Battle of the Apps: Tap Tap Revenge 4 vs. Guitar Hero 5

Welcome to the first edition of Battle of the Apps! This is an epic showdown of the latest and greatest apps. In this edition, we’re taking a look at the music game genre and it’s impact on Android with Guitar Hero 5 vs. Tap Tap Revenge 4. Which one is more in tune with the Android community? Read on to find out.

Guitar Hero 5
Guitar Hero has had a massive impact on the gaming world since the first title became so popular back in 2007. The game redefined the music genre, giving users a more interactive way to play the game. Equipped with a plastic guitar as your controller, your coordination and ability to play the plastic guitar shaped how well you did in the game–it worked for some, but others (like myself) had a hard time adapting. The game spawned many sequels, mobile games, and a large amount of competition. It was recently announced that there would be no more titles in the series, leading many to believe that the musical genre was bound to be short lived.

The mobile games, while great to kill time on, have never really been up to the superior quality that you would typically find in the console versions. Guitar Hero 5 Mobile, however, offers you the opportunity to play on the drums or base guitar, giving you a couple new options to play on. The sad news is, instead of playing full versions of the song you want to play, you’re stuck playing a crap-quality clip version of the song. This really brings down the quality of the game quite a bit. You’re done playing a track about half way through it, and it gives very little motivation to try on a harder difficulty. What makes it even worse is that some of the tracks are 8-bit recordings. Honestly, the tracks do not make this app good. At all.

Gameplay wise, even on expert mode, you move very slowly through each your clips…I mean songs. What would typically be a fast paced song was turned into a slow moving minute and a half of thinking “when will this be over?!” It really brings down the value of the game even more. The notes aren’t all that hard to hit, either, which takes away a lot of the challenge that would typically be associated with the Guitar Hero franchise.

Let’s talk about the appearance. The menus are pretty nicely done, graphically, but that’s about all it has going for it. Navigating through the menus gets confusing at times, and you may accidentally click on something you didn’t mean to. Oh, and the in-game graphics? They suck. Pretty bad. Everything appears very cheaply made and honestly, I’m pretty sure it was. If you’re a fan of the 8-bit fun, the graphics and audio on top of it may feel like an old game. In that regard, it’s kinda cool. But for an app that typically costs $7.99, it just doesn’t cut it.

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If it wasn’t for the fact that the app was free today on the Amazon AppStore, I probably would have never played this. For those diehard Guitar Hero fans that have to play the mobile game, it might be okay for you. But as someone who expects a quality app out of a major video game publisher…PASS.

Tap Tap Revenge 4
Tap Tap Revenge has a special place in my heart. The original titles were released at a time when the iPhone OS (now known as iOS) was the only operating system in the touchscreen phone market. Since the first release in 2007, the developers, Tapulous, has gone on to several more titles with much more success. They’ve gotten artists to provide their content for new songs, which has given their apps more value. Tap Tap 4 is the first game in the series to get ported to the newer Android OS. It has it’s flaws (some of which are kinda serious), but all in all, it’s a fun game.

When you first load Tap Tap, you’ll have the opportunity to create your account. No passwords needed, just an email address. If you need to add a new device to your account, or if you need to take a device off your account, all you need to do is have Tapulous send you an email and you just have to confirm. Seems safe, and a great way to switch devices and keep all of your purchased music.

The menus for Tap Tap are great to use, and are some of the best of any Android app that I’ve ever used. However, this leads me to one of those serious flaws I mentioned before. For some reason, when you tap on some of the menu options, it doesn’t register it, and it can take quite a few tries to be able to click what you’re looking for. It’s a little frustrating, but hopefully something Tapulous will address.

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Now onto the in-game graphics. They’re beautiful! Each song you play will either have the standard Tap Tap Revenge theme, or a custom theme, depending on the song. They look great, most of the time, and really capture your attention. There is one major flaw, though, and it’s something that really hurts the value of the game. On some devices, instead of showing the game in a full screen view, you’re left with a half screen view, which may make it more difficult to play. On my Evo 3D, for example, it generates these nasty black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, leaving the action in about half of the screen, in pixelated form. It’s extremely annoying, and hopefully something they will address soon.

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There is a wide selection of songs available for you to download in Tap Tap 4, which give the game an insane amount of replay value. Songs come from popular artists, even, and most of the time, they are full version, high quality tracks. The game utilizes the recently-introduced in-app purchasing system on Android, which allows you to quickly add new content to your game. There are also several free tracks to download, as well. Some of these will be clips, but others will be full version tracks as well. The game has a great variety, and you’ll be playing for hours.

Gameplay wise, we see a little bit of lag once in a while, but for the most part, it isn’t hard to hit your notes (even in half-screen mode). You have all the multipliers and bonuses that you get in pretty much every music game, which helps it out quite a bit. You’re able to get great scores, too–in a round of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem (great song), on medium mode, I was able to get a score of almost 775,000. That gives gamers a sense of accomplishment, and really helps people want to play more.

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Overall, the game has it’s flaws, but is generally a fun game to play. As soon as Tapulous can fix some of the issues the game has, it’ll be nearly perfect. The game is available free (ad-supported) on the Android Market.

The Showdown
While Tap Tap Revenge takes a page from the Guitar Hero legacy, there is absolutely no question in my mind that it is a much better app than Guitar Hero. With Guitar Hero, you’re paying $7.99 for a very low-quality game that just isn’t worth it. I feel bad for anyone who even thinks about purchasing the game, as it just doesn’t live up to the Guitar Hero standards. Let’s run down the basics of both:

Graphics: Tap Tap Revenge 4
Despite having some flaws, the graphics for Tap Tap look much better than Guitar Hero. The game board is typically much cleaner looking and flashy, giving it a unique appeal, compared to Guitar Hero’s standard, stationary game board that doesn’t really have more than slow moving notes going across it.

Sound: Tap Tap Revenge 4
High quality, full tracks to jam out to, or 8-bit demos or low-quality audio ports? I think I would rather take the former. The $7.99 price point does not justify the crappy audio that you will get on Guitar Hero.

Gameplay: Tap Tap Revenge 4
Tap Tap just feels more refined and more fun to play. There’s much more happening on screen with more multipliers, accelerometer use, and the length of each track. Guitar Hero had potential to win, based on the franchise name, but ultimately failed in how slow each of your clips…I mean songs, is presented.

Price: Tap Tap Revenge 4
At a price point of free, with several tracks to choose from, and the ability to purchase whatever tracks you want to have in your game, Tap Tap is the clear winner here. It is ad-supported, but in a typically un-intrusive way. Guitar Hero is $7.99 and ultimately fails to deliver on practically every element.

Overall: Tap Tap Revenge 4
Its a clear choice here–Guitar Hero just flat out sucks. Tap Tap has it’s flaws, but honestly ends up being a much better game than a title in a long-lasting franchise. Tap Tap was designed to keep people entertained, and not bore them to death. My advice, skip Guitar Hero. Your wallet will thank you.

App Attack: Angry Birds Rio (iPad)

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In this edition of App Attack, I’ll be taking a look into Angry Birds Rio, the newest installment of the popular mobile game series that has been taking the world by storm since it’s launch last year. For this version of the game, the hogs have taken a break from their usual maniacal activities, and instead been replaced with several other creatures to destroy. Is the game worth the hype that it’s been receiving? Does it live up to the hype of the Angry Birds franchise?

The answer to both of those questions is YES. Angry Birds Rio is much worthy of being a successor to the popular mobile game, and in a big way. The first thing you might notice about Angry Birds Rio is it’s name. The game is based off of the animated FOX film Rio, which released earlier this year. It’s premise is exactly the same as the other games in the Angry Birds series, where you must destroy a set of targets within a playing field by flicking a flock of angry birds around the screen. In place of the maniacal hogs, however, you’re left with bird cages (in the first chapter), wild monkeys, and so on and so forth. This simple change of target really gives the game a fresh appeal.

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The first chapter of Angry Birds Rio takes place aboard a cargo ship, where you must free captured birds locked inside of tiny cages.

Controlling the game on iPad is incredibly easy, and getting through the levels is a lot easier than playing on a smartphone. The extra screen space definitely makes things a lot easier. I found myself accidentally flicking my birds a lot less here, leading to having to restart the level less than if I was playing on my Evo 3D. That being said, however…the difficulty of the levels in this version of the game varies quite a bit. It’s really not all that hard to complete a level (I was through the first two chapters of the game within an hour, with some time spent away from it), but the real challenge is getting 3 stars in each level. In previous versions, it would take me forever to be able to make it through some of the levels at all–I definitely don’t feel that in this version.

Graphically, Rio looks similar to the other games in the Angry Birds series. The game uses backdrops and scenes based upon the Rio movie, which makes them even more appealing than the other games. Colors are incredibly crisp and it just looks so well, that I can’t seem to stop playing the game. Cutscenes are a little different in this version of the game than the others…instead of a quick video, you’re taken to a screen where you see a bunch of different slides compile themselves to tell the story. It’s not much of a hassle, but great cutscenes would have been a lot more compelling.

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Angry Birds Rio takes inspiration from the movie Rio, which makes it even more beautiful to look at.

There’s a total of 4 chapters in Angry Birds Rio to play now, with a couple more coming soon (I’d take a guess that the last chapter will be releasing right around the time the movie comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray). That should keep fans of the series entertained enough while Rovio works on another installment of the series. Anyone who likes the Angry Birds series will definitely appreciate this installment of the game, that’s for sure. If you haven’t picked it up yet, it’s available now on the App Store for $2.99 (there is also an ad-supported free version).

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App Attack!: Monopoly (iPad)

In this edition of App Attack, I’m going to give a look at something a little more casual for the iPad–Monopoly is here, and ready for the next generation. Forget having to count money, forget the hassle of losing property cards and game pieces, because the classic board game has arrived on iPad, and in a way that’s easy for the whole family, tech savvy and tech illiterate, to enjoy.

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Monopoly offers a couple different styles of gameplay–can you play against the computer in normal mode, or you can play in Tabletop mode with your friends. The game also features statistics based on your gameplay, which probably really doesn’t mean much to anybody. The game board is everything that you’ve come to know and love about Monopoly for almost a century–same properties, same game pieces, same design. The only difference here is that instead of handling virtual money bills, you use a keypad to manage your money. This is something that has been seen in recent versions of Monopoly, and it just makes things a little more convenient.

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Gameplay is pretty straightforward–you roll the dice, you move your game piece, you collect properties, and you move on. The controls for the game are pretty simple. You swipe anywhere on the board when it’s your turn to roll the dice. After landing on a spot, you have the opportunity to purchase that property. If you opt out of it, you’ll be taken to an Auction room, where you and the other players can bid on the property. It helps drastically lower the playtime of the game, but some might find it to be a little bit unlike the original board game.

Before your turn ends, you also have the opportunity to manage your properties. If you own all of the same colored properties, you can begin placing houses and hotels on them. You can also offer trades to the other players. The interfaces here are pretty easy to use, and shouldn’t be too hard for anyone to learn quickly.

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All in all, I really like this version of Monopoly. If you’re looking for something that’s quick to learn and fun for the whole family, this is a great game to try. Digital versions of board games really haven’t been all that spectacular or playable on PC or gaming consoles, but the iPad version really acts like it’s own board game. It’s available for $9.99 in the App Store.

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App Attack!: Tap Tap Radiation (iPad)

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Tap Tap Radiation is a game that came out back in April on the iPad. The game was created by Tapulous, the same developer that brought you the immensely popular Tap Tap Revenge on both iPhone and Android, and aimed to give iPad users a new, unique twist on the music genre game.

