his Recreational Vehicle with guns, ammo and beer awaiting the robot apocalypse.

It's a tale of carnage and chaos of which that does most of the story-telling as you take on hordes and waves of robots stopping from time to time to upgrade your arsenal and abilities. There is a brief tutorial at the beginning, then all hell breaks loose, no dialogue - no cut scenes - just bullets and robots, and many of them.



Learning as you go the difficulty is ramped at a steady incline despite initially being thrown in at the deep end. New weapons ( primary and secondary ) and wearable items ( with bonuses, abilities and melee attacks ) are dropped, discovered and ultimately bought with the in-game currency; nuts! Be sure to collect as many as you can in order to be able to purchase the best  upgrades on offer. There is some stock in store you may not be able to afford without much grinding, these can be purchased with real money but are not obligatory. Primary weapons have unlimited ammo, secondary weapons do not.

As you progress you will also level-up, this increases your health bar and also makes better guns and items available to find, unlock and ultimately buy. The higher your level the better the dropped unlocks become after turning your enemies into scattered heaps of junk. It is well worthwhile purchasing as high a level weapon as you can, what with them being more powerful than those you may have previously purchased. Checkpoints are spread throughout and your game is saved automatically after each stage. Some areas appear similar, but do seem to become more visually stunning the further you travel.

There are three difficulty levels, each with their own set of six roads leading to three or four destinations, complete with giant boss fights and armies of chainsaw wielding, rocket launching and flying bombing machines.

Shoot Many Robots can be played alone, but it really is a case of 'The more, the merrier!' so invite your friends or find an open lobby and team up with up to four other players to quadruple the fun and maximise the arcade-like experience.

Earlier stages can be replayed in-turn granting you the opportunity to level up some more, discover missing stock, collect extra nuts and also gain more stars to unlock further levels.

Twelve challenging achievements are here to attain, leaderboards to ascend and also some fun DLC to check out.

Controls are responsive and become intuitive when mastered. Tactics pay-off, learn to use the environment and 'destructibles' to your advantage - the level design isn't just layer upon layer of eye candy. Use your melee; some projectiles need to be shot, others can be punched acting as a counter-attack. Also bear in mind your combos, the more consecutive damage and destruction you chain the more nuts drop! Conserve your beer, sometimes evasion works just as well but do keep an eye on your health.
Team mates can be revived as can you, but pick and choose the right time to avoid all four of you becoming mincemeat. Slow and steady wins the... war against robots and saves humanity from the apocalypse? Try not to rush ahead and don't be afraid to back up. Finish off the enemies on screen before you run into more than you can handle. Of course this can be a little less possible when playing in a random lobby with no communication, however you are not tied to the same screen as your comrades as with some other multiplayer titles and can move freely. Perks of the job; power-ups are also dropped by the bots and temporarily gift you consumables such as health, secondary weapon ammo and speed enhancers.

'In what other game can you don a jetpack and beer-hat while playing air guitar with a flamethrower, all in your RV during The Robot Apocalypse?'

If you like what you've read, then round up your posse and download this terrific title - Ubisoft not to. I look forward to what's next from Demiurge and wonder... When is the cabinet available in all good amusements everywhere?



Presentation: 92%
Gameplay: 94%
Longevity: 90%
Innovation: 88%

Fantastic! 91%
"Explosive debut!"


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Minecraft Pocket Edition Fan Art

Recreated in McPE v.0.8.0 on iPad Air
Slideshow compiled and edited in iMovie

Featuring.Characters from such games as, Kid Tripp, JNKPlat, Mikey Hooks,Chillaxian, Sonic The Hedgehog, Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, Fist of Awesome, Evil Robot stole my girlfriend, Baby Lava Bounce and Ninja Boxing Calculator.

Recently opened up Minecraft Pocket Edition after updating only to find myself being drawn back to creating some more pixel art, I find it rather therapeutic. Hope you enjoy checking out the video as much as I did building it.


