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Google Play App Roundup: Unclouded, Watercolors, and Skull of the Shogun

By Ryan Whitwam

Cloud storage, puzzles, and strategy.

Time once again to check in on what's new in the Play Store. This is the Google Play App Roundup where you can come every week to find out what's new and cool on Android. Just hit the links below to head right to the Play Store on your device. This week cloud storage gets more convenient, puzzles get more colorful, and the souls of your enemies will litter the battlefield.

Unclouded

There are official Dropbox and Drive apps, but they are far from the ideal interfaces for managing your files. The Dropbox app is looking increasingly ancient with each passing day, and the Drive app is better suited to messing with documents and spreadsheets. That's why Unclouded is a neat option for managing your online files. You can log into both Drive and Dropbox from this one app, and it has a free trial mode.

The main screen in Unclouded shows you a cool pie graph of the currently selected storage account. It's a quick way to see how much free space you have, but it doesn't break things down any further on this screen. You can pull up the file explorer if you just need to move things around in your storage space. The interface for doing this is much more friendly than many apps--roughly a zillion times better than the Dropbox app. Unclouded has both list and grid views, but a dual pane option for landscape would have been nice.

No matter how you sort the files, you can always tap on a file to download it to your device, but you can also share directly to a compatible app through the Android sharing menu. The only thing I'm missing here is the option to export to a specific folder on the device. As it currently stands, Unclouded automatically puts everything in a separate downloads folder on the phone or tablet. It might also be nice to have Unclouded as a sharing target for uploading files to Drive or Dropbox, but it's not necessary.

One of the threads throughout in Unclouded is keeping abreast of how much free space you have. To that end, one of the coolest features available in the app is the duplicate file checker. Just select it from the nav menu and you'll get a list of all the matching files organized by size, Tapping on each line brings up all the dupes so you can decide which one to keep and which to toss. Likewise, you can sort the entire storage container by file types to figure out where all the space is going.

The speed and ease of use here is far above what you'd find in the official Dropbox app, and still a little better than Drive. The interface is appropriately modern--it's a sort of newer Holo/card thing, not Material Design. The app certainly looks good and it makes it easy to see what's taking up all your cloud storage space. The basic version of Unclouded only has read access to your files. If you want to write files (i.e. actually manage anything) you'll need to buy the pro upgrade via an in-app purchase for $1.99. I'd say it's worth the price if you're fed up with substandard official cloud storage apps.

Watercolors

I have written about a lot of puzzle games in my time--so many I can't even offer a general estimate of the total. Suffice it to say, I know when a game is doing something unusual and interesting. Watercolors certainly is. This game gives you a series of interconnected dots and color reservoirs which you use to fill in the indicated spots with the right colors. Don't have the necessary color? Just make it.

Each level has a completely different maze of pipes and arrangement of color sources. Dots with a colored rim are the ones you need to fill in with the matching color. In cases where you just need the regular primary color, all you need to do is drag from one of the color reservoirs or dots you previously painted to the one with the matching rim. If it's a secondary color like orange or green, you'll need to pass through the two primary colors that make that color on the way to the goal.

The first few puzzles are straightforward--you need only paint the lines in the right order to avoid contaminating your paint with the wrong color. It gets more complicated when there are multiple dots requiring the same color in completely different parts of the board. This might mean you'll leave a dot the wrong color for a while, only to smear a second color in there later to make it right. In later levels you may also need to clear some color reservoirs by splashing more than one primary color into the same space.

Just completing the puzzles is all that is required to advance to the next level, but Watercolors also awards stars based on how many swipes it takes you to do it. For example, if you can complete a puzzle without lifting your finger, the game gives you 3 out of 3 stars for that (the perfect run usually requires more than one swipe). More moves means fewer stars, and of course, a decreased sense of self-worth. The info bar above the puzzle will tell you what number of moves you're supposed to be shooting for.

Water colors comes with over 100 levels that can be unlocked in various packs, but paying a few bucks will open all of them up immediately. There are also hints that can be used when a puzzle proves too perplexing. You get five of those, and can purchase more with cash. None of this is required, and the game itself is not going to push you to spend anything. I've seen paid games that push IAPs more heavily than this. There are occasionally ads that pop up, but only after every few levels. Watercolors is definitely something to check out.

Skull of the Shogun

The great General Akamoto was riding high in feudal japan when all of a sudden he found himself in the afterlife following a small sword-related incident. Seeing that there's quite a long line to get into the good part of the afterlife, he decides to recruit an army from the poor souls waiting in line to be judged and take the gates of heaven by force. How do you do it? Turn-based combat of course.

Skull of the Shogun is played in a top-down isometric view with your forces indicated by the red banner and armor. Most of your enemies are guards, who are clad in blue armor. Each mission consists of a few battles, but you only have a limited supply of units. Luckily, the "skull" portion of the title comes into play and helps you stay in the fight. When you vanquish an enemy, you can move one of your units over and eat the skull of the defeated foe. It's not just about adding insult to injury, you also get a health boost and higher maximum hit points for the rest of the mission. The skulls are good for something else too--any unit that has eaten three or more skulls becomes a demon, which gets and extra move each turn.

Each turn consists of five total orders that can be used for moving, attacking, and eating skulls. There are different types of units that come with their own abilities and weaknesses. For example, cavalry units can move farther but don't pack as much of a punch. Infantry are slower, but they can knock back enemies when attacking. General Akamoto is the most powerful unit you have, but if he's killed in battle, the mission is over.

There are 24 levels in the single player game, which should take you a few days to get through with casual play. The writing is also snappy and pretty amusing. You also get online and local multiplayer modes, which work pretty well with a turn-based game. You get all of this for the $1.99 asking price with no in-app purchases of any kind.

The visuals are quite a bit different from most games of this style. It's a mix of cartoon animated graphics and an old samurai movie. Skull of the Shogun actually uses as old fashioned film grain effect in the cutscenes. it's very well done, but a few of the background elements don't see sufficiently high-resolution. I suspect this has something to do with reusing elements from the iOS version, which came out a few years ago.

Some users are complaining of stability issues, but Skull of the Shogun ran flawlessly on all the devices I tested it on. It's a great game for those interested in Advanced Wars-type games with a little more flair.