One of the biggest things that have become a regular part of life over here at Pop-Culture Spectrum is mobile gaming. I’m grabbing my iPhone and playing things like Robot Unicorn, Whale Trail, Punch Quest, Middle Manager of Justice, Eyelord and even Angry Birds. What we haven’t done though is discuss these games and that stops NOW with the following.
The Game Bakers have made three awesome, intriguing, cute and fun games. These three games are not without their flaws, but as mobile games trying to give the feel of what mobile and touch is truly capable of they have surpassed their goals each time. With their first two games SQUIDS and SQUIDS: Wild West they combined RPG with pull physics to create something very unto itself and yet infinitely playable with a quest, bosses, story and lovable characters.
In their latest they seemed to go a new path, gameplay was the main focus here, although story and character still shine. The new game is COMBO CREW. Inspired by 80’s arcade games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage in which the longer you can hit without getting hit the higher your combo score goes up and the better points you they’ve delivered something just as fun as those games and yet equally as frustrating.
One of my biggest issues and problems with those old arcade smash em-ups was being fast enough to hit the counter while in the middle of a combo. The same issue exists in COMBO CREW. As my chosen character is unleashing a combo on an enemy I get warned that another enemy is about to attack but I’m either not fast enough OR the game is not fast enough to recognize my tap to stop the attack. Not always, but when it happens I get tempted to throw my phone across the room. I would never do that, because… it’s just a game. A good game that when you die and get a game over make you go “ARGHHH!” but just a game. No worries about this argh happening in public either. I’d almost be scared to play it in public with the furious finger swiping it takes.
The game has a co-op but being a solo gamer means I’ll never experience that, but the idea of it is pretty good.
In terms of replayability it has it in spades, as you’ll automatically get better with time, you’ll score higher and unlock more combos and additional characters.
There’s two modes as well, a “story” mode and an endless mode. Once unlocked endless can help you in story to get stronger, faster, better to get to the top of the tower.
In terms of developing something that really was made for the idea of touch, Game Bakers has succeeded again immensely and this is one of those games that if you have an iPhone, iPad and yes, even an Android. Of course if you don’t have one of those and only have a PC you’re out of luck!
Yet, you can still experience some Game Bakers with a PC version of SQUIDS.
Being a trained chef who prior to getting an expensive education read and studied cookbooks for fun means that I now infrequently use such books. Although I do turn to them when needing some new pointers, or a very popular or famous chef compiles their favorite original concoctions along with personal anecdotes and now as a technophile I actually checking out cookbook apps and software when I can or when offered a look.
I have tried out Better Homes and Garden’s, Cooks Illustrated and more, and the biggest issue I found in them was that you have to have an internet connection always running to get to the recipes. Yes, we are talking about iPhone/iPad apps so the idea that you’d be offline is pretty crazy, but what if you’re doing a barbeque in the Ozarks and for one second you decide… “Hey, this potato salad is so boring… what else can I do with potato salad?” and in this imaginary situation you have access to any food or food item you want, but no internet and you’re flavor profile mind isn’t just kicking in. So an app which you can download recipes to before you head to the Ozarks is best right?I’ve been sampling a few that were okay, but had many flaws I didn’t care for and have missed a few that fascinated me but were truly out of my price range and there’s some that haven’t come out yet. There are a variety of interesting celebrity sponsored apps such as ones from excellent chefs and television personalities like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver and when looking for something very specific they come in handy. There’s even a version of Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything”, but that is much more a guidebook to cooking and less so a cookbook collection.
That’s what the app iCookBook can help with. Although it’s much more than that. In terms of layout and design I’ve liked it much more than any of the others. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re the best of the recipes though, despite being many of them and I mean any. The collection is of all Brand name recipes, things from boxes of products ranging from Kraft, Hershey’s, Pace, Wish-Bone and more. Of course you wouldn’t have to use the name brand product if trying a recipe, you could use something similar and probably get the same results.
The app has monthly free downloads adding new recipes along with optional paid recipe options based on themes and styles.
The setup is as easy as many, you get your ingredient list and then follow very simple instructions. You can find recipes via filters such as method of cooking, theme, time of creating the dish, theme of the dish, and more. For someone like me I’d be using it as just a pointer, but it’s definitely a good pointer and much easier to use than any of the other apps as I said and more versatile. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover something new and interesting too, with over 2000 recipes available on download and many more there’s going to be something I didn’t ever learn in school or post school studies.