PowerPackXL [Review]


The PowerPackXL is an emergency phone charger not restricted to phones themselves. Also suitable for charging your other mobile devices on-the-go, such as an iPod or PSP they are both convenient and portable.

Packing an extra large 4000mAH Li-polymer battery it contains enough capacity to charge your smartphone fully up to four times on a single charge. This will of course differ for devices with larger batteries such as iPads.

Available in black and white models both with a chrome and glass looking frame, front and back respectively with holographic text these fantastic products have a premium look to them. They are of a solid build and the plastic materials chosen to construct them also make them surprisingly light in the hand. Small enough to slip in your coat pocket and not be too bulky, nor will they take up much room if dropped in a bag.

Your PowerpackXL will come neatly boxed and safely packaged in transit. Aside from the unit itself you'll receive a USB lead with five adaptors to charge both the charger itself (mini USB) and pretty much any major manufacturers' smartphone such as Nokia or Blackberry, lightning adaptors are now included. You will also find the instructions and a warranty. Using this emergency phone charger couldn't be easier, after making sure you have charged the unit itself by connecting it to either the mains or via a computer, simply unplug the PowerpackXL and connect it to your smartphone,iPod, iPad or PSP with the USB cable and correct adaptor before finally pressing the button. You can use either the left port for a fast charge, or the right for a trickle charge.The unit also has a control system in place to prevent overcharging. There are four LED lights on the PowerpackXL each representing 25% capacity and the unit will last weeks between charge.



I tested the PowerpackXL itself, along with both my iPhone 4S and iPad Air. The results of the charging times and percentages can be found below;

PowerpackXL charging time: 5-6 hours approx.
iPad Air [fast]: 29% capacity, 2 and a half hours of charging after which the unit was completely drained.
iPad Air [trickle]: 45% capacity, 3 hours of charging after which the unit was completely drained.
iPhone 4S [fast]: 100% charged in approximately 2 hours, 75% capacity remaining on the PowerpackXL (3 LEDs)
iPhone 4S [trickle]: 100% charged in approximately 2 hours, 75% capacity remaining on the PowerpackXL (3 LEDs)

As you can from my findings there appeared to be no difference in charge time or battery life charging the iPhone 4S by fast or trickle, with a slight difference charging the iPad Air.
As I mentioned earlier the battery size of course determines the result and I suspect the voltage plays a part also. The iPad Air is estimated to contains a massive 8,820 mAH [roughly] while the iPhone 4S encases a more modest 1430mAH battery. The PSP battery is 3600 so it is likely you will at least receive a full charge with a little spare.

I also tested whether the PowerPackXL holds it charge as claimed and while we are talking days, not weeks in between I found the unit to do so finding the same capacity I left it with.

The USB cable and adaptors supplied were all also of a solid build and fit snug and secure when connecting. My only gripe was with the length of the USB cable itself upon charging the unit at the mains. I struggled to find a wall socket where I would not have to leave the PowerpackXL dangling. However, there are pros and cons to consider and the problem can be overcome. First of all, a shorter cable means the likelihood of it getting tangled or splitting through wear and tear is almost null and void and where as you could possibly use an extender I found the unit sits well on a two or three way adaptor when charging at the mains. Whether either affect performance I am not sure.



Whereas I probably won't be using the unit as frequently in my normal day-to-day life. Over the past week or so putting it through it's paces, I have found the PowerPackXL to be reliable, convenient and provide great results.
A welcomed and preferred alternative source of power to the unfortunately awful battery cases I have had the displeasure of using in the past. Whether you could use a backup battery often or occasionally this is a fantastic piece of kit for anybody with a smartphone and comes with both a money back guarantee and warranty. This is the first emergency phone charger I have actually bought and while I have noticed some of their competitors are cheaper and sometimes larger, the PowerpackXL looks great, does what it claims and the company do seem to run regular discount offers so keep an eye out for those.

