Try these fun apps

Angry Birds Transformers.

Here are apps you may not have heard of yet but are worth a look.

DIGITAL BRAINTEASERS

Angry Birds Transformers
Android and iOS: free

Part classic Angry Birds and part action game, Rovio's latest title is perfect for people who crave high-octane excitement in their puzzlers.

Everyone's favourite furious fowl and green pigs are again the stars of the show, this time in Transformers costumes. The Angry Birds belong to the Autobots camp, with the popular Red bird taking on the role of an avian-inspired Optimus Prime.

King Pig as Megatron rules the Deceptihog camp. Like in a classic side-scrolling game, your Autobot of choice runs non-stop from start to finish, blasting enemy green pigs along the way.

In typical Angry Birds fashion, the pigs are holed up in their fortresses and it is your job to identify the structural weaknesses so you can take them down.

As you progress in the game, your Transformers gain special powers, such as switching between vehicle and robot forms, as well as acquiring unique attacks.

If the classic Angry Birds game is getting too mundane for you, this power-packed version might be just make you fall in love with the franchise all over again.

Ready Steady Teddy
Android and iOS: free

A virtual take on the build-a-teddy concept, this simple but highly addictive match-two puzzle game can keep you entertained for hours.

Ready Steady Teddy is easy to play. You only need to match two similar adjoining game pieces to create a new upgraded piece.

For example, matching two blank oval pieces will create a teddy bear's face with eyes only. Match two of those and you get the bear's face with eyes and a muzzle.

As you keep on pairing and upgrading the game pieces, your virtual teddy bear takes shape. Your goal is to create and complete as many teddy bears as possible within the 4x4 puzzle board.

GeoMatches
Android and iOS: free

For people who find the pace of match-two games too slow, fire up GeoMatches. A fast-paced, arcade style take on the traditional shape-matching puzzler, GeoMatches is like Tetris on steroids.

A stage begins with a row of shape halves descending rapidly to the foot of the screen. You must arrange the halves in the correct order before the shapes fuse together.

Playing this game requires not only quick thinking but good hand-eye coordination skills as well. The initial stages are relatively easy. But the advanced levels are a challenge even for hardcore gamers.

Save The Chicken
Android and iOS: free

This is an amazing puzzle with a role-paying game twist.

In a fantasy world where fried chicken is a rarity, hungry warriors are eager to get their hands on the delicacy. But fried chicken coupons can be found only deep in monster-filled dungeons, so your task is to assemble a team strong enough to rob the evil creatures of them.

To do so, you will have to ace the game's puzzle board, stringing at least three similar orbs together to create a soldier.

Once you have assembled your team, all you need to do is watch them duke it out with the monsters.

CITY-BUILDING GAMES

Virtual City Playground
Android and iOS, free

A great game for those new to the genre, Virtual City comprises elements of both traditional city-building gameplay with the mission-based game mechanics found in many popular mobile games. The result is an easy to play game which lets you create the urban jungle of your dreams.

Centred around the management of a city-wide transport company, players have to lay roads, construct buildings and expand their city while keeping the transport system running smoothly.

Construction enthusiasts can look forward to creating more than a hundred different types of buildings, including residences, industrial facilities and even big projects such as amusement parks, stadiums and rocket launching pads.

Players, however, will have to be prepared to hit some snags such as having a limited number of "energy points" that let you build, repair or upgrade buildings. To get more points, players will either have to wait for them to regenerate over time, or purchase more with real cash.

While this game is no SimCity, Virtual City still packs plenty of urban building fun into an easy to understand format that is perfect for killing time.

Venture Towns
Android: $5.99 iOS: $5.98

In Venture Towns, you do not only work on building your city. As mayor, you are responsible for the city's growth as well as every citizen's personal development.

Each new city starts with a few empty plots of land for houses and some basic facilities. As you add shops, office buildings and parks, new citizens will come to settle and start building their first homes.

As mayor, you must help them gain more skills to snag better-paying jobs. In return, your virtual citizens will pay higher taxes when they upgrade to fancier digs.

As the population grows, you can unlock special buildings such as an amusement park, shopping mall and zoo.

A unique mix of The Sims and SimCity gameplay elements, Venture Towns offers an immersive, complex city building experience that tests your macro management skills, yet it feels personal at the same time. If you want to try it out before you buy it, check out Venture Towns Lite.

Kingdom's Heyday
Android: $4 iOS: $2.58

If balancing a budget sounds like more work than play, download Kingdom's Heyday for a fun city builder.

An interesting combination of building and time management gameplay, Kingdom's Heyday takes you into a mediaeval world where you are tasked with helping a princess rebuild her magical kingdom.

At each stage, you will have to clear ruins, build infrastructure and collect coins. In the beginning, you can build only simple residences. Later on, you can build farms, a tavern, an inn and even a palace.

There are four types of buildings you can construct: residences, businesses, beautification structures and food production facilities. Many buildings can also be upgraded as your city expands.

Stages are timed, so you are scored by how quickly and efficiently you complete each level. Planning your city well and keeping your eye on the clock can be challenging, especially in the later stages.

1849
Android: $6.34 iOS: $5.98

If you enjoyed the Caesar series of city builders, this classic-inspired title set in the California Gold Rush era of the late 1800s is for you.

Your job: Build a thriving mining town.

Like most city-building games, you will have to build houses to attract workers, as well as construct shops and facilities to keep them fed and entertained. What sets 1849 apart is its focus on the intricate trade networks you must set up in order to keep your city growing.

You have to farm crops, harvest natural resources and manufacture a multitude of goods in order to keep your population well supplied and your economy afloat. Neglect their needs and your citizens will soon be moving out in search of a better life.

