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Counting Sheep That Won’t Put You To Sleep

Counting Sheep That Won't Put You To Sleep

Divide by Sheep is a puzzle game that requires math, advanced planning, and sometimes just a little bit of luck. That description might sound less than exciting, but the game makes up for this by making you drown the sheep, feed them to wolves, slice them to pieces, and generally have some fun with the cuddly critters. Developer Bread Team has created some of the fluffiest looking cartoon sheep in the world, and then gone out of the way to let you torture them with impunity as you ostensibly try and save a few of them from inevitable death. The game has been released now for iOS and Steam, with an Android version in the works.

There’s a bit of a story at the beginning of the game, setting things up, but much like Cut the Rope, the exposition is minimal, and safe to skip. The comparison makes sense – while Cut the Rope was a physics puzzler and Divide by Sheep is a series of math puzzles, the two games have a lot in common, such as fiendishly clever gameplay hidden under a very cute exterior, coupled with excellent audio and art design.

The story – if you must know – is that the Grim Reaper is lonely, and decides to cause a flood so there will be lots of dead sheep for him to spend time with. Your job is to help the sheep jump past a series of obstacles and make their way to waiting rafts, to escape this grim fate.

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The basic gameplay is simple – you have blocks of land scattered around each level, and there will be a number of sheep on these blocks. Each sheep requires a full block of land, and you have to guide the sheep across the map to reach three waiting rafts – each has a capacity and you need to get that number of sheep onto the raft to get a star.

To do this, you need to swipe from one block of land to the next – all the sheep on your starting block of land will jump, so if you’ve got six sheep on a large block of land, and you make them jump towards a smaller piece of land that only has three cells, then you’ve consigned three sheep to a watery grave. On the other hand, if you jumped three sheep onto a bigger block that already had two sheep and four empty slots, you’ll have five sheep that will now move together.

As long as you get the right number of sheep onto even one raft, you can progress to the next level, and try out new puzzles, but completionists will no doubt want to keep retrying a level until they get all three stars.

Early on, the game offers very little challenge as it is just introducing the mechanics to you. In the first 30 levels, we got a 3-star rating on almost every puzzle in the first try itself. As you progress though, the game gets trickier, and starts to introduce a lot of new mechanics that make things a lot harder.

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It starts off with some fences that your sheep can’t jump over, and then introduces wolves who will eat your sheep. You can move the wolves around too, and need to rescue them at times. They can be essential when you want to thin down your flock, and at other times, you’re going to want to push them off into the water to meet the numbers required by a level.

Further complications quickly come in the form of laser fences, which slice your sheep into two. These now take up double the space on land, but two halves still count as just one sheep -which can lead to some tricky juggling to make sure everyone arrives as planned.

Trampolines that bounce you back, and splitters that divide your flock are just some of the obstacles that the game comes up with to keep you on your toes. With 120 levels across four worlds to explore, and more apparently coming, there’s a lot of puzzles to solve, and as you explore the game, it really gets challenging. Despite the difficulty of some levels, the game doesn’t ever leave you feeling stranded either; while you might not get a three-star rating on every level, you probably won’t get stuck either.

The charm of this game lies in its silly, cute visuals and cheerful audio, mixed together with a very dark sense of humour. The sense of humour reminds us of Unpleasant Horse, an endless runner which was all about crushing pretty ponies to death. But, under the fluffy wrapper, Divide by Sheep is a sharp game you really should play – just like Cut the Rope.

We played the game using a review code provided by the developers. The game is now available on iTunes for $2.99 or Rs. 190. The Steam version of the game is available now for $4.49 or Rs. 285.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect for Windows Sensor

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect

After discontinuing the original Kinect for Windows sensor in December last year, Microsoft is now discontinuing production of the new Kinect for Windows v2 sensorlaunched in July last year. The firm says the move is to “consolidate the Kinect for Windows experience around a single sensor.”

The Redmond giant is now pointing interested users, mostly developers, to the Kinect Adapter for Windows cable, to be used in conjunction with the Kinect for Xbox One sensor.

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect

Microsoft Discontinues Production of Kinect

The Kinect for Xbox One sensor, which began to be sold separately in October last year, costs $149.99 (Rs. 11,490 in India). The Kinect Adapter for Windows cable on the other hand costs $49.99 (roughly Rs. 3,100). The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor used to cost $199.99 when available, so it all works out.

The Kinect Adapter cable lets users connect the Kinect for Xbox One sensor to a Windows 8.0 and 8.1 PC or tablets just like the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, and both the sensors are functionally identical – the company says its Kinect for Windows SDK 2.0 works the same way for both sensors as well. Microsoft is also assuring current owners of the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor that support will remain unaffected.