Visit the official website for more information and follow PowerPackXL.co.uk on twitter for the latest.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, I'd just like to thank PowerPackXL again for their assistance on the somewhat unfortunate and unforeseen bumpy road to writing this review. ( Of which they were not aware until recently ) and let you know from first hand experience their customer service is paramount, a trait which is always a pleasure to discover if called upon.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

NeonPlat Extreme Review and Giveaway [iOS]



Emitting vibes of Mario Bros, NeonPlat Extreme [£0.69] is the latest release from Indie developer James Gamble to feature a version of his character PlatDude, both the first and biggest NeonPlat I've played.

This single-screen platformer packed with nine different modes is perhaps the most unintentionally festive game to launch on the App Store this year, just in time for Christmas.

Visuals are mostly linear brightly lit set upon a dimmed background with the foreground occasionally tilting. This coupled with the fact the brightness also seem to alter intermittently can be somewhat disorientating, clever additions to the already focus shifting gameplay. The walls, floor and ceiling are open in all but one of the modes if I recall correctly, a help and hindrance.

A quirky upbeat soundtrack accompanies crystal hit-detecting pleasing arcade sound effects echoing, even fuelling the chaos.



All-round common elements consist of you 'painting' platforms white as you land and travel upon and across ultimately making the ground beneath you disappear while dodging also destroying bad guys, together with occasional projectiles. The latter is executed of course by evasion and attack; sometimes simply jumping on enemies is enough, other times you will need to perform a slightly more elaborate series of actions to achieve the same  outcome.
Spheres, or as I like to call them 'bubbles' are [it seems] randomly generated throughout the play area. These can be collected and thrown at your gaseous foes trapping them, ready for you to hit. Completing these tasks gives you points. You will encounter an array of bizarre nemeses, ranging in size and kind, resemblant of to name but a couple, giraffes and giant clowns.
Three hearts indicate your lives, one is lost each time you are hit by an adversary or missile after which you are given a temporary shield sparing time to get your bearings.
Gameplay is fun, fast and addictive. A quick-play title you could easily end up spending much more time in than you may have intended. Some of my favourite game types so far include, Gems, Boss and Squishy. Despite the screen becoming rather busy at times, everything flows nicely with no lag and I've yet to notice any glitches.
Left and right arrows, jump and throw buttons are your smooth and responsive adjustable controls and I feel they could be bettered only by a scaling option.

There are pros and cons to experience on the device of which you choose to play NPExtreme. I preferred the smaller window of the iPhone and iPod touch, but the bigger virtual controls on the iPad - so maybe the iPad mini is the perfect platform? Touch screen at least, that said, the differences actually supply variation to the already sporadic so result in a bit of an unforeseen bonus.

All nine modes vary and part of the fun is in the learning. Can you master them all? Challenge yourself and other players beating your high scores and fight for your place on the leaderboards.

If you enjoy games such as Super Crate Box you should definitely check this out. Also available on Android OUYA and Windows.



Presentation: 86%
Gameplay: 92%
Longevity: 90%
Innovation: 88%

Great! 89%

"Solid, frantic and radiantly retro!"

Watch the promo video below for a sample of the gameplay and read the description for links to NeonPlat Extreme on other platforms. Last, but by no means least James kindly gave me a review  code for NPExtreme on iOS. If you would like to win it be the first to tweet me [@Jamie84303] answering the following question correctly and I shall DM you your prize - good luck and thanks for reading!

"What is neon?"

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Crabitron: Giant Space Crab Simulation [iPad] Review



Two lives left proudly presents their multi-award winning Crabstarter exclusively to iOS.
iPad owners must experience this innovative and unique game which utilises the larger touch screen so well, it should probably come pre installed as a native application.

