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With a pretty big initial sticker price of $300, the NVidia Shield handheld entertainment system was pretty much outside the hands of mere mortals.  I remember being against the device when it initially came out; citing a small screen, price and other issues as  prohibitive factors.  However, I did go on record as saying that when the price dropped enough, I’d be interested.

The price dropped.  I was interested – and yes, I even purchased.  Now that I’ve had the unit long enough to put it through its paces, I’m ready to review it proper for you.

In part 2, we’re going to look at the system software and what does or does not set it apart from other Android type gaming devices.
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The Verdict

9.7Amazing

The Good: Insane Touch Mapping | Full Google Play and Apps | Near Pure Android KitKat OS | Console Mode flawlessly executed

The Bad: Some Google and NVidia “bloatware” | KitKat makes some waves using MIcroSD Cards

With a pretty big initial sticker price of $300, the NVidia Shield handheld entertainment system was pretty much outside the hands of mere mortals.  I remember being against the device when it initially came out; citing a small screen, price and other issues as  prohibitive factors.  However, I did go on record as saying that when the price dropped enough, I’d be interested.

The price dropped.  I was interested – and yes, I even purchased.  Now that I’ve had the unit long enough to put it through its paces, I’m ready to review it proper for you.

Strap in – this is going to be a wild ride…
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The Verdict

9.2Amazing

The Good: Amazing hardware | Great controller | Gorgeous Screen

The Bad: Shoulder buttons aren’t super great | D-Pad Diagonals Feel A Little Funny

I’ve talked extensively about emulation in the .EMU emulators article and subsequently even looked at other emulators like reicast, the Dreamcast emulator and C64.EMU, the Commodore 64 emulator.  Thanks to top quality physical controllers like the Nyko Playpad - we are no longer forced to play our classic favorites with horrid touch screen D-Pads.

The great thing about emulation is that it doesn’t matter what retro system you loved or what classic era of gaming you were born into; there are emulators for just about every console, handheld and computer out there (within reason of course).  I was personally around when home console gaming was all about chasing the games at the local arcade.  The  accuracy of the ports made all the difference; in graphics, sound and implementation.  Without a doubt, the game console that was first able to really capture the arcade experience at home was Colecovision. (more…)

The Verdict

9.1Amazing

The Good: Fast | Compatible | Frequent Updates | Full Paid Version Available | Fast Developer Response | Supports Wide Range Of Physical Controllers | Save States | External BIOS Support | Net Play($)

The Bad: UI might not rub everyone right | Initial issues may plague certain users until ironed out | Nags and Reduced Functionality in the Free Version

Sometimes you run across a game that is so simple sounding that you don’t even want to install it.  Easy to dismiss by looking at screenshots, Threes is a game about – well, making threes … and multiples of threes.  Could there really be anything fun about sliding numbered blocks around a screen and making them into pairs of multiples of threes?  Sounds like work … and math.  Who wants to do math when they are gaming?

Fortunately, Threes isn’t a mindless box shuffle but rather a tight, well-designed game that has “greed” (the good kind) written all over it.  And that works for me. (more…)

The Verdict

9.5Amazing

The Good: Insanely addictive | Fantastic score chaser | Simple and clean but polished | Heavy time eater but in small chunks | No Smurfberries or IAP

The Bad: Won’t click with everyone | May appear too simple | Score Attack Puzzler “High” drops off when your friends stop playing it | People will complain that it isn’t free

Let’s start this off by saying I’m not an “endless runner” fan.  I tend to prefer games where I can better control my destiny than with a single button click.  Mediocre’s Smash Hit er .. smashes the mold of endless runners by making it gorgeous, enveloping and occasionally frighteningly difficult.

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The Verdict

9.6Amazing

The Good: Extremely addictive | Simple, Elegant Graphics | Fantastic polished presentation | Incredibly Fair IAP | Leaderboards & Clever Achievements

The Bad: Difficulty ramps up quickly | Endless running isn’t for everyone | Can’t restart from checkpoints without unlocking

Writing reviews for addictive games is hard.  Mostly because I have to stop playing them long enough to write the review.  There are some games that are instantly addictive in their simplicity while others require you to peel back some layers of the gaming “onion” to really get to what makes the game so great.  Occasionally, you get a game that not only instantly hooks you, but gets more addictive as you figure out the deeper nuances of the game.  The movie WarGames inspired game W.O.P.R. (my review) very much fit that mold and I’m extremely happy to find another gem in the Android gaming arena with Chip Chain.

