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Tech reviews: Dragons Dogma Dark Arisen, Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Talk, Sofia the First Story Theater App

2:23 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
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(Reno Gazette - 'DRAGON'S DOGMA' BECKONS ONCE MORE IN 'DARK ARISEN'

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. That's pretty much the theme for "Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen," an expansion of the action RPG that proved to be one of 2012's pleasant surprises. This time, the game returns with extra content in the form of Bitterback Isle, an extra area that features new monsters and plunder for players to enjoy. The additions are especially geared toward players who have finished the original game and are looking for new challenges. It starts out easy enough even for rusty players as earlier areas of Bitterback don't present much of a challenge. It doesn't take long, however, before you run into some heavy hitters. You've got fake treasure chests that can swallow party members and quickly decimate your group if you're underleveled. Then you've got good, old Death, whose mission is to apparently troll players with his scythe as they venture throughout Bitterback. Tis' a troubling foe, indeed.

In addition to secret augments and tier-three skills, veterans of the game will welcome the improved travel system. Those with a previous save file also get an infinite ferrystone for warping and 100,000 rift crystals of in-game currency. Fans of assassins will lament the nerfing of some key skills while magick archer lovers will like their improved performance. Dark Arisen also includes the original game for newcomers.

Some might say $40 is a bit too much for an expansion. Overall, though, Dark Arisen is worth it for Dragon's Dogma fans.

Cost: $40; PS3, Xbox 360

STICK 'EM DANO: YURBUDS IRONMAN INSPIRE TALK

Exercising with earbud-style earphones is like the hot and sweaty equivalent of a Catch 22. On one hand, the light weight makes them ideal as exercise companions. On the other hand, a lot of them are like me on a tightrope. Just a little movement and gravity soon takes its toll. It's one reason I've always liked the Yurbuds line of earphones, which feature an earbud design that has the best grip of all the earphones I've tried so far. This includes the Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Talk, which is designed for exercisers who listen to music via their smartphone.

The Talk share similarities with the Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pro I've reviewed here before, particularly in terms of its sound profile. That means an extra helping of bass over the original Yurbuds, though it can sound a bit muffled if you don't use an equalizer. It also comes with a mic and remote, albeit a simpler one that uses just one button. On the plus side, this also makes the Talk $20 cheaper.

Audio quality with the mic is good when used for phone calls, a nice plus when you want to continue jogging when someone calls you in the middle of a run. Another plus is that unlike many other earphones, the remote and mic function of the Talk works with both iOS and Android devices, though the skip back function doesn't work on my Galaxy S3. Still, it's a good option for folks who listen to tunes on their phone while exercising.

Cost: $40

'SOFIA THE FIRST: STORY THEATER APP' FOR IOS DEVICES

Yes, I know, this grown man is reviewing another princess app. Hey, what can I say? I'm a professional after all. "But wait, Jason, didn't you say that you sorta-kinda enjoyed playing 'Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure' for the Wii last year?" Uh, no comment.

Any who, for my next trick, I decided to check out the "Sofia the First: Story Theater App" for iOS devices. As someone who's apparently the closest thing to a princess expert in my newsroom thanks to all the princess apps and games I've had to review through the years, all I can say is that Sofia the First is like a 21st century princess of sorts. Basically, her mom ends up marrying a king, and Sofia becomes a princess as a result. Hooray for the modern royal nuclear family. The app includes a simple, if barebones, story recounting Sofia's entry into princess hood and the challenges that come along with it. The story itself is fine for little kids but doesn't have some of the bells and whistles of other digital storybooks. Instead, what sets this app apart is the digital puppet theater that allows you to arrange characters and settings so you can record your masterpiece. You can even use your own voice for dialogue, which might, uh, make your own brother pretend he doesn't know you. I just wish you could save your glorious video in your camera roll for easier sharing. Despite that omission, however, the puppet theater still makes this worth getting.

Cost: $4

Gannett

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