Originally released as an indie title on Steam, 1849 has straightforward controls that work just as well on a touchcreen device. If you love being a business tycoon as much as you like being a real-estate magnate, then this game is a must.

MUSIC APPS

Drum Kit
iOS, free

Getting your own drum set may not only break the bank, but also drive irate neighbours to your door.

Drum Kit turns your device into a virtual drum set you can play anywhere and at any time, while plugged into earphones.

Straightforward and great looking, Drum Kit has a main screen that features a beautiful classic rock drum set. To start playing, simply tap your fingers on the different drums, cymbals or pedals.

You can switch the classic drum set into a hip-hop kit, which comes with this free app. For additional drum sets or styles, an electronic drum theme pack and a 70's-inspired one pack are available for $1.28 each.

A Drum Kit Pro upgrade offers additional functions, including access to your iTunes library so that you can play along with songs and record and edit multiple tracks.

Ultimate Guitar Tabs
Android: $3.74 iOS: $3.98

Packed with plenty of useful tools and an enormous library of songs, Ultimate Guitar Tabs is an excellent companion for any guitar player.

A mobile extension of Ultimate-Guitar.com, the app lets you access tabs for more than 400,000 songs. Each one is formatted to fit smartphone screens for easy reading. Favourites can be downloaded to the app for offline use.

To make it easier to learn a song, each guitar tab features handy chord diagrams showing you exactly how to play them. A virtual guitar tuner and metronome are included.

However, not all the frills are included in the app's price. The tab library, favourite tabs function and chord charts come with the initial purchase, but the tuner and metronome pack will set you back another $5.98 on iOS.

Further add-ons, such as the Tab Pro feature that gives you digitised tabs with a playback function, costs another $5.98 and other in-app purchases can cost as much as $9.98.

piaScore
iOS, free

Once you have expanded your repertoire, keeping all that sheet music in one place can be a pain.

If you find yourself in one of those cartoon situations with sheets of piano scores flying off the keyboard, download this app.

Not only does piaScore let you manage all your sheet music easily, it also includes useful tools that let you draw freehand, type notes or add music notation onto each page. You can also call up the app's built-in metronome to help keep a steady tempo as you play.

There are several ways to add sheet music into this app. Users can connect piaScore to their Dropbox accounts to import files, or simply snap pictures of the scores using the in-app camera.

A handy search function lets you hunt for free classical music scores online, while piaScore's in-app store offers a mixture of pop and classical sheet music that cost mostly between $3.98 and $5.98 apiece.

Note Lookup!
iOS: $1.28

Sight-reading works a little like the virtuoso version of a police line-up. Notes on sheet music are positioned in front of straight, horizontal lines and it is up to the musician to identify them correctly. This app can help you avoid reading notes wrongly and thus sending the entire piece of music to jail.

A great tool for beginners, the user interface of Note Lookup! makes it easy to find the letter name of a note. To see how the same note appears on different musical scales, users simply have to scroll through the scales using the on-screen rotation wheel.

Tapping the up/down arrows beside the staff lets you move one note up or down the scale. Pressing any virtual piano key at the bottom of the screen instantly shows you its representative note on the staff.

Note Lookup! may be a pretty simple app, but at $1.28, it is a cheap and handy tool for when you need to figure out the right notes fast.

CARD GAMES, DIGITISED

You no longer need to carry around thick decks of cards or albums in order to enjoy collectible card games.

Many physical card games now come in digital versions for your smartphone or tablet.

Uno
Android and iOS: $5.98

No one's a stranger to Uno. This app version of the ubiquitous classic card game stays true to the formula, while introducing novel gameplay features such as alternate rulesets and a tournament mode, as well as multiplayer mode via Wi-Fi and over the Internet.

Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer
Android and iOS: free, with in-app purchases

Developed by professional players of the well-known card game Magic: The Gathering, Ascension plays much like a cross between a card game and a board game.

Staying true to the play style of the physical version, Ascension uses a deck-building gameplay mechanic.

It differs from traditional collectible card games in that players build their decks during the game, instead of buying randomised card packs beforehand.

Since this is a cross-platform multiplayer app, you can play the game with others, even if they are on PCs or a different mobile platform.

Cardcast
Android and iOS: free

Based on the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, Cardcast is a simple game in which players match two cards to form a darkly humorous and politically incorrect statement. A judge appointed by the other players then decides which pairing is the best one.

This app works via Chromecast, a small media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV set. So you will need that as well as the TV, for the game to play properly.

Cardcast, while an unofficial adaptation, plays exactly like a regular game of Cards Against Humanity.

Its Chromecast functionality allows the results of each round, along with each player's cards, to be projected onto the TV for all to see.

Evil Apples
Android and iOS: free, with in-app purchases

Evil Apples is, like Cardcast, inspired by Cards Against Humanity.

As in that card game, players match cards to form humorous, if often suggestive or profane sentences.

It offers online real-time multiplayer functionality; you can play with friends or even strangers over the Internet - if you dare.

Magic 2015
Android and iOS: free, with in-app purchases

Now in its fifth iteration, this latest digital version of the popular trading card game, Magic: The Gathering, has an important new feature: players may now create their very own custom decks with no limitations, unlike in earlier versions, which allowed only pre-built decks.

Each card represents a creature that players can summon, or a spell that they can cast.

Players duel, drawing cards from decks they have built up over time. It makes for an addictive experience that requires both luck and skill.

All reports by Jasmine Osada, Ebel Tang and Joshua Chen

 


This article was first published on Feb 25, 2015.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

SERVICES