Microsoft says the move is a part of an effort to “simplify and create consistency for developers”. The firm’s Kinect for Windows Team in its blog post announcement said it had seen great demand from the developer community over the “past several months”, and had “difficulty keeping up with requests in some markets.”

The Kinect for Windows Team added it saw the “developer community respond positively to being able to use the Kinect for Xbox One sensor for Kinect for Windows app development,” and ensured the Kinect for Xbox One sensors and Kinect Adapter for Windows units are readily available in most markets. While this is true for the sensor in India, the adapter is not readily purchasable.

Undertale Review

For a game developed by a single person, Undertale is as contradictory as they come. It uses rudimentary graphics that wouldn’t be out of place in the 8-bit era of consoles yet it manages to display emotion far better than most photorealistic AAA titles. There’s an emphasis on non-violence but you’ll frequently find yourself in combat. And with all the critical acclaim it has garnered, you’d assume it’s a game anyone would enjoy, but it’s not really for everyone.

The consistency, or lack thereof, is in part due to its overarching narrative. The game is set amidst a backdrop that has monsters living beneath the earth after losing a war to mankind, and you play as a human child who falls into the ruins and ventures deeper underground with the purpose of getting home.

Along the way you’ll pet dogs, hear bad puns from skeletons, and play matchmaker to lovestruck guards. You can, of course, resort to the usual slaughter of everyone and everything in your path thanks to the game’s easy combat system, but that would miss the point of Undertale. You see, the main feature of the game is that it lets you converse with almost every monster and use your mediation skills to prevent a clobbering.

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(Also see: Top 5 Games That Will Run on Any PC)

From flirting with your foes to heckling them, the options are aplenty and varied. All of these choices are available in the game’s battle screen that lets you – aside from doing the aforementioned activities – attack and defeat your enemies. Physical attacks involve tapping the button at the right time for maximum damage, while staying damage-free is a function of your ability to avoid obstacles that pop up when you’re duking it out. It’s an elegant system reminiscent of classic Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) such as Super Mario RPG, coupled with the conversational nuance of titles like Dragon Age.

While Undertale does its best to urge the pacifist route on you at every juncture, it doesn’t always give you the means to do so. From an odd opening encounter – that we later found out could have had a different outcome – to evading bosses, you’ll find yourself at times at a loss on how to approach it in a non-violent fashion. Some might find the clues it drops to be more vague than they should be, and thus, while the game might keep telling you to play in a particular way, it will make it hard to do so at times. This wouldn’t be that big a deal if Undertale didn’t take every moment to make you feel horrible about your choices either, through simple animations and smart use of text.

Nonetheless, the game’s pacing more than makes up for it. From partaking in quiz TV shows to betting on snail races, there’s a whimsical, enjoyable quality to it all thanks to the variety at hand. You won’t find yourself squaring off against the same enemies again and again in the hope of levelling up your character, and you won’t be hunting for epic loot or weapons either. Undertale manages to eliminate our pet RPG peeves like backtracking, fetch quests, and grinding for new weapons and armour. Rather, you’ll be exploring a world steeped with detail, solve puzzles (most of which are simple to complete) and some combat (or you could talk your way out of fights).

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(Also see: Top 5 Indie Games You Should Play Right Now)

This subversive tone extends to simpler elements such as the game’s economy. Merchants will be more than happy to sell you their wares but some won’t buy your items. All of these are welcome moves but only if you’ve played your fair share of RPGs in the past. Random battles, a classic JRPG annoyance, are still present though.

If you’ve played RPGs before, you’ll appreciate Undertale immensely more than someone who hasn’t due to its remixing of genre tropes in an almost satirical fashion that would be lost if you haven’t. Something to keep in mind before giving it a go. You can finish it in around six hours and give it another shot for different outcomes depending on your play style.

Despite its inconsistencies, Undertale is a memorable romp that sticks with you long after it’s over. It’s not perfect and it’s definitely not for everyone and that’s just fine.

Pros

  • Great combat system
  • Emphasis on mediation
  • Memorable plot

Cons

  • Not particularly inclusive
  • Could communicate options better

Rating (out of 10): 8

We played a retail copy of Undertale on PC. The game is available for OS X and Windows on Steam at Rs. 369.

 

Original Article

Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe Review

Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe Review

If there’s one thing we have too many of, it’s ZenFones. Asus’s popular range of smartphones has so many variants and different configurations that it’s hard to keep track of everything that comes out of the Taiwanese manufacturer’s stables. The company’s 2015 product range varies in price from as low as Rs. 7,999 for the Asus ZenFone Go to Rs. 29,999 for the top end 128GB variants of the Asus ZenFone 2 and Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe.

