Tag Archives: Android

Marvin’s World: Dash Games – Watch That Clock!

It’s a curious fact that all games mirror real world situations. For some reason, we enjoy playing a game, while its real world counterpart would probably have us bored or scrambling for excuses. Perhaps it has to do with the illusory sense of control & achievement that a game gives us, which its real-world counterpart may not.

I’m hopeless at time management in real life. Deadlines are met but with frantic dashing about & panicking. I get delayed, no matter how hard I try to make it on time. And my meetings & conversations stretch on long beyond what was intended. It’s curious indeed, that I love that genre of casual gaming called Time Management.

The Dash games are probably the most popular of the Time Management games. They involve performing a set of actions, at optimal speed & order in order to collect the rewards & progress to higher levels. I think Flo’s Diner and Sally’s Spa are the biggest of these and have spawned several knock-offs like Wedding Dash, Pet Dash etc. I’ve enjoyed the online versions of both these games before and it was just a matter of time (!) before I hooked up Marvin onto that ticking clock. Here are what I’ve been playing against the clock for:

Sally’s Salon Luxury Lite:Beauty Is A Fast Business!

This follows the standard Sally story, starting with her taking on a small beauty salon. The game begins with basic services like hair wash, hair cut, hair colour & blow dry. You pick the best choice of hair cut & hair colour based on the customers’ expression & get rewarded with hearts (and subsequently tips) accordingly. There are a couple of different customer types by patience level & tipping abilities. During the game, you are also offered options to upgrade services or buy new materials (like magazines, chairs, speed apron & coffee dispenser). Sadly though, in the initial levels, there really isn’t potential to earn enough to make any purchases outside a magazine and a coffee machine. Also, the free game ends at level 5, which means you also don’t have a chance to experience the spa extensions in other locations, the hiring of new staff or the merchandise counter, all of which add tremendously to the original game.

The graphics are colourful & quirky, matching the original game perfectly. Even on the tiny mobilephone screen, the details of hair styles, facial expressions & different customer types comes through perfectly. The game screen is a little bigger than the mobilephone window, which means scrolling left-right is necessary. Even so, the services are concentrated to the left of the screen and the payment counter is right in the middle. So if you’re really quick & don’t let the waiting line pile up (top left), then you manage nicely without ever having to scroll.

Sally’s Salon Luxury Lite is developed by Gamehouse and available for free download in the Android Market. Also see Sally’s Spa, a free demo by Gamehouse which lets you play just one round in the first level. The full version is available for Rs.105.78 as Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition.

Dinner Rush 2011 Lite: Customers On A Conveyer Belt Is Unpalatable!

This is a version of Flo’s Diner but doesn’t have the same charm. The key to both Flo’s Diner& Sally’s Spa is their key characters that are constants through all levels. Players superimpose their own identity on Flo or Sally & can empathize with her rushing about to fulfil orders or service customers. Dinner Rush focuses on the dishes rather than on the customers or the staff. Each customer glides in as a face at the top of the screen. They are seated & their orders taken by drag-drops. Once the order has been registered, a tiny menu made of colour blocks appears on the right side of the screen. The game is about clicking through in the correct order so as to complete that dish. Customers as a conveyer belt item to be processed isn’t a concept that I enjoyed. Much of the retail experience is the actual engagement between the service provider and the customers. All of that goes missing in Dinner Dash. The graphics of the food components are too tiny and too basic to grab interest via the cookery route. This is not a game that I’d recommend for Dash lovers. Electronic music is a staple of these games but possibly because this game was so boring, its music seem to grate on my nerves even more.

Dinner Dash 2011 Lite is developed by Nalbam Soft and available for free download in the Android Market.

Buffet Dash Lite: Waiter, There’s A Bug In My Game!

This is another spin-off from Flo’s Diner. Sadly, like Dinner Rush, this one also fails to deliver a good experience. It started when the music wouldn’t stop even after the application was exited. Turning the music off while the game was in progress didn’t help either. And finally, even Force Close/ Clear Data didn’t help. I finally had to restart my phone to get the annoying electronic music to stop. My guess is that this is a bug that occurs when you’re downloading or installing multiple apps.

The problem is the music is so grating that you really want to shut it off immediately. However, on silent mode, the game is disorienting as you can’t tell whether the tasks have been completed or not. The visual processing & completion of tasks that Sally’s Spa offers, is missing in this game and its a huge absence.

