Five to Try: Pokémon Magikarp Jump leaps onto Android, and PlayOn Cloud saves streaming videos

Don't miss the Play Store's most promising new app and game releases.

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Five to Try was off last week thanks to the madness surrounding Google I/O, but the Play Store never sleeps—so now we have two weeks’ worth of app releases to sift through. Pokémon Magikarp Jump, just out this week, leads our selection, delivering a silly new spin on the virtual pet simulator featuring one of the franchise’s more maligned monsters.

Meanwhile, PlayOn Cloud is an app that can save any show from top streaming services onto your phone, and Google’s Audio Factory is a delightful, Daydream VR-aided exploration of sound. And if you’re looking for other game options, Old Man’s Journey is a heartwarming adventure, while Arkanoid vs Space Invaders is a throwback mashup that’s well worth the cost. 

Pokémon Magikarp Jump

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Magikarp finally get a starring role in the latest Pokémon game.

Whether or not you’re still enthralled by the GPS-driven Pokémon Go, there’s yet another new mobile game (beyond this spring’s Pokémon Duel) that you can now play on Android. Pokémon Magikarp Jump is, as the title suggests, focused solely on the dopey-looking fish creature, and it takes the form of a virtual pet simulator of sorts.

You’ll catch your very own Magikarp and then gradually train it to flop up higher into the sky, waging one-on-one battles against other Magikarp to see who can manage the largest leap. The more your fish trains and eats, the better it’ll perform in league battles, and each new generation that follows will only be more skilled. It’s simplistic but also funny: Magikarp are considered pretty worthless in the world of Pokémon, and Magikarp Jump is definitely in on that joke. 

PlayOn Cloud

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Pick your service and show and you can grab offline, on-the-go recordings.

Most streaming video services don’t give you the ability to save content for offline viewing. Outliers like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video can be lifesavers for long flights or connectivity-impaired commutes, but even Netflix puts limits on what you can save. However, PlayOn Cloud is designed to save anything from top services onto your phone, whether it’s from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, or some other app. 

How does it work? PlayOn Cloud exists in some kind of legal grey area, and it accomplishes the feat by queueing up a remote web browser on a server somewhere, recording what’s streaming on the screen, and then sending you the file. Yes, you’ll have to wait the full length of the video for it to be captured—but it does work.

However, it’s not free, as each stream recording costs one credit at a regular price of $0.40 apiece. Also, you will need your own login credentials for each premium service. It feels a bit iffy, certainly, since the services offered aren’t really playing along and it’s not an official solution, but PlayOn Cloud is still up and running for now (and has been on iOS for a while). Might as well give it a look if you don’t mind paying a little extra for offline access to streaming favorites. 

Old Man’s Journey

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Old Man's Journey is really, really beautiful.

The new Pokémon game might provide simple, silly fun, but if you’re up for something a bit heavier, then Old Man’s Journey ($5) might do the trick. It begins with the titular man receiving a letter with some clearly heartbreaking news, and it inspires him to venture back out in the world to relive memories of his past and attempt to make amends along the way.

Old Man’s Journey isn’t heavy on complex gameplay. Primarily, you’ll drag and drop hills in the backdrops to create walking paths, and interact with people and objects to push forward the storyline (which is shown, not told). But it’s a real stunner: The hand-drawn graphics are rich and deeply emotive, while the flashback scenes and the old man’s reactions might draw a tear or two along the way. It’s short and mechanically straightforward as an adventure game, but also very sweet.

Audio Factory

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Pop it into a Daydream View and you'll get an immersive, sound-centric experience.

Got a Daydream View headset and one of the compatible phones? If so, then you should definitely check out Audio Factory. Released last week amidst the frenzy of I/O, the Google-made Daydream app is designed as a quick showcase for its spatial VR audio tech. Essentially, you’ll use the Daydream remote to interact with items while visiting various floors of a test facility, with each new destination providing impressive new aural delights all around you.

For example, you’ll drag pulsing ambient audio beats and drop them into a funnel, which then showers the surrounding plants with water. Or you can play with a handful of rather cool-looking instruments that fill the space with sound. It’s more of an experience than a game… and more of a tech demo than an experience, really. In other words, it’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to Daydream content. But it’s worth a look (and a listen) if you have the hardware handy.

Arkanoid vs Space Invaders

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Just like the olden days... well, not exactly.

Now here’s an instance of two great games that surprisingly play great together. Arkanoid vs Space Invaders ($5) mashes up the classic Taito franchises into a brand new form, picking elements from both the former brick-breaker and the latter alien-blaster into a surprisingly cohesive hybrid experience.

You’ll use your paddle at the bottom of the screen to reflect the Invaders’ laser shots from above, and send them surging back at both the aliens themselves and any bricks around them. It’s a clever hybrid that honors the originals while presenting a brand new experience, plus old-school gaming fans will surely appreciate cameos from other classic Taito characters. And best of all, it bucks the freemium norm: It’s a paid game with nary an in-app purchase to be found.

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