Google Play App Roundup: Datally, Hoppenhelm, and Puzzle Fighter

By Ryan Whitwam

Data hop fighters.

Your phone might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new, and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.

Datally

Many smartphone users try to keep their bills lower by sticking with capped data plans from carriers or MVNOs like Project Fi. Making sure you don't use too much data can be a pain, though. Android has some built-in data tracking tools, but they're not very user-friendly. Google's latest app lets you exert more control over your data usage by plugging into these system features. The app is called Datally, and it's available on virtually all devices.

You might know Datally as Triangle, which was the name during Google's geo-limited testing period. Now the app is done and has a new name for its global rollout. Unlike most other data monitoring apps, Datally doesn't need to run for multiple days accumulating data before it's useful. It pulls in all the historic LTE usage info from your system-level features to help you figure out what's using the most data.

Datally shows you how much cellular data has been used each day and by each app on your phone. Should your data usage get out of hand, Datally also includes a data saver feature. Again, this is similar to functionality already included in the settings of most phones, but it's implemented in a much clearer way.

There are toggles throughout the app to turn on data saver, so Google seems to really want you to use it. This feature uses a VPN to control which apps can use data, but the app promises Google isn't examining your data. It's up to you to take Google at its word there. By default, no app can use data in the background when Data Saver is turned on. Only the apps you have up and are actively using can do that. In addition, there's a floating bubble on the screen to show you how much data the app has used in the current session.

Data Saver is completely configurable as well. If you want an app to have unrestricted background access in Data Saver, you can unlock it in the app. You can also completely disable cellular data in an app even if you open it. That's handy for apps that you know use a lot of data and you might open without realizing you're on cell data.

Datally also offers a list of local WiFi hotspots if you need to get a lot of downloading done while you're out. This list includes shortcuts to Maps so you can get directions.

This is a great app, and one that could actually save you money if you're on a limited or pre-paid data plan.

Hoppenhelm

Hoppenhelm is a simple RPG-style game with one distinction: you hop instead of walk. Each step in this game is a hop, and sometimes you have to hop quite quickly while also slaying beasts in your path. Your reward for this feat of agility? Coins. Who doesn't like coins?

Your success in Hoppenhelm is measured by, what else, hops. The goal is to get more hops than last time before a monster kills you or you fall into a chasm. It'll be mostly the latter at first, but as you get the hang of the game and survive longer, the monsters get much more powerful. Playing the game means master just three buttons. There's one for moving forward one space, another to attack, and a third one to raise your shield. The order of the buttons can be altered as well.

The terrain is important in Hoppenhelm. The blocks you stand on can be safe and stable, or they can skewer you with spikes. Then there are others that crumble away in the space of a moment. There are still others that fall away almost immediately. You need to get a rhythm down to time your hops so you don't come to rest on one of these.

Likewise, you need to get used to quickly striking enemies when they're in the next block and keep an eye out for projectiles that come your way. These can be blocked with your shield, but only if you're fast enough. You have three hit points (usually), but some upgrades can get you more. All the coins you collect while hopping can unlock new suits of armor and weapons. Each one has a special perk. For example, armor might have more hitpoints or increase the number of coins in chests. A new weapon could offer critical hits for more powerful enemies.

Graphics in Hoppenhelm are of the retro pixel-art variety. It plays smoothly and has a quirky 8-bit soundtrack. I like that all the armor and weapons look very different and there are even varying attack animations.

Hoppenhelm is free and there are no in-app purchases for coins or items. All you have is a single IAP to remove the ads. That will run you $2.49.

Puzzle Fighter

The latest title from Capcom is a Street Fighter game, but it's not your typical Street Fighter game. Puzzle Fighter is basically a fighting game fueled by your ability to connect colored gems in a puzzle. The more gems you can clear, the more damage you inflict on the opponent. It's a free-to-play game, but the difficulty tuning doesn't seem too troubling.

You could be forgiven for thinking Puzzle Fighter is a Tetris clone. However, you'll have a bad time if you try to play it like Tetris. The gems on the game board slide down from the top in pairs. Like in Tetris, you can rotate and drop them anyplace on the board. A tap rotates, and swiping left and right moves the gems. Swiping down drops them in place.

However, it's the color and not the shape that matters, and the goal is not to complete lines. What you need to do is build blocks of gems and trigger them with round special round gems that appear occasionally. Merging multiple gems in predetermined shapes allows you to perform special attacks. Each character has different special moves (the same ones from the regular games), and that means the shapes might be different depending on who you decide to play.

There are offline missions, only several of which are available per day. These grant you item chests that can contain new cards, coins, and upgrades. The bulk of the game comes in the form of online play. Your opponent is playing the same sort of puzzle you are. Each time some gems are cleared, the character attacks. You can see a small thumbnail view of the opposing board. This might clue you into an upcoming powerful attack. Some players choose to go with frequent small attacks, and others line up as many gems as possible for powerful combos.

The look and feel of the game is more accessible than traditional fighting games. The characters have over-sized heads and cartoonish bodies. The performance on my devices has been acceptable, but connecting to matches seems weirdly slow right now.

The gameplay is enjoyable, but you're going to hit a wall after a few hours. This is par for free-to-play titles. There are only two currencies: coins and gems. The gems are premium, and you can only get them with in-app purchases. It's possible to play this game casually for free, but you'll likely end up dropping a few bucks if you get into it. I've seen worse IAP schemes.