The graphics are mediocre, too tiny & bland to be able to make out expressions or even what is being cooked & served. One customer is much like another and the dishes are equally homogeneous. Buffet Dash Lite is blah and another must-not-have for Dash lovers.

Buffet Dash Lite is developed by Nalbam Soft and is available for free download in the Android Market…

IceCream Dash: Line Up, Don’t Dash

IceCream Dash Lite is more a line-up-in-row game (like Jewels) than Time Management.The premise is that each order of ice-cream requires ingredient assembly. These ingredients are not simply scooped & served as in other food Dash games. A grid appears of different coloured dollops. You have to line up 3 or more in a row to get them off the bin and onto the cone. It’s a novel attempt to marry two genres of casual games. Unfortunately it ends up being more of one variety and not the one that it purports to be, a Dash game.

The graphics are simple but a game of this nature doesn’t require very evolved images. The response time is a tad slower than the average line-in-one game, which means the game goes slower and builds frustration, since it is a timed activity. The music is monotonous but if you play it like you would play Jewels, you probably won’t even notice it. But by that premise, you probably want to play the original, Jewels, instead of a poor knock-off.

Ice cream Dash Lite is developed by Nalbam Soft and is available for free download in the Android Market.

Marvin’s World: Couple Toolkit1-iKamasutra Lite

A phone is a personal device. But a relationship makes two people’s lives mesh together in different ways. There is much that the Android Market has to offer to the tech-savvy, connected couple. Here’s the first for the best thing that a couple can do together:

iKamasutra: As the name suggests, this one is for heating up things in the bedroom. Based on the ancient Indian text on the art of love-making, iKamasutra Lite details 30 positions for sex. There are 9 categories. Each position has directions accompanied by an illustration. Bearing in mind the activity that this app aids, there are shortcuts such as ‘Shake to show random position.’ Each position can be marked as ‘Tried’, ‘Star’ and ‘To do’. Navigation across this list is made really easy by the home screen showing the following: Categories, All, Favorites (Starred), To Do, Untried, Tried, By Desire, Recent & Random. By Desire is a categorization based on Intimacy, Complexity & Strength and uses sliding rulers to measure each. The Lite version doesn’t have enough options for this search but the complete Kamasutra does so the paid version of the app should be interesting for this feature.

I like the idea of a discreet little app, that could replace a potentially embarassing tome sitting on a bookshelf, open to all eyes. My concern is that this app is a little too sticky. What could have set this one apart from the vast repertoire of Kamasutra-based information surrounding us, would have been attention to discretion & privacy. Here’s why I don’t think it meets those criteria:

  1. A number of intimate apps like menstrual cycle trackers have password protection. iKamasutra Lite does not.
  2. The background music (low-pitched veena strumming) might not be everybody’s idea of mood music but there are no volume or mute options. Hitting the main button to exit to main screen, shuts a lot of apps but not this one. While your home window comes back, the music still continues.
  3. A ‘shy’ app like this would need easy exits but iKamasutra Lite doesn’t provide one. What’s more, the exit route is not intuitive. To leave, you’ve got to hit the Back button, upon which you’re asked if you’re sure you want to leave and have to select ‘Okay’.
  4. There is also an option to share on Facebook and Twitter, which I think is just bizarre. It’s too scary, the thought that such an intimate bit of information could be inadvertently broadcast to the world by a wrong touch (highly likely given the circumstances, wouldn’t you think?).

All in all, I think this app looks very slick and is easy to navigate but much caution is recommended. iKamasutra Lite is developed by NBITE Inc and available for free download in the Android market. The app is also available for iPhone, iPad and Windows7.

Marvin’s World: Format Your SD Card

android

It has been awhile since the last Marvin’s World review where I showcased an urban survival kit of 3 Android apps. Mostly I’ve been caught up in other topics but also, Marvin refused to co-operate. New apps would not load, older ones would not update. After going through the process of selection and download, I’d get a message saying that the app could not be saved on the SD card.

I was advised to format the SD card, which is where I got stuck. The command refused to work. But today I managed to figure it out. I’m putting down what I did here. It might help any other techno-geeks like me who can’t figure out what the *whole* world seems to know. Or it might just be my personal manual the next time Marvin decides to act up.