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The Verdict

9.5Amazing

The Good: Almost Criminally Addictive | Casual playable but with deep strategy | Fair and balanced IAP | Full Leaderboard and Acheivements | Responsive Developers

The Bad: No cloud profile saving | IAP could be better explained | Purchases could slant advantage in Leaderboard competition

Every now and then a game comes along that pretty much does everything right (Nimble Quest comes to mind – and there are a LOT of similarities to that game to be found here).  Even more rare to find are games that cater to a wide, diverse audience.  For the trifecta, you need to add “spouse and kid friendly” to the mix.

Amazingly enough, Spell Quest manages to achieve the trifecta, takes it a step further – and presents it all wrapped up in a gorgeous gift box with an elegant bow around it.

The RPG + “insert board/slot/pachinko/card/etc  game here” is certainly no new concept.  In fact, it’s almost been done to death (if you’ll pardon the pun).  In fact, this isn’t even the first “RPG + Scrabble” game we’ve seen on the Android platform.  Fortunately, Spell Quest does the genre right while not annoying you with gruesome IAP or smurfberries.

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The Verdict

8.9Great

The Good: Completely accessible to everyone | Amazingly addictive | Top quality polish and presentation | Low impact IAP

The Bad: Still has IAP | Might be a bit hard to play on small phones

Last year I reviewed the little brother of this controller, the Nyko Playpad Controller.  Since then, I floated the cash to upgrade to the Pro edition of this controller.

This is an “incremental” review; that is – I will reference and sometimes reuse pieces of the previous review in discussing this device.  I recommend you check out the previous review before consuming this one.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a lot of Android compatible controllers show up on the scene; some have been improvements over previous versions (like the Moga controller) while others have been cheap cash ins or worse.

With gaming maturing on mobile type devices, proper physical controls are more important now than ever.  Can the Nyko Playpad Pro do the job?

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The Verdict

9.4Amazing

The Good: Quality construction | Great analog sticks | Size fits most hands | USB Gamepad mode works with a lot of games | No app is required | Inexpensive | Fast charging | Comfortable for long play

The Bad: Bumper buttons and D-Pad could be better | Nyko app doesn’t deliver | Could use a couple ergo tweaks

For some reason, more memory on phones and tablets run at a big premium.  Going from 16GB to 32GB can easily cost you an extra $100.  For devices without microSD cards (or for people that refuse to use OTG solutions like the Meenova), buying a device with as much memory as you can afford is a must.  But justifying that expenditure can be a real pain.

But what about those devices with SD card slots?  Surely a 16GB device with a big fat 64GB microSD card should be a great solution, right?  It would seem so … on paper.  While an external microSD card works great for storing music and videos, it doesn’t help with 1.2GB sized modern tablet games.  You might be able to move the game file (APK) over to the SD,but the game DATA must reside internally – making your 64GB microSD card that much more worthless.

Surely there MUST be a solution; and Folder Mount is it.

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The Verdict

9.1Amazing

The Good: Cheap | Easy and effective | Set and Forget

The Bad: Restrictions in Free Version

I usually don’t write “previews” or “first looks” here on Green Robot Gamer; I know that if I touch on a topic, I rarely go back and touch it again and previews/first looks don’t always do the product justice if not kept up to date. In this case? I’ll make an exception.  It’s just too cool not to share.

The Sega Dreamcast console had a very short life – despite being one of the best of the best consoles of its era.  It seemed to arrive – and disappear – almost literally overnight.  Released September 1999 in the USA – it was discontinued in March of 2002.  Despite a great software line up of classics like Jet Grind Radio and arcade monsters like Crazy Taxi and specs well ahead of its time, a huge loss of cash on the Japanese launch and a purported shift of upper echelon power (the new chair of Sega wanted out of hardware) killed the unit off.

Despite all of this, the Dreamcast continues to be hailed as one of the greatest consoles of all time and indie development is still going on over ten years later.

It is very exciting that we can now play Dreamcast games on our Android devices.

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The Verdict

N/RPerfect

The Good: Fast high performance core

The Bad: It’s in alpha state, so don’t go looking for options