Tag Archives: max

Personal: What’s on my phone

asus zenfone 3 max.jpg Product page

About a year ago, I wanted a new phone. My first smartphone was a Samsung, which was my 2nd and 3rd smartphone as well. I always wanted to try a different brand and since I bought an Asus Zenpad 8S in 2016 for my birthday, I wanted to give the Asus Zenfone a try. I’m quite content with my Asus Zenfone 3 MAX. I have the 5.5 inch version, so it’s quite a big phone in my opinion. So, a while ago, there was a tag challenge in the tech community to tell your audience what you have on your phone. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I still want to do it. So, here we go. Also, I invite other bloggers to do the same thing. What is on your phone? If you write an article about it, feel free to tag me on Twitter or link to this article. Or feel free to leave a comment here as well. 

Mini review

So, before we go to the main event, I first want to give a mini-review on the Asus Zenfone 3 MAX. What are things that I love and dislike about the phone. I have been using this phone for a year now. If you want to read up on the specs of my phone, you can read it here on gsmarena.com.

There are a few things I dislike about this phone. If you use the screen at max brightness and either WiFi or 4G, the phone’s battery drains quite fast. Lowering the brightness helps quite a lot to save battery. Another thing has to do with the call quality. Sometimes the microphone doesn’t pick up my voice too well and the other end doesn’t hear me, but if I reposition the phone a bit, that fixes the issue. Another thing I dislike is that buttons like home or back aren’t backlit. But, that’s all I really dislike about this phone. While other reviewers would find other things wrong with it, I really like this phone and it fits my needs perfectly.

So, what are things I really like about this phone? It’s my first phone with a fingerprint reader. This makes life so much easier. More on that later. Another thing I really like is how this phone seems to get frequent updates to the latest version of Android and all the latest security patches. I prefer the ZenUI over TouchWiz any day of the week. The camera on the phone is really good for family pictures in my opinion. But, the biggest factor for this phone is that it’s priced at 250-280€ and you get an amazing phone for that price.

What’s on my phone?

Now, what’s on my phone? Quite a lot actually. I nearly always carry my phone with me since it’s a handy tool when I need to look up something quickly or snap a quick picture of something I need to remind myself of.

Since I’m rarely at my desk at work, I always have my phone with me. So, they can call me whenever there is a problem. Also, I love listing to music while walking and I use my phone as an old school music player. So, my music app is one of my most frequently used apps.

First of all, I won’t talk about every single app that’s on my phone. There are quite a few games I have installed on my phone for when I’m in a waiting room or have some time on the train and the batteries of my 3DS or Switch are out. I’ll only talk about the apps I placed on my home screen, since those are the apps I use the most.

Whenever there is an app I use often, I place it on my homescreen. If I stop using it frequently, I remove it from my home screen and replace it with something else I use frequently.

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This is my first home screen. This screen greets me when I unlock my phone. For obvious reasons, I won’t show how I unlock my phone. On the left of my main home screen is the Google Assistant/Google Now. This way I can catch up with the latest news of the subjects I’m interested in. On the right, there is a 2nd home screen with additional apps. More on that later.

At the bottom, I use the classic vanilla apps. From left to right, you have the dialer, my text messages, a button to see all apps, Chrome and my camera. On the top of my home screen is a big clock with the date displayed. Besides that clock, I have the messenger app. I talk quite often to friends over messenger and if I want to share a link, Messenger is the easiest way. Underneath that, you have the Play Store. Each morning, I update all my apps and check the store if there isn’t anything interesting that I could review on my blog.

Then, you have three rows of 4 apps each. The first row is my calender, my finder app, Discord and Dropbox. The calender app is the Google Calender. I use this app often to remind myself of things I need to do. I put more than just my appointments or birthdays in my calender. Things like: “Article day”, “Write time for final project”, “Write piece for collab” or “Release of thing X” are things that appear in my calender as well. Appointments have a red color and things I need to do have either blue or yellow. Blue if it’s something I could delay and yellow if it’s urgent or if it can’t be delayed.

The file explorer is the one that comes with Asus’ ZenUI and I love it. It gives me Windows-vibes and it’s really great to use. Whenever I download a file, I can quickly find it with this app. When you open it, you can select to view all images, video’s, music, documents… on your phone or just explore the phone. An amazing feature here is that I can setup a wireless method of accessing the files on my phone. When my phone and the device I want to access from are connected to the same network, I can wirelessly access the files on my phone. It creates a link I can visit and I see the same thing as the file explorer app. This app saved me various times.

