Google Play App Roundup: DAEMON Sync, Lost Qubixle, and HoPiKo

By Ryan Whitwam

Perspective platform syncing.

The week is just getting started, but you can ease the transition with some new apps and games. You've come to the right place too. This is the Google Play App Roundup, the weekly feature where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store.

DAEMON Sync

Google, Dropbox, and many others offer data backup services on Android, but most solutions rely on the cloud, even if all you want is a quick way to get files to your PC. They go up to the internet, then back down to an internet-connected computer. Why bother with that if all you want is local sync? That's what DAEMON Sync offers.

DAEMON Sync comes from the developers of that popular disc image manager of yesteryear, DAEMON Tools. I know it still exists, but does anyone really use it anymore? At any rate, DAEMON Sync connects to a desktop client on your local WiFi and sends files over without using the internet. The setup process is incredibly quick too. All you need to do is download the app, install the desktop client, and enter the PIN code provided by the PC client in the phone. That ties them together for sync. There's no account to set up and no passwords to remember.

The desktop software doesn't have a lot of settings, but I'd suggest you move the data folder to a more logical location. The default is in the public users folder of Windows (I'm not sure where it is on OS X). The app has most of the sync settings, and there are a few cool things there. During the setup process, you'll be able to decide what you want to sync, with the defaults being images, videos, and screenshots. Each one gets its own folder on the computer, which is nice. They're also broken out be device, which is great if you have several phones syncing to a single PC. There's also a handy option to add custom folders, so anything you add there will be sent over to the PC.

Having individual folders for each device is useful when browsing the server, which you can do from the DAEMON Sync app. It has a tab for photos, one for videos, and another for other files. In the nav menu, you can toggle between viewing all devices and a single one of your choosing.

Because this is all happening over the local network, the sync speed is fantastic. New images pop up on your computer in a fraction of the time it would take for the to be uploaded to a cloud service, then downloaded by the computer. Obviously, the main drawback here is that your files are not being kept off-site. Your safeguards are only as strong as your personal backup solution.

Lost Qubixle

This game bills itself as a "perspective puzzler." You'll have to exercise the visual-spatial part of your brain to figure out what's happening in Lost Qubixle, but the best way to do that is just dive in. There's a quick tutorial that helps you learn the ropes, but success hinges on how well you can visualize a shape in 3D.

Each puzzle in Lost Qubixle has three orientations -- top, side, and front. At the top of the screen you'll see a 4x4 grid of squares for each orientation. You need to match the pattern of all three simultaneously on the 3D game board, which is a 4x4x4 3D space. Basically a cube with three sides missing. You can tap and drag to spin the puzzle to see it from different perspectives, or tap one of the diagrams at the top to move to that orientation.

You start with no blocks on the board, but you can add as many as you want by tapping. Often times you'll need to get a block floating in the middle of the space, which requires you to build a scaffolding of other blocks to place it. Then you can remove the unneeded ones (a long-press). The blocks always stay in the place you leave them, but they must be connected to something to start (i.e. the walls or another block). The diagrams at the top of the screen will helpfully update as you add and remove blocks to let you know if their conditions are satisfied. Getting them all to jive can be seriously brain-melting.

So you've got all the diagrams lit up green? It's not over yet. There is more brain melting to come. At the bottom of the screen is a cube counter. While you can place as many cubes as you want, to pass the level you need to have only a certain number on the board. Your task then is to examine the structure you've built and see which, if any, blocks are redundant. You might end up with the most efficient solution the first time, but usually there are a few extra blocks you'll have to find and remove.

The puzzles are great, and there are 45 of them across three different zones. They get harder as you go along too. There are free and paid versions of Lost Qubixle, which seems odd. The free one has the same number of levels and no in-app purchases. I'm not even seeing any ads. Maybe ads will be added later? I'm not sure, but the paid version is only $1.99. This game iw worth checking out.

HoPiKo

It's up to you to have gaming in HoPiKo, which also happens to be the name of the little magic creatures that make games work in this fictional retro reality. The HoPiKo have been enslaved by a nasty virus, and only you can free them and smash the virus by leaping between platforms and avoiding obstacles in level after level. Seems a lot like a game, but it can't be. Games are dead in HoPiKo.

This is best described as a twitch platformer. You have to move at light speed to have any hope of success -- most platforms collapse if you wait too long. Your goal in each level is to smash into the virus that's imprisoning the HoPiKo. You can maneuver from one platform to the next by tapping and dragging to indicate a direction. You then jump in a straight line, hopefully landing on the platform. You can also jump faster directly upward by simply tapping on the screen. Sometimes you'll need to do that to squeeze through a gap as enemies buzz around.

The controls are really perfect for the frantic pace of the game. A d-pad would ruin the feeling of speed and make it much harder to perform quick jumps. It's still incredibly challenging, though. Each level is composed of five mini-stages with a few jumps and a virus to smash at the end. The entire 5-stage run will take you maybe 20 seconds. That's how crazy-fast this game is. If you hit a wall or enemy in one of the mini-stages, it's back to the first one. This can be frustrating, but the sense of accomplishment when you make it is significant. You can also look at a replay of your runs and marvel at your incredible reflexes, honed no doubt by dozens of previous failures.

The basic gameplay remains the same throughout HoPiKo many levels, but it does a good job of keeping things fresh. The platforms have different qualities as you progress. For example, some of them will collapse and kill you if you stay still for too long, but others will float around the level as soon as you land on them. These platforms are pretty cool -- you can use them to surf toward the goal or just wait for them to spin around and jump off again. It all depends on how you land.

HoPiKo has simple wireframe graphics and lots of red accents. It feels suitably retro, but the animations and particle effects are smooth and modern. The music is really the heart of this game. It's all fast chiptune music that's apparently composed on authentic gaming hardware. Whatever it is, it sounds awesome. There are a ton of tracks you can unlock by picking up the music icons in levels, but they're usually hard to reach. Still, I find myself replaying levels because I want to unlock more tracks. There's even an option to download a high-quality version of the game audio in the settings.

HoPiKo is $3.99 in the Play Store. As long as you don't mind a little frustration with your mobile gaming, it's well worth picking up. HoPiKo is unforgiving, but incredibly fun.