You take control of the entitled protagonist using your fingers and thumbs as it's pincers, as you also in-turn move your arms [albeit slightly] so does Crabitron [£1.99] - it's almost like using the power loader from Aliens! Likewise (probably) it does take some adapting to at first as you learn the ropes, but then it feels as natural and has the muscle memory akin to riding a bike.

Crush spaceships, devour their contents and then burp bullets - hopefully into the path of another oncoming enemy/treat. Doing so accumulates currency ( seemingly cleverly exchanged into a virtual mimic of your countries' legal tender ) for you to spend on upgrades and power ups aiding you further each level. Block rockets, deflect meteors and break walls in fun and sometimes challenging intermittent mini-games. Epic boss fights come as standard and obliterate any existence of monotony in this every hundred year endless occurrence. Complete missions to rank up your extraterrestrial crustacean, survive as long as you can on your voyage of destruction and ascend up the leaderboard.



Share replays of your shenanigans, then do it all over again. Accessible
and suitable for the whole family. With crisp colourful and comical visuals, humorous sound effects and a quirky upbeat soundtrack, like no other this is one simulator you should definitely become accustomed with. If you haven't already and can, I highly recommended sidling onto the App Store and picking this up with both claws it's well worth shelling out for ( I'll stop now. )

Visit the official website for more information - oh and you may want to stop with the crabbing! Just some [Sea]food for thought.


Presentation: 88%
Gameplay: 92%
Longevity: 90%
Innovation: 94%

Fantastic: 91%

"What is an iPad without a ruddy giant space crab simulator?"

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Eryi's Action [PC] Review



Eryi's Action is bizarre by name and nature. An extremely challenging Steam greenlight title that for the sake of your sanity is best played in short spurts, if at all.

You play Eryi, the protagonist whose melon she was so looking forward to eating was stolen by the evil villain Farta X, yes you read that correctly. And so you embark on a perilous journey to face the thief and retrieve one of your '5-A-Day'. 

An interesting premise full of eleven stages and boss fights to meet your demise in, on a world map that is too... interesting.

With games like this and this is like games, fine lines are blurred between them being testing and downright infuriating, fun and blood, sweat and tears.

Indie developers Xtal Sword do not hide the sly and cunning traps awaiting you behind the cutesy graphics, on the contrary they pride themselves on them utilising them as a selling point. On one shoulder they are daring you to accept the challenge and on the other life coaching you into not giving up.

See there is no game over, the player decides when and whether to continue or not. There are checkpoints, your death score is recorded continuing each time you relaunch the game and there are achievements likely unlocked by accident. Trading cards are also available.

The presentation is polished enough with big eyed Anime inspired sprites set upon a busy and colourful backdrop scrolling as you go, giving depth to an otherwise 2D Platformer. Animations are smooth, sound effects are clear and the soundtrack while cheerful can become distracting and irksome. Controls are responsive if a little floaty and the collision detection takes a bit of getting used to.




Similarities to other famous games of it's genre are somewhat noticeable, it is the gameplay that sets Eryi's Action aside and makes you sit up and take notice. The traps I briefly mentioned earlier spring up, fall down or come at you in a moments notice almost guaranteeing replay, whether that is to be considered value is down to the player's discretion an opinion bound to alternate often. Some obstacles are much easier to overcome a second time round, others may find you searching for a walkthrough after failing your umpteenth attempt. I am close to racking up almost 200 deaths and part of me is hoping there's an in-game fruit store.

At only [£3.99] if you are a fan of 2D Platformers and extreme video gaming it's an experience worth investing in. Prone to rage-quitting? I'd probably steer clear, I can't see Nyu Media taking responsibility for your tears, nor being liable for your broken computer. Talking of which Eryi's Action will run on pretty much anything with a monitor, keyboard and Windows version of some sort ...for as long as you want it to.

More information, non-refundable giggles and a free playable demo are available on the official website, so you can try before you buy.

