Developer: James Cann
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

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

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Zen Magic is one of a few relaxation applications out there. One of the best sellers on the device, in fact, turned out to be little more than a barely interactive pond of Koi fish. Coming from a designer by the name of James Cann, the application is little more than a chalkboard with background music. Okay okay, so it’s got pressure sensitive controls, a brush stroke toggler, 7 different soundscapes, and microphone support. Unfortunately, the aforementioned features are little more than hints of unnecessary bulk to an already barebones application.

You’re first greeted with a giant blue “board” upon opening the app. Your ears perk at the faint whistle of the wind in the background as you start to drag your finger across the screen. A small black line appears and begins to dissipate as a whisp of gray trails behind. After drawing the obligatory crude symbols and squiggly lines, your finger finds its way the microscopic “i” in the lower right hand corner. You frantically tap at it causing little more than tiny black dots around its epicenter. Twelve minutes and a grilled-cheese later, you manage to strike it at the perfect angle and are brought into the game’s only option panel.

Here you can change soundscape track, stroke thickness, and evaporation speed. Like I said, it’s quite a barebones experience. The soundscape tracks range from the soft drone of the waves, an evening in the desert, a subtle rainstorm, a heavier rainstorm, and three lessons on how to relax. Yeah, that’s right. Relaxation coaching.

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My first issue with Zen Magic lies in its performance. I’ve restarted my device more than once and I’m still experiencing multiple crashes within the app. Just when I’ve finished painting the perfect effigy of Donald Duck in a wedding dress, my screen refuses to respond and sends me plummeting from a waltz above the clouds to the cold shadow of reality. It’s not quick to recover, either. With the crashes that have set in, my device refuses to respond for quite some time. Aside from that, there’s a fair amount of delay between the stroke of your finger to the brush actually appearing on-screen. Most of the time, you’ve finished your stroke before anything actually happens. I never thought doodling in a rainstorm would be such a taxing errand for the iPhone.

Though it’s bundled with many frustrations, it’s not a complete misadventure. The evaporation animation is remarkably smooth (until it locks up). Additionally, the soundscapes are fantastic and couldn’t fit any better with the application. Touting an unbelievably steep price tag of $2.99, I can’t recommend this purchase unless your using the iTunes giftcard you received from Aunt Milda on your birthday. Even then, you’re probably better off buying a few of your favorite Buddy Holly songs instead. Peggy Sue gives Zen Magic three stars out of five.

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