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Google Play App Roundup: Snapseed, Jet Set Radio, and Raiden Legacy

By Ryan Whitwam

Image editing, funky skating, and brutal shooting.

Clear off some space on your device, because the Google Play App Roundup has returned to spend your money. But that's not so bad. At least here you can be assured of spending your money on something that's actually good. Just click on the app name to head right to the Play Store so you can try it out yourself.

This week we go over a new image editing app, a game that's a decade old, and a game that's two decades old.

Snapseed

When Snapseed came out on iOS a while back, it earned high praise. It took some time to come to Android, but it has arrived, and Google owns the company. I can see why they were interested, too. Snapseed is a great image editor with solid features and support for both phones and tablets.

Snapseed isn’t going to replace Photoshop Touch on your tablet, but it’s going to handle almost everything up to that point. This app has all manner of image manipulation tools, as well as some filters that will appeal to the Instagram set. Just tap the Open Photo in the action bar to get started.

All your tools are displayed in a scrollable list at the bottom of the screen. If you’re using a tablet in landscape mode, these tools move to the left side. Each tool might offer a few different effects. For instance Selective Adjust has brightness, contrast, and saturation. Some of the editing effects allow you to use a control point, so you can focus the changes on a smaller section of the photo.

Snapseed uses the touchscreen very intelligently. When you choose the tool or effect you want, the sub-selection is done by dragging up and down. The intensity of the effect is altered with side to side swipes. If you’re using a control point, the size of the effect is changed by multitouch zooming.

Up to this point, Snapseed might sound like a good image editor, but is it worthy of all the attention it gets? Well, there’s a feature that I’ve been wishing I had on every other image editor on Android, and it’s dead simple. A compare tool. So you make a lot of changes to a picture, and you want to see if it actually looks better than the original. Just press and hold the compare button to see the original. You can flip back and forth a few times until you’re satisfied.

Of course you can save and share the images you edit, but the app does make it a point to break out Google+ sharing into its own, more prominent icon. I’ve been getting great results with Snapseed and can’t recommend it highly enough. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Jet Set Radio

The Sega Dreamcast didn’t make the impact on the console gaming market that Sega probably wanted. In fact, it was a colossal disaster that nearly bankrupted the company. One good thing that came out of the Dreamcast was Jet Set Radio. Now you can play this classic game on your Android device and it’s still just as funky all these years later.

The basic idea in Jet Set Radio is that your hipster gang likes to go out and tag things with graffiti. Unfortunately, there are other gangs in the area that like to do the same. Jet Set Radio is essentially your quest to tag everything while avoiding the cops and beating your rivals to the spray cans.

The controls are all on-screen, and they work okay. This is probably the weakest part of the game. There is a large virtual thumbstick on the left. I’m not sure why this is so large, but you really have to slide your finger a long way to get moving. It could also be more responsive. On the right are your control buttons for jumping, sprinting, tagging, and recentering the camera. You can also drag to pan the camera view.

The controls aren’t bad, but you have to pay attention and get used to the slowness of your characters maneuvers. Well, they are on electric roller skates, so some of that might be forgiven.

Your task is to tag all the indicated surfaces in each level without getting caught by police. Officers will run after you, smack you with truncheons, and even take shots at you. This makes it hard to collect the spray cans to fuel your tagging.

The small tags can be done with one spray can, but the larger ones will take 3-4. The game has you perform some swipe gestures to complete your masterpiece. This is a neat game mechanic.

Jet Set Radio is visually very interesting. It was one of the first games to really show off 3D cell shading. It's fun and still looks good enough after all these years to hold its own. The graphics are not perfect, though. There is some clipping and artifacting at certain angles. There's also kind of a lot of aliasing, but it's not as noticeable during play as it is in screenshots. I am, however, impressed with the performance. Not a hint of lag on the Nexus 7.

Ah, and the soundtrack. The developers of this port managed to get licenses to 29 of the 30 original tracks from the console game. That’s great, seeing as music licensing issues tend to screw up a great many ports. Anyway, Jet Set Radio’s audio is as funky as ever. You’ll want to play this one with the sound on. The game feels much more complete with the music on, and actually makes up for the control weirdness a bit.

The controls aren’t perfect, but Jet Set Radio is solid. The music is also killer. The Play Store reviews are a mess mostly because many users couldn’t get the additional data download to work when the game was first released. That’s why the 1-star ratings are sky high. If you’ve got $5 and 1.5GB of storage space, check this one out.

Raiden Legacy

There was a day when video games were quarter-fueled assaults on your sanity. Games have just gotten much easier over the last few decades, and that’s why Raiden Legacy is something interesting. It’s a relic of a bygone era, and it still takes no prisoners. For just a few bucks, you can get four Raiden games on your device to kick your butt.

This one title comes with full versions of Raiden, Raiden Fighters, Raiden Fighters 2, and Raiden Fighters Jet. These are all top-down scrolling shooters, and they’re very challenging games. The original Raiden is certainly the toughest among them. Take a single hit, and you waste a life. Run out, and it’s game over. Start from scratch. And no, you can’t jam quarters into your phone.

The sequels are a little less demanding, but still serious business. In each level, you merely need to survive to the end and defeat the boss. And the bosses are amazing. They’re always over the top and covered in maniacal guns. Who doesn’t like shooting at giant tanks the size of a building?

Raiden Legacy uses a simple tap and drag system for controlling the ship. You can start dragging anyplace, but keep in mind you have to move your finger quite a way if you want to get your ship up to the top of the screen. Alternatively, a couple short repeated swipes will move you up there. This can be a little tedious on a tablet. However, I’d say the controls work fairly well all things considered.

Graphics are good for a game of this type, but I have an issue with the way DotEmu ported these titles. The video filtering setting smooths out the edges of the pixelated ships and terrain. Sadly, this makes things look muddy, and I don’t like it. I think you should disable the filtering and experience the games how they were meant to look. If you like retro games, you’ll like the look of Raiden Legacy either way.

Raiden Legacy is expensive at $4.99, but it’s got a lot going for it. These games hold up, but we’ve all become soft. If you don’t mind being beaten time and time again by a video game, take a look at Raiden Legacy.