I use Discord to talk to other bloggers and friends from over the whole world. I’m also part of some servers where game developers look for bloggers to promote their games. If you want to add me on Discord, just shoot me a message over Twitter. But, an app I use really frequently as well. I actually have Dropbox Pro, since I use this as a backup method. I have close to 500GB stored in my Dropbox. Everything from files I need for work to my final project is in there. So, I never worry too much about dying hard drives or loosing my files. I also use the Photo Sync feature of Dropbox. This feature saves all the pictures I make with my phone in my Dropbox so I can use them directly on my computer or all the other devices I connected to Dropbox.

On the second row, we find Instagram, WordPress, YouTube and WhatsApp. I do have an Instragram profile, but don’t frequently use it. I enjoy browsing Instagram to see what my friends are up to. If you can’t guess why I use the WordPress app, well, I use it for checking and fixing things on my blog on the go. So, I’m quite a big fan of YouTube. I love watching tech channels, retro gaming channels, game development channels and various other channels relating to creating things. The final app on that row is Whatsapp. I mostly use that app to keep in contact with my family or my theater group. That’s all I use Whatsapp for.

The final row on my main home screen is the row with the most used apps on my phone. Twitter, since I’m quite active on Twitter. Outlook to check my mails and “Nationaal” is the app I use to check the train schedule to get from and to work. I know that I skipped an app. That’s “Pulsar+“. In one of the firmware updates of my phone, Asus removed the quite excellent ZenUI music app. So, I searched high and low for a great music app on the Play Store. First I used Pi MP3 Player, but I started to run into issues. For some reason, no apps wanted to update on my phone after I installed that app.

Not too long after, I found Pulsar. I liked the app so much, I actually bought the premium version. It includes additional themes and some neat additional features. I can’t recommend this app enough if you enjoy listing to music on your phone. It’s one of the best apps I have used in a while.

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So, on my 2nd home screen are the apps I use less frequently but I want quick access too. Let’s start with the first row. This has the Facebook app, the UEFA soccer app, a weather app and the Nintendo Switch Online app. The weather app, AccuWeather, is an amazing weather app. It’s quite accurate in my area and I use it to check if I need to take an umbrella on my walks or not. I use the UEFA soccer app since the soccer app of my local sports channel doesn’t have the UEFA Nations League tables built in. I use the Facebook app, since I dislike the website on mobile and I find that it has quicker and easier access to certain features. And finally the Switch online app, I use that app for if I want to voice chat during online Switch play.

The next row has the Steam app, for when I want to check the Steam Store and to have an additional layer of security for my Steam account. Besides that, the Easy Banking app is the app I use to check my finances. Then, you have the Sporza Soccer app. I use this app to follow my local soccer league and to see what the Red Devils, our national soccer team is up to. And Bancontact is used for quick payments, once you set up this app, paying for the doctor goes so quickly.

Oh, before I continue, quick side note. If you are American, I mean football when I say soccer. That said, let’s continue.

The next row has my gallery. When I need to show a picture to somebody. I find the way that the gallery app sorts pictures better than how my finder app sorts them. Besides that, you have the calculator app. Strangly, this is one of the only apps that doesn’t have it’s name translated in the ZenUI to Dutch. It such say “rekenmachine”. Oh well. It doesn’t bother me that much. Then, you have the Maps app, I use as a GPS. And finally on that row, you have Imgur, for quickly uploading pictures and since I love this website.

The final row has the Telenet Mobile app. This app is from my ISP and I use this app to check on how much mobile data I have left. Besides that, you got Reddit. I have periods when I get very addicted to Reddit and go on the site a lot and there are moments I rarely visit the site. The final two icons on that row are the Patreon app and the Grumpy Cat game.

I use the Patreon app to check on posts the creators made that I support on Patreon and the Grumpy Cat game is just one of my favorite games on my phone at the moment.

You might notice that I leave one row empty. This row is my temp row. On this row I place apps I just installed and I want to test or if a developer asks me to review them. So yes, that screenshot might be a teaser for an upcoming article. Whenever I tested them or wrote the article, I usually remove them from my home screen.

A few apps that I want to mention that aren’t on my home screen are:

Ringtone Maker – MP3 Cutter – One feature I miss from Samsung is that when you select a song as a ringtone, it searches the best part of the track to start the ringtone at. This app solves that and I can even choose from where start my ringtone.

Datasize Explorer Pro – Whenever I’m running low on space on my phone, I use this app to check which apps take up a lot of space and I should remove or clean the cache of.

WiFi Analyzer – If you are a techie or a networking person, this app is a must on Android devices. It helps you to visualize WiFi to help you troubleshoot issues with WiFi.