Story: 78%
Presentation: 80%
Gameplay: 84%
Longevity: 82%
Innovation: 86%

Great! 82%

"Eryi's Action; a jar of yeast extract. The question is - Do you want the spoon?"


iCarbons.com [Review]



iCarbons.com specialise in designing, manufacturing and distributing custom skins for devices such as game consoles, computers, tablets, smartphones and tech accessories.

The stuff they use to construct their skins is made from 3M DI-NOCtm, a durable, cleanable, flexible vinyl film that simulates the look and feel of natural material such as carbon fibre, wood grain and metal. This gives the customer the look they want minus the added expense. iCarbons don't just look and feel authentic, they provide scratch protection and are easy to install delivering a precise bubble free application. The adhesive used is residue free and upon removal your device will not be left sticky or damaged, this also gives leeway when applying them.

With an array of colours, designs and limited editions in an evolving catalogue new skins are usually available to pre-order shortly after a new piece of kit is released. Their team is always on the ball and they cater for users of many major products, most recently those of the XBOX ONE and PS4.

Their customer service is second to none and I have been a big fan and happy customer of iCarbons.com for a few years now at least. Purchasing skins for my iPhones and Playstation 3, I'm looking to buy one for my iPad Air in the new year and I have just finished applying this Dark Wood skin to my XBOX 360;




The quality is pretty incredible and I find the only time I need to replace them is when I fancy a change or a new skin colour or design catches my eye. With handheld gadgets, I also feel it's worth mentioning while they may not provide drop protection, in my opinion the texture of the carbon fibre skins offer reassuring grip to possibly otherwise slippery surfaces feeling safe in the hand. A fantastic alternative to cases, adding virtually no bulk.

Worldwide delivery is available and there always seems to be some kind of promotional discount running. If you live in the United Kingdom and are in a bit of a hurry, you can order your skins from phonemaniac.co.uk; the ONLY authorised distributor of iCarbons in the U.K.

Visit the website for more information, check out their YouTube channel for installation videos and follow the team on twitter to keep up to date with the latest news, offers and giveaways.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ninja Boxing Calculator [iOS] Review



Inspired by the now classic 80's Casio BG-15 Boxing Calculator and the sum of two years in the making, LCD Ninja's Ninja Boxing Calculator finally makes it way on to the App Store, like lightning!



Currently available for iPhone and iPad for only [£0.69*] ( *Contains no in-app purchases or advertisements. ) Mac and PC versions will follow, a planned release for Android devices is expected early 2014 and there are even plans under way to manufacture a physical handheld version of the game/calculator.

I did not have a BG-15, nor did any of my friends, neither did we own a calculator with a hidden game. The only games we played on our calculators were inputting numbers, rotating them upside down and in-turn magically transforming them into letters forming words such as 5318008
In fact in all honesty it is in recent years I have (re?)discovered all these fantastic gadgets I'd missed. Needless to say I was excited for the release of Ninja Boxing Calculator and could not wait to just grace my iPhone's home screen with it's presence, even setting aside space long beforehand and placing the stock calculator app ( which I do, or did at least use fairly frequently ) in a folder.

That's the other thing I anticipated, the fact I was about to download a fully dual functioning multitasking application that was together fun and useful, a utility and a game. Paying homage to an arguably revolutionary gadget of days gone by, reinventing and bringing it back for everybody to enjoy and experience.

The simple icon sits well with Apple's new flat iOS7, upon launching Ninja Boxing Calculator you are presented with a beautifully polished brushed metal virtual calculator. The UI is clear and little accents such as the highlights and shadows of the buttons and the pressing animations show much love was put into this creation. While I'm on the subject of animations now may be a great time to mention how smooth the LCD dot matrix animations flow during play, not that it subtracts from the retro feel - it's just never looked so good!



