Little Alchemy

Little Alchemy

The Rubbish

Luckily I’ve played an Alchemy style game before or I would have been totally confused by this application. There’s a big empty area on the left and 4 elements on the right. You can drag an element out of the right and if you combine two correctly (simply place on top of one another) a new item will appear. With a trackpad on a laptop this is a very frustrating UI (not that I can really think of a better way!)

The images are a little odd, and I’m not sure why plant + fire = tobacco either. It could really do with an introduction, some kind of in game hints, and, of course, a store logo! Impressively, it does continue to function in Snapped mode!

Failure Reasons

  • No app icon

Store Details

Games / Puzzle
Age rating: 3+
Developer: Recloak

Description

Simple yet addictive game.

Start with four basic elements. Then mix and match them to create more and more awesome things.

Combine the elements by simply dragging and dropping one on the other to make something new. See how many elements you can come up with.

Features

None listed

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/little-alchemy/f2b2fd6b-15fe-48c6-89bf-bb128b12bd75

Gingerbread Man v. the Smiley Faces

Gingerbread Man v. the Smiley Faces

The Rubbish

I have to admit that the name made me smile and I was really hoping for something awesome hiding behind the lack of a logo and the less than inspiring screenshot. Alas, I was disappointed.

If you can get past the lack of a logo and actually launch the game, there’s no splash screen either. Then there’s a gingerbread man sitting on a red line and smiley faces randomly appear. If you tap and drag the red line you can launch the gingerbread man around the small white area of gameplay (which is quite diddy on my large screen!) The physics is a little, erm, interesting as he likes to spin crazily. If you hit the smiley faces sometimes they spawn into two, sometimes they appear to get sliced in half. I really don’t know if I was supposed to hit them or avoid them. There’s no scoring, absolutely no indication what the gameplay is supposed to be!

Failure Reasons

  • No store logo, app icon, or splash screen
  • Does not work in snapped mode
  • Doesn’t appear to do anything!

Store Details

Games / Action
Age rating: 3+
Developer: Sayonara

Description

The gauntlet has been thrown, and Gingerbread Man must battle the Smiley Faces back balance and harmony to the universe.

Features

None Listed

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-US/app/gingerbread-man-v-the-smiley/9f47dcd5-69f8-4b00-b46d-daf5a9566576

Swagatam Mukherjee – Conversionist!

We’ve already met this developer, for his tapping game which I couldn’t make do anything! Back then it didn’t occur to me to check what other exciting offerings a developer might have. It would seem Swagatam likes numbers, and converting them! As long as you only want to do one conversion at a time, and only in one direction…

Please take a moment to marvel at those icons and imagine how glorious they will look on the start screen of your fancy new Surface. I should really learn to make my icons in MSPaint it clearly allows you to bypass most of the review process!

In amongst those apps you’ll notice that there’s 2 hex to decimal converters – yay for more cloning. The Multiplication Tables for Kids managed to have a store logo, but no actual app logo once installed!

None of these apps worked in snapped mode, or portrait. They all only convert in one direction and do simple maths which you could use a calculator (or even your own brain!) to do. The layout of items on the screen wasn’t well thought out, and once an onscreen keyboard was visible many of the buttons became untouchable.

A number of the apps are aimed at children. I can’t imagine many children sitting and learning their numbers or timestables whilst looking at such a dull screen!

Surely the better approach would be to create a single “Popular Conversions” app which has the ability to do all of these, and even in reverse. Maybe even with an icon I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have on my start screen. That could be a useful app, one people might use more than once. I might even write to the developer now and suggest that!

Kusuma Sruthi

It seems Pavan has a rival for the “Most Cloned Apps” award! Kusuma is already up to 22 and shows little sign of slowing. On the bright side, he has bothered to upload different screenshots, the games have different backgrounds, and some subtle gameplay differences (different images on Levels 2 & 3, sometimes). My Start screen is now covered in tiles which look like a child was let lose with MSPaint and Comic Sans!

I have actually already reviewed two of these apps! I noticed Brain Drain and Mind Game before, as the first example of this interesting cloning approach developers seem to be taking.

How do you choose between these?

MasterBrain
MasterBrain
Revive
Revive
Read-Write
Read-Write
Zin Spel
Zin Spel
Call Up
Call Up
Passa
Passa
RandomCache
RandomCache
Minni Stoova
Minni Stoova
Re-Call
Re-Call
Juego de Memoria
Juego de Memoria
Memorie Verificare
Memorie Verificare
Memoria Jatek
Memoria Jatek
MemoDial
MemoDial
REFULGO
REFULGO
UYGUN
UYGUN
RandomBox
RandomBox
FlashReen
FlashReen
MatchUp
MatchUp
Trace Back
Trace Back
Remind
Remind
BRAIN DRAIN
BRAIN DRAIN
Mind Game
Mind Game

If you sort by New Releases there’s a sea of apps with no store logos and most of them belong to this developer. This game isn’t all that much fun to start with. There’s a bug whereby if you start a game and then return home it still takes you to the questions screen when the timer runs out (even though you can’t see the timer anymore!) They don’t work in snapped mode, and obviously the reason I first checked them was because they had no store logo.