  1. Back up all the information on your SD card (mine was music & images)
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Select SD card and Phone storage
  4. Press Unmount SD card
  5. Remove SD card from the side & wipe to remove any dust
  6. Put in the card again. The screen should show ‘Preparing SD card’ messages
  7. Now Format SD card (in the same window as step 4) should be highlighted. Select it.
  8. You’ll get a warning message telling you that all data will be lost. Ensuring all your data is backed up, go through with it.

And that’s it! My apps are back and loaded. And of course, so is Marvin’s World. I’ve a few themed-posts cooking up so stay connected!

Google Plus Versus Facebook: Early Thoughts

The day before yesterday, the boy mentioned Google’s latest product. Yesterday, the newspaper carried an article and I tweeted asking if anyone knew when it would be launched. Among the replies (that it already had been), I did get one incredulous one saying,

“I can’t believe you just tweeted that!!”

Yes,we tweeters are a snooty bunch, not unlike American High School movies. Shortly after, a friend ‘shared’ his post with me, which gave me a link to get into the network but not use it. This morning, I found I was suddenly in and able to create circles and ‘share’ myself. So I now have the latest snob-value accessory of the online-techy crowd – a Google Plus account.

I’ve spent the last hour exploring its features and occasionally tweeting about it. The fundamental premise that Google Plus is being marketed on, is the ability to share updates (and other things) selectively with only certain parts of your network (called Circles). Now Facebook allows for many of the same features but their privacy settings are rather clunky. What’s more, the past year has seen a few Facebook breaches and lapses which probably makes this feature of Google Plus, a definite, well, plus.

On the other hand, I’m wondering whether in the rush to get into the social networking race with Facebook, whether Google Plus really will sustain or just fall by the wayside (anybody remember Buzz?). For starters, there’s no other particularly interesting feature over Facebook. There is an easy way to integrate Twitter and Flickr but again, these can be done on Facebook with apps. Even the look and feel of Google Plus is very like Facebook (minus the ads). There’s a Stream which is like the Live Feed. Settings and Notifications are in pulldown menus in the top right-corner of the screen (a minor change over Facebook which has Notifications in the mid-left corner). Profile is laid out in much the same manner with photograph on the top left, main news in the middle body and friends details in the middle-to-bottom left.

One of the first things I noticed was that I could view the people in other people’s networks. Now that’s a Facebook feature I used to use to get around people who had set their privacy settings to not be visible on a general search. If you want to connect with someone, chances are you already know someone they know, even if those people are not connected to you. Somebody in that circle is bound to be open to searches. Get to their profile, look down their network and find the person you’re looking for. Facebook tweaked this awhile ago with an option to hide your friends list (though I think now you don’t anymore have the option to stay hidden from searches). Google Plus doesn’t give you the same benefit so of course, if you want to get snoopy and find out who is ‘in’ with who, look at their network. It’s a good thing though, that you can’t actually see who got put in what Circle or even what the Circles are called. So if you want to put your ex-es in one or even your most hated bosses, guess what? They won’t be able to tell they’ve been clubbed together! 🙂

You can update your status in a very similar fashion to Facebook (on the Stream or the Profile) but you can instantly choose who you want to share it with. You can also tag people by adding a ‘@’ which will then give you a dropdown of names to choose from (a lesser-known but very nice feature of Facebook). And finally, people can comment or +1 (similar to Like) your comment.

The Android app that was released at the same time as the launch is here. The window opens to the following:

  • Stream
  • Huddle (group-messaging within a circle)
  • Photos
  • Profile
  • Circles

The photograph feature is pretty good since the first picture I took and posted to my network showed up within seconds on my computer screen. Within the Stream, I clicked a tick icon. It turned out to be a GPS location tracker. What was really freaky was even though I clicked ‘No’ to enable GPS, it actually gave me a list of options based on addresses close to where I was at that moment! This is the one place I feel Google’s ‘Big Brother is watching you’ syndrome coming on since now, in addition to my email and network details, they also know my location.

It still is early days (or should that be early hours?) for Google Plus. I think the real shift will come if they can provide better add-on features via apps. A lot of Facebook apps are created by third-parties and presumably they’ll get on the Google Plus bandwagon too. What will be interesting is if Google Plus manages to make the app integration easier for the developer as well as the user. Also, I’d like to see them leverage the Android platform to create a good mobilephone-network interface as well as phone versions of the apps. I’ve been a Facebook loyalist but as the owner of Marvin, I’m certainly rooting for the latter.

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