March 16, 2012

What is Google Play? Unrelated: what happened to my Android Market app?

The Android Market, Google's bargain bin of awesome, is no more. Raising from the depths comes the enigmatic and slightly perplexing Google Play Store. What's changed? Pretty much just the name. Long live the Google Play Store!

There's more to it than that of course. The whole Play thing is a huge re-branding of Google apps and services under one heading (cause just Google isn't enough) and according to my secret source (the Internet, shhh) it's integrating it's various digital distribution platforms into one convenient system. Ergo and such, you've no doubt noticed some of your "favorite" Google apps receiving new names. The new family includes; Play Music, Play Movies, and Play Books (please keep in mind that some of these services are only available to rich white boy countries, no offence intended to white boys who aren't rich OR to Asian countries who are included in this category) Here's a simple equation I created to clear up this unification, I call it the "Playthagorian" Theorum (get it, lol);

Android Market times the sum of Google Movies plus Google Music plus Google Books equals Google Play divided by the sum of Play Music times Play Books times Play Movies x Android Apps. Thanks 8th Grade Algebra!
What's REALLY new to Play? Well, how about daily deals on apps and music and stuff, much like the Amazon Marketplace with it's free paid app a day idea. Also, remember that new privacy policy they harassed us for so long about reading, because of that, apparently they're also able to hock their ads more effectively. For example, ebook purchases will now effect the ads you see in Play Movies (cause now that you've read the book you need to be disappointed by the movie), which effects the ads in Play Music (cause the movie sucked but the soundtrack was tight), and so forth and etc.

With this fellowship of the ring forged, and Google Wallet acting as Frodo, Google is poising to march to Mount Jobs and... I think my analogy can end there. They're going to be able to directly compete with iTunes for control of the digital media sales market, because while the Play Store looks just like the Market, it's focus is shifting from browsing and buying on your Android phone, to more of a one-stop Google department store you visit on your daily desktop/laptop surfing and pushing the content right to your device. If you have ever used the Market's website to download an app before, you know that it's quite convenient. You browse for your choice in a nice big desktop window, you connect your smartphone to your account, and when you purchase your app, your phone beeps, and you find out it downloaded itself onto your SD card before the "Thank you for shopping..." page even loaded in your browser. Now that's convenience! Now Google want's that ease of distribution for all it's other impulse purchase websites for that obvious, but never mentioned, reason anybody does anything with a computer or the internet, compete with Apple. The Market has always done great, but the three media apps have been struggling since their creation. Sewing them all together and creating a media Frankenstein seems as good a way as any to rebuild interesting, and one brand name helps. However, one does not simply compete with Apple...

Check out this YouTube video from the new The Google Gamer Blog: Official YouTube Playlist for a brief overview;

What effect does this have on the gaming? Nothing I can tell. Games are still treated the same as apps except for the usual categorization difference within the shop, and on your phone they're still just tossed in there with your other apps. It's a travesty that music, movies, and books get individual representation, but games are left to blend in to the background. How great would a Play Games app be, organizing all your grinding and button-mashing and DPSing into one convenient interface that could share to G+ or something. The name even makes sense, as opposed to Play Books, that just sounds like a bad Spanglish translation.

It seems a shame to toss out the iconic Android name for a somewhat meaningless white-washed title like Play. One does wonder if Google is tossing out the old school Android moniker for a slightly more efficient clone that bears the Google logo instead. Than again, if it makes things easier for the customer than who cares. It's also possible we could see the Chrome Web Store eventually march under this banner if Google really wants to integrate everything they could possible sell or paste an ad bar to. They sure have been into that lately.

Check the links for more info and better spelling (though significantly less wit and charm) and tell me what you think of the new Play family. Peace.

"One company, one store: Why Google axed Android Market for Google Play" from Digital Trends
"The Android Market is now Google Play" from Phandroid

"¿A dónde fue el Android Market?" desde
"Google unifica su oferta de aplicaciones y contenido"desde

March 10, 2012

SDK Opens for Playstation Suite, finally

The long awaited software development kit (SDK) for the Playstion Suite is just around the corner. As mentioned in previous articles; the PlayStation Suite is an Android App that allows you to play ported versions of classic PSOne games on your smartphone and/or tablet. The "showcase" game for this service, that has been shown almost every time, is Crash Bandicoot. Not the best choice, the failed Sony brand mascot who hocked stuffed-crust pizza and lives on more as a gamer in-joke than an actual game people wanted to dredge up.

However, it was the only choice really, unless they wanted their flagship Suite game to be a soccer game (maybe in Europe), as the list of games was scant, at best.

Finally, that's about to change with the SDK coming out in April. That means all those busy bees looking to breath new life into the PSOne's hardcore classics can get t

This app is not for just anyone with any old Android device, your device must be "Playstation Certified", which is some what of a marketing gimmick that basicly acknoledges a hardware and performance minimum that devices must carry. However, as there are plenty of top teir Android devises that are not considered certified, it's a mostly arbitrary distinction. In fact, to date, the only smartphones to be certified are the Sony-Ericsson/Sony Mobile Xperia line, beginning over a year ago with the intriguing (but not that interesting) Sony Xperia Play, and Sony's two tablets, the S and the P.

