Developer: Smule
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Smule have become renowned on iOS for their variety of apps that turn your device into a musical instrument. However, their latest app, Magic Fiddle may be one of their most ambitious yet. Magic Fiddle takes the typical virtual music instrument concept and applies rhythm game mechanic of playing via cascading notes. To play your “Magic Fiddle,” you hold your iPad on your left shoulder, chin on the lower left corner of the iPad, playing the strings with your left hand and using your right thumb to hold down on the circle in the lower right corner as your bow to play notes. There’s a Storybook mode that teaches you the basics of how to play the instrument in the game, and teaches you a few songs to play. Notes come at the fiddle in colored lines across the screen representing which string and which fret you have to play.

Magic Fiddle is one of the most unique apps on the iPad, being something that really takes advantage of the device’s size to let you play it like an instrument. And unlike other rhythm games, this is an instrument that you can actually play, and can apply rhythm game skills to, so this is very easy to pick up and learn how to play with some competency in a short amount of time. The game comes with 8 lessons, and 20 songs, with more content available as an in-app purchase. The song list not only includes classical works and traditional pieces, but also the Super Mario Bros. theme by Koji Kondo, amazingly enough, although it’s only credited in the game as “Video Game Theme.” If you want to play your own music, you can easily play in the Solo mode, and can set a different key to play in from the Settings menu.

The problem with Magic Fiddle is that it provides terrible feedback as to how you are performing. You could be doing things entirely wrong in the storybook tutorial mode, and yet the feedback never changes. I still haven’t figured out how to properly play the pizzicato notes because the game never gave me feedback on whether I was doing it right or not. And based on my performance when playing songs with those notes in them, I still haven’t learned how to play them properly. Also, the app doesn’t come with the entire complement of lessons, as more lessons are available with in-app purchase, which just seems like profiteering. As well, you’re only scored on notes you hit, without any penalty for mis-playing notes.

Magic Fiddle is a great way to show off your iPad and to use it in a way that you never would have imagined being able to use it as. It’s more rewarding than most rhythm games are, but could take a lot of lessons from them to improve the game’s feedback. Otherwise, this is another unique and fun to play with musical app from Smule.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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