Google Play App Roundup: UpThere Home, Peace, Death!, and BBTAN2

By Ryan Whitwam

Deadly cloud BBTAN.

You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

UpThere Home

Cloud storage services are a dime a dozen lately, but storage monolith Western Digital is looking to get into this space by charging less than a dime. Its UpThere cloud storage service costs just $1.99 per month for 100GB of space, which is the same as many competing services. However, there's more flexibility here. There's even a new Android app to use, and it's pretty good.

Like other cloud storage apps, Western Digital wants you to import files from your phone as you create them. One of the first things suggested by UpThere is linking your gallery, which creates backups of all your photos on the UpThere servers. You can also designate other folders to back up to the cloud via UpThere.

The app has a clean monochrome look with a bottom tab bar for navigation. Yes, that's an acceptable part of the material design guidelines these days. Although, I'm not sure about WD's decision to leave the buttons unlabeled. The far left tab is your "home screen" for UpThere, but it's called Flow. It's a sort of timeline where you can see all the activity on your account. In general, UpThere has fancy names for several basic concepts.

The other tabs are for file types like images, documents, and music. In the case of music, you can use UpThere to stream your tracks at full quality. The last tab is for "Loops," which seem to just be folders by another name. You can add items to a Loop to see them all in one place. Loops also plug into UpThere's sharing system. You can still share files the old-fashioned way, but you can basically create shared Loops for other people to view as you add new things to them.

You can try UpThere free for three months. After that, it's $1.99 per month for 100GB, but interestingly, that's the rate for every 100GB. If you need another 100GB, it's just another $1.99 per month. This looks like a much more flexible pricing model than something like Drive, which jumps from 100GB to 1TB.

If you're not already married to a cloud storage service, you might want to give UpThere a shot.

Peace, Death!

In the aptly named Peace, Death!, you play the part of a reaper of souls. But not a high-ranking reaper. No, you're just a trainee. In order to earn a permanent gig working for the powers that be, you'll need to show an aptitude for sorting out the good from the bad. It's not as easy as it sounds.

This is an arcade-style game that tests your ability to pick out details and take the necessary action. On your first day, all you need to do is send all the people to heaven and all the demons to hell—easy enough because they look quite different. However, each day adds new complications like people carrying weapons or those hiding devil horns under their hats. So, you figure out where to send each "client," and tap either the left (hell) or right (heaven) side of the screen.

The first few levels of Peace, Death! Don't do the best job of getting the point across. It seems entirely too simple. Then, the game starts piling on more and more rules about who goes where. Later, it even adds purgatory to the mix. If you send clients to the wrong place, you lose points and may even fail the level. In addition, random modifiers take effects on occasion that dump new clients in your lap with a timer. There's no rest for the reaper.

The gameplay keeps changing the longer you play, which compelled me to keep going. The first time I sat down with Peace, Death!, I didn't put it down for almost an hour. That's a good sign for a mobile game, in my experience. This is helped by the lack of in-app purchases. You just pay the $2.99 asking price and reap as many souls as you want.

Peace, Death! Has retro graphics someplace in between NES and SNES-level. Despite the blocky style, many of the clients you encounter are familiar. It's almost like they infringe copyrights, but not really. There's a Cyberdemon, Jay and Silent Bob, and plenty of other characters.

BBTAN2

If there's one category of games I can almost always dismiss, it's breakout clones. They're just bad, but BBTAN is the exception that proves the rule. And now BBTAN2 is out to be yet another exception. Okay, maybe that rule needs revising.

BBTAN2 takes the basic gameplay from the original and tacks on a number of new elements. Most of it is good, but a few things I could do without. The goal in BBTAN2 is to free all the BB-BOYs from their cage blocks. Like all the other blocks on the board, each cage needs a certain number of hits to clear. You can deliver those hits with an avalanche of balls launched from the bottom of the screen. That's where your character hangs out. Simply tap and drag to indicate where to let them fly, and they'll bounce around until they all end up back at the bottom of the screen.

There are several different level setups. In most, you have a limited number of volleys in which to clear the BB-BOY blocks. Your score is dependent on how quickly you free them all. In some other levels, you have unlimited shots, but the blocks advance downward one space each time. This is more like the original BBTAN. In still other levels, you also need to collect extra ball pickups to have enough to clear blocks. Alternatively, you might get all the balls you need from the start.

BBTAN2 has a level setup, whereas the original was just a single infinite scenario. If you do well on all the levels in each section, you can unlock a bonus stage with fun add-ons for your character. They all have the same neon 2D aesthetic as the rest of the game.

I've had an absolute blast playing BBTAN2, but I wish the developer hadn't implemented a life system. If you fail a level, it eats up one of your lives. They regenerate over time, or you can use premium currency to refill them. The in-app purchases go up to $139, which is bananas. I could see sending a few bucks on BBTAN2 because it's a good time, but be wary of the upsell. It might get too harsh over the course of 300+ levels.