Google Play App Roundup: Adapticons, Miracle Merchant, and Flippy Knife

By Ryan Whitwam

Knifing icon potions.

A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

Adapticons

Icon packs have existed on Android since time immemorial, but they require you to jump through some hoops like using a third-party home screen (usually) and making do with a lot of icons you might not particularly like. Adapticons is a new app for Android that lets you create custom icons in just a few steps, and you can use them on any home screen you want.

Adapticons includes an assortment of icons shapes, which is the basis for all of your custom icons. Simply find the app you want to edit in the list and tap on it to advance to the editing screen. The shapes range from the typical circle and square to a more exotic squircle and far weirder stuff like puzzle pieces and pentagons.

The shape will act as a frame by default, and it's themed to match the icon's default colors. So, if you have an app with a square icon and no included circle version, you can create a version that has a circular frame to match all your other round icons. It gets better, though. You can also change the size of the icon, which is sort of like zooming it within the frame. That lets you crop out the square edges so the logo is all you can see in the round frame. You can also reposition the icon within the frame. Although, there are times the frame looks better, so don't be afraid to play around. Adapticons includes an assortment of other tweaks like icon size, rotation, color, grayscale, and icon text.

Once you've created the perfect icon, you can use it in several ways. There's an option to export as a PNG, which you can then apply in certain launchers. Alternatively, you can export an icon pack file to be applied. Again, only with certain launchers. The most intriguing option is just to use it on the home screen instantly. This places your icon in the next open space, ready for use.

The way Adapticons makes your icons work is clever. The shortcut is technically for Adapticons itself, but the activity is passed off to the app for which you made the icon. Happily, this handoff doesn't cause any confusion with the multitasking interface, and there's no discernable delay when pressing the icon.

Adapticons is free with a limited set of icon shapes. A $0.99 in-app purchase unlocks a dozen more shapes (mostly the wacky ones), and includes the option to edit more than one icon in the same batch. The upgrade also lets you grab and edit icons from icon packs you have installed. Even if you only have a handful of icons that are bugging you, Adapticons is really neat and worth the upgrade.

Miracle Merchant

You may recall a game in the roundup a few months back called Card Thief that quite liked. Well, the developer has released another game. It too has a card angle, but like Card Thief, Miracle Merchant isn't your traditional card game. It's about brewing potions for a series of increasingly demanding customers.

Your goal in Miracle Merchant is to make everyone happy by brewing valuable potions with the right ingredients. At your disposal are cards in four different colors: blue, red, yellow, and green. Your patrons line up to make their request via a floating word bubble. The top bubble tells you what type of potion they require, and the bottom tells you which secondary type of ingredient they just really like.

Each portion is composed of four cards, and the cards interact with each other. Every card has a value, which relates to the value of the final potion. If you make a concoction that lacks the necessary ingredient or has a value less than one, it's game over. Some cards boost other cards of the same or different color, and placing cards in certain orders will earn you bonuses. The ingredients your customers like will also be doubled in value.

So, that certainly makes it sound like it'd be easy always to have a valuable potion, but there are the poison cards with which you must contend. There are three of these cards in each stack, and they pop up randomly. These have negative point values, but you can counter them with certain other cards (look for the icon on the bottom of each card). There are also some weirdos that actually want poison in their potions. As a result, you need to clear those potion cards out so you can access the colors they're hiding, but make sure you've got some poison when people ask for it.

Each round of Miracle Merchant only takes a few minutes to play. Often times you'll run out of a certain color or be unable to put together the right potion. You can always take another run at it. There are also daily quests and collectible potions to discover.

The visual style of this title is very reminiscent of other games from developer Arnold Rauers. It has a hand-drawn look with lots of bright colors and whimsical creatures. I also really appreciate the way your cards combine to form actual potions, which have a neat style—glowing flasks, giant rainbow jugs, and devious little black syringes. It's all very fun.

Miracle Merchant is free to play, but there's a $1.99 in-app purchase to get rid of the ads.

Flippy Knife

This game bills itself as having real knife physics—so real, in fact, there's a disclaimer when you start playing that messing around with pointy things in real life is dangerous. Having not done a lot of knife throwing in real life, I can't say how accurate that is. I can say the knife throwing in Flippy Knife is enjoyable and realistic enough.

As a "verby noun" game, you can probably guess a few things about this one. It's free, there are a lot of unlockables, and you get random gifts. Unlike a lot of similar games, it doesn't use a gacha-style prize dispenser. Your goal is to play the various game modes and earn coins, which you can exchange for new knives… which you then use to earn more coins. It's a vicious (but fun) cycle.

There are four different game modes, all of which involve throwing knives. They have more variety than you'd expect, too. For example, there's arcade mode, which is basically a platforming experience where you toss your knife from one surface to the next, trying to make it stick in. Then there's the target game where you have to throw your knife and hit a target across the screen.

The controls are the same across all the game modes. Just press and drag to set your angle and power. The knife flies when you release, and if you've done it correctly the blade will stick into your target. If not, you'll have to start over. Interestingly, the different blades do behave differently. Some are better for certain game types, and they often require varying amounts of throw power.

Flippy Knife has voxel graphics, but the knives are surprisingly detailed. Many of them are recognizable as specific "famous" blades like the Minecraft sword and a swiss army knife. The fancier blades also earn you more coins than the "basic" ones.

Thankfully, there's no premium currency in this game—just coins that you earn from playing the game. You can watch ads to earn them as well. Speaking of ads, they appear from time to time regardless of your desire for coins. You can get rid of them forever by purchasing one of the item packs that range from $1.49 to nearly $20.

Flippy Knife is simple, but an unexpectedly fun way to kill a few minutes. The one-touch input and portrait orientation make it ideal for a quick mobile gaming session.