Five to Try: Help improve Google with Crowdsource, and Marvel Tsum Tsum is super fun

Here's a look at the week's most enticing new Android apps and games.

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It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States, so hopefully you have some well-earned leisure time planned in the days ahead. And if so, you might want to spend a little bit of that time putting some new apps and games on your Android phone. In fact, Google wouldn’t mind a few minutes of help: its new Crowdsource app gives you the power to improve its services right from your device. 

Other new releases worth a look this week include Marvel Tsum Tsum, a comic book puzzler based on Disney’s popular plush line, as well as music video creator Funimate, flashy puzzle favorite Lumines: Puzzle and Music, and Final Fantasy XV spinoff Justice Monsters Five. Be sure to enjoy the long weekend—and some fresh apps, as well.

Crowdsource

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Chip in a few minutes of your time to help refine Google’s A.I.-driven services.

Google’s new Android app is designed to help you help Google… to help you, really. Crowdsource asks you to spend a little time vetting Google’s various A.I. powered tools, putting your human eyes and brain to use to check the work of its powerful computers. You can view handwritten words from other users or snippets of photos and type in what they say, for example, or help confirm translations for text or Maps data.

What’s the point? Well, these intelligent platforms don’t always get it right, but with a little human-assisted course correction, they’ll only get smarter over time. And a surprisingly frank Google spokesperson even told TechCrunch that for some languages, the company’s tools “aren’t very good right now.” If you can help Google bridge that gap, you’ll make its services a little better for people around the world. But that’s really the only incentive it offers.

Marvel Tsum Tsum

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It’s a super-cute puzzler—and there’s a bit more depth than the earlier Disney version.

Have you seen those adorable Disney Tsum Tsum plush toys in stores? They’re a Japanese craze that’s finding fans here, as well, and there are Marvel character versions too—and game adaptations, to boot. In fact, Marvel Tsum Tsum follows the same basic puzzle template as the fun Line: Disney Tsum Tsum game from a couple years back, but builds a larger and more in-depth experience around it.

Here, you’ll still link together three or more of the same hero or villain in close proximity, which is done by drawing a path between them, but now there are missions, special powers to trigger, and team-up abilities for multiple Tsum Tsum comic legends. It’s cute, breezy fun, with charming little adaptations of Iron Man, Captain America, and more within.

Funimate

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Watch some well-edited fan videos or quickly compile your own with Funimate.

Already with millions of downloads on iOS, Funimate is finally available on Android, and it lets you create your own effects-laden music videos in a snap. Simply pick a song from Funimate’s library or those contributed by users, and then you can film your own lipsync clip with your phone’s selfie camera. After that, the magic happens.

Funimate has a heap of special effects and filters that let you transform parts of the footage with minimal effort, and you can quickly alternate between them to create the trippy home music video of your dreams. Clips are then shared with the community, with the best ones shown in a Featured reel, plus you can follow friends and top users in a very Instagram-like fashion. Know a teenager (or pre-teen)? He/she will probably love this app. You might too.

Lumines: Puzzle & Music

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Console and handheld puzzle fans should know Lumines well, and it’s finally on Android.

First debuting on Sony’s PSP handheld in 2005, Lumines is one the most enthralling puzzlers of the last decade-plus, merging music and block-clearing together in a really powerful way—and now it’s on Android. Lumines: Puzzle & Music ($3) is a new entry that shifts to a portrait view, but maintains the elements that made other versions great.

Essentially, you’ll rotate and drop squares comprised of two different colors of blocks and try to create single-color squares, rectangles, and chains below. The music isn’t just for the background, either: the tempo determines the pace of the game and how quickly linked blocks are cleared from the board, plus a new visual skin comes with each song change. Unfortunately for skilled fans of the old games, the one-handed touch controls slow down the game compared to a d-pad and buttons. At least the fundamentals are still strong and the look and sound are appealing.

Justice Monsters Five

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Square Enix’s new Final Fantasy spinoff is a strange one indeed.

Final Fantasy XV isn’t even out yet—and won’t be until late November, due to a recent delay—but the upcoming RPG entry is already a multimedia franchise in its own right. There’s the Kingsglaive CG movie in select theaters, and now you can download Justice Monsters Five on the Play Store. What the heck is it? Well, it’s a mini-game that the heroes play within Final Fantasy XV on consoles, but now you can play it on your Android phone as well. 

Justice Monsters Five is a combat-centric spin on pinball, in which you’ll fling heroes up into the game board and bounce them between bumpers and barriers while bashing enemy monsters to bits. The gameplay is a bit clumsy and the app itself has some stability issues, but the character dialogue is surprisingly funny (and odd too), and it could be a free and amusing way to begin immersing yourself in the series’ next big universe.

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