Five to Try: Disney debuts its own coloring app, and The Lego Batman Movie Game gets silly

Here's a fresh selection of Android apps and games worth scoping out.

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Andrew Hayward

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Depending on your allegiances, today could be a very good or a very bad day in American history—and in either case, we could all use a lot more fun distractions, right? Our latest Five to Try column is loaded with enticing new Android apps and games, and all of them are free downloads as well.

Color by Disney leads this week’s offerings with a subscription-based coloring book service for all ages, while The Lego Batman Movie Game ties into the upcoming flick with a weird blend of endless running and… Batman as a DJ? Weird. In any case, if you’re looking for other options, Chillingo’s WarFriends offers squad-based combat on a mobile scale, the goofy Hidden My Game by Mom 2 is a lot more fun than it sounds, and Vine Camera keeps the video-sharing legacy alive in a much slimmer format. Grab a few apps for the weekend ahead, whether you plan to wallow or celebrate. 

Note: We planned to include current photo-altering sensation Meitu in this week’s column, but ultimately pulled it due to concerns shared by security experts over its extensive permission requests and data being shared with external servers. It’s the app that has produced the surely dozens of anime-stylized selfies you’ve seen on social media over the last couple days, but we recommend waiting to download it until there's a satisfactory explanation of exactly what is going on behind the scenes, or an app update to change its behavior.

Color by Disney

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Some designs are pretty elaborate, but at least you can zoom in to nail the details.

Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore, and just as adult-oriented coloring books have flourished in recent years, so too have coloring apps—and Disney is getting in on the action. Color by Disney is a subscription service that provides hundreds of black-and-white scenes and characters from various Disney and Pixar films, letting you create your own colorful masterpiece right from your Android phone or tablet. 

Filling in each little section of a design is as straightforward as picking a color and then tapping, and the app includes hundreds of colors alongside some extra effects. Color by Disney has a few free pieces of art on tap, albeit with a limited color palette available, but the bulk of the app is premium: you’ll need to pay $3/week, $8/month, or $40/year for access to the ever-expanding library of artwork and features. It has a one-week free trial available, at least.

The Lego Batman Movie Game

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Sprint as Batgirl, Robin, or several different variants of Batman.

A game, based on a movie, based on a toy… based on a comic book? True, The Lego Batman Movie Game’s road to the Play Store has been hilariously convoluted, but that doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining freebie for fans of the Caped Crusader. Unlike most Lego-branded games, this isn’t a sprawling adventure—but it doesn’t have a price tag, either. Instead, it’s a behind-the-back endless runner in which you leap over, slide under, and hop around hazards.

The on-foot action isn’t anything new for the genre; it’s pretty similar to Despicable Me: Minion Rush, actually. However, you’ll occasionally hop into a Batmobile that you can customize from the menu screen, and you can swap to Batgirl, Robin, and other unlockable characters, as well as differently-costumed versions of Batman. And the Dark Knight has another surprising talent: when you die, you can play a DJing mini-game for a chance to continue. Yes, that is quite odd!

Hidden My Game by Mom 2

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Oh, it’s a delight. Give it a shot.

Between the terrible title and the low-rent look, you might assume that Hidden My Game by Mom 2 is some kind of half-baked nonsense—and there’s quite a lot of that in the Play Store. But play for a few minutes and you’ll find that, like the original entry, looks can be very deceiving here.

Once more, Hidden My Game by Mom 2 is a lightweight puzzle game that finds you in search of a Nintendo 3DS-like device apparently confiscated by your mother. We all remember tiptoeing around rooms and rummaging through closets to stealthily reclaim items from parents, but Hidden My Game gets very silly and surreal in no time. The sequel takes things a step further, as you’ll use a GPS marker in one level to draw away a team of soccer players in your path, or take a dialogue bubble out of the air to fill a physical hole in the floor. Just try it! It’s hilarious, I promise.

Vine Camera

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Vine Camera doesn’t look like much, but it’ll still let you make snappy clips for social sharing.

Vine is dead. Long live Vine Camera? Sadly, the original six-second video-sharing service shut down this week, and although it was quickly overshadowed by Instagram’s own video capabilities, Vine developed a strong community of creators who used its limitations to tell tiny, hilarious stories. However, Vine Camera has now arrived to take the original app’s place.

Essentially, Vine Camera is Vine without the feed and the hosting. It gives you the ability to easily create and compile those bite-sized, six-second clips, but then you’ll just be able to save them locally and share as you please through other social media channels. It’s all the functionality of Vine without the platform, which takes some of the appeal away—but if you loved the format and don’t want to mess with other video apps, Vine Camera is an option. And now Twitter automatically loops videos that are 6.5 seconds or less, so that seems to be the ideal new destination for your creations.


fivetotry jan20 warfriends Chillingo

What’s a little war between friends?

War! What is it good for? Well, in WarFriends, I’d say a quick bit of amusement here and there. Real war may be hell, but Chillingo’s latest Android game is a fully sanitized take on military combat, putting you in charge of a soldier and his/her squad in live one-on-one online multiplayer battles. You’ll start on one side of the battlefield with an opponent on the other, and your task is to kill the opponent before he or she manages to take you down. 

It’s a mix of action and light strategy as you swap between pieces of cover, fire at enemy soldiers and your main foe, and lob grenades—but you’ll also summon allies to rush into combat and wear down your opponent. WarFriends gives you the scale of a squad-based shooter without the complexity, and the bite-sized matches make a lot of sense on mobile. It does seem to be stacked with in-app purchase possibilities, so we’ll see how that affects the balance, but at the very least it’s worth a try if you dig online deathmatch action.

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