Google Play App Roundup: Quad Drawer, Riptide GP2, and Bounty Arms

By Ryan Whitwam

Filtering, racing, and blasting.

Android just had a big week, and maybe you're rocking one of those new Nexus 7 tablets. If so, you probably want to get some apps and games on it to take it for a spin, Well, we have an assortment of new stuff right here. Just clock the links to head right to the Google Play Store.

This week app filters get better, set skis go faster, and bounties get higher.

Quad Drawer

One of the apps featured in the Roundup just recently was T9 App Launcher, which acted as a stand-in for the regular app drawer. The selling point was that it could filter your apps with T9 input. Well, Quad Drawer from Level Up Studio has the same basic premise, but it outdoes that other app by adding a few more features in smart ways.

When you launch Quad Drawer, it instantly looks more friendly than T9 did. This app uses the Holo Light UI and is very clean. The dial pad works as you’d expect -- just start tapping out the name of an app T9-style. Quad Drawer will begin narrowing down your app list to find the right one. The current front runner is always highlighted and you can open it at any time by tapping the launch button at the bottom of the dial pad. This is a good UI choice.

Quad Drawer is arranged into tabs, so you can filter your apps with preference given to alphabetical, recent, last downloaded, or most used. You can also just start scrolling through any of the tabs and the dial pad drops out of the way. So it’s kind of like a regular app drawer in that situation. Long-pressing on an app gives you options for dropping a home screen shortcut, uninstalling, and a few other things.

In the setting is a really interesting feature -- a floating icon. You can have a small semi-transparent button float on top of your screen for quick access to a pop-up version of Quad Drawer. The icon can be moved to wherever you want, and it’s pretty unobtrusive. This UI doesn’t have any of the tabs -- it’s just alphabetical. But you can still search via the dial pad.

Even if you’re not into T9 input, this app might be of interest. You can turn off the number keys, and just have your prefered keyboard come up.

I know I said T9 App Launcher was super fast, but this is at least as fast, looks nicer, and it has a ton more features. The only drawback is that there’s no trial version. It’s only $0.99, though. Totally worth it.

Riptide GP2

The original Riptide was a graphical showcase for Tegra chips, but it was also a competent racer. Now the sequel has arrived, and it’s got some seriously good looks, but more than that, it’s a much better racing game than the original.

You’ve played racing games, so I won’t bore you with the basics. All you need to know is that Riptide is a standard racing game with multi-lap events, time trials, elimination races and a few others. The only differentiator -- it takes place on water and you’re driving a crazy jet ski.

As you careen around the track and slice through the waves, you will encounter a lot of ramps. While in the air, you can perform swipe gestures on the screen to do tricks and gain boost capacity. As you character levels up, you can unlock more flashy tricks. When you need a little extra push, tap the boost button. Don’t go overboard, though. If you can’t finish your trick before hitting the water, you’ll wipe out.

The controls come in either tilt, or on-screen buttons. Riptide GP2 also supports virtually all controllers. I think the tilt control is a bit better than the on-screen method. It makes it easier to get set up for the more complicated tricks because your thumbs aren't occupied.

There are a huge number of events to compete in, each one offering cash prizes. The more you make, the more upgrades and jet skis you can buy. Of course, there are some in-app purchases to speed things along, but if you play the game a bit, you should pull in enough to buy what you need. There’s also online play to keep you occupied.

Riptide GP2 is, as you might expect, phenomenally gorgeous. Before you get into the game, go into the settings and make sure the graphics are set appropriately. I’ve seen it underestimate several devices, so cranck things up until it’s as pretty as possible without dragging down the frame rate. The lighting effects and textures are great, and the water physics are incredible. The splashing and wakes from other jet skis actually affect your craft, and the water streaks on the camera are a nice touch.

This game is $2.99 in Google Play, and you should buy it. No question.

Bounty Arms

A lot of games claim to have console-quality graphics, but rarely do they deliver. Bounty Arms might be one of the few that does. This is a side-scrolling 3D shooter with a few interesting mechanics. There are more innovative way to blow up alien robots, but there aren’t many prettier ways.

You have your choice of three different characters to cause mayhem across 10 levels filled with very nasty robots. Each character has a ranged weapon and a melee attack, both of which are wacky -- confetti bazookas, giant wrenches, and so on. This game doesn't take itself too seriously.

There are a few goals in each level, but all you have to do is make it to the end. Although, there's not really any way to fail as near as I can tell. You have unlimited lives, but your final score takes a hit from dying too many times. In addition to simple surviving, there are various hidden items that you can collect for additional points/awards.

You control the action in Bounty Arms with a virtual thumbstick and a few buttons. It's a conventional setup, but it works fine. The fire button unleashes whichever attack it most appropriate, melee or ranged. The game also has fairly aggressive aim assist. At times that seems a little too easy, but it’s the only way to make the game playable. Most of the movement in Bounty Arms is side to side, but you can also move toward and away from the camera, even choosing different paths through the level.

In addition to your standard attacks, there is a special power for each character, but usage is limited. There are also pets that you can summon to help you in battle. Without these additional Bounty Arms would probably be too bland, but it’s got a little dimension this way.

The visuals on display in Bounty Arms are top notch. The game is designed to look best on Tegra 4, but it still looks great on most other devices. The textures are incredibly clear, and there is no hint of aliasing on the edges. The lighting and shadows also look excellent. This title could easily pass for something you’d find on Xbox Live Arcade or PSN.

Bounty Arms is $4.99, which is toward the high end of game pricing on Android. I would say it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in a more casual shooter experience.

That's all for this week, but check back next tome for more of the coolest new stuff on Android.