If you’re on the prowl for fun new apps for your phone, look no further: our Five to Try column highlights the Play Store’s most exciting releases for apps and games alike. Google’s new Area 120 division leads this week’s offering with Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger, which has “fun” in the title… so it’s guaranteed, right? Truth be told, this voice-to-text, emoji-heavy option won’t be for everyone, but it is an amusing twist on the usual messaging app.
Also new this week is Giphy Stickers, which provides an array of wild and wacky images to toss into other messaging and social media apps, plus three new games—Mushroom 11, Kingdom: New Lands, and Clue—that warrant some attention right about now.
Google itself offers a few different apps and services to communicate directly with pals, but here’s another from the company’s new startup incubator, Area 120. Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger, as the title suggests, is all about speaking out messages, which then get turned into text. But this voice-to-text approach isn’t remotely optional, since the app lacks any kind of keyboard functionality.
You also can’t edit anything that’s sent—and half the words you speak out are likely to be turned into emoji. Fun, right? Besides trying to discern what each emoji-filled missive says, you can also listen to the original voice recording, and messages are automatically deleted once they’re read. Clearly, Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger isn’t trying to hang with more robust, fully-featured apps like Allo, but the walkie-talkie-like approach could be an amusing way to gab with friends on the go.
Puzzle games (and platform-action games, for that matter) often have a firm set of rules for you to work and hopefully thrive within, but Mushroom 11 ($5) takes a different approach. That’s because you’ll overcome each challenge by reshaping an amorphous green blob at will. The organism, a weird, glowing thing emerging from a post-apocalyptic setting, can be molded, spread, and moved by pressing your fingers into or around it.
You’ll need to harness its abilities to deal with the myriad obstacles as you navigate this broken, danger-filled world, pushing the blob through tight spaces, around pools of lava, and ever ahead as new hazards emerge. It’s a really inventive twist on problem-solving, with the malleable Mushroom reacting to your every touch, and the grimy look plus electronic soundtrack from The Future Sound of London add a lot of aesthetic appeal.
If you love using stickers and emoji in messages, on Twitter, or anywhere else, but you’re tired of the stock and add-on options in your app(s) of choice, maybe Giphy Stickers can help. Just as Giphy reigns as a go-to destination for classic and trending GIFs of all shapes and sizes, it too has a stockpile of smaller animated stickers available in this new app. And you can even create your own.
Designing original stickers is a surprisingly simple process: just take a picture, trace around the part you want to keep, and then pick from an array of animation options. Just like that, your favorite trinket (or your own face) can be dropped into chat via other apps. Of course, Giphy Stickers offers so much more, whether you need one of its many insane pizza stickers or something from the “It’s Lit” collection.
If you’re looking for a really meaty game to dig into on Android, and don’t mind paying for that kind of scale and depth, then Kingdom: New Lands ($10) might be up your alley. It’s ported over from PC and consoles and likewise carries a higher price tag, but this larger experience offers plenty to explore as you escape a fallen kingdom as its ruler—and set up shop elsewhere.
Building a new kingdom is a gradual process, of course, as you recruit people to your cause, generate structures, battle monsters, and eventually upgrade and enhance your new home. It’s a tower defense game at heart, but there’s a lot of meticulous planning and execution that leads up to that point, making it feel like a vaster affair. And the ultra-detailed pixel art is just the cherry on top for strategy fans.
Many of us have fond memories of playing Clue as a board game dating back decades, and now you can enjoy it wherever you are. Hasbro and Marmalade Game Studio’s new Clue ($4) adaptation for Android puts the classic experience in your pocket, as you try to solve the mysterious death in the familiar mansion.
Right now, it’s purely a single-player affair, as you play against the computer to figure out who committed the murder in which room with which weapon. The experience holds up well in this streamlined, digital format, with great artwork and solid atmosphere, although the current single-player limitation is a drag. Luckily, the Play Store listing says some kind of multiplayer support is on the way—let’s hope for both online and pass-and-play options.