Speaking of the latter, it’s our review product of the day. Asus announced the ZenFone 2 Deluxe in August this year as its top-spec variant. It’s essentially a ZenFone 2 with cosmetic changes, and is only available in the two highest configurations here in India: 4GB RAM with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. In fact, it’s priced the same as the ZenFone 2 for those same two variants as well. Is there more to the Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe than meets the eye? Let’s find out.

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Look and feel
This is the only department in which the ZenFone 2 Deluxe differs from the equivalent variants of the Asus ZenFone 2 (Review | Pictures). The ZenFone 2 Deluxe is exactly the same as its siblings from the front and sides, but is a completely different story at the back. The removable back panel has a delightful crystalline pattern with a dull matte finish and plenty of angular variation. This allows a part of the rear to glisten under light, while other parts appear darker and differently-coloured. While we like the white of our review unit, we feel that the purple variant looks a lot more striking.

The rear still has a curve, which helps with grip. The rest of the layout and button positions are the same as on the Asus ZenFone 2. In fact, the rear panel of the ZenFone 2 Deluxe can easily be fitted onto the back of a ZenFone 2 and vice versa, which means it’s that easy to convert one into the other. Since the specifications list and pricing are identical as well, choosing between a ZenFone 2 Deluxe and a ZenFone 2 is simply a matter of your preference of colour and rear panel texture.

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Specifications and software
As we’ve stated already, the ZenFone 2 Deluxe is no different from the equivalent variant of the ZenFone 2 in terms of specifications and software. It uses a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 SoC, and is one of the few significant devices under Rs. 30,000 to offer 4GB RAM, along with the OnePlus 2 (Review | Pictures). While the ZenFone 2 offers internal storage options ranging from 16GB to 128GB, the ZenFone 2 Deluxe is only offered in 64GB and 128GB variants. It also has a non-removable battery, and separate slots for both Micro-SIM cards and a microSD card (up to 128GB is supported).

Only the primary SIM slot is 4G-enabled; the second slot is limited to 2G connectivity. Additionally, the ZenFone 2 Deluxe has a decent full-HD IPS-LCD screen and a 3000mAh battery. Asus’s fast charging tech finds its way onto the device, and works well. The device went from zero to 100 percent in just about two hours, and can charge up to 60 percent in under 40 minutes if you’re in a hurry.

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The Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe runs Android 5.0 with the company’s ZenUI layered on top. This is the same version we’ve seen in all other variants of the ZenFone we’ve reviewed this year, including the ZenFone 2 Laser and ZenFone Selfie. It’s one of the better OEM user interfaces around, with a convenient layout and plenty of customisability and tweaks for comfortable use. Unfortunately, it’s still loaded to the brim with bloatware that cannot be uninstalled, and this is a big problem. The ZenFone 2 Deluxe asked us to update over 50 apps the first time we switched it on, and constant updates were required throughout our time with the device. The majority of these were for the Asus bloatware.

The ZenFone 2 Deluxe doesn’t quite offer as many additional features as some competing devices. The identically priced Honor 7 (Review | Pictures) has better camera performance, a fingerprint sensor, and better overall build quality. The slightly-higher-priced OnePlus 2 matches both the internal storage and RAM of the Deluxe, while offering much more as well. All of this makes the Deluxe feel dated in the face of newer competition.

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Camera
We weren’t very happy with the camera of the Asus ZenFone 2, and the Deluxe uses the same camera. While both the ZenFone Laser and ZenFone Selfie also have similar camera modules, both of those devices feature a laser-autofocus system that helps compose better shots. The 5-megapixel front camera is standard fare as well, producing average results. If camera performance is important to you, the ZenFone Selfie is a better buy than the ZenFone 2 Deluxe, and is also available at a lower price.

Pictures are prone to overexposure, colour burning and noise. There is a surprising lack of detail even at the highest resolution, where other 13-megapixel cameras do a far better job. Videos, while decent in terms of motion and fluidity, are lacking in terms of colour reproduction and detail. While the camera is certainly better than a lot of budget shooters, it isn’t quite at the level it should be at for a Rs. 22,999 smartphone.

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The standard Asus camera app is the only advantage of the camera experience on the ZenFone 2 Deluxe. It has been on all of the company’s 2015 range of smartphones. It’s full of tweaks and controls that let you control every single aspect of the camera, from manual settings to the resolution and much more. There are also lots of modes, filters and other tweaks. The selfie camera defaults to beautification mode with a nifty self-timer, but setting it to auto mode will give you access to more settings.

Asus also sent us the ZenFlash, a Rs. 1,599 Xenon flash accessory meant for use with the ZenFone 2 range. It’s far brighter than the phone’s own dual-LED flash, so it might be useful if you want to take a lot of low light shots. The dongle connects to the phone through its Micro-USB port, pulling power from the phone’s battery. It has a velcro panel that lets you affix it below the camera, and uses a dedicated app. The dongle made it harder to use the phone in portrait mode because of its bulk. It’s only useful in dark environments, and it’s one more thing to remember to carry around with you.

