Tag: Multi touch »
Yes, the name of the app I'm reviewing today is the entire alphabet. From this point on, I'll refer to it as abcdefg for the sake of my fingers.
I stumbled across this app thanks to the title, it initially seemed like a unique way to learn the alphabet and practice word sounds, but I soon found it was that plus a lot more and it turned into a favorite of mine and my daughters very quickly.
Upon opening abcdefg and hitting play, you're presented with a simple and easy to access play field. The alphabet is split into 2 halves, one on each side, running lengthwise on your device. At the top 4 different words: "Gravity", "Crickets", "Vehicles" and "Birds". At the bottom are 5 buttons, "Recycle", "Arrow", "Bomb", "Camera" and "Info". Honestly, this is all that you need to know to get started.
Simply take a letter from either side and drag it into the middle of the screen. When you let go, the letter will go off on its merry way. When my daughters first grabbed it, they dragged a few letters and nothing happened. Once the letters hit the edge of the screen, everything changed.
With gravity (the option selected by default), the letters simply move with your device. Each time the letters hit an edge, the "sound" of the letter is played.
Vehicles zip around the screen, making sounds as they move. Crickets skitter and make sounds when they group up together. Birds is the most diverse, with varied sound, tempo and pitch depending on where/how it's placed.
As each letter moves, it leaves a unique trail behind it, making a visual representation of the soundscape you, I mean your kids, are creating and it's easy to stop a single letter, group of letters, erase the whole picture or take a snapshot of the insanity using the buttons below.
People might dismiss abcdefg, but if you look closer at what the app actually provides, I think you'll find that it's an invaluable tool for kids. In the app, you're a conductor of sound, and you learn concepts like pitch and tempo. You also get a quick into to physics, seeing how the different letters move and interact with each other, things you don't often see in "kid" apps these days.
While abcdefg is no replacement for music lessons, it allows children to draw outside the lines of music and just perform these strange experimental mini-concerts with letters. Some of the things I've heard my daughters create simply blow my mind. They have to experiment in combining sounds together, finding ones that match in tone, pitch, whatever to create an appealing and melodic sound. They also end up with these crazy pictures of letters strewn everywhere. They get to interact with art in a way that I've never really seen, at least not in this medium.
I can honestly say that I think any kid would benefit from putting their hands on abcdefg, even if it's just to increase familiarity with the alphabet and word sounds. Beyond that, it's an introduction to physics and a way for kids to create experimental soundscapes, by simply placing letters on a screen, turning that into honest to goodness music.
For the price and for the features offered, abcdefg is much more than a simple novelty. It's an app that I recommend for kids and adults of any age. It's never too early (or too late!) to make crazy music and pictures. I look back in regret, wishing that I'd have had something even close to this as a kid, it might have gotten me that much more interested in creating and experimenting with music and sound.
Every now and then you'll see an app that really makes you do a double-take. ROBOT 99 is one of those apps, both visually and in its gameplay.
ROBOT 99 is simple. Robots live up in the sky, in clouds (seriously) and every now and then, they lose their footing and fall toward the ground. What's the only thing that can save them? Fingers! Your fingers, your kid's fingers, your friend's fingers! As many fingers as you can fit on the screen!
The controls are spot on simple right from the get go. To save a robot, simply touch it and its parachute will deploy, carrying it safely to the ground below. Once it touches the ground, it will set its jets in motion and fly back up into the sky where it belongs and reward you with points. You have 3 robot "lives" to get as many points as possible.
Sounds simple, right? Well, although it's simple, it gets crazy very quickly. Multiple robots are on the screen very quickly and they continue to appear one after the other. So you've got all these ROBOTS around, now you need to get some points. Tapping rapidly on a ROBOT will build up a point multiplier. You can also drag a ROBOT to the "POWERZONIA" section (a bar that runs across the screen) which will give you lots of extra points, but also give you a massive speed boost, firing your ROBOT at super speeds back up in the sky, but you have to be careful throughout this, as it's easy to make ROBOTS bounce into each other and cause them to fall to their doom.
Now here is what makes ROBOT 99 special and very different. You can go through this whole chaotic experience with the entire family. I spent almost an hour sitting beside my daughters playing on my iPad, fingers flying trying to save these poor ROBOTS. Within minutes, we were all laughing hysterically. It was really a magical, albeit crazy, experience to share.
And it is a beautiful experience, too. The design, hand crafted by the developer, is bright, gorgeous and detailed. There are 99 unique ROBOT designs, so you'll never see the same ROBOT twice. It is also designed for the Retina display on the iPhone 4, but the iPad is no slouch, it's stunning on both.
Now ROBOT 99 isn't perfect, there are a few marks against it. The biggest issue I have is the lack of changes to the game. Other than the background and the landing area, everything else basically stays the same.
Also, although anyone with fingers can play the game, it takes a fair amount of skill to get a high score. It's also a game that's not "winnable", you unlock levels by a cumluative score and for kids who need a standard "Level Complete" screen, this might not be for them. My recommendation on minimum age would be 5 - 6. Kids over 6 will have a better chance at getting into the skill of the game and start to see higher scores.
So, is ROBOT 99 for you?
Are you in the mood for something different? Do you want a casual, hectic and crazy game you can share with 2 or 3 other people? If you are, then this is right up your alley. And at this point, ROBOT 99 is $0.99. It is a no-brainer at this price and is great fun for the whole family, and will likely get everyone in hysterics while they play. The designer, Keng-Fu, said that he aimed to create a fun, multi-touch game for families. I can say for certain that he succeeded.