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Richard Moss

Freelance writer covering technology and video games for AppStorm, Mac|Life, Polygon, and several other publications; Content Editor at Archive.vg. @MossRC on Twitter.

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They don’t make games like Double Dragon anymore. While the parallels between coin-guzzling arcades in the 80s and today’s free-to-play mobile fare run more than skin deep, it remains a relic. Simple, straightforward, and brutal, it’s uncompromising from the get-go.

No special “mobile” difficulty can blunt its force — nor that of its sequels Double Dragon 2: The Revenge and Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone. All three are reproduced here in their full glory, warts and all, with touch controls for the gamepad-lacking and the usual host of extra features that you’d expect from a re-packaging of a classic series.
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There’s a lot to like about Polarity, a stylish first-person puzzler in the vein of Valve’s hit PC and console series Portal. But for all its cool atmosphere, excellent level design, vibrant neon visuals, and fiendish puzzling, it is let down time and again by sub-par touch controls that make you wish you were on a PC.

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If role-playing games in the spirit of the Super Nintendo-era entries to the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Phantasy Star series are your thing, Kemco should be planted firmly in your radar. The Japanese developer has now released more than 20 RPGs on Android, at varying degrees of old-school.

I decided to finally take the plunge with their latest, Fortuna Magus, which seems to be more of a throwback than other recent releases. It’s a fun and well-conceived adventure, with an engaging battle system and an unconventional story of three children heading out in search of their father a decade after he vanished, but a solid set-up is let down by poor writing and pacing issues.

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Unless you’re a radio producer, the days of needing dedicated voice recorders are long behind us. Mobile phones and tablets have built-in microphones that are perfectly acceptable for private use in listening back on interviews, meetings, lectures, or random musings. And they even tend to do alright nowadays with music at concerts.

But to get good-quality audio, you still need to do some tweaking. And there are apps for that. I’ve searched high and low for the best advanced audio recording apps, all of which include powerful features that help you get the sound just right. If you only want to record quick voice memos, these will all be overkill, but for the professionals who need clear, crisp audio on a budget, they might be just the ticket.
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Type:Rider takes you on a wonderful interactive journey through the history of typography, seen through pages in a book and the adventures of two black dots. From the oldest forms of writing in Sumeria and Egypt through to the printing press, the typewriter, and the modern computer, plus everything in between, it’s a comprehensive overview of how the shape, size, and weight of our letters has evolved alongside technological and cultural developments.
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Google’s Play Game Services were heralded as a big level up for Android gaming when they were announced back in May. Finally we had a universal system and an easy-to-implement API for tracking achievements and leaderboards across games, carrying saved games across devices (cloud save), and enjoying real-time multiplayer with friends — even on iOS, if the App Store version also integrates Play Game Services. And it’s all accessible through an app, just like Game Center on iOS.

But you can’t just pull up a filter on the Play Store to uncover Play Game Services-supported apps, and finding them can at times feel like wielding arcane arts. So Android.AppStorm’s editorial boss lady [Ed note: that would be me - Rita] asked me to round up a big list of the best. Here are more than 40 games that use at least one of the new services. I’ve included a note on each one to say which Play game services it utilizes, for your convenience.

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If you were a Mac user in the late 90s, the must-have game was an open-world 2D space trading simulation called Escape Velocity. You piloted a ship in a vast universe, warping from one star system to another taking on missions, trading, upgrading your ship, duking it out with other ships, and causing mischief. You could play however you wanted to play — be who you wanted to be. It was the greatest realization of the open-world spacefaring concept since David Braben’s much-renowned 80s classic Elite.

This is the context for Space RPG, a game that looks and plays remarkably like Escape Velocity — only less fleshed-out. It feels right at home on Android, and stands strong as one of the better space games on the platform, although EV fans might think it something of a prototype — or a lite version — for a revival of their beloved franchise. Space RPG is good, but it could be way better.

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Blueprint 3D is one of those things that makes you stop and go, “Huh? How’s that work?” It plays with optical illusions and geometry in the most wonderful, magical ways, time and again wowing you with its clever, delightful puzzles.

There’s lots to like about it, with inventive mechanics, cool presentation, three difficulty levels, and loads of puzzles, and little to dislike. Its one noteworthy fault almost undoes it at times, though, frustrating and testing your patience whenever it pops up.
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For many people, the only thing holding Android back as a gaming platform is its lack of physical buttons. There’s a limited range of inputs possible with a touch screen, and even then accuracy tends to lag way behind a controller or a keyboard and mouse. That’s why MOGA exists. It’s a line of game controllers by PowerA specifically designed for Android.

As a companion piece to my review of the MOGA Pocket, I interviewed MOGA Game Content Test Lead Mike Sindona over email about the benefits of MOGA’s controllers for developers and gamers, the differences between products in the line (there are currently two models, with two more on the way), mobile gaming, and more.
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Some games just suck when you play them with touch-screen controls. Your fingers and thumbs constantly block your view, and there’s nothing tangible for them to brush up against — so you’re never really sure that you’re pressing in the right place. Not all games suffer from this malady, of course — indeed, many excel with taps and gestures. But console-style experiences in particular never feel right without physical buttons and joysticks.

The folks at MOGA decided to fix this problem, creating a line of game controllers designed specifically for use with your Android device. They sent me a MOGA Pocket, the baby in the family, for testing, and after three weeks use I’m happy to say that it’s an excellent choice for Android gamers…but you might want to look higher up the line.
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