And all the other apps, outside of games, are apps from local stores here in Belgium or the Netherlands I use to shop or to buy my retro games from. Or your typical apps that almost everybody has like Shazam. And a few apps I don’t think are worth mentioning.

So, that was quite a lot. I’m quite curious to see which phones you guys have and for what you use it and what apps are on your phones. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. It was something different from what I usually do, but next time I’ll get back into gaming stuff. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

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Android Games #8: No Subtitle Needed?

ASUS-Zenfone-3-Max-5.5

So, since July, I have a new phone. I’m using the Asus Zenfone 3 MAX 5.5. It’s quite a mouth-full, but I really like my phone. It was a great help on my trip to London this week. Anyways, with a bigger screen, I had played some games I wanted to talk about. So, I decided to write a new installment in my Android Games series. So, if you are new to this series; in this series, I talk about casual games I played on my phone I’m unable to write a full article review about. So, I take a quick look at them to give them a spotlight. That said, keep in mind the publishing date of this article since some games are in active development and can change when you compare them to the review I wrote in this article. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games and/or the content of the article. Also, if you know of any good casual games on Android, feel free to let me know. So, on with the article! PS: the score stars are based on how much stars I would give it in the Android Store.

InstLife

instlife

Oh yes, this is one of the games that inspired this article. InstLife. This game came on my “recommend” list one day and I installed it and gave it go.

This game is truly very interesting. This app is in its very early stages of development but I really like what I have experienced so far.

This game is a sort of life simulator you sort have control over. Each update introduces more and better ways to control your life.

At the start of the game, you get a random country, gender, and name. And then you are at the mercy of an RNG. Yes, each playthrough is different. A playthrough can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes or more.

Take a look at the store page I link above since you get a good idea from the screenshots it has up on the game store. Also, this app is free and doesn’t require any permissions to run. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Give this game a try! I’m highly enjoying myself with it. Each time I have a few minutes to spare, I do a quick round of this game and I’m glad I can.

The thing is, I press “Age” quickly. While there is in the recent update a lot more added to give a lot of depth to the game. The big warning I need to give for this game is a basic understanding of how adult life works and a good understanding of English. Otherwise, you might have some trouble.

Score (v0.2.8): 4 stars

Pokémon Go

pokemon go.jpg

Oh, deary me, I have never talked about nor have I mentioned Pokémon Go since it got released in June of last year.

I think I don’t have to introduce this game since it’s still somewhat present. I saw it several times on my trip to London.

To be honest, I think Pokémon Go is a mediocre game. Perhaps the fact that I life in an area where not too much Pokémon Stops are has something to do with it.

After a few months of playing it here and there, I just stopped playing it. It actually bored me seeing all the same Pokémon over and over again and only seeing new Pokémon when you level up or walk on different parts of the day.

I’m sorry, but Pokémon Go didn’t click with me. There isn’t enough to draw me back in and launch the app to try and catch random Pokémon. I might open it here and there when I’m thinking about the game, but I have been doing it less and less. So yeah. I can see the appeal of this game, but it’s a game that isn’t for me.

I also think that the game has some major flaws where it doesn’t explain things like raids amongst other things to new players. Such a shame.

Score: 2.5 stars

Stellar Fox

Stellar Fox

Stellar Fox is an interesting game. In this game, you draw lines so the white fox can roll towards the exit.

But, there is a catch. Once the fox starts rolling, you can’t stop it. Also, there are some very interesting mechanics where you, for example, have to let a clone go faster to pick up a key to open the exit before the original fox reaches it.

This game is a very neat puzzle game and if you have the time and interest, I urge you to check it out. The visuals, presentation, and music are very well done and I can’t give anything majorly wrong with this game. While here and there, the levels might be a bit too difficult, I really like this game.

Score: 5 stars.

Finishing this article

So, that are my opinion on three Android games I have been playing on my new Android phone. I do realize that this article is shorter than my other Android Games articles, but I took some time off past week to enjoy myself, so I didn’t have time to prepare a bigger article for you guys.

I do have some other Android Games on my list I’m saving up for a longer and bigger article in this series but that will be for another time.

In any case, thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

PS: if you want to see pictures of my trip to London, you can visit this Imgur album I uploaded. I had a great time there! While I was there, I was talking with some of my blogger friends and we might have plans for next year… So yeah. Keep an eye on that.

Game Quicky: Space Max (Android) ~ Go To Space

Space Max iconGoogle Play link – Developer’s press release – Official website

So, today I want to take a look at an Android game called Space Max. The developer asked me to give my honest opinion on this game, so here we go. This game is developed by CrySoft Development and published by TinyGames. This game is available on Android and iOS devices. Because I don’t own an iPhone, I have played this game on my phone and my tablet. In this article, you will find my thoughts about this game. For those who don’t know how a game quicky works, I list what I like and dislike about the game and give my final opinion in the end. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The good

SpaceMaxScreenshot (2).png

The tutorial for this game explains how this game works perfectly. It teaches the mechanics in a heartbeat.

