Alice in New York Review
iPad App
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Alice in New York Review

Our Review by David Winograd on June 24th, 2011
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: Wonderfully Well Crafted
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Alice in New York for the iPad is one of the best looking and finest crafted examples of an interactive book to date. Although the word has been used to death, this time it's apt: It's magical.

Developer: Atomic Antelope
Price: $8.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
iPad Integration Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Alice in New York for the iPad is a brilliant re-imagining of the 140 year old book “Alice Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. This version, liberally adapted, has the look and feel of an old parchment tome in its over 130 pages.

Twenty-seven interactive graphic pages done in the familiar style of John Tenniel, the original illustrator, are a mash-up of Victorian New York, with a few recognizable paintings tossed in. If you look hard enough, you can even find a portrait of Tenniel on a wall. What makes this app a treasure is how well the interactivity is accomplished. In most books of this type, either objects are spring loaded allowing things to bounce or using the accelerometer, turning the iPad will move objects around the screen. Alice in New York brings a new dimension to the physics behind interactive elements. Many objects move in complex manners that allow you to move sections of an object independently of other parts. This brings an improved sense of realism to the genre. What makes it even better is that interactivity is used for more than eye-candy. A nice example is that when Alice is in a darkened room, you’ll find a lighted chandelier that must be stretched to clearly read text on the page. Very often, you’ll have to move things out of the way to read all of the words. A feature that surprised me, and that I had never before seen was that objects do more than bounce around. For example, in a store, if you’re careful, you can put things back on shelves and re-hang clothing. I really enjoyed experiencing interactivity for a purpose.

Aside from interactivity, the quality of the graphics are often breathtaking and the combination of that along with appropriate sounds and music add to the effect. One graphic that stopped me in my tracks was a Victorian view of Coney Island’s Astroland Park in its heyday with the sound of the Cyclone

Roller Coaster pervading the soundtrack.

A few minor quibbles I had, which may be design choices, are that although the index is page numbered, many of the text pages look similar as thumbnails, and since there are no page numbers in the book proper, it made navigation a bit difficult. However, when you leave the app, the last page viewed is bookmarked and is displayed upon the next launch. The other design choice I question is that all the text pages are silent. There is no narration, which is probably a good idea for such a long book, but I would appreciate an atmospheric soundtrack that can be enabled or disabled. Additionally, as you get farther into the book, the graphic pages become more scarce.

In summary, Alice in New York is a wonderful app that takes chances by taking liberties with such a well loved and time honored book and comes up a winner just about every time. It’s quite an accomplishment and by the time you get to the fireworks at the top of the Empire State Building, you’ll be wanting more.


iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Alice in America screenshot 1 Alice in America screenshot 2 Alice in America screenshot 3 Alice in America screenshot 4 Alice in America screenshot 5
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