Android Games Review

Mobile Game Review – Marvel’s Avengers Academy

Marvel’s latest mobile game is Avengers Academy, which is one of those thing where they reimagine existing characters (hero and villain) as teenagers.  It works well here, as it seems like there’s some time travel-type shenanigans hinted at as far as the story goes.  It’s by TinyCo, and if you’ve played one of their other games, you’ll get the gist here right away.  Build buildings, recruit new characters, level up, all overlaid with an interface replete with ways to pay to hurry up your progress.


What makes the game work (mostly) for me is the art and voices.  As you upgrade the heroes (and uncover the truth of what’s happening), they begin to look more like their comic book counterparts, and the animations and designs are sharp.  It’s fun watching a giant Hank Pym hop up and sit on his lab, or Wasp and Falcon zipping around the quad.


As far as paying for things goes, the key is to treat it like a game you pick up and play a few minutes at a time, and not rushing through.  Some actions take hours, but I just pop in every once in a while and collect everything and start new actions and it progresses (albeit slowly).  Will I stick with it long term?  We’ll see, but it’s a fun diversion for now.

Featured PC Games

Old Game Tuesday – The Oregon Trail

I’ve spoken about educational games before, and this is one of the big ones, The Oregon Trail.  Most people in my generation (or close to it) played this in school, on the Apple IIe or IIgs in my case, and it was one of the first ‘edutainment’ games I played that was actually fun.

First, read this article about how The Oregon Trail came about.  It’s a very well put together story that covers the history of MECC, including some infographics and timelines.  Great look at how things worked in the early days of the software industry (including a cameo from the Steves at Apple).  Check this, for example:

For the next two weeks, Dillenberger and Heinemann spent each night wedged into a tiny computer office—a former janitor’s closet at Bryant Junior High School—tapping code into a teletype machine. The teletype was a screen-less, electromechanical typewriter connected via telephone to a mainframe computer that could issue prompts, receive commands, and run primitive programs.

How cool is that?

The various versions of the game have varied a little over the years, but the gist is always the same – you are planning your expedition via the trail, with a limited amount of funds to buy supplies and wagon parts.  Then you travel the trail, with choices to be made and events happening which require your response – maybe you or your kids get sick, leading to the famous ‘You have died of dysentary’ message.  Break an axle and didn’t bring a spare?  Better hope you can trade for one.  And be careful how you choose to ford that river, choose poorly and you’ve drowned your whole family and lost your food.

As you can probably tell, it was by no means easy, but it had that hook – you wanted to try again, this time I KNOW I’ll pick the right option!  Some of my fondest computing memories are from elementary school, playing or watching someone play The Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, Number/Fraction Munchers and more.  You mocked your buddy who failed completely at hunting (okay, that’s me), laughed at the ridiculous epitaphs the class clown put on their kid’s tombstone, and the game snuck in some knowledge.

If you want a somewhat recent copy of it, try this link: Oregon Trail 4th Edition, though keep in mind it may take some work to get it running on modern computers, possibly using Dosbox or VirtualPC or something.  You can also get a version of it for your iOS or Android smartphones.  And you have to see this.


Apple iPhone Purchase Requires a Credit Card

My father-in-law was in the Galleria Mall the other day, and heard that someone there was rather upset in the Apple Store. Seems the store was not willing to accept the customers fat wad of cash to purchase an iPhone. I thought, no way is that true, what store would forego the real US American money in favor of the vagaries of credit? Well, it’s true. You can’t even use gift cards, which sucks (as is pointed at in the linked article) for teens who would ask for gift cards for Christmas/Birthdays/Graduation to help pay for it. You of course have a way to pay for the service contact, but I don’t know why that would mean you can’t use cash for the actual purchase of the device.

Gadgets Media

iPhone SDK Doesn't Suck

Gizmodo has a roundup of their iPhone SDK coverage here, but the thing that jumped out at me (being a huge fan of Will Wright) is that the iPhone will have the full-blown version of Spore available for it. Other highlights include VOIP via WiFi and an AIM client, still no Flash though. iPod Touch users have to pay again, too.

Gadgets Sci/Tech

PopSci's Best of What's New

The very cool Nanosolar Powersheet tops the list of Popular Science’s Best of What’s New. There’s a few obvious choices (iPhone) but other wise some amazing tech.

The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute.

Apparently the new Wembly stadium has more toilets than any building in the world. I bet the ladies’ room will still have a line, though.