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Top Apps of the Month - November 2015


I know what you're thinking - "What happened to October?". Well, the Hellmouth opened under our office, our server was overrun by the souls of the dead, the local area was infested with Gremlins, we all got stuck in a mutual nightmare controlled by a vengeful child killer, I'm running out of Halloween-appropriate references. I think they were stolen by a poltergeist.

For real though, it's been a pretty hectic, exciting time here, we've been putting out more content than ever and even branching out into video material. Sadly, that meant that we didn't have time to do last month's top apps, although we did throw together a few seasonally appropriate lists for you to enjoy. Now we're back though, and we have a nice, healthy list of top tier apps from November for you to peruse.


For Gamers


Snowboard Party 2
£1.49 
iOS/Android

If you're around my age and have any formative gaming experience, there's a good chance that you've got fond memories of games like SSX Tricky. They didn't offer anything close to a realistic snowboarding experience, but they let you race across ludicrously warped, icy racetracks, defying gravity in ways that would even baffle the cast of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Google Play

It still blows my mind that you can now get games of almost the same depth and graphical fidelity on a mobile phone, but you can, and the quality isn't far off either. Snowboard Party was good, but this one is substantially deeper, offering 21 tracks, 80 outfits between 16 riders, 50 boards and a myriad of achievements and objectives to maximise replay value. It features both single player and online and you can even play it with a controller if you're so inclined.


Endless Sniper
Free
iOS/Android

This one is nowhere near as graphically impressive, but it's a beautifully balanced, hyper-violent callback to a simpler, more 2-dimensional era.
Google Play

In Endless Sniper your goal is simple: shoot everything. Once you begin you are met with a screen which will gradually fill up with 8-bit foes and it's on you to keep your cross-hair moving and your bullets flying until they're all gone. Clear an area and you'll move onto the next and this will keep happening until you either die or succumb to carpal tunnel syndrome.

So far, so so, right? Wrong, the maps are procedurally generated, which in layman's terms means that each one is completely unique and will never reappear once it's cleared. Combine that with the sheer variety of enemies on offer and it's a guarantee that every play-through will feel different. 


Hyspherical 2
Free (In-App Purchases)
iOS

forums.toucharcade.com
The pantheon of minimalist, but mercilessly challenging puzzlers is vast, but every now and again one turns up that's that little bit more distinct, and addictive. The first Hyspherical had you placing circles on moving shapes in such a way that they wouldn't collide. It was basic, but enjoyable.

This second outing takes that formula and goes absolutely nuts with it. You'll be digging out your old maths textbooks just to gain a better grasp of what to do. The visuals are beautiful in their simplicity, which is good, because once you get further in you'll be starting at the same levels for a significant amount of time.

It's frustrating, but in a fair way, if you fail it's because you made a mistake, the game demands an elegant approach and often the only way to achieve it is through trial and error. When you succeed though, it's immensely satisfying.

For Data Haters


Opera Max
Free
Android

droidlessons.com
Data usage is a constant looming issue on modern mobile devices. Whether it's down to your contract or just trying to keep enough space free not to get slapped with the 'No More Space' message when you're about to take the best photo in the history of humankind, it's an ever-present threat.

That's where Opera Max comes in. With it active, all the data that goes through your phone/tablet is monitored and compressed, barring anything encrypted. This means that any web browsing, video watching or audio streaming will have a significantly reduced data drain. If you're an Android user, this is a must.


For Kids


DNA Play
£2.29
iOS

fantasticfunandlearning.com
DNA Play is a gorgeous little educational app which, as the title suggests, enables kids to learn all about the inner workings of DNA (to the extent that kids could be expected to grasp), whilst also creating crazy 5-eyed tentacle monsters. 

The creature build starts with a completely blank slate, from there you are shown how to attach the correct parts together to build genes until enough of them combine to actually bring a creature to life. Moving the genes around allows for editing of the colour, shape and size, and you can also add on as many limbs and such like as you want. 

The gene manipulation is a very apt way of illustrating how genes affect the way the appearance of humans and other animals are altered via genetics. Once brought to life, you can interact with the creatures you've made, feeding them, clothing them and so forth. This perhaps doesn't hold any educational value, but it certainly increases the app's longevity.


Times Table Galaxy
Free
iOS

iTunes Store
I know plenty of adults with an almost unhealthy competitive streak (hell, I'm one of them), but it's far from common. With kids it's almost endemic, but how to take advantage of it? Well, find a way to structure it around learning, of course. 

Through the lens of a lovely interstellar motif, the app enables kids to hone their maths skills through fast past reflex and memory games. There's an interactive score table and you can record your best runs, either to encourage others to try and beat you, or just annoy them.

Visually, it's outstanding, it almost makes me wish there was a more difficult version aimed at adults so that I could play it without feeling myself regress.


For Daydreamers

NYT VR
Free
iOS/Android

uploadvr.com
The kind of DIY virtual reality offered through mobile platforms is still somewhat shaky, but developers are finding some fascinating ways to play with it. The New York Times have now thrown their oversize homburg into the ring. Using 360 video (and a VR headset if one is so inclined), you can immerse yourself in some world-class journalism.

Stories are uploaded on a monthly basis and range from foreign affairs to local fare. What few stories have been added thus far are fascinating in the way they're presented, and there's an enormous amount of potential moving forward.

VR and 360 video are both very young mediums, so having a publication like The New York Times making use of it, and likely paying close attention to user feedback, will be hugely advantageous to its development. Worth keeping an eye on, this one.




Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Top Apps of the Month - November 2015 Reviewed by Callum Davies on Friday, December 04, 2015 Rating: 5

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