Once again we question how has the store team not noticed? Why are these people doing this? When is the madness going to end?!

Pavan Kumar – Who are you?

As of now, this developer has 13 copies of the same game in the store! We’re sort of hoping that he’s trying to make a point, about Microsoft letting in rubbish and not paying enough attention to clones, or something. I fear they’re actually just having fun spamming the store with the same rubbish over and over again!

How do you choose between these?

DIFFUSE THE BOMB
DIFFUSE THE BOMB
brain-champ
brain-champ
find-the-bomb
find-the-bomb
tic-tac
tic-tac
memory-check
memory-check
diffuse it
diffuse it
memory champ
memory champ
BLOW UP
BLOW UP
funny pairs
funny pairs
BRAIN CHAMP
BRAIN CHAMP
stop the bomb
stop the bomb
miss match
miss match
find the bomb
find the bomb

The answer is simple, you don’t. The game wasn’t worth the download to start with, and having now checked all 13 to make sure I wasn’t missing some subtle differences, I can assure you that it’s not worth your time!

How has no one on the store team noticed this? He hasn’t even bothered to use a screenshot from the actual game for each one. The title screen in the game is actually different colours and has the actual name of the app, whereas the screenshots are almost all identical!

Come on Microsoft, sort this out!

Calling out Pavan Kumar

Today I found an even better example of the rubbish. One developer, Pavan Kumar, has submitted the same app 7 times to the store! Sure, they all have slightly different names (why is one masquerading as tic tac toe?!) and even slight differences (the menu screen has slight colour variations, and one app lets you replay level 5 if you fail whereas the others don’t), but they are the same.

As I’m not Pavan, I’m only going to write my review once, but you can assume it’s the same for all 7 apps!

DIFFUSE THE BOMB

The Rubbish

A simple memory match game. Strangely lets you tap cards whilst the images are still visible. Adds a timer element so if you’re too slow the bomb explodes and you have to repeat the level.

The UI is terrible – the buttons on the title screen get larger when you hover over them causing everything to bounce around. In game, the “Replay” button is often larger than the “New Level” button, and they change position each level. Your score is labelled “U’R SCORE” – seriously?! There is no consistency in the UI, each level moves everything about slightly for no good reason.

The game doesn’t maintain leaderboards or even a top score so there’s no replay value.

Oh, and did I mention, 7 of the same game?! That’s just ridiculous!

Failure Reasons

  • No app icon
  • Does not work in snapped mode
  • Cloned to the extreme!

Store Details

Games / Puzzle
Age rating: 3+
Developer: PavanKumar

Description

Are you in search of a fun giving app ?then here is an app which provides you with what you want.It also keeps a check on your memory power and observation skill.
Process: You will be shown a number of similar images (based upon the levels) for a seconds and will disappear.You have to match the similarly looking images to diffuse the bomb.

Features

fun giving game
tests your observation skill

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/d542307c-b565-40d7-9dda-a6f6d200e991
OR
http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/6342a2b5-6260-4005-ad54-a1ed0a9bd296
OR
http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/8c5bd113-20c9-49a2-8907-c14ff8ca4e8c
OR
http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/479a3a5e-7659-492c-9b5d-a6c04aa9f3e9
OR
http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/2f79f582-300a-472b-b018-b0f23b17aae8
OR
http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/bc80ac0d-e53a-4d66-86ae-739a09dd4ec4
OR
http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/05706c67-8402-4589-9f47-3ce4c2d9e715

TickyTackyToe

TickyTackyToe

The Rubbish

The first implementation of Tic Tac Toe which includes a computer player. Obviously that means a whole lot of tied games and not a lot of fun. Although somehow I did manage to win a couple of times, so there’s a fault with their logic somewhere!

For the game to be fun, it could do with a difficulty level. Small children will become very frustrated at losing all the time. Adults will tie basically every time. Or perhaps, implement a 2-player version as well, so that you can ‘practise’ against the computer and then play with a friend.

Amazingly, this game does work in snapped mode. It gets all squished out of proportion and looks silly, but it does actually work!

There are some typos in the game, including a ‘Policy Statement’ which I can only assume was supposed to be Privacy Statement as that needs including in most apps (although since this one doesn’t use the internet, it doesn’t need one at all!)

Failure Reasons

  • No app icon

Store Details

Games / Puzzle
Age rating: 7+
Developer: GeekLoganator

Description

Ticky Tacky Toe is game which requires thinking and skills to challenge the intelligence of the computer. Although this game is simple, it is too fun and addictive. Have fun enjoying this nostalgic game

Features

Challenging AI
Continuous hours of play

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/943a9e68-ea17-4763-82d4-753648977852