The general concept of the game is very similar to Tap Tap Revenge, which takes it’s cue from Guitar Hero and Rock Band. You have three “buttons” on the board. As a note hits the inside of the button, you push it, and earn points. The difference between Tap Tap Revenge and Tap Tap Radiation, however, is the placement of the buttons. In Revenge, the buttons are all at the bottom of the screen with a very organized “line” of notes flowing down the board. With Radiation, the buttons are in the middle of the screen, floating in space with no clear view of what notes will hit what button. The concept seems pretty cool, but the execution gets awfully confusing.

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The new interface for Tap Tap Radiation. Looks cool, gets confusing.

To try the game, I played one of my favorite songs of the moment: Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO. On easy, I found it to be alright. As soon as I stepped up to medium, however, I found myself to be lost as to where each note was going. The buttons, as a mentioned before, are floating in space. They move. The notes come from above and sometimes, from the sides. It can become absolutely confusing as go what is going where. It’s a lot harder to get a 8x multiplier in this game, and even harder than that to get a 16x (I have yet to do that at all).

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The concept is all well and good…and then the notes start coming from the sides!

Once you get used to the controls (if you even have the patience for it), the game is kinda fun. I don’t even think I personally want to attempt anything on hard, but that’s just me. You’ll want to download more songs, right? Well, good luck with that one. The store in this game has not been updated in quite some time. I first downloaded Radiation back in May, and booted it up for the first time in about a month today for this review, and there was nothing new available in the store. This is incredibly disappointing, as it does get kind of addicting, and I do want to try more.

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The Radiation Store has not been updated since I originally downloaded the app.

Overall, Tap Tap Radiation is a clever concept. It is a great evolution of the music game, and although the execution may be confusing and frustrating at times, it still has the potential. With the lack of support from Tapulous, however, you may want to pass on this one until they can get more content online.

App Attack: Flipboard

This is the first edition of App Attack, a headlining feature here on Digital Lust that will focus on giving you the scoop on the latest and greatest mobile apps. Today, I’ll be talking a little bit about Flipboard for iOS, the social aggregator that turns your social networking habits into a magazine. Let’s take a closer look!

The concept of Flipboard is very similar to other aggregation apps, like Pulse, for example. With Flipboard, everything turns into a magazine layout. For example, by logging into your Twitter page, you are able to view news stories that pop up in your feed as if they were a page out of today’s issue of The Daily. The layouts are incredibly clean, and the end result is unlike anything else I’ve played with thus far.

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In the above image, you see my Twitter feed, shown in the aforementioned magazine layout. You can see a news story from a Disney fan site, but instead of showing it as a link, it shows the story. Clicking on that portion of the story will bring up a new window with the rest of the story. You can just click back and continue reading. You can also see all of the other updates in my feed on the sidebar (XL 106.7 got a little tweet-happy this morning). By swiping to the next page, you’ll see the next set of stories and tweets. Everything looks so clean, accessible, and easy to read–something that is becoming more and more necessary for a good app.

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Next, let’s take a look at the home screen (yes, this probably should have been covered first, but the Twitter functionality had me too excited). The home screen displays all of the subscriptions that you’ve added to your page. A simple click on these tiles will bring up all of the latest stories that have been posted. Anything with an RSS can be added, and there are plenty of other sites that are already built in. Your tiles on the home screen will update with an image of the latest story. In a sense, it kind of reminds me of Windows Phone 7. And finally, clicking on the More icon at the top right will bring up an entire list of feeds that you can add to your page. You can easily add existing feeds that are already supported, or you can search for your own and add them that way. Hint: Add Digital Lust to your Flipboard!

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As I mentioned above, the manner in which Flipboard displays your news is very much like a magazine layout. A white background dominates the app, giving it a much cleaner and presentable appearance. Images appear large and crisp, and text shows up in a way that is extremely easy to read. Viewing in either Portrait or Landscape mode is equally the same, with Portrait giving you more of the content at once.

In this new era of the Internet, app inventors are really looking to get users away from their browsers and spend more time in-app. Apps like Flipboard are the easiest way to get your news together, and this one will definitely be a hit for years to come. At a price of free, it makes it even more worth the download. Flipboard is available on iPad.