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Picture taken using ZenFlash. Click to see full-size image

Performance
Like the ZenFone 2, the Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe is a capable performer. It’s zippy and efficient, thanks to the Intel Atom SoC. Everything works well to give you a comfortable experience. The 4GB of RAM also helps with multitasking, letting you run multiple apps in the background without affecting overall performance. We’ve stated before that even 2GB of RAM is sufficient for most practical purposes, and you don’t really need more for day-to-day use, but it’s nice to know that the phone can handle multitasking better than other devices.

The ZenFone 2 Deluxe produced slightly higher scores than the ZenFone 2 in some of our benchmark tests, but this wasn’t particularly surprising since the user interface and core applications of the system have received numerous updates since we tested the ZenFone 2 in April. AnTuTu produced a score of 42,670, while GFXBench returned a score of 29fps. Although performance is good, it isn’t quite as novel as it was six months ago.

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The device features a “performance mode” which allows for a higher level of CPU performance. We chose to officially record only the benchmark scores taken with the phone in normal mode to accurately reflect real-world performance and allow for more balanced battery consumption. However, the existence of a performance mode is a welcome feature and we did try it to see the difference. There was a noticeable improvement in performance: while 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme produced a score of 7972 in normal mode, the test maxed out in performance mode. As expected, performance mode impacts battery life significantly as well, and we needed to plug in by early evening when using the phone this way.

With the normal balanced mode activated, the ZenFone 2 Deluxe ran for 8 hours, 39 minutes in our video loop test. This was slightly higher than the figure we recorded on the ZenFone 2, and can be put down to improved software and CPU utilisation. The device also did well with our test videos, gaming, and for basic telephony.

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Verdict
The Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe is not a new smartphone at all. Apart from the fancy new back panel, the device is still a good old ZenFone 2, and this is something that we could easily tell during our time with it. Any differences in performance and functionality that we experienced were only because of various updates and tweaks to ZenUI, which Asus has implemented in the months that have passed since we first reviewed the ZenFone 2.

The only reason to buy a ZenFone 2 Deluxe over a ZenFone 2 is if you prefer the textured back panel. We love the way it looks and feels so we would definitely choose the Deluxe, but this is subjective. There are no other differences between the two, whether you’re comparing the specification sheet or the price tag.

Putting aside comparisons with the ZenFone 2, the Deluxe is a decent looking smartphone with good performance. Unfortunately, we aren’t thrilled with the camera, and the user interface continues to be chock full of bloatware which is a serious blemish on an otherwise efficient system. For the similar pricing, devices such as the Honor 7 and OnePlus 2 offer a more rounded experience, with similar levels of performance, better features, better cameras and significantly better battery life. While the original ZenFone was a decent option at the time of its launch, the Deluxe feels dated and is outdone today.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe

Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe

R 22999 3.5

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Great looks
  • Good performance
  • Decent display
  • Bad
  • Average camera
  • Too much bloatware
  • Feels dated in the face of newer competition

Read detailed Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe review

Display

5.50-inch

Processor

2.3GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

Android 5.0

Storage

64GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

3000mAh See full Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe specifications

More Asus mobiles Original NDTV Gadgets

iGlowSound Speaker – breathe in, rock out

IGlowSound Speaker

Music affects us all in oscillate ways, and the exterior factors that surround how we hear to our tunes can have an impact not in the push away off from the order of our response to it. Being alone in a dark room and listening to metal has a widely swap feeling than listening to folk in the same feel. For some, music is serious and nimbly a propos its own, but they dont always ache to focus unaided regarding the sound.
Pulsing lights in mix taking into account the right music can make a relaxed setting, party vibe, or designate encouragement to you get your hands on through a workout routine. The iGlowSound Speaker can reach the whole one of this, by having 6 compartmentalized orbs that will dance and groove to the defeat. There are 3 light modes, including a nightlight, pulse, and breathe mode. Of course, you can moreover position off the lights certainly if you would prefer and no-one else hermetic.
This speaker will produce a outcome-exploit gone any device that has a 3.5mm jack, and is fairly comprehensible in usage. There is a dedicated button for the lights as skillfully as controls for the volume. You can pick a black, blue, pink, red, or white-bodied speaker following black speakers. While this would have enough money a neat effect back used in tandem once your playlist, it is a bit offensively priced at $79.99. The pulsing blithe aspect is enticing, and it will save your phone charged thanks to a built-in USB harbor, but the feel of the speakers arent addressed, and it isnt wireless.
Available for get your hands on upon isound alarmes.

 

http://www.isound.net/shop-by-model/ipad-mini/iglowsound-speaker.html

IGlowSound Speaker