Similar to it's muse, there are three cleanly labelled controls to master, 'ATTACK' 'GUARD' and 'EVADE'. Guard; switches between high and low blocks and in-turn sets up your high and low attacks, while evade dodges stronger attacks. Win 99 fights through up to 8 rounds each of Ninja Boxing with increasingly intelligent and challenging computer AI. It is not all about button bashing and though you need to be quick, the controls are thankfully responsive as timing is of the essence.
At the top of the display are your and your CPU opponent's health bars, stamina{?] and a timer counting down the round. You win fights by knocking out your opponent. The count out timer is indicated by a succession of beeps and the game is over when you get knocked out. At the end of each game and on opening the application your high score and fight reached are displayed, alternating between a title screen and prompt invite to 'PRESS ATTACK TO START'
I'm not sure how authentic the sounds are, but you could have fooled me and they certainly ring a bell! Both a quick play game and a potential cause for some serious procrastinating it is a clever addition to your new calculator app. Speaking of which, this can be activated via the flick, or rather slide of a touch screen switch. Basic, but then I am one of the many who hasn't seen or used a scientific calculator since back in the day. I've tested the functionality and it works just as well as any other I've utilised, virtual or physical and I can still magically turn numbers into letters. (The evolution is in the brackets.) What is this sorcery?



LCD Ninja have divided an application into a clever calculator and ridiculously retro fighting game. May the purchases mutiply! Ninja Boxing Calculator in my opinion is one of this year's most innovative releases on the App Store alone and though a late comer equals a worthy contender for Apple's App of The Year 2013.

Visit LCDNinja.com for more information and follow @LCDNinja on twitter for their latest and greatest news.

The developers contacted me shortly after release and kindly gave me a code to redeem Ninja Boxing Calculator on the App Store. Since I had already planned to buy it after a brief exchange of messages they gave me the 'ok' to instead give it away. If you would like to win, all you need to do is send me a Direct Message on twitter [@Jamie84303] with the first correct answer to the following question;

What does LCD stand for?

To give people a fair chance to read this article and enter the giveaway, I will delay the competition and will not accept the first correct answer until 5pm on Monday - that's 5pm [17.00HRS] G.M.T on Monday the 9th December 2013, good luck!


Presentation: 96%
Gameplay: 94%
Longevity: 92%
Innovation: 98%


Fantastic! 95%


"Your iPhone's Calculator app has just evolved into something most excellent!"




Saturday, 7 December 2013

Stickems [Review]



Stickems are an ingenious little invention from the guys and girls over at Stickems HQ.

Part sticker part screen cleaner all reusable these handy products are a godsend to anybody who owns a portable gadget with a screen, or even a pair of spectacles!



Now I'm sure most of us don't like having mucky devices and short of carrying around a microfibre and bottle of screen cleaning fluid there's not much else we can do, aside from using an item of our clothing or the like to give it a quick wipe... that is until you discover Stickems! Simply stick one to the back of your gizmo and in case of an emergency peel off and give the screen a clean, then just stick it back for safe keeping.



They remove fingerprints, dust, oils, grease and make-up and being washable are good for up to 1000 sticks! Should your Stickem become a bit dirty itself or need it's stickiness reviving all you need to do is rinse under a cold tap and let air dry before reusing as before.

These fantastic products are made from soft microfibre cloth with a static gel backing which sticks firmly and leaves no residue behind upon removal. They come in assorted shapes and sizes with designs to suit most tastes and the catalogue is still growing with more artists teaming up and getting on board as the news spreads.

Having tried and tested one for around a week I found it to work wonders and struggle to fathom how I got by without before. In my opinion it appears to perform best when wiping your screen in a circular motion and though you probably don't want to hide your chosen Stickem design they won't get in the way should you use a case. The ingenuity and convenience still has me smiling, surely they are in line for an award for innovation?

If you own anything from a smartphone to a mobile gaming device, to a laptop - keep your screen pristine and rock a Stickem! Visit The Original Stickems website for more information and follow @LoveStickems on twitter for news on the latest available designs and stockists. Prices currently range from £2.99 to £4.99, they even be used to clean CDs!