It also has easy access to items such as conversion charts and substitutions, the ability to create a shopping list and offers customer service.
In February 2012 I took an afternoon walk to the zoo near my house, Queens Zoo in the Flushing Meadows Corona Park and decided to spontaneously record it with my iPhone. It would be my last video I would film having long hair. I’ve gotten some personal praise from friends on it and felt it was time to share beyond Facebook and my Youtube page.
It might be public knowledge that I am a Canadaphile, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ever bear repeating. I’m not just talking about liking certain bands or television shows that have gained release in America or Internationally though, a lot of people like the music of Neil Young, the acting of Michael J. Fox and David Cronenberg films. My love goes as far as not just Degrassi, but all Canadian teenage shows that have appeared on Disney, Teen Nick, The N, ABC Family, etc and more so the ones that only aired on Canadian Family, CBC and other Canadian Networks (and in cases the UK and Australia), but never made it to the US airwaves.
All this is to preface my excitement when I heard about the new iPhone/iPad app Totally Amp’d, a Canadian produced “web series” with similarities to shows such as Instant Star and 2Gether, both Canadian produced shows about discovering and promoting young talent. Produced by Smokebomb Entertainment, a Division of Shaftesbury, the show was created with Smokebomb’s three creative heads Jarrett Sherman, Daniel Dales and Jay Bennett who all have quality resumes. The program and app features music written by C.E.O. of Jingle Punks Music, Jared Gutstadt and features all kinds of genres, giving it a something for everyone feel in the sound department. On the writing team is Karen McCellan, previously of Being Erica and on three out of 10 episodes, Christin Simms who was a major part of Jimmy Two-Shoes, Clone High and Dino Dan.
What is most exciting aboutTotally Amp’d though is the amazing cast. The big pull on the series in terms of who they are marketing to mostly would be Cristine Prosperi. Cristine is currently a major player on Degrassi, coming in on season 11 as a new foil character attracted to the very popular Eli played the extremely popular Munro Chambers. Cristine gained a following immediately like most Degrassi cast members, but it is a deserving one as she is both gorgeous and talented. For the slightly older fan though there’s a major draw too in Ashley Leggat who became famous on “Life With Derek” which ran from 2005-2009, there she garnered a fan base in Canada and America and has made appearances in popular Shaftesbury shows such as Murdoch Mysteries and Aaron Stone, including an appearance on Cartoon Network’s Unnatural History. The third known commodity on the show is Demetrius Joyette, best known from the Canadian Teencom “Wingin’ It” which has unfortunately never aired in the U.S. Rounding out the cast are newcomers to television Amanda Thomson and Brock Morgan, as well the very experienced yet youngest member of the cast Camden Angelis (who has even done an episode of Scare Tactics). The show also features the talents of James A. Woods (no relation to the other actor of the same name) who has a expansive resume.
There are two other talents not in the initial marketing of the show to make note of. Shemar Williams, a very popular and talented dancer who actually had a dancing training segment for kids on TV and Dewshane Williams who had major roles in Baxter and Being Erica.
All the promotional hype out of the way, how is the actual final product? Excellent. The songs are fantastic, actually the main shining light more than anything. The characters are awesome too. It should be noted that while there are 10 appisodes, each appisode isn’t more than 6 minutes each, creating an about one hour short film. It’s a perfect length for the iPhone though where this show is made to live. Although it also fits the new professionally made web series format.
What makes the app part special are the unlockable karaoke format songs, the editable music videos and the highly entertaining dress em up. There are seven songs that you can record your own vocals for and then input them into a remix which you can pick and choose the elements including original vocals, drums, guitars, bass and percussion. There are five videos which you can choose the angle shots to create your own version. Both the kraoke and video edtiors are simplistic in nature and would be exciting to have a more fleshed out ability, but this isn’t a music app or video app, it’s an all around concept in which on top of a full length professionally created show exclusive to the iPhone you get some really fun extras. Then there’s the design studio which is the bread and butter of the app segment, something app developer XMG has truly excelled at. It’s truly a total package at $5 for the full season (free to try and test with the first episode) and truly worth it.
I’m hoping for a second season and that with it hopefully a longer story and more expanded applications, but this first part of Totally Amp’d is highly recommended for anyone with an iOS device running 4.3 and above. For those without an iPhone, the album is also available on iTunes and the Youtube channel has a lot of great stuff.