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Google Play App Roundup: QCast Music, Leo's Fortune, and Lost Toys

By Ryan Whitwam

Social cast, platforming, and puzzling.

There's no need to scrounge around the new section of the Play Store hoping to pick up the handful of worthwhile additions. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is here to do. This is where you can come for the best new and newly updated stuff in the Play Store. Just hit the links to open the Play Store on your device.

This week there's an app that makes Chromecasting more social, a game with serious polish, and a puzzler that

QCast Music

The Chromecast is a cool way to get some tunes going when you have people over, but it doesn't have any native multi-user functionality. Usually when someone else connects to the device, it switches over completely to that input. A new app called QCast Music is a little different. It pushes a playlist to the Chromecast that can be built by everyone in the room. All you need is one Google Play Music All Access account to make it all happen.

To start using QCast, the "host" needs to connect to the Chromecast first using the QCast app. Host in this situation doesn't refer to the actual host of the party, just someone who wants to have full control of the playlist and also happens to have an All Access subscription. The app will request Google account access, and you're ready to start playing. Simply use the search button to find songs you want to add to the queue and they'll be played via the Chromecast (whatever it's plugged into).

Other people can connect to the Chromecast to join the party and add songs to the queue, but you only need the one All Access account, which is really the beauty of this app. The songs are being added from the host's account, the other partygoers just have temporary access through the Qcast connection.

As the songs cycle through, everyone connected to the party can use the app to downvote tracks they don't like. If a majority agree, the song is instantly skipped. It's a bit like Turntable.fm back when it launched, but for real life gatherings. The host always has the ability to manually remove tracks from the queue and control the volume.

QCast is completely free to use, other than the All Access subscription. As for other services, the developers are investigating ways to plug into services like Spotify, but official Chromecast support for that service hasn't even arrived yet. Google Play All Access is the best solution for casting right now.

Leo's Fortune

This is far from the first platformer to arrive on Android, but Leo's Fortune is one of the best (in not the best) I've ever played. Your goal in Leo's Fortune is to help a small blue furball named Leo reclaim his stolen gold by navigating 20-ish levels of obstacles and clever puzzles. This title gets almost everything right about mobile gaming.

Leo's Fortune is a side-scrolling platformer that probably fits best in the action platforming sub genre. There are no enemies to contend with, just mazes, drops, and puzzles. You make your way around by dragging side to sine on the left half of the screen. Leo slides in the direction you indicate, and can even go up gently sloping walls if you are going fast enough (he's a buoyant ball of fur). Dragging up and down on the right half of the screen is how you inflate (essentially a jump) and dive toward the ground.

Leo's er… unique, physiology is the key to this game. When he puffs up like a balloon, he can get a good bit of altitude, but you can also control your landing very well. This makes the game less about exact precision, thus overall more enjoyable on a touchscreen. That inflation trick is also used to toggle switches in various puzzles and pish barriers aside. The puzzles don't come up in every level -- this is mainly a platformer, but they are very neat when they do present themselves.

The only issues I have in this area is that the puzzles are a bit on the easy side. Once you've figured out the physics of Leo's Fortune, most of the puzzles only take a few minutes to sort out. The platforming aspect is made more forgiving than most, as I mentioned above, but it's quite enjoyable and varied. You can complete the game by finishing the level, even if you die 20 times in each level. However, you are awarded stars for collecting all the coins, not dying, and completing the level in a certain time (usually a few minutes). Getting enough stars unlocks special bonus stages.

As solid as the platforming and puzzles are, I think what puts Leo's Fortune over the top are the stupendous graphics. The developers really did an amazing job making the environments in this game look realistic. Yes, there is a small fuzzy creature jumping around like an over-inflated beachball, but the world looks almost photo-realistic. The textures, shading, and lighting effects are great, and the layered backgrounds give the game a bit of depth. It's really staggeringly beautiful.

Leo's Fortune is $2.99 in the Play Store, but that's the end of your financial commitment. The developers aren't going to ask for any additional cash via in-app purchases. It's a little on the short side, but every bit of Leo's Fortune is great.

Lost Toys

You have to set things right in the newly arrived Lost Toys for Android. The simple wooden toys in this game have been twisted and broken by some unknown means, but you can fix them by rearranging the pieces in a set number of moves. This isn't a fast-paced game, but it does require intense concentration and attention to detail.

Each puzzle in Lost Toys starts the same way -- you are presented with a thing that is allegedly a toy. Sometimes they're not even remotely recognizable, all twisted and distorted as they are. Each toy is split up into several sections that can be rotated like a Rubix Cube. You only get three or four moves to return it to the original shape, so it'll take some trial and error.

The first set of puzzles are fairly straightforward items like trucks, race cars, and trains. You can sort of tell what they're supposed to be from the start, so arranging things correctly in a few moves isn't impossible. These objects are also split up into fewer segments. The later chapters might have more complex wooden toys like clowns or ballerinas that are split by more lines that go in all different directions.

You can tap and drag anywhere around the toy to rotate it and get a better look at what parts you might want to spin. Should you run out of moves, you can reset the puzzle or go back a few moves to try again. There's also a hint button that helps you along. It can be used to solve the entire puzzle for you if you get frustrated, which I suppose is nice if you just want to explore the game, but that's not very fun. To make a move, drag a section in whatever direction you like and watch it click into place.

When you solve a puzzle, the splintered wood surface heals itself as paint spread across it, returning it to its former glory. You pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and it's off to the next challenge. That's not the only example of really lovely design. The graphics in general are really well done in Lost Toys. It uses extremely shallow depth of field to blur the background so you focus on the toy in the foreground. if you've ever played Zen Bound, thsi game has a similar feel.

Lost Toys has a few dozen puzzles, which is an okay amount for $2.99. You can probably beat it in an afternoon, especially if you play the unlimited moves mode or use the hints. I'd still say this game is worth purchasing for fans of puzzles.