It has been anounced though that a future HTC smartphone will be shooting for the first non-Sony Playstation certification, so who knows if we'll see the Suite run the gambit of Android devises.

PS: I'm starting to hate technology. My laptop has AIDS and is dieing, my smartphone has a brain tumor, my tablet is gone, and my sister's tablet is dangerously skitzophrenic. Please excuse the quality of this post becuse I'm hurrying to post it so don't smash this piece of shit out of frustration. Senerinty now...

March 02, 2012

Chrome Game Review: Kingdom Rush

This may not be the best way to start a review on a Tower Defense game, but I freakin' hate Tower Defense games. I put TDs in a category called "not real" games, in that sort of snobbish, elitist disdain that a film buff might have for your average Action flick. They're casual, the bastards of social games, not the grandiose epics we Hardcore Gamers crave. They're pretty much the same mechanic copy/pasted to every game, with the sprites changing to fit the setting, but no real attempt to be unique or innovative is made. They're the kind of cheaply made game that clogs Androids and iPhones so developers can make a quick couple of cents off the ads. Also, let's not forget that this whole scheme is nearly a decade old, I remember playing lame-ass TDs on Newgrounds and JibJab, and not alot has changed.

Yet as I am typing this I am willed with an awe-inspiring feeling of befuddlement, because I love Kingdom Rush for the very fact that is counters every gripe I listed above with a new, fresh, innovative take on the classic scheme, while at the same time being a quintessential example of a Tower Defense game. I generally like to be befuddled, it's a good feeling, especially when it's about a game I can properly obsess about.


This game comes to us by way of the Chrome Web Store, however, it's hosted in like a billion difference places across the web. In fact, the app actually takes you to another flash games site, which is just pointless in my opinion, this app is a glorified bookmark. This is what bugs me about Chrome Apps, most are just straight rips from the website, I was hoping we'd actually get some APPS, you know, mini-programs that can give you an improved experience over the website. Oh well, it's got the potential and I'm patient.

Kingdom Rush comes to us courtesy of Ironhide Game Studio. Let's get critical!


The bedrock of every game, the bones, the bricks and morter, the roots, the firmament, etc. The great question that defines our medium, does this game play? Very much, sir.

If you've ever played a Tower Defense game, you know the drill. There's a winding path across the screen where various baddies will shlep on threw. If they get to the end, they sack your tower, steal your gold, fondle your wife and daughters, etc. You lose. Your job is to build defenses all along that path and kill those blasted invaders before they get to your goodies. To build more towers to defend, you need to kill dudes and collect gold or it's equivalent to buy them, creating the unique balance of gameplay. This method has been the tried and true mechanic for TDs with little diversion.

Kingdom Rush, however, goes way way beyond that. In KR, you have multiple types of towers to build that  offer different benefits against specific bad guys. Simple right, it's like a matching game.  Well as they start introducing more bad guys, you find that one tower may not be enough for a certain type of monster, you may need one to break it's defense and another to kill it. Than, you start seeing enimes giving power buffs to others and the game changes again. KR really shines in that every tower placed on stage has to be carefully chosen; you need soldiers to create chock points, you need archers and magic to take out flyers, you need armor breakers to gang up on heavies, etc. With all this RTSing, especially in those moments when hordes of heavies stomping towards to, it creates a frantic rush (get it) to put up a defence. No worries, though, you're main job will be to upgrade your defense, and there are a lot of upgrades to make to your towers, including divergent tech trees in the ultimate upgrades. There a plenty of moments where the entire battle hinged on choosing the right upgrade at the right moment, unleashing a powerful attack to exploit a weakness.

In my opinion, this game is both simple enough to get your balance quick, but complex enough to have to constantly sharpen your tactics to handle the massive, massive plethora of bad dudes. Not to mention the Boss fights, nuts, simply nuts. I had a lot of fun


This game looks good, just plain good. The sprites are that good old medieval style, with a distinctive chibi/cartoon style. Though simple, they are still intricate enough to have a wide array of movements, actions, gestures, etc. I don't know how they knew with would work, but there was never a moment I lost sight of a big guy, never a moment that I was confused between my troops and theirs, and even when the screen was literal covered in bad dudes, I could still maintain control of what was going on and what threat I had to deal with next. This is a well drawn game.


Beleive it or not, the story telling wasn't bad, and here's why, they didn't do anything stupid. It's a simple tail of a kingdom getting attacked by an evil menace. All the various units were standard fantasy fare, so you didn't need to ask too many questions.

It remined me a lot Warcraft 2's story telling, remember that? A simple, elequently written page of text about the dire straights you're in and what must be done. KR apes this well so that every stage was a plot point in the overall arc. Also like Warcraft 2, it provides a map as a context for what you're fighting for, a nice tough. It's a minor part of the game, but I'm glad to Ironhide put some effort into it anyway, because that's what turns a good game into a great game.

I'm not going to give this a number or a letter or thumb in a particular direction because that's stupid, I'm not into rating games, I prefer to praise them or slam them in my own words, because there's really now adequate system for judging the value of a piece of creative work. I liked this game alot, I started playing it at 6 at night and then looked up later to find it was 6 in the morning. There's your number, I gave it 12 hours of my life. Download it, it's lotsa fun. Peace.