Multiple sources earlier today were reporting on a new Facebook Meesenger feature that allows users to easily share songs and playlists from Spotify. This is a new feature? I have conversations in Facebook Messenger from four years ago that are integrated with Spotify’s messaging features.
Okay, so maybe it is a new feature for the Facebook Messenger mobile apps, but why is it executed so poorly? The feature is buried within a menu to view more options in a conversation. How often do people bother to look at those options? Sending music is straightforward which is great. Just type what you are looking for and hit send. Opening the messages is trickier than it needs to be however.
Album artwork is on full display when a message is sent. It looks nice, but it is just an image. Tapping on the artwork enlarges it instead of launching the Spotify app. Users need to press the button that says open to listen to the song. I guess that makes sense, but it is such a small area to tap. Good luck trying to listen to music on your computer, that button is missing entirely.
What happened? It seems like a glaring oversight to reduce functionality in a desktop browser. The messages I sent from Spotify four years ago have the songs sent as links in my Facebook inbox and can be opened on just about any device. This should be the case with the feature that just rolled out.
I shared a song to someone on my Facebook friend list using the Spotify desktop client tonight. The song did not appear in his Facebook inbox. Maybe that functionality was removed like most of the other Spotify related features on Facebook. What happened to the music notes next to names on Facebook Messenger to let you know when they were listening to music? How about that Open Graph app that tracked listening activity? Actually, that doesn’t matter since it was an inferior version of Last.fm.
“BE WARNED! THIS GAME WILL BREAK YOUR WILL TO LIVE.”
Displayed entirely in caps, this is the first thing that appears in the description for Escalation in the Play Store. Although Escalation probably won’t break your will to live, it is a highly addicting app. The premise is simple and reminds me of those old Bop It toys. Instead of twisting and pulling your way to victory, you are tapping and sliding. Blocks appear from the bottom of the screen and it is up to you to perform all of the actions that are displayed before the blocks reach the top of the screen. If a block reaches the top of the screen, it is game over.
There are 50 levels to complete, each with an increasing speed. I am unable to tell if the levels also get longer or if they just feel longer because of how fast they get. For a game that is just about following directions it gets pretty difficult. I have only made it to level 29. I am struggling to imagine how crazy the last level must be.
My only real complaint about Escalation is the lack of a level select option. In fact, the options menu is nearly empty. All that is there is the option to start a new game and view the credits. I guess the game does not really need any other settings than that, but it would be nice to choose to either start a new game or continue on the highest level that has been unlocked. Starting a new game is really only an option that is useful if you are showing off the app to a new player.
The ads in Escalation are unobtrusive for the most part. They appear from time to time at the start of a level and are easy to close. The only time the ads posed a problem is when one appeared after I failed a level. When you fail a level an ad will appear on the screen but the game still continues in the background. This will most likely cause you to fail the level once again.
Escalation is such a simple game. It does not seem like a game that would be particularly challenging but it will eventually catch up with you. Losing will always be your fault. This is why I keep playing it. It has to be possible to beat the game. Escalation has become one of those games that I will install on any Android device I own.
Waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka. This is all you will be hearing once you install PAC-MAN + Tournaments. There are no fancy upgrades to the visuals to be found here. Namco delivers the full arcade experience for free, all 256 levels. It also includes demoralizing statistics of how many levels that have been completed on the current credit. Good luck getting higher than 10/256. Namco tries to make the experience easier by making the game default into its “Normal” mode where the game moves at a much slower pace and more lives are given. Those looking for an authentic experience will prefer to dig through the game’s options and choose “Arcade” mode.
Like other Pac-Man apps Namco has released on mobile devices, users have the ability to choose between a “joystick” and “swipe” control method. Either way, the player will find himself swiping away at the screen hoping that his swipe will register in the correct direction. The virtual joystick option requires too much precision that is hard to deliver without any tactile feedback. It should be noted that the joystick option is only available when using the app in the portrait position. This is just a matter of preference but I found PAC-MAN + Tournaments to be much more enjoyable using the swipe controls in the landscape position with my thumbs which felt reminiscent of playing on a physical controller.
As the name of the app implies, tournaments have been added to the game. This is not a clone of the features that can be found in the excellent PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX. The tournaments consist of newly designed levels and essentially feel like unofficial sequels to the game. Each tournament lasts two weeks. In that time players can improve their scores, the only catch being that it costs 1 token to enter a tournament each time. Tokens are the game’s virtual currency that can be purchased with microtransactions and can also be used to continue a standard PAC-MAN game. The game does provides the player with enough tokens to get a taste of what the tournaments offer. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a way to play mazes created for previous tournaments. While there may not be a point in playing those mazes once a tournament has finished, they do offer a fresh change over the standard game.
The enjoyment of an arcade game such as PAC-MAN is being able to brag about how good you are at the game. Leaderboards for each difficulty the game provides are present. Viewing the leaderboards quickly shows that most people will not deviate from playing the default “Normal” mode. This is disappointing for players who would prefer to play at the arcade difficulty. My pathetically low scores are scoring much higher on the leaderboards than they should be.
The app also includes achievements which are brutally difficult. The achievement “Be Like Billy” is awarded when a player completes all 256 levels of the game. This is obviously a tribute to Billy Mitchell who scored the first perfect game of Pac-Man. Maybe this achievement is just a joke, but it makes me question who Namco was targeting with this app, professional Pac-Man players or a casual audience.
The controls may take away from the enjoyment of PAC-MAN + Tournaments but at its core it remains a solid Pac-Man experience. The additional features provide an incentive to continue playing and may improve as more people continue to install the app.