by Jen Schiller1
Kindle Round-Up April 28th 2014
Best of App of the Day 4/20 to 4/26
We are certain that our Kindle-toting brothers and sisters are sometimes neglected, and in need of some extra game review love. To remedy this, Hardcore Droid has engaged the Kindle Featured Apps, especially the Free App of the Day. Starting last week and moving forward, our resident Kindle expert par excellence, Jen Schiller, is downloading the free feature every day as well as at least one game from among the Featured games. Jen will train a hardcore gamer’s eye on each and every one of them and report back to you with which of their number are worth your time. For the Kindle owners whose e-Readers see more games than books, this will be the weekly roundup not to be missed.
As most Kindle owners know, every day Amazon’s Kindle store features a handful of apps including a highlighted app for free download. To meet the challenge of assessing each and every one and report back to HD readers as to which ones were worthy of their time, I checked in every day, downloaded the free game, and then chose another featured app or two to try. At the end of the week, the best games were determined by which I hadn’t deleted yet (pretty simple qualification). I determined which ones to keep based on a few different criteria, which were decided on after I played each of the games for multiple hours and through most of their “main” game modes. The first of the criteria is simple: none of the games require in-app purchases at any time. Moreover, the games had to have some unique element to their gameplay, a variety in their levels, and excellent replay value at the very least.
Best Free Featured App:
Hidden Objects Quest 15; Winterland: Hidden Objects Quest was clearly dissatisfied being a cookie cutter game. Each level of Quest comes in three different modes, some of which were unlike anything I’ve seen in any other game of the genre. For instance, “hangman” mode delivers clues Wheel of Fortune style—there are blank blocks at the bottom of the screen, and letters fill in slowly over time. You get more points the less letters you need to determine what the clue is. One of my favorites to play was “shadow” mode, where you are given silhouettes for clues rather than full pictures. Hidden Objects Quest allows you to zoom in on specific parts of the full puzzle, use hints to find items that have you stumped, and play the same level in multiple ways. The only negative is that this version is a little out of season, but if that’s all I can complain about I’d say it’s a pretty good day.
Best Paid Featured App:
Rabbid’s Big Bang: This game was on 50% sale all week, for only 49 cents. I downloaded it about halfway through the week, and didn’t expect much, considering the Rabbids are not known for their complexity. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. Rabbid’s Big Bang is a strategy game using modified real-world physics. There are two Rabbids standing on a planet’s surface and once one hits the other with a baseball bat, the second one goes flying off into space. Planets have limited gravitational pull. There are coins in the sky, and eventually you get a jet pack to help control your trajectory post-baseball bat swing. Some levels require that you collect coins, others require that you circle a specific planetary body a certain amount of times, still others challenge you to fly a designated total amount of miles or at a specific speed. Even once this goes back up to full price, the variety in level design and challenges as well as the collection of achievements make it a great addition to any Kindle.
Best App Overall:
Tap the Frog: I don’t know where to begin describing this game. It’s been a little less than a week and I’m completely obsessed with Tap the Frog. This game has a variety of different levels that require you to manipulate frogs in some way. You start by tapping frogs to “pop” them. Then you get a level where you tap them to change color so that all the frogs on the screen are the same. Then you get to make the frog fly and collect bubbles. Then he’s on a skateboard and you make him switch lanes, and so on and so forth. The challenges are all timed and you can collect little clocks to add more time. Your score earns you stars, and stars unlock more levels, some of which are two-player games! The frogs are adorable. The frogs are fun to play. The frogs don’t need you to drop extra cash to unlock more levels. If you’re really impatient, you have the option of buying stars rather than earning them, but where’s the fun in that? I simply went back to levels I hadn’t yet mastered, and played them until I had four or five stars, and was ready for a new challenge. Yay Tap the Frog!!
Burger Shop: While this game wasn’t featured, it was high on the free downloads list this week and after playing it for just a short while I can see why. Burger Shop is a twist on the Diner Dash genre, but instead of having to seat guests you simply have to build their orders. You’re in control of a conveyor belt to start, but can upgrade by adding soda and fry machines, a helper bot, and other add-ons as you progress through the levels. Much like in Diner Dash, different customers will challenge you in different ways, but as long as you’re good at multi-tasking it shouldn’t be hard to learn. Burger Shop gets included on the list for having a wide variety of play options and keeping my interest for a decent amount of time. It’s different enough from Diner Dash to be interesting, and takes a fun new twist on a genre I’ve loved for a long time.
Let Down of the Week:
Epic Empire: Epic Empire, I was warming up to tell everyone to come play with you, but alas you have let me down. I put a decent amount of hours into Epic Empire, which plays an awful lot like those Farmville spin-offs on Facebook. Disclaimer: I love those games. I am embarrassed to say I have spent real-life money on a Café or a farm in my time. I have made mistakes. They will not be repeated. That’s why Epic Empire disappointed me—although it was a free download, I quickly became aware of how much easier it would be if I just dropped a few dollars here and there. Sure, I could upgrade my equipment after each battle and spend all my blue star things to quickly expand my mines and collect coin faster. But once I cleared a battle zone, it became neutralized, and I had no chance to grind away and upgrade more, replacing the coin and the blue star things I’d just spent. No no—there was a glass ceiling up ahead, and as soon as I reached it, I was forced to stop playing. Epic Empire was fun while it lasted, which made it all the more upsetting when I realized I’d have to pay to keep playing. Stop, Epic Empire. Just stop.