Five to Try: Miracle Merchant makes some magic, and Stardust shares movie and TV reactions

Load your phone up with this week's hottest new Android apps.

fivetotry aug4 lead
Andrew Hayward/IDG

Looking for fun things to do on your phone this weekend? Our latest Five to Try column is all about entertaining apps—and they’re not all games. Miracle Merchant leads this week’s offering, as the inventive single-player card game impresses with its clever mechanics and charming hand-drawn aesthetic.  

Meanwhile, Stardust is a new platform for sharing your hot takes about movies and TV shows, and Pantaya is a new steaming service focused on Spanish-language films. Also, Adventure Time Run injects a bit of Cartoon Network fun into the endless sprinting formula, and Samsung’s Game Live makes it easy to broadcast any Android game to top live steaming sites.

Miracle Merchant

fivetotry aug4 miraclemerchant IDG

The dazzling hand-drawn look elevates this clever card game.

Like most physical card games, many digital card games are meant to be multiplayer experiences—like last week’s The Elder Scrolls: Legends and the similar Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. But Miracle Merchant is more akin to solitaire in that it's meant to be a single-player card game, and it’s a pretty inventive one at that.

Miracle Merchant puts you in the role of a budding alchemist, tasked with creating potions based on the needs of your potential customers. With their cues, you’ll align four cards from your decks to make the best possible potion. The cards you choose and how you arrange them affects the ultimate result, so there’s a fair amount of strategy baked into its simple concept.

Games only last a few minutes apiece, so you can squeeze them in easily during your day—and the free download lets you play the core game as much as you’d like without paying. If you want to spend $2, however, you'll open up additional features, such as a book of potions to guide your creations, additional tasks, and a daily play mode.

Stardust

fivetotry aug4 stardust IDG

Got an opinion about a movie or TV episode? Share it with Stardust.

Ever watched a movie or TV show and immediately thought, “I really need to tell the world how I feel about this”—but then didn’t have the right outlet for that? Well, Stardust hopes to be your destination the next time you want to share your views. The Snapchat Stories-inspired app lets users post video reactions to movies and specific episodes of TV shows for everyone else to watch.

Stardust lets you browse Instagram-esque profile pages to see other users’ reactions and follow them if you please. The network just launched so it doesn’t have a very large community just yet. In fact, many of the reactions I’ve seen came from actual Stardust employees. But if you need to speak your mind about Game of Thrones or Dunkirk and want to see other people’s visceral, immediate reactions, then this might be the app for you. 

Adventure Time Run

fivetotry aug4 adventuretime IDG

It's mostly tried and true, but Adventure Time Run still packs some fun.

There’s no shortage of Adventure Time-themed games on the Play Store, from Card Wars Kingdom to Ski Safari: Adventure Time and Adventure Time Puzzle Quest, but apparently that’s not enough to hit peak saturation. Maybe Adventure Time Run will do the trick. This behind-the-back endless runner has you guiding Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, and other beloved characters from the Cartoon Network series as you attempt to notch your highest score.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not the most original game out there. It’s most strongly inspired by Subway Surfers with its three-lane approach and familiar obstacles and patterns, although it does shake things up here and there with combat sequences and towards-the-camera chases. And if you love the show, then you'll appreciate this themed take—just be warned that it’s a strongly freemium experience with various currency types in play.  

Pantaya

fivetotry aug4 pantaya IDG

Stream Spanish-language films with Pantaya.

Launched this week by film studio Lionsgate, Pantaya is a streaming movie service with a very specific mandate: Everything here is in Spanish. Pantaya brings together a fair amount of Spanish-language content, from animated films and comedies to dramas and romance flicks—and even some Hollywood picks, like Dirty Dancing and Crank, redubbed for this audience.

A subscription to Pantaya is available for $6 per month, and you can access it on an array of platforms: not only Android, but also iOS, Roku devices, via Amazon Prime, and through a web browser. You can freely browse the Android app to get a look at what’s available, and opt into a one-week free trial if you decide to give it a shot.

Samsung Game Live

fivetotry aug4 gamelive IDG

Game Live is a streamlined platform for streaming Android games.

As competitive mobile gaming grows with esports draws like Hearthstone, Vainglory, and Clash Royale, there’s naturally more of an interest in streaming mobile games as well. Twitch recently added mobile streaming to its own Android app, but Samsung’s new Game Live app—which only works with Galaxy devices—aims to be a one-app option for streaming footage to a trio of top services.

Game Live works with Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook, and it simplifies the process of getting your stream up and running. You can pick any installed game from within the app, and then choose options like which audio will stream out, and whether you’ll include video of yourself from the front-facing camera. It’s a handy tool for Samsung fans who crave an audience while they game.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon