Developer: Thumbspark Limited
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Galactica is the sort of app that wouldn’t been seen dead on a Blackberry. The sort of app that the iPhone was made for. The sort of app that makes you wonder how anyone can ever settle for less than an iPhone.

Being a bit of an astronomy and sci-fi geek, I was instantly attracted to the name Galactica. Anything a bit spacey gets me excited. So, when I opened up Galactica I was pleased to discover an app which delivers a fantastic audiovisual experience and lives up to its expansive name.

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Galactica is like an interactive version of the iTunes visualizer. Place your finger on the screen and streams of particles instantly burst forth from the point of contact. Drag the same finger and the the emanations follow your touch. Flick your finger across and off the iPhone and you’ll send a ball of effects hurtling to the edge of the screen. Double tap, and a pocket sized big-bang erupts, before hauntingly fading away.

Galactica is described by the developers as: …an ever-changing interactive toy that will relax, fascinate and mesmerize. There are no rules, no scores and no time limits; just endless possibilities.

Galactica is definitely relaxing. I know, because I field-tested it with my 1 year old girl. She was gooey eyed the moment I fired up the app and flipped a few particles about the screen. It kept her quiet and seemed to calm her down. Indeed, watching the effects play themselves out is mesmerizing – Galactica is the iPhone equivalent of the lava lamp.

Galactica joins the ranks of those casual but alluring apps, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Koi Pond and Zen Bound in its aspirations. In a world full to the brim with high-score egotism, and I-can-beat-your-ass aggression, Galactica is an excellent diversion.

Ease of on-screen interaction is paramount in an app like this – and Galactica gets it about right. As well as the double taps, drags, and finger flicks, multi-touch is used to invoke a magnetizing effect. Watching all you have just created imploding in on itself is fun and strangely rewarding.

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The soundtrack, too, is one of those rare joys in that it adds hugely to the experience. Although MUSIC: OFF is one of the options in the settings panel, I can’t imagine anyone actually using it. It would be like watching a Bruce Springsteen video with the sound turned off – just plain wrong.

On the negative side, I would have liked to have seen more use made of the iPhone’s accelerometer. This could have added a different dimension to the experience – with, perhaps, a shake to mix up the effects, or a tilt to attract particles to one end of the screen.

Also, despite Galactica’s beauty, deep down some may find it a little vacuous: much like Paris Hilton. Some people will always remain unmoved by a Jackson Pollock painting, and, in the same way, Galactica may not suit everyone’s tastes.

But these are minor quibbles in an otherwise beautiful experience. I’d even go as far as to say that the iPhone should come with this app built-in, because its simplicity and beauty certainly ape many of Apple’s finest moments. Galactica will mesmerize, relax and fascinate you. And maybe, if you’re lucky, help you pacify small, excitable children.

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