While there are microtransactions, the first upgrades aren’t too crazy to buy. I have played various Android games where you get directly into a paywall, and this game doesn’t have that.

While this game has ads, they aren’t placed in annoying places. Also, they are used in a way how I think ads should be used. When you die, you sometimes get the chance of watching an ad to continue for free. This is a great idea!

The art for this game looks pretty cute. This game is adorable in my opinion. In that extend, the interface is designed in a great way. I have nothing to comment on that, besides that, it’s good of course.

This game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it shows. The fact that you have to fart your way up and the crazy costumes you can unlock. It makes this game humorous to a certain extent.

Something I really like in this endless jumper is the fact that when you can go down for a little while. This is great to pick up bananas or bolts you just missed. In most other endless jumpers, this means instant death.

The bad

SpaceMaxScreenshot (4).png

While I realize that it’s this game’s gimmick, but I got pretty annoyed by the farting sound effect rather quickly. After a few minutes of playing, I stopped playing for a while since I found the farting sound effect immature. It would be a great idea to have some option to mute the fart sound effect for people who get annoyed by this but want to play the game.

The controls can be annoying sometimes. While I understand how they work, you have to tap in the middle to go up, left to go right and right to go left. But, I think these two things would improve the game:

  1. Give players an option to invert the controls. That when you tap left, the ape goes left. And when you tap right, the ape goes to the right. That would be great since my brain is hardwired to do that.
  2. Place transparent buttons on the screen that make it clear where the straight up, go to the left and go to the right sections begin and end. That would make the controls of this game less frustrating and fairer.

The game seems to hang sometimes in the menus and during gameplay. Often when I press a button to go back to the game after I bought an upgrade, the game hangs for 4-5 seconds before it goes back to the game. A little waiting animation would be great.

I think that the blocks directly at the start of the game are overkill. It feels like this is an obstacle meant for in later parts of the game. I would honestly remove them or place them higher up.

I also found 2 bugs:

  1. In some cases, when I died, I saw powerups and bananas underneath the starting area.
  2. When you press left or right at the start instead of in the middle, you die in mid-air.

Something I wish the game had was a pause button. I played this game at breaks and when my break was over or when I had to pick up a call, I had to either quit the game or let myself die so that I don’t loose any progress.

Conclusion

The idea of this game is pretty interesting. At the surface, this game looks like an interesting game. But, as soon as you start playing it for while, the flaws start to show. The fart sound effect, the lack of proper controls, the game that sometimes hangs and the lack of a pause button can be a deal breaker for some people.

I honestly think that with a bit of polish, this game would be so much better. But how the game stands now, at the time of writing this article, this game is mediocre and lacks any punch to make a difference in the sea of endless jumpers that exist on the Android Play market.

Like I said, the game has a lot of potentials, but the flaws drag the game down. I’m sure that a few patches to this game can fix the issues I mentioned. Since this game does some interesting things to change up the usual endless jumper gameplay.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 3/5

Game Review: Mad Max

Some of you may be familiar with Mad Max, but some of you won’t. So what is Mad Max? In one word: glorious.Image result for mad max

I mean that in the truest sense of the word. It feels out of this world. At first glance, one might think it’s they are over-the-top movies, but they’re much, much more than that.

Everything in this world feels painfully real. The suffering, the tragedies, the characters, the wasteland, … The films have a very distinct style that has influenced pop culture more than you might think: it launched Mel Gibson’s career, the raiders in Fallout are heavily inspired by those in Mad Max and it spawned countless rip-offs by Italian and Turkish directors, as well as American ones. I feel like I need to discuss the films briefly before getting to the game. After all, that is what inspired its creators to make the game.

The great thing about the Mad Max films – and the game – is that they all feel different. The first film was very grounded in reality and quite slow-paced, though that is not a bad thing. The second film, The Road Warrior, was generally considered to be the best one. It established the character as he is still known and loved. He’s deeply flawed and haunted by his past, but that makes him feel very real. The third film, Beyond Thunderdome, has its problems; most of them caused by Hollywood mingling. And then there’re last year’s Fury Road, now regarded as the best of all four films. Tom Hardy plays Mad Max, not Mel Gibson, and his performance is excellent.

Now Max is a bit of a difficult character to talk about, because he is both simple and complex at the same time. He’s simple, because most of his actions throughout the films and game are selfish. Even helping people is often because it makes things more convenient for him, but at the same time he won’t harm the innocent. He doesn’t really care about who lives or dies, as this is a harsh world and survival is key, but he won’t just kill anyone for the sake of killing or just for fun. It is a very hard thing to explain. It’s almost instinctive. You just understand him on an emotional level, not an intellectual one. You just know if something is in-character for him to do or not, but you can’t really explain why. I say this, because there’s something I want to discuss at the end of this article after the SPOILERS warning.

Now onto the game! I’m not exactly sure when the game is set in the timeline, but it feels like it takes place right before the events of the fourth film: Fury Road. But, like with the entire Mad Max saga, the exact time has never been important. You start off the game losing the famous Interceptor, the car Max drives, and battling Lord Scrotus. You put a chainsaw through his skull, but he survives and throws you off a fast moving truck. You then set out on a very simple quest: get your car back and kill Lord Scrotus. This is very much in theme with the films, where the story is often quite simple and just a structure for strong characters.

And strong characters is what this game has. The portrayal of Max is pretty much spot-on (except for a little thing that bugs me in the ending). You find a hunchback named Chumbucket who is a car nut and believes you are some sort of Saint sent by the Angel to clear the wasteland. He offers you a car that you can upgrade and change the appearance of during the game. He is a fantastic character, obsessed with cars and fixing cars and thinking you’re some sort of deity. And of course, Max goes along with it, because it helps him. Where in other games having a companion around can be frustrating, Chumbucket is nothing but helpful. He brings you the car when you signal him with a flare gun, fixes the car when it’s damaged and most of his dialogue is really entertaining.

Visually, the game encapsulates the look and feel of the films very well. It’s a gorgeous game with a wonderful art style. The graphics won’t blow you away, but it’s not trying to either. It’s aiming for aesthetics rather the latest and greatest in graphical settings.

The story is very simple, as I mentioned before. There isn’t that much to talk about here, other than that it’s very much in theme with the films. The end goal is to get your car back and kill Lord Scrotus, but it can take you a while to get there. You can choose to just follow the main quests and do the bare minimum to unlock new upgrades for your car, so you can continue with the missions, but that will make the game a lot more difficult. Still, you’ll probably have to put in twelve to fifteen hours to beat this game in a hurry.

As a sort of side story, you can try to loosen the grip that Lord Scrotus has on the different regions by doing certain mini missions. You can clear out camps, destroy their totems and sniping towers, clear minefields, et cetera. Lowering the threat levels in regions unlocks more upgrades for Max and his car. This is where the game really shines in my eyes, as it makes the gameplay more varied. Clearing the camps requires more combat, destroying the totems and sniping towers is mostly done from inside the car and you need a special buggy that can carry the mine-sniffing dog to clear out minefields. Some camps have difficult bosses or certain things you have to destroy. Having done almost everything there is to do in this game, I racked up a very respectable 54 hours in this game. Not bad at all for having paid less than €15 for it in a Steam sale.

There aren’t a whole lot of negative to this game, I feel. The driving controls could’ve been tighter, but most of the time they’re just fine. Two locations in the game are locked off after the mission is over, which means that if you didn’t pick up the collectables or scrap, they’ll be lost forever. This is odd, since none of the other locations become inaccessible. Lastly (and I’ll get into more detail in a bit) there’s one thing that happens right at the end that I feel is out of character for Max, which makes the ending a bit less enjoyable for me.

So overall I highly recommend it if you like the Mad Max films, but even as a general gamer, it’s a very fun game. The combat is fun, modding the car gives you lots of options and the characters are very enjoyable. The highest praise I could possibly give it is that if  I were to rank this game alongside the films, the order would be (from best to “worst”): Fury Road – THIS GAME – Road Warrior – Original Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome. So yeah, very close second 🙂

 

 

–SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE GAME BELOW–

 

 

This is what happens at the end of the game that bothers me a bit. After the final boss battle, we see the truck that Lord Scrotus is driving close to the edge of a cliff. Max decides to ram it with his car and Chumbucket, still believing the car is the sacred tool, sent by the Angel to be used by you, doesn’t want you to destroy it. While charging at the truck, he climbs on the bonnet of the car, trying to convince you to stop. Max tells him to jump of and Chumbucket says he’s willing to die with the car. Max then proceeds to jump out of the car, right before it hits the truck and both vehicles fall off the cliff. I know Max is a character who will do pretty much anything to achieve his goal, but I feel like killing Chumbucket was very much out of character. Max doesn’t hurt people, unless he feels it’s absolutely necessary and I feel like killing Chumbucket was not. You may disagree with that, but it’s how I feel about it.