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Square Enix showing off Final Fantasy Dimensions and other titles for Android at Gamescom
Square Enix is bringing the big guns of late when it comes to Android. In recent weeks we've seen the release of the mighty Final Fantasy III, and the original Final Fantasy that sneaked out just last week. It doesn't stop there though, as the prominent game developer is headed to Gamescom, in Germany, to show off their next Final Fantasy title for Android, Final Fantasy Dimensions.
While Dimensions will undoubtedly be the main attraction, Square Enix will also show off a number of future Android titles. There will be a couple of matching, strategy based games called Qwirkle and Motley Blocks, KooZac which is described as a mix of Tetris and Sudoku, and their own brain training game known as Mensa Academy will be out for testing. It's fantastic news for Android as a gaming platform, to see big name developers such as Square Enix getting on board.
LG Nitro HD sees another Android 4.0 ICS leak ahead of official update
As we already know, AT&T will be updating the LG Nitro HD with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on July 31st but just in case you simply cannot wait, there is a new leak now out there claiming to be to be the official final build. You'll need to use the notably crappy LG Windows Suite to get it loaded up but it's there and available for download.
As with all things not officially official, we suggest some caution loading it but if you're one to tosses that suggestion to the wind, you'll find the link below. If you're on a different carrier, say Bell Mobility you're going to want to read through it all to ensure compatibility but that's where those cautionary measures come in once again.
Google's New Nexus 7 How-To Focuses on Google Apps
Following closely behind their first "Getting Started" tutorial for the Nexus 7, Google has produced another video to help new users gets acquainted with the device. The short video pokes around a Nexus 7's "Google" folder in the dock, highlighting the important aspects of the headline Google Apps. This is all easy stuff for the hardcore Android nerds among us, but really useful if the Nexus 7 is your first time using Android, especially Jelly Bean. Take a look at the video, you may learn a thing or two.
Apps of the Week - Shine Runner, SMod Forever, Camera Launcher and more
Android Central's editors have once again picked their favorite apps for the week. We've got a lot of games this go around, but also a few utilities you might find handy. Anyone who picked up a Google Nexus 7 will definitely want to check out our picks this week. Dig in after the jump!
Richard Devine - This isn't a new title, but is one that may have been overlooked in favor of other racing games. Shine Runner is from the same developers as Riptide GP, which for some would be enough to warrant trying it out. The aim is to pilot a fan boat through the bayous and fill your cargo hold with all manner of booty and sell it on to the highest bidder.
It looks fantastic and has been enhanced for Tegra 3, so it's a stunner on the new Nexus 7. Environments are fully destructible - who doesn't like the idea of sending a cop flying through the air while you're on your moonshine run? The controls are simple, and there's full support for OpenFeint and game controllers. It's great fun and proving very difficult to put down.
Sean Brunett - I have a variety of podcasts that I listen to and one of my favorite networks is Kevin Smith’s SModcast. You may know Kevin Smith as director of films like Clerks, Mallrats and Dogma. It has a bunch of shows that cover a variety of topics in the realm of pop culture. He hosts many of them with colleagues such as Jason Mewes and Ralph Garman. SMod Forever Is not an official app, but one made by devoted fans and it is done really well. It gives you a nice UI to view and sort through the various SModcast programs. You can subscribe to a particular show’s feed (which also tells you the episode frequency), download episodes and make playlists. If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith or are interested in the shows he produces, I’d highly suggest this app.
Alex Dobie - With so many people picking up the Tegra 3-powered Nexus 7 this week, here's a Tegra-optimized game that looks great on the new Jelly Bean tablet. Episode II is the latest installment in the Sonic 4 series, and it comes in both regular and THD flavors, with the latter offering superior graphics and being available only to Tegra device owners. Sonic's sidekick Tails returns this episode as the two speed their way through four zones to fight Dr. Eggman and Metal Sonic.
In terms of visuals and gameplay, Episode 2 is a significant step up from its predecessor with more emphasis on the speed - the very thing that made classic Sonic titles a hit in the series' hayday. With Tegra-powered graphics backing up the experience, the game is a visual treat. In addition to the paid versions, there's also a Tegra-only "lite" version that gives you a short sampling of levels for free.
Anndrew Vaaca - Gyro is a simple little game that came out of nowhere and managed to ruin my entire day, yet I still feel compelled to suggest it. The concept is pretty straightforward: spin the wheel to match the colors of the flying dots (Gyro calls it "neutralizing the viruses"). Collect power-ups along the way and work towards achievements to land yourself on the online leaderboard. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it's not. In fact, you may just end up spending your entire day with Gyro. Consider yourself warned.
Chris Parsons - So you got yourself a fancy new Nexus 7 only to find out there is no camera icon on the device and no way to access the camera unless you launch it within an app, like Instagram. No worries, Paul O'Brien has you covered with Camera Launcher for Nexus 7. It allows you to use the Camera and Video Camera applications on your Nexus 7. Sure, you'll likely not need to use them often, but Camera Launcher makes sure they're readily available when you do.
Jerry Hildenbrand - The Bloons tower defense games have been a staple of flash websites forever, and Bloons TD 4 for Android keeps that trend going on our smartphones. It stays faithful to the Bloons series of games, and brings all the towers and balloon types to Android. There are plenty of tower defense games for Android (I know, I've probably tried them all) and plenty of them are great, but I find myself Installing Bloons TD 4 on every phone or tablet I sign into. It's a great way to kill a few minutes and runs on every modern version of Android (1.5 and higher). You won't mind spending the three bucks on this one.
Simon Sage - vTap QuickSearch is a light, easy to use search utility that serves up results from all over your Android device (settings, messages, contacts, and mail) as well as the web. Over time, it figures out which searches you make most frequently and generates a custom home screen with shortcuts to your favorites. Real-time results are pulled in from a bunch of sources, like IMDB, Wikipedia, Fandango and Google Play, in addition to location-based results. There are a few gaps, like no voice search, but on the whole, it provides some added depth of search to the default search bar without having to install extra apps.
As always, we welcome feedback on the kinds of Android apps you'd like to see in this weekly feature. Are there any big ones we didn't cover here? What would your personal picks be? Feel free to drop us a tip on the hint line if you find a particularly awesome app that you'd like to see us cover next week.
Google confirms Nexus S Jelly Bean roll-out, lists carriers
We broke the news yesterday that some GSM Nexus S models were starting to see their Android 4.1.1Jelly Bean update rolling out, and now we have the official confirmation from Mountain View. Google took to its +Nexus Google+ account to bring news that Jelly Bean is currently pushing out to customers on at least five carriers around the world, as well as the unlocked GSM models, presumably. Here's the official word --
"We've started rolling out Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, to Nexus S phones on a number of carriers including T-Mobile, H3G [Three], O2, Rogers as well as Vodafone in most countries, with more to come. Enjoy!"
No word on Sprint's Nexus S 4G just yet, but given that phone's history with updates, owners could be in for a fairly long wait. If you've already gotten Jelly Bean on your Nexus S, shout out in the comments and let us know how you're doing.
Great Big War Game launched this week, riding on the coattails of its highly successful predecessor Great Little War Game. The same turn-based hex grid warfare is there, along with classic strategic elements such as elevation, fog of war, resource management, and a wide variety of land, sea, and air units to command.
Great Big War Game's biggest asset is its ridiculous spin on war. The campaign mode puts you in the shoes of an inept general who weathers a barrage of sarcasm from his subordinate all while trying to impress the sexy new lieutenant. Don't let the silliness fool you, though. Great Big War Game has a ton of tactical depth.
The controls in Great Big War Game are very straightforward. Tap a soldier, tap where you want him to go, and off he goes. There's an undo button for moves made by mistakes, but not for combat encounters. More advanced maneuvers like embarking and disembarking from transports take some getting used to, while others like building troops at your base are easy as pie. My biggest complaint on the control front is that it can be tricky designating a hex to move to when zoomed out all the way, since they're very tiny when playing on a phone. After you've moved and attacked with all of your forces, the opponent does the same. Each turn starts off with cash collection based on the number of controlled resource points; that cash is then spent training a variety of troops and building vehicles.
For all of its goofiness, Great Big War Game has a ton of tactical depth. Troops have limited ammunition, and a set number of squares to move which varies based on the kind of terrain that's being crossed. As a player progresses through the campaign, they earn Battle Points, which can be used to ugprade different unit types. This is a great way of tailoring an army to particular play styles. The effects of elevation on range and the threat of building capture by engineers provides a ton of additional nuances that you normally only see in full-blown real-time strategy games for PC.
There's both online and local multiplayer available in addition to the ongoing single-player campaign mode and one-off skirmish games. In-app purchases are kept to a minimum, and are mostly for additional maps. On its own, Great Big War Game includes 15 maps for skirmishes and multiplayer rounds.
I had some definite problems with stability in Great Big War Game when having the developer option of "show touches" on. Having to do two battery pulls on the same level using a Galaxy Nexus with stock Android 4.0.1 does not a happy camper make. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Graphics and audio
If there's one thing going against Great Big War Game, it's the 3D models. Nothing has changed visually since the game launched on Android in January, and the simplistic characters make me cringe with memories of early 90s PC games. We've seen Android handle some pretty intense graphics, so it's a bit disappointing to see things dialed back this far.
Of course, the cartooniness makes sense given the ridiculous dialog between missions in the campaign mode and overall silly attitude of the game. The humor of those cutscenes is mostly of the knee-slapping variety, but still manages to consistently get a smirk out of me. Besides, with so many units active on screen at the same time, it's no surprise that the models needed to be kept simple. The graphics aren't all bad either; there are a few fancier visual effects, including explosions, smoke, transition animations, and weather effects.
In order to keep the battlefield lighthearted, Great Big War Game turns off blood by default, and even when it's enabled in options, you'll see little more than little messy splotches on squares where troops have died. It's hard turning war into something to joke about without a bit of tact, but Great Big War game does as good of a job of that as one could expect.
The in-game music is altogether maddening and repetitive - it won't take long for you to turn it off in the options. The sound effects are explosive, and voice acting appropriately goofy and exaggerated.
Deep tactical gameplay
Several multiplayer options
Tons of maps available through IAPs
Simplistic 3D models
If you've already poured a lot of time into Great Little War Game, you probably aren't going to find a lot that's new here outside of multiplayer; of course, if you loved the original and are hankering for more, you'll be happy to see that the spirit of the game hasn't been changed.
The lighthearted spin on war works particularly well in the few bits of dialog and narration throughout Great Big War Game, but the graphics seem altogether simplistic when compared to some higher-end gaming experience on Android, especially when the camera angle zooms in for close-ups of battles. The comedy is high-quality at least, and even if it's only being put on so players can excuse the graphics, that's fine by me. Not everybody will appreciate war being taken so lightly, mind you.
$2.99 is a reasonable enough asking price. One gets the sense that the developer is double-dipping by asking for in-app purchases for the extra maps, though it doesn't bother me that much; those that get heavily involved in Great Big War Game will happily throw in a few extra bucks for more maps, while the basic 15 maps is plenty for more casual players, especially with online multiplayer available.
For deep, tactical gameplay with a few chuckles, Great Big War Game is going to be hard to beat.
Restoring your Nexus 7 using Google Factory images -- a guide [from the forums]
So you bought a Nexus 7, partially because it's a Nexus device and you wanted to hack the living crap out of it. Cool -- me too. Whether you're just beginning, or an old pro you will need factory images to fix the things you've broken. But having them isn't enough, you'll need to know how to use them. It's one of those things that isn't hard, but when you're not used to doing this type of thing it's always nice to have a friend to guide you. AC Forums Adviser 2defmouze is that friend, and he's prepared everything you'll need to know about fixing your Nexus 7 once you've made it unbootable. And that is priceless. Hit the Nexus 7 forum link below and bookmark it right now, and be sure to give 2defmouze some love while you're at it.
The best part about having folks like 2defmouze and the rest of the great crew in the forums working on guides and how-tos is the level of support you'll get if you come across something you can't figure out on your own. We're picky here at AC, and we don't hand out Adviser badges to just anyone. You can trust these guys with your precious toys. That's why I'm always steering you guys there -- they are Android